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3.2 Paladin Changes: Explanation

Posted: Thu Jun 18, 2009 8:28 pm
by Lealla
Paladin 3.2 patch notes.
Blizzard wrote:Paladins
  • Blessing of Sanctuary: This blessing now also increases stamina by 10%. This effect is not cumulative with Blessing of Kings.
  • Charger: Can now be learned at level 40.
  • Exorcism: Now has a 1.5 second cast time, but can once again be used on players.
  • Hand of Reckoning: Redesigned. Now does damage only when target does not currently have the caster targeted, but damage done increased to 50% of attack power, occurring after the taunt effect is applied.
  • Judgement of Light: Now heals for 2% of the attacker's maximum health instead of a variable amount based on the spell power and attack power of the judging paladin.
  • Lay on Hands: The buff from this ability now reduces the physical damage taken by the target by 10/20% instead of increasing the target's armor.
  • Righteous Fury: No longer has a duration or mana cost, remaining until cancelled or death. Also cancelled when a Paladin activates a different talent specialization.
  • Sacred Shield: When a paladin casts Flash of Light on a target with this buff, they also now place a heal over time effect on the target, healing that target for 100% of the Flash of Light amount over 12 seconds.
  • Seal of Blood: This ability has been removed.
  • Seal of the Martyr: This ability has been removed.
  • Seal of Vengeance and Seal of Corruption: These seals have been redesigned to deal substantially more damage. Now, once a paladin has 5 copies of the debuff from these seals on his or her target, on each swing the paladin will deal 33% weapon damage as Holy, with critical strikes dealing double damage.
  • Shield of Righteousness: Now deals 100% of shield block value as damage instead of 130%.
  • Warhorse: Can now be learned at level 20.

    Talents
    Holy
    • Beacon of Light: The healing amount on the Beacon of Light target is now based on the total healing done (including over-healing) instead of the effective healing done. Radius increased to 60 yards. Multiple Paladins can now have this active on the same target. Buff indicating a player is within range of the Beacon target is no longer displayed.
    • Divine Intellect: This talent now gives 2/4/6/8/10% increased intellect instead of 3/6/9/12/15%.
    • Illumination: This talent now returns 30% of the mana cost of the spell instead of 60%.
    Protection
    • Ardent Defender: Redesigned. Currently, any damage taken by the paladin while at 35% health or below is reduced. Instead, any attack that would reduce the paladin to 35% health or below has its damage reduced. In addition, once every 2 minutes an attack that would have killed the paladin will fail to kill, and instead set the paladin's health to 10/20/30% of maximum.
    Retribution
    • Art of War: Now only applies to melee critical hits, but will make your next Flash of Light or Exorcism instant.
    • Crusader Strike: Damage reduced to 75% weapon damage to match the new 4 second cooldown.
    • Seal of Command: Redesigned. This seal now deals 36% weapon damage on every swing, and deals substantially less judgement damage.
    • Vindication: Redesigned. Now lowers target attack power, is consistent and does not stack with Demoralizing Shout.


These Blizzard quotes make for some very important reading given the major changes upcoming in patch 3.2. Source

Blizzard wrote:We know it's hard to evaluate the Retribution changes without understanding how the Seals now work. Here is how they work.

Seal of Command
OLD: Gives the Paladin a chance to deal additional Holy damage.

NEW: All melee attacks deal additional Holy damage.

Seal of Vengeance / Corruption
OLD: Fills the Paladin with holy power, causing attacks to apply Holy Vengeance which deals additional holy damage over 15 seconds. Holy Vengeance can stack up to 5 times.

NEW: Fills the Paladin with holy power, causing attacks to apply Holy Vengeance, which deals additional Holy damage over 15 sec. Holy Vengeance can stack up to 5 times. Once stacked to 5 times, each of the Paladin's attacks also deals 33% weapon damage as additional Holy damage.


Blizzard wrote:We have several big changes coming up for the paladin class in patch 3.2. The paladin class Q&A is still in progress, so rather than making you wait, we wanted to give you a preview of what we’re trying to do with all three paladin talent trees. We thought some of the patch notes might not make sense until you understand the design goals.

