I want to preface this by saying that the below post is going to be delivered to Blizz official forums once they are back up from maintenance. I am posting this here for a few reasons though...namely I would like input from the rest of you on suggestions for changes or implementations to help alleviate the woes of PROT (and, to a lesser degree Ret) PVP.
"Uhh...don't need a melee. Can you go Holy?"
So, I'm sure that by now, anyone who isn't Holy in PVP has already heard this at some point in MoP when asking to get an invite to anything PVP related. Whether its a competitive RBG invite, or even a points-capping 2s/3s, people just DO NOT WANT a paladin unless they are Holy. I've played as non-holy the entirety of my paladin career, spanning almost 6 years; prior to that I played a warrior, and ever since the swap (aside from 1 week in 3.0) it's felt like a second-rate citizen in PVP. Granted that Ret has been a BG hero against undergeared 1300 players, and the mystique of OMGBUBBLE has kept the class firmly planted on the weak side of balance and class-progression. But I'm talking about rated/competitive PVP; there's only so much fun to be had blowing up fresh max-level toons every 2-3 minutes.
Now, recently at least, Ret has been getting some much appreciated attention from the dev's in terms of PVP viability buffs and dmg tweaks that apply to PVE and PVP. This is great, and as I said widely appreciated by [most of] the class. Granted, there are some complains about the buffs (shocking, I know) and suggestions or changes have been lobbied for in many other threads. Most of those suggestions have some merit, I think; but that is not what this thread is about or focusing on.
This thread is about Prot paladins, and parity between tanks/FCs in PVP. Or lack thereof.
First, before we go any farther, I want to say that I think ProtPal is in a stupendous place in PVE. I think the interaction with self/group healing, smart use of ShotR and our wealth of cooldowns and utility make ProtPal an extremely useful and desirable tank in PVE. My only regret is that all of those items I just listed do not translate to PVP. At all.
By and large, I think we can all agree that removing vengeance from PVP was a good change. Tanks in PVP should be about control, survival, and being a nuisance. Tanks should NOT be about stacking up huge amounts of AP and 1-3 shotting things. It's fun (for us), but clearly not good gameplay for anyone. The problem that removing vengeance causes is lack of scaling (I know that's now a four-letter word around these parts, but I don't know what else to call it). See, with the implementation of active mitigation systems (Bravo, by the way....stellar ideas and very welcomed), proper tank play for survival revolves around our damage reduction and/or self-healing scaling with the incoming damage. This is fine in PVE, where encounter mechanics can be used cleverly to stack vengeance and boost survival/damage output, effectively rewarding good play. It is also fine that each tank has a different method of mitigating and/or healing the damage; to have homogenous systems would be no fun for anyone.
The problem arrives when we try to transfer that to PVP.
PVP in 5.x is all about 2 things: CC and Burst, the most effective forms of both of which are instant. This has gotten far out of hand, and seems to only be trending upward, but that's a topic for another time. The only counter for CC is trinket or dispel, and the only counter for burst is defensive cooldowns or LoS. I know it's not wise to consider abilities in a vacuum, so let's look at the tank spec's of classes as a whole, and see their methods for surviving or mitigating burst:
Mobility: Extremely high. Charge x1 or 2 depending on talents, intervene (with movement clearing) to allies or war banners, heroic leap (with movement clearing).
Self-Heal: Second wind (%-based heal) passive below 35%, Shield Barrier absorbs(AP-based), Victory Rush if they can steal a KB.
Anti-Melee: Passive 25% damage, Shield Block/crit block, disarm, demo shout, demo banner, aoe stun.
Anti-Ranged: Passive 25% damage, spell reflect, demo banner, talentable ranged interrupt with Stormbolt.
CC/peels: AOE fear (60 sec CD), AOE stun (20-40 sec CD), charge stun/Warbringer, AOE snare or root or interrupt (talents)
Cooldowns: Shieldwall, Last Stand, Rallying Cry (Group), Zerk rage for anti fear/incap
Weak to: Umm, not much. Dismantle can drop some defensive utility.
Overall: King of the hill in terms of survival, control and mobility as a total package.
Death Knight (Blood)
Mobility: Fair; DKs focus more on slowing others than being mobile themselves. Death's Advance on a 30 sec CD prevents movement below 100%, and passively prevents <70%.
Self-Heal: DS heals a minimum of 7% total HP. Can be augmented with Vamp Blood every minute. Talents for Death Pact (50% heal, 2min CD), Death Siphon (dmg -> heal, no CD), Conversion (RP -> %heal). I guess toss in blood-worms here.
Anti-Melee: Passive 10% damage, high armor to account for no shield. DS creates a phys abs shield when used, based on heal amount.
Anti-Ranged: Passive 10% damage, ranged silence (60sec CD in 5.2), AMS.
CC/peels: DG, Glyphed DnD for slow, CoI, Chillblains talent for AOE slow and root on CoI, Asphyx talent for short CD ranged stun. Remoreselss Winter or Gorefiends for AOE stun/grip.
