Hopefully by now you've had a chance to glance at the changes to the Holy Talent Trees in the latest Beta Build. If you haven't, the kind folks over at MMO-Champion have put them into an easily manipulated form for your perusal on WoWTal.com:
Click for the latests Talent Build.
Right now there's not a huge amount of point in analysing the Trees to death. This is very, very early Beta (some might even say that the build standard is late Alpha rather than early Beta) and the changes perhaps reflect that. However, as with the Wrath Beta all those many moons ago we can perhaps glean something of the Dev's thinking from the changes presented.
1. This isn't the Utility You're Looking For
The most glaring and obvious change is that Aura Mastery and Imp. Concentration Aura are deep, deep into Holy. Tier 7 and 10 deep. There's really only one reason for this sort of a change: they feel that the Utility represented by these talents is simply too good to allow a Retribution or Protection Paladin to have it. Full stop, end of story.
Obviously that's going to set a whole raft of players off into the realms of crazy talk: "Blizzard Hates Paladins", "Blizzard Hates Ret", etc etc, but at this stage we simply have no real way of telling how strong these talents will turn out to be in the Cataclysm era and they want to pre-emptively prevent the temptation of class-stacking right now. This is a good thing, if you hadn't guessed.
The down-side is that spec'ing into Holy for utility won't be nearly so desirable. Prot and Ret will always be tempted by Seals of the Pure, however traversing down the tree is much less interesting, and it's not exactly riveting currently. Ret can target the new Sanctified Light for Holy Shock and Judgement Crits, picking up Divine Favour along the way (mana back from HS, as it is EXPENSIVE), but most talents are of only marginal DPS or utility value for Ret and Prot. Personally, I eagerly await a new 11pt talent for Holy, though I hope were not waiting as long as we have done in the past.
2. More Basic Spells as Talented Abilities
Divine Favour is GONE! But what's this in it's place?
Don't worry about the 'healed for' value yet.)
You may recall that all classes will be 'given' (in some fashion) a quick (1.5s), medium (2s) and slow heal (3s). Okay, this perhaps is a little bit redundant in the current game; we'll run with it though.
In our case, we're actually getting two 3-second cast heals: Holy Light (baseline) and Divine Light (talented, Tier 5), and Holy Light talented will have a 2 second cast time. This may seem a little redundant, hell it's a lot redundant, but stay with me here. It means that Holy Light will scale as if it were a 3 second cast spell whilst remaining 2 second cast. Combine it with the new Beacon of Light, which only interacts with Holy Light and Holy Shock, and HL remains our go-to healing spell. And a pretty powerful one at that.
A cynic might say that this talent arrangement is a pretty cheap way of designing a 5 pt talent, and I'd agree on the face of it, but it still has potential. Even if Divine Light is a boring-ass Tier 5 talent.
3. Things To Do... So Many Things to Do
This is only a first pass at the tree, never mind the whole class, and there's still a lot to do. There's also going to be a very long Beta process if we really are going to see 4.0 in October. Thank goodness for those, because there's still a lot to look out for:
So many dross talents. Sacred Cleansing and Pure of Heart - they're pretty bad unless you expect the class to be Cleansing 24/7*. Purifying Power just doesn't seem at all useful for Holy, the whole 'Healing Classes need to Level Too' argument notwithstanding. Pure of Heart can be too detrimental. Plenty of diseases and curses will trigger something nasty on completion (e.g. Cuse of Doom) which make taking this talent highly unwise. Needs to eb fixed Supposedly Magic Cleansing was to be removed from the baseline spell and rolled into a Holy Talent. Expect to see that soon, though as 11pt talent would somewhat make removing it from baseline redundant. Early Holy. Please make Tier 2 and 3 interesting and valuable to Ret and Prot. I know that you may be keen on the whole off-healing angle but it's just not possible for those specs (self-healing has some potential) but even so these talents need work. Hopefully Fears and Disorientates will be part of 5-man and raid encounters in Cataclysm, making this talent interesting for all Specs. The Ret and Prot Changes ;).
With any luck we'll see a new build tomorrow, or Friday if there are a lot of nerfs. Till then, keep the faith.
*Please don't design encounters where we're cleansing 24/7, the removal of Cleansing Totem makes me scared.