My first thought on the whole thing regarding all the class changes – no, I’m not going to get all uppity about changes I don’t like. These are subject-to-change previews, and there will be the class balancing post-release.  So, with that…

New Paladin Spells

Blinding Shield (level 81): Causes damage and blinds all nearby targets. This effect might end up only damaging those facing the paladin’s shield, in a manner similar to Eadric the Pure’s ability Radiance in Trial of the Champion. The Holy tree will have a talent to increase the damage and critical strike chance, while the Protection tree will have a talent to make this spell instant cast. 2-second base cast time. Requires a shield.

This is nice, and I’m saying that even in regard to PvP (healing and being able to blind anyone running up to get you out of the way? Handy.).  I can see a lot of uses for this – holy pallies to stop mobs from doing much damage to mobs coming up to say hi to them, prot, possibly a way to keep mobs in the Consecrate area so melee dps can come play, too.  My wonder is if it’ll be just a straight blind (where the mobs could move around in a limited area) or a blind/stun like Radiance (where you’re blinded and just stay put until the duration’s up).  Like I said – nice either way, but final judgement will come after I see it in practice.

Healing Hands (level 83): Healing Hands is a new healing spell. The paladin radiates heals from him or herself, almost like a Healing Stream Totem. It has a short range, but a long enough duration that the paladin can cast other heals while Healing Hands remains active. 15-second cooldown. 6-second duration.

I want a HoT, Blizz. I don’t want to be a fucking totem. Make it more like Tranquility, then I may not bitch. For now, TOTEM. DO NOT FUCKING WANT.

Guardian of Ancient Kings (level 85): Summons a temporary guardian that looks like a winged creature of light armed with a sword. The visual is similar to that of the Resurrection spell used by the paladin in Warcraft III. The guardian has a different effect depending on the talent spec of the paladin. For Holy paladins, the guardian heals the most wounded ally in the area. For Protection paladins, the guardian absorbs some incoming damage. For Retribution paladins, it damages an enemy, similar to the death knight Gargoyle or the Nibelung staff. 3-minute cooldown. 30-second duration (this might vary depending on which guardian appears).

I’m not sure on this. It kind of reminds me of this, sans the chicken-shit bubblehearther it summons and with an actual purpose.  Could be good for those “oh shit” situs where you don’t want to use LoH, but we shall see.

Next you will find a list of some of the paladin spell and ability changes, followed by our intentions for improving each talent tree for the release of Cataclysm. There will be further changes, but those revealed below should offer some insight into our goals.

Wait – Blizz has goals for pallies? Wut?

Changes to Abilities and Mechanics

  • Crusader Strike will be a core ability for all paladins, gained at level 1. We think the paladin leveling experience is hurt by not having an instant attack. Retribution will be getting a new talent in its place that either modifies Crusader Strike or replaces it completely.

Okay, fair enough. Anyone who’s leveled a pally (done it twice here) knows how boring it is until you start getting fun stuff later on. This will be a good change.

  • Cleanse is being rebalanced to work with the new dispel system. It will dispel defensive magic (debuffs on friendly targets), diseases, and poisons.

I didn’t say it when the original announcement was made on this, but PLEASE don’t make me talent into being able to dispel one particular thing. Also, it may be something to consider to dropping the level requirement down into the 20′s instead of making us wait ’til 42.

  • Blessing of Might will provide the benefit of Wisdom as well. If you have two paladins in your group, one will do Kings on everyone and the other will do Might on everyone. There should be much less need, and ideally no need, to provide specific buffs to specific classes.

Good, no more fighting over who does what Blessing. My question – does this mean BoW is gone and what about BoSanc?

  • Holy Shock will be a core healing spell available to all paladins.

No. That’s it, just no.

New Talents and Talent Changes

  • We want to ease off the defensive capabilities of Retribution and Holy paladins slightly. We think the powerful paladin defenses have been one of the things holding Retribution paladins back, especially in Arenas. One change we’re considering is lowering Divine Shield’s duration by a couple of seconds. Having said that, Retribution does pretty well in Battlegrounds, and Battlegrounds will be a much bigger focus in Cataclysm since they can provide the best PvP rewards. Furthermore, the healing environment of Cataclysm is going to be different such that a paladin may not be able to fully heal themselves during the duration of Divine Shield to begin with, so this may not be a problem.

