I was going to do these for some other classes as well…..but to be honest, my heart isn’t in it this time.
Ret, as a spec, hasn't fared that well. It is a spec that has always been known for various issues. Even in LK when the system was seen as "fun", there were problems.
HP was brought into solve some of those issues but it was rushed and implemented badly and the need to cover up its shortcomings in turn led to various mechanics...poor mechanics IMNSHO...being implemented. You want to control burst, so you add CDs but that creates gaps in the rotation. You want to tie haste into resource generation so you create Sanctity of Battle, but that in turn has to be balanced around planned end game values, even with starting level systems. And so on.
It was hoped that Blizzard would be able to refine the HP system into viability for MoP. Instead, we see the system become much more restricted. Worse, Blizzard are keeping the poorly thought out mechanics and implementation that bedevilled Cataclysms design. They appear to be slightly improved, but the flaws with them lie with their base mechanics and the way they interact with the class and each other. That’s simply storing problems for later but it may very well be the case that the system will work despite these issues.
Good news - Ret finally gets an AoE finisher. Well....builder AND finisher. More important is Boundless Conviction. Two minds about this….on the one hand, I can see possibilities in having a controlled mini-burst and it’s likely to be central in how Prot handles its finishers. On the other…it also creates much more room for mistakes; it makes the class much more forgiving. We’ll have to see how that plays out.
Tanking is undergoing a fairly substantial change in MoP. We've already seen elements of it with the de-emphasis of threat generation recently. The idea is to move the tanking game from threat management to survival management. Blizzard has essentially surrendered here and is simply recognising that threat generation is simply the lowest priority there is for tanks....tanks went for survival and not DPS/threat.
In several ways, a good thing.
At the minute, we are starting to see the outline of the incoming active mitigation system. We are also starting to get a degree of information on the changes to block mechanics.
Spectacularly un-impressed. At the minute at least. We'll have to see how everything works before we can give a final judgement. Even so, I see several problems.
Block is moving to a two roll system. And Block is gaining DR. This can and will work. And its obviously intended to remove the "problems" with block tanks. BUT..... it also means that Block is adversely affected by Avoidance. More avoidance means less chance to block. This, in turn, means that stacking Avoidance makes Mastery worse. It devalues it. Its counter intuitive. This isn't (IMO) a good thing. The changes are obviously meant to rein in the block mechanic but at the same time, all it really appears to be doing is adding unnecessary complexity without generating any additional benefit. The two roll system translates directly onto a one roll system. A lot of extra added complexity to perform the exact same role as simply nerfing Mastery.
Mastery, as stated above, is negatively affected by avoidance. The more avoidance you have, the less value you get from Mastery. In addition, Mastery is - for paladins at least - a very, very boring stat. Necessary, but boring. It also has the disadvantage of providing the class with an ability it already has. Granted...noone guaranteed Mastery should be interesting but still, it’s a little disappointing that it is so boring.
Vengeance is also being changed. This stat exists to allow Protadin DPS/threat to scale with their survivability. It’s had its issues in the past and the latest changes were made in response to the de-emphasis of threat. Personally, I think Vengeance as a solution is flawed in many ways (abnormally low base DPS, issues with off tanking, counter intuitive, etc) and there is, IMO, a strong argument to be made that it should, be removed. That still leaves the question of how to ensure tank threat/DPS scales with DPS.
The rotation of the protadin is based upon HP generation. This is a good idea and strives to integrate HP into the class design. The problem is its implementation. As with Ret, Blizzard simply added "Generates 1 HP" to certain moves and hopes that will solve various issues. As with Ret...I don't believe it will, but it may be the case the system will still work, albeit in spite of these additions rather than because of them.
As things stand, the spec will generate roughly 10 HP from Judgement per minute and 13 or so from CS. Add in 7 from GC, and you'll get a typical baseline generation of about 30HP per minute, or 1 every 2 seconds, enough for 1 finisher every 6 seconds. The problem is that the generation rate isn't steady. And that is a problem because it means that in between keeping EF/SS up - once every 30s - you won't get 100% uptime on the ShoR block mechanic. You can't anyway, because you'll spend time and HP keeping EF/SS up and running. Worse, a lot of HP is going to be wasted because you can't spend extra on WoG or procs. Thankfully BC will help here but even so, that just means a steadier flow of ShoR and even that will have to wait for enough procs to store the needed extra HP.
But you'll have to choose.....WoG or ShoR? The design of the system to date seems to preclude mixing the two....spending HP on WoG and maintaining ShoR will be unlikely....the only result in most situations will be accepting a time frame when ShoR won't be active as its going to be problematic to store HP via BC to make this work. If DP were available this would be less of an issue as you could weave in WoG or renew ShoR with the DP procs without worrying about dropping your protection below normal.
Overall, the system appears to be one designed not for survivability (at least, not directly) but for mana conservation. It won't matter which system you choose in the short term, as you'll have to survive without it and it will affect the spikiness as well but you'll need to keep the system active to ensure healers don't run OOM. Will all this make tanking fun? Will it turn Mastery into a dump stat- the one Paladins care nothing about? It probably won’t turn out to be that bad, but it does look like Mastery will be much less desirable in MoP than it is now.
