Thanks for taking time to check this topic; I appreciate it!
So… there’s gonna be a small wall of text right here, since I want to make sure that my question is completely clear and you understand what’s so difficult in this choice for me.
I’ve been playing a tank class for over 15 years in various MMOs. Sometimes I also pick healers, too. It’s just the overall feeling of responsibility, control and focus on others rather than yourself that makes me enjoy these roles. When I started playing in vanilla, I picked a warrior, as by that time I already knew that tanking was mostly handled by this class. The whole idea of the class that doesn’t use any magic, any tricks, any pets, but is the only one capable of withstanding the assault from some truly mythic creatures always made me enjoy it. Not to mention, the absolute complexity that came with it – stance dancing, multi-tanking with target switching, clever usage of cooldowns, positioning, etc-etc. Thematically, it felt like I was the most not-gifted not-talented member of the group, seeing as everyone else would be communing with demons, arcane magic, nature and so on. Yet when it came down to actual fighting, I would find no equal.
Since I played Horde, whenever I saw Alliance paladins on BGs those days, I also wondered what that class was all about. It didn’t take me too long to create a paladin on another server. The thing I enjoyed in this class was his ability to give so much to the group. You had some buffs, some CDs, some VERY long CDs, and the whole class imo was designed to give these gifts away, albeit wisely and not all at the same time. I liked prot spec there because it was so chill and so easy compared to a warrior. Sure, you could run out of mana, but you still gained some with every heal. Sure, you couldn’t tank raids, but there was just so much utility in your kit. Eventually, I respecced holy and this is when I started getting into PVP really seriously. The amount of people I saved by appearing at the wrong place at the right time was tremendous. It felt like I alone could change the outcome of some skirmishes.
And so it would go through almost every expansion (sadly, I was away during WOD), where I would always be hopping between a warrior and a paladin. This made me very unhappy, since even though I like both classes equally, I have a mindset to only pick one character and play as him. Rather than making several mediocre ones, I would prefer to focus on one to make him superior.
Thematically, this is how I perceive these classes:
You know, there’s something satisfying in the fact that when you charge into that big bad dragon, there’s no higher power protecting you. You are not chosen by the Light, the elemental spells will not shield you from harm, you can’t perform any tricks or just fade into shadows, you have no pets, no minions that could give their life for you. You just kinda… you know… in the world with magic and dragons and titans and what-not, you are the one who was not gifted. At all. You can’t close wounds on will, you can’t set things on fire, the spirits do not answer you, you run and fight only as fast as your body allows you to. And that’s it. And still, our of all the classes, imo, you remain the only truly hero. You leap into darkness, knowing that this fight may very well be your last, but you still choose to fight. You can be everyone in this world – a noble scion, a blacksmith or just a farmer – it doesn’t matter. I remember reading on the warrior lore in Legion, and one of the authors in Blizzardwatch actually wrote an amazing article that I will quote here: “Warriors are the fearless not because they are devoid of fear, but because they have endured it. They have walked forth onto the face of Azeroth, a world where demons rain down from the skies, dragons devour the unwary, hosts of enemies can blot out the sun and tear down ancient cities, armed and armored with that valor driving them onward. It doesn’t matter if you’re common as clay or the blood of kings, what matters is whether or not you can fight in the face of those odds without calling on a higher power. Even when Odyn saves you at the Broken Front and brings you to the Halls of Valor, that’s it . He doesn’t grant you anything beyond the chance to claim a weapon and take the fight to the Legion”. The author also makes a very interesting remark here: “you did it not through piety or devotion, not through subtlety or guile, not through the might of necromancy or the Holy Light or the Emerald Dream. You picked up a sword, or an axe, or a mace, or a spear, or a shield, and you fought. You made war.”. “When others look beyond themselves, begging for aid from gods, demons, or wells of energy unfathomable to the mundane mind, entry into the Halls of Valor signifies that you don’t . You cut down demons with nothing more than determination, whether you’re a Gnome using two swords bigger than you are or a Troll holding up a shield and taking the blows meant for someone else”. Another thing that I also wanted to add to this is that most other classes have a lot of their class trainers or famed people in their class hall, to sort of show how this class is represented. In Valhalla (okay-okay, Halls of Valor), you actually just have a bunch of ascended Valarjar (and the NPCs that you send on quests). That’s it. The true representatives of your class are players. You don’t need Lothar, you don’t need Saurfang (actually, the hidden skin for your Arms weapon requires you to defeat Saurfang on the arena in Halls of Valor, but otherwise, Varok does not appear in the Halls), Garrosh or any other powerful canonic warrior to guide you. YOU are that warrior, alongside with every other warrior player in the game. Whenever I see an alliance (I’m horde atm) warrior on a BG, before engaging each other, there’s always a short pause before the fight happens. I believe it is that small nod to each other, perhaps as a token of respect for choosing a warrior class above all others.
