Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Week of QQ Will Get a Buff

The Paladin tugged off his plate gauntlet, and placed his hand gently on the shoulder of the sobbing priest.

‘There, there,’ he soothed comfortingly. ‘You did great. And besides, we all know that meters don’t matter.’

The priest looked up, tears streaking her face. She sniffed. ‘They – they don’t?’

‘Of course not,’ cooed the Paladin.

The priest bowed her head, drying her eyes on the hem of her cloak, cheered by his words. The Paladin caught the eye of another Holydin standing off to the side. He winked. The other Paladin laid a knowing figure along the side of his nose, nodding.

Of course they matter, said the look they exchanged. We just like to pretend that they don't.

Almost exactly one month ago the first shots of Cataclysm were fired: Patch 4.0.1 went live, and our world was turned upside down. Apparently, nobody’s world was turned upside down as much as Holy Paladins, and the forum threads reflected this. Quite possibly the very first QQ thread of the patch came from Paladin Yoshimoto, who launched a tirade at 12:27 AM on October 13:

I did love my holy pally.(did). After the patch for cata came out and my class was hit by the nuclear bomb of nerf i decided to try it out and i did i used to be good and top charts on healing my tanks. I liked to be the one making the raid possible with my tank healing that had been going on for years and years.

First, I wasn’t aware that raids weren’t possible without Holy Paladins -- how did anyone survive before I came along? But wait! There’s more:

So i went into a raid on my 80 holy pally and guess wat the tanks died. and died. and died. until the grp. well apart saying that they really hit the wrong class the class that made raids possible with large healz that cost a fair amount of mana,

Apparently the spelling errors were the results of typing in an apoplectic rage; later on in the thread he said:

…I'll try my best to keep the raid up, its just the healing meters are depressing me.

And so we come to the crux of the problem. We can tell everyone that meters don’t matter. We take the high horse and say it all the time, and bash raid leaders when they toss someone for not ‘doing better on the meters’. But when push comes to shove, and the world (of logs) is turned upside down, the truth comes out.

This theme was repeated over and over again in the week following Patch 4.0.1. For any post that thoughtfully examined the state of the Paladin (or, shockingly, praised the changes), there were 2, 3 or 4 posts that went along the following lines:

I've topped meters on pretty much every fight pre-4.0.1 and now I'm at the bottom doing 3k HPS , straining my brain and my fingers, I'm pretty much full 277…The 'mastery' is completely bugged because the absorb isnt getting registered by my meters…while the rest of the healing team are doing 7-8k hps im sitting down with my 3k HPS feeling like im not even contributing to the raid.

Just did a voa 25 with my holy pally, there was another holy pally in there. Both of us were bottom of the heal chart as well as top of the over healing chart.

We have gone from being top healers to bottom healers in one fell swoop.

Have to spam FoL outside of the HS rotation in order to pull half decent HpS.

We may of deserved a little nerf, but we got pushed to the bottom of the healing charts. I use to be able to do 30k crits. Now my highest is 24k if I am lucky.

These are all comments pulled from the Official Healer forum in the week following the launch of 4.0.1. The forums ran deep in Paladin tears, and the Paladin Class forum was even worse, given that it was filled by three specs of Paladins, all crying rivers at the patch and what it wrought. Paladins were ruined. We were the worst of the worst. There were lots of locked threads, and no doubt Ghostcrawler wielded the banhammer quite a bit in that time period.

Well, Blizzard was apparently paying some attention, and some of the signal must have cut through the noise, because after one week, intelligent observers noticed a change, and Ghostcrawler confirmed: Holy Paladins got a buff. The effect was immediate.

In-game, I noticed right away that my heals were hitting harder. My Holy Lights were landing for about 2200 per heal more than patch day, a substantial increase. That type of change went across the board, and with it, I saw my own place on the meters rise. Now, I will say that I believe Paladins did indeed need a buff. The simple truth is, healing just didn’t feel right, and it wasn’t simply a matter of getting used to some new spells, working with an incomplete UI, or dealing with tanks who suddenly seemed to be taking more damage. In truth, I’m OK with the notion that people will have to exist at less than full health, that I won’t be able to carpet bomb the raid with my biggest, most expensive heal, that Beacon is no longer an ability that I can lean on like Tiny Tim and his crutch. But in fact it felt like a struggle at times to even keep people at half health. We’re in farm content, killing bosses that we outgear by a large margin. We shouldn’t be struggling with it, especially when the raid is blowing these things to absolute smithereens (we killed some bosses last night in about half the time it took to kill them on 10/14). But we were struggling, and Blizzard listened.

I also noticed a change in the forums following the 10/18 patch. Suddenly, Paladin QQ was now largely coming from priests, including this particular favorite (that I believe drew a ban from the mighty crabman):

Proposed new Paladin ability:
Whining Wave = The collective force of the Paladin community's complaining smashes into your enemy knocking him back 60 yards and forcing him to throw buffs at you in a vain attempt to make it stop. Player force emotes /beg and screams, "Torment me no more!"

The good news about this change is that now the intelligent Paladin posters, the ones that can analyze what we need and talk about it rationally, now have the ability to do so, without being drowned out by posters like Snakux. We can focus now on how we’re going to fit into Catacontent when it comes out, and discuss whether or not you should reforge your crit into mastery or haste. As Kurn put it in her blog
it allows me to worry less about whether or not I CAN keep a target up, which lets me acclimate to the new ways of keeping my target up.
And that’s a Good Thing.

However, I can’t help but wonder about the Paladin community, and healers in general. Are we getting so competitive that we’ll be happy with anything, so long as it puts as at the top of the charts? What are we healing for? And if meters truly don’t matter, why do so many people get so upset when they find themselves at the bottom? Gutbukit, a level 1 warrior, may have had the most insightful post in Yoshimoto’s thread:

Holy paladins are fine, nothing wrong with them other than being dead last on healing meters.

In the end, all that matters is that we have fun and down content. The meters don't matter. Or is that just what we tell people so they'll feel better?


  1. The obsession with meters is a constant annoyance of mine.

    On one hand, there needs to be a way to objectively distinguish the person outdoing themselves from the person painting their nails the whole fight. On the other hand, it's too easy (especially with in-game meters like recount) to get caught up in the hps and the flashing numbers, and forget what really matters: keeping people alive, using CDs at the right time, good reflexes, proper judgement...

    A healer can have all the throughput in the world, if they can't shine when the raid needs them most, then they're absolutely useless.

    Judging the strengths of paladins this late in the expansion is really tough. In the last few raids I did before my computer died, I was doing very little effective healing. Why? Our tanks, our disc priests and our resto druids are geared to the teeth. No one's taking any damage! Given the nature of our healing, we can't effectively heal when there's no damage!

  2. Ophelie --

    I think what surprises me is the 'bread and circuses' feel to the whole thing. Blizzard tosses us a (substantial) buff that takes us from the bottom of the meters to at or near the top. And now there's nothing to talk about. Really?