I’m not typically an alarmist. I’m not typically someone who looks at something and goes “OMG I HATE THIS CHANGE”. I don’t love change in general, mind you, but typically, I don’t overreact. I take a LOT of changes very much in stride. (Obviously, I think the “new” Judgements of the Pure that was in the talent tree was craptastic, but I don’t feel like I was overreacting. I do cling to my precious haste. I will admit that right away.)
One of the big adjustments I have to make in this game, on a personal level, is accepting the fact that this is not MY game and that I am subject to the whims and desires of the developers. This is probably why I really like doing Stupid Crap(tm) on my hunter, to push those boundaries. Anyways.
Here’s what we know about holy paladins in Cataclysm:
Not a whole lot. This post is not, by the way, going to be a comprehensive “ALL PALLY CHANGES HERE!!!” post or anything, so don’t get cranky if I leave stuff out, please. There’s just way too much stuff that’s up in the air.
We do know that we’re getting a new spell, Healing Hands, which is an instant-cast spell that heals all friendly targets within 10 yards for 10 seconds.
There’s also that Guardian of Ancient Kings thing we’re supposed to get at 85:
Guardian of Ancient Kings (level 85): Summons a temporary guardian that looks like a winged creature of light armed with a sword. The visual is similar to that of the Resurrection spell used by the paladin in Warcraft III. The guardian has a different effect depending on the talent spec of the paladin. For Holy paladins, the guardian heals the most wounded ally in the area. For Protection paladins, the guardian absorbs some incoming damage. For Retribution paladins, it damages an enemy, similar to the death knight Gargoyle or the Nibelung staff. 3-minute cooldown. 30-second duration (this might vary depending on which guardian appears).
We also know that the beta talent trees are very, very much a work in progress for paladins in particular. “I’m going to regret saying this, but the paladin trees are the most changed in the game. There are only a few of the current beta talents that survived the, um, cleansing.”
So we’ll take a step back and not think about that particular tragedy.
I hear rumours about Divine Intervention getting removed, but as I’m not in beta, I know very little. I also know that they haven’t heard from me yet about various changes. I am an extremely vocal person (hi, you do read this blog regularly enough to know that, right? ;)) and I will fight to keep certain things in the game like DI, because it’s a staple paladin ability. Even if it was mostly useless in this expansion, it’s a great spell.
We also now know about a secondary resource system called Holy Power. That means that, like Death Knights, who have runic power and runes, paladins will have mana and Holy Power.
“All of the paladin specializations will make use of a new resource called Holy Power. Holy Power accumulates from using Crusader Strike, Holy Shock, and some other talents. Holy Power can be consumed to augment a variety of abilities, including:
* An instant mana-free heal: Word of Glory
* A buff to increase holy damage done: Inquisition
* A massive physical melee attack for Retribution paladins: Templar’s Verdict
* Holy Shield’s duration is now extended by Holy Power
* Divine Storm’s damage is now increased by Holy Power”
So, this means that Holy Power will allow us to use a new mana-free heal called Word of Glory and we get Holy Power by using Holy Shock and potentially some other abilities.
“We also introduced several new heals for Holy Paladins including Healing Hands (an AoE heal-over-time that is applied to all players standing near the paladin), Light of Dawn (a cone heal with a 30-yard range), as well as a new heal called Divine Light, which is similar to a priest’s Greater Heal, and the new instant heal mentioned above, Word of Glory.”
So Healing Hands, Word of Glory, Divine Light (the uber Holy Light) and Light of Dawn.
(Wait, isn’t Light of Dawn your title when you defeat LK on heroic? Oh, right, that’s the Light of Dawn. My bad.)
That’s in addition to changes to Sacred Shield (supposed to last 30m?) and Beacon of Light (only mirrors Holy Shocks and Holy Lights), plus Flash of Light and Holy Light, plus judging.
Suffice it to say that the game will be changing in ways we probably can’t even anticipate at this point. The Vanilla to Burning Crusade change wasn’t too bad; deeper talent trees, some shuffles, some changes, but it was basically the same game for a lot of people, which got refined over time. BC to Wrath changed a lot of things radically, but having 3.0 drop in the middle of October gave us a month to play around with things before Wrath came out. It’s changed a lot since it’s dropped, too.
