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Changes coming to Paladins in patch 3.1


As I'm sure you've seen already, Eyonix dropped more class changes, Paladins being amongst this latest batch. Not many Holy changes, only minor Ret changes, but a whole crapload of Protection changes. Delicious, delicious Protection changes. A lot of the Protection changes serve a dual purpose- the changes are pretty good steps toward making Protection Paladins PvP-viable like Protection Warriors are becoming, but those same changes make the tree even stronger in PvE than it already is. It's beautiful.
This is very, very awesome. It's a wonder this didn't happen earlier, actually. I think many of us expected this to happen back in the Wrath beta, but instead it was turned into a 5 point talent in the Protection tree. The unanswered question is whether or not we'll get the full 5 talent points baseline, or if we'll still need to spent talent points to improve it. Personally, I'm going to assume we'll get the 10% BoK baseline, it's the only way this would even remotely make sense.

Assuming we are getting the 10% version, this is a great change. At the very least, it's going to open up 5 talent points for a large number of Paladins, and that alone is good news. It also means that there will probably be a brand new Tier 1 talent in the Protection tree come patch 3.1, so it'll be fun to see what shows up there.
  • Exorcism – this spell now causes damage to all types of enemy targets. However, it always critical strikes undead or demon targets. This change should make sure paladin damage doesn't drop when going from Naxxramas to later tiers of content.
This is another change that I think we all expected. The 100% chance to crit on Undead and Demons is something I didn't expect, but making Exorcism work on all mob types was a necessary change. For Naxxramas, it can be assumed that a Ret Paladin is fighting Undead most of the time, meaning that their DPS numbers are artificially inflated there. It had to be taken into consideration for balance purposes, because it's pretty much an entire tier of content. Changing it so they can cast it on all targets is much easier to balance, and is something that definitely had to be done for Ulduar. Glad to see they're doing it.
  • Shield of the Templar now causes your Avenger's Shield and Shield of the Righteousness to silence targets for 3 sec. The old damage bonus of this talent has been folded into Holy Shield, Avenger's Shield, and Shield of the Righteousness.
Hooray Protection buffs! It's my personal favorite Paladin spec, despite my grievances with it. I love seeing new toys, and this qualifies. This is a flat 30% baseline buff to Holy Shield, Avenger's Shield, and Shield of the Righteousness. That's pretty sweet. Freebies are nice! The new effect is what really excites me, though. One of the big Protection weaknesses when tanking 5-mans is a lack of interrupts that aren't also stuns, so handling casters without LOS to use was a real pain. This will make things much easier, especially when pulling. You won't need to throw your shield, then hide around a corner and pray some nublet DPS doesn't unload before they reach you. You can just simply pull. The silence will be a great tool for tanking 5-mans.
  • Ardent Defender, Improved Hammer of Justice, One-Handed Weapon Specialization and more have had their ranks reduced.
I'm sort of neutral on this change by itself, but it means that we're probably going to be seeing some new, replacement talents to make up for the point loss. This change by itself is pretty neat, I guess. I'm more excited to see what fills the void.
  • Guarded by the Light – no longer reduces the mana cost of shield spells, but now has a 50/100% chance to refresh Divine Plea duration.
This has the potential to be totally awesome, but it's sort of... half explained. What, exactly, has a 100% chance to refresh the Divine Plea duration? That's sort of an important part of this equation!

I'm going to assume it's going to be something like Shield of Righteousness has a 100% chance to refresh Divine Plea's duration with 2 talent points. If that (or something similar) is the case, that's going to be incredible. Protection will more or less be able to keep Divine Plea rolling forever in combat, which will be an absolutely huge buff. Next to dealing with Casters, a Protection Paladin's biggest weakness is trying to off-tank. When the Paladin isn't directly being attacked, it's incredibly hard to keep their mana pool up. Now? Not so much. Rolling a Divine Plea forever might not keep a Paladin's mana pool topped off if they're going all out on threat gen, but it's going to do a lot to help the situation.
  • Judgements of the Just – now also reduces the cooldown of Hammer of Justice by 10/20 seconds and increases the duration of the Seal of Justice stun effect by 0.5/1 second.
This is pretty wild, if the aforementioned Improved Hammer of Justice change doesn't gut that talent. If it keeps its current effect (only with fewer talent points to sink), this would give a Protection Paladin a 6 second stun on a 10 second cooldown? I don't want to do that whole gift horse spiel, but this change seems to be a bit much. I expect it'll be toned down shortly after patch 3.1 hits the PTR. 10 second cooldown Hammer of Justice combined with these newly improved Seal of Justice stuns? What's up, tank with stunlock capabilities? I think it's a safe bet that Improved Hammer of Justice will lose some of its effect when it has its talent count lowered, to keep some of that absurdity out of the hands of Retribution Paladins. I bet we'll end up seeing a 20 second cooldown on HoJ for Prot when all is said and done, and not 10.

Overall, I really like this news so far. I suspect our Holy brethren will feel a little left out because there really isn't much of anything here except for no longer needing to sink talents into Blessing of Kings. Then again, the BoK replacement should probably be something Holy-friendly for those Paladins that go 17 into Prot for Divine Guardian. So the BoK change probably doesn't free up much at all for those Paladins.

I'm cautiously optimistic here. Some of these changes sound way too good to be true, and others just have some crucial information missing. I wouldn't be so hot on the Guarded by the Light change if Divine Plea's duration is refreshed when you cast, oh... Divine Intervention. I would love it if Shield of Righteousness triggered it, though. Those are important details, even if we can make some safe assumptions about it.

Cautious optimism, ladies and gents. Cautious optimism.
Patch 3.1 brings us Ulduar, dual specs, significant changes to all the classes, and more! We've got you covered from top to bottom with our Guide to Patch 3.1.

Filed under: Paladin, Patches, Analysis / Opinion

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