Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Paladin sucks

Broken Toys had a link to a blog named Paladin sucks. This is a blog where over the course of a year, in nearly daily blog entries, a paladin explains why his class sucks, why Blizzard hates paladins so much, how every patch either ignores them or nerfs them, and so on. Talk about love-hate relationship. I'm not a big fan of playing a paladin either, but I found a relatively simple solution: I leveled a paladin up to 30 to get a feel for the class, found I didn't care for it much, and simply abandoned the character to play something else.

The disadvantages of playing a paladin are obvious: He is a hybrid between tank and healer, with neither of his two aspects being very good in dealing damage. Basically the paladin is excellent in the important skill of "not dying", but pays for that by being barely able to kill anything. If you made a contest where you take one participant of each class and time how long it takes each of them to kill a specific mob while soloing, paladin would come last. On the other hand if you made the contest about the same characters being attacked by an ever increasing flood of mobs, timing how long it takes until they succumb, the paladin would be top of class. Unfortunately "not dying" is a lot less heroic and fun than being able to kill monsters.

So wouldn't the "not dying" skill make the paladin the ideal tank? Unfortunately not. Because tanking is all about holding aggro, and the paladins taunting abilities are far inferior to those of a warrior. And the most important "not dying" skill, the famous invulnerability bubble, reduces the paladins aggro, and sends the mobs killing the other party members. And as always in MMO groups: specialists beat hybrids. A duo of one tank and one priest is a lot better than a duo of two paladins. In the end the paladin is reduced to buffing, healing, and purifying in groups and raids, being a less efficient healer, but a harder to kill one, which can be useful in some situations.

Classes that are there for support and defensive are necessary for a MMO. But that doesn't mean these classes are necessarily fun to play for everybody. Playing a support class requires a special mind set, as any holy priest can assure you. What works against paladins is that they *look* a lot more martial than they really are. You wouldn't suspect a (shadow) priest to be able to outdamage a (retribution) paladin, but that is exactly what happens. Many people who wish to deal lots of melee damage are seduced by the sexy look of World of Warcrafts huge 2-handed weapons, failing to recognize that the class which deals the most melee damage is in reality the rogue with his harmless looking dagger.

Fortunately there is one area where paladins shine: PvP. As the taunting abilities don't work in PvP, and there is no aggro management, suddenly paladins are a lot more powerful defenders than warriors. Being hard to kill even makes them better healers than priests in PvP. The invulnerability bubble, which isn't much of a help in a PvE group, suddenly becomes a very powerful tool in PvP. So powerful in fact that in the Burning Crusade expansion priest will get the ability to dispel the bubble, to the exasperation of many paladins.

Does being a paladin suck? Only if you started playing that class with wrong expectations, which is a definitive risk. If you want to play a healer / aggressive melee hybrid, you should take a shaman instead, even if their armor doesn't look half as good as the paladins. If you want to play a healer, play a priest. If you want to play a tank, play a warrior. And if you want to deal a lot of damage in melee, play a rogue. Expecting to be able to do all three things in one class, and each better than the specialist classes, isn't very realistic, and is bound to lead to disappointment. Then you could either join the growing horde of grumbling paladins, or just play something else.

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