As we continue our look at the class changes coming up with the new World of Warcraft expansion Legion, we move on to the noble and righteous Paladins. When I first started playing WoW, Burning Crusade had just come out and you could customize your spec as much as you wanted. We ran with something that mixed and matched his spec, picking a few from Holy, a few from Protection and a dash from Retribution… we called it the WTF spec as he couldn't heal well, did very little damage and died easily. I also remember during that time that Ret Pallys were kind of a joke. That is very different today as Ret can bring a lot of DPS during a raid fight if played well.
With Legion, the designers felt that Paladins were pretty good when it came to lore and game play. Prot and Ret Pallys will basically just go through a tightening up of their mechanics and spells but Holy is going to have one big change… where they stand.
A Holy Paladin is in essence a Holy Priest that wears plate armor. And if you're going to stand in the back with the casters, what's the point of the extra protection? So the major change for the class is that those who are healers will now do so from melee range. Paladins are already geared to be single target healers which means you have them focus on the tank. Now you don't have to worry about the tank kiting the boss out of range as you'll be moving with them. They're doing this in two ways. One is the Mastery for the Holy Paladins now increases your healing effectiveness the closer you are to your target. And second there will be a variety of beneficial auras that will effect players near you. Light of Dawn will be returning to its original cone shape and new Light of the Martyr will pull from your own health to instantly heal an ally… like a mini Lay Hands.
For Protection Paladins the biggest change has to do with Holy Power… or rather the removal of it. Now your spells are based on cooldowns instead of charges. Word of Glory is being replaced by Light of the Protector which instantly heals you for 50% of your missing health… which seems like a lot… and it has a 15 second cooldown. Also, Crusader Strike is being eliminated as it was almost identical to Hammer of the Righteous accept for an AoE effect that will not go off occasionally if standing in Consecration. This feels more like a smoothing over of the mechanics then a major change.
Like the Holy Paladins, those who spec into Retribution will need to move a little closer. Again, if you have plate armor why are you standing back and casting? They will continue to use Holy Power as it fits with the theme of the spec, but the focus of the spells will be on short range combat. Two of the new spells being Blade of Justice which strikes an enemy within 12 yards and does strong damage and generates 2 holy power. The second, and Paladin's who are jealous of Warrior's charge ability will love this… Lothar's Might. You hurl a blade of light up to 30 yards to a targeted area and then you are instantly teleported to the sword causing moderate damage to all nearby enemies. Nice way to jump in and pull agro off the tank.
Paladins have always been a great class for a new player. Their lore and abilities are at the core of the Warcraft story and they allow a new player a chance to dabble in each area of battle… tank, heals and dps… without making a solid commitment up front. You roll a Warlock you are dps for as long as you play that character. They're also my person healer of choice when I play a healer… what good is a healer if they are squishy and die early in a fight… so hearing the changes here has be a bit excited.
For more on the proposed changes to Paladins, check out this write up by Blizzard.