Updated Wed, Nov 19, 2008 by Messiah
Players are busy getting ready for the upcoming Wrath of the Lich King expansion for the World of Warcraft. Many going along as they always have and expecting things to continue as they have in the past. I know, I was one of them.
That's what made getting into the Beta and tanking on my Paladin for the first time two weeks ago come as such a shock. The class had changed so dramatically that it was almost all new. Gone were old familiars like Seal of the Crusader, Seal of Vengeance, judgments were acting strangely, even Blessing of Salvation was gone. No Blessing of Salvation???
Regardless of missing many familiar things, I still braved tanking the new Utgarde Keep instance. I even did a competent job, mainly doing to being WAY over geared for it. I then took some time to at least get familiar with the new tanking mechanics. Here are just some of the changes.
Expect much more spell damage
Stat Balancing - In the Burning Crusade tanking as a Paladin involves a lot of balancing and juggling of stats. These include all the normal tanking stats like stamina, defense, block, dodge, etc. However as a Paladin you also rely heavily on spell damage for threat. This means aiming for and collecting +spell damage gear, primarily a high +spell damage weapon (see next point). In the expansion this changes drastically for a few reasons, but primarily that your stamina now converts to +spell damage through a talent. This change will drastically change how you gear your Paladin for threat, since stacking stamina is now almost always the answer.
Weapon Choices - Previously we were all forced to look for what is essentially a caster weapon, with high spell damage on it so that we could get enough spell damage to tank. With the new talents and converting stamina to spell power, we will not need as much as previous. Tie that in with the great new ability Hammer of the Righteous that hits 4 enemies with holy damage equal to your weapon damage and you will more than likely start looking for a big slow one handed weapon instead. For pure AOE tanking you'll probably want to keep a spell damage weapon around, but when tanking 4 or less mobs, the big damage weapon is going to be far superior.
Holy Damage - Your holy damage and therefore your threat cam from your spell power almost exclusively in the Burning Crusade. In the Wrath of the Lich King though, many of our spell coefficients have been changed to factor in our attack Power (AP) when figuring out damage. Just two examples of how this will equate to damage and therefore threat are: Seal of Righteousness will gain 1 damage per 8.3AP and 3.8 spell power. Consecration will gain 1 damage from 3.1 AP or spell power. Depending on your most used abilities it will determine which you should stack. With the change to 2 strength adding a block value for Paladins as well, you may start looking for some strength on your gear as well.
Hands - Hands are a new type of short term spell that replace many of the old Blessings and / or Seals. For example salvation is now a hand that lasts 10 seconds dropping 2% of the targets threat per second. While this is a nice ability, it is not the old passive salvation. This means that you may need to be more proactive with threat or watching to cast things, and others may need to be more careful as they will be used to having threat reduction all the time.
The new Divine Protection
Oh Crap Abilities - In Burning Crusade we really only had 2 "oh crap" buttons, and one of them was essentially a non choice. We could bubble ourselves, but this dropped our aggro, meaning we just killed everyone else in the group, so our only real save button was our lay of hands (LoH), and that only worked once an hour and drained our mana making holding aggro very difficult.
In WotLK we gain a few more options. The first is a much better version of LoH, it's on a 20 minute cooldown and does not drain our mana. Meaning that we can essentially use it in every boss fight as a last resort. Secondly our old divine protection is changed to a new version in which it reduces all damage taken by 50% but increases the time between our attacks by 50% and lasts 12 seconds. This is a great new ability and is essentially a Paladin shield wall on a 5 minute cool down.
While these changes are only the ones that affect a Protection based Paladin, I think they should server as a reminder of two things.
Firstly, the game will change. To answer the question that I posed at the beginning of this editorial "How much can one class change?", the answer is clearly "TONS!". So many things are changed in regards to Paladin tanking that while the spec is recognizable, it requires a drastic shift in strategy, thought process, and gear. It will take a significant amount of time for many Paladins to familiarize themselves with the new version of the Tankadin.
Do not worry though, once you gain familiarity the class is even better than before in many ways. If you were worried, as many players were, that Paladins may lose out in tanking in WotLK, worry no more. They will probably be even more in demand than previously.
Secondly, even though I wrote an article on being prepared for the WotLK expansion (Editorial - Getting Prepared for Wrath of the Lich King), in many ways Illadin's comments from the Burning Crusade may still apply, "You are not prepared!". That may not be such a bad thing though, as change promotes growth and learning. The many changes also help keep interest in the game. I know that I look forward to figuring out the new math, specs, and gear that will make my Paladin tank as survivable as possible.
Keep in mind as well, that this is just how drastically the tanking tree ability has changed for Paladins! There are still two other talent trees.
The Messiah has had his say, what’s yours? Did you expect changes to class as drastic as some announced? Do you look forward to the changes or want things to stay the same?
Email me at: Byron Mudry - ([email protected]) or post in our forums (linked below).
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