So you know that reputation that ret paladins have as a faceroll class that's both super-easy to play and super-powerful?
BIG DISCLAIMER: I'm not saying people who play ret paladins are stupid, facerollers, or can't handle a "real" class. In fact, I'm saying, with no irony or sarcasm, that they are the smartest of us all. They were smart enough to pick the easiest to play in the entire game, which is also super-desireable in groups (have you seen the list of buffs a ret pally brings to a raid?!*), can respec to any role, and can perform on par with any other class. If all classes perform roughly equally, but ret paladins are by far the easiest ones to play, then by definition those who choose ret paladins are the smartest. Props to you! I guarantee that many ret paladins are excellent players.
Just for reference: I have a level 80 DK, rogue, druid, and warrior. I have a mage and shaman in their 70's. I leveled my paladin on follow with a hunter while dual-boxing, so I didn't play her at all while leveling. But I did play the hunter and a warlock from 1-60 just before Wrath came out. So I have a pretty decent idea of how other classes play.
Ret paladins are by far the easiest thing I have ever played in this game. Picking one up at level 60 with this spec, I am having an absolute blast mowing down anything in my path.
Let me explain ret paladins to you. They have 5 attacks. They are all instant cast and do big chunks of instant direct damage (no wussy DoT spells here!). Three of these are ranged (no other melee class has more than 2 ranged attacks, most have 1 or zero). One is an aoe that heals them. One is a ranged execute that is nearly guaranteed to crit. The absolute only limiting factor on activating these attacks is their cooldowns (most around 10 seconds long). There is no setting up diseases or combo points or bleeds or even applying stormstrike while waiting for a maelstrom proc. It's just all super-satisfying instant-cast direct attacks, all the time. Walk up, mash buttons, mob dies. Rinse, repeat.
Ret paladins also don't have to worry about resources. One of their attacks actually gives them mana back while activating replenishment. Meanwhile, other classes have to worry about mana efficiency, or if they have enough rage/energy/RP/runes to do their next attack. Ret pallies might as well not have a blue bar. All you have to do is wait for cooldowns. Now, I understand that at the highest levels of play, managing these cooldowns in the most effective way can be challenging, and requires an element of skill, experience, and decisionmaking. But while leveling, it requires no thought. Hit whichever button is lit up, kthxbai.
And did you take a little bit of damage through your plate armor? No worries, just pop a cheap, instant-cast heal that shields you if it crits.
Usually, calling a class "faceroll" is figurative hyperbole. They actually wouldn't do too well if all you did was roll your face across the keyboard. But with a ret paladin, I mean it literally. You could just smack the five attack keys against against your forehead over and over, and perform roughly as well as someone who is actually paying attention.
And that brings us to the reason I've hated rets since the Great Battleground Holocaust of 2008: 1v1 PvP dominance. DKs are the only thing that even approaches them in single combat, and this has been the case since 3.0 came out and suddenly you could no longer enter a BG without a holy hammer being shoved so far up your ass it was coming out of your mouth. Granted, it's toned down a bit at 80, but they are still overwhelming 1v1. Yeah, I know Blizz doesn't care about 1v1, and doesn't balance around it, blah blah blah. But in a game where development of your own avatar is at its core, the players are certainly going to care about it, and always have.
You know how rogues are balanced around their stuns? They have relatively low survivability, but rely on CC instead? Stuns that require setup (either stealth or 5 combo points) as well as energy? Oh yeah, ret paladins have a stun that lasts as long as both rogue stuns put together, and can be cast without any setup whatsoever. Oh, and it's ranged. Paladins out-stun rogues, and their class isn't even based around stuns. Are all these italics getting the point across?
Unlike warriors, DKs, and rogues, Paladins have no limit on their ability to unload damage except cooldowns. So they can fire off all 5 of their attacks at once in rapid succession, in the space of the stun. They don't have to wait for resources. Unlike other mana-users, all of their attacks are instant-cast direct damage with zero setup requirements. In short, their burst damage is second-to none and mindlessly easy to execute compared to their closest competition.
Meanwhile, they have 2-3 full health bars you have to clear before you can kill them (bubble and lay on hands), aside from being able to instant-heal themselves indefinitely (did I mention the bubble if they crit?). Which might not be so bad if they weren't also wearing plate. And able to go completely immune to all snares. And dispel themselves of almost anything. And mimic DK's Icebound Fortitude (so powerful it's getting nerfed in the next patch) to be even harder to kill. Shall I continue? I can do this all day.
Did I mention the ranged stun that goes with the plate and the heals and the burst damage and ...
Here is a visual aid to demonstrate what you are doing to yourself if you choose a class that isn't ret paladin:
I never would have believed just how easy this class is to play until I tried it. I recommend you try one for yourself. I'll certainly continue leveling mine, because playing one is just so much fun, and so much more relaxing when I barely have to pay attention. The big instant attacks are very satisfying. Ret paladins are just so much better than other classes that I'd recommend them to any new player, and am considering devoting a lot more of my playtime to this character.
I have to give props to those who were smart enough to get on the EZ train before it left the station. I'm enjoying my ride.
*For the record:
Judgement (either free mana or free health to the dps)
Threat control (Hand of Salv)
Hand of Freedom