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Old August 12, 2020, 07:44   #1
Join Date: Jul 2020
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drquicksilver is on a distinguished road
4.2.1 Paladin class review

My thoughts on the 4.2.1 Paladin.

I really didn't enjoy the start of the game. Not the very start, since the first 5-7 levels are like any other melee char, but the region from level 7-20. You play like a weak warrior or a weak ranger - struggling to kill a lot of the early uniques, having to rely on a crossbow for uniques, vortices, hounds, but a crossbow that you miss with a LOT. Fodder monsters that pure warriors plow through (orcs, trolls, etc) feel tough and xp gain is slow. I actually used a ring of lightning at this point in the game which I have never bothered with as any class before.

When I got the first dungeon book it was really disappointing - Protection from Evil doesn't affect any interesting monsters, Remove Curse is a really niche spell and Word of Recall is a minor convenience to save an inventory slot. Compared to the excitement of finding the first dungeon book with some characters this is a real damp squib.

The turning point for me is somewhere around level 23-25 when it seems like Protection from Evil now works effectively on monsters (trolls and orcs mostly) who were worth killing for experience, when with bless and heroism up you can hit better, when shield bash starts happening often enough to actually make a difference in a fight. Minor aside - when I unlocked the full Healing spell in one typical playthrough it cost 50 mana (out of my total of 52) and had a 50% failure rate so it was not going to be useful for some time - clearly that depends somewhat on luck with stat gain though. I find stat gain often very spiky for casters in that at some point, in a relatively short time, your mana triples (along with a significant reduction in failure rates); at that point some of your spells which were previously not very useful become incredibly useful.

After that point, the Paladin becomes a melee tank with good healing and buffing abilities; in my winning playthrough I didn't use Smite Evil because I had a top-tier evil-branded artefact but I can see it's useful; I used Demon Bane on every U I chose to fight, though. Single Combat is a defining spell and completely rewrites the rules (but so do other some other classes' high level spells like Banishment and Mass Banishment).

There is a period in the first half of the game where the paladin feels (1) under-powered and (2) not 'special' - playing like a warrior or a ranger with a low accuracy score. It would be great to come up with some way to give that part of the game a distinctive feel (compared to other classes) and a little more fun, without over-powering the late game paladin which really needs no help at all. Either an entirely different way to do damage, or some spell(s) which give the low level paladin a bit more an edge in normal combat - the second seems more reasonable.

I'm tempted to suggest a boost to the Bless spell; at the moment it seems to give something like a +2-3% chance of hitting an enemy (based on looking at monster memory and then casting the spell) - which is really minor - if you are having a frustrating time beating a monster you only have a 35% chance of hitting, then it's not going to be substantially less frustrating at 38%. I'm slightly concerned I have underestimated the power of this spell though because reading forum threads people seem to think it's more useful than that! In the thread about priests I suggested that Battle Blessings could be home to some more substantial melee buff spells but for Paladin that would be too late (and un-needed, by that point).

An alternative to buffing Bless is some kind of new spell for the 2nd book (first dungeon book) which really gives the Paladin something to look forward to and helps the slog from level 15-25. Maybe something which synergises with the new shield bash, making it more likely and/or more powerful. Maybe something which only affects evil monsters, which suits the class theme and means you can use Detect Evil to pick good targets (as a priest can with Orb).

Alternatively maybe the problem was my playstyle and the class is fine, but these were my impressions after 3-4 games and 1 win.
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