It would feel very elegant to get rid of healing plate. But it is a pretty major change and one you aren't likely to see anytime soon.

The logical choice is to make Holy (and all paladin healing really) scale off of AP somehow. But then you also need to solve the mana pool and regen problems because melee dps rings don't have int or mp5 on them.

It's not an impossible problem to solve, but it is a big one. Changing melee druids to share a lot of gear with rogues has been tricky and something we are still working on.

I have the feeling that Ghostcrawler has this wrong, its not such a hard task in reality, we need to consider first that melee gear provides:

  • Strength
  • Stamina
  • Hit
  • Crit
  • Expertise

Now a caster need:

Int -> or rather a caster needs mana to cast, and the associated crit
Mana Regen -> to enable longer fights
Spell Power -> to scale heals
Crit -> to make heals big

My first suggestion would be the notion that Spell power isn't necessary, if it is necessary then simply moving the Protection talent, Guarded by Light, to low end Protection would solve the issues, then all Paladins have a base SP ~= 1/3rd of their stamina, this is a fairly known value for all gear.

In terms of a large mana pool, this can be solved with lower spell costs, or more effective heals, Illumination could provide 30% of spell cost back on cast (so a spell costs 70% of what it would for Prot/Ret, but you still need the mana to cast it in the first place), with a 100%/150% return on crit. Paladins then become independent of the idea of mana regeneration and become an active class, there is no real passive system for them.

Hit rating can be converted to crit, or indeed into a more effective heal, perhaps something along the lines of:

Precise Heals:
Hit rating increases your Holy Spell Power by {y}

Expertise is likely the most interesting point, imagine if instead of being a way to reduce the boss parry/ dodge it made some kind of HoT effect, or reduced casting times like haste.

Expertise lowers the cast time of your Holy Light and Flash of light spells by {y}s


Expertise grants your Holy Light spell a chance to apply a HoT for 100% of healing for 8s, at {y}%/expertise (since the soft cap is around 24, hard cap around 60 I would suggest 1/1.5% per point, so a fully capped [nearly impossible] healer would hit for 90% chance, a softcapped for 36%.)

Finally, we make heals scale from AP and SP (1:2 ratio or so?), and give Holy a talent like Ret has converting Str to SP.

We have the basis of a working system, Paladins now rely on melee stats, and as a consequence we can remove SP gear. What differentiates Retribution and Holy Paladins is then the mana regen and efficiency (Holy is at least 42% more efficient than Ret) and the variety and options of heals compared to DPS options.

Its not a lack of possibility for Paladins to become a melee healing class, it is the act of trying to make it complex, the mechanics are already in place to make mana a non-issue, or to make it work differently to other healers, all it needs is the will and vision of a designer.

We have already announced or suggested all of these changes would be forthcoming in the next minor content patch. I thought I would list them all in one place for ease of use.
Divine Shield: Penalty changed so that all damage done is reduced by 50% instead of a attack speed penalty.

1) Divine Protection no longer causes an attack penalty. Divine Shield's penalty was changed to 50% less damage done by the paladin.

2) Sacred Duty: This Protection talent no longer affects the attack penalty of Divine Shield and Divine Protection, but grants additional bonus Stamina.

3) Avenging Wrath, Divine Shield, Divine Protection, and Hand of Protection have a shared, 30-second cooldown. The Forbearance effect is no longer triggered by Avenging Wrath.

4) Judgement of Wisdom now returns a percentage of base mana instead of a percentage of max mana.

5) All mana drain effects now return a percentage of max enemy mana (making mana drains less punishing to paladins and other characters without large mana pools.)

6) Judgements of the Pure: This Holy talent now increases the damage done by Seals and Judgements.

7) All paladins receive a single-target taunt (name TBD) as a base ability.

* Hand of Protection will be castable on other players during the cooldown period -- just not on yourself (to prevent chain immunity)
* New Paladin taunt is called Hand of Judgement: 30 yard range, 8 second cooldown, and does a small amount of Holy damage as well
* The amount of base mana that Judgement of Wisdom returns is scaled to not be a nerf to "most" Holy Paladins. This means this change is likely a massive buff to Protection and Retribution mana return (as well as other low-mana classes such as Hunters and Enhancement Shaman).