Cooldowns: IBF (stun break/immunity), AMS, bone shield. Can choose Death Pact, Purgatory, or AMZ. Lichborne for anti-fear/self heal if talented.
Weak to: Silence ruins their day. DS no longer gains healing from player sources, which really kinda "to the ground"-ed them as top tier FCs.
Overall: Great choice for map control in terms of moving the opposition, but not at moving themselves. The changes to vengeance and DS really hurt their survival.
Mobility: Extremely high, moreso than warriors. Essentially immune to roots/snares, with incredible passive speed outdoors. Dash, Feral charge adds in extra mobility, as well as set bonuses. Stamp roar!
Self-Heal: Can convert rage -> heal (AP based) in bear form. Can talent HotW and spam rejuv in bear form, or NV for dmg -> healing. Can talent Renewal (30% heal), NS for instant boosted HT, or Cenarion ward.
Anti-Melee: Passive 25% damage and increased reduced crit chance, rage -> dodge, armor-based mastery.
Anti-Ranged: Passive 25% damage and increased reduced crit chance, reduced spell damage baked in.
CC/peels: Cyclone! Typhoon! Ursol's Vortex! Also, roots/natures grasp, talent choices including Mighty Bash and AOE disorient, bear charge immobilize, and Bear Hug stun. Ranged snare talent with Faerie Fire thing.
Cooldowns: Barkskin (-crit % glyph), Might of Ursoc, Survival Insticts; rejuv spam HotW or NV healing with berserk/mangle spam. Symbiosis.
Weak to: Long matches. Stacking debuff limits movement and really removes a big part of their toolkit.
Overall: Extremely strong contender. Incredibly mobile, ability to guard nodes in stealth, excellent field control and group synergy with Ursols, stamp roar. Excellent dmg reduction through -crit% abilities.
Mobility: Moderate. Roll x2 w/ speed or x3 depending on talents (or Tiger's Lust for a freedom). Spammable ranged AOE slow via Dizzying Haze.
Self-Heal: Expel harm (15 sec CD, no CD if below 35%) as an AP based heal. Choice of Chi wave, Chi burst, Zen Sphere. Semi-spammable healing spheres.
Anti-Melee: High avoidance class with many %increased dodge or parry passives/abilities, disarm.
Anti-Ranged: Blanket silence baked into interrupt, Zen Med.
CC/peels: Disable/root spammable, Dizzying haze/keg smash AOE slow. Breath of fire glyph for AOE disorient. Paralysis (now deadly reach baseline in 5.2), AOE stun on 45sec CD OR Ring of Peace.
Cooldowns: Fort Brew, Guard, Avert Harm (group), Zen Med (anti-caster only). Can talent diffuse or dampen harm for additional CDs.
Weak to: Stuns, fear; relying so much on avoidance, they suffer against stuns.
Overall: Meh. Not great, certainly, but not the worst of the bunch.
Mobility: Moderate on paper, low in practice; HoF is rapidly dispelled at high level play. Talent for passive speed, mini-sprint on Judgement, or sprint on 45sec CD. No passive snare and no leap/roll type movement.
Self-Heal: SoI (passive on melee), AP based, gives up a damage seal. Word of Glory, requires 1-3 HoPo, heals for ~30-35k @ 3. Bastion of Glory (from using ShotR) increases the amount healed, lasts 20 sec after using ShotR.
Anti-Melee: Passive 15% damage, ShotR reduces phys damage for 3 seconds.
Anti-Ranged: Passive 15% damage, ranged silence with Avenger's Shield.
CC/peels: Stun on 60 sec CD, AOE blind on 2min CD. Can talent for snare OR 30 sec stun OR 1.7 sec cast repent (incap). Can glyph AS to daze 3 targets. Hand of protection/Hand of Sac/Hand of freedom (x2 if clemency)
Cooldowns: GoAK (Shield wall 10 sec, 3min CD), DivProt (40% magic or 20% all 10 sec, 1min CD), Ardent Defender (20% all, 15% heal on deathblow 10 sec, 3min CD). Devo Aura (group -20% magic dmg, silence immune) for 6 sec, 3min CD. Bubble/HoP (drops flag)
Weak to: Silence, disarm, fear. Silence prevents use of self healing AND cooldowns.
Overall: Very poor mobility, very poorly scaling heals, very poor peels/control, but moderate amount of group utility. Problem is, all that utility is provided via a Holy Paladin, with none of the liabilities.
So, it's pretty easy to see why Prot paladins aren't sought after. Compared to the other options, we don't really have anything going for us that one or all of the other tanks can't do better. The only thing we CAN do better is provide some group utility via hand spells, but a Holy paladin already brings that AND heals, without any of the sub-par FC/defender issues.
So, what to do?
I think it’s pretty clear that 1 of 2 things is going on. Either:
1) Blizzard is OK with the fact that there is a VERY clear and distinct hierarchy of tank classes in the game, or
2) They don’t know that and/or don’t know how to fix it.
