Posted by: Sean | December 10, 2008

Theme Week Classes: The Joys of Paladins and Druids

This is a little odd for me to be writing, but hey, it’s worth the shot anyway, because even I can see the potential. See, I don’t play druids, and I have a paladin that I swear to god the Katafray project is going to happen guys it’s just time and stuff my holidays are coming up it’ll be sweet. Erm, sorry. Let me try that again.

The point is, I don’t play paladins or druids all that much. But they’re cool classes, the paladin is probably the most lore-centric class in the game and the druid has a whole mess of lore behind him as well.

That’s not why they’re so cool, though.

See, playing a single-class party can be profoundly cool. I remember having tremendous fun with my gnome rogue, sneaking about with groups of other rogues, using party chat IC (Yep, even I can be persuaded to do so in the right circumstances) as a way to suggest we were giving hand signals to each other and otherwise surreptitiously communicating even as we snuck through hordes of Horde. And it’s not like rogues don’t have a bit of lore behind ’em either – They’re fun to role-play!

But rogues, warriors, even shamans aren’t quite so cool in this way as paladins and druids.

Because, y’see, paladins and druids can do anything.

Taking on a five-man dungeon? You can go in with a protection paladin tanking, two or three retaliation paladins doing the damage, and one or two holy paladins healing. And you’ll do fine. You’re likely to find it tougher doing a ten-man instance, but it’s certainly plausible. And this, people, raises awesome possibilities.

You wanna be Knights of the Silver Hand? Go ahead and make your characters that way, complete with orders directly from Stormwind Cathedral. Why the heck not? No justifying the hunter in your party or even the warrior; just a bunch of holy knights kicking ass in the name of the Light. The concept is pure, and that’s a great thing.

Imagine, if you will, taking a ten-man group entirely of paladins against Arthas. And tell me that doesn’t resonate like a tuning fork.

The ‘rag-tag band of adventurers’ meme only goes so far. A party with a concept is more compelling, and paladins do concept really easily precisely because you can have five of them doing all jobs.

Druids likewise work great for this. Bear druids tanking. Moonkin booming and ooming. Restoration druids popping off the heals over time like nobody else can.

Imagine Dire Maul attacked by nothing but night elf druids. Again, you can’t tell me there’s not resonance there. Plus, as a druid circle, you could do kickass sacrifice rituals and such.

Between the two, I admit I lean slightly towards the paladins. Why? Because they can have three races while still all being one class (provided you’re Alliance) while the druids can only ever have one race as well as one class. This highlights the danger of one-class role-playing; there’s the potential for any fun dramatic friction to peter out with the lack of variety.

The good news is that even in a Horde paladin group (Blood Elves) or a druid group (either night elves or tauren) you can still make that happen as long as you don’t assume everyone is all buddy-buddy just because you’re from one organisation. Remember the five man band, and play to it.

To close us out, here are my thoughts on the classic lineups and themes for a one-class party in each scenario.

  • Alliance Paladins: Band of brothers, the Knights of the Silver Hand, desperately trying to rebuild themselves after heavy defeats. The military themes run high and fast in this kind of a group, and while faith is important, it’s more about ‘keeping the faith’ than anything else.
  • Horde Paladins: Soul searching. Blood elf paladins are in a state of confusion, having realised all that power they were ‘stealing’ was actually given to them. Faith is more about questioning in this one, and if you’re banding together, it’s banding together for answers. Less military, more theology. With really big damn swords.
  • Alliance Druids: Since the night elves are still coming to grips with the whole dying thing, I’m thinking the Alliance druids probably have an introspective thing of their own going, less in a ‘where do I stand in the world’ kind of way and more in a ‘how do we make a difference now’ kind of way. A lot of soul searching, yes, but less existential, with more activism. About finding a way to see themselves as part of the great cycle of life rather than its overseers.
  • Horde Druids: By contrast, the tauren know their thing and have for many, many years. They’re all about defending nature, perceiving threats to it and responding. It’s kind of intriguing how the druids and paladins mirror each other between the Alliance and Horde.

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