Still not really happy with the 30s lockout on these, simply having it do a /cancelaura would have been much better in my mind (so they are truly mutually exclusive), and dropping forbearance to 1 minute, but nice changes.

The Hand of Judgement is awesome (if badly named), a ranged pull / tagging spell for Ret and Holy (though Holy doesn't really need it now), a taunt that works properly for Prot, and a reasonable range. Many people will say "why do we need this", and the answer is the edge case bosses and fights where "3 random mobs from target" isn't acceptable.

Mana returns and drains as a percentage is great, while I can see people saying "why doesn't fireball do x% damage then", the difference in health stacking is way smaller than mana stacking (and all classes can do it) due to the odd combination of Mana and no Int on some classes. Hopefully the next step is to give us a truly limitless resource system for Retribution and balance their damage around all cooldowns being filled (such that utility and healing drop dps rather than being in addition).

It is not a lot of love, but it is some much needed love, Paladins always seem to be that odd class with three specs at odds with each other, maybe soon we will see a Str -> Int / Spellpower for Holy, and we can finally see the class coming closer together as an in the Melee X.

Ok, maybe not yet, since I haven't hit Naxx on live yet, nor have I done the Old Kingdom and Halls of Stone (wtb group pst), however the other 10 Heroics have just flown by, I have chalked up over 100 heroic badges already, the game simply isn't a challenge.

I think a lot of this is the gear level, the difference between Epic T5/6 gear (ILevel 160ish) and the gear we are supposed to run heroics in (ILevel 187 blues) is too low, instead of them being a challenge as they were to the 10,000 health crittable tank, we are well outside the easily killable range and instead in the "if we don't do anything silly" range.

I think this was a major flaw in Blizzards plan, the very fact that most level 80s consider the correct step to be ding, go heroic is the wrong attitude, we used to have to work to get there (D3 set at the minimum really for tanks), instead now the gear is good enough.

Fixing this one was easy for them though, have the game another tier higher, and set the Heroics at the iLevel 213 state, with Naxx at 226 and 239, that would make them able to assume much more gear (and no stupid paladins aoe tanking the whole place) allowing heroics to be harder. While we don't want to see MGT again (bring 2 CC on third boss or don't pass go), we would love to see some "omg, I would like some cc now please" moments.

The Nexus doesn't change a lot from its non heroic version.

Best route through it seems to be to head left, taking the elite, and again left into the small area with frozen troops and the first boss. From there head through and across the two platforms, jumping into the arcane adds (1 big + wraiths) allows you to skip one pull for a faster run, then up onto the 2nd boss area, coming back jump down and head towards the group of dragonkin attacking a portal to the north, this allows you to skip trash. Once inside, you will need to clear the whole pretty white area, you can skip the giant trees by hugging the planters, none are required kills, however can be killed without a healer by a tank + 3 dps (120,000 health), the patrols are around 63,000 health for the casters, the centaurs heal and cast tranquility (interrupt this), the treekin inflict a debuff that is mostly ignorable, attempt to stun the centaurs.

Pulls with a 20,000 health, 20,000 armour tank (520 defense at the time) could be done 3 at a time easily, with the major worry being the packs with the dogs (the pack has an ice trap). The fourth could likely be attempted however I didn't try it. None of the pulls have LoS requirements and are fully ccable (poly, sap, repentence, hex, traps).

Our setup was:
Paladin Tank: 20k health, 20k armour, 520 defense, crushable by 10%
Paladin Healer: ?
Rogue: ~830 dps
Mage: ~ 920 dps
Hunter: ~ 1200dps
Total party dps over the instance was 4310, which is probably quite low.


Commander Komurug / Commander X (Varies by Alliance / Horde)
- Charges every 45s-60s ish, hits for around 8k on plate (Paladin Healer), 8-25 yard range
- Whirwind every 60s ish, hits for around 11k on 20,000 armour (one shots anyone not in plate basically), 20k to a leather rogue basically
- 3-5.5k normal hits on 20,000 armour
- Fears every 60s or so
- 330,000 health roughly
- Comes with 2 priest healers, around 63,000 health, no serious damage

Pull the boss himself, and take him back to the entrance where you entered the room (getting out of the whirlwind is near impossible, so just pop trinkets or consumables as needed to get through it). One of the Priests should be controlled, and the other killed (both if you can manage it, or if you can control both). The fight then is very simple. Melee need to move out from the whirlwind, and be outside charge range (or inside) allowing a plate wearer to take it or no one if you are sufficiently out. The fear can overlap with the whirlwind / charge cooldowns, and this is the most dangerous part as it moves the danger area, your healer and suchlike need to remember to move out of the whirlwind area, and ensure that a plate equivalent class can take the charge.

