Monday, April 6, 2009

Patch Work (Patch 3.1 Preview)

We know Patch 3.1 is getting close and most everyone expects it to be live before the end of the month.

I’m personally really excited about the additional content being added. I can’t wait to raid the new instance with my team.

The solo/small group element being added in the Argent Tournament promises to suck down much of my off nights. Honorshammer of Ironforge, I like the sound of that.

I would think that if you are the kind of person who reads blogs, you are also the kind of person who reads other sites like mmo-champion, and you are probably up to speed on the most of what’s going on in the new patch, but let me give you my take.

Let’s look at the Paladin specific changes.

Spiritual Attunement: Removed from trainers. It is now available deep in the Protection tree for 2 ranks at 5/10%.

Let’s start off with the big one. Tankadins will be the only spec of Paladin to have Spiritual Attunement. There has been some discussion among the theorycrafters that Tankadins might be able to get away with just 1 point in Spiritual Attunement rather than 2. With how hard some Bosses in Ulduar hit, I’d believe it.

We also have an altered way of generating mana with the changes to Guarded By The Light.

Guarded by the Light: (still reduces Spell Damage taken) Gives you a 50/100% chance to refresh the duration of your Divine Plea. Now makes Divine Plea 50/100% less likely to be dispelled.

This basically means we have permanent Divine Plea ticking on us. This will be fantastic for a off tanking situation, and out soloing. I know when I solo I have to run Blessing of Sanctuary, Seal of Wisdom and Judgment of Wisdom to keep my mana up.

This will also be important once you have the new Glyph of Divine Plea.

Glyph of Divine Plea - While Divine Plea is active, you take 3% reduced damage from all sources.
Would you like another 3% damage reduction, Mr. Hammer? Yes, thank you, please.

Exorcism: Now can be used on any target and has a 100% chance to be a critical strike when used on Undead and Demons.

This is a pretty exciting change. Paladins have been using Exorcism throughout Naxx, but Ulduar promises to have very few undead mobs running around. I’m going to have to rework my keybinds a bit so I can get to my Exorcism key a little quicker. In addition, there is a new glyph for Exorcism.

Glyph of Exorcism -- Increases damage done by Exorcism by 20%. (Old: Your Exorcism also interrupts spellcasting for 2 sec.)

That’s a very nice threat Glyph, especially on an Undead boss.

Divine Protection: Cooldown reduced to 3 minutes. Forbearance reduced to 2-minute duration.

A Paladin with Sacred Duty will have a 2 minute cooldown on his ‘Shield Wall’ type ability. I still maintain it should be shorter or Paladins need to get another emergency button. I know I used it in my April Fools post, but Paladins really are in need of another cooldown of some sort.

I’d be remiss to not mention the two cooldownish (making up words for the win!) additions Paladins are getting. The first is Glyph of Hand of Salvation.

Glyph of Hand of Salvation - When you cast Hand of Salvation on yourself, it also reduces damage taken by 20%

This is a nice cooldown, but it comes with a very heft price. So long as you are affected by it, you are losing aggro. When I first saw this, I thought, ‘Hmm, PVP Glyph”. That may have been the intent, but the Law of Unintended Consequences comes into play. With Paladins clearly lacking in the cooldown department, we are going to try to find some way to fill in the gaps. Glyph of Hand of Salvation could be that way.

There is also Glyph of Lay On Hands.

Glyph of Lay on Hands -- Reduces the cooldown of your Lay on Hands spell by 5 min.(Old: Your Lay on Hands also grants you as much mana as it grants your target.)

15 minutes isn’t much better than 20 minutes and is really too long to count as a cooldown, but it is something. Usually Lay On Hands will be up every other attempt and we know from the past with fights like Vashj, Kael and Illidan that the Developers can make some really long encounters. Lay On Hands does have some drawbacks. It can’t be used while stunned, like Maexxna’s Web Wrap and it is reactive, you have to wait until you are almost dead to use it. The other problem is that most of the time right after you pop this very long cooldown, you’ll get two or three bomb heals from your healers.

Auras will now persist through death and affect a 40 yard radius.

One less buff to remember after a wipe and everyone gets the old Aura Mastery talent for free. Old Aura Mastery? Yes, because there’s a new Aura Mastery in town.

Aura Mastery: Now grants anyone affected by Concentration Aura immunity from Interrupt and Silence mechanics, and increases the effectiveness of all other auras by 100%. Lasts 10 seconds. 2-minute cooldown.
This is a very nice talent. Depending on what Aura you are running it could mean: a 10 second immunity to Fear and Silence (Concentration), or a double the armor from Devotion Aura, or twice the resistance from one of our resistance auras, or twice the damage from Retribution Aura.

It’s an 11 point talent in the Holy tree. The question to my tanking mind is would a ‘proper’ tanking build have enough free points to pick up Aura Mastery? I’ll look at this in-depth in a future post on 3.1 Talent Builds.

It does appear that some points have been freed up.

Ardent Defender: Reduced to 3 ranks for 10/20/30%. One-Handed Weapon Specialization: Reduced to 3 ranks for 4/7/10%.

