We’ve invited some members of the community to give their thoughts and opinions on the current state of the Paladin specs on Alpha including, but not limited to some of the following topics:
- New and replaced spells and talents
- Losing artifact traits and legendaries
- Feedback from Legion
- The current state on Alpha
Battle for Azeroth is currently in Alpha and things are subject to change at any point.
Make sure to check out our comprehensive list of class changes which is updated after every build. Here are the State of the Class articles we’ve done so far:
Holy Light has a New Animation in Battle for Azeroth.
Holy Paladins have seen very few changes from their Legion playstyle so far.
- Holy Paladin Apply Aura: Modifies Damage/Healing Done by 5% 0%.
- Cleanse Cleanses a friendly target, removing all Poison, Disease, and Magic effects.
Cost changed from 13.0% of base mana to 6.5% of base mana
- Consecration Consecrates the land beneath you, causing 30%2.2932% of Attack power) * 9] Holy damage over 9 sec to enemies who enter the area.
- Flash of Light A quick spell, healing a friendly target for (450%112.5% of Spell power).
- Holy Light An efficient spell, healing a friendly target for (425%106.25% of Spell power).
- Holy Shock Triggers a burst of Light on the target, dealing (400%70% of Spell power) Holy damage to an enemy, or (400%100% of Spell power) healing to an ally. Holy Shock has double the normal critical strike chance.
- Light of Dawn Unleashes a wave of holy energy, healing up to 5 injured allies within a 15 yd frontal cone for (180%45% of Spell power).
- Light of the Martyr Sacrifice a portion of your own health to instantly heal an ally for (500%125% of Spell power). You take damage equal to 50% of the healing done.
Does not cause your Beacon of Light to be healed. Cannot be cast on yourself.
- Aura of Mercy Restores (15%7.5% of Spell power) health to 3 injured allies within 10 yds every 12 sec.
While Aura Mastery is active, heals all allies in the aura instead of 3 and healing is increased by 100%.
- Bestow Faith Infuse a friendly target with faith for 5 sec, healing them for (600%150% of Spell power) at the end.
- Cavalier Divine Steed now has 2 charges.
Tier 4 Talent
- Holy Prism A beam of light turns the target into a Holy Prism.
An enemy target takes (300%75% of Spell power) Holy damage and radiates (200%50% of Spell power) healing to 5 nearby allies within 15 yards.
A friendly target is healed for (400%100% of Spell power) and radiates (225%45% of Spell power) Holy damage to 5 nearby enemies within 15 yards.
Loss of an Artifact:
The loss of our Artifact Weapon won’t really have that huge of an impact, many of the traits were nice and Tyr’s Deliverance was an OK spell, but many times it would upset the flow of game play with its long cast time and lack of impact, it wasn’t as integral to our class as other classes artifact ability’s. One major concern i have is with the loss of Power of the Silver Hand and Shock Treatment Holy Shock may not feel as impactful. Holy Shock is the most satisfying ability in our kit and with the loss of those two traits i am concerned landing those last second Holy Shocks and saving lives won’t feel as satisfying as it used to be. As well we lose Share the Burden which will make Blessing of Sacrifice a bit more dangerous to use. The biggest things players will notice is we are no longer tied down to using a Two Handed mace, which means players are free to choose between a standard one-hander+Shield or Two Hander. Hopefully your weapon choice will have an impact on game play allowing the standard Healadin play style but also the Shockadin play style players love can continue and be reinforced through your choice in weapon.
Honestly Holy Paladin is pretty fun, the changes to our class in Legion worked out well. That being said I think for me one of the biggest gripes I have with the class at least in high end Mythic Raiding, is how integral Aura of Sacrifice tends to be, one of the most satisfying things as a healer is navigating the encounter and using your cooldowns at the correct time, paladins have historically had interesting decisions on which cooldowns to use and where. But with Aura of Sacrifice being so potent you generally use them all at once and have your other healers go AFK for 8s while you solo heal anything, which sounds fun for 8 seconds. But ends up making you feel restricted as you have to save all or most of your cooldowns for Aura Mastery. This feels even worse if the encounter doesn’t have the damage output to support that and Aura of Mercy generally not being a viable replacement talent. All that being said the standard game play flow feels smooth and rewarding and i don’t see that changing much in Battle For Azeroth. Perhaps a few new bells and whistles but no major changes.
Towards the later stages of Legion our talent tree worked out well, we still have a few “dead” talents that aren’t taken in any situation but nearly every row has an interesting decision to make. The perfect example of this is Fervent Martyr which saw a buff late in legion but still is just not ever used in any manner of game play. However, with the loss of Legendarys in Battle For Azeroth there was actually a very fun and interesting Legendary that could replace this. Many Paladins (Myself included) loved the game play behind Maraad’s Dying Breath. If it could take the place of Fervent Martyr I think it would open up a completely viable play-style that revolves around Light of the Martyr.One of the other “problem” talents was Rule of Law. Which is actually an incredibly rewarding spell when used correctly, but competes with talents that are more utility based, and as it is the only option that reliably increases throughput you are essentially locked into taking it. Holy Prism and Light’s Hammer are both wonderful spells that i hope we will get to use more in BfA and were a little on the under-tuned side throughout the history of Legion.
Battle For Azeroth Alpha
As mentioned before, Holy Paladins are in a solid spot at the end of Legion, and I don’t expect major changes to Paladin throughout Battle for Azeroth our new animations are a work in progress but are coming along! Many paladins are excited to be able to use a one-hander and shield again, and hopefully both camps of players who like the new two-hander and like the older one-hander will be satisfied with a plethora of weapon choices. Perhaps even having your weapon choice impact game play using a two hander being the more offensive option and a one-hand and shield being more defensive in nature.
In the end I am optimistic about the future of Holy Paladin, and I look forward to seeing what Bells and Whistles get added to our kit in Battle For Azeroth!
There are no changes of note in BFA for Holy Paladins at the moment, so this quick overview of the current state of the spec just focuses on artifact removal and some potential changes. Special thanks to Hulahoops, a fellow Hammer of Wrath Holy Paladin moderator, for her input on this document and her many ideas listed here.
Our artifact ability, Tyr’s Deliverance, has always felt mediocre and barely even feels like a Holy Paladin ability. I don’t think we need this ability at all, and I don’t think we’ll miss it when it’s gone.
Our Second Sunrise and The Light Saves artifact traits should both become baseline passive abilities. They add noticeable value to the class and would be missed otherwise. Additionally, Templar of the Light‘s 2 second duration increase to Aura Mastery should become baseline. The other artifact traits that are straight up buffs to healing, durations, or cooldowns, should probably just be baked into the spells themselves to account for the loss of the artifact weapon.
There is very little else that we would miss in regards to The Silver Hand‘s retirement.
Many of our talent tiers only have on real choice in most raiding situations, and this is a major cause for concern going forward. The following is a list of potential changes to the talent tiers to rebalance them, replace useless talents, and give Holy Paladins some impactful choices to make.
Tier 1: Crusader’s Might should swap places with Holy Prism on Tier 5. Shorten the delay on ’s heal or replace the talent completely. Crusader’s Might’s effects on Light of Dawn and Holy Shock fit well with the other Tier 5 talents and Holy Prism’s availability on Tier 1 would increase its value.
Tier 2: Make Rule of Law baseline, and make the mastery scaling portion of Rule of Law a talent in its place. Rule of Law’s existence on this talent tier completely removes any choice for raid encounters.
Tier 3: Make Fist of Justice baseline, and replace it with Rebuke, our old melee-range interrupt that was removed in Legion. This would give us a useful choice for raid encounters and additional utility for M+.
Tier 4: Make Devotion Aura our baseline aura ability, and remove this entire talent tier. Replace this tier with utility options that augment the existing Devotion Aura, such as “Your Aura Mastery makes all raid/party members immune to all silence and movement-impairing/crowd control effects for 8 seconds” or similar. Many options available here.
Tier 5: Replace Holy Prism with Crusader’s Might as previously mentioned, and potentially replace Holy Avenger with Avenging Crusader or some other cooldown talent.