Caveats: Some of these changes are still in progress and may ultimately end up in a different form or with different numbers. We definitely want to see these changes in action on the PTR and we will iterate on them accordingly based on player testing and feedback. None of this is set in stone. Furthermore, assume that talents, glyphs or set bonuses that affect any impacted abilities will also be changed accordingly. Finally, don’t expect that every class will see this many changes. We are making far fewer changes to class mechanics overall in 3.2, but paladins in particular have some issues we feel are in need of being addressed.

Protection
Currently, we think paladin tanks are almost there and that they just need slightly better cooldowns to handle some of the tougher boss fights. Rather than add a new ability that felt like a clone of another class’s ability, we decided to buff an existing talent that was no longer cutting it. Ardent Defender has two important changes. The first is that the damage can no longer “skip over” the 35% health level – it will always be reduced. Secondly, it has a new effect that if a blow would kill you, it instead sets you to 30% health. This portion of the ability cannot occur more than once every 2 minutes. Think of it as a Last Stand that you don’t have to push.

A second change to Protection is we want to make sure Blessing of Sanctuary is always the tanking blessing of choice. A likely change here is to have it boost stamina as well.

We also recognize that block does not provide the mitigation it once did. While we have long-term plans to change the way block works entirely, in the short term we are doubling the effect of bonus block value on items (so jewelry, but not shields).

Holy
We like that Holy paladins have a niche as single-target healers. The problem is we think this niche is a little too narrow at the moment. Furthermore, paladins don’t have a wide arsenal of healing spells so it’s important that all of them are being used.

First, we are changing Flash of Light so that it places a heal-over-time effect on any target with Sacred Shield on them (the effect will be similar to Sheathe of Light). This should make Flash see a little more use.

Second, and more importantly, we are changing the way Beacon of Light works. Currently, it does not count over-healing on the target. We are changing that. In other words, if you place Holy Light on a rogue who is already at full health, it will still have the full effect on a tank with Beacon of Light on them. This is a huge buff, particularly when you consider the Holy Light glyph which allows for a small amount of “splash” healing. This effect isn’t common when you use Holy Light on a tank because the tank is often standing alone. But if you heal the melee, you are likely to get a lot more total healing from this effect (while still healing the tank through Beacon of Light). We are also going to try to allow a target to have more than one beacon (i.e. from different paladins) on them.

Many players may surmise that this change would make paladins far and away the best healers in the game. This is partially because paladin mana regeneration is so potent. That isn’t an issue when the paladin can generally only heal the tank. With the Beacon of Light change, the paladin can provide a lot more raid or party healing. To adjust for this, we are going to reduce the amount of mana returned by Illumination. If you use Holy Light too recklessly (such as on targets who don’t require that much healing) you do risk burning out of mana too quickly. Of course, they will still have Divine Plea and other mana regeneration mechanics.

As a footnote, we are also likely to slightly adjust Replenishment and buff the amount of MP5 on gear.

These changes should lead to healing as Holy being more dynamic – you are going to be targeting a lot more group members than just the tank, while still providing massive healing on the tank. However, you won’t be able to just constantly spam your biggest heals, at least not on the more challenging encounters. There is an opportunity here for skilled players to really do some outstanding healing as paladins, but it’s going to take a little more effort. This is something a lot of players have been asking for so we hope that it delivers without completely changing what some paladins enjoy about their healing style.

Retribution
Depending on who you ask, Retribution paladins are either perceived as being in need of improvements to make them stronger or are in need of changes to make them less powerful. We are really happy with the overall changes to the Seal and Judgement system from Lich King. However, Ret still has some problems. There aren’t enough buttons to push and they are all limited by cooldowns, allowing Ret paladins to have a lot of up-front burst without requiring a lot of skill or timing to actually hit those buttons (now after the opening moves of a fight, we think things get a lot more interesting because now the paladin’s defenses, healing and dispelling can come into play). We have other problems to fix as well. Exorcism currently can’t be used on players, which we think is a weak design. We have also become less enamored with the drawback to Seal of Blood / Seal of the Martyr causing damage to the paladin.

Here are the design changes we hope will fix all of these problems:

First, Exorcism has a cast time of 1.5 seconds but can be used on players again. This will let paladins use it in PvP, but not while moving towards a target.

