Belated Obituary for an Unloved Ability

I follow the RSS feed for WoW Archivist. It’s a fun read most of the time, and as someone who has stopped playing WoW, I like being reminded of the “good old times”. While I was on vacation, they published an article called “Spells we’ve lost” which I enjoyed very much. So many memories:

  • Eyes of the Beast for hunters. I remember pulling Shazzrah into Garr’s cave in Molten Core. 15-20 seconds of running through the tunnel. Then dodging trash groups. Then body-pulling Shazzrah with your pet, which invariably took one for the team, aggroing the boss. Then waiting another 15-20 seconds for him to make his way back through the tunnel. Hoping you didn’t pull anything else with him. I also remember this hilarious pull where a fellow hunter announced, “uh… I think I pulled some trash with him…”. Tense silent seconds. Then one trash group appeared. Then another trash group appeared. Then Shazzrah. Then yet another trash group. Then Baron Geddon. Of course it was a wipe, but I don’t think we laughed that much for a long time after. The hilarious double-boss-triple-trash pull became the stuff of legends in our guild.
  • Amplify/Dampen Magic for mages. Mages buffing the whole raid with one of the two, depending on which boss we would fighting, to get that small additional benefit of less damage taken or higher received healing. One of those great little quirky spells was removed.
  • Detect Magic, again for mages. An ability that didn’t do anything for most of its existence. (Orignally, buffs were hidden from view, and you could only see them when you cast Detect Magic. That limitation was removed very early on, but Detect Magic stayed around for much longer.) But as one of the few debuffs that would show up on the debuff bar, but not aggro the target, it was great before target markers were added to the game. Mages used it to show which target they would sheep. Every now and then, we used it for Garr’s adds which were constantly moving in a close group, to assign them to a warrior. (Most of the time we used a priest with Mind Vision.)
  • Divine Spirit for priests. The one redeeming feature of speccing Discipline in the early days. One priest was assigned to take one for the team, spec Disc, gimp their healing throughput, but provide this oh-so-yummy mana regen buff, to be used with the five-second rule that was still around back then, and gave casters another fun mechanic to play around with.
  • Curse of Doom timing for warlocks. Cast now, see massive damage in one minute. Time it so it hits when it’s most convenient (final enrages, annoying phases you want to get through as fast as possible).

Some people in the comments added their favorite spells that were removed. There were some paladins who bemoaned the demise of Righteous Defense.

Wait. Really? You cannot be serious.

Righteous Defense was probably the most annoying ability with the most misguided implementation in the history of WoW that I can think of. It’s a poster child of what happens when you try to give an ability to another class, but want to make it different for the sake of being different.

Righteous Defense was given to paladins in the Great Paladin Revamp of TBC. It was their taunt. Only, it wasn’t. Take the warrior taunt. You need to peel a mob off a fellow tank (think boss trading), or a DPS or healer (think overzealous DPS, or threat resets). A warrior would target the mob, hit taunt, the mob would come to them. Easy.

Righteous Defense worked the other way round: instead of targeting the mob, you cast Righteous Defense on its target. It also worked on up to three targets. So if your fellow raid member had more than one mob on them, up to three (randomly selected) targets would be “taunted” to you.

Three mobs taunted for one cast. That’s three times as good, isn’t it?

Not really. If you had to trade mobs between tanks, but you had more than one on you, you couldn’t taunt selectively. You had to work with your fellow warrior to taunt back the ones you didn’t want to take off him in the first place. And pray he was a warrior. If he also was a paladin… well, good luck.

Even worse, the ability didn’t work properly for the longest time. (I can’t remember exactly, but I think by some point through WotLK, they had gotten it to work, for the most part. That’s 1.5 expansions.) Part of that was due to the unique “redirect”. If a mob was out of control after a threat reset, chances were it would ping-pong around like Looney Tunes’ Tasmanian Devil. So you targeted the mob, hit your “follow” key, and Righteous Defense. Only, by that time, the mob would have chosen a new target, and your spell would fizzle. Congratulations, you were now useless for the next 8 seconds looking at your gimped taunt button counting down. 8 seconds is a hell of a lot of time for a boss to chomp through your poor DPS. Even if you macro’d the follow-and-then-cast, it would still happen. I blame lag for that (when you cast it, all was fine, but by the time your command reached the server, the mob had changed its target).

It was, by and large, one of the most painfully broken abilities that I had to endure as a Tankadin. Mostly because of its propensity to fail when you needed it the most.

So, to all who say that Righteous Defense is a missed ability: No. Screw you.

That’s all.

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