Tier 6: Nerf Judgment of Light so it doesn’t constantly outshine Sanctified Wrath. Replace Fervent Martyr with the Maraad’s Dying Breath legendary effect, as Fervent Martyr is completely useless in all situations.
Tier 7: Buff Beacon of the Lightbringer in some way to be in line with Beacon of Faith for raids.
There haven’t been a lot of changes to Holy Paladins this early into the alpha, and I haven’t seen any indication that there will even be any major changes to the spec at all. I don’t have access to the alpha so I haven’t been able to do any in-game testing yet.
There were a few new things known that are worth mentioning:
- The mana cost of Cleanse was reduced by 50%. This is actually pretty helpful and will make dispel-intensive fights a lot less painful as it was as expensive as our most expensive heal (Flash of Light).
- The Holy Light animation which suggests that we’re getting the spell animation updates to make us even more shiny.
- Divine Illumination is the first known Holy Azerite trait. It’s a not very exciting copy of the 2PT19 with a minor twist. The 5% Holy Shock crit (assuming it doubles like 2PT19) will make hitting the Holy Shock crit cap easier which is important early into the expansion as it will be harder to get close to the cap until we get more gear.
- There are a bunch of subtle damage changes to spells. This could be to compensate for buffs in other areas, but I fear Blizzard might be working on reducing our DPS. I really loved Legion’s shockadin and I’ll be sad if this became weaker. I’d like to see it changed to be more viable in higher Mythic+.
Of course we’re also losing The Silver Hand which doesn’t really impact us that much. The artifact ability itself, Tyr’s Deliverance, was never really impactful in raids. In Mythic+ it made things a little bit easier but it was rarely needed. The main thing that I will miss from the artifact weapon is Second Sunrise. While RNG I think it is a great trait in that it feels very rewarding when it procs. Its gain is when you need it (since you wouldn’t cast Light of Dawn if there’s nothing to heal) and since it has a ~700ms delay before it procs I think it is a great way to increase the skill cap of the spec. Good Paladins will take it into account and continue to aim at people that need healing for another second after casting the initial Light of Dawn to not have the proc go to waste.
None of the other traits did anything noteworthy other than boringly increase our throughput, survivability or utility slightly. Of the remaining traits I’ll probably just miss the 2 second duration increase to Aura Mastery from Templar of the Light because that makes Aura Mastery a lot more decent.
I think the biggest issue with Holy Paladins in Legion was Beacon of Light. The passive healing from beacons trivializes tank healing leading to tanks and healers barely worrying about tank healing if there’s a Holy Paladin in a raid. Removing, reworking or reducing the strength of beacons could be an interesting way to change up the healing meta for tanks and healers and make Holy Paladin less essential in raiding teams. I think beacons are an important part of the Holy Paladin toolkit and fantasy that it shouldn’t be removed, so instead I think a simple change such as reducing the effectiveness of beacons by 50% could be enough to not break tank healing.
Still that might make beacons feel weak. An alternative that I think might be a better option would be to increase tank health pools and DTPS in raids. If tanks in raids had 100% more health than they do today and took 100% more damage (preferably less spiky), beacon healing would also stop being enough to top tanks off. (Side note: because this would also reduce beacon overhealing it might still make sense to reduce beacon effectiveness by 25% anyway.) I think this would lead to more direct tank healing as well as taking a longer time to top tanks off which could require you to consider doing it mana efficiently or quickly to avoid getting too far behind. This in turn would put them back in the position that they’re the ones tanking the boss, taking the most damage and thus needing special attention instead of the current situation where we rarely care about tanks.
Both ideas might lead to reduced throughput from us since beacon transfers are an important part, and that could be fixed by making beacons return (more) mana for any kind of direct healing, instead of just a part of the mana from Holy Light and Flash of Light. Mana returns are pretty common in other healer classes so it wouldn’t be strange to give us more mana to work with. We could convert the returned mana into more healing by casting more Flash of Light and/or increasing our Haste to cast more abilities overall.
I hope Blizzard will take this opportunity to finally fix the Fervent Martyr talent. It has not seen any usage this expansion and has been garbage forever. I think it should be replaced with the effect from perhaps a slightly buffed Maraad’s Dying Breath. This keeps the Light of the Martyr theme in a fun mechanic that was proven to be viable during this expansion.
Finally I know a lot of Holy Paladins would really like to see Avenging Crusader as a PVE talent. I don’t think it should be strong enough to make it a required talent since that would force a very different playstyle and “class fantasy” that I am sure some people would dislike, but if it were viable it could be a fun way to change up farm raids and maybe make an Avenging Crusader based shockadin an interesting option for fights that can do with half a healer less.
To close I’ll say that I’m excited to discover what changes Blizzard has planned for us. There are a lot of fun ideas floating around that would be very interesting to play with, such as suggested in FinalBossTV’s recent video about BFA Holy Paladin.
Protection Paladins have not had many changes so far.
- REMOVED Increases the amount blocked by your shield by an additional 10%.
- Avenger’s Shield Hurls your shield at an enemy target, dealing (435%52.416% of Attack power) Holy damage interrupting and silencing the non-Player target for 3 sec and then jumping to 2 additional nearby enemies.
- Cleanse Toxins Cleanses a friendly target, removing all Poison and Disease effects.
Cost changed from 13.0% of base mana to 6.5% of base mana
- Consecration Consecrates the land beneath you, causing 30%2.2932% of Attack power) * 9] Holy damage over 9 sec to enemies who enter the area.
- Flash of Light A quick spell, healing a friendly target for (450%112.5% of Spell power).
- Hammer of the Righteous Hammers the current target for 112%(13.338% of Attack power) Physical damage.
Hammer of the Righteous also causes a wave of light that hits all other targets within 8 yds for 67%(8.7048% of Attack power) Holy damage
While you are standing in your Consecration, Hammer of the Righteous also causes a wave of light that hits all other targets within 8 yds for 67%(8.7048% of Attack power) Holy damage
- Light of the Protector Calls down the Light to heal you for (30% of200% of Spell power), increased by up do 200% based on your missing health.
Cooldown changed from 15 sec recharge to 20 sec recharge
- Mastery: Divine Bulwark Increases damage reduction fromthe Armor bonus of Shield of the Righteous by 4%32.0% of your Strength, and increases your chance to block melee attacks by 8%.8.0%.
Also increases your attack power by 8%.8.0%.
- Shield of the Righteous Slams the targettargets in front of you with your shield, causing (400%32.76% of Attack power) Holy damage, and reducing damage you take by (- 1 * 25 ; Min – 80, Max – 25)%increasing your Armor by 250% of your Strength for 4.505 sec.
While you are standing in your Consecration, Shield of the Righteous’ effects are increased by 20%
Cooldown changed from 16 sec recharge to 20 sec recharge
- Blessed Hammer Throws a Blessed Hammer that spirals outward, dealing (57.4%7.371% of Attack power) Holy damage to enemies that it hits, and causing them to deal 12% less damage to you on their next auto attack.
- Consecrated Ground Up to 6 allies standing within your Consecration receive (8.3%2.075% of Spell power) healing every 1 sec, and enemies within your Consecration have 50% reduced movement speed.
- Hand of the Protector Calls down the Light to heal a friendly target for (30% of the target’s missing health.250% of Spell power), increased by up do 200% based on your missing health. While you are standing in your Consecration, Hand of the Protector’s healing is increased by 20%.
Cooldown changed from 10 sec recharge to 15 sec recharge
- Holy Shield Increases your block chance by 15%, allows you to block spells, and your successful blocks deal (75%9.828% of Attack power) Holy damage to your attacker.
- Retribution Aura Protects yourself and all party or raid members within 60 yards with an aura that deals (5%0.7371% of Attack power) Holy damage when melee attacked.
Overall I can not say that Prot Paladins are being currently drastically re-designed in BFA compared to what we’ve had in Legion or even to some extent WoD. Perhaps the greatest change is to overall tank AM design, as Shield of the Righteous now increases your Armor by a % of your Strength. This is important as it greatly increases the effect of gear on its mitigation since it now will scale with your mastery and strength. For example, in today’s build, the difference between a 5 man heroic and 5 man mythic chest piece is 15 ilvls, which translates to 8 mastery rating (6.2% increase) and 39 strength (15% increase). This might be somewhat concerning, as it means that now, Shield of the Righteous will scale much faster than in the past expansions (in terms of % mitigated).
