A new Patch 3.1 PTR build went up earlier and while there aren't any official patch notes, our data-mining friends over at MMO-Champion have dug up some goodies as usual. There aren't too many changes for Paladins in this build, but there are interesting stuff in there, not least of which was the unintended revelation of the internal testing on Crusader Strike. The more down-to-earth changes are as follows:
Divine Plea - now only reduces the amount healed by your Flash of Light, Holy Light, and Holy Shock spells.
This properly reflects Blizzard's intention of nerfing Divine Plea for Holy Paladins. The change allows healing from Seal of Light and Judgement of Light to go unimpaired, the latter particularly useful to Protection Paladins and Retribution Paladins. Considering that Protection is now designed to have maintain a 100% uptime on Divine Plea, this is an important distinction.
Aura Mastery - tooltip has been modified to properly reflect its 10 seconds duration.
The excellent new ability confused a lot of players who thought it was a permanent, passive ability. Don't freak out, people! It's an activated ability that lasts for 10 seconds and has a two minute cooldown. The tooltip should help dispel the cloud of confusion.
The rest of the changes after the jump...
Divine Sacrifice - tooltip has been modified to properly reflect its 10 seconds duration.
Another confusing, though slightly less alarming talent, this new ability takes the place of the passive Divine Guardian which only worked when Divine Shield was activated. The new talent gives Paladins the flexibility to use it whenever the situation arises. Provided it's off its two-minute cooldown, of course.
Divine Storm - causes 110% of weapon damage to up to 4 enemies within 8 yards.
This is a minor buff to Retribution, which has been underperforming on the PTR. The current iteration is a 100% normalized weapon damage strike. This makes it like Crusader Strike's bigger, good-looking brother. That said, it still has a target cap, a 10-second cooldown, and deals Physical damage. You know, just saying.
Righteous Vengeance - now also affects Crusader Strike.
A much needed buff that should palpably improve Retribution DPS considering there are now three sources which can proc Righteous Vengeance. This should ideally keep the rolling DoT have a 100% uptime even in the worst situations. A lot of players have been asking for this for a long time, and I really hope this change makes it to live.
Crusader Strike - an instant strike that causes 110% weapon damage. In addition, if you strike a player while they are casting, their magical damage and healing will be reduced by 50% for 6 sec.
Whoops. Not really.
Judgements of the Wise - immediately grants you 25% of your base mana. (Up from 15%)
A straight up buff intended to compensate for the removal of Spiritual Attunement from Retribution Paladins' mana regeneration toolbox. Retribution Paladins have always known the instant returns were insufficient from the day they "tuned" this. Hopefully Blizzard concurs and lets this change go live.
Glyph of Seal of Blood - When your Seal of Blood, Seal of the Martyr, Judgement of Blood, or Judgement of the Martyr deals damage to you, you gain 11% of the damage done as mana.
Here's another change intended to address the removal of Spiritual Attunement from trainers. Unfortunately, without this Major Glyph, Seal of Blood's feedback damage is still largely a handicap. This almost makes this glyph a requirement even though it only helps sustainability and doesn't increase Paladin DPS directly. Retribution Paladins not taking this glyph are actually gimping their raids by acting as a counterproductive mana sink for healers.
While this makes the feedback from Seal of Blood / of the Martyr marginally useful, the problem lies with the ability itself. Without the synergy of Spiritual Attunement, the seal doing damage is more for drama than anything. I'm not so sure Retribution should be forced to invest a major glyph slot just to make the gimmick effect useful.
Overall, this patch is pretty decent for Paladins. Nothing earth-shaking, save for the Crusader Strike change which will not make it to live realms. Retribution buffs notwithstanding, this doesn't address the loose talent points which Retribution has after the tree was slimmed (and nerfed). There are simply no DPS-improving talents which can be picked up. You would think that Blizzard would actually give Retribution something to spend points on after they put the tree on a diet.