Nerf rock. Paper is OK.
So here we are again, with the nerf bat slamming down in our collective faces. And let's be honest, it wasn't really all that surprising this time around. My Shield of the Righteous at 3 Holy Power would occasianally critically hit for 25,000 damage. My Hammer of Wrath would steadily dish out a solid 16,000 damage at the very least when critically hitting - usually more. To further add to the image of our current power level - these are numbers experienced without wings, though I'll admit that I'm using Wrathful level PvP gear for my wrist (socketed and enchanted stamina, mind you), neck and weapon (stamina gem and Blood Draining) slots, plus the 2-piece T10 retribution set bonus for 5-man instances. Overall though, these numbers are brutally high for a tanking contribution to the damage chart. The bat was already swinging, it was just a matter of time before it hit.
Let's look at the exact changes to paladins being made in the latest beta build (13221, no silly codename this time around) - I've limited my quotations to the abilities that relate to protection specifically;
- Holy Wrath now scales from 61% of SpellPower, up from 30%. Base damage reduced by 22%, from 3122 to 2435.
- Lay on Hands no longer restores mana.
- Hammer of Wrath base damage has been reduced by 22%. From 4890-5404 to 3814-4215.
- Seal of Truth now scales from 12.85% of Attack Power and Spell Power (up from 12.5%) but now deals 15% weapon damage when stacked 5 times. Down from 16%.
- Crusader Strike now deals 115% weapon damage, down from 150%.
- Avenger's Shield now has a 15 sec cooldown, down from 24 sec.
- Shield of the Righteous now deals 609/1828/3656 damage depending on Holy Power. (Old - Deals 20%/60%/120% of Attack Power as damage)
- Shield of the Templar no longer reduces the cooldown of Avenger's Shield. Now allows your Divine Plea to generate 1/2/3 Holy Power.
- Guarded by the Light now increases Word of Glory by 15/30%, down from 30/60%.
- Wrath of the Lightbringer now increases the damage of Crusader Strike by 50% at Rank 1, up from 30%.
Technicalities aside - what will this mean for protection as a raiding spec? First of all, it means that our raid threat roof will be considerably lowered, unless the innate threat co-efficients are buffed to compensate for the loss of TPS through damage. Furthermore, I predict that pre-pull Divine Plea is going to be mandatory, as a 1HP-Shield of the Righteous, even to get up an early Holy Shield, is a waste of a GCD, threatwise. This effectively removes Divine Plea as an early combat cooldown for us, making mana efficiency paramount.
Whether or not Crusader Strike is being nerfed or stays the same or is buffed is a bit of a toss-up at the moment. The uncertainty around said talent means we're not really sure what the outcome will be, except this - we simply CAN NOT afford Crusader Strikes to miss. No holy power, no threat - and if both resources are going to be as precious to us as it currently appears, then we have no choice than to make sure we're 100% certain our Crusader Strikes hit home. And that means the hit cap. Heavier still, it means the expertise hardcap.
As of this beta build, the general consensus is that if you're not hitcapped, you reforge hit until you reach the hitcap. And when you're hitcapped, you reforge expertise until you reach the expertise hardcap. And as a tank, to reforge offensive stats, what do you sacrifice? Well, there really are only two secondary defensive stats left in the game, isn't there? Dodge and parry. That's right. As of this build, we are completely scrapping Blizzard's new lovechild mastery, our precious dodge and our dear parry for the sake of our threat. Because let's face it - without our threat, we don't need dodge and parry in the first place - our frost death knight friend, however, would kindly ask a loan of some mitigation if it's not too much bother?
I was hoping this to be a minor nuisance, and perhaps som unadjusted numbers that would be tuned later on. It is, after all, beta, and like we agreed on quite early, a nerf was obviously coming. But then, the following morning, I read this:
- Holy Shield will be changed to increase block value by 10% (40% total) instead of increasing block chance by 15%. Since this will cause Mastery to become more valuable, the amount of block granted by Mastery will be reduced to 2.25% block chance per point of Mastery, down from 3%.
- Paladin tanks are not intended to go cap block as fast as they can. It’s fine if you want to do that, but we don’t treat it as “the new defense cap” and we don’t balance paladins assuming they have a 100% block chance. That is something the community identified as being not only possible, but likely, and one of the reasons we changed the way block works for paladins.
- Guardian of Ancient Kings -- Damage reduction changed from 60% to 50%. Cooldown still 2 minutes (talented). Duration still 12 seconds.
In short, we're getting less avoidance if we wanna have threat, we're getting less threat if we wanna have mitigation, and we're getting "roflstomped" without proper avoidance and mitigation, though without any threat, someone else is quite likely to get roflstomped before us in the first place. I quite feel like I'm back to playing warrior in Naxxramas again, balancing 11 stats to make sure my gear was good enough to both stay alive AND do my job in the raid. Is that REALLY what Blizzard wants to achieve with this? I have my doubts, and will expect some changes to these numbers eventually. Until then... I guess my healers will hate me immensely.