Another thing that changed, is Light of the Protector / Hand of the Protector. It’s now a base % Spell Power modifier increased by up to 200% based on your missing health. I feel like this is one of the better changes as it greatly decreases the “gaming” part of gameplay, letting you play safer, as the difference between making sure you’re topped off before a mechanic hits you at 80% health, and using it at 20% after the mechanic hit, is now going to be a lot lower than on live, and will promote safer gameplay.
One other key change is the fact that Shield of the Righteous has been changed to Armor as opposed to flat DR of legion. This will be discussed more in the future, but currently it’s about in line with the AM re-design.
Gameplay / Talents
Currently our gameplay is basically same as Legion except for the increased base CD of Shield of the Righteous (20 sec cd for 5 sec uptime vs 16 sec cd for 4.5 sec uptime), none of our talents have been reworked, which to me mostly says that Blizzard hasn’t gotten to reworking our talents yet, rather than the fact that they’ve been particularly great.
Overall currently it’s very bland, and not engaging, but this can still be adjust by interesting talent changes and some of the stronger and more creative Azurite effects that we’ve most likely haven’t seen yet.
Echoes of the Legion
So leaving Legion behind, we’re not only leaving legendary grind, but we’re also leaving behind all of our cool (and not so cool) legion passives and possibly legendary effects. While individually, I can’t say that many of them been very engaging or gameplay defining — in terms of overall pruning, it feels a lot worse than the transition from WoD to Legion. Currently we’re losing:
- Extended consecrate duration (very noticeable during gameplay)
- Bonus armor when below certain health
- Avenger’s Shield granting absorbs as a portion of the damage
- Increased AoE pulse around every Avenger’s Shield target
- Greatly reduced CD on Ardent Defender.
Furthermore a great deal of legendary effects will be missed:
Currently on the biggest questions I have looking at Prot Paladins and other tanks, is the design for Active Mitigation. As we more further and further along, Active Mitigation becomes less and less active (increased duration, increased CD) while also going down in possible uptime. This is generally justified to tanks as being done in order to limit their power, and keep healer gameplay interesting, but ends up being problematic as the issue with tank power is in scaling (tanks are fairly squishy early on in the expansion, and generally become a lot stronger as we get access to more tools for ourselves), and this generally doesn’t have a beneficial effect on healer gameplay, since it’s greatly countered by having a holy paladin on your raid roster.
What makes it even worse this time around is the re-design of most active mitigation skills to be armor based, which makes tanks depend on healers even more so. This is also a problem because that’s not the case for all tanks. While Prot Paladins lost short cooldown, long duration Divine Protection that we’ve previously had to counter magic damage, some of the other tanks still have effective tools to handle it: Stagger still works against magic damage (even if not great), Ignore Pain is transitioned into % DR category, and Death Knights are still able to self heal to much greater effects than other tanks. This seems somewhat questionable, given that this homogenization of specs is being done to simplify tuning and make it more fair. As such, I hope that instead it can be changed to something along the lines of x% of your armor translates to your magic DR, since tanks who use non-armor AM already have tools to deal with ohmagic dmg.
The second part of the wishlist would normally involve giving us back a lot of things we’ve lost with legion, but they’ve already been mostly listed, and we may yet end up getting them back through Azerite or Talents.
Next thing I’m curious on, is the design for Seraphim, looking at it’s value from the creation in WoD up until now, it’s been consistently losing it’s respective value at the time : first by losing bonus armor (and multistrike to some extent) along with giving us a worse of Shield of the Righteous to Seraphim uptime exchange (5 sec of Shield of the Righteous uptime for 15 of Seraphim in WoD, to 7 for 16 in Legion, to 10 for 16 in BFA) and eventually an increased CD (plus losing some value due to decreased base SotR uptime), I hope that it gets reworked into something that’s not as punishing to use during normal gameplay.
Finally, I hope that not only will be experience similar uptime %’s on AM to other tanks, and similar Effective Health Pool outside of AM, but that we also focus more on the word Active, and decrease the duration on SotR, while also decreasing base CD, thus arguably making it more spammy, but also a lot more engaging in gameplay.
What Are We Gaining!
Shield of the Righteous no longer requires a valid target to be cast – A large issue Prot Paladin has been facing this expansion is that the active mitigation requires you to be in melee range (example: Kil’Jaeden when he fliess away to soak an Armageddon).
Shield of the Righteous now does conal damage – This change adds to the paladins strengths in their toolkit and makes them do more AoE damage.
What’re We Losing?
Artifact Weapons – As with every other class in game we’re impacted by the loss of our artifact weapon which means that we lose such useful utility as:
- Eye of Tyr – Our artifact ability, this added some nice utility and rotational damage reduction to the paladin toolkit (and when coupled with the Pillars of Inmost Light it allowed for Prot Paladins to have some very strong AoE burst.
- Bulwark of Order – Shield on yourself when you cast Avenger’s Shield, this is one of Paladin’s main strengths in AoE scenarios (M+) as it allows for you to have more effective HP in those scenarios as Avenger’s Shield resets a lot.
- Consecration in Flame – This artifact ability allowed you to have Consecration down with a very high uptime, so going from potentially having 3 down at a time at most, to just one will be a bit of an adjustment.
Shield of the Righteous now only mitigates against physical damage – This is a change that is happening to all tanks in order to homogenize their mitigation toolkits, but the concept of the change is that active mitigation is now a % of armor gained rather than a % of damage reduced.
Some abilities being changed from % weapon damage to attack power – This didn’t really affect Prot Paladin that much as most of the abilities worked from spell power as a conversion of attack power as they deal holy damage.
Prot Paladins haven’t had any talent changes (so far) for the next expansion, so everything is very similar to the current Legion talents.
The playstyle of Prot Paladin doesn’t change all that much going into the next expansion, the only difference is that there is no Eye of Tyr to cast, and that you will no longer use Ardent Defender rotationally for DPS on scenarios where your damage taken is trivial for the reflect from Painful Truths.
Will Prot Paladins be a good tank choice for BfA?
As with every expansion launch Prot Paladin’s strength relies on how much gear you can get as they are very reliant on secondary stats, most notably haste. Playing a Prot Paladin at low amounts of haste, is frustrating and can lead to scenarios where you do not have Shield of the Righteous when you require it. However with most tanks changing to the charge model for their active mitigation, it could mean that the gap between the perceived “best” and “worst” tanks are not as big.
Prot Paladins are also one of very few classes that retain their magic mitigation with the Talent Holy Shield so this can be one of the core strengths of the spec going into the next expansion.
As Prot Paladins haven’t been changed all that much yet, this means that the players who want to try it out to see how the class feels, can try it now in legion, as the playstyle is largely untouched from Legion into BfA.
What would be some nice changes in future Alpha builds
With every expansion, paladins seem to be tuned around Avenger’s Shield, with it being tweaked with Draenor perks, and now with the artifacts. What I would personally like to see is that it has the 5 target cap as baseline and for Bulwark of Order to either be part of the baseline toolkit to add a bit class fantasy to it so that an aggressive playstyle yields a defensive reward.
Going into Battle for Azeroth, there are only a few changes as of yet, and the specc feels like it will still see quite some work before Battle for Azeroth.
There looks to be a general rework among the tank classes, to both try to get away from 100% uptime on Active Mitigation, something Protection Paladins never had, as well as making Active Mitigation mainly to deal with Physical damage intake. Paladins have been playing without 100% Active Mitigation coverage all of Legion so we will be well prepared already. Active Mitigation being vastly different for each class and not just Physical is something that have been separating the tanks wildly this past expansion when it comes to magic or physical heavy encounters. If the design intention is to make all tanks have either bad or no magic damage reduction and the raids are tuned accordingly, that’s likely a great thing for future balance tuning to make sure some tanks doesn’t end up being far superior to the others. Some classes might still end up with an advantage depending on their personal cooldown available as those reduce all damage, not just physical.
