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[UPDATED] Paladin changes in patch 3.0.3

Zach Yonzon

Yeah, yeah, I know. You're sick of reading about Paladins. Don't shoot the messenger, I'm just here bearing some news and a couple of opinions. You can always skip down to the the next post, anyway. For those Paladin lovers (and even loathers), Patch 3.0.3 brings about some pretty interesting changes to the class. We got a lot more changes than other classes, but then again we've been getting a lot of attention lately, haven't we?

First, the bad news. We knew most of the nerfs since they showed up in the Beta a while back. Well, most of those nerfs made it live to Patch 3.0.3, so let's get this over with quickly so we can move on to the good news. Yes, there's actually good news for Paladins this patch. Seals all get nerfed to varying degrees, the general idea being that they no longer deal as much damage either as a Seal or as a Judgement. Don't ask me for the math, you can check out Boubouille's detailed notes on MMO Champion for the details. All Seals have been nerfed, period. Ouch.

[UPDATE: Thanks to Turkeyspit who reminded me about the change to Judgement of Light, which now awesomely affects spells and not just melee attacks. I told you this was a good Patch for us.]

Judgement of Wisdom now only grants 1% of maximum mana and proc frequency has been cut by 50%. This is probably the most hurtful change to the class across the board as it also affects our raid utility. Was it overpowered in its old form? I don't know, but it certainly kept our raid mana afloat although Blizzard's numbers indicate that it keeps mana afloat a little too much. Paladins not only cried at this change. Little kittens died, too.

Other changes included some bug fixes, such as Blessing of Sanctuary and Greater Blessing of Sanctuary no longer being able to be on the same target at the same time. Crusade no longer applies its damage bonus twice to critical strikes -- hopefully that change goes some way towards reducing Retribution's crazy burst. Rank 1 of Divine Purpose will now correctly determine its chance of removing stuns. Since I have 2/2 Divine Purpose -- and likely every self-respecting PvP Retadin, as well -- we probably never noticed there was a problem with this.

While we're on the subject, the announced Retribution nerfs are now live. Hammer of Wrath is back to being castable only against targets at 20% health or below. On an important note, Echoes of Doom made it instant-cast and independent of our swing timers, making it extremely useful for both PvE and PvP. It was a tad too strong being usable at 35%, but I can't deny that it was fun while it lasted.

Repentance was hotfixed a while back to last only 6 seconds in PvP, which is a pretty ridiculous change to be honest considering it's not a spammable ability and it breaks on damage. But hey, whatever. The nerf to Judgements of the Wise is now also on the patch notes, and should reflect properly in the tooltips. This only means that Retribution Paladins will run out of mana at some point, although between Judging Wisdom, Spiritual Attunement, and maybe a potion here and there, we really should be fine. Specially when Divine Plea becomes available at Level 71. This isn't such a painful change in PvE as some players make it out to be, but it will be quite glaring in PvP. Which was the point, I think.

Some talents were reworked, which really qualifies as good news for me, so we can start looking more positive now. The Art of War was rebalanced to no longer increase critical strike damage by up to 20%. Instead, it increases all damage done by Judgements, Crusader Strike, and Divine Storm by up to 10%. This is an excellent change because it scales better for all Retadins regardless of gear (i.e., crit %) and provides better DPS throughput and less burst. To further reduce burst, Righteous Vengeance was reworked to apply a crowd control-friendly DoT instead of dealing more critical strike damage.

On the theme of good news, Blessing of Might Rank 8 was increased to 306 from 305. It's not a joke, but it's an important change (which really could've been hotfixed along with recent nerfs...) that prevents the cheaper, reagent-less, shorter duration Battle Shout from overwriting the buff. Take that, Warriors! Eye for an Eye was changed so that it no longer breaks crowd control effects. Perfect for those instances when you cast Repentance on that Mage -- for 6 seconds, natch -- right before his Arcane Barrage crits you for 76,245,036.

We can skip over tooltip changes. It's not like we ever noticed the difference, anyway... so, straight on to Protection, where Avenger's Shield's bounce distance was reduced to 10 yards, down from 15. Most mobs pulled with this ability are usually within 10 yards of each other, anyway, and using it while we're tanking usually means all those mobs are piled right on top of us! I suppose this saves us from errant pulls. In PvP... well, it might be more fun to use Glyph of Avenger's Shield, isn't it?

That was neither here nor there, was it? Ok, well, these few changes are unquestionable buffs. Righteous Defense's cooldown has been reduced to 8 seconds, down from 15. This is good considering all other tanks now got ranged and AoE taunts, too. We still don't have a single target taunt, but hey, at least we can taunt more. And ok, now you can pick up Shield of the Templar. I put it down before because you could only use about 2/3 of the talent considering we can't learn Shield of Righteousness yet, but now that it reduces all damage by 3%, too, it's now all sorts of sexy.

Finally we have Holy, which got the sweet stuff we mentioned a while back. For one thing, Infusion of Light now thankfully affects Flash of Light, too. We can actually heal while moving! And it's not Holy Shock! Gasp! Judgements of the Pure was also buffed to grant a 15% haste increase for one minute, which actually, truly make it worth activating the GCD to cast Judgements now. A .625 second cast Rank 11 Holy Light after Judging, an Infusion of Light proc, and Light's Grace is pretty damn slick. Stack some more haste, that number gets even slicker.

If it wasn't clear before that Blizzard wants us to Judge even while healing, the buff to Enlightened Judgements to match the range of our healing spells should be the writing on the wall. As long as we're within range to heal the melee guys, we're in range to slap bosses and mobs around with a Judgement or two. Do it.

Lastly, some more good news, specially for you lazy bums out there... the quests for the Paladin Chargers will no longer be required to learn the spell at Level 61 as long as you have Journeyman Riding and the Warhorse spell learned. Considering that the cost to do these quests are pretty negligible these days, any self-respecting Paladin should do the quests anyway, particularly the incredibly easy Blood Elf version.

I know we got nerfed hard these past weeks, but this latest Patch is pretty good for the class overall. The nerf to seals is going to hurt less than we think it will, and I expect our tank threat to still be pretty good despite the DPS hit. Enjoy the game, I'm fairly confident the Paladin class is in very good hands.

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