Tuesday, June 9, 2009

On MP5 and Intellect—My Hopes for the Holy Paladin's Future

So, anyone who has been keeping track of Paladin news should probably know that Blizzard isn't too happy with how Holy Paladins have turned out in terms of stat wants. The sheer emphasis on Intellect since the introduction of Divine Plea and Repenishment has gotten to somewhat absurd levels, and I agree with Blizzard in that there do need to be some changes in the near future to keep everything in from getting out of hand.

As many Paladins have stated, the emphasis on stacking Intellect is the cumulative result of several issues:
  1. Intellect as a stat provides Paladins with almost everything needed to function in a healing capacity. It increases total mana, mana regeneration, spell critical strike chance, and spell power (via the Holy Guidance talent. The only other stat Paladins might desire for healing purposes is haste, but a lot of the gear that allows the stacking of Intellect also provides some degree of haste, which combined with that granted by Judgements of the Pure is ample enough.
  2. Unlike stats such as Intellect and crit, mp5 has no synergy whatsoever with Paladin spells and talents. Haste is in a similar situation, but unlike mp5 haste is considered to have one or more "soft caps" that players tend to shoot for, such as reducing the global cooldown to 1 second or reducing the casting time of a frequently cast spell to 1 second. For mp5, there really isn't an easily definable goal.
  3. MP5 is a flat-out boring stat. Unlike the other valuable stats for Holy Paladins, mp5 does nothing to make itself exciting. Intellect contribues to a plethora of additional stats, as mentioned in #1 above, but also visibly increases the total mana available to the Paladin. Crit causes big numbers and the occasional mana restoration from Illumination to scroll across the screen. Spell power helps to make the numbers that scroll across the screen even bigger, and the effect of haste is felt in the rhythm of casting more than it's seen, but even then its effect shows up in the tooltips of various spells. MP5 requires one to dig into the character window to be able to see any meaningful numbers. One cannot easily feel the impact mp5 has on the game. It's simply something that's there, in the background, doing its own thing and not bothering to stand out. In other words, it settles for the bare minimum number of pieces of flair.
  4. MP5 is a significantly more expensive stat in terms of itemization budget than other stats. Why would anyone bother with gems that give a measly 6 mp5 when they can instead invest in gems that give 16 Intellect or 18 spell power instead? The latter two values just feel much more meaningful than the former.
At the very least, at least Blizzard recognizes issue number 4. In a recent post, Ghostcrawler stated:
Regardless of any other changes we might make, mp5 just doesn't seem to provide enough point for point on gear. It's possible (likely?) we'll just increase all of the mp5 on gear.
Personally, I think this is an excellent first step. However, it's only that—a first step. By itself, I doubt it will fix the Intellect stacking issue, but Ghostcrawler seems to be implying that there are additional changes in the works and I'm hoping some of them will address issues 1, 2, and 3 above. So how should these issues be addressed?

In my opinion, the best way to address the remaining issues is to reevaluate Divine Plea. The unfortunate truth is that Divine Plea is the primary culprit for the current state of Holy Paladin itemization problems. Repenishment also contributes to some degree, but changing Divine Plea is the easiest way to tweak Paladins without messing with other classes.

Now, when I say "reevaluate" and "tweak", I do not mean "nerf". I think it's absolutely possible to adjust Divine Plea to remain as powerful as it is today, but scale from a stat other than total mana. A stat such as mp5. This would make mp5 more synergistic with Paladin spells, thereby increasing the value of mp5, as well as reducing the value of Intellect all in one elegant swoop. Additionally, if things are done carefully, it can be adjusted to scale for Holy Paladins without destroying its worth for Protection and Retribution Paladins. For example, Divine Plea could be changed to something more like:
Divine Plea
1 minute cooldown
You gain X% of your base mana and Y% of your casting mana regeneration over 15 sec, but the amount healed by your Flash of Light, Holy Light, and Holy Shock spells is reduced by 50%.
Since Protection and Retribution Paladins don't bother to get Intellect or mp5 on their gear, the X percentage could be set so that Divine Plea returns the same amount of mana to them as it does currently, while the Y percentage could be adjusted to whatever amount of regeneration Blizzard wants Holy Paladins to have at various itemization levels. It's a fairly simple change on the surface that will solve issues 1, 2, and 3. Intellect will become slightly less valuable (1), mp5 will become more synergistic with Paladin spells (2), and the numbers that will scroll across the screen when a Holy Paladin uses Divine Plea will help to directly show the impact mp5 has on gameplay (3). In my mind, it's a win-win-win scenario.

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