With his closing post of 2008, Rohan got me thinking for a while about my pallie, currently my main:
Do I really like playing my paladin, or do I just love the paladin archetype?
The paladin archetype, that of a holy warrior, is really, really strong. (…) WoW Paladins are healbots. The design of Flash of Light, coupled with the extreme specialization now in the game, ensures that, now and forever. A low power, high efficiency heal that resets the swing timer has doomed us to a life of spamming heals from the back.(…)Do I like my paladin? Or do I just like the idea of a paladin, a hybrid melee character who healed and blessed her group while dealing retribution with a two-handed hammer? Coriel was that paladin once, will she ever be again?
There used to be (maybe still is, haven’t returned to check lately) among the innumerable self-destructive in-fights of the paladin community the one opposing alliance paladins and horde blood knights (with the exception of re-rollers of course), and while the notion that a belfadin had a less valid viewpoint on the class as it is now has always made me smile, I probably never truly integrated just how deep the cultural gap between the jaded old 2005 alliance pallies and the recent rollers may be.
The paladins of old tend to quickly dismiss all newer ones, in particular blood knights, as people who rolled the class just to healbot, and that this makes them little supportive of other roles than healers. In Rohan’s own view these days there is a sort of resignation (Rohan is perhaps one of the most outspoken advocates of paladins as hybrids) which made me think about how my own perspective differs.
I made my current pallie on the day TBC launched, on a new realm opened that same day. It was my third go at the class, the two previous ones were abandoned in their mid-20ies. My paladin role model back then wasn’t a mental image or the Blizzard class description, it was my alliance guild master, one of the finest paladin players I had seen pre-TBC. And he was holy, a healadin to the core, but still able to hold his own tanking adds in ZG when we lacked a second warrior, pushing the envelope of his build and his class as far as he could. I had spent 18 months in the game hearing about and experiencing first hand what used to be called Retnoobs and Loladins, and back in the day, that was a stigma similar to huntard, a player who has a paladin but doesn’t know how to play it to any effect.
In the meantime, Retribution had become godly (in particular in PvP, since threat wasn’t an issue) and been nerfed back again into raid-unfitness within the space of a bit more than a single month. At the same time, though, patch 2.0 had also introduced (or massively reinforced) protection viability. In late January, therefore, I knew that my path was going to be retribution till 35, then protection until Outlands. Beyond that? I didn’t know then, I expected the class to evolve given the combination of my own sluggish leveling pace and the paladin’s inherent weakness in that same area.
My image of my paladin was thus shaped, on one hand, by an excellent healadin’s example, and on the other hand, nourished by the success stories of protection paladins breaking both the physical and collective mental hurdles to tanking anything the game was throwing at them. Mix in my own prejudice against Retribution and my own successes at both tanking and healing roles, and this pretty much gives you what I am today. I love tanking, and I’m far from burning out on that one, but at the same time I have absolutely no regrets spending a whole semester specced as a healadin for arena mainly and applying that build to instances.
Not having Rohan’s history definitely gives me a different view of the class. I believe also (but without hard facts to back it up) that in general, by being late to the party and having a full picture drawn by our predecessors, the horde paladins have it easier to break out of the strict healbot role and expand it, first to tanking but also, perhaps, to retribution as it is being (at long last) improved and expanded.
Not having 3 years of history of extremely limited purpose, as well as our smaller numbers (many blood knights gave up in their 30ies or 40ies) are two factors removing several psychological and mob-mentality barriers from what we are and what we can do.
Until thinking about Rohan’s own view, though, I did not fully realize that the relative freedom we enjoy is also due because before blood knights, alliance spent two years setting expectations and enduring a continuous disappointment because their own have never been met.
Most ironically, though, where I last met pallies healing and tanking up close and personal in the thick of battle was in… FFXI, the game I abandoned for WoW in June 2005.