Other problems/issues/concerns? Consecration has a 9s CD and a 9s duration. Anyone from LK should recall the issues that system caused. Not a major issue.
And the AOE rotation is poor. There is no true AoE finisher. You'll want to keep ShoR up so you switch from a AoE builder to a single target finisher. Prot has no Divine Storm equivalent. Technically, you could equate ShoR with TV but that also points out the sheer lack of choice.
Paladins have always had a small toolkit and that has led to various issues such as overloading. Dividing it further between specs doesn't seem to be helpful
It’s noteworthy that Paladins appear to be losing Righteous Defence. At the same time....War Banner, Mass Death Grip and Ursols Vortex are saying "hi".
Also noteworthy is Roll (Monk), Charge(Warrior/Druid) and Death Grip (DK). All gap closing mechanisms. While homogeneity is an issue, there are many who would agree that a gap closing mechanic of some sort is still a necessity for a melee based class. Prot has access to SoL via talents, but that calls into question the viability of providing what should be basic, baseline tools as talents.
Overall, the active mitigation system doesn’t look that interesting right now. EF/SS every 30s, then ShoR every time you have 3 HP with Boundless Conviction allowing the occasional WoG.
Holy...I'm going to leave. I don't heal often enough to feel competent enough to comment. It is somewhat disappointing to see the Shockadin build once again becoming submerged; it’s a style of play that many like even if it’s never been truly viable. The precedent Blizzard is setting in MoP with the druids fourth spec, however, does open up the possibility that new specialisations (as opposed to new classes or races) will be the selling point next time. If so, Shockadins may well make a return. However…right now it appears a Holydins DPS options are somewhat lacking which removes/lowers its viability at questing/levelling as that spec….at least, outside dungeons.
Ret get Exorcism all for itself. Prot gets Consecration. Holy gets Holy Wrath. Divine Intervention was removed. Turn Evil is gone. Sense Undead is gone.
A lot of flavour or situational abilities are being removed or restricted. I can’t say I agree with this. These are abilities which differentiate the class, give it a different feel and also allow the class to showcase its skill and judgement by knowing when the situational moves are best. Simply because a move is situational or rarely used doesn’t mean it needs to be removed.
What’s to say? I don’t consider the current system perfect…but at the same time it does its job of ensuring a player feels like he is progressing his character fairly well. It doesn’t do much to individualise your character, true….but that’s also partially due to Blizzards own actions.
However, the new system has its own issues….and the Paladin, by its nature, happens to trigger most, if not all, of its flaws. Making it easy to refresh also ensures the choice has no effective meaning and the fact that the system is a near clone of the existing Glyphs doesn’t help. That can only lead to Glyphs being made even less interesting as the star talents will have to be given the more interesting toys to make the effort look good.
On a larger scale, talents and Glyphs also do pretty much what spec selection does. In the end, I’m still left with the feeling that character advancement has become little more than a mess and the whole thing needs to be tidied up in a big way.
As for the talents themselves….a mixed bag. Some good, some bad and quite a few that should be baseline for various reasons. T5 especially looks like it’s doing its best to keep the existing problems in play.
What I’d like to see:
HoW getting its old animation back, alongside a return-to-sender animation
Holy Power being fully developed and integrated
A new melee combat resource to work alongside HP…call it Faith or whatever. Remove the CDs of many spells, remove SoB and the other mechanics that actually detract from the gameplay.
Holy Prism working like C&Cs Prism tank, Execution Sentence working like Svalas Ritual of the Sword….possibly with a different graphic for Stay of Execution.
GAnK remade into a Metamorphosis type spell, and the abilities baseline with a shared CD. I don’t think the current version works too well for various reasons. It also has thematic problems.
The Shockadin returns – it’s a long-time favourite of many players.
Baseline gap closing mechanic or tool to fill that same gap – something the class needs. And while it is getting something along those lines in MoP, the need to spend 2 talent points and a Glyph to attain even that semi-viable version of a mechanic that should be baseline is problematic in itself.
The return of Auras – a Paladin stalwart, it’d be better to give up Blessings.
A long term DPS buff that causes forbearance – the class already has a heal and a protection mechanic….a DPS tool (e.g Zealotry with a 20%-30% haste on a 10m timer) may be fun to use.
What I’d consider worthy of serious discussion:
Ret as a Sword ‘n’ Board DPS. It’s doable. It’s unique. It’s got a style of its own that no other class does. Is it desirable?
Prot as 2H Tanking. Currently the preserve of DKs, Prot as the 2H tanking spec would allow a reversion to DW tanking for DKs, while also removing block as an issue from the spec. It would also open up the opportunity to build Paladin tanking more around magical shields and heals. Desirable?
Tanks/holydins using DPS plate, or Tank/Ret using spellplate. Spellplate remains an issue as does gear in general. It can be a real pain to gear up a tank or off-spec in some situations and fewer bosses also means fewer slots for a reasonable loot table. Consolidating gear in some way could help in both cases. Should it happen?
Ret and Prot merged…it would give Paladin melee a much more viable toolkit, with each covering for the others gaps. Stances, weapon choice or even threat modifiers could be used to separate out the two roles. But would players appreciate Prot getting a DPS stance that increased damage dealt and taken in lieu of a DPS spec, even if the DPS was identical?