New Seal of Vengeance news. I noted on Friday that the implementation of SoV had changed significantly on the PTR, i.e. that the Seal no longer interacted with Crusader Strike, Divine Storm or Judgement. This afternoon the 3.2.0 Patch notes have been updated, and the following line has been included:
Seal of Vengeance and Seal of Corruption: These seals have been redesigned to deal substantially more damage. Now, once a paladin has 5 copies of the debuff from these seals on his or her target, on each swing the paladin will deal 33% weapon damage as Holy, with critical strikes dealing double damage. In addition, the damage-over-time effect is now considered a melee attack instead of a spell attack and the effects from these seals can only be triggered by auto-attacks and Hammer of the Righteous.
However, Ghostcrawler clarified Blizzard's stance:
Only white attacks can stack the Sea of Vengeance / Corruption dot. However special abilities should still trigger the bonus weapon damage. I'm not sure the current PTR build you have reflects that last bit.
The goal was not to nerf Ret for PvE. We do want the ramp up time to be significant for PvE or it won't solve the PvP problem we're trying to fix. However, once you get the stack up, your damage should be pretty decent. On very short kills (say trash or something like Thorim arena) you won't be able to get the full benefit from the dot, but any class with a finishing move typically loses that damage as well. Balance is important for both short and long fights, but it's normal to use different rotations or abilities for those two extremes. (In other words, we're okay with a long ramp up time for this ability.)
We will continue to monitor Ret numbers coming out of the PTR and even once the patch goes live and make changes if necessary.
Stacking the SoV Debuff 5 times to enable the 33% damage proc will take 10 secs with a 2-h weapon hasted to 2.5 speed, making SoV much less suitable in environments where you are changing your target often or have >15secs of DPS down-time or time off target. SoV will also be of no benefit in situations requiring high AoE damage, necessitating the use of Seal of Righteousness (which with 5/5 SotP is slightly better than SoCommand). In other words the change sucks for Freya-like encounters*.
Given that target switching and AoE damage requirements are a fact of life one answer could be to allow Seal switching at a much lower mana cost, 'no change in rotation' applies because only auto-attacks can proc the DoT. Knocking down the cost of SoR/C and SoV to <5% of base mana would make Ret much more competitive during AoE burn phases and slightly raise the skill level of playing a Ret Paladin, without murdering mana reserves.
SoV and Command/Righteousness are now sufficiently different for either to be useful to a PvE Paladin, and SoV is no longer a no-brainer in PvP. Command could still do with some love, especially given the low Judgement damage, in order for it to be clearly worth the talent point investment rather than 'making do' with the comparable 5/5 SotP SoRighteousness. As things stand, I'd still use Righteousness in PvE, and probably take SoC in PvP only (spending the 4 TPs saved on Prot PvP utility talents such as Imp HoJ).
All in all, the mood has been downgraded from 'panic' to 'simmering discontent'.
This was going to be a big fat whine, before I saw GC's post. Phew, glad I didn't make a fool of myself ;).
* Honor's reminded me that when I said 'Freya-like encounters' I really should have said 'Ulduar-style encounters'. In T8 raids (including Emalon) target switching, heavy burn phases and extended periods of time-off-target are the rule, rather than the exception. Experienced Ulduar hard-mode raiders in the EJ forum are extremely concerned with the enforced DPS downtime, describing it as much more punishing than even Rogue and Druid target switching mechanics. It's possible to shave off some time by switching to a fast one-hander and prioritizing other skills, but a meaningful DPS increase from this method is unlikely.
The proof of the pudding will be in the eating, but as things stand most Ret Paladins won't view the elimination of SoB and new variants of SoV and SoC as any sort of DPS buff except in obsolete Thaddius/Patchwerk style encounters. Look at, for example, the abilities of the Twin Valkyr, where target switching is an essential mechanic of the encounter. SoV is a positive liability in such fights.
If SoV looks like a liability in the long run, especially T8/9 raids, Blizzard will probably alter the mechanic. It appears that Balancing PvP and PvE is even more problematic with this Seal than the old Seal of Blood, and looks like gutting the ability in PvE as things stand.
Horray for PvP nerfing PvE, eh?