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TL:DR - I think holy spec should be half healing, half ranged dps.
Took me a few hours to compile all my thoughts into one post, sorry if it is somewhat unorganized and repetative.
This post is full of opinions and brainstormed ideas, you will likely disagree with several of the ideas. I encourage constructive criticism, I discourage trolls or players with a foul attitude towards opposing opinions.
I've been leveling holy dps since level 72, I'm level 84 right now. I didn't do any 80 content, I dinged 80 a few hours before Cata went live. Disregarding the basic rotation, I was enjoying being a ranged dps paladin. Got me thinking that this just felt right to be ranged dps.
World of Warcraft is based off of Dungeons and Dragons, as are most MMOs of this kind. In D&D you had your basic classes: Fighter, Wizard, Thief, Cleric. Each class had subclasses, specifically Fighters could be Paladins, Thieves could be Rogues, Clerics could be Priests, Druids, Dark Priests.
Clerics are heavy armor wearing warriors of faith. Clerics of Good alignment were generally Priests. Clerics of neutral alignment were generally Druids. Clerics of evil alignments were Dark Priests (warlocks and shadow priests in WoW). Clerics pray to their chosen diety to aid them in battle, whether it be offensive or defensive.
The Paladin is a subclass of the Fighter class that uses Clerical powers from their diety to aid them in battle. These powers vary from increasing their overall fighting ability (buffs), damaging foes in both touch range and at a distance using holy power, and curative spells. That is no different in WoW. In a sense, a Paladin is a Fighter-Cleric of D&D with fewer of the restrictions that apply to a dualclass player.
WoW Paladins and D&D Clerics and Paladins are effective the same thing. Good melee capabilities (ret), strong leadership skills (charges into battle first, tank), able to wear heavy armor (essential on a tank), and support with curative and restorative spells (healer). What WoW Paladins lack is the ranged damage aspect that Clerics have in D&D. That seems to have been unintentionally incorporated into Cataclysm with Exorcism being a quick cast with no cd, specced into holy tree the cost is cut tremendously, the damage is increased, and you even have the chance of an instant, no cost spell.
This being the paladin forum, I'm sure just about everyone is aware of all this.
My first proposition is making the holy tree have two specs, dps and healing.
If you don't understand what I mean, look at druid feral tree - there are talents that only affect cat dps, there are talents that only affect bear tanking, and there are talents that increase both specs' capabilities. For the most part, a cat specced druid won't do well tanking, and a bear specced druid in cat form won't top the dps charts.
Do the same with the holy tree. There are already excellent talents in the holy tree that are specifically dps based (Blazing Light) that are available to all three specs, deeper into the holy tree there are talents that affect both healing and dps (Conviction). If holy paladins are meant to only heal in raids, that means that these dps talents were meant for pvp when the holy paladin had to do some dps in order to survive.
Of course, if this were to work, there would have to be several changes made to make "dps holy" paladins incapable of main healing, and "healing holy" paladins unable to dps as well as pure dps specs. Last thing I want is a class that can heal and dps effectively with the same exact spec.
I have spoken to fellow paladins about this, most, if not all, were all for the idea. It allows paladins to further customize their class to their own preferences. However, we all agree that judge-exo-exo-exo-judge-exo is far too simple and would only cause commotion from the other ranged dps classes (much like what arcane mages are being the victims of right now). This leads me to my second proposition...
Return a cooldown to Exorcism, increase it's damage comparable to other hard hitting spells, and add a new "filler" spell that does ranged damage. Exorcism should be the Chaos Bolt of the holy dps spec, it should have a cd to prevent spamming and hit hard enough to be worth casting when off cd.
You might be thinking right now that if Exorcism is buffed for a holy dps spec, it will be unbalanced for other specs, specifically Art of War. Originally in the beta, Exorcism had a cd, Art of War proc would instantly cooldown your Exorcism. Art of War's Exorcism also went through many +XX% damage changes to balance it out. This percentage can be lowered so that ret doesn't see a difference in Exorcism's damage from the Art of War proc. At 85, without the holy talent Denounce, Exorcism costs over 7k mana, and with Ret having 25k mana pool, this makes spamming it as a Ret paladin ineffective, you'll oom before the fourth cast.