The main differences we will experience (from Legion to at least the current Alpha build) is going to be the lack of Artifact Traits and Legendaries. As we’ve seen in the past when they go between expansions, we’ve seen time and time again, that popular tier bonuses or other effects people enjoyed with their class in the past make it into the new expansion in form of talents or abilities. This has not happened in basically any regard as of yet, leading me to believe that there’s quite a few changes still to come.
Traits we will be sad to be losing out on are Bulwark of Order and Unflinching Defense and of course Eye of Tyr, while there are a few others, they are rather minor and can be adjusted around with just tuning numbers as they play out the same.
The main thing here is since Eye of Tyr is getting removed, and Ardent Defender without Unflinching Defense will have a rather long cooldown, compared to Legion we will be lacking our free use of Cooldowns which plays very well to weave in between Active Mitigation downtimes. As we’ve had abilities like Eye of Tyr before in Warlords of Draenor and before, I wouldn’t be too surprised if we see that come back before Battle for Azeroth is released.
Bulwark of Order is one of those tier pieces we had in Warlords of Draenor that made it into Legion, and it’s been very strong for us this expansion especially considering the M+ format, as it benefits from tanking more targets. I’d love to still see this kind shield be applied in Battle for Azeroth as well as it’s been a big part of paladins for long time.
Losing out the ability to use Legendaries will make us feel a lot worse in terms of gameplay, since there’s no indication we’re getting those abilities back as of yet (here’s hoping!). The Legendary that we will miss the most is by far Tyelca, Ferren Marcus’s Stature. We had 5 target Avenger’s Shield back in Warlords of Draenor, and from a gameplay point of view 5 targets feels a lot more versatile than just 3.
Another Legendary that really shines for Protection Paladins are Saruan’s Resolve, adding an extra charge for Light of the Protector helps us out a lot in order to try to maximize our usage of Shield of the Righteous as we can often take a hit without Active Mitigation to try to bank up more Shield of the Righteous charges and an extra charge of Hand of the Protector really helps us in a situation like this. Not having the ability to at least swap this on, in form of a talent or likewise would be quite noticeable for Protection Paladins in the future, as our model looks like it’s gonna stay similar.
Talents as of yet are completely unchanged in Battle for Azeroth. I’m definitely hoping they change a few things up for the expansion, here are a few thoughts:
- Most of the talent tree is fairly fine, but the parts I’d like to really see some change in is the level 100 tree, where I think it could be interesting maybe adding the effect of Saruan’s Resolve to Righteous Protector.
- Seraphim badly needs a rework to stop taking such insane resources from us defensively, maybe with a higher cooldown but lowered or no cost. Last Defender has been largely useless with very few niche situations and could easily just be removed and replaced without losing any real feel of the class.
- The level 90 tree could also get some rework as they are all largely unimpactful, and while having the option to spec into a raid cooldown is great, it’s proven to be fairly hard to utilize.
Not much has changed for us in terms of gameplay, they increased the cooldown of Shield of the Righteous by 25% (16 -> 20 seconds) and increased the duration of the buff by 0.5 seconds. Shield of the Righteous now increases armor by a modifier of strength and therefore makes strength a relevant stat for survivability. This means that we will have to be more selective with Shield of the Righteous usage and pay more attention to swing timers, since if you time it well Shield of the Righteous will be up for 4 melees instead of 3. It also means we will not be able to mitigate magic damage as well as in Legion, but that seems to be a balance philosophy for all tanks, not just for paladins.
Light of the Protector has also been redesigned to scale with attack power and had its cooldown increased.
However, without alpha access its strength can’t be easily determined.
The main problem we’ve had in Legion has been our damage intake when Shield of the Righteous wasn’t up. This was extra obvious during Tomb of Sargeras where we were infamous for being squishy and getting one-shot. While we weren’t strong, we weren’t necessarily weak, it was just that the raid was bad for us, with consistent high melee hits. But it wasn’t all bad in ToS, it also showcased our strength, frequent high magic damage intake, in a fight such as Maiden of Valor where you soaked the hammers alone. This fight played like it was designed with the Protection Paladin in mind, it lined up with our Ardent Defender almost perfectly and gave us a chance to really shine.
This is what the Protection Paladin has been for legion, great magic tank but weak to white hits, making us extremely susceptible to the design of a fight/raid tier. With the tank changes in BFA we seem to lose that identity.
There’s been little to no changes in terms of talents, however there has been four talents that has been indirectly changed, Bastion of Light, Crusader’s Judgment, Righteous Protector, and Seraphim. Charge, Righteous Protector, and Seraphim have lost value.
Artifact and Legendaries
We don’t actually lose much in terms of Artifact traits; Unflinching Defense and Bulwark of Order are the only significant losses. Bulwark of Order since it provided a lot of shields, especially in AoE situations. Unflinching Defense since it gave Ardent Defender a short cooldown. Losing Eye of Tyr on top of increased Ardent Defender cooldown will feel bad, but without seeing the fights yet we can’t quantify the change in effectiveness.
As for legendaries, losing Saruan’s Resolve is a big hit for us. It was a very enjoyable playstyle of using Shield of the Righteous to cover most melees and heal with Hand of the Protector after taking an unmitigated melee. The other legendaries didn’t provide much benefit for survival.
Tyelca, Ferren Marcus’s Stature will also be missed for the 5 targets in dungeons.
Overall we haven’t been changed much and I don’t expect much more to come, Blizzard seems to want tanks to be more reliant on healers and not let them have full uptime on their active mitigation. Two things already true for Protection Paladin. What I’m excited about though is to see how this will effect raid design and how strong we will be when the fights are designed around tanks all having similar mitigation uptime.
- Rework or replace Consecrated Hammer, in its current version it won’t ever be used.
- I really enjoyed playing with Divine Purpose back in MoP; it would be fun to play with that again.
- Revisit the level 100 talents, both RP and Seraphim lost a ton of value with the increase in SotR cooldown.
New Mastery, and many talent changes.
- Retribution Paladin Apply Aura: Modifies Damage/Healing Done by 0% 5%.
- REMOVED Judgment Rank 3 Judgment increases damage taken from your Holy Power spenders by 10% for 8 sec.
- REMOVED Judgment Rank 2 Judgment hits 1 additional nearby enemy.
- REMOVED Mastery: Divine Judgment Increases Judgment damage by 35.0%, and causes Judgment to increase damage taken from your Holy Power spenders by 14.0% for 8 sec.
- NEW Mastery: Hand of Light Increases all Holy damage done by 13.0%.
- Blade of Justice Strikes an enemy with the Blade of Justice, dealing 755%(240% of Attack power) * ((max(0, min(Level – 16, 4)) * 12 + 352) / 400)] Physical damage.
Generates 2 Holy Power.
- Cleanse Toxins Cleanses a friendly target, removing all Poison and Disease effects.
Cost changed from 13.0% of base mana to 6.5% of base mana
- Divine Storm Unleashes a whirl of divine energy, dealing 275%(45% of Attack power) Holy damage to all nearby enemies.
- Flash of Light A quick spell, healing a friendly target for (450%112.5% of Spell power).
- Greater Blessing of Kings Places a blessing on an ally that grants them an absorption shield. It absorbs up to (2.70.675 * Spell power) damage, and will be refreshed to full strength every 6 sec, even if fully consumed. Limit 1.
- Judgment Judges the target, and 1 other nearby enemy dealing (250%dealing (75% of Spell power) Holy damage,
Retribution: and causing them to take 25% increased damage taken from your Holy Power spenders for 8 secnext Holy Power spender.
Generates 1 Holy Power
- Retribution When any party or raid member within 40 yardsyds dies, you gain 20% increased damage done and 30% reduced damage taken for 2010 sec.
- Shield of Vengeance Creates a barrier of holy light that absorbs 30% of your maximum health in damage for 15 sec. When the barrier is consumed, all damage absorbed is dealt as Holy damage divided across all enemies within 8 yds.
- Templar’s Verdict A powerful weapon strike that deals (115% of Attack power) * ((max(0, min(Level – 10, 10)) * 11 + 290) / 400)] Holy damage.
