Patch 3.0.8 brought in quite a number of changes to the game, many of which affect PvP directly. I wrote about most of the changes in the other day's column, but as you can imagine, trying to cover all the bases with all the classes can get quite hefty. So before I reach Blizzard levels of 'soon', I'm cheating and appending the rest of the class balance changes here and pretend the whole Wintergrasp fiasco never happened. Oh, and yes, that button should work now.
Despite all the calls for nerfs for many classes, for some reason Mages have tiptoed past the madding crowd and continued to Pyroblast unsuspecting enemies for 10k damage without anyone batting an eyelash. Maybe it's their Invisibility, I don't know, but Mages are incredibly powerful opponents in PvP but don't elicit calls for nerfs. Christian was right in saying that Frost is no longer the spec for PvP. It now shares the spotlight with Arcane, with the highest ranked Mage in the world sporting a 60/ 0/ 11 build (although a Frost-specced 20/ 0/ 51 gnome isn't far behind).
So you think Mages are strong in PvP? Well, they've just been buffed. Evocation's cooldown was reduced to four minutes, and with Arcane Mages having access to the improved Arcane Flows, they can Evocate every 2 minutes. It was never a viable tactic to try and drain a Mage, but even with the spark of hope given by the change to mana drain mechanics, Mages will never run out of mana. The extremely RNG behavior of Mirror Images Polymorphing the most unlikely targets has been curtailed somewhat with the range of the copy's Polymorph down to a mere 8 yards. This is pretty good.Compared to other cloth classes, Mages have a considerably high survivability rate, with Ice Block, Blink, and Invisibility at their disposal. In an environment where burst damage is king (except in higher level Arenas, where healing is once again proving to be dominant), a Mage's high burst (Arcane Barrage, anyone?) and unaltered survivability keeps Mages in a good place.
I wrote about how Paladins must feel like kings right now, and Patch 3.0.8 makes them even better. Paladins are just about the best class for PvP right now -- almost overpowered, I'm ashamed to admit. Simply that in the current environment where so many abilities can remove HoTs, direct heals are pure win. With haste and talents that reduce healing cast time, a 6-second Holy Shock, and incredible survivability, Holy Paladins are simply the best healers in Arenas right now.
Patch 3.0.8 revised a few things, the biggest buff being the removal of Forbearance from Avenging Wrath. This should see the spell see more use in Arena play. Holy Paladins' offensive capabilities were also buffed, with Judgements of the Pure increasing damage done by seals and judgements. Not only can Paladins throw out 18k Holy Lights in about 1.5 seconds, they can poke you with judgements and stuff, too.
Divine Shield was reworked to apply a 50% damage penalty instead of an attack speed penalty, making it more balanced. It won't be as frightening to see a Retribution Paladin rush in all bubbled and swinging her mace around. But the best buff to Paladins isn't actually a buff to the class but a change in dispel resistance mechanics. This means the abominable Cleanse just got a little better. It might actually work now instead of being a waste of the GCD.
Glyph of Turn Evil was nerfed to add an 8 second cooldown to the spell. A freely spammable crowd control was just too powerful against Unholy Death Knights and Demonology Warlocks. It was possible to shut down a ghoul or gargoyle entirely and waste Metamorphosis. Diminishing returns and the new cooldown should see this ability toned down in Arena play. Glyph of Hammer of Justice is now a range increase, instead of an additional second of stun. Not a terrible nerf, and will prove to be useful in allowing Retribution Paladins catch up to opponents, their kitability being their biggest weakness right now.
Hopefully we'll see class representation balance out a bit more as the seasons progress. Otherwise, if Paladins continue to dominate, I'm afraid we might see nerfs to impair Paladin healing, which wouldn't be good for the class at all. It will be Season 1 all over again, where nerfs to the class because of Arena representation had repercussions in PvE gameplay.