Doing some more dungeon-running on my World of Warcraft Classic (Holy) Paladin I was struck by the thought that the perfect WoW Paladin, by my own dungeon-focused criteria, doesn’t exist in the Classic or Retail versions. Rather it’s some kind of weird mash-up of the ‘old-school’ with the modern.
Buffs are important, that they are restricted to Retribution only on retail irks me no end. The devs have made some progress undoing the excessive ability pruning of prior years but there is more to be done. Why class buffs should be spec specific escapes me. But their lack or presence isn’t the whole story as, as I wrote previously, having to rebuff every five minutes isn’t my idea of good class design either. The more modern standard of, mostly, 30 minute buffs is where I’d rather place the duration of such abilities – but bring back the full variety of them please.
The mean-spirited original version of Lay on Hands, a key emergency cooldown ability isn’t great either. The ability has a super long cooldown – 40 minutes with two talent points already spent to reduce it. As a levelling healer, Holy Paladin in Classic really feels lacking in tools. On Retail the class has some punchy heals from lower levels, notably Holy Shock from level 10 as an instant heal.
This very limited toolset also extends to the lack of certain signature abilities that I associate closely with playing Holy Paladin on the retail game. Two healing spells that have helped to make Paladin healing a more mobile *and* positional healing style than other classes. Holy Prism is a modern game talent, but an essential spell for my enjoyment of this class and spec. It offers two tactical choices that are very situational and ‘of the moment’. Heal one ally and damage all nearby enemies or damage an enemy and heal all nearby allies.
The other ability I really love is Light of Dawn, a conal heal that is punchy but short ranged. It and other abilities encourages the Paladin healer to be in the thick of the action more than most ‘casters’ in the game. It’s a healing style that I like in particular. The Classic Holy Paladin lacks these two abilities, and feels lacking for their omission. The class in Classic also lacks the Beacon of Light (copy any current target healing to this spell’s target) unique feature as well, which apparently came in during Cataclysm.
The lack of ability variety in Classic and the slower pace of combat in general does allow for more filler actions – I get to seal and judge enemies or stun casters in-between healing which is often not the case in Retail, unless running content that we out-gear. That can provide a good amount of enjoyment in itself, if the tank doesn’t need much healing it’s good to be able to go in and do some damage. But when it comes down to the bread-and-butter of the spec, healing, the toolset in Classic is pretty spartan.
So this impossible idea of a ‘perfect’ Paladin would be quite a mash-up of Classic and Retail Holy Paladin concepts, plus quite probably some earlier era (Cataclysm or Pandaria) in-between versions of abilities. Paladin remains in all version of WoW a class I identify with strongly and one of my favourites to play. But with twelve-odd years of gameplay experience in the game over all the many, many changes the class and spec have seen; it can be hard not to dream of some kind of blended version that would be better in my opinion.