- REMOVED Divine Hammer Divine Hammers spin around you, damaging enemies within 8 yds for 73%] Holy damage over 9 sec instantly and every 2 sec for 12 sec.
Generates 2 Holy Power.
- REMOVED Divine Intervention Reduces your Divine Shield cooldown by 20%. In addition, any attack which would kill you instead reduces you to 20% of your maximum health and triggers Divine Shield.
Cannot occur while Divine Shield is on cooldown or Forbearance is active.
- REMOVED A hammer slowly falls from the sky, dealing (2160%353.808% of Attack power) Holy damage after 7 sec.
Old spell id
- REMOVED Final Verdict Increases the damage done by Templar’s Verdict by 20%, and the damage done by Divine Storm by 10%.
- REMOVED Greater Judgment Your Judgment ability hits 2 additional nearby enemies, andJudgment always deals a critical strike against targets above 50% health.60% health.
- REMOVED Holy Wrath Deals 200% of your missing health in Holy damage to 4 nearby enemies, up to 120% of your maximum health.
Deals 35% of missing health against enemy players.
- REMOVED Judgment of Light Judgment now applies Judgment of Light to the target, causing the next 40 successful attacks against the target to heal the attacker for (20%5% of Spell power).
- REMOVED Virtue’s Blade Blade of Justice critical strikes now deal 3 times normal damage.
- REMOVED Strike the target for (450% Physical damage. Maximum 2 charges.(73.9908% of Attack power) Physical damage.
Grants Zeal, causing Zeal attacks to chain to an additional nearby target per stack. Maximum 3 stacks. Each jump deals 40% less damage.
Generates 1 Holy Power.
Recharge changed from 4.5 to 6 sec
- NEW Divine Vengeance Divine Storm has a 50% chance to refund 1 Holy Power if it hits 3 or more enemies.
Tier 4 Talent
- NEW Execution Sentence Deliver an execution sentence, dealing (140% of Attack power) Holy damage.
Your Holy damage done against the target is increased by 20% for 10 sec.
Tier 1 Talent
- NEW Hammer of Wrath Hurls a magical hammer that strikes an enemy for (100% of Attack power) Holy damage. Only usable on enemies that have less than 20% health or during Crusade, Avenging Wrath.
Generates 1 Holy Power.
Tier 2 talent
- NEW Inquisition Consumes up to 3 Holy Power to increase your damage done and Haste by 10%.
Lasts 15 sec per Holy Power consumed.
Tier 7 Talent
- NEW Righteous Verdict Templar’s Verdict increases the damage of your next Templar’s Verdict by 15% for 5 sec.
Tier 1 Talent
- NEW Selfless Healer Your successful Judgments reduce the cast time and mana cost of your next Flash of Light by 35%, and increase its effect on others by 20%. Stacks up to 3 times.
Tier 1 Talent
- NEW Unbreakable Spirit Reduces the cooldown of your Divine Shield, Shield of Vengeance, and Lay on Hands by 30%.
Tier 5 Talent
- NEW Wake of Ashes Lash out at your enemies, dealing (140% of Attack power)% Radiant damage to all enemies within 12 yd in front of you and reducing their movement speed by 50% for 5 sec.
Demon and Undead enemies are also stunned for 5 sec.
Generates 5 Holy Power.
Tier 4 Talent
Previous artifact trait Wake of Ashes
- NEW Zeal Judgment grants you Zeal, increasing the attack speed of your next 3 auto attacks by 100%.
Tier 1 Talent
- Blade of Wrath Your auto attacks have a chance to reset the cooldown of Blade of Justice.
Procs per minute changed from 4 to 3.5
Tier 2 talent
- Cavalier Divine Steed now has 2 charges.
Tier 5 Talent
- Consecration Consecrates the land beneath you, causing 30%2.2932% of Attack power) * 1210] Holy damage over 1210 sec to enemies who enter the area.
Generates 1 Holy Power.
Cooldown changed from 12 to 15 sec
Tier 4 talent
- Justicar’s Vengeance A weapon strike that deals (1000%115% of Attack power) Holy damage and restores health equal to the damage done.
Deals 100%50% additional damage and healing when used against a stunned target.
Tier 6 Talent
- Word of Glory Heal yourself and up to 54 friendly targets within 1530 yards for (1200%400% of Spell power).
Tier 6 Talent
- Crusade Increases your damage done and Haste by 3.0%3% for 2025 sec.
Each Holy Power spent during Crusade increases damage done and Haste by an additional 3.0%3%.
Maximum 15 stacks.Maximum 10 stacks.
- Eye for an Eye Reduces Physical damage you take by 35%, and instantly counterattacks any enemy that strikes you in melee combat for 215%(35.3028% of Attack power) Physical damage. Lasts 10 sec.
- Fist of Justice Each Holy Power spent reduces the remaining cooldown on Hammer of Justice by 2.52 sec.
- Fires of Justice Reduces the cooldown of Crusader Strike by 1.0 sec and gives it a 15% chance to reduce the cost of your next damaging or healing Holy Power ability by 1.Holy Power spender by 1.
Name changed from The Fires of Justice to Fires of Justice
The redesigned Mastery is a solid improvement over the Legion iterations, mostly because of flexibility: the Legion iteration of Mastery created an awkward situation in which some of our spells began to contribute an ever larger portion of our damage and therefore limited our talent choices. Further, tying Mastery to a debuff meant Judgment was a major loss to hold for too long, but sometimes felt like it had to be held for add spawns. The new Mastery, while relatively simple, does not have these problems to the same degree.
Similarly, while it has some issues, the talent tree as a whole offers more reasonable choices at nearly every tier. For much of Legion, Ret has been locked into a single talent build for most situations. That single build has changed with the tiers, but you could reasonably safely get away in each tier with setting your talents once and never changing.
With good tuning, this should no longer be true in BfA. For example, the level 15 tier offers a reasonable choice between sustained damage (in the form of Righteous Verdict) and burst damage in the form of Execution Sentence. Execution Sentence is a particularly appealing talent, as it offers the potential for Ret to be very strong at bursting down priority targets, a historical strength for Ret. Zeal, at least in its current iteration, is a bit of a black sheep. It’s hard to see where I would want to use it unless autoattacks are an unfortunately high fraction of our damage. Also, while I appreciate that the leftmost column is meant for the simpler talents, this one feels too simple – I’m not sure I’d even notice its presence. The effect is entirely passive: there’s nothing to react to, no button to press, and no buff really to keep track of. Essentially, it feels to me like the backup choice when the other two don’t make sense or if it’s just numerically stronger, not an exciting choice.
Level 30 offers a choice between two higher-frequency Holy Power generators (though IMO Crusader Strike should have a lower cooldown baseline) with a touch of RNG/procs to react to, as well as potentially a strong execute. Hammer of Wrath’s return is welcome, though as a talent its current form is a bit underwhelming. We already have a talent that modifies cooldowns in Crusade; Hammer of Wrath serving as a more powerful execute would make it a more interesting choice.
Level 100 offers a choice between an RNG proc to spice up the rotation, a modified Avenging Wrath in the form of Crusade, and a maintenance buff in the form of Inquisition. While tuning will have to be done here, the choice between burst and sustained damage is an interesting one. While burst is commonly more valued than sustained damage, it also carries higher risks: downtime during the burst is more heavily punished, requiring more advanced planning when that is possible.
My least favorite of the talent tiers is the level 60 tier. While Wake of Ashes is an interesting talent – providing another form of add burst alongside Execution Sentence, and preserving a piece of M+ utility for Ret – the other two talents in the tier are a lot less compelling. Divine Vengeance is a passive refund talent that doesn’t feel like a refund talent – unlike a Divine Purpose, an Empowered Divine Storm, or Demonology’s Implosion in a recent build, there’s no capacity to chain Divine Storm. As a result, the RNG feels more like a punishment when it misses than a reward when it hits. Consecration has the same mechanical problems Consecration has always had: as an AoE that doesn’t move, it gets severely devalued on pack movement, limiting its utility in M+, and as a sustained AoE tool, has rare usage outside of dungeons. I’d be pretty happy to see some more compelling choices compete with Wake of Ashes.
