Thursday, July 24, 2008

Beta Paladin Changes: An Initial Commentary (1)

We’ve all had some time to digest the changes slated for Wrath now. Some are outstanding, some are merely great, but I think I can safely say that there is something in there for anyone. However Beta Tests are fluid and unpredictable by nature – we can’t assume that the exact spells we see now are going to be there come release. So to save myself some time and hopefully a whole lot of dashed expectations I want to comment on the general mechanics changes we’re seeing rather than specific skills. This post may well become obsolete fairly swiftly, so don't forget to check out other blogs and forums.

1. Mana Cost and Efficiency.

Naturally enough, one of the first comments made on the release of Paladin Beta information was a gripe over Mana. Holy Paladins have issues with conservation of mana in the highest Tier of content, to an extent much greater than that of Druids and Priests since the Spirit changes, and so far Wrath brings nothing to the table to change that. If anything it may get worse as the mana cost of healing spells increase significantly and no passive mana generation is included in the talent specs. The new AoE HoT, Beacon of Light, has a huge mana cost by lvl70 standards, and of course does not interact with the Illumination talent in any way. Addressing this weakness will probably be a priority for Holy Paladins going forward in the Beta. (More Reading)

Protection Paladins have similar mana issues which stymies their effectiveness in an off-tank role such as building up threat for Hateful Strikes etc. This is not addressed in Wrath so far – whilst mana concerns when main-tanking have decreased through the new Guarded by the Light talent (10/20% chance after dodge or parry to reduce the mana cost of Consecration, Holy Wrath or Avengers Shield by 50%) no passive mana regen is provided for occasions when you are not the focus of the majority of damage. The importance of this really will depend on the types of raid encounters we see in Wrath of the Lich King and whether Blizzard make good on the idea of having hot-swappable talent specs to prevent benching mid-raid.

Comparatively speaking, Retribution Paladins made out like thieves. Whilst the mana cost for all abilities remain relatively high, the Judgement system has been significantly re-tuned to be less mana intensive (more on that in a sec). JoL/JoW/JoJ now provide the 3% crit through the new Heart of the Crusader talent (replacing Imp. SotC) and SotC/JotC are gone from your spellbook. But the cherry on top: the new Judgements of the Wise talent (Your Judgement Spells restore mana up-to 3 group or raid members totally 60% of the damage caused). Passive Mana regen would also be nice, but hopefully damage will scale enough so that parity is restored.

2. Crowd Control

Paladins finally get a viable form of PvE CC in the form of Repentence. It now targets Demons, Dragonkin, Humanoids, Giants and Undead, disorientating them for up-to 1min. The cooldown however remains 1 min, so pray that it isn’t broken early. It could be thought of as a cross between Sheep (in that it can be used in combat) and Sap (in that it can really only be used once each fight). This, combined with the change to Judgement of Light, is a significant boost to Ret Paladin 5/10-man viability.

3. Seal/Judgement Mechanic Change.

Read This First.

It’s been the same since time immemorial (or at least December 2004): You cast a Seal, you Judge it, you cast another Seal. Early reports however are that all is changing on this front. Check out Rohan over at Blessing of Kings, the lucky guy has got a Beta Key and has been testing it out, and he (*whistles innocently*) summed up the change as ‘Debuff comes from the Judgement, Damage comes from the Seal’. Seals are now cast just once every 30 seconds and Judgements no longer consume the Seal. There are three Judgement spells – ‘Judgement of Light’, ‘Judgement of Wisdom’ and ‘Judgement of Justice’ – which when cast each do damage according to the Seal and Debuff according to the Judgement.

Also, every Seal now causes some damage when a Judgement is cast, scaling with different stats (SD, AP and/or Weapon Damage) and with different coefficients.

The net effect is that in theory the mana efficiency of the Seal/Judgement system is much improved and the system is much less clunky. Also Holy’s ‘Enlightened Judgements’ talent means that even Holy Paladins can do damage (and Debuff) at range. The one change I’d like to see is for certain seals to have secondary affects for Healing Paladins (such as SoR boosting healing done by 5% etc) so they are encouraged to use Seal and also the new Judgement spells more often.

(... to be continued... I really need to figure out how to put breaks in these posts)


Josh 24/07/2008, 16:11  

First, unless they changed it since I last looked at things, the Improved JotC talent has not simply been swapped to JoL. The 3% crit is applied to *all debuff judgements by the talented paladin,* so it would accompany JoW and JoJ as well.

Next, I'm wondering everyone's thoughts on Benediction as a talent now. If we won't be re-upping a seal every 8 seconds, is the Benediction cost reduction for seals/judgement worth it?

Josh 24/07/2008, 16:12  

Oh, and also, Rohan is a she :)

Rohan 24/07/2008, 16:37  

Oh, and also, Rohan is a she :)

Umm, no, I'm not.

Suicidal Zebra 24/07/2008, 16:49  

Oh, and also, Rohan is a she :)

Oops. *hastily fixes*

And yep, I was aware of that particular change, I'm just struggling to word it in a concise fashion. Hopefully the current change is better.

As for Benediction, it reduces the cost of Judgements to 4.25% of base mana from 5%. Even scaled to 80 this doesn't seem like much. It depends on the mana cost of the lvl80 Seals, but it could do with being looked at again, perhaps to a 50% reduction for 5 pts, or the current effect plus a reduction in mana cost of all Ret (or even all Paladin) spells by the same figure. This is especially true the case given the improvements to Imp. BoM.

I'm still kind of in the mode that any mana reduction is good, but given the WotLK Ret talents I want those 5 talents elsewhere points dammit!

Josh 24/07/2008, 18:01  

I'm an idiot. Sorry Rohan.

Anonymous 24/07/2008, 22:28  

"It could be thought of as a cross between Sheep (in that it can be used in combat) and Sap (in that it can really only be used once each fight)."

Think of Repentence as a blind on a 1 minute timer.

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