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5.2 round-up for protection paladins

Matt Walsh

Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Light and How to Swing It for holy, protection and retribution paladins. Protection specialist Matt Walsh spends most of his time receiving concussions for the benefit of 9 other people, obsessing over his hair, and maintaining the tankadin-focused blog Righteous Defense.

I must admit, while following all the changes of path 5.2 as they trickled out, the one change that got me really, really pumped was the further loosening of transmog rules. In 5.2, a one-handed sword (as just about all our epic weapons are this expansion) can be transmogrified to an axe or a mace. In addition, many weapons from earlier expansions that were designated as mainhand weapons, have been changed one-hand weapons.

Combined, this means that in 5.2, no matter what actual weapon I have, it can look like the Gavel of Unearthed Secrets -- an iconic paladin weapon if I ever saw one. Sure, swords are great (the Crusader's Glory is particularly nice), but when I think of paladins smiting the undead and enforcing the will of the Light, I see them holding a massive hammer in their hands. So I'm excited to return to that motif.

But obviously there's a lot more going on in patch 5.2 than transmogrifying! There is a new tier set with new set bonuses worth digging into, as well as a slew of class changes that are coming down the pike.

T15 set bonuses

You've likely seen this by now, but let's get down to brass tacks with the ramifications of each bonus.

When first reading this, there was some confusion about the finer points. Thankfully, GC was quick to let us know that "The Protection 2pc is additive. It's duration is 5sec per holy power." Which means that for a tank with 26% block, using Word of Glory at 3 holy power will boost you to 66% block for 15 seconds. That's nothing to sneeze at.

Some quarters are already interpreting the buff as something you should attempt to keep up at all time, using Word of Glory once every 15 seconds, but the jury is still out on that. It's not certain yet that the survivability value of 40% extra block (especially at a low base block chance) is worth more than the survivability value of the one Shield of the Righteous you'd have to give up to make that buff happen. ShoR is that good.

Not to mention that shy of a generous stack of Bastion of Glory, Word of Glory isn't particularly compelling. Forcing yourself to use it every 15 seconds isn't going to be super worth it.

In all likelihood, the intention of the bonus is to make us not feel bad about using Word of Glory in emergencies, by providing a consolation prize for having to forgo using holy power on ShoR, rather than attempting to add some new Frankinquisition feature to our tanking. Not to mention being cajoled into maintaining a new 15 second buff would really suck. So, personally, I'm rooting for keeping that buff up to be mathematically not worth it.
  • 4P: You gain 1 holy power for each 20% of your health taken as damage while Divine Protection is active.
As a 10man raider, I find myself less enthusiastic about this bonus than, say, a 25man heroic raider. That's not to say I don't like it, but the scaling of the bonus heavily (heavily!) favors heroic mode raiders over anyone else, not to mention those that primarily run LFR.

Ceteris paribus, though, it's a fun idea, and will be pretty cool for boosting the physical damage mitigation of (glyphed) Divine Protection -- in the sense that you might get enough holy power to bang out a ShoR or two in addition to the 20% mitigation of the spell.

Nontheless, it sounds like the bonus is still being hammered out. GC noted that the bonus incentivizes the Unbreakable Spirit talent, which on average will let you use Divine Protection about every 40 seconds (not that you'd be activating the spell on cooldown, I hope). In addition, he noted that the holy power gain from the bonus will not count for the Holy Avenger talent. (Darn.)

The useful class changes

There are a few. For starters, perhaps the best class change for us:
  • Hand of Purity now reduces all incoming damage by 10% in addition to its other effects.
This talent competes with Unbreakable Spirit, and the change (I think) now makes Hand of Purity really competitive with US for a default level 60 talent. Your choices would then be a lower cooldown on Divine Protection and Lay on Hands, the former of which you might not even really need to use more than once a minute regardless, or a 30 second cooldown 10% damage reduction spell. I think the utility of having Hand of Purity as a hyper-available small cooldown could be valuable. Especially on DoT fights, though those are few and far between. The group utility is great as well.
  • Eternal Flame's periodic heal now provides 100% more healing when self-cast.
Personally, I still prefer Sacred Shield, but it's good that they're trying to make EF more competitive in its tier.
  • The base damage of Consecration has been increased by 789%, and it now scales less efficiently with attack power by approximately 11%.
This is a nice AoE buff at low vengeance numbers -- which usually translates to trash tanking, especially on pulls. Though, with the attack power scaling change, it works out to be a nerf at really high Vengeance.

Changes that don't really affect tanking, so don't worry

The are a few class changes which appear to be primarily PVP nerfs, especially for holy paladins.
  • The Sacred Shield absorb is now dispellable
  • Repentance cast time up to 1.7 seconds
  • Blinding Light now has a cast time of 1.8 seconds
That last one is for holy only, so don't worry if you like to use this spell in 5mans or whatever. As Blizzard explains, "We think Holy's CC chains are too strong at the moment, but we don't think Ret or Prot need the nerf."

So that's that. Lots happening in 5.2, though thankfully nothing as crazy as some patches have been in the past. We're in a pretty good place overall, so there isn't much tweaking that absolutely must be inflicted upon us -- which is always a happy situation.
The Light and How to Swing It shows paladin tanks how to combat the Sha in the strange new land of Pandaria. Try out the new control gearing strategy, learn how to make the most of the new active mitigation system on your tankadin, and check out how to deck out your fresh 90 tank to get ready for any raids!

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