Grand Magus Telestra
- Fireball / Frostbolt / Arcane Blast type attacks, 3-4k damage, doesn't always target highest aggro
- Fireblast, 8yard AoE centered on target, always the highest aggro
- Time stop - short duration incapacity - seems unresistable
- Frost Nova - short duration movement stop - resistable
- Freeze - Short duration CC, breaks on damage - resistable
- uses the same annoying move + throw technique, threat can be built during this, falling damage and repositioning required
- 300,000 ish health, adds have about 120,000

Splits into 3 separate forms twice during the fight, once before 50% and once after.
- Frost form throws frostbolts / blizzard
- Arcance form arcane blasts
- Fire form throws Fireballs / fireblasts
- Time stop continues while this phase is up
- Freeze can occur while this form is up

Pull the boss herself, and tank it like the Demon form of Leotheras the blind, stand at maximum range with the melee spread behind her at maximum range to ensure the fireblast hits only the tank. DPS down till she splits. Best plan is to control (vulnerable to traps, polymorph, and can be stunlocked) as many as possible, typically control the frost add as she restricts movement, the first add seems to do the most damage. You do not need to tank all 3, tank 2 and allow the DPS to take a third (or 1 and 1 if you have a control) to reduce the insta-gib capability. Once she returns to a single form DPS her as normal, watching position and repeat the split forms technique, there is apparently some use of two random abilities (her column in the middle gains two of the aspects), however I have not seen this affect the fight.

- 300,000 ish health
- Arcane damage + melee (continual 300-3k arcane damage + 3000 ish melee on 20,000 armour)
- Spawns portals throughout fights
- Becomes invulnerable and spawns a portal (or 2), the portal must be killed before he becomes killable again.

Tactic is identical to that of the normal version, stand and dps, zerging him until he becomes invulnerable and spawns a portal, at all times you must DPS down the portals as the damage becomes hard to heal through. The fight should not be any challenge if you have the DPS to down portals (25,000 health roughly), it is important to get as much dps on the portals as they spawn, if the boss is invulnerable even the tank should dps the portals, when the boss is up move close to a portal to allow Hammer of the Righteous and other multi-target effects to affect both.

Ormorok the Tree-Shaper
- 350,000 ish health
- Minor tank damage (3-4k on 20,000 armour)
- 4 spines causing initial minor damage when they popup and falling damage, these do not spawn at 90 degree intervals, and can be 4 on one side, or perfectly spread, you need to move
- Enrage at 20% give or take, deals increased damage

As with normal, the plan is to zerg the boss taking account of movement to avoid the spines. When he enrages pop the shieldwall equivalent to give the healer some breathing room and continue to DPS. This boss is no harder on heroic other than the spines not being as predictable.

- 400,000 ish health
- Crystaline Breath - frost damage - resistable
- Crystalise - freezes whole party in place - resistable
- Hits for 3,000 ish on 20,000 armour
- Debuff if you don't move increasing frost damage.

This boss is interesting, the cystalise hitting the entire group is hard on a Paladin Healer (seems ideally suited to mass dispel). Plan is essentially as the normal version, position the group around, and jump as often as possible (or movement of any kind), when the crystalise hits, sacred shield (or damage reduction ability) yourself, and begin to assist in dispelling these, they can resist your cleanse / dispel. It is far more important to remove the debuff than to continue to build threat. Other than that, minor damage to the raid continuously, and fairly major tank damage throughout the fight.

Best technique is to simply keep jumping, you don't lose anything by doing so, and failure to do so indicates you are frozen (saves you watching timers and suchlike if you are new here), cleanse yourself, and work down the DPS.

So a week in more or less, and level 79.55, or 9 bars to ding.

