Where are the auras?
The first thing that I noticed when perusing our ability list was that auras were conspicuously missing. While Bashiok, the community manager, claimed that there were definitely abilities missing from the trees accidentally, I am not sure that's the case here. Not only are all of our auras missing from all three trees, but Aura Mastery was changed too. Instead of being called Aura Mastery, its new name is Devotion Aura, and it provides the raid with 6 seconds of immunity to silences and interrupts and also reduces our damage taken some types of magical damage by 20%. In essence, it's like if we used Aura Mastery today, but with Concentration Aura and Resistance Aura active at the same time.
While Aura Mastery being called Devotion Aura could easily be a mistake in the talent calculator, I think that we might actually see the removal of auras from our toolset. Our Blessing of Kings will no longer increase resistances, as it does today, indicating that having buff-based resistances might be a thing of the past. Note that the new Devotion Aura/Aura Mastery doesn't increase our resistances but rather cuts our incoming magical damage by a flat percentage. Are we seeing the end of auras? Are we seeing the end of resistances? I'm sure we'll be hearing more about these possibilities in the coming months.
Holy paladins are gaining a new damage-dealing ability in Mists of Pandaria. Holy Wrath is becoming a holy-only move, and its cooldown is being removed but it gains a cast time. We can spam Holy Wrath to deal damage to any nearby targets. In addition, Holy Wrath is gaining the Denounce effect, preventing our targets from being able to deal critical strikes. What we appear to be missing now is a single-target or ranged spell. Normally Exorcism fills that role for us, giving us some minor DPS capabilities at range. Unfortunately, Exorcism is missing from holy's ability list, even though retribution paladins still have access to it. Hopefully this is merely an oversight and we'll see its swift return. We're also receiving a new ability at level 87, Blinding Light. It's an AoE blind that will give us an extra CC option.
Blizzard has been baking
Crusader Aura is now baked into every paladin's base abilities. What's interesting is that it's no longer known as an aura but rather Heart of the Crusader, further promoting the idea that auras are being removed. Our Glyph of Seal of Insight is also baked into our normal Seal of Insight, which will open up a glyph slot for us in Mists. The new Supplication passive ability will increase the healing done by our Flash of Light after we score a kill by 300%, which is similar to how Crusade works with Holy Light today.
We're still hybrids
Holy paladins will be losing a few of the retribution and protection abilities that we have access to today, but we're also keeping a few key spells. We'll have Divine Protection to help us mitigate damage, while we can use Righteous Fury and Hand of Reckoning to manage threat. We'll also be keeping Rebuke, allowing us to continue to add value by interrupting. Crusader Strike is also around and can be used to generate holy power points.
On the flip side, holy paladins are gaining exclusive access to several spells. Holy Radiance and Divine Plea are going to become holy-only, which will weaken the ability of retribution and protection paladins to help out with healing. They can make up for the losses by choosing some of the healing talents to supplement their healing options. Holy paladins will also be the only paladins receiving Holy Light and Divine Light, limiting the other paladins to Flash of Light. You'll notice that any healing talents or abilities in the protection and retribution trees only reference Flash of Light now.
The Light and How to Swing It: Holy helps holy paladins become the powerful healers we're destined to be. Find out just how masterful mastery healing can be, gear up with the latest gear, and learn how to PvP as a holy paladin.