Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Healing as a Paladin

There's a fair amount of angst on various paladin forums over the state of the Holy spec. To be brief, many players feel that the weakness of our Holy Power finishers and the strength of Beacon of Faith have made paladins into boring healers, centered around mindless spamming of single-target heals.

And there is some truth to this. However, at times like this I think of this scene from Breaking Bad:

Walt: I saw your set-up. Ridiculous. You and I will not make garbage. We will produce a chemically pure and stable product that performs as advertised. No adulterants. No baby formula. No chili powder.
Jesse: No, no, chili P is my signature!
Walt: Not anymore.

The point is that making a good product - whether the drug is meth or WoW :) - is not just a matter of including more ingredients. In many cases, your product is improved as much or more by leaving things out.

Many people who complain about paladin healing should remember this lesson. I played a priest for a long time, and I hated the gimmicky heals the class was laden with. These skills existed because players demanded skills which were new and unique, and Blizzard obliged them. But this was a mistake; the core system was already good enough. Adding complexity for its own sake did not make the game more fun.

Abilities that are never used are not fun. Abilities that are impossible to use well - that are efficient "in theory"-  are not fun. What is fun is applying skill to solve challenges. Abilities are fun only when they contribute to this goal.

To be honest, I think Blizzard should have a little more faith in the core of their game. The fact is that the basics of healing  - resource management, positioning, and cooldown usage - are already a great deal of fun. Blizzard's role as developers should be to bring that core fun to the forefront, not bury it under layers of cruft.

And in fact they have done exactly that this expansion. Making good use of cooldowns, using the right spells on the right targets, and knowing the basic movements for each encounter are all more important than they have been for a long time. All of which means that I am pretty happy with healing as a paladin.

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