It has been an interesting trip so far, The boring tundra seems to provide exactly that, an interesting lead in for some, but seeming very bitty for me, I started in Howling Fjords and the story was much more tied together, an Alliance assault on the Viking strongholds with a struggling alliance keep in the north west. I did cheat a little, I hit 72 in instances (Utgarde Keep how I loathe thee) before really questing, so I was 74 when I hit Dragonblight, this area works nicely, a dragonic war going on in the middle of the area, with the Alliance outposts near Naxxramas, and the Wrathgate (and if you do no other quests, do Dragonblight, the cinematic for the Wrathgate is worthwhile, Bolvar Fordragon almost makes up for 4 years standing next to Onyxia and not realising it).

From here the choice is open, you can disappear into Zul'drak, or Sholonar, I went for Zul'drak and continued my quest against the Scourge and in a slightly confusing end worked for the Trolls and the Lich King, again lots of lore and interesting story lines, meeting the old crew from Zul'aman and some of the other troll gods (for anyone that ran ZA a lot, do Zul'drak, its worth it simply for the troll quests).

Finally I slipped into Icecrown at level 78, fighting from the Alliance vanguard into Scourgeholme, and the floating battleship where I have carried out sorties against the enemy, in short... fun.

Its a nice expansion so far, the gear seems far better than TBC did in that there is some very nice tanking gear, the drive for Heroics and 540 defence still seems like it will be a rather hard mistress however, I think perhaps I am going to go in crittable. That is however the main complaint.

While TBC uncrittable was an easy goal, with uncrushable as hard, the removal of crushing blows and the current difficulty with uncrittable (ok its not actually hard, just rep up the wyrmcrest, get a load of crafted gear and some nice quest drops, but it was a heck of a lot easier in TBC, staying uncrushable was hard, but getting uncrit wasn't a major issue for me). I think the badge gear at the start is a nice plan, however the instances have cut down on their loot lists because of this, it means that a lot of the items you want are now heroic grinds, rather than a piece of treasure you retrieved and reworked.

Anyway, hopefully 80 tonight, and my first steps towards 2/5 T7.

So I decided to buy the collectors edition, travelling 120 miles to get it, thankfully my trip has the added bonus of letting me say hi to my Brother, so I don't fall into the totally sad and nothing better to do category (and seriously, no Amazon, bad Amazon, gimme CE for more than 1 hr while I was at work to order!).

I did 16 dailies last night for the exp dump, and am ready to handin on the island, hearth to Shat for handins, then say goodbye to Outland and head into the Instances of Northrend. Its kindof strange, when TBC hit I didn't care, I was level 40ish and raiding was dull endgame stuff with nothing better, now I am thinking of powerlevelling to 80 and maybe pugging with others to see about a server first (unlikely, with a top 5 guild on my server, and several in the top couple of hundred).

So what does this mean:

Well firstly, my posting frequency should go up (since I am no longer just farming dull content and contemplating the joys of avoiding commenting on Blizzard Paladin Policy).

Secondly, well I don't know what the future will hold, but at the least me and my little frosty netherwhelp are going to be approaching it head on, and AoE tanking the future. Hopefully there will be people behind me to support it all.

Its a hard question to answer really, as a time sink nothing beats WoW, the ability to log on and do something is good, yet at the same time you spend so much time not doing anything, and that is what worries me. I have gone from casual to hardcore raider to soft and fluffy social member (not voluntarily), and yet I still wonder if raiding is worth the time and effort it takes to do so, four to five nights a week + ancillary activities.

Its the part of WoW I enjoy, working out tactics, working on gear and strategies and carrying them out, yet its also the part that requires the most time, and in a few years I wonder what the reward will be, when the servers go down and all we are left with is the memories of what we had, our purple clad avatars no longer meaningful even in the sense of what they have been.

I suppose its part of the pre-release mood, the down turn and nerfing of every boss, of seeing servers get so lethargic it isn't even funny, I think I am going to wait and see a bit, but I am not really sure what is going to happen.

The idea of a niche is a good one from some perspectives, you need to take a Rogue because you need the debuff poison he has, similarly you need to take those 2 priests for the Mind Control they offer for that boss fight. This structure however falls down when you consider that this means that there are effectively fewer raid slots available for other people, niches, while defining us, lead to a reduced ability to do what we want to do.

