The Patch notes have just been updated and finally we have some detail for Paladin changes in 3.3. It looks like the idea of a raid-wide Shield Wall is going to be formalised and tested following a rejigging of Divine Sacrifice and Guardian.
Divine Guardian: This talent no longer increases the amount of damage transferred to the paladin from Divine Sacrifice. Instead it causes all raid and party members to take 10/20% reduced damage while Divine Sacrifice is active. Divine Sacrifice: Redesigned. The effect of Divine Sacrifice is now party-only and the maximum damage which can be transferred is now limited to 40% of the paladin’s health multiplied by the number of party members. In addition, the damage transferred to the paladin is now reduced by 50% before being applied to the paladin. Finally, the bug which allowed Divine Sacrifice to sometimes persist despite reaching its maximum damage has been fixed. Divine Sacrifice will now cancel as soon as its maximum damage value is exceeded in all cases.
Okay, this is going to take a little unpacking to explain.
Divine Sacrifice redirects 30% (40 with Divine Guardian) from each raid member to the Paladin. This should continue until 150% of the Paladin's Max HP have been transferred. Sometimes however, most notably when Divine Shield is active, the Paladin takes no damage and the Divine Sacrifice buff appears to persist for much longer than expected (usually the full duration of Divine Shield). This effectively shields the Raid for 30% (40% when talented) of all incoming damage (hence 'Raid-Wall'), immensely useful for certain hard-modes. It's pretty much always been recognised as a bug, and a powerful one at that, but silence from Blizzard made assessing the intended functionality impossible.
Note that you only need to invest 11pts in Protection to gain this Raid-Wall.
Divine Sacrifice only applies to 'Party' members (not raid-wide). It transfers 30% of damage taken by Party members. The damage redirection is limited to 40% x # of Party members, i.e 200% of the Paladin's maximum health when in a full party. As the Paladin will only take 50% of the damage redirected, and damage is only redirected Party-wide, the chances of insta-gib are significantly reduced.
Generally, 3.3's DSac will be similar to 3.2's except that it's Party-wide and correctly limited by the Paladin's health.
Divine Guardian will be a true 20% Raid-Wall, but should function in a much more predictable manner. Extending the duration of Divine Sacrifice by minimising the damage your Party-members are taking will be key to the proper use of this ability - for a 28k HP raid-buffed Paladin to retain a 10sec duration his party members would have to be taking only 4.6k DPS (after modifiers) on average. Not very much, but the raid-wide 20% damage reduction will help.
The Paladin using Divine Sacrifice+Guardian should not be in the same party as the Main Tank.
No clue if this ability will stack when multiple Paladins use it at the same time (probably not), nor any idea if you will have full DSac duration if all your party members are immune to all damage (gogo 5-Paladin parties).
I'm loath to call what has to be a bug-fix a nerf, but it is. To get a Raid-Wall (i.e. Divine Guardian) you need to invest 17pts in Protection which necessitates the omission of potent DPS increasing or healing talents. Except in very specific fights taking Divine Guardian will probably be a Ret Paladin no-go. For Tanks, the use of DSac in concert with Divine Shield shouldn't be required any longer, so no dropped aggro, but it still greatly increases incoming damage. It's probably not something that a tanking Protection Paladin would be able to use because of the substantial increase in damage taken in any situation where you actually want to use it.
I like the redesign in general, and had it been a part of 3.1 I'd have bitten Blizzard's hand off. However 17 pts is probably too deep for a DPS or Healing spec, and instead putting both DSac and DG in Tier 3 (requiring a total investment of 13pts) would be a better idea IMO.
What are your thoughts?
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