With the changes to talents alone, never mind new spells, gear changes, all that jazz, the game is going to change faster than it ever has before. In what I presume will be the 4.0 patch, everyone will not only get a free respec (or two, with dual spec) but your basic understanding of the class will change. All the stuff I’ve talked about in my Holy How-Tos will probably be rendered useless. We are going to have to relearn our classes, relearn what races can even be what classes (gnome priests? human hunters? dwarven shaman?) and relearn the geography of the Old World.
Cataclysm will really be the biggest game-changer of them all.
So all I can really say here is speculation, until I get my hands on beta. All I can really say here is that, from my nearly five years of playing this game, maybe this is a good idea, maybe that’s a bad idea. I like to think that I have a solid understanding of how the devs want us to play the game and I like to think I have enough experience to give out a first impression that might be accurate.
Having said that, here are my thoughts on some of the new things we learned from the Twitter Dev Event and some of the stuff we knew about heals beforehand.
Holy Power: Well. Okay? A secondary resource is going to be interesting. I’m assuming, from the Twitter Dev Event that you will be able to stack to 3 Holy Power. Ghostcrawler has said this will be a second bar and it was implied it would be below the mana bar. That’s cool. I’m going to be more interested in knowing what is going to rely on Holy Power and how we can generate it besides Crusader Strike and Holy Shock.
Word of Glory: It sounds cool. Instant heals are a good thing regardless of the class that you play. Instant heals are ones that mean you can use them while moving. Paladins and shaman feel chained to the ground in many circumstances, so another instant heal sounds good. Maybe I won’t have to blow my Divine Favor at a pull to ensure I get a crit Holy Shock that procs the instant Flash of Light. I like the idea that we might be able to “save up” our holy power and let this Word of Glory loose when adequately charged. This is all based on the assumption that Word of Glory gets stronger based on our Holy Power we have stored.
Light of Dawn: This could be interesting. Another freaking “light” in the name, though… Still, not the worst-named spell ever. I would love to see a screenshot of someone with “the Light of Dawn” title displayed casting Light of Dawn. Things I want to know about this spell include duration, cast time (I imagine it’s a channel, probably 6 seconds) and cooldown (I imagine a 3-5 minute cooldown). Oh, and mana cost. I imagine this is going to cost a chunk.
Divine Light: The Uber Holy Light. This will be the heal to cast when your tank is going to die in 3+ seconds. I’m looking forward to it, to be honest. I expect it to be a reasonable cost, a long-ass cast and it better be a deeper-sounding Holy Light cast. ;)
Flash of Light: I’m so sad that this is going to get expensive. This will be the “oh shit, tank needs SOME form of healing ASAP!” spell. Crit Holy Shock + FoL + Word of Glory combo?
Healing Hands: “an AoE heal-over-time that is applied to all players standing near the paladin”. So that’s interesting. It’s a button to hit when lots of people are around us and it stays on them for the ten seconds even if we move or they move?
Without a lot of context, particularly without a talent tree that is even mostly in place, we don’t have a lot to say. What we can say is that, from our experience in this game, various things sound neat or lacklustre. We can say that, in the game environment as we know it, certain things might work nicely or not so nicely. I mean, who wouldn’t want Healing Hands on Twin Valks in TOC/TOGC? Who wouldn’t want Light of Dawn on Infest on LK?
To me, the core of understanding new talents and abilities is taking past experiences and thinking about how those apply to the old content you’ve done. That way, when you recognize familiar elements in a new fight, you can think about using the new abilities in a way that would have been able to help you in the old fight.
For example, the priests are getting Leap of Faith (also known as Life Grip) which will pull a person to you.
In current content, where would you use this?
Off the top of my head, I can think of three times to use this in a raid situation:
1) Pulling someone with a spore from melee into a ranged group on Festergut (assuming you have a priest at range).
2) Yanking someone to the center area on Blood Queen Lana’thel when they have Pact of the Darkfallen and aren’t moving.
3) Hauling someone’s lagging ass out of Defile on Lich King.
I’m going to be giving a lot of thought to how to play a paladin in Cataclysm with Cataclysm trees and mechanics, as the information comes out, and will definitely be sharing my thoughts here as both the information and my thoughts become available. ;)
Like I said, I’m not in the beta yet, so I can’t tell how different it’s going to be, but it WILL be different. How it’s going to be different will be the make-it-or-break-it for me. I have six level 80s. I may not play the paladin in Cataclysm. I may not even play the hunter. We’ll have to see how it goes.