Now, this new filler spell... As stated before, right now the holy dps rotation is judge, exo, exo, exo, etc. I excluded Holy Shock because it's actually a dps loss to use, it's damage isn't worth the gcd (primarily used to heal, not dps). The rotation is bland, needs something more than two spells. By adding an additional spell and pumping up Holy Shock's damage, this will boost it to 5 spells, comparable to other (non-arcane mage) ranged dps rotations. The new spell should be considered the auto attack of the rotation, think Lightning Bolt on an ele shaman. This spell could even be named Holy Smite, as that was the basic spell of the D&D Cleric.
I mentioned pumping up Holy Shock's damage so that it's worth the gcd to cast. In fact, I have a whole different idea for Holy Shock that can help decide whether you're dps or healing.
Holy Shock does damage to hostile targets or heals friendly targets. Remove the damage from Holy Shock so that it is a healing spell. Create a glyph or talent (or add to an existing talent) that will swap it, so that Holy Shock only does damage. This is one of the ways to weaken the healing ability of the dps spec, and shouldn't affect the healing spec since Holy Shock should be used for healing anyways. It's not unheard of for Blizzard to give a player a way to completely change the mechanics of a spell through one means or another, look at Glyph of Salvation. Without the glyph, using Hand of Salvation lowers your threat over a period of 10 seconds. With the glyph, using Hand of Salvation prevents threat generation for the next 10 seconds.
I understand there are several imbalances that will come from this, I'm going to mention a few and possibly edit later with other concerns that come up.
Right now pvp holy paladins specced into the dps talents are incredibly overpowered, everyone knows that. Not only do they have high healing, they have decent damage output. Not to mention their damage cannot be resisted through elemental resistances. If dps spec lost a lot of healing ability, it will cut back on that unkillableness. Besides, the same argument can be made about prot paladins, but we don't see many nerfs going their way lol.
Unresistable spell damage
I can only come up with a couple of reasons that this shouldn't be much of a concern. At level 85, paladin Resistance Aura gives you 190 resistance in Shadow, Fire, and Frost elements. A shaman gets the same from Elemental Resistance Totem, however it's Fire, Frost, Nature. 190 spell penetration to negate this effect. 190 spell penetration that a paladin would not need to get, and can invest it into another stat. Imho, 190 in another stat isn't game breaking.
Holy Shock 6 second cd, Inquisition 12 second duration
Actually, no one has presented this concern to me, my own wandering mind did. Inquisition at 3 Holy Power will give +30% holy damage for 12 seconds. Holy Shock is on a 6 second cooldown, and without beacon of light is the only generation of holy power (assuming you're not being attacked to proc Blessed Life talent). This means that Inquisition can only be up 66.7% of the time. This concern is irrelevant until numbers are finalized, so really it was just brought up to bring this to everyone's attention.
Paladins having four specs, two in one tree.
One word: Druid. Tank and dps in one tree, ranged dps in a second, healer in the third. Only difference these two will have is that the healer tree splits with one of the dps trees.
Exorcism, 100% crit against undead and demons. No other caster has that kind of spell.
This is seemingly irrelevent in Cataclysm. From what I can remember in the beta, there are no undead or demon bosses in the raids, and I'm fairly certain there are none in heroics. While leveling through Hyjal, Deepholm, and Uldum, I noticed that Blizzard has did away with all undead and demon monsters except for two instances: two quests in Hyjal have you kill demons. The skeletons and ghosts in one of the Uldum tombs during the first Harrison Jones chain are classified as humanoids, no instant crits for dps holy paladins.
I truly believe that Paladins should be able to dps at range, just like Clerics could be smiters in D&D. I'm completely open to opinions, constructive criticism, and suggestions.
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