Second, we are changing The Art of War to make not only Flash of Light instant, but also Exorcism. Choose healing or damage. Paladins will have to watch for this proc and use Exorcism when it happens. The spell itself is still ranged, but the proc will only occur when the paladin is already in melee.

Third, we are lowering the cooldown and damage of Crusader Strike to four seconds from six seconds. This accomplishes a few things. It lowers burst, it gives the paladins more buttons to push since they aren’t always waiting on cooldowns, it requires a little more skill since the player will have to choose between Crusader Strike and other attacks more often (such as the new Exorcism procs), and it gives Retribution a chance to get more damage out of their Seals (providing a sustained DPS boost for PvE).

Fourth, we are removing Seal of Blood and Seal of the Martyr. The damage recoil increasingly felt like a liability in PvE, and wasn’t serving to offset the massive burst damage capable in PvP. We are buffing Seal of Vengeance / Corruption and redesigning Seal of Command with the expectation that these are now the seals of choice for PvP and PvE. Righteousness can remain a tanking seal.

Finally, we are replacing the current effect of Vindication with an attack power debuff that works like Demoralizing Shout. In PvP, Ret paladins can still debuff melee targets, while in PvE they can provide another necessary debuff in the case that the tank is not a warrior or druid. In addition, the talent may be more attractive to Protection paladins.

These changes do not close the door on adding additional attacks, PvP utility or even the oft-requested Crusader Strike debuff. If the changes outlined above finally accomplish the goal of balancing Retribution in PvE and PvP, then we can start exploring those other design issues.

Again, these are our current plans and they may change based on testing and feedback. The changes to all three trees are things we are working on right now. Some of them might not work out quite the way we intended and will have to undergo iteration before finally showing up in 3.2. Even once the patch goes live, we are still likely to have to tweak numbers. This is simply a preview of what may yet come and we hope that it will be viewed as such.

Posted: Thu Jun 18, 2009 8:39 pm
by Lealla
TL;DR version
Holy: Beacon is getting a huge buff. FoL is becoming more useful. Mana regen is being lowered.

Protection: One new passive Oh Shit button and an old one buffed. Shield of Righteousness nerfed (but you get more block value from gear). Seal of Vengeance buffed.

Retribution: Martyr/Blood gone. Seal of Command is the new shizz. Learn to play all over again you fucking noobs.

Posted: Fri Jun 19, 2009 11:05 am
by Lealla
Added patch notes.

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Retribution observations.

Exorcism has a cast time now, so it requires a lot more attention to use properly. It's still a good pulling tool, but during a fight, when it comes off cooldown, you should wait to cast it until you have a proc from The Art of War. No word on whether doing so will interrupt the swing timer; I hope not.

Since Martyr/Blood are gone, Command is the new Seal of choice. Judgement of Command will be weaker, but Seal of Command procs on every attack now. This further deemphasizes slow weapon speed as an advantage for Ret, which is a good thing.

Crusader Strike has lost some damage, but is now on a 4 sec cooldown while still proccing Seals. This puts a bit more decision making into the rotation: if CS is up, is it more advantageous to cast it or Judge?

The Art of War (supposedly) procs only on melee crits now, but now permits an instant Flash of Light -or- an instant Exorcism. This makes it a lot more meaningful to watch the proc in PvE. Given the duration and the melee crit chance of most Ret pallies, there's a very good chance that it'll be up when Exorcism goes off cooldown, but you now have to pay attention to make sure or you'll blow your rotation and swing timer.

Also regarding The Art of War, since Sacred Shield causes FoL to proc a 12 sec HoT (effectively doubling the healing you get from it), AND Ret gets a free 60% HoT when FoL crits, it's now really, really effective to keep Sacred Shield on yourself in solo or PvP. The healing it delivers is phenomenal.

Make no mistake, Ret is still on a FCFS system, but it's just gotten harder to maintain a solid rotation. My priority list would therefore be:

0) Hammer of Wrath (if target is below 20% health)
1) Divine Storm
2) Judgement
3) Crusader Strike
4) Exorcism (if off cooldown and The Art of War is up)
5) Consecration

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Protection observations.

