Paladins saw a series of changes in the most recent PTR build. The changes seem aimed at toning down Paladin damage, while also incentivizing a playstyle that revolves less around using Crusader Strike
Paladins have been problematic from a balance perspective for a while now, due to Crusader Strike
being a part of the core “healing” rotation This has meant that a paladin brings what is called “free” damage. Most other healers can do damage, but it comes at the expense of healing, compared to paladins (and Discipline Priests) who can do damage while doing their optimal healing rotation.
This problem is amplified in high-end raiding and Mythic+ by Venthyr paladin and Ashen Hallow
, where paladins are able to do competitive healing and bring more damage than other healers.
To summarize the damage changes, paladins saw a global 8% nerf to all damage abilities, while also receiving an additional 10% nerf to Judgment
, Hammer of Wrath
, Ashen Hallow
, and Hallowed Discernment
. This means that those spells saw an 18% total damage nerf.
All in all, this works out to roughly a 14% damage nerf to paladins which seems like a lot. However, paladins were so far ahead in damage, the nerf doesn’t really change anything. Venthyr Paladins were able to do around 1.5k to 2k+ DPS while still doing a large amount of healing. Even Kyrian Paladins were able to do around 1k to 1.2k+ DPS passively. To contrast this with the 0 to 500 DPS of other healers, it simply means paladins are probably more in line with disc priest (once you account for Power Infusion
) but doesn’t solve the overall power problem.
The above is assuming you still play as you did before these nerfs as Blizzard is trying to incentivize us to use less Crusader Strike
s. This was done via an increase in mana cost to Crusader Strike
, and a nerf to Crusader's Might
while simultaneously buffing Infusion of Light
. This is aimed to get us to actually use those Infusion of Light
procs. By doing this, we are also spending less time casting Judgment
, Hammer of Wrath
, and Crusader Strike
s which lowers our passive DPS as those spells could be lower on the priority.Flash of Light
saw a 20% increase in healing, making it a very mana efficient heal, particularly when used with Infusion of Light
. This seems aimed to help counteract the mana cost increase to Crusader Strike
and once again get us using less Crusader Strike
s. It feels like they want to encourage a playstyle where you are using Holy Light
’s for big healing, and Flash of Light
’s to conserve mana, which is great. This could become a more dominant play style going forward, particularly if new powers (mostly second legendaries) open up. Especially when you consider that Infusion of Light
now has Holy Light
casts grant you an additional Holy Power, whereas previously it increased the healing of that spell by 30%. The viability of this playstyle is dependent on a few things. First Inflorescence of the Sunwell
as a legendary, is currently broken. Previously it would increase the healing of Infusion of Light
empowered Holy Light
s by an additional 30%. Now since that effect grants Holy Power, it gives you 31 holy power, which of course you can only hold 5 of meaning this legendary clearly isn’t working correctly and I would expect it to be fixed soon =). Depending on what happens with this legendary, it could be a good option and further incentivize paladins into that “caster” playstyle. This playstyle may also become slightly more popular, as we are getting additional conduit slots, and let's face it Holy Paladin conduits are awful. But Resplendent Light
would be useful if you played around Holy Light
However, it all depends on the new raid. Balance and Encounter Design go hand-in-hand. It is entirely possible that fights in 9.1 end up being really short, meaning the mana nerf to Crusader Strike
isn’t significant. It's possible that the healing profile of bombing Holy Light
s isn’t useful. It's possible we all play Venthyr and just drop Ashen Hallow
due to the new legendary. Maybe damage from healers is or isn’t required? All of these are factors, and we just don’t have answers to those questions. We probably won’t know for sure until the final build, or until we get in and sink our teeth into the new raid.
One thing is clear though, paladin needed to change. Being able to do large amounts of healing, bring excellent utility and free passive damage was unhealthy. Its possible the new Venthyr legendary creates just as toxic an environment, but we will discuss that more in an upcoming post covering the legendaries specifically, now that they are testable. Shifting paladins to a more caster-oriented class, or at least presenting that as an option is better overall for the game. The tuning could be off right now, there are still changes to be had and only time will tell. Paladin certainly isn’t dead, you can play the exact same way as you did before but just bring less damage, and go OOM a bit quicker. If you didn’t like being in melee all the time and wanted to cast spells, that playstyle got a lot more attractive in this build.