Friday, March 12, 2010

SAN 1 to 10 Project: Dwarf Paladin

Trying (and not doubt failing, since I am a 10 year MMO player and 30+ year computer gamer) to put myself into the shoes of a new player and leveling a dwarf paladin from 1 to 8 left me distinctly unimpressed. Paladins are about as interactive as Farmville. Paladin powers are as bad as hunter’s 1-10—when hunters have no pets.

Level 1 starts a paladin with auto attack and…heal! Not needed at all 1-5 when the mobs aren’t agro, I have no AE attacks and we still have the massive HP and mana regen power. Level 2 got me devotion aura—something I have cast once so far, as I haven’t died. It was cast out of combat at that.

As a quick side note, I dinged 2 before I even completed my first wolf quest and had 0 copper. I couldn’t have trained had I gone back to the trainer. 3 and 4 came on nearly as quickly—in a way that I think would have left me slightly disoriented and thinking the effort to level was too easy. Adding to the out of control feeling I had was that some quests were auto-accepting. I had no clue if I still needed to read the quest text, or what the heck was going on. I know I ran out of coin at least 2 more times before 8th.

Level 4 got me 2 powers, Judgment—which I don’t recall here at work—and—the 50% shield wall type ability. Judgment, 1-8, looks like a second button to push in combat, but you would be wrong. You can, and should start your attack with judgment, but that turns on auto attack. Most 1-6 mobs are dead before the 8 second cool down is up, so there isn’t even a second button to push (or decision to be made) in combat.

Here, economically I am barely making it. There are very few small bag drops for the Alliance, and I certainly don’t have the coin to spend before on some extra bag space. Once I learned blacksmithing and was running around with quest items, it wasn’t unusual for me to leave the in with 5—or fewer!-- open bag spots.

The culmination of Anvilmar used to be a big, dangerous confusing cave with a named troll in the back. The mobs, at least for non-peak use conditions, are closely packed, social and, IIRC, have some casters mixed in. Getting the book at 5th or 6th was a non-trivial task—and the first real hurtle a player had to cross.

Now that the cave is non-agro, its just a big, confusing, boring cave that has no risk it. You find Waldo, bonk him on his head, while his non-aggro guards watch, and you leave. While the whole confusing/dangerous cave is problematical (and the comments can equally apply to the orc/troll starting cave, and maybe even the first night elf cave quests) the big, confusing, boring cave is even worse.

By 8th level I finally learned a second ability I might be able to use in combat—the paladin stun. Only to find its on a one minute cool down. I think, after training 8th, I would have strongly considered walking away. I have 2 ways to start auto-attacking, and if the fight goes long I might be able to hit one of those buttons again. Once every 4 or 5 fights I can hit an extra button for a stun.

Sid Meier said that a good game is a series of interesting decisions. The first 8 levels of being a paladin misses making almost any decisions at all.


crankyhealer said...

My SAN pally is currently... lvl 14? Something like that. I am not sure how the endgame works, whether it's more "engaging"... but I went back to druiding because I am a wuss and didn't want to stick out too many levels of auto-attack.

Say hi on SAN. My characters are all named Cranky something-or-other. Oh wait, unless you're on the dirty EU server. I hear it smells funny over there.

Guthammer said...

Paladins have plenty of buttons to push by 40 much less end game. (IIRC, Hand of Reckoning is 20 and fun.)

But, like you, I thinks Paladin is full of fail 1-9.