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Paladin > WoWNov 11, 2015 5:00 pm CT

Lightsworn: Protection Paladin changes in Legion

Unless you live under a rock, undoubtedly you’ve already seen the Legion Paladin class preview that was posted on Monday. Unlike some of the other classes, Paladins aren’t getting a complete overhaul. This is especially true for Protection Paladins, who may be seeing some big design changes, but not anything as earth-shattering as melee Hunters!

What changes we are receiving though will have repercussions for how our beloved spec plays and how we will be tanking with our characters in the next expansion. Some of these repercussions are good, some are concerning. It’s a little too early to begin worrying, considering nothing is finalized yet. However, a good tank is always prepared for whatever can be thrown at them, and this is nothing different.

Holy Powered no more

The preview describes this as our “primary change” and that is certainly true. The removal of Holy Power from us (and Holy) will have a major effect on our rotation and our stats. Consider for starters that Holy Power is the reason why we like Haste so much. The more Haste we have, the faster we can fire off attacks and generate Holy Power. Without that resource system, Haste doesn’t have the same effect on our survivability.

Indeed, it is safe to say that Critical Strike will be our bread and butter in Legion. The Redoubt passive makes our autoattack crits give charges of Shield of the Righteous (more on that shortly), which means that crit will have a major effect on our survivability in this new system. The big question now is whether something is happening with Sanctity of Battle, and if it stays, will Haste have some effect on charge renewal?

Likewise, the rotation is built around prioritizing Holy Power generators (like Crusader Strike) to ensure a constant, speedy flow of Holy Power. Again, without the resource, our ability priority is completely up in the air. We will only prioritize on what’s off cooldown and what does the most damage. This will mean our rotation will be easier to execute and require less thought to ensure we are choosing the best ability to use at any given moment.

Pally Prot

The neutering of choice

Something that I’ve bemoaned recently — and hoped would be changed in Legion — was how empty the “choice” of how to spend Holy Power felt. Unfortunately, I missed the mark in my predictions. Rather than us having more choices for how to execute our active mitigation, we will now have less. Word of Glory is being replaced with Light of the Protector, which has a cooldown (unlike Word of Glory) and heals for a set percent of our missing health, rather than based on Bastion of Glory stacks.

Shield of the Righteous remains, but with the removal of Holy Power, it is no longer dependent on your building up to its use. Instead it now has three charges, each taking 12 seconds to recharge, and (as mentioned) autoattack crits replenish those charges. It will be interesting to not have to “charge up” using Shield of the Righteous, but I still find myself skeptical about the charges system. I’ve grown really disillusioned with Holy Power, and I’m glad they are removing it, but I’m not sure that essentially leaving us with time as our only resource is a compelling replacement.

So our active mitigation “spenders” are down to a single ability (that we know about thus far) and we gained another short cooldown. This is definitely not the road to making Protection Paladins a more interesting tank to play. The removal of the choice, as weak as it was, between Shield of the Righteous and Word of Glory is disappointing.

There are so many unknowns here that it’s hard to know where we’ll stand in Legion. I can’t help but feel like we don’t have the full picture. It feels like something is missing that would make this new rotation “click” and I’m just not seeing it yet.

Relatedly, Avenger’s Shield will boost your next use of Shield of the Righteous or Light of the Protector by 20%, which will make it very important to ensure you have that buff active when you go to use either of those two “big guns”. To help in this, Grand Crusader still will reset the cooldown of Avenger’s Shield.

Has active mitigation for tanks been a success?

Removing redundancy

One great change in the preview is one that I was sincerely hoping they would make: consolidating Crusader Strike and Hammer of the Righteous into one ability. This is a great win for both common sense and good usability.

However, I am slightly wary about the signal for the new Hammer of the Righteous to activate “AOE mode” (you have to be standing in Consecration). I wonder if they are going to make Glyph of the Consecrator baseline because it will be a pain to tank a pack of trash in Consecration, have to move out of the puddle, and then suddenly not be AOEing anymore with Hammer of the Righteous. That seems a little clunky to me.

Then again, Hammer of the Righteous has a charge system as well, so I guess that gives you breathing room for repositioning and then getting a new Consecration down.

When all you have is a hammer

The preview also gave us a taste of one of our new talents: Blessed Hammer. Not going to lie, I am really excited for this Crusader-ripoff. Diablo 3 has a lot of great Paladin-like abilities and there’s no reason to put an airtight glass case around our class to avoid any cross-pollination. I hope that we’ll see more examples of Crusader abilities popping up in the talents as we get more information about what’s new.

I would not be opposed to a new movement talent that launches us forward on a Paladin charger, for starters!


Final thoughts

Based on the reactions I saw on Twitter, a familiar ghost kept popping up: the old 969 rotation. I can see the cause for concern. Removing Holy Power simplifies our ability priorities. All we have left will be “what’s off cooldown” and “what hits the hardest”? Well, that might be slightly an understatement — we will surely be prioritizing Avenger’s Shield, for example, to ensure we have that 20% buff up for Shield of the Righteous.

Ultimately, I opened up the class preview hoping to see some grand vision for the class that would ameliorate the malaise I have been feeling for our playstyle. Our rotation had grown stale and some complexity was badly needed to make it more compelling. What I found instead was the designers paring down our rotation even further, removing what complexity we had, and outlining something that leaves me with more questions than answers.

For what it’s worth, this is just a tiny slice of the overall pie and it’s very likely that we just need more insight into these changes. The @WarcraftDevs feed has already said as much, that baseline classes are getting trimmed down so some serious depth can come from talents. As such, I am really interested in seeing that complete picture — talents and all — as we get closer to the beta, so we can get a better picture of the future of our specialization.

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