Back in November, Ghostcrawler said:
We’re hoping that Rated BGs give Prot specs a useful role similar to tanking in defending towers, carrying flags, etc. A tank in an Arena needs to have a lot of control and damage just like everyone else to be competitive, which coupled with their inherent survivability and resistance to being controlled got us into trouble.
GC’s comments back then made sense – they wanted Prot specs to have a “useful role” in PVP, but they were concerned about balance. I can totally appreciate and respect that.
Last night, Daxxarri posted that Blizzard is not concerned with keeping Protection Paladin viable in PVP. Here are the sections related to PVP (bold emphasis mine) for Prot and Ret:
We’re not too concerned with keeping Protection viable in PvP. We know some players enjoy it, but the majority of Prot paladins are more concerned with their ability to tank, and that’s where we spend most of our Protection design effort. It’s a great goal to make all of a class’s specs viable in PvP, but it’s not always possible to do so and paladins have other options.
We think the 4.06 changes overall gave Retribution too great a buff for PvP. We realize that there are those that disagree, but we’re pretty firm on that point and we needed to make some adjustments. Given that Ret is primarily a dps spec, we thought it made more sense to reduce their off-healing capacity, which had become quite strong, rather than their damage.
That’s not to say that we mind a hybrid dps spec occasionally helping out with healing – that feels cool, and it’s appropriate. On the other hand, we want damage focused specs to be primarily focused on dps. It’s true that there were other ways we could have reduced Retribution healing. We could have changed Selfless Healer or even Word of Glory itself. As I mentioned earlier, after looking things over, we arrived at the conclusion that having a powerful heal you can use infrequently is more compelling than having a weak heal that you can use more often.
The things said by GC and Daxxarri are not aligned – Prots are either viable or not viable. If they are not viable, they are not useful.
Let me make a few points here:
- Blizzard has not yet implemented “tanks” effectively in PVP in WoW compared to other games
- The WoW community, which consists of a lot of players who have only played WoW, doesn’t have a lot of experience or perspective on what well-implemented tanks in PVP look like
- Retribution in 4.1 is still screwed
Blizzard has not yet implemented “tanks” effectively in PVP in WoW compared to other games
WoW back in Vanilla was largely a PVE game, with limited PVP content. In TBC, Arenas were introduced. In WotLK, it got even easier to grind out PVP gear with Honor. In Cata, most of the Rating requirements were removed from PVP gear. So WoW has gradually been increasing its PVP content and accessibility. These are all good changes.
That being said, WoW is lacking mechanics for tanks in PVP, relative to rest of the market.
For example back in 2008 Warhammer implemented tanks with the following features:
- Against players, Taunt acted as an interrupt and buffed the tank’s damage on that target
- Tanks had a Guard mechanic, which was a buff they could put on a single player, to re-direct some of the incoming damage on the Guarded player to the tank. This was an awesome mechanic. A tank could put Guard on squishier DPS or Healer to help keep them alive under focus fire
- Tanks had Hold the Line, which was an avoidance buff that the tank could channel (while moving) that would affect players behind them. So you could do mass charges or defend against assaults
Mechanics like these made tanks highly relevant and fun in Warhammer PVP. Other modern games such as Rift are borrowing these mechanics.
The issue with WoW is that a lot of abilities either have only a PVE application (e.g. Taunt) or are imbalanced in PVP (e.g. CC effects). This will continue to be an issue until Blizzard sorts out how to balance PVE and PVP for a given spec – which is totally doable but needs to be supported by intention and good design.
It’s noteworthy that WoW has copied good non-PVP ideas from other games, such as Achievements and Guild Achievements/Rank, which were ideas innovated by Warhammer.
The WoW community doesn’t have a lot of experience or perspective on what well-implemented tanks in PVP look like
Most WoW players when you ask them about a tank spec only say that it’s relevant for PVE. This is a notion enforced by both the game mechanics and the fact that for many players, WoW is the only MMORPG they’ve played.
Therefore, you see a lot of backlash from players about tanks in PVP.
Retribution in 4.1 is still screwed
The reason why Ret is viable for BGs and competitive PVP (Arena, Rateds) is because it has good offhealing capability. This is necessary IMO because Ret does not have the amount of CC that most DPS classes possess.
To quote myself from a post on the WoW forum:
IMO Prot and Ret will be steeply nerfed PVP if the WoG nerf goes in with even a 5-sec cooldown let alone 20-sec, without some other strong compensating mechanics, e.g. increased CC.
Back-to-back WoG heals (via Eternal Glory for either spec, or Divine Purpose for Ret) or WoG heals cast within 2 GCDs of each other (e.g. WoG, Divine Plea, WoG) are a huge part of what make Prot and Ret viable in PVP.
Anyone who debates that point IMO is either ignorant about the mechanics of those specs in PVP or biased against Paladins.
I’m very perplexed by the reasoning for the nerf mentioned by Blizzard. Granted, Blue posters often get skewered / nitpicked by players for anything they say, but this is one case where I think the concerns of the playerbase are entirely warranted.
I have read some inane arguments that Prot and Ret shouldn’t be able to have offhealing capability in PVP, but what the people saying those things fail to take into account is that relative to other DPS classes, we lack CC. As such, we heal because that’s what is needed in some situations to help friendly players, because we can’t peel to the extent other classes do.
Anyway, it is what it is. I’m glad I’ve moved on to Rift, because based on what I’m reading, I don’t believe Blizzard understands how to design mechanics for non-Holy Paladins in PVP.