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Protection Paladin: First Impression of the New Paladin Talent Trees in Dragonflight
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With the reveal of the Dragonflight Protection talent trees, our Protection Paladin writer Lincoln provides initial reactions and thoughts on this revamped system. We break down the Protection Paladin talent trees, discussing the new talents and providing some sample builds. Join us as we predict how this class could play in Dragonflight!
Paladin Dragonflight Class Tree
Paladin Dragonflight Talents - What’s New
Dragonflight has brought a new talent system that brings with it a bit more customization of playstyle and talent combinations and recently the Paladin class tree was enabled for testing on Alpha. Most of the tree should be familiar as it has
as talent options. There are also a number of talents that are former legendary effects like
. These should be familiar if you played Shadowlands Paladin.
That said, Paladin received several new talents in their class tree. Some are not implemented yet or just bugged on Alpha, so these impressions are based on tooltips.
: This is just a passive healing trait for
. We’ll need to test how smart it is but with smart
usage, it could be a nice passive bonus at the right tuning.
: This talent will give more damage or healing based on the damage intake of our
target. You’ll want to pop it on the other tank to maximize damage output. It does add some co-op gameplay with your co-tank so you know when to use it. Communication will be key to using this well. However, I find this idea a bit toxic as it adds incentive to use a critical utility button for throughput.
: The concept isn’t new. We had something similar in Shadowlands but this works off spenders and not builders.
: This is a permanent stat buff that will always be up.
: These are just passive damage traits. Both are not fully working on Alpha so we can’t judge the damage gain. These will only be used if they sim well.
: This adds a new effect to
. You get more damage in the Dawn phase and more defensive value in the Dusk phase.
: This is a throwback to Classic/Vanilla Paladin!
Paladin Dragonflight Talent Tree - First Impressions
My first impression is that the Paladin class tree as proposed in the current Dragonflight Alpha is a bit of a mess. The current version has several problems:
The tree is too inflexible with its pathing
– This boils down to that the fact that it's very linear and vertical. There aren’t many connecting nodes into different paths of the tree. Once you’re on a path, you can’t pivot for another path like you can in the Shaman class tree. You are forced to pick up specific talents and go a specific path because it's the only way to move down the tree.
Too many two- and three-point talents
– There are simply too many two- and three-point talents that water down the value of my talent points. It feels better to spend two points and get two unique talents than spend two points on the same talent.
Too much of a clear division between right and left
– The character power is on the right side of the tree while the utility is more towards the left. This means that you have to go a completely separate branch/path to pick up utility. You can't just pick them up on your normal path to the bottom.
Too many trivial talents that should be "baseline"
– This includes talents like
, and even
. Even something like
, should be baseline as its part of the current Shadowlands New Player Experience and it's such an iconic button in the history of the class.
Lessening of Rewarding gameplay
, for example, is much harder to justify because it doesn't mesh well with how
works and our reduced Holy Power economy.
is meant to reward a Protection Paladin with more damage for taking some risk to their survivability. The risk as presented is not worth the reward.
Gives away my only unique button
– I’ve written a lot on Wowhead about
being such an important button in the tank meta as well in the meta of other Paladins. Now that Holy has access to it and
, I’ve lost the one thing that made me unique. Holy Paladin is such a staple in PvE content that now any tank has access to
The left side/branch is a mini-game
was not an interesting mini-game in Shadowlands and it won't be an interesting mini-game in Dragonflight. It's too much work for what is extraordinarily little payoff.
This tree does too many things wrong that other class trees, like the Shaman or Evoker class trees, do right. They have more pivot points where you can change your pathing on the tree easily. In future iterations, I would rather see more things made baseline, more pathways open, some talents be slimmed down a rank or two on their nodes.
That said, we have to work with what Blizzard gives us and I think most Protection Paladins will use a tree that’s like this:
View in Dragonflight Talent Calc
Unfortunately, I don’t see any extra points for us to spend anywhere else. There aren’t many flex points just based on how the tree is structured and how many character power talents are there. You will have a very hard time dropping
for anything else.
Protection Paladin Dragonflight Spec Tree
Protection Paladin Dragonflight Talents - What’s New?
The Protection spec tree contains some new talents that are not available to Shadowlands Protection Paladins. Here are the ones that stand out to me.
: This is the big new one. It adds a damage reduction effect to Avenging Wrath and some interplay with the Holy Power system. We'll need to optimize our resource economy to use it well. This looks like a must pick so far.
: This was an Azerite trait in BFA and I’m really surprised that it was brought back. This trait was notorious for being insanely broken/overpowered for all BFA beta and nerfed beneath the ground the night before BFA launched. The pendulum in power swung so much that you never used this, ever. And I think it won’t be used again without a massive buff. The biggest issue is the ICD on the damage part. And if it’s ever “good” again, you’ll see potential /cancelaura macros to maximize damage output. This is a clear candidate for replacement in the iteration process.
: This is a boring and passive haste trait. The reason it’s on here is to call out that I think they put the wrong version of this trait in the talent tree. This is the Azerite version that was in BFA but I think they meant to include the Shadowlands legendary version. The BFA Azerite version was not particularly good and if it remains, you'll skip over it.
