WARNING: The author of this blog will be talking a great deal about WotLK information in the months that follow. Class changes will be the most common topic for discussion, but other areas of the expansion, such as loot, dungeons, zones, and professions will not be taboo. Each post including WotLK information will be obvious, and thus anyone not wishing to know what's coming in the expansion should avoid said articles.
I'm going to take this time to look at the new talents and abilities available for the most maligned of Paladin specs, and perhaps one of the most despised and laughed at specs in the game; retribution. In it's current incarnation, Retribution can bring some decent, but not earth shattering, dps (depended on Windfury) and a little bit of utility. Between the 2 percent increase in damage to their party and the 3 percent increased crit chance to the raid, a Ret Paladin could improved rdps by about 3 to 4 percent (estimate), depending on group setup. This gain of rdps has to be measured against the loss of rdps by bringing in a Ret Paladin versus another dps class with a higher pdps, and thus Retribution Paladins are rare in the high end raiding scene.
In comes the WotLK Beta, however, with a number of new talents and abilities for Retribution Paladins that Blizzard has not only promised will increase pdps, but analysis shows will potentially improve the Ret Paladin's utility to the raid.
To follow along with me, I recommend that you pull up the Paladin talent tree at Wowhead.
The first change, which is not limited to Ret Paladins, is that Paladin auras are going raid wide. Right off the bat, this means that the 2 percent damage boost Ret Paladins grant is expanded to anyone within 30 yards, which will most likely be the melee and tanks.
The second buff is that Seal of the Crusader is going bye bye, and it's holy damage buff is being rolled into Paladin's base spells, a buff for Paladin's everywhere. This change necessitated the change from Improved Seal of the Crusader to Heart of the Crusader, which will allow Ret Paladins to keep up Judgment of Wisdom to provide mana to themselves and the raid. This effective mp5 will be valuable to Ret Paladins due to their current mana issues.
The second spell that is going the way of the Dodo is Sanctity Aura, an all but useless aura (except for the Ret Paladin, Prot Paladins, and Smite Priests). The only reason Sanctity Aura is used is for Improved Sanctity Aura, previously a two point talent, will now become the one point talent Sanctified Retribution, making Retribution aura the default Ret Paladin aura. This has synergies with Improved Retribution Aura and the deep Retribution talent...
Swift Retribution. For only 3 talent points everyone within 30 yards gets 3 percent haste, which is pretty nice. Between 3 percent crit to the raid, Retribution Aura to the tanks, 2 percent increased damage to people within 30 yards, and 3 percent haste to people within 30 yards, Ret Paladins have a great deal of utility now.
Oh, and did I mention that Retribution Aura will now also scale with spell damage, which is good because Ret Paladins are getting a talent they should have ripped off from Enhancement Shamans a long time ago, Sheath of Light. Just ignore the healing part of the talent for the moment and look at the beauty. 30 percent of attack power will now be spell damage, helping solve problems with certain Retribution spells scaling with spell damage and others scaling with attack power.
Moving on beyond auras, the current talent Sanctified Judgements is getting a makeover and a name change and coming out as Judgements of the Wise. Now this just screams Shadow Priest to me, but I don't mind, since everyone loves Shadow Priests. This talent will work well with the good old Fanaticism, as well as the new The Art of War.
The only problem I can currently see with this talent is that it does not say how it will choose who to send the mana to. My hope is that it will send the mana to the three raid members with the lowest percent of their total mana, rather than the lowest amount of mana, which could send unneeded mana to Enhancement Shamans or Hunters when it should go to caster dps and healers.
As a minor note, I forgot to mention that Conviction has become, well, Conviction 2.0, granting spell crit in addition to melee crit. This is more of a big deal for Holy Paladins, but it will help out for Judgements. Also, Divine Strength is being buffed from a 10 percent boost to strength to a 15 percent boost, as well as being moved from tier one Holy to tier one Protection.
The final, and probably biggest change, is the brand spankin' new 51 point talent, Divine Storm (major props to Blizz for a great name). Not only does this give Ret Paladins a nice aoe effect, but it also causes holy damage, bypassing armor, and heals up to three raid members. Once again we don't know how the spell will choose who to send the health to, but we must trust that Blizz will make the spell not suck. On a side note, this spell is normalized, so weapons speed will not effect its damage.
Speaking of weapon speed, I almost forgot to mention that the Alliance is getting Seal of Blood via Seal of the Martyr and the Horde is getting Seal of Vengeance via Seal of Corruption. This, for various reasons, amounts to a buff to Alliance Ret Paladins and a buff to Horde Prot Paladins.
Thats all for now. Over the next week are two I'll be exploring the Protection and Holy trees, but for now...
For the Horde and the Naaru!
Edit: Wowhead tooltips for WotLK spells are all screwy at the moment, so you may be getting tooltips for incorrect spells and talents. I'll try to correct these errors soon.