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The Light and How to Swing It: Latest beta build shakes things up for prot

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Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Light and How to Swing It for holy, protection and retribution paladins. Protection specialist Matt Walsh spends most of his time receiving concussions for the benefit of 24 other people, obsessing over his hair (a blood elf racial!), and maintaining the tankadin-focused blog Righteous Defense.

There are good beta builds, and there are bad beta builds, and then there are bad, bad beta builds. Build 15640, which went up this week, is a textbook example of the latter -- specifically with regard to how it handles our active mitigation. Considering that active mitigation (AM) is the most important change prot paladins are receiving going into the next expansion, the quality of a build hinges on how it handles this topic.

Needless to say, the next few builds are always going to include some new iteration of Shield of the Righteous, as the class design team works out the kinks and attempts to cobble together an effective version of the ability.

Shield of the Righteous v3.0

The last few versions of Shield of the Righteous (ShoR) had a fantastic design element in which the ability guaranteed a block when used. This was great because with the behind-the-woodshed spanking our block chance is taking in Mists, any active mitigation that solely boosts our block value/amount (consider the current Holy Shield, our proto-AM!) is going to be disappointing thanks to the inability to block cap.

On the other hand, guaranteeing a block (along with the block chance nerf) had the unfortunate side effect of reducing the value of our (previous) block-only mastery to the point that it became a dump stat. Theck did a series of blog posts over at Sacred Duty last week that proved just that. (Make sure to pop some aspirin before diving into that series.)

In any case, you can see the bind the class design team is in. Guaranteed block has the joyous effect of making our active mitigation really feel active, giving it an immediate wow factor that you can see in action. It also is so powerful that it contributes to making our mastery stat into garbage. Something had to give.

So this week, we find ourselves with the current, unfortunate build. I really can't think of a better word than unfortunate -- it's nothing worth getting worked up about, because it's so bad it is going to be changed for the better. This isn't the end of the world or anything.

The new ShoR is a shield slam attack that does holy damage (of course), increases block chance by 10% and block value by 30% for 6 seconds, and gives you the Bastion of Glory buff. Continuing on, Bastion of Glory is a buff that increases the potency of Word of Glory when used to self-heal by 10% per stack; it stacks five times.

Here are the problems with this version. One, guaranteed block is gone, and the replacement isn't very, well, active. It's an RNG effect. A 10% increased block chance on top of our mastery, our base block, and the additional 10% block chance from Guarded by the Light (new in this build as well), and we'll still be forever and a day from block cap. This means that RNG is going to rear its ugly, misshapen, weirdly hairy head and from time to time blow a spittle-flecked raspberry, taunting us as we watch in horror as those 6 seconds (i.e., about five melee swings from a boss) elapse without a single block.

In short: Our active mitigation is currently RNG on top of more RNG. And that feels bad.

Update! A new beta build was pushed out this morning. If there are two types of bad builds, this is an okay build. Shield of the Righteous was changed again, as predicted, to no longer have a block component. Instead it reduces damage taken from physical sources by 30% for 3 seconds. Bastion of Glory is still in. Guaranteed damage reduction, without the block angle mucking things up with mastery.

Looks like Blizzard is attempting to thread the needle a bit. In any case, it's an acceptable compromise, but 3 seconds is very short. It's going to be a pain to time the use of effectively. Probably will necessitate a swing timer mod with only 3 seconds of effect, to manuever as many boss swings as possible within its aegis. Still, overall a step in the right direction.

Making self-healing more prominent

The new Bastion of Glory component to Shield of the Righteous, however, is interesting and pretty cool. I can see where Blizzard's going with this -- the devs are trying to diversify ShoR so that it's a little more like Deathstrike, making it affect various aspects of our survivability at the same time. Giving us more bang for our buck.

It's going to take a while to stack that Bastion effect up to full strength, so I don't think as it stands that it'll cause some kind of balance shift in how we perceive Word of Glory. If anything, it'll hopefully bring more tankadins around to the school of thought of using Word of Glory like a cooldown, keeping it as an ace up your sleeve until something goes horribly wrong and you need to quickly heal-bomb yourself up to a more comfortable hit point plateau. With the delay from sitting on WoG resulting in a large Bastion stack and thus a larger heal.

Hopefully the next iteration of Shield of the Righteous doesn't throw Bastion of Glory out the window with the bathwater.

On top of this, Divine Bulwark, our mastery, now boosts Bastion of Glory in addition to our block chance. This is a very, very welcome to change to what has been (since inception) a very boring and one-dimensional mastery.

Another update: in this morning's new build, Sacred Shield was changed to increase the critical chance of Flash of Light, rather than Word of Glory. This makes sense, because otherwise with the new prominence of Word of Glory in our toolkit, the talent would have been mandatory for prot. And "mandatory" is a very dirty word when it comes to talents in Mists.

Inside Baseball: Spell and attack power reformulated

Spellpower and attack power reformulations are not a huge change, but interesting to see nonetheless. Our ability formulas are always bizarre to read when you see them in MMO-Champion or Wowhead News datamines, because of the intricate dance between spellpower and attack power that each ability must perform.

To alleviate the math a bit, the design team changed Guarded by the Light to peg our spellpower value at 50% of our attack power, and no other sources of spellpower can increase it. In addition, Seal of Truth has been changed to only scale with spellpower, and I wonder if we'll see a slew of changes as this is applied to other attacks as well.

Next on the chopping block

On the line: Glyph of Hammer of Wrath, which gives 10% damage reduction after the ability is used. Now that Hammer of Wrath is baseline, Blizzard will have to kill the glyph (or rework it to again make it ret-only) to keep it from becoming a mandatory prot glyph.

As expected, in this morning's new build, the glyph has been changed to Glyph of Exorcism.

The Light and How to Swing It shows paladin tanks how to take on the dark times brought by Cataclysm. Try out our four 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.

Filed under: Paladin, (Paladin) The Light and How to Swing It

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