That’s two former 5 pointers that are now 3 pointers, freeing up 4 points. But the biggie is :

Blessing of Kings is now trainable at level 20. Removed from talent trees.

This has been a long time coming. I declare the “Who Will Spec Kings?” debate officially over. Every spec of Paladin can bring Kings.

What new goodies has Blizzardclaus added to the Paladin this time around?

New Talent: Divine Sacrifice: Causes all party/raid members affected by one of the paladin’s auras to transfer 30% of all damage taken to the paladin (maximum of 150% of the paladin’s max health). Lasts 10 seconds. 2-minute cooldown. *

This is the talent we used to know as Divine Guardian with the added nerf of limiting the amount absorbed to 150% of the Paladins health. I can get nearly 40k buffed health in a 25 man raid, so that would be only 60k worth of damage absorbed, spread over anyone taking damage within 40 yards. You will either need to be healed, or use Divine Shield at the same time to avoid being one shot. You can tell they intended the two to be used together. You use Divine Shield which lasts 12 seconds, and incur the Global Cooldown. Then you pop Divine Sacrifice which last 10 seconds and you have a .5 second buffer before Divine Sheild runs out.

Divine Guardian now becomes a talent that augments Divine Sacrifice.

Divine Guardian: Now increases the effectiveness of Divine Sacrifice by an additional 5/10%, and increases the duration of Sacred Shield by 50/100% and the amount absorbed by 10/20%.

So the 60k worth of damage in first example becomes 66k. Color me unimpressed. However, the Sacred Shield portion of the talent is interesting. It keeps the shield up longer and increases the amount it can absorb. With the Sacred Shield change (SS can only be on one target at a time), the Tankadin may be asked to maintain his own shield so the Holy can shield a different tank.

New Talent: Divinity: Increases healing done by and to you by 1/2/3/4/5% (tier-1).

Since this is Tier 1, I’m thinking this is a talent to make Holy dip into the Protection tree. The Developers have stated on more than one occasion that they don’t want 0/0/71 specs, but want you to dabble in other trees. I’d much prefer it was some sort of mitigation type talent, most deaths are a matter of whether a heal lands, not how big it is. But I understand making it appeal to all specs as a Tier 1 talent. Perhaps it will appeal to me more in Ulduar, but right now all I see if ‘Increases the Overhealing done by your healers by…”

Blessing of Sanctuary: (still give 3% damage reduction) Now only grants mana on dodge/parry/block. In addition, will only grant mana if that is the active power type of the friendly target (Bears and Cats won’t gain mana).

Basically the Rage and Runic Power generation was removed from Blessing of Sanctuary. It’s still a Blessing, which is problematic to me. As the only Paladin in a 5 or 10 man, the Tankadin has to choose between resource generation (Blessing of Sanctuary) or Effective Health (Blessing of Kings). He can’t have both. I’ll be doing a future post on Sanctuary versus Kings.Improved Devotion Aura: The additional healing granted by this talent now becomes active when any Aura is used, not just Devotion Aura.

This will be nice if we need to run a Resistance Aura. We won’t loose the healing bonus (assuming no Resto Druid to provide the equivalent buff).

Improved Hammer of Justice: Reduced to 2 ranks for 10/20-second cooldown reduction.

Judgements of the Just: Now also reduces the cooldown of Hammer of Justice by 10/20 seconds, and increases the duration of the Seal of Justice stun effect by .5/1 second.


These two will give you a 20 second cooldown on your Hammer of Justice interrupt. I personally feel that’s still too long, but in any Boss fight where an interrupt is crucial; you should have help from melee dps like Rogues and Shamans. The tank is part of the rotation, so a 20 second cooldown will probably be okay. I maintain that the Developers need to take it off the global cooldown. When I need to interrupt something, I need to do it NOW! k?

Sacred Duty rank 1 now increases stamina by 4%.

This is just a bug fix. Rank 2 is still 8%. It used to be 3%, 6%. Then they changed it to 3%, 8%. Now it’s 4%, 8%.

Shield of the Templar: No longer increases the damage done by Holy Shield, Avenger’s Shield, and Shield of Righteousness. Now grants 33/66/100% chance to silence your Avenger’s Shield targets for 3 seconds. Holy Shield: Base damage and scaling factor increased by 30%.Avenger’s Shield: Base damage and scaling factor increased by 30%. Shield of Righteousness: Base damage and scaling factor increased by 30%.

Basically they took the old scaling from Shield of the Templar and folded it into the base spells. But they gave Avenger’s Shield a silence. Finally, a way for us to pull casters! Now, they need to remove the daze so the caster gets to our Consecrate before the silence wears off.

Increased the health granted by the Flask of Stoneblood. Now grants 1300hp.
Not Paladin related but a major buff to the ‘tanking’ flask. I’m very excited about it.

Charger - Completed the paladin quest to obtain a Charger.

I like that they added an achievement for those who have or who will choose to complete the quest chain.

This has been a very long PTR cycle. Did I miss anything?
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