: This was a Legion Artifact trait that extended the duration of
. But unlike then, this will be skipped unless it sims well for damage. The intent of the talent is to reduce the cast frequency of
and make maintenance a bit easier. However, a one second duration increase is not even one global cooldown. You gain nothing in terms of rotation flexibility. It has to be at least three seconds for it to have an impact, even if that means the damage bonus is a bit lower.
: This is a returning talent from BFA. This is the type of thing that Protection Paladin needs as mitigation ramp-up e.g. the time into a fight it took to get
active was four global cooldowns in Shadowlands and it could be five in Dragonflight. This could be a good talent for those situations where a Protection Paladin could just die on the pull or to even offset potential
usage. However, its placement could use some work as I think it should be more centralized and harder to dodge.
: This is a returning Legion Artifact trait. Back then it was quite weak but now it’s very strong after a huge buff. This could be a must pick.
: This is a returning set bonus from Tomb of Sargeras that gives your
a damage reduction effect to any target it hits. After thinking about this, as well as recollecting the Legion version of the bonus, I don't think this will be any good. It has two flaws: first, the hits on
are random. You can’t ensure it debuffs the mob you need especially if your priority is another target from the dangerous mob in a dungeon pull. And in raid,
procs vary a lot from boss to boss and you could have extremely poor uptime. With low uptime, you’ll get more damage reduction from
which is more predictable and not subject to RNG.
: These are a series of talents to add more weight to
and keep it an important button in the rotation as they are meant to offset the loss of Holy Power. All of them have situational value and could see use in Dragonflight.
: This is the return of a Mists of Pandaria set bonus. It will only be picked because of its tree location and pathing but it will add some better defensive value to free
: This is a returning Legendary from Legion. Back then it wasn’t used much and yet to be seen how much use it sees in Dragonflight. It’s on the same row as
which can be a better all-around talent. This could be a candidate for changes in future alpha builds.
: And finally, we come to our Legion Artifact ability, which is returning for Dragonflight. I wrote a bit about this in my wish list and my general opinion remains. However, given the layout of the tree, I think it is a strong talent option that will be included in a number of builds.
Protection Dragonflight Talent Tree - First Impressions
Like the Paladin class tree, I’m not that impressed with the Protection spec tree. I think it has some core problems:
There aren’t enough talents to change and customize our gameplay.
There are too many two-point talents. Again, it feels better to spend two points on two talents instead of two points on the same talent.
It’s way too linear without much horizontal movement. Once you’re stuck in a path, you usually can’t get out of it.
The only really new and exciting talent is really
as it adds a defensive element to
. But no other talents really change the weight of our other buttons. The talents that we do have require two points for even the most basic things like increased damage or damage reduction. It feels like we're sinking points into basics and not fun options. The whole tree reminds a lot of Azerite and how low impact it was.
That said, here is a potential talent template that could be used in either raiding or Mythic+.
View in Dragonflight Talent Calc
The center of the tree is stacked right now as it houses
and that pulls the
also augments the kit with the loss of
uptime. Committing to the middle while picking up some points on the right for baseline tankiness, will leave you with three floating points that you can use at your discretion depending on the content. You’ll want to customize the left branch and pick up some combination of
depending on the content.
Protection Class Dragonflight Talents for Raiding - How Strong is It?
It’s really hard to judge Protection Paladins in raiding as it currently stands. We haven’t had any raid testing or any game tuning. Using what’s on alpha as a judge for spec or class strength is not proper as they could just instantly retune/buff content like they did dungeons in the Shadowlands Beta, creating the Season 1 kite meta.
With some of our mitigation moving from
uptime into cooldowns like
, the spec will be losing some defensive strength against consistent physical damage like melees while picking up some strength against burst damage of all types. The core difference between the two is knowing when you need to use cooldowns, when it’s safe to let
drop and when you need to pool for multiple
casts in a row. The knowledge and execution of playing the spec will be closer to Legion than Shadowlands.
I’m excited for Dragonflight and what that brings with it, including new dungeons and raids. I am not excited for either the Paladin tree and Protection spec tree. I'm not that excited for all the two- and three-point talents. I'm not excited to spend three points for Avenging Wrath. I'm not excited for a non-choice node of
. Being boxed into a corner on mandatory talents is not exciting to me.
If I wanted one thing to be changed before it goes live, that would be to make the tree way more flexible and have more connecting paths. Make it feel better to spend points and customize my character the way I want. The inflexibility of both the Paladin class tree and Protection spec trees is the biggest issue. I look at other classes like Shaman, who have way more flexible trees with envy.
As of this writing, I’ve completed ~30 Alpha dungeons on the spec and it "plays" fine as it is. It plays like Protection Paladin always has but it has these issues that just pull the class and spec down in my mind and detract from the potential fun. There is still time. We’re a long way until release. I’m willing to give Blizzard the benefit of the doubt that they can address the issues with these trees so I can be excited to log-in day one of Dragonflight and dive into content head-first on my Protection Paladin.
Interested in playing Protection Paladin now? Check our out live guide for this spec!
Protection Paladin Guide
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