While I'm not one to whine about incoming nerfs and changes for any of the classes I play, it sometimes gets a little annoying to see the developers tweaking things here and there trying to get the balance just right. Ghostcrawler recently said that in comparison to other classes, "... paladins (all 3 kinds) have been a bigger headache to balance this expansion, usually in the favor of the paladin." While we might not always think this is the case, there are several times since the moment 3.0.2 hit to start the expansion off where things just felt too easy. From ret pallies in substandard gear out performing all other classes to holy pallies being able to chain cast Holy Light with little regard for mana, the class has been a little off at times.
Lately, that feeling of things being too easy has been happening while tanking in the 3.2.0 world. Ardent Defender got a huge boost with the sexy paladin version of Last Stand. Along with the fact that Argent Defender now works as it reads like it should, this means that tanking paladins can stop fearing the dreaded 36% health zone. Also, with changes to Seal of Corruption/Vengeance as a DPS boost to both protection and retribution, threat has been through the roof. In other words, we're an unstoppable force that does unbelievable amounts of threat by just sneezing (at least, according to some on the forums).
There is also the problem of doing things against the way Blizzard sees things. A PvP tactic using a mostly protection build, but wearing holy spell plate was causing issues. It wasn't that prot paladins were healing, because we are a healing class after all. It was the fact that those prot paladins were healing just as well as holy, but with the added utility and survivability that prot offers. This was thanks to the talent Touched by the Light which would convert stamina to spell power for prot threat. This on top of the spell power already offered in the healing plate gave enough of a boost that it was worth the change over to this tactic. So, they need to stop making Stamina a threat stat and instead get your additional threat via a more logical source that doesn't overlap into healing plate gear.
Lastly, we run into the problem that a talented skill like Seal of Command had fallen to the point that hardly anyone talents it anymore. Sure, there are those that argue on fast trash fights Command is better due to the fact you can't build a full stack of dots to get the bonus from Vengeance/Corruption. But really, that's a kind of situational point where you ask yourself, "Okay, is one talent point worth it for the occasional really really short trash fight?" The answer is probably no. It needs a buff for PvE, but needed to keep its damage low enough to prevent us from being bursty again.
Thus, I introduce you to Patch 3.2.2. Now live on a server near you.
- Righteous Fury: The bonus threat from holy spells caused by this talent has been reduced from 90% to 80%.
- Ardent Defender: This talent now reduces damage taken below 35% health by 7/13/20% instead of 10/20/30%.
- Blessing of Sanctuary: This blessing now grants 10% strength in addition to its current effects. Also, the strength and stamina bonuses from this blessing will no longer be lost when Blessing of Kings is removed.
- Judgements of the Just: The reduction in cooldown to Hammer of Justice provided by this talent has been reduced to 5/10 seconds instead of 10/20 seconds.
- Touched by the Light: This talent now provides 20/40/60% of the paladin's strength as spell power instead of 10/20/30% of the paladin's stamina.
- Seal of Command: This ability now chains to strike up to 2 additional targets when it is triggered by an attack that can only strike a single target.
- Seal of Corruption and Seal of Vengeance: These seals will now only use the debuff stacks generated by the attacking paladin to determine the damage done by the seal and by the judgement.
- Relics: All buffs provided by relics (idols, librams, totems and sigils) now share an exclusive category such that gaining a buff from one of these items will remove all other buffs gained from items in this category.
- Libram of the Sacred Shield: The block value buff from this relic has been increased to match its item level.
With protection, we've got a bunch of small nerfs and changes concerning threat to make it so that the damage dealers will have to occasionally have to use their threat reduction abilities. Righteous Fury being reduced by 10% should have the most impact. Touched by the Light appeared to be a fairly close conversion on my current set of gear, but did slightly reduce my spell power. Your mileage may vary depending on your particular gear, gem, and enchant makeup. Finally, we've got Blessing of Sanctuary adding 10% Strength along with the current 10% Stamina. This should mean higher mitigation return thanks to the boost in block value from strength in addition to the increase in overall attack power for additional threat. But, for those of you who are used to running Kings and Sanctuary at the same time, you probably won't even notice this change occurred.
For survivability and utility, Ardent Defender took a bit of a beating now that it works as it always should have. Taking 30% less damage the instant your health drops below a certain point was a bit high and was letting paladins easily handle encounters that the other tanks were struggling with. This should put things back to the point where low health starts to mean something again without completely stripping away our cool talents. With the Judgements of the Just change, it's a matter of keeping something or someone stunned for a maximum of 30% of the time as opposed to 20% of the time all with Hammer of Justice. It was pushing the edge of the balance envelope for a while and it looks like Blizzard decided to make the change since they were already in the neighborhood.
Let's finish up with the topic of items. A trick some people have pulled for a while is to get the item in their relic slot to proc and then swap it out with another relic and then attempt to proc its effect. Most recently, this was used to stack block value buffs from two different librams. Blizzard has come down and said no to this once and for all. Now if you swap out a relic, you'll still keep the old buff until it expires, but if the new one goes off, it will overwrite your old buff. This still allows you to swap out these items as needed in combat (for example if you had forgotten to equip your new Libram during the middle of the boss fight, you can still swap it out, but don't get to stack its effects with the old one).
Oh, and then there's the fact we're being replaced by a drum. Don't worry, druids are as well. Priests, on the other hand, are being replaced by a nifty piece of paper. Drums of Forgotten Kings, Drums of the Wild, and the Runescroll of Fortitude were items added expressly for raiding guilds running hard modes on 10-man. With the limited number of slots, you can't necessarily guarantee that Blessing of Kings, Gift of the Wild, and Prayer of Fortitude are covered. The development team decided that these buffs were needed in some way, shape, or form despite not being able to fit the casting class in the group. Lucky for us that the real thing is still better than the replacement.
The Light and How to Swing It tries to help Paladins cope with the dark times coming in Cataclysm. See the upcoming Paladin changes the expansion will bring.