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[UPDATED] Patch 3.1 PTR build 9658 Paladin changes

So the new PTR build dropped, and it doesn't look very pretty for Holy Paladins. Before we get into the grim side of things, it looks like Aura Mastery has been made baseline. Does this mean a new talent will be popping up in the Holy tree? That seems likely, but don't bet on it yet. Now on to the bad stuff...

Holy

Sacred Shield - Cannot be on more than one target at any one time.
Ouch. So much for raid damage mitigation. Back to single target healing, the lot of you!

Infusion of Light - No longer has a chance to reduce the casting time of Holy Light, but increases the the critical chance of your next Holy Light by 10/20% instead. Moved to Tier 10.
Double ouch. This seems to be a PvP nerf to me, and others are crying out the same on the forums. Without addressing it directly, Ghostcrawler states that "several of those changes were made for PvE reasons". He was, of course, referring to Sacred Shield, considering that one of Blizzard's concerns was the increasing number of mitigation abilities going into Ulduar. Losing half-a-second Holy Lights will be severely palpable to Holy Paladins in Arenas.

[UPDATE: With Aura Mastery's old effect made baseline, the new activated ability talent is all kinds of awesome - Now makes anyone affected by Concentration Aura to be immune to Interrupt and Silence mechanics and increases the effectiveness of all other auras by 100%. Lasts 10 sec. 2 min cooldown.
This is a fantastic ability that compensates a little for the other nerfs. Because it is a party or raid-wide buff, this is extremely powerful -- imagine the improved versions of Retribution Aura and Devotion Aura working at 200%. This makes Paladin synergy simply too good. The 2 minute cooldown is about right for PvP, although a 12 second duration might have been more appropriate. It's an excellent talent on paper, I can't wait to see in practice.
UPDATE: Blessed Hands - No longer reduces cooldowns of Hand spells. Instead, it improves the effectiveness of Hand of Salvation by 50/100% and Hand of Sacrifice by an additional 5/10%.
One step forward, two steps back. What looked to be a great talent for PvE has now become a skippable, lackluster talent for PvE. Even the improved Hand of Sacrifice effect won't be enough to compel PvP Paladins to pick it up, while Hand of Salvation simply sees little use in the face of new, higher threat tanking for two points to be wasted here.]

UPDATE: Enlightened Judgements - No longer increases the range of Judgement of Justice. Moved to Tier 10.
And the nerfs just keep on coming. Clearly aimed at PvP, the move down to Tier 10 doesn't quite make any sense. It's already deep enough in the Holy tree to begin with that no other spec would pick it up. The change won't make an impact on PvE, but now prevents Holy Paladins from casting this snare-like effect from afar. Swapped places with Judgements of the Pure.

Protection

Hand of Sacrifice - Lasts 12 sec or until the caster has transfered 100% of their maximum health.
This is another effective nerf although will scale excellently with Protection Paladins. It's just not as effective when used by other specs, and seems to be part of Ulduar tuning which seems to be toning down mitigation abilities.

Targets affected by Divine Shield, Hand of Protection or Divine Protection can no longer be affected by any of these spell for 2 minutes. (Down from 3 minutes)
We're probably never going to see Forbearance return to one minute, but at least Blizzard seems to realize that three minutes is just plain silly.

Divine Sacrifice *New Talent* (Tier 3) - 30% of all damage taken by party or raid members within 30 yards is redirected to the Paladin (up to a maximum of 150% of the Paladin's health). Instant, 2 min cooldown.
Finally, some good news! This is an extremely attractive talent to pick up and oddly seems counter to the whole mitigation ability nerfs. Coupled with Divine Guardian, this translates to a 60% damage soak albeit scaling with health. Considering it affects all party or raid members, that cap will be reached rather quickly during those 'oh $#!+' moments and looks very attractive for PvP, as well. So much love going Protection's way in Patch 3.1, it almost makes up for Holy going through the crapper. Almost.

UPDATE: Divine Guardian - Redesigned. Now increases the effectiveness of Divine Sacrifice by an additional 5/10% and increases the duration of Sacred Shield by 50/100% and the amount absorbed by 10/20%.
So much for getting all excited about Divine Sacrifice. Blizzard made the old Divine Guardian separate from Divine Shield, which isn't altogether exciting albeit more useful because of the shorter cooldown. Still, this makes Divine Sacrifice absorb 40% damage instead of 30%, which is pretty good, and makes Sacred Shield much more powerful. Both talents are significant buffs, and used properly, Divine Sacrifice is much more flexible and has an impact in both PvE and PvP. Both excellent talents, so while the Holy nerfs continue, so does the Protection love.

UPDATE: Guarded by the Light - Now makes Divine Plea 50/100% less likely to be dispelled.
I can't get on the PTR to test, so I'm not sure if this is an added effect or a redesign. As it stands, this is one of the best talents in an already phenomenal tree, guaranteeing 100% uptime on Divine Plea. The change also doesn't make much sense because Divine Plea is now undispellable to begin with. We'll have to take a look at this some more.

Retribution

UPDATE: Sanctified Seals - Renamed Sanctity of Battle. Now also increases damage done by Exorcism and Crusader Strike by 5/10/15%.
Best news of the day. This is part of Blizzard's move to increase the DPS of Retribution Paladins, and it looks really good. Crusader Strike has needed a lot of love since Patch 3.0 and deals a small percentage of Retribution's overall DPS now. It's not quite complete as the talent itself still needs to be buffed beyond vanilla-hood, but these are steps in the right direction. It's also low enough in the Retribution tree for other specs to pick up. A straight up buff is always welcome news in the face of the many nerfs to Holy this build.

Filed under: Paladin, Patches, Analysis / Opinion

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