This is one of the biggest patches to hit Paladins in a while, and it's a mixed bag. Let's get the bad news out of the way first -- all of Seals have been nerfed. All of them. Seal of the Martyr / Blood, Corruption / Vengeance, Wisdom, Light, Justice, Righteousness and even Command have all had their damage reduced. The formulas are tweaks of the values of attack power, spell power, and weapon speed -- a bit complicated to explain in detail -- that result in an overall damage reduction. Now, before everyone gets their panties in a bunch, let me say one thing: don't panic.
We can probably consider this patch the nerf patch, which is an essential part of the tuning process. The developers traditionally start from a high power scale and fine tune it downwards -- I mean, look at the poor Death Knight. This is still the Wrath Beta, and while there is a chance these numbers might stick through to live, testing these lowered numbers are vital to getting everything right for release. If you're in Beta, log in, play with it for a while, and give feedback. If you're not in Beta, hold back a bit from making a ruckus and exercise a little patience until the testing is done. Let's take a deep breath. Now where'd I put my inhaler...
Alright. Is there more bad news? Sure. The Holy Guidance talent was nerfed to a 20% increase down from 35%, and Blessing of Kings was nerfed to 2% from the 10% we all know and love. Of course, it's now on Tier 1 and you can take talents in Improved Blessing of Kings to get it back to the old version. Confused? You're not the only one. Let's take a look at everything else and realize just how much we dodged the nerf bat. All classes got nerfed even harder this build, and I'm confident that it's a tuning patch.
On to the good news. Those niggling nerfs aside, I have to say I'm pretty excited about the changes to the class. I'll go through some minor buffs before we move on to the juicier stuff -- Divine Storm's cost was reduced to 12% of base mana from 20%. Vengeance now stacks three times for a total of 9% damage increase, which is a nerf from the live realm's 15% but a buff from last build. Crusade deals 1/2/3% total damage in addition to the old effect for a total of +6% damage against certain mobs. Shield of Righteousness now deals Holy damage equal to 240% of your block value, up from 200% and Righteous Defense's cooldown has been reduced to 10 seconds from 15.
Not bad, right? The nerfs are rather minor and I'm not too worried about them as they're mere number changes. The buffs are pretty good, too, but similar to the buffs I know they're just tuning them. What's exciting this patch is the juggling of the talent trees and the reworking of some talents that spell pretty good things for Paladins across the board.
1 min cooldown
You gain 25% of your total mana over 10 sec, but the amount healed by your spells is reduced by 50%.
This is pretty huge. The mana gains is lower but the cooldown has been significantly reduced and is no longer a channeled spell, making it castable while engaged although there's a 50% healing debuff. Overall, I think it's a buff, particularly to Protection and Retribution. Obviously the debuff hits Holy hardest, but it's generally changed for the better.
[UPDATE] The Art of War
Requires 30 points in Retribution
Increases the critical strike damage of your Judgement, Crusader Strike and Divine Storm abilities by 10/20% and when these abilities critically hit the cast time of your next Flash of Light is reduced by .75/1.5 sec.
Moved to Tier 7 where Sanctified Seals used to be, the newly reworked (again) The Art of War unnecessarily resembles Righteous Vengeance, which actually now looks pretty silly. For two points earlier in the tree, you get a 20% damage increase to critical strikes that include Crusader Strike and a whopper cast time reduction to Flash of Light. The buff lasts 15 seconds and is almost guaranteed to be up at all times, making Retribution extremely efficient burst healers in critical situations.
Coupled with haste gear, the .5 second cast time can be further reduced and will be virtually impossible to interrupt, [UPDATE] The tooltip and patch notes were erroneous, I was unable to test it sooner because the realms were down... but The Art of War enables crits with those spells to make Flash of Light INSTANT CAST. That is flat out insane. This, out of all the iterations, is the best version of The Art of War so far. The only problem now is that Righteous Vengeance has become pretty useless. To those who miss the stun-removal, however, read on.
Requires 20 points in Retribution
Reduces your chance to be hit by spells and ranged attacks by 2/4% and gives your Hand of Freedom spell a 50/100% chance to remove any Stun effects on the target.
What's not to like here? Moved to Tier 5 from Tier 7, the new Divine Purpose grants a higher hit chance reduction for fewer points and replaces the old effect -- which was made redundant with the change to Toughness last build -- with the stun removal from last build's The Art of War. A phenomenal buff clearly aimed at the PvP crowd.
Judgements of the Wise
Requires 30 points in Retribution
Your Judgement spells have a 100% chance to grant the Replenishment effect to up to 10 party or raid members mana regeneration equal to 0.5% of their maximum mana per second, and to immediately grant you 20% of your maximum mana.
What'd I say? Blizzard listens. While Replenishment looks like a mediocre mana regeneration mechanic on paper, Blizzard's tests in Beta have shown that raids have had no trouble with mana... except for the Retribution Paladin.
So what Blizzard taketh away, they giveth back -- hotfixed before this build, Judgements of the Wise grants a return of 20% of maximum mana. It's weaker than the original damage-scaling version, but this version is just fantastic and should solve a Retadin's mana problems.
Reduces the mana cost of all instant cast spells by 2/4/6/8/10%.
This fixes what two minute seals broke, and gives Holy Paladins more incentive to climb the Retribution tree for Holy Shocks and possibly even Holy Lights. If I'm reading this correctly, this applies to Judgements, Seals, Blessings... and even the weapon-based attacks. That's pretty much all the spells a Paladin has with the exception of heals. Awesome? Hell yes.
Pursuit of Justice
Requires 10 points in Retribution
Reduces the duration of all Disarm effects by 25/50% and increases movement and mounted movement speed by 8/15%. This does not stack with other movement speed increasing effects.
With Divine Purpose conferring the hit chance reduction effect, Pursuit of Justice now grants a critical PvP effect of reducing the duration of Disarms. Considering that a Disarmed Retadin is severely gimped, this is a much needed talent that's just low enough for other specs to pick up.
Sheath of Light has been deliberately put out of reach of Holy builds, as it has moved from Tier 5 to 9, while Deflection has become more attractive to Protection as it moves into the first tier. Deflection swapped places with the point-efficient Improved Blessing of Might, now a two-point talent giving the same 25% boost. Lastly, Improved Retribution Aura was placed deeper into the tree.
Overall, these are very good changes for the Retribution tree despite the fact that the talents feel very much experimental, specially with the 45-50 point slots made redundant. Holy has remained largely unchanged. In the next part, we'll examine some big changes to the Protection tree... if I missed anything, leave a comment and I'll try to cover it on the next post. Again, I'd like to remind everyone not to panic. This is merely a testing phase. It's all good.