I can look at tanking, and see that there used to be niches, Bears were off-tanks, Paladins AoE tanks, and Warriors were the eternal main-tank, in short we were forced into roles due to mechanics, options and talents. This failed in many ways, those upstart Paladins were main-tanking bosses, and Druids were only held back by the crushing blow mechanic, tanks didn't want to be niched. It can be seen in reverse as well, while Warriors loved the almost guaranteed main-tank slot, they hated the effect in 5 and 10 man instances where they were sidelined by Paladins ability to AoE tank effortlessly (well not really, but Consecration basically made up for very bad DPS targeting / control). With the changes in WotLK we see the reverse, now we have Warriors worrying for the loss of their main-tank role due to a lack of "utility" despite holding the tanking utility crown still, we see Paladins happy to lose the AoE role (mostly) provided it brings their threat, mitigation and utility in line for tanking with Warriors.

There are problems with this of course, we see it in the Hybrid vs Pure debates, we see Rogues worrying that DPS warriors offer as much DPS, and those same DPS Warriors worrying that Retribution Paladin will be brought instead due to the ability to hearth, respec, change gear and then heal. People came to depend on their niches, 2 rogues in a raid was fairly common because it made good use of the melee group, 2 Rogues, a Warrior, an Enhancement Shaman and a crit-Bear. Similarly Shadow Priests were shoved in caster groups, you wanted the Shadow Priest, Elemental Shaman and 3 Warlock group twice because it did good dps. People grew used to being a niche role, and they came to like it.

Removing niches hurts this, suddenly our damage has to be similar across the board, making player skill important (though the distribution of skill needs to change really, the complexity of maintaining a proper Affliction rotation compared to a Frost rotation is much different for very little gain if any), our tanking needs to be based off of the common tank skill set (which is the tank equivalent of dps), and the utility in a raid assignable mostly through bringing a small number of classes to get the buffs. The one role we haven't really de-niched is in fact healers, leaving a deficit.

We see Discipline Priests and Paladins as single target healers, yet the other three healing specs are capable of near equal single target healing (otherwise 5 man instances would be an eternal pain for them), yet we do not see the reciprocal, a Paladin or Disc Priest cannot AoE heal to anywhere near the effectiveness of the other classes. This breakdown is bad, it means that there are two solutions, if the raid damage is like pre-BC we see Paladins and Disc Priests in too many numbers shunning the rest, or if we see TBC type raiding we see Shamans, and CoH Priests too often. Healers, like tanks, need to have their core skill-set homogenised a little, giving all healers access to single target, AoE, reactive and shielding skills, then making the differentiation in how effective and synergistic these are. I don't want to see the day when we say:

"Ok, Paladins on raid healing and Shamans tank healing"

That tends to go against the theory of the classes, Paladins and Disc Priests will and should be the strongest (by a margin of 20-50%?) single target healers, it should be their effortless role, similarly a CoH Priest and a Shaman should effortlessly heal raids and groups (by a margin of 20-50%?), leaving Druids as the main passive healer class, rolling lifeblooms, HoTs, reactive healing spells out onto the targets, suddenly classes are all capable, but have roles to fill. We can even differentiate within a role, a Paladin is a solid throughput healer, being able to throw large heals quickly and infinitely onto a single target, or throwing smaller splash heals around, the Discipline Priest meanwhile works more through shields, preventing damage, redirecting it and smoothing the incoming damage curve.

We can see CoH Priests having powerful, large scale heals (hitting 5-10 people at once for fast, reactive healing), Shamans offer more targeted healing through Chain Heal as a more powerful solution to raid damage.

The key to making it work though is synergy, two CoH Priests should be less effective in the general instance than a CoH Priest and a Shaman doing raid healing, that is to say that the damage rate / type / spread should favour stabilising people quickly (the benefit of CoH), while allowing a focused healing through Chain Heal. This can be achieved by moderating damage or through buff and debuff types, perhaps CoH lands a "drained" debuff on its targets, increasing healing done on them, but reducing further CoH healing, or perhaps doing other some other targeted buff. Smart heals are useful here, but should be less powerful than a targeted heal in terms of effectiveness.