The only major change made to tanking in this patch is that Ardent Defender just got a whole ton better. It's a passive Guardian Spirit that can proc every 2 minutes. Or a Cheat Death, if you prefer. So, while DKs have tons of active cooldowns to use, and Warriors have Last Stand, you as a Paladin can stand there and eat a killing blow and still live. Also, the fact that the damage reduction applies to any blow that would reduce you below 35% health means that even the base talent is no longer utterly worthless on Ulduar bosses.

Although the damage multiplier from Shield of Righteousness is reduced from 130% to 100%, block value from items (except that native to shields) is doubled. The net effect shouldn't be that huge.

Seal of Vengeance/Corruption is getting a huge buff - once it's applied to 5 stacks on a target, it deals 33% of your weapon damage instead of the puny 10-15 damage it was doing.

Hand of Reckoning now frontloads a boatload more threat on the target after the taunt (50% of AP in damage), so it's less likely to peel back off of you on the way to you. However, it does zero damage if the mob is already targeting you.

The last minor thing is that the damage reduction effect from Lay On Hands just got better, so it's another Oh Shit button to help the tank survive.

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Holy observations.

I can't speak to this as authoritatively, but you've now got one hell of a good reason to start throwing Flash of Light around again. Blizz already said a lot in the post I quoted, but the key points are as follows.

Beacon now counts the full heal, not just the effective heal. So it's now completely reasonable to cast it on the tank and spam the hell out of the raid, knowing that you won't get the tank killed if you accidentally overheal. Also, it has a 60 yard radius so there are very few fights now where it won't be effective.

Flash of Light now procs a 100% HoT on targets with Sacred Shield on them. This dramatically increases the HPM of the spell (not like it needed it, but still...) and gives you a valid reason to use it on a tank.

Mana regeneration through Illumination is heavily nerfed. This means you will need to care a lot more about mp5 on gear (which is good, since it's getting buffed). It also means you can't just Holy Light spam for the entire duration of a fight.

Posted: Fri Jun 19, 2009 1:35 pm
by Arlan
If these changes go live as is, beacon is potentially very op, and illumination is pretty weak for a 5 point talent.

Posted: Wed Jun 24, 2009 10:38 am
by Lealla
Okay, here's something interesting. The Paladin T9 Retribution Libram buffs Seal of Vengeance. Yes, indeed, it appears that Blizzard wants SoV to be our raid Seal? That's a big change and something the theorycrafters will have to start looking at seriously. For one thing, SoV ramps up rather slowly with a two-hander. For another, its periodic damage is based on spell power -- although Ret gets a decent amount of this through Sheath of Light, does the over time effect compensate sufficiently for the lack of up front burst?

I'm going to be very interested in testing this change - I may even copy Brendore to the PTRs to check it out. It also means that Command is still supposed to be for soloing and PvP.

Even more oddly, Blizzard seems to be implying that Seal of Righteousness is supposed to be a tanking seal. WTF?

Posted: Wed Jun 24, 2009 12:51 pm
by Polarside
Mmmm... A chance for ret to get more damage out of their seals. Because taking me from 20k hp to 0 almost completely within a 4 sec stun wasn't good enough. I HATE YOU PALLIES!!!

Bitching over. ha

Posted: Wed Jun 24, 2009 4:28 pm
by Lealla
Er, Polar... I think you fail to understand. These changes will dramatically reduce Paladin burst damage, especially in PvP settings.

1) With Exorcism no longer being instant by default, the Paladin loses a major tool in the upfront burst arsenal. He must wait for a melee crit or else blow his rotation.

2) With Judgement of Command being nerfed, that's another source of on-demand burst out the window. On the other hand, having the Seal proc on every attack is a buff to sustained damage.

3) With Crusader Strike having lower damage but also a lower cooldown, you again lose burst in favor of sustained damage.

4) If the Paladin goes for Seal of Vengeance instead (kinda stupid in a PvP setting), he is doing zero upfront damage; it all comes on the backend in the form of the DoT. Now that gets pretty brutal over time, but it's not likely to be the case that he stands there wailing on you for 12-15 seconds straight.

All of this is designed to give you a chance to counter him before you get burst to death. That isn't to say that a Paladin who catches you unaware with all his cooldowns available shouldn't be able to toast you, but the same could be said of any melee class.