Overall, I think Retribution in this build is a decent improvement over the Legion iteration. It’s reasonably fun to play with certain talent builds. The baseline version, as the others have no doubt said, feels a bit unfinished, and some talent combinations feel a bit rough around the edges. It has more choices than past iterations, which is welcome – but there’s still work to do!
While this most recent expansion has led to some mostly unsavory changes like the removal of our execute, introduction of the retribution buff, blessing of might and holy wrath. Going into the next expansion a lot of things look really promising with a lot of changes being brought to us with the Alpha, like the reintroduction of Hammer of Wrath, Inquisition and Selfless Healer as talents.
The level 15 tier looks very exciting. The update to Execution Sentence looks really promising, as it not only just some “ticking time-bomb” you apply to a target every 15 seconds like it is right now, it’s current iteration on the alpha makes it a 10 second colossus smash-like debuff on a 30 second cooldown, which seems a lot more interactive to me. Giving us the legendary cloak effect as a talent in Righteous Verdict was also a good move as I’ve felt this expansion cloak helped a lot of us put more thought into what our next button presses were to be, rather than mindlessly pressing everything off cooldown.
The level 60 tier also received a bunch of change, Consecration seems better than ever now that it generates holy power. Reintroducing Wake of Ashes as a talent is great, as it helped a lot already as a baseline ability to help get our opener going and giving us on demand holy power. Divine Vengeance looks very underwhelming for the time being, but after finding out more information, it seems like that talent might be subject to change, so I will remain hopeful that something just as good as Consecration or Wake of Ashes comes out of it.
Some problems I have with the talents as of right now is that Hammer of Wrath, while I gladly support it’s comeback, it looks entirely underwhelming as an execute talent, as from what it looks like in early sims, it seems to lack the punch one can come to expect from the traditional execute ability.
Zeal as it stands looks good, but it doesn’t look like a noticeable talent, as in with every other ability I can tell when it does the damage and I can notice the effect, I fear for Zeal in that I’m never really going to notice the faster auto attacks if I’m using it.
I’m still of the belief that Cavalier should go baseline to aid Retribution with it’s lack of mobility, and the talent should instead be replaced with a talent like the Protection talent Knight Templar, giving the Divine Steed ability reduced cooldown. I think this type of change will not only still give players an option between defensives or mobility, but it helps add onto the base mobility Retribution comes with.
The rest of my concerns lie within the base rotation, one change that I recently noticed was the cooldown of Crusader Strike being increased from 4.5 to 6, and as a critical part of building holy power the cooldown increase reflects in sims as 20-30 seconds worth of dead globals over a 300 second sim, which is quite often and I hope something will be done about this to create a more active rotation.
I also think some changes need to be done to Greater Blessing of Kings, as an ability it pales in comparison to the utility provided by Greater Blessing of Wisdom, not exactly providing much other than a small shield/heal that is barely noticeable. I also still feel very strongly about the need for the Retribution buff to be removed, as I believe rather than instilling cool ability to add onto class fantasy, it just promotes hoping or even asking for people to die to make your own damage look a lot better.
Overall I think the changes made to Retribution look very promising and judging by how active the devs have been to listening to our feedback, I can only hope that Ret as a whole will be getting more positive change and it’s much deserved attention.
Retribution Paladins are no strangers to major class changes. Battle for Azeroth will be no exception. Where Legion seems to have missed the mark on class identity, Battle for Azeroth delivers. Abundantly. The return of familiar spells in BfA, including the class discord’s namesake Hammer of Wrath, help to restore some of Retribution’s identity.
Retribution has some potential for exciting complexity in BfA. To an almost overwhelming degree. Judgment increases the damage dealt by your next holy power spender. Execution Sentence consumes that debuff and increases holy damage dealt for 10 seconds. Wake of Ashes will cap you on holy power allowing for immediate spending. Add Inquisition, Avenging Wrath and Hammer of Wrath into the fold and every global cooldown becomes an important decision. Sound exciting? It is. With the right talents, the familiar whack-a-mole experience has evolved into one where smart execution pays off. Unfortunately, once you actually play the spec it starts to feel as though something is off. It’s a hard thing to put your finger on. It’s easy to brush off the feeling initially. Everyone is uncomfortable with a new rotation. The discomfort doesn’t quite dissipate though. Instead of a flowing, complex rotation, you’re given a puzzle whose pieces don’t quite fit together. The most obvious example of this is how well Execution Sentence and Wake of Ashes appear to synergize. The problem is their cooldowns don’t play nice together. Execution Sentence has a 30 second cooldown. Wake of Ashes has a 45 second cooldown. That raises some questions- Do you delay one to stack the two together? Or use them as they are available? That’s only one instance that can have the player wondering what the intent behind these decisions was. Now planning is important. It makes a successful execution feel rewarding. Fluidity can become boring. Some moments of wild juggling keep the player engaged. But at what point does planning and juggling just feel cumbersome?
In Legion, Crusade shared a talent row with Holy Wrath and Divine Purpose. Blizzard struggled with that decision for the whole expansion. By design, Crusade could only dominate the tier, even if that was never the intent. If it didn’t players would have to play Divine Purpose, a passive talent. Or worse- they’d have to play Holy Wrath which forced the player to put themselves in harms way to deal a significant burst of damage. Inquisition may be polarizing to the player base but it easily shares the spotlight with Crusade. Inquisition offers potential for sustained damage and lets Crusade shine as a burst talent. Either could still dominate the tier. If the tuning is off we could see a situation where Inquisition is so strong it would not be worth taking Crusade even when burst is in demand. The opposite could be true as well. Crusade burst could make up for low output outside of its duration. If the talents are balanced too closely, players potentially ignore Inquisition for what is seen by some as the more fun talent. This isn’t unheard of. In Legion, Execution Sentence and Consecration collected dust even in situations where they may have competed with Final Verdict. Sure, Inquisition is something players only have to worry about every 45 seconds. It’s much easier to deal with a talent you hate if it’s on a long cooldown. A row where it comes down purely to player preference isn’t bad but it conflicts with what seems like an attempt to force an informed situation-based decision. No matter the outcome, Inquisition is a welcome solution to the Crusade problem.
Although the changes evoke a sense of nostalgic giddiness in any long time Retribution player, there are still some major causes for concern. Wake of Ashes is now a talent and Crusader Strike has seen a significant increase in its base cooldown. This leaves us with a frightening amount of potential downtime. A well-rounded spec has passive talents that allow a new player to learn their base spells before adding in more complex talents. The problem with Retribution is there simply isn’t any substance to get comfortable with. If you take away the talent tree you’re left with a lackluster rotation that leaves any new player ample time to question their decision to play the spec.
Even if things aren’t quite ironed out yet, the changes feel deliberate in BfA. There seems to be a distinct vision for Retribution. What’s more exciting is it feels right, a refreshing change from Legion’s forced class identity. Defined strengths and weaknesses are the foundation of any good spec design. We aren’t particularly strong at sustained damage or cleave. We are slow-moving burst machines. Battle for Azeroth doesn’t rely on cheap tricks to give Retribution a strong sense of identity. After all, it’s not the weapon we swing or the title we display that defines us.
Let’s start of with the new and/or changed talents. The new design philosophy is that the leftmost talent choices are passive/straightforward and easy for a person new to the spec to use and the the rightmost talents are more active and have a higher “skill cap” to utilize effectively.
- Zeal (Replaces Greater Judgment)- Is an appreciated level of flavor over just having Judgment crit on targets at or above 60%HP. Does not seem entirely competitive at this point but there have been suggestions of adding a holy damage/mastery component to it as well to make it stronger.
- Righteous Verdict – Reimaging of Legion Whisper of the Nathrezim with a pure Single Target focus.
- Execution Sentence – No longer a “DoT” with 1 tick. It now deals moderate damage upfront as well as providing an adequate Holy Damage buff. Can pair extremely well with Crusadeas well as providing really strong priority damage.
- Hammer of Wrath – It’s back! Most really want it baseline rather than a talent as you can see by this poll from MBDTF. Still very glad to have it back and the devs have talked about making it purely an execute but having a higher damage multiplier to account for it. HoW now also benefit from our Mastery and the Execution Sentence debuff where it did not in earlier builds.
