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Paladins in Patch 3.2 - Call of the Crusade
It's that time of the year, again. Yet another World of Warcraft major content patch is in the works - Patch 3.2 Call of the Crusade. It brings with it the new Crusaders' Coliseum raid dungeon, a new battleground, the Isle of Conquest, and significant changes to a few classes, including Paladins and Death Knights. Coming so close on the heals of the Ulduar 3.1 patch it is surprising to see the next patch so deep in development - but here it is.
Paladins are mostly seeing buffs across the board, but there are a few nerfs, and some notable changes to Paladin tanking that should prove interesting.
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3.2 Changes Affecting Retribution Paladins
Seal of Blood and Seal of the Martyr will be no more, come patch 3.2. These are, of course, the high DPS Seals that also inflict damage to the Paladin. Currently many Retribution Paladins favor these seals over others, like Command, but it seems removing them coupled with a massive increase in the damage of Vengeance/Corruption is going to streamline Paladin Seals to make choosing which to use in various situations easier.
Seal of Vengeance and Seal of Corruption are being completely redesigned so as to deal a lot more damage. Currently they inflict a DoT effect that stacks up to 5 times. In 3.2, however, these seals will inflict a physical DoT, much like a bleed, that stacks up to 5 times. Additionally, once the stack reaches 5 each swing the Paladin takes will deal and additional 33% of weapon damage as Holy damage, and crits will deal double damage.
Art of War is being reworked a little bit. It will only proc off of melee critical hits, but will effect both Flash of Light and Exorcism. Incidently, Exorcism is also going to be usable on players now.
Seal of Command is being completely redesigned as well. Currently when the Seal is active there is a chance to deal additional Holy damage. In patch 3.2, though, it will deal consistent damage on every swing - 36% - but less judgement damage.
Vindication is receiving a fairly significant change that will bring it more in line with other raid debuffs. Currently Vindication reduces a target's attributes by 20% for 15 seconds. To make Paladins provide more raid-wide utility, this is being changed to lower a target's attack power - like Demoralizing Shout, which it will not stack with. This has the benefit of debuffing a raid target but not at the cost of another buff like Battle Shout or Commanding Shout.
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3.2 Changes Affecting Protection Paladins
Block Value is being reworked to be more important. The amount of bonus block value on items, excluding the base value of shields, is being doubled. Block value as an effect of Strength will not be effected. Items as well as tier set bonuses that effect block value as a triggered effect (either "on use" or a proc) are going to have the same bonus block value. However, the duration of the triggered effects is being doubled. Examples of this include Glyph of Deflection, Tier 8 Paladin set bonus, etc.
The primary Paladin tanking blessing, Blessing of Sanctuary will now also increase Stamina by 10%. Now tanking Paladins don't have to weigh the advantages of +10% stats with 3% damage mitigation and some extra mana. This bonus, however, will not stack with Blessing of Kings. It is possible for someone to have both Sanctuary and Kings on them at the same time, but Stamina will only be increased by 10%.
Hand of Reckoning is being redesigned to limit it's use as an interrupt or pushback in PvP. It will only deal damage to the target if that target isn't targeting the Paladin. Additionally, the change text reads "but damage done increased to 50% of attack power, occurring after the taunt effect is applied." While slightly unclear, it seems to indicate that it will do additional damage over its current form, and actually require the taunt to "land", removing its usage in PvP situations.
Shield of Righteousness is having its damaged reduced, and it will no longer be benefited by stacking an infinite amount of block value. Instead of 130% of block value being inflicted as Holy damage, it will be 100%. Additionally, the benefit this ability gains from additional block value is subject to diminishing returns. (Diminishing returns in this case means more points of block value will be required for the same effect.) Diminishing returns for this ability will occur once block value reaches 2400 (at level 80). Once block value reaches 2760 it is capped for this ability, and damage will not increase anymore.
Ardent Defender is being completely reworked. Currently, when the Paladin is at less than 35% health all damage he takes is reduced by 30%. In 3.2, and damage that will take the Paladin below 35% health is reduced by 30%. This basically equates to the Paladin receiving the benefit earlier, and minimizes the risk of a 36-0% hit happening, which is currently possible. For example, if a Paladin with 50% health takes a hit that would be for 40% of it, 15% of the damage will be normal and the other 25% will be reduced by 30%. So if a Paladin with 40k max HP currently has 20k, a 16k (40%) hit will take him to 7k health instead of 4k.
An additional affect is being added to Ardent Defender as well. Once every two minutes an attack that otherwise would have killed the Paladin will fail to kill, and the Paladin will be healed for up to 30% (fully talented) of his maximum health. This is effected by the Paladin's defense rating. For example, a Paladin with a defense of 300 will receive no healing from the talent, while a Paladin with 540 defense will receive the full 30%.
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3.2 Changes Affecting Holy Paladins
Lay on Hands is being changed slightly so as not to be affected by the armor cap. Instead of increasing the target's armor, it will in 3.2 decrease physical damage done to the target by 10/20%. While Lay on Hands is an ability for Paladins of all specs, it can be Improved by Holy talents, making this change a possible consideration as a real damage mitigation cooldown.
Sacred Shield is going to receive an added healing bonus, making Paladin healing slightly more effective and interesting. In 3.2, when the Paladin casts a Flash of Light on a target with the Sacred Shield buff, it will also place a HoT on the target that heals for 100% of the FoL's amount over 12 seconds.
Beacon of Light will now be more effective. The amount healed by BoL will be based on total healing done (including overhealing), not just effective healing done. The range of it is also being bumped up to 60 yards, making it the farthest reaching heal in the game. Multiple Paladins will be able to have Beacon of Light active on the same target, at well.
It isn't all good news, as there is a fairly significant nerf incoming to Holy Paladins in the form of Mana Regeneration. Currently Paladins enjoy very good mana regeneration from Illumination and from their passive ability to stack massive amounts of Intellect. Two changes will affect this:
Divine Intellect is having its bonus reduced from 3/6/9/12/15% down to 2/4/6/8/10%.
Illumination will now only restore 30% of the mana cost of the spell instead of 60%.
What does this ultimately mean? Currently Holy Paladins stack Intellect over any other stat, and Blizzard wants that to change. This is already evidenced by the high amounts of MP5 that are found on Paladin healing gear. They want Paladins to desire and use MP5 as much as other healing classes already do.