This is another wait-and-see. Once we know how they’re going to change the healing environment, people can give better opinions. The ret stuff…well, I don’t play ret much and all I see is Arena/PvP/BGs which I also don’t partake in, so…*blink blink*.

  • We feel Retribution paladins need one more mechanic which involves some risk of the player pushing the wrong button, making the rotation a bit less forgiving. In addition, we want to add to this spec more PvP utility. Right now the successes of the Retribution paladin in PvP seem to be reduced to either doing decent burst damage, or just being good at staying alive.

PvP again *yawn*.

  • We want to increase the duration of Sacred Shield to 30 minutes and keep the limit to one target. The intention is that the paladin can use it on their main healing target. That said, we would like to improve the Holy paladin toolbox and niche so that they don’t feel quite like the obvious choice for tank healing while perceived as a weak group healer.

Ahem. We aren’t “weak” group healers. I can raid heal just fine. Would I like another means of helping me do it? Absolutely. Will I get it? I doubt it. Beacon was a god-send in Wrath because I didn’t have to pay 100% attention to my tank 100% of the time. On the Saurfang fight, it’s priceless for keeping Marked players up. But FFS, give me something that isn’t tied to another spell (the HoT proc off of SS, for example). The Sacred Shield change is also a good one. I’d like to see the duration of Beacon get bumped up (two minutes, maybe, nothing like SS), so if there’s a moment where mana is an issue, I won’t be trying to decide between re-Beaconing and throwing out a heal.

  • We want to add to the Holy tree a nice big heal to correspond with Greater Heal. Flash of Light remains the expensive, fast heal and Holy Light is the go-to heal that has average efficiency and throughput. Beacon of Light will be changed to work with Flash of Light. We like the ability, but want paladins to use it intelligently and not be constantly healing for twice as much.

Guess what, Blizz – your good holy pallies already use the limited tools they have intelligently. We do know when to FoL-heal someone, and we know when to HL-heal. We do have moments where we are going to be healing for way more than we need, maybe because we know someone’s going to take a big hit before the heal goes off, or maybe because splash heals are beneficial at the time. It just all depends on the situation.  That said, I wouldn’t complain if Beacon transferred full FoL heals and only a percentage of HL heals to the Beaconed target.

  • Holy paladins will use spirit as their mana regeneration stat.

*gag*

  • Protection paladins need a different rotation between single-target and multi-target tanking. Likewise, we’re looking to add the necessity to use an additional cooldown in each rotation.

Okay, this could be interesting. Not enough details to really say more than that now, though.

  • Holy Shield will no longer have charges. It will be designed to improve block chance while active, and will continue to provide a small amount of damage and threat.

\o/ But, will it have the same duration, or go longer? Again, WTB more details.

Mastery Passive Talent Tree Bonuses

Holy

  • Healing
  • Meditation
  • Critical Healing Effect

Meditation: This is the spirit-to-mana conversion that the priest, druid, and shaman healers also share.

*gag*Spirit*gag*

Critical Healing Effect: When the paladin gets a crit on a heal, it will heal for more.

And that’s different from now how exactly? *scratches head*

Protection

  • Damage Reduction
  • Vengeance
  • Block Amount

Vengeance: This is the damage-received-to-attack-power conversion that all tanks share.

Soooo…get hit more, more AP = more threat since one means of our threat gen is reactive?

Block Amount: We want to keep the kit of the paladin as a tank who blocks a lot. So by contrast, the warrior tank will sometimes get critical blocks, but the paladin will absorb more damage with normal blocks.

More damage blocks only hurt us in regards to mana regen via Spiritual Attunement. Less taken, less healing done, less mana regen (’cause Divine Plea isn’t the be all end all sometimes).

Retribution

  • Melee Damage
  • Melee Critical Damage
  • Holy Damage

Holy Damage: Any attack that does Holy damage will have its damage increased.

This is the way it *should* have been all along.

That’s my take on things, even my limited rambling on the prot stuff. Ret looks like they’re really trying to work it for PvP, which seems to be a trend in the changes. I don’t like seeing talents or specs reworked on a part of the game where players are less focused (yes, I know a lot of people do casual PvP, and for some, it’s their whole game, but it’s still the minority), but one side of the fence is always going to be bitching about it no matter what.

Hopefully, we’ll get more info on all the classes soon, especially as beta gets closer.