If the first option is accurate, then I suppose there is not much that this post will do, but I’m hoping that’s not the case. I’m hoping it’s the second option, and hoping that it’s something we can fix through discussion. First step of fixing any issue is figuring out what the problem is. Let’s look at the class breakdown of FC/defenders in PVP:
Warrior =/> Druid >>>>>> Monk >> Blood >> Paladin
There may not be the proper amount of >’s in there to really reflect the true disparity between warrior/druid and the rest of the options, as there really is a Grand Canyon sized difference. This difference is largely attributable to the fact that it is far better and more effective to avoid damage than it is to mitigate it. And mobility is the easiest and best way to do that; consequently, the classes that offer the highest mobility are warrior and druid, followed by monks.
What I’d like to see here, for better parity between classes, is some mobility buffs in PVP. I won’t attempt to fix monks or BDKs, as I don’t have enough experience to do so (especially not without breaking PVE in the process). What I DO think will be a great buff for ProtPal is to make self-casted HOF’s undispellable. This would have NO impact in PVE, but in PVP would prevent simply buffing the enemy mages. It would allow the prot to actually escape something in this era of rapidly reapplied passive snares. Making it only prot and only-self casted HoF’s would not be gamebreaking, would allow for use of our speed talents, and would still be counterable via blanket silence.
If you ARE caught up to as a FC, the next best thing is to CC/peel those attackers and buy some time/room to escape as opposed to standing there and trying to tank the damage. Again, we see great tools in the form of shockwave, Ursols, roots, piercing howl, here. Even monks and DKs have spammable snares/roots to help open distance. Aside from BoG (which SHOULD be baseline for Ret already and removed as a talent), there is no snare option even available to Prot Pala, and taking BoG means giving up your ONE reliable peel, Fist of Justice.
I’d like to see Consecrate get some love here. We already have a glyph that turns it into a semi-DnD, in that we can place it with the reticule. I suggest adding a snare component to consecrate as well (either on the glyph, or baseline and the glyph can remove it, or whatever doesn’t seem too OP). Since consecrate is Prot only, it would not provide utility to ret or holy, but would add some nice utility to prot. Even in 5.2, the spell is pretty weak damage wise, and really only useful for breaking out stealth…is it so much to ask to give it some utility?
Finally, if you can’t avoid and can’t escape the damage, you’ve got no choice but to stand there and take it. There are 2 ways to deal with incoming damage: mitigation or self-healing. In PVP, the things that make a great tank are the ability to shrug off damage that gets through. Healing is great, but it’s why you have healers. Since tanks no longer get AP from vengeance in PVP, self healing tanks (aka BDKs and Prot Pals primarily) really get shafted on their defenses. Sure, most tanks have some form of self heal, but BDK/Pal rely more heavily on it as defense versus warrior, druid and monk.
I’d like to see PVP power increase damage and healing for tank spec’s by the full amount for non-%based heals(think circa 5.0 style). This would be a relatively benign buff to ALL FCs, and may even get some warriors out of second wind (doubtful).Granted FCs stack resil anyway, but the passive power would contribute at least a bit to their self healing. This should fix some of the survival disparity for the lower ranked tanks, and be a QoL increase for all without making them god-mode.
Additionally, I’d like to see some survival increases to prot specifically, since what makes us great in PVE consequently makes us subpar in PVP. ShotR (and the associated Bastion of Glory buff) is amazing in PVE because it is a short term, on demand physical dmg redux. 3 sec duration means that it requires smart use to maximize, but if you can use it effectively it becomes a huge survival increase. I’d like to suggest that the 4pc PVP bonus extend the duration of ShotR by 3 seconds (for a total of 6.0). I should be clear that I’m asking that this be looped into the existing “non-holy” set, and not created a new “prot” set, as that’s far too much work for both item designers AND players. Clearly, this would be gamed by PVE’ers in the suggested incarnation, so perhaps it can be worked to only apply in BGs (otherwise we’d have perma-ShotR in PVE!), or perhaps something else could be created.
I’d suggest Holy Wrath as a candidate for change if that was the case (since, again it is only available to prot). Make Holy Wrath debuff any target hit with the Denounce effect (reduced chance to critically strike). This would have no effect in PVE, would only be available to protection paladins, and would add HUGE group utility to prot in team fights and/or prevent getting trained. Since HW meteors its damage (and we don’t have Vengeance), it is a paltry amount of damage already in PVP. Attaching some utility function to it would make it a fun button to hit, instead of a “filler”. And the reduction of crit chance is certainly a “protection” theme far more than one that a healer would suggest.
I’m not asking for prot buffs to be OP and return to the days of African Turtle Cleave where tanks were locking down and 2 shotting people. I want tanks to be fun for what they are and should be: juggernauts who are tough to bring down and who you WANT on the front lines of a group fight to control the enemy. Warriors are an excellent template to pull from, as are druids. But, I don’t want to be a warrior, or a druid; I want to be a Paladin and I want to be viable. And I think the changes suggested above a good step in the right direction to make us exactly that: viable. Not OP, and not a laughingstock.
Because, not all of us are satisfied with being told: “Dude, just go Holy”.