Ah, The Paladin. Typically one of the most played PvE classes (Retribution) along with Hunters. I create one on almost every server I play on, right after the lower level Warrior I’ve created has his “arse” handed to him in either PvP or because I aggro’d a group of mobs where my confidence was larger than my axe.
Protector of the weak and justice bringer to the unjust, this plate armor clad class used to only be for the Alliance to balance out the Horde-only Shaman. Like the Shaman, these holy warriors are a hybrid class, able to tank, heal and melee. Not only can they hit things with their swords and shields, but they can toss around spells and heal themselves and others. (Lay on Hands is a healing spell that will heal you to full health!) They also have a bit of utility in that they can buff themselves and other players through their seals and blessings.
Oh, and they can “bubble“. Divine Shield gives you 8 seconds of protection from ALL damage. Plenty of time to cast a few healing spells and drink a potion. It’s this ability that has given the Paladin the “class for noobs” designation. It’s frustrating as hell to come across a Pally in PvP. Imagine you’ve just beaten on the Pally for what feels like 5 minutes, and you’ve beaten them to almost death. BAM! They pop Lay on Hands and they’re back to full health. UGH! You beat on them some more and they’re finally one or two hits away from death, again. A mere sliver of green is left on their health bar. BAM! They pop a bubble and in 8 seconds they heal themselves back to full health. WTF!!!
I have an on-and-off again relationship with Paladins. Like I said above, I always create one 15-20 levels into leveling a Warrior, when I die one too many times. I then wind up leveling them both. It’s the ability to heal themselves that keeps bringing me back. (If Warrior’s had a single freaking healing spell I’d never play a Paladin again!) Unfortunately their rotation is almost as mind-numbing as a Frost Mage. OMG, just the thought of questing a Ret Pally for 100 levels is tiring. I much prefer the Warrior’s play style, which we’ll discuss in a future post.
But… for this adventure I took a twist. I’m leveling as Protection, and that is making all the difference (for now.)
Retribution is the DPS spec, where you swing a big two-handed weapon into things. (I’ve always preferred the look of 2h maces for Paladins, but I’ll always use the weapon with the best stats.)
Holy is the healing spec. I know people who prefer the healing style of Paladins over other healing classes, and I’ve read that Paladins are the best single-target (i.e. Tank) healer in the game, but I just don’t get the spec or play style. Paladins wear plate armor dammit! Why the hell then should they be standing in the back of the party casting spells? The spec should have been tuned for being an off-heal, with the majority of the Paladin’s time in a dungeon as melee. I’m hearing that Blizzard is changing the play style in Legion, and some of it’s heals are proximity based, meaning they’ll need to be in the thick of the fight to heal. If so, I applaud Blizzard! THAT is exactly how I envision Pally healing.
Protection is the tanking spec. Back a few expansion packs, Protection Paladin’s were the class you went to when you wanted to tank while watching TV. Rumor has it that the phrase “face roll” came about because it was said you could tank on a Paladin by rolling your face across the keyboard! Pretty much you stood in one place, aggro’d everything and just maintained the aggo while the rest of the party killed the mobs. If the healer fell asleep after a boss pull and you were getting low on health, you had many many ways to recover.
I’m having an absolute blast leveling as Protection, pulling as many mobs as I can possibly aggro, and laying waste to them. Sure, Retribution annihilates single mobs faster, but I feel with Protection I can kill groups of mobs just as fast as Retribution would. And it’s more fun! The key though is to take on groups. If all I’m doing is single mobs, then yes, Prot is slower. But honestly, not so much slower that I want to jump into Ret.
Now remember, I’m only level 43. I’m sure when I hit 60, 70, 80 or 90 the tides will turn and Prot will level much much slower. Just to see what’s in store for me I jumped on my lvl 97 Paladin and ran him up to 100 over the weekend. I tried both Prot and Ret, and Ret is clearly the way to quickly level. Prot just doesn’t put out the damage. Yes, you’ll kill the mobs, and your health bar won’t even move, but good god it takes a while to kill them.
Status and Opinions, At This Time
The Paladin just finished up the Dustwallow Marsh quests, and I’m going to level up his professions (Mining and Herbalism) while I gain another couple of levels needed to enter Felwood. (I just headed to Felwood and I’m too low to get any quests there.) I’ll probably play around in Thousand Needles. This character is my Kalimdor quests toon, whereas The Shaman is handling the Eastern Kingdoms.
Leveling as Protection has been fun as hell, making The Paladin my funnest character by far. His survivability is insane. At level 43 I’ve only died once outside of PvP, and that was because I ran too close to a Horde outpost and one of the ??? level guards one-shotted me. I’m cocky enough to say that if I wanted to get the “no death” achievement, I’d easily do it on a Protection spec’d Paladin.
As I mentioned above, I’ll pull groups of 4 to 6 mobs and let them beat on me while I whittle them all down with my sword, my shield, and my area-of-effect (AoE) spells. If I start to feel some pain, I’ll toss a heal or two on myself. If I jump on a group before I notice how low my health bar is, I’ll bubble and fully heal myself. The fun, and challenge, is to see how many mobs I can aggro and live through. And I’ve lived through them all, so far.
We’ll see how long Protection can take me. I already know that when I get into the 90’s, Prot will be unbearably slow and I’ll want to switch to Ret. Hopefully Prot will take me that far!