New Developments, Yay
Hot on the heels of the change to Exorcism, Replenishment is also getting the smack-down in the Arena.
We are making a hotfix (any minute now probably) so that Replenishment in arenas will only affect the character and not the whole team. It will continue to function as it does currently outside of arenas.
We feel Replenishment is balanced for larger groups, but just makes too much of a difference on smaller arena teams. Making the rules work differently in PvP and PvE isn’t a solution we like to use often, but in this case we think it fixes the issue cleanly, while still making the talents in question useful to the character who takes them. Alternatives, such as nerfing the amount returned by Replenishment in arena or making it not function at all, seem like more punitive choices from which we want to stay away.
I personally subscribe to Merlots PoV - if a classes unique raid-wide utility can ever become that broken for a subset of the game it probably shouldn't have been created in the first place. Especially as it makes caster classes more and more homogenised with regards to mana regen.
So, why am I posting this? Well, simple really, it screws monumentally with Ret+Healer Arena PvP. With Exorcism gone Ret PvP with a healer in 2's is predicated on high-pressure DPS and enough spike damage to kill someone if they get low, coupled with the knowledge that with replenishment they have a good chance of running the opposing team's healer OOM before their own healer runs out. Much as a warrior with MS relies on this reduced healing debuff to make the opposition healer run OOM before his healer does. With this sort of strategy Ret/Disc has been doing okay in 2v2 so far, though it is shit upon from a great height by Rogue/Priest. But no, we can't have that, so away goes Replenishment.
Of course Paladin's aren't the only class to be harmed by this, any comp which was running Replen+Healer will also be adversely effected against any comp which does rely on it (e.g. Rogue/Priest, DK/Holy, Warrior/Druid etc.). But here the other point comes to the fore: the class providing Replenishment will still benefit from it themselves. Rets differ from these other classes (Frost Mages, Surv. Hunter, Shadow Priests) in one significant way however: we have a really, really tiny mana pool. With no int on our PvP or PvE gear our net benefit from Replenishment is tiny (<15 mana per sec) and will not get higher as better gear comes our way.
To put that into perspective, it would take 15 seconds to regen enough mana for a single Judgement (which has a 5% base mana cost). If Replenishment alone was a talent no Ret PvP paladin would ever take it, other classes would at least consider it.
The net effect is to make Ret much less desirable as the sole DPS in a 2-man team, and potentially strikes a death-blow to the 3v3 Ret+2healer team.
Long-term: Ret PvP and Mana
Ret's got mana problems. We all know it, though few people want to stick their head above the parapet and say it. Our PvE issues have been negated to a large extent by all of massively buffing JotW, relying on JoW and popping Divine Plea, but on very specific encounters fudges had to be put into place to ensure that Ret could still function. Specific exemptions will as always highlight flawed design. PvP problems are now accentuated however by specific changes from the 3.0.9 state of play (within thich Ret was hardly overpowered):
No more Spiritual Attunement - no more Rage-like mana regen in PvP. Divine Plea is once again dispellable. Judgement hits for much less, increasing the chance of a full absorb which regens zero mana.
This sets up non-Shadow Priests to be a hard counter to Ret, and Shaman/warlock/hunters to be soft-counters based around mana regen alone. Reduce a Paladin down to <5% mana in whatever way you can (Mana burn/require him to heal etc.) and you will neuter their offensive and defensive potential, especially if you have an offensive dispeller.
Ghostcrawler, in his 'oh hai, we nerfed Exorcism' post, stated that he wanted ideas on revamping Ret's combat system. Well, here's my idea: Remove mana from Ret completely. It's the reason why we can front-load damage and Warriors can't, and the reason why we are unable to do anything at zero mana for extended periods of time and all other classes are. Make Paladin offensive abilities totally cool-down controlled (with inter-dependant cooldowns were appropriate, i.e. CS prevents DS for 3 seconds and visa versa), Vengeance stack to 5 times and defensive/utility abilities consume one buff from the stack and more. Totally divorce the Ret Paladin from his mana bar and let him start juggling cooldowns and using a full range of abilities rather than the neutered sub-set available to this particular hybrid.
The class is ripe for a re-design and there are a huge number of idea's floating around, but half way into an expansion we won't get it. The idea's I've read so far amount to either one-button spamming or passive reactive effects where ignoring the Ret is the best option in PvP. I'm not sure that either suits me and I think it's time for radical thinking rather than tinkering around the edges to make a combination of CS and DS less bursty.
Sorry for the rambling nature of this post, written in a hurry.