- Divine Vengeance – 3+ Target cleave skill. A bit underwhelming as it is RNG based and not on demand. Also has 0 single target value which Consecration and Wake of Ashes both possess. Potentially very off putting interaction with Divine Purpose. If you get Divine Purpose at 5 HP and use Divine Storm and Divine Vengeance procs, you would gain 0 HP which is a feel bad situation.
- Consecration – Now grants 1 Holy power and its cooldown is no longer reduced by haste. Good contender on fights that have little to no movement. Consecration may be an iconic Paladin ability in general but to Retribution specifically it always had a very low priority. Maybe we could see something more more apt to AoE and ST while providing a fun gameplay element and not being affected negatively by movement.
- Wake of Ashes – Revived Ashbringer artifact trait. CD is now 45 seconds and no longer has a DoT component. Strong interactions with Crusade and Execution Sentence when they line up.
- Unbreakable Spirit – Replacement for Divine Intervention. No longer a Cheat Death mechanic but also affectsShield of Vengeance and Lay on Hands. Realistically Lay on Hands has such a long cooldown we will still only see it once in a fight. Even Divine Shield being 3 Minutes would be hard pressed to use twice on most encounters unless it was used very early in a fight allowing a second use later on.
- Selfless Healer – Replacing Judgment of Light. Many people are happy to see its return. It will provide overall less healing than Judgment of the Light but we have control over when and who to use it on.
- Word of Glory – Personally I feel the talent should be reworked. If it is going to remain as having 2 charges on a 1 Minute CD it should not cost HP. If it is going to cost HP it should have a much further reduced CD and possibly multiplier as to not make us assume the role of a Healer.
- Crusade – Now 10 stacks but has a 25 second duration. Still a solid choice for those that enjoy the playstyle and has potential to synergize well with other talents like Execution Sentence or encounters such as Kin’garoth.
- Inquisition – It has returned! With haste! Some people are happy, some are very upset and others are indifferent as it is a talent and not forced upon us. I have had a love/hate relation with this ability. Back in Cataclysm I really loved Inquisition in raids but in dungeons and other open world content it was such a drag deciding whether to get the buff or just use Templar’s Verdict and call it a day. Gone are those days though for many reasons. Most importantly we generate HP at such an increased rate that we are able to build 3HP in just a few GCDs. Another important factor is that Inquisition benefits from the “Pandemic” mechanic. Pandemic allows you to refresh certain buffs and debuff before they expire and extend the duration beyond its original value by around 30%. With Inquisition being a 45 second buff if used at 3HP we would be able to use Inquisition with 3HP again around 15 seconds and refresh the buff to a 1 minute duration. This allows us to very easily maintain the buff without letting it fall off or “waste” HP on a early refresh.
Overall the new talents choices allow players to either have a more active or more passive playstyle based on your preference.
Onto our regular skillset we have also seen some changes. Judgment no longer leaves an 8 second debuff on the target causing it to take increased damage from our finishers and it also does not cleave to an additional target anymore. It now leaves a debuff that buffs the damage of only your next finisher cast as well as granting 1HP.
Crusader Strike largely remains the same having 2 charges, but the cooldown has been increased from 4.5 to 6 seconds. This does cause an unfamiliar feeling with creating a lot of downtime in our rotation compared to Legion.
The most exciting change however is our “new” mastery. Mastery: Hand of Light now does a flat increase in Holy damage. This makes mastery much more appealing than in Legion and helps move us away from the Legion mindset of only finishers benefiting and revolving around the Judgment debuff. Though it does not necessarily affect all Holy damage such as Light’s Judgment racial or Shield of Vengeance. It is heavily whitelisted.
I want to touch for just a moment on Divine Purpose. It still exists in the same fashion as on live. However when you compare it to Crusade or Inquisition it is really underpowered. The RNG element is fine it could just use some tuning love.
On the defensive side we have seen some welcome changes to Shield of Vengeance. It now creates an absorb shield for 30% of your maximum HP rather than being tied to attack power. This means we no longer have to worry about the shield critting or not. In Legion we can see SoV non-crits account from ~13-17% of our max HP so this is an overall buff. The devs even hinted at making it so SoV will still deal damage even if not completely consumed.
Mobility is now a bit more of a concern than it was in Legion. Divine Steed now has a 1 Minute cooldown up from 45 seconds. Cavalier still exists and will still give us 2 charges. I feel like reverting the cooldown back to 45 seconds and replacing Cavalier with Pursuit of Justice or Long Arm of the Law would help improve mobility as well as flavor.
An important thing to note is that we are well geared for single target fights and 3-4+ target AoE fights. 2 target cleave is something that we as well as many other specs have lost. As it currently stands Destruction, Frost Mage and Arms are the 2 target cleave specialists. Other classes like ourselves are more reserved for 3+ target scenarios at this time.
Retribution Paladins have received a whole host of changes in the recent BfA patches. This was definitely a bit unexpected but fully appreciated. Arguably Retribution is shaping up to be in the best place it has been across all expansions. Another Retribution Paladin, Thete, was gracious enough to send cookies to the parties responsible for class changes.
Retribution in Battle for Azeroth continues to play similarly to Legion Ret. One simple yet powerful change, is a shift in Mastery’s design. Mastery now provides an increase to all Holy damage done, even when striking unjudged targets. As such, we no longer have Judgment as the centerpiece of Ret’s rotation in which we want to fit as many finishers into a brief window as possible. Judgment complements instead of dominates the rotation, being limited to only one finisher. Though, being consumed so quickly leaves a bit to be desired and raises questions of how its presence might impact the decision to AoE with three targets present when also talented into Righteous Verdict.
We also have significant improvements in the talent trees layout. Many of the rows now have a singular thematic focus. Such as Single target, AoE, utility, and survivability talents all having their own row. As opposed to what we see now in Legion, which is a mess of different types of throughput and pacing talents mashed on to one row, often times in jarring ways.
The ‘AoE’ tier is of particular interest, not only does it add to AoE, but also a considerable amount of single target value as well, in two of three cases. One talent, is Wake of Ashes. The crucially important Ashbringer ability from Legion. The ability to line this up with many of the redesigned talents like Execution Sentence and Crusade will continue to provide pretty impressive burst, which is all i could hope for in it. We also see Consecration migrate to this tier, and it now generates Holy Power. Resulting in a significant increase in both performance and ‘attractiveness’. However, Consecration has its problems that many players would rather not deal with, particularly it’s immobile nature. Personally, i would just prefer Divine Hammer instead. It’s one less button to worry about, isn’t nearly as frustrating to use, AND we get more Hammers. There is nothing wrong with more hammers when every problem is a nail! Lastly, we have a new talent, Divine Vengeance. I think it’s safe to say that Divine Vengeance needs some serious work, it’s not much more than Divine Purpose‘s stunted sibling. It’s a very underwhelming talent by comparison, thanks to it lacking Holy Power generation and single target benefit. Traits that both Wake of Ashes and Consecration possess. If it does not have these properties it will never be used.
For the ‘single target’ tier, Execution Sentence has been redesigned to be a burst window talent, similar to what Judgment was in Legion, in a more limited form. This is a huge improvement over its predecessor and rewards clever usage of cooldowns, and is of course a good way to annihilate priority targets. Righteous Verdict (formerly known as Final Verdict) is much more involved. Righteous Verdict is clearly inspired by the success of Whisper of the Nathrezim, providing a 15% damage increase for the next Templar’s Verdict cast within 5 seconds. Which is very much an improvement, by giving us something to think about when throwing out Finishers. Zeal, a fresh talent as of build 26175 offers a potentially promising auto-attack passive with further adjustments. Something i’m personally okay with, provided it has a strong visual presentation.
Hammer of Wrath returning is certainly a big plus. But, the current implementation does raise a few questions, primarily relating to long term balance. Should Hammer of Wrath continue to be usable during Avenging Wrath, its value will be tied to Crusade. Which means we could ultimately see these talents not as individual choices, but a package deal to satisfy the balance concerns for the rows they occupy when taken together. To get around this, and to deliver on the old school feel (actually hitting hard, and not being yet another noodle), Hammer of Wrath could function as an execute with a much higher AP coefficient. Thus solving the balance problem while still keeping these talents where they are.