When it comes to warrior specs, I usually just play two of them. Obviously, protection, since tanking is what I play this class for. I also particularly enjoy this class for such a self-less skill as intervene. Sure, you can’t protect another person with a blessing or with some bubble, but you can take the shot that was meant for him / her. I also like all the leaps and charges that the warrior has. While all other classes have some really high-standard prerequisites (like, as a mage, you must’ve been studying magic for a bit; a rogue must be a rather nimble person with penchant for staying hidden; shamans must be able to commune with the spirits, etc-etc), the warriors have just one, and it’s bravery. I also enjoy the visceral style of combat of a prot warrior. You don’t just stand around, you fight, you swing, you charge, you bash and smash and slam and pummel with your shield, you are covered in blood, you shout and growl – truly a sight to behold! I sometimes also play arms, as this spec feels very… not sure how to put this… it feels honest? Straightforward, yet multifaceted at the same time. Fury… I like the animations, but the way the spec is portrayed, it feels like a teen with anger issues to me.
Now, onto to the next class,
Ever since I played my very first RPGs, I would always pick a paladin. Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale, Neverwinter Nights, Lineage 2, you name it. The whole idea of being a knight with faith and conviction seemed very appealing to me. To lead by example, to protect the weak, to bring succor to the wounded, to carry the torch of civilization into all the darkest corners of the world. Truly, one of the things that I like about paladins in WoW (when compared to warriors) can be seen as a writing on the protection paladin artifact, the Truthguard and Oathseeker: “Killing for the sake of killing… conquering for the sake of conquest… there is no honor in such things. There is only shame and regret”. Truly, if your violent approach was not triggered by a worthy goal, then why resort to violence in the first place? Why seek challenge, if not to better yourself and protect those around you?
As I grew up irl, of course, things like good and bad, right and wrong became more and more blurred and I felt a loss of interest to this class. In WoW, however, my interest would spark anew. Being a self-less defender felt so much more to my taste, being able to give away blessings, heals and what-not with one hand, while holding your shield high against the oncoming horde of enemies… this was such a blissful moment. You see, as a warrior, there are situations where no matter how good you try to be, there are situations where you can’t do anything at all. Like, if the enemy is attacking your friend, no matter how big of damage you deal, no matter how many peeling CDs you have, no matter how good your CC game is, you won’t be able to help him. You are powerless, because ultimately, even with all those intervenes and disarms and charges, you are still a class focused on yourself. Not because you’re selfish, but because you have no way to heal, you have no way to ward off damage from another. And this really does make one feel useless somewhat. As a paladin, however, you are all about giving protection to where it’s due. I especially like the Light of Martyr and Blessing of Sacrifice skills as, imo, those portray exactly the type of a character I would like to play. Sure, my class has a lot of bad apples, who mostly keep their cooldowns for themselves, but this means more challenge for me in order to try extra-hard to put the hardships of others above my own in-game. It’s a challenge I relish. After all, you’ve been given all those powers, and it’s your duty to use this opportunity to bring the Light to those who need it. It’s not your fault you can cast these spells, but it’s absolutely up to you, how they will be used. Lore-wise, I really liked the paladin class hall. Even though people say that it’s needlessly pompous, I still loved this setting – a large temple adorned with the faces of the heroes of olde. The silent conformity, the somber determination that these halls brought to the player were akin to none. Sure, maybe not as glorious as Valhalla, but it did show the place of paladins in this world. When things get nasty, regardless of strife between the Alliance and the Horde, the paladins are the first and the last line of defense. Love them, hate them, ignore them or praise them, but as a rule they will lay down their lives to get you to safety. No path too difficult, no sacrifice too great, they will do what must be done.
Onto specs, I must admit that either loved or hate prot, depending on expansion. In legion I just couldn’t play the spec due to just how un-involved your character felt in the fight. You cast the puddle, you throw hammers around, you wave your shield, and then you just sort of stand there. No, really, you just stand there, casting spells and you just hope that the enemies eventually die while trying to attack you. You don’t fight, you don’t protect, you just start this light-show and then wait. What the hell is this tanking? In BFA, with the re-introduction of the Holy Shield talent and some other tweaks, paladins now feel a lot more involved, but… just not as much as a warrior, which is okay, given the fact that paladins are still knights with light powers, and not some battle-hardened grizzled barbarian-like veterans. It still feels tremendously nice to save your group from certain death by wise distribution of cooldowns. And in PVP… Sometimes I think that prot paladin is just unkillable. Holy is a nice spec. I’m not sure I like the direction the developers are taking now, with forcing holy to stay on the frontlines, but I just gear different with no mastery, max crit and int to circumvent what I feel is a flaw in design. As I’ve been healing for quite a bit, it feels really nice to every once in a while dust off that spec and go save some people on BGs =). Retri is usually a no-go for me. First, I don’t like the idea of being a zealot, and second, there have been implications recently (with the way the Naaru tried to BDSM Illidan, or how the draenei tried to evict the Mag’har from Draenor) that the Light itself is not working within the bounds of good and evil, and it can take control of its bearer. While I find the idea cool, I feel that I don’t want to be a follower of such and entity.
So, now that my wall of text is over – tell me, what’s your opinion on this matter? Thematically, lore-wise, how do you see prot warriors and prot paladins? Or… just warriors and paladins.