The Official Paladin Forums have imploded, Elitist Jerks' Paladins are in a state of shock, Retpaladin.com are belligerent and Paladin bloggers everywhere from angry to disconsolate. What a difference a patch makes.
It'd be very easy for me to fly off the handle in this post, but I will resist doing so. Instead I'll endeavour to remain as informative as possible, so without further ado let me introduce you to the new Righteous Vengeance.
The closest analogue in the game to this effect is the Mage talent Ignite, and like Ignite the impact of it depends very much on the strength of your Judgments/Divine Storms and your crit rate. Damage ticks every 2 seconds, serving to smooth out DPS vs the previous incarnation of Righteous Vengeance.
Like Ignite, the damaging debuff rolls, though this was less of an issue given the relatively long cooldowns on the abilities. Here's the math behind this mecahnic:
Say your Judgement crits for 3000. 40% of this is 1200, and so every 2 seconds after this the RV debuff will tick for 1200/4=300 damage.
Now let assume a Divine Storm crits 5 seconds after the Judgement for 2500. 40% of this is 1000 damage. However there is still 2 ticks of the previous RV effect left, so this damage is rolled into a new RV debuff. The new debuff ticks for (1000+300*2)/4 = 400 every 2 seconds. The combat log would look something like this:
<0:00:01> Your Judgement Hits Kobold for 3000 Holy (Critical)
<0:00:01> Kobold is afflicted by Your Righteous Vengeance
<0:00:03> Kobold suffers 300 Holy damage from Your Righteous Vengeance
<0:00:05> Kobold suffers 300 Holy damage from Your Righteous Vengeance
<0:00:06> Your Divine Storm Hits Kobold for 2500 Holy (Critical)
<0:00:06> Your Righteous Vengeance is Refreshed
<0:00:08> Kobold suffers 400 Holy damage from Your Righteous Vengeance
<0:00:10> Kobold suffers 400 Holy damage from Your Righteous Vengeance
<0:00:12> Kobold suffers 400 Holy damage from Your Righteous Vengeance
<0:00:14> Kobold suffers 400 Holy damage from Your Righteous Vengeance
<0:00:14> Your Righteous Vengeance fades from Kobold
It's probably not worth stacking +Crit specifically for this talent, but it is still a pretty good one. It would be well served by adding in Crusader Strike to the abilities but all told this is a much better PvE ability than the older Righteous Vengeance. It's also worth noting that this ability doesn't break Repentance.
For PvP it's not nearly as useful. Sure it's more damage, but steady DPS probably won't win a game for Ret vs Burst Damage. That it breaks other forms of CC won't help, and so RV may be the first ability cut from a Ret PvP build to free up points for Imp. HoJ at 80.
Some information, such as how it interacts with damage shields (e.g. PW:S) and whether it suffers from some of the same timing issues as Ignite, still needs to be resolved. So to sum up, PvP it is broadly a nerf, PvE it is broadly a buff against RV's previous incarnation. You will be sticking 5 pts in this Skill at 80 for PvE, if only because you have nowhere else to put those points.
Retribution and Mana
Over the last few months Rets Love/Hate relationship with its power mechanic has been done to death by me and other blogs such as Josh's Eye for an Eye. The general consensus I've found is that any melee power resource which is fundamentally finite isn't ideal, and that's true for both tanking and DPS. Blizzard tacitly admits this with the Deathknight power mechanic when Mana would have fit the class just as was as it does Paladins. Whole pages, essay's, forum threads and blog posts were devoted to making Judgements of the Wise a talent which would allow Paladins to self-sustain their DPS like every other melee DPS spec. A return of ~30% of base mana was calculated as being required to facilitate a sensible Paladin raid DPS rotation.
In build 8926 JotW was changed to regenerate 20% of Total mana rather than a % of Attack Power. Unfortunately this (along with Sheathe of Light) was far too tempting to Healing Paladins, resulting in it moving to Tier 7 and then being based on base rather than total mana. 33% of base mana allowed Paladins to sustain a rotation of CS, Judgement and DS; Consecrate and Exorcism filled out spare global cooldowns. In addition Judgement always triggered the JotW effect, whether it hit or missed. It is around this framework which lvl80 PvE DPS and observed to be competitive but not over the top. In PvP we would be less vulnerable to Mana Burn effects, forever the bane of the Ret Paladin.
In 9014 and beyond JoW entered a series of bugged states, first of all having a raid-wide cooldown, and then in 9061 a 100% proc chance and no cooldown at all (the version currently Live IIRC). This vastly inflated Paladin mana returns (and similarly made JoL's value huge) as well as that of Enh Shaman and Hunters. So Paladins have had no mana concerns based largely around a bugged JoW, but remember that all the calculations performed by worthies such as the guys at Elitist Jerks still exists: Paladins needed at minimum a 25% mana return from JotW to be self-sustainable.
We thought that mana was now a done deal, excepting the bugged JoW. And so it came with a huge amount of surprise and no small disbelief that JotW was nerfed to 15% mana return, along with JoW returning to its 50% of its pre-9014 state. Nothing has really changed in the original calculations: to maintain what has become the Ret Paladin DPS rotation they need 25% of mana returned minimum. Stick in Cleanse, Hands or Art of War FoL's and even at this level Ret would be in a whole mana-wise.
The fear is that it's a PvE nerf for PvP reasons, lvl70 PvP at that. And frankly it's also a huge PvP nerf too, to the extent that Ret is probably now only as viable in Arena gameplay as in 2.4.3.
It'll be tough to say whether Ret can truly compete in PvE and PvP come lvl80. Most Rets are hoping that these most recent nerfs will be undone before Wrath goes live, or at least before everyone reaches 80. Another opinion, that Blizzard nerfed JotW to draw attention away from the DPS nerfs, also exists and JotW will be reverted. Personally I doubt whether either are the case, I believe that this is the state in which Ret will enter its first Raid. And so like 2.x Ret will have to fight tooth and claw for every position, but this time without unique, powerful raid utility to make up the difference.
If there are any comments from Ghostcrawler, or new patches, I will of course try to post them here.
For raiding though one point is obvious: while Strength or Crit are better DPS stats, with a missed Judgement returning no mana you will want to be hit-capped. This will be true whether JotW returns 15% of base or 50% of base.