The ball has begun rolling on patch 4.3, with the player test realm officially going up Tuesday night for public consumption. There isn't terribly much of interest just yet -- only the first iteration of the patch, so obviously much more is in store for us. Still, there are some interesting changes (and some glaringly absent ones) that demand discussion. Let's dig in.
Spell changes in the holy tree
OK, like I said, not the biggest change. Still, it's kind of an annoyance when you think of how nice it was to be able to "help" (and I use the term generously) with raid-wide AOE damage on fights like Chimaeron, Majordomo Staghelm, or Ragnaros. Even if you were only doling out the most minuscule of heals, it was something. And it was nice to have the utility to offer that morsel to the raid. With the addition of a cast time, Holy Radiance is pretty much dead in the water for in-combat usage.
There's also a change to Divine Plea -- making it baseline grant a charge of Holy Power -- that was caught by dataminers as a tooltip change for the ability. Though this has not been mentioned in the official patch notes, nor has it made it to "live" on the PTR, so we have no idea if it's for real or not. In any case, I'm curious (if it's true) what this means for the talent Shield of the Templar for baseline Divine Plea gives free holy power.
No block nerf, yet
This is the Waiting for Godot of 4.3 for shield tanks. Will block (or block masteries) be nerfed? How will they retool the numbers now that paladins are easily block capping in Firelands ilevel gear and warriors can do similarly in heroic Firelands ilevel gear (with much more finagling)?
Blizzard has stated in the recent past that it was unhappy with paladins being able to block cap. In the Tank Q&A, the developers collective stated regarding the systemic problems of paladins being able to block cap that:
So they pushed it off. The question is whether they're going to attempt to tackle this greased pig in 4.3, or will content themselves with just kicking it down the road to clean up later in the next expansion. One wonders how likely it is that they'll pretend the problem doesn't exist and just be content with shield tanks being more survivable for another raiding tier -- or, heaven forbid, buff the other two classes instead of doling out nerfs.
In any case, like I said, it's very early. There is so much time for Blizzard to line up its foot with our necks before it finally steps down. I'll continue to sit here, tremoring with equal amounts of fear and anticipation.
Buffs to Vengeance, endgame for threat
Two parts of this were mentioned in the patch notes. Taking the latter first, this is the part you're all currently working with now just enshrined in the code via patch rather than hotfix:
The first part though, was promised earlier but not yet delivered:
This has obviously been discussed to death in the last month or so, so I'll leave the dead horse alone. In any case, if threat is going to be neutered, it'll be nice to finally have the accompanying snip.
On top of all this, you can add the buff to melee AP, which will most assuredly affect us as well. Should add out to a nice chunk of extra threat at the highest levels of Vengeance. All in all, it'll be Donesville for threat come 4.3.
I'm definitely of two minds when it comes to these.
I really like the two-piece bonus, which despite being a minor player, is a survivability bonus and thus awesome at the very core of its being. The average Judgement at full Vengeance can hit for somewhere between 11k to 15k damage (and even higher in the right gear), so we're looking at bubbles being produced in the neighborhood of 3.5k or so, initially. Not too shabby (though I liked it better at 30% when it first was revealed). It's not going to save your life or anything, but every little bit helps, yes? You can't really say no to free mitigation.
And it's so refreshing to see a survivability two-piece bonus for once. I can't remember the last tier set that didn't just give you a boring extra amount of threat once you had amassed two pieces of tier.
Then again, perhaps the reason the two-piece is survivability-based is because the four-piece is so very different from four-pieces we've had in the past. And I don't mean that in a good way.
For starters, as you certainly noticed, all the tanks got some kind of raid cooldown with their four-piece bonus. Paladins, however, had our already-existing raid cooldown restored to its pre-nerf (i.e., pre-4.1) incarnation. It's mildly irritating to be told that accumulating four pieces of tier gear will grant you the special privilege of an un-nerfed ability we used to freely enjoy with no gear commitment.
I know why Blizzard did it -- giving paladins another raid cooldown on top of Divine Guardian would have been hugely unbalanced. And yet, bless their hearts, Blizzard still managed to create an unsatisfactory solution here. It opted for a much less unbalanced situation amongst the four tanks but still unbalanced nonetheless. Now we'll be the only tank class that doesn't have to give up a personal cooldown, via our four-piece, for the benefit of the raid.
Come 4.3, with its probable gobs of raid AOE damage, I can most assuredly see a raid leader calling for a Warrior pop Shield Wall to mitigate some horrible raid-wide burst, thus completely locking them out of their major cooldown. (Then again, with four-piece, warriors will have two raid cooldowns and thus two personal cooldowns they can be locked out of in offering those to the raid.)
In any case, the four-piece is boring and borderline insulting. There's really not much more to say about it other than in the grand scheme of things, it will be nice to have Divine Guardian at a 2-minute cooldown once more. The ability was always stupid-powerful at that timing, so I'll be sure to revel in it. Even if I had to accumulate a specific pile of gear to enjoy that Nirvana once more.
The Light and How to Swing It shows paladin tanks how to take on the dark times brought by Cataclysm. Try out our 4 tips for upping your combat table coverage, find out how to increase threat without sacrificing survivability, and learn how to manage the latest version of Holy Shield.