The past week saw a couple of patches uploaded to the Beta Servers, and the changes are something of a mixed bag. As usual the full patch notes can be seen over at MMO-Champion and elsewhere, but there was little in there specifically for Ret Paladins beyond the Glyphs already mentioned. The biggest game-wise news though has to be the effective elimination of Spell Downranking, which is a pretty big hit to casters of all stripes in PvP and Healers in PvE. I'm not qualified to comment too strongly on it, I'll leave that to Matticus and Rohan, but as I see it this has three major consequences for Ret Paladins:
A) - Downranking Consecration in PvE Raid Encounters will no longer be an option. It's questionable whether we'll want to even use Consecration with Divine Storm being the new mana dump of choice, but depending on mana consumption and regen rates the odd cheeky Consecrate may well have been on the cards. As it stands Mana Regen will have to be very high to justify it except in AoE situations, where it could perhaps replace Crusader Strike if mana starved. B) - No Downranking Consecration in PvP to unstealth Rogues and Feral Druids. In fact, this goes for all mana-based AoE Spells, and hence is an indirect buff for stealth classes in PvP. C) - No Downranking Heals in PvP or PvP. Clutch heals are a pretty big part of how I play 5-mans and to a lesser extent PvP, and with Sheath of Light I was looking forward to slightly more effectiveness when I choose to take up this burden. However Blizzard giveth with one hand and taketh away with the other, with out pitiful mana pools in Ret Gear taking up this role for any significant length of time becomes extremely difficult, and only possible at all with some lucky Judgements of the Wise procs. Now, for a Ret Paladin to clutch-heal he needs to gear for it, probably unwise given your primary DPS role will be in zero-int Warrior gear.
Indirectly, this change is a pretty big buff to non-mana PvPers against mana users, and may well turn into a humongous nerf for Holy Paladins. Its effect is somewhat mitigated in the case of Priests (mana on over-heal talent, Spirit-based Regen) and Druids (Hot-based healing, Spirit Regen), but can any rank of Holy Light ever be viable with this change?
Blizzard need to be very careful with this change. It has may potentially break every caster class in all sorts of new and interesting ways for raiding and PvP. Additionally 0 mana is no longer the mana floor of any caster class, 0 plus the cost of your cheapest useful max rank spell effectively is. This could in theory lock out a caster from a significant proportion of their mana pool, and puts huge emphasis on mana regen over mana efficiency.
The debate over the wisdom of Seal of Righteousness scaling better than either of the two 'DPS' Seals (Command and Blood) continues to rage on Elitist Jerks. Cathela has written a mathematical comparison of SoB and SoR and clearly SoR scales monstrously well, even without Sheath of Light. Plenty of solutions have been thrown around, ranging from 'that's okay, it gives us 3 viable DPS Seals' to 'Make SoCommand Baseline and change SoR to 1-handed only', but all suffer from significant drawbacks. A strong, well definied purpose for SoR probably needs to be carved, because right now it is a levelling Seal (with scaling not suitable for the highest tier gear), Tanking Seal (that's so good it makes SoV almost obsolete) and now premier DPS Seal.
Finally, lets go over to Ollie for the Server Status report.
Thanks Ollie :(.
ADDED: I'm not usually one to take a keen notice of changes as they affect mages, even though I have one myself. Take as highly recommended therefore this blog entry by Euripedes at Critical QQ on the effects of the Downranking changes on just one class for PvP.