Okay, so I've calmed down, had a few stiff glasses of lemonade and assimilated the latest PTR changes. Here's my take on some changes I haven't really talked about thus far. Warning, long ;).
Armour and Haste Benefits.
It went unmentioned by me but not by others: Haste and Armour Penetration are getting a significant boost in 3.1.
* Armor Penetration Rating: All classes now receive 25% more benefit from Armor Penetration Rating.
* Haste Rating: Shamans, Paladins, Druids, and Death Knights now receive 30% more melee haste from Haste Rating.
These are both significant boosts to the two ratings for Retribution. Armour Penetration and Haste Rating will however remain the two least attractive stats for Retribution. Scaling of Haste and Armour Penetration such that the ratings would be as valuable as Crit or even Expertise are unlikely due how valuable these ratings are to Rogues and Warriors. All other changes aside, the amount of Haste on current Ret gear and ArPen on Ulduar gear makes this a clear buff.
Aura Mastery: (tooltip not yet updated on the PTR)
Was - Increases the radius of your Auras to 40 yards (this is now default for all Paladin Auras)
Now - Now makes anyone affected by Concentration Aura to be immune to Interrupt and Silence mechanics and increases the effectiveness of all other auras by 100%. Lasts 10 sec. 2 min cooldown.
1) In the physical buff school and so cannot be dispelled.
2) May be cast whilst mounted.
3) Increases the base effect of all Aura's. Aura augmentations such as Imp. Devotion Aura (+6% healing) and Sanctified Retribution (+3% damage) aren't affected by this buff.
4) Should break aswell as prevent Silence.
5) May be castable using the effects of a Holy school lockdown. Needs more testing.
This is a very, very nice change from the 3.0 incarnation of Aura Mastery. I genuinely applaud Blizzard for making all Aura's 40yrds baseline and this seems like an ideal replacement talent. In PvP Holy is extremely vulnerable to interrupts and silences, and preventing raid-wide silences could be of immense value. The ins and outs of the skill remain to be seen, i.e. whether it breaks silences, can be cast under holy-spell cooldown, useable against raid boss debuffs etc, but it looks extremely promising.
* Divine Guardian re-designed: Now increases the effectiveness of Divine Sacrifice by an additional 5/10% and increases the duration of Sacred Shield by 50/100% and the amount absorbed by 10/20%.
* New Talent: Divine Sacrifice: Causes all party/raid members affected by one of the paladin’s auras to transfer 30% of all damage taken to the paladin (maximum of 150% of the paladin’s max health). Lasts 10 sec. 2 min cooldown.
Divine Sacrifice is essentially a re jigging of the current Divine Guardian talent. This buff now acts as a raid-wide Hand of Sacrifice on a cooldown independent of Divine Shield, and has the same untalented limitation of 150% of the casters health (160% with talents). Essentally this is a redirection of 50-60k AoE damage to the Prot Paladin, and synergises very well with Beacon of Light during periods of moderate raid-wide damage. That said, lets do some math.
The raid takes a very modest 1600 damage every 2 seconds from Frost Aura. The Paladin pops Divine Sacrifice:
Damage Taken = 1600*0.3*24 + 1600 = 13120 damage every 2 seconds, just from Frost Aura.
In any fight where mitigating the AoE damage is useful the increased spike damage the Paladin would take having popped Divine Sacrifice would be enough to strain the healers and greatly increase the chance of being gibbed. In situations where the AoE damage is relatively trivial non-Paladin healers have the ability to comfortably deal with the damage.
This skill strikes me as much more of a Holy paladin talent than a tank talent, and of very marginal value in PvE raid circumstances. Oh, and damage mitagation skills and talents (Imp. RF, Divine Protection) don't reduce the size of damage taken. It would only be useful under the effects of Divine Shield (presupposing it doesn't bypass DS, not a given) and of course under those situations you lose aggro. The incoming damage needs to be mitigated or throttled in such a way that it doesn't pose a significant risk to the tank. Frankly, not a PvE talent ready for prime time, and is only slightly better than Hand of Sacrifice (a baseline skill) in PvP.
Divine Guardian (Tier 4 Prot) on the other hand is very, very interesting. Extended duration for SS could be a very interesting proposition to the tank without a Paladin healer (or even a tank with one) and must surely be tempting for Holy. Unfortunately the point investment for Holy is a heavy one (including at least 5 wasted points) as opposed to going into Ret and having a decent return from every talent point invested. The position of this skill marginalises it, and could do with being dropped a Tier. Improvements to DSac from this talent are pretty meaningless.
Oh, and the 'Divine' should be replaced or dropped. We have enough 'Divine' talents thanks.
* Divine Plea is once again a magic buff and thus is dispellable.
* Sacred Shield can only be cast on one player at a time.
* Blessed Hands: No longer reduces cooldowns of Hand spells. Instead, it improves the effectiveness of Hand of Salvation by 50/100% and Hand of Sacrifice by an additional 5/10%.
* Enlightened Judgements: No longer increases the range of Judgement of Justice. Moved to Tier 10.
* Infusion of Light: Now increases the critical chance of your next Holy Light by 10/20% instead of reducing cast time. Moved to Tier 10.
* Judgements of the Pure moved to Tier 9.
* Sacred Cleansing moved to Tier 8.
Divine Plea is once again dispellable. Bugger. Stoicism will grant 30% less chance for a dispel and a deep Protection talent (Guarded by the Light) will make it undispellable for those builds. Obvious PvP nerf for Holy and Retribution, especially as the -50% healing debuff has remained in place. Could be a very real issue if Blizzard decide to bring back AoE-dispel mechanics to PvE raids, though that is highly unlikely.
The Sacred Shield nerf is a pretty hefty nerf to Holy PvE healing, and couples with the nerf to the Glyph of Holy Light (which cannot crit) and Infusion of Light (no more reduction to HL casting time) to make Paladin AoE healing much more difficult than at any time since 3.0 hit. This may well detrimentally impact on the viability of taking Holy Paladins to certain Hard-mode 10-man encounters in Ulduar, but the specifics of the encounter are important. Other raid healers in 25-man encounters should be able to make up for Paladin deficiencies.
I like the old Blessed hands, I don't like this one. Increased Hand of Salvation effectiveness is meaningless, the spell is hardly ever used even now. Hand of Sacrifice's damage transferred limitation of 100% of the Paladin's health means either 2.5k more damage redirected or may mean an increase in the rate of redirection (from 30% to 40%). With Holy Talent points at a premium for both PvP and PvE Blessed Hands will never see the light of day in any optimum build.
Deep Holy has been rejigged, perhaps in an attempt to try to kill the 37/0/34 PvP build, but unfortunately the impact is that going deep Holy is now less useful than ever. Deep Holy Talents useful in PvP such as Infusion of Light (no more fast HL) and Enlightened Judgements (no more 30yard JoJ) have been gutted.
Finally, something rather buggy is going on with Righteous Vengeance. It appears to have been added to the partial (level-difference based) spell resistance table (similar to Consecration) but is resisting at a crazy rate. Its' effectiveness (before resistance) is also only 80% of what the talent should be doing. Like bleed effects such as Deep Wound, RV should not be mitigated in this fashion and allowing it to partially resist in 3.1 would be a massive nerf to the talent in raid-PvE, even when they get the partial resist table right.
Aura Mastery looks nice, Divine Sacrifice much less so, and Holy has been gutted for PvP and PvE.
(New Libram is on the PTR but right now is using placeholder stats. Drops from an Ulduar boss.)