Inquisition is also returning. While controversial, it’s certainly worlds better than Holy Wrath. Inquisition functions a bit differently than what we remember, while it is still maintenance oriented, it now provides a damage and haste multiplier, instead of a holy damage multiplier with extra crit. Inquisition takes up a slot on the level 100 row, alongside Crusade and Divine Purpose. All in all, the inclusion of Inquisition rounds out the tree in a way that will define how your character deals damage. We now have the very real choice between a Cooldown centric, RNG or sustained damage build. Not only for different gameplay tastes, but different tasks as well. Which is a nice improvement over being, essentially, a one trick pony.
Beyond these much needed and promising improvements players will, unfortunately, find a decrease in active time. BfA Ret has a significantly slower base rotation thanks to the cooldown increase of Crusader Strike, and Wake of Ashes moving to the level 60 tier. While the Wake change isn’t so much a problem in and of itself, I view the Crusader Strike change as a significant issue. Because we don’t actually have a method in which we can close out that downtime whilst not sacrificing choices elsewhere that you may also want to make. Such as needing to take either Fires of Justice or Blade of Wrath to marginally satisfy that, and excluding Hammer of Wrath. As a result the rotation just doesn’t flow ‘well’ (full of awkward pauses between abilities). It’s very much a “Wait for things to happen.”, rather than “Make things happen.” rotation. Which is a pretty bitter pill to swallow.
The current Crusader Strike cooldown also raises balance concerns with talents on the level 30 row. Fires of Justice simply cannot compete with either Blade of Wrath or the much stronger Hammer of Wrath. By reducing the baseline cooldown of Crusader Strike, it can better prop up Fires of Justice (better than tuning the talent directly would), relative to Blade of Wrath and Hammer of Wrath, while retaining the current baseline pace that players find familiar. Not to mention that nerfing Hammer of Wrath (or Blade of Wrath) down to Fires of Justice is most definitely not the answer. We want Hammer of Wrath to continue feeling like, well, what Hammer of Wrath should feel like! Something to be feared on the receiving end, and a strong niche ability that gives us a moment to shine.
With all that said I think Retribution will be in a far better place yet by:
Ultimately, in my opinion, this is very nearly the best DPS toolkit Ret has seen. BfA Ret is quickly shaping up to be a fusion of the last three expansions best sides, with very few of the downsides.
Very recently, a Battle for Azeroth alpha build was released which moved Retribution Paladins in a direction very firmly away from that of a Legion kit sans Ashbringer. This was a very welcome development and has myself, and other Rets, very excited about the future of the spec.
The first Legion trope on the chopping block was Mastery. No longer will it be related to the Judgment debuff, but instead work in a way similar to pre-Legion, only better. Now it buffs our Holy damage by our Mastery percentage. Simple to understand and consistently good in both single target and AoE.
The change to Mastery does create an identity issue for Judgment, however. The debuff has been changed but it seems the Devs are on the lookout for a more interesting effect.
The Retribution passive has been heavily nerfed but is still present. The main problem with this passive is the damage component. Dealing 20% extra damage for 20 seconds every time someone dies is a very significant boost to our damage during clumsy boss attempts. For those who like to chase ranks, it’s particularly bad as the top parses come almost exclusively from those who enjoy a high uptime on the Retribution passive buff.
Quite simply, the damage component should be removed in order that we can have a level playing field and are not relying on people in our raid dying for our convenience. Retaining the passive for purely defensive outcomes is fine.
Talent Changes of Particular interest
Personally, I prefer the Greater Judgment talent which has now been replaced with the new version of Zeal. However, if Zeal is changed to deal Holy damage (buffed by Mastery) then it will be a big improvement.
Execution Sentence has changed completely. It goes without saying, that the best way to use this ability is to be able to build Holy Power really quickly during that window. Haste buffs, whether from Crusade or elsewhere, and Wake of Ashes lend themselves well to this when they line up. Execution Sentence is probably the most difficult of the three talents to maximize. It is worth thinking of this one entirely in terms of the debuff you get from it.
Hammer of Wrath makes a popular return in talent form. This adds a very nice level of flexibility to the talent row, even though many people would prefer to see Hammer of Wrath become baseline again and that the talent simply modified its use in some way.
Divine Vengeance starts off the AoE row and is a talent which is the most likely to be replaced during the alpha/beta process. Ideas for a replacement have included Final Verdict, where using Templar’s Verdict buffs your next Divine Storm to deal 100% more damage, as so you weave Templar’s Verdict and Divine Storm in AoE Situations, as was the case during Warlords of Draenor. People have also suggested Divine Tempest as a popular ability from Legion that many players would miss.
A nerfed form of Wake of Ashes appears in the talents now. It has a cooldown of 45 seconds, so will not line up with Execution Sentence (a talent with which it has a lot of synergy). In addition to the extra damage it will do in AoE, it is very suitable as an instant source of Holy Power in any situation. It will be particularly suitable with very intense burst periods. For example, if adds spawn in and need destroying within a few seconds.
The level 75 row of talents is, at first glance, the miscellaneous row of defensive and mobility talents. However, given Blizzard’s pre-Legion statement that mobility and defensives are interchangeable, it should come as no surprise that these talents are on the same row.
Unbreakable Spirit as a replacement for Divine Intervention is always going to seem like being short-changed. Now we have to pre-emptively use Divine Shield when there’s a credible threat to our life. Even with a 30% reduction, Divine Shield will still have a very high cooldown for something that is no more effective in realistic situations than several other classes’ defensives on significantly shorter cooldowns. The reduction to Lay on Hands is also similarly niche for an ability that is not used that often, and would still remain a once per fight use in Raids. In high mythic+ dungeon keys, it would be of much more use. Where it may be of some real use is in the reduction in Shield of Vengeance cooldown, especially if this ability is changed to deal damage according to the amount absorbed (as opposed to the current situation in Legion whereby the shield must be completely absorbed). As such, there could be some offensive benefit in taking this talent.
Finally, Inquisition is back. This provides a buff to both damage and haste, much like Crusade, only we can maintain it. It is a talent which divides the community in a Marmite type of love and hate but it’s a very straightforward buff to maintain with a duration of 15 seconds per Holy Power spent.
The great thing about these talents is that there are some interesting combinations which we will have to hope don’t get out of hand and invite the nerf bat. Execution Sentence, Wake of Ashes, and Crusade all work really well together for example, when they may be lined up. However, the cooldowns of Wake of Ashes doesn’t coincide naturally with the other two. Each row has talents which would be good for solo, dungeons and raid encounters and I am definitely switching talents when I change the content I’m doing on the BfA alpha.
I will finish off by saying that one hoped for change that hasn’t yet materialized is the comment from Ion Hazzikostas in the BfA live Q&A that utility should be more class wide, as opposed to spec specific. He did give the proviso that healer utility should remain within their domain. However, this would give rise to the notion that Ret and Prot should share utility skills and talents, rather than have them exclusively. I’m looking forward to Blessing of Sacrifice in that case.
- Blessing of Freedom Places a blessing on a party or raid member, granting immunity to movement impairing effects and forced movement effects for 8 sec.
Unbound Freedom: and increasing movement speed by 30%
Cooldown changed from 25 sec recharge to 45 sec recharge
- Crusader Strike Strike the target for * ((min(Level – 1, 19) * 6 + 96) / 210)] Physical damage.
Cooldown changed from 4.5 sec recharge to 6 sec recharge
- Divine Steed Summons your Holy mount to ride for 3 sec, increasing movement speed by 100%. Usable while indoors or in combat.
Cooldown changed from 45 sec recharge to 1 min recharge
- Judgment of Light Judgment now applies Judgment of Light to the target, causing the next 40 successful attacks against the target to heal the attacker for (20%5% of Spell power).
Now Holy/Protection, no longer Retribution
- Repentance Forces an enemy target to meditate, incapacitating them
Usable against Demons, Dragonkin, Giants, Humanoids, and Undead.for 1 min.
Usable against Humanoids, Demons, Undead, Dragonkin, and Giants.