I won't say we don't want niches, but what needs to happen is for niches to be complementary and to allow almost any combination of classes to complete a raid given sufficiently good players, its not to say that not stacking 1 Shaman, 1 Priest, 1 Paladin and 1 Druid isn't the best base combination, but that 2 Priests and 2 Paladins can still get through it if they make no mistakes, its the ZA 4 Timed Chest run, in T4 gear, sure its easy in T6, but if you make no mistakes, have the skill and 9 other people that don't make mistakes and have perfect pathing then it can be done.

Role on homogenisation, because it can allow us to be more differentiated without leaving us stuck in a niche with no where to go.

So its getting closer, its getting through the nerfs, watching the game close down fully and watching the Beta dry up like some kind of prune left out over night. Being honest I stopped wanting to post about Paladins for a while, we were in such as state of flux and changing rapidly that there was no real point in it, we cannot sway the developers we can only give feedback and pray their thoughts are the same as the community.

Unfortunately its not happened well for us, while many classes complain that they received less attention, that they didn't get a new mechanic and such like most of us got something to play with. My Warlock is actually reasonably happy, I specced into affliction for raiding with her, and achieving good dps above that of many others due to actually knowing the rotation and knowing when to clip myself. Of course I can't say Paladins came out badly either.

What did go wrong though was the whole approach, in each expansion we basically change a lot because the idea of the class is so fuzzy, in fact its positively non-existent. Our three roles do not mesh well, and we don't have the fluidity Druids once had (and they got kicked in the shapeshifting body part as well there), nor do we have the original planned cross overs.

Blizzard achieved something early in the Beta, Paladins were cross speccing.

Protection was protection, we can't realistically afford to move into another tree due to the obvious requirement on mitigation and threat not present in the baseline, Retribution similarly was speccing deep into their tree to acquire the needed skills to perform well, Holy however had options.

We saw the rise of the close in healer with infinite mana, the Baconboy, HoThealing and several others, suddenly Holy was a lot more interesting. Then it was nerfed, things were thrown around, infinite mana (throw the only class with no HoTs, AoE etc a bone please?) was a thing of the past, Retribution getting to throw the occasional heal was gone and the generic 51/x/y builds started to come back, something was gone. Being honest I hope it comes back, I want to see more of it, I want to see a fourth role in the game:

Combat Healer
Group Support

Tanks will be tanks, the game design almost requires them, a single or multiple classes designed to focus damage for the raid, Healers are also required to assist the tank and handle damage flying around (otherwise raids have a very strict timer like RoS). By adding combat healers like Retribution Paladins and Enhancement Shamans we could see a new class role, suddenly you have maybe 3-4 healers per raid like tanks, and these close up healers who maintain "aura" like healing coupled with flash healing, in short damage -> healing in a small radius.

The last group I would love added is group support, meaning Elemental Shamans, Shadow Priests (or possibly Disc) and Boomkin, add raidwide and support healing to these classes to cover the raid wide damage.

Raid make up would be more interesting, suddenly you have tanks and melee supported by the close range burst healers, doing damage to feed healing. The group support healers sacrifice some dps to heal, but achieve optimal DPS by weaving in some healing (you could tie in a chain heal like effect, heals the target for X and then the target target for X healing or y damage, causes a stacking bonus to damage spell q).

Finally your healing classes are responsible for the bursts in damage to the raid, to the tanks, make healing slightly more restrictive (Paladins / Shamans are Tank / small group healers, Priests / Druids larger group healers, but with some cross over) and allow them to interact more with the targets, shields to buy breathing room, reactive heals, damage based heals.

We won't ever see the game change completely, but we did see the start of something like this, we saw change and we liked it, healers that DPS'd, DPS that could spot heal and truly fluid hybrids. We got to use the base abilities of our class and found a reason to cross talent spec, as GC said the 51 point talents aren't more powerful than any other otherwise we would automatically take them, but they did move things down the tree to stop cross-talent builds...

Put talents in positions to let people use them, 11 point talents are open to all, 21, 31 and 41 should be open to some builds and the 51 point a serious contender, let us choose to be a sheatheadin or a baconboy, but either way let us make a choice.