Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Obligatory Intro Post

If you're reading this, you probably play World of Warcraft, or have played it at some point. If so, you're most likely aware of the prejudices there are in the game's community against "off-specs," which are characters who use talent builds that are outside the generally accepted norm in the game's raiding community - warriors are tanks, paladins are healers, druids aren't meant to be Moonkin in groups, rogues shouldn't spec Shadowstep for raids, etc etc etc. However, there are certain unique benefits that bringing off-spec characters to a raid can provide, and in many cases the raid benefits overall. A prime example: Mortal Strike warriors. For many, a warrior wielding a two-handed weapon indicates that that warrior is a PvP'er. Sustained damage is done by dual-wielding and talenting into the Fury tree... right? Not always. If you support a MS warrior properly (give him a shaman to supply Windfury totem) and he talents properly, he can provide the raid with the Blood Frenzy debuff, which increases all physical damage by 4%. 4% may not sound like much, but when you have damage-dealers dealing 500,000 points of damage in an encounter, upping it by 4% means another 20,000 damage. Multiply that out over all physical damage-dealers (average about 9-11 in a balanced 25-man raid), and you'll see an extra 200,000 or so damage, plus the damage the MS warrior himself deals (and this damage can be mighty respectable). It's like throwing another half a raider out into the fray!

So you see, that's where I come in. I played all the Warcraft strategy games, and became enamored with the knights and paladins. Anduin Lothar was my favorite character throughout the RTS game series. When I moved onto Diablo II, I played a paladin. So naturally when I caved and subscribed to World of Warcraft, I made a paladin. However, when I finally hit level 60 in the original game (before the expansion came out), I found myself being pushed to become a healer. That's not what I had envisioned for my character! I have a shield, and a mace, and heavy armor... why am I keeping people wearing leather and robes in between myself and the big baddies? After my first few Molten Core raids I started looking into how else I can play my paladin.

Fast forward a bit. After bumbling about with both tanking and damage-dealing as a paladin for a while, Blizzard launches their first expansion to the game - The Burning Crusade. They extended the talent trees, raised the level cap, and gave us all shiny new abilities (some shinier than others). As a lover of instances, I knew that everyone was always looking for tanks, so I tanked my way through the new content as a Protection Paladin. "But Josh, this blog isn't called 'Tanks R Us!' Why are we talking about tanking?" I'm getting to that, fair reader, just bear with me. Upon reaching level 70 and messing around in the entry-tier of raid content (Karazhan, the haunted tower where the wizard Medivh spent most of his later life), I found myself wanting to branch out into other aspects of the game beyond instances. PvP'ing was mostly off-limits as a tank - you can't make people attack you, so mostly a Protection Paladin is a waste of space in a PvP situation. Plus, some encounters just weren't built for a Protection Paladin because of silence effects or other issues that made tanking a royal pain for a class who's abilities are spell-based. The benefits of having a "tankadin" in a raid are many, but the drawbacks of being a tankadin were wearing on me. So, I made a switch to Retribution, as the developers promised and came through with some tweaks to the Ret tree to make being a Ret paladin less laughable and more fearsome.

Nowadays, I'm in raiding upper-tier content with a small-ish guild as the guild's token and only Retribution Paladin, charged with bringing my unique class abilities and effects to the raid and posting good damage numbers in the process. What does a Ret paladin bring to the raid? Well, that's a great question, and I hope to flesh that out for you next time. So stow your "Retlol" and "Retnoob" comments, I hope you can find insight and answers here as to why they are unfounded in many cases.

1 comment:

Auzara said...

I'm excited to hear your insight into the Ret Pally niche! I know we were hesitant when our Ret Pally first approached us, but now I wouldn't dream of raiding without one!