Now, by reading this article you are all sworn (henceforth and forthwith) to a secret society where we'll speak in not-so-hushed tones about the necessity of correcting the bugs of Patch 4.1 that are afflicting Hammer of the Righteous and Avenger's Shield. At the same time, however, let's just keep it under our hats about the probably-a-bug buff to the Sacred Duty proc. No need to go tipping Blizzard off to what can't possibly hurt, right? In any case, if you agree to these terms, please continue to draw breath.
In addition to those fortunate and unfortunate bugs, I have a serious gripe with the undocumented change to Divine Guardian in 4.1. All in all, hopefully by the end of this column, I'll have spared the you the same surprises that were inflicted upon me when I first heard of the change to my precious raidwall on Monday, shed warm tears of blood, and then let forth a gratuitous (and Emmy-worthy, thank you) Skyward Scream. Don't let that be you!
Divine Guardian: New range
First, the heartbreak di tutti heartbreaks. As of 4.1, Divine Guardian is limited to 30 yards around you, as opposed to the 100 yards it previously boasted. This brings it in line with Rallying Cry, the Cousin Oliver of raid cooldowns.
This creates some unfortunate limitations for what was once the most primo raid damage reduction ability around. Before the change, the prot paladin could -- several times over the course of a fight, thanks to the 2-minute cooldown -- shave off a hearty chunk of incoming damage for everybody in the room, regardless of what mechanics might have necessitated a splitting up of your group.
Consider the second phase of Nefarian. Before, we could throw up a raidwall for the benefit of everyone in the raid, no matter which pillar they on. Now, you can only cover your particular third of the pie, while the other two groups have to grapple with the crackles.
Of course, as much as I rue the nerf, I can't blame Blizzard. Divine Guardian was stupidly overpowered, and it's a wonder it made it this long. Ever since the ability was first introduced halfway through Wrath, the devs have fought to balance it somehow against the massive benefits it brought to the table. Hell, the ability was so good it was nigh mandatory for even holy paladins to reach for in progression raiding. The more raidwalls you could bring to the table, the better.
How it made it into Cataclysm the way it did, I'll never now. It's like having a bank error in your favor. You know it's going to get taken away eventually, so it's best to play dumb and not get too attached to the ill-gotten gains.
Avenger's Shield: No Censure on bounces
I'm guessing/hoping this is a bug, although it might be related to the change where Judgements of the Just applications don't proc certain effects erroneously any more. (That's just handwaving on my part.) Nonetheless, prior to 4.1, when you threw your shield all Steve Rogers-like, it would apply the Censure effect from your Seal of Truth to each mob it hit.
Here's an example log:
[19:57:32.783] Rhidach casts Avenger's Shield on Time Warden
[19:57:32.898] Rhidach Censure Time Warden 2437
[19:57:32.898] Rhidach Avenger's Shield Orphaned Emerald Whelp 13640
[19:57:32.898] Rhidach Avenger's Shield Orphaned Emerald Whelp 13824
[19:57:33.001] Orphaned Emerald Whelp afflicted by Censure from Rhidach
[19:57:33.001] Orphaned Emerald Whelp afflicted by Censure (2) from Rhidach
[19:57:33.001] Time Warden's Censure is refreshed by Rhidach
[19:57:33.179] Rhidach Avenger's Shield Time Warden 13599
Notice that AS hits three creatures: Time Warden and two Orphaned Emerald Whelps. Censure is immediately applied to each following their hits by the shield.
Now, let's look at a log post-4.1:
[20:00:05.173] Rhidach casts Avenger's Shield on Storm Rider
[20:00:05.304] Rhidach Avenger's Shield Orphaned Emerald Whelp 15414
[20:00:05.305] Rhidach Avenger's Shield Orphaned Emerald Whelp 15395
[20:00:05.479] Rhidach Censure Storm Rider Miss
[20:00:05.562] Rhidach Avenger's Shield Storm Rider 15156
Three creatures get hit by AS, just as in the previous log. However, this time, only the Storm Rider has Censure applied (an attempt -- it missed; how embarassing).
The repercussions of this are twofold:
- It's going to take us a little longer to stack Censure on a pack of mobs we're AOE tanking, which will hurt our ability to generate threat on them off the bat.
- It'll avoid our screwing up any pulls requiring crowd control where our AS hits an ancillary mob, which then gets sheeped but immediately breaks free because Censure is ticking on it now.
Of course, the latter can be mitigated by more conscientious play, so that's not really a gain at all. The former may be a scratch, but it still is a hit to our threat. Here's hoping this is indeed a bug and will soon be corrected.
Hammer of the Righteous: Back to the future
There was a hotfix earlier this year, back in February, that made the splash portion of Hammer of the Righteous no longer rely on separate rolls from the primary, physical attack. If the initial attack hit, the splash did too, and if the primary attack missed, everything missed.
This was a great change, because beforehand, we were looking at the splash possibly missing from mob to mob, even when that lovely clang had already sounded off with the physical connect.
With 4.1, it seems the hotfix was either reverted or reintroduced the method of each splash attack against a mob being a separate roll. Considering this was deliberately hotfixed to be corrected not three months ago, I can't imagine Blizzard has already changed its mind and decided to revert.
Sacred Duty safe
Not all bugs are bad bugs! One of the hidden delights of 4.1 is that the Sacred Duty proc is no longer consumed when Shield of the Righteous is dodged/missed/parried. That may seem inconsequential at face value, but it's actually a huge damage buff for us. An SD-powered ShoR is the be-all, end-all of our rotation, and every button we press is merely prelude to that moment when we let off a fully loaded holy shield slam.
Likewise, according to Theck, a lack of SD consumption on misses/avoids makes hit and expertise less desirable for us. Thus, we can further alleviate any guilt we may face over having an anemic hit chance.
So suffice it to say, this is a great bug that I sincerely hope is not corrected any time soon. Enjoy it while it lasts, before Blizzard finds where I hid its fly swatter.
The Light and How to Swing It tries to help paladins cope with the dark times brought by Cataclysm. Check out our protection 101 guide and our suggestions for protection paladin addons.