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WoWDec 1, 2015 7:00 pm CT

Lightsworn: Analyzing datamined Protection Paladin changes in Legion

Protection Paladin changes

It begins! The Legion alpha client is being delved by intrepid dataminers, each lowered down into the depths of the code in rickety buckets, armed with a pickaxe and a headlamp, so that they can chip away at obfuscation and return with gold nuggets of much anticipated information. This is easily one of the most exciting points in the expansion cycle because the possibilities seem so endless.

So far the spell changes and talents have been revealed, though the Artifact weapon talents have yet to be seen. Even without a deeper look at the preliminary benefits attached to our Artifact sword and board, there is still a whole load of information to pore over in regards to upcoming Protection Paladin changes in the next expansion. Let’s jump right in and see what’s in store for us so far.


What’s going away

The loss that hits us right in the class identity is probably the removal of seals. I’m of two minds here — seals were obviously nothing like the old consumption model and were just another boring cooldown that you only needed to check if you had switched specs, and yet, at the same time, they were also one of our last few class systems that had managed to cling on from the vanilla days. Losing seals doesn’t hurt nearly as bad as losing the auras bar, but it still stings a bit.

We are also losing several abilities to the talent trees of our Retribution and Holy comrades. Light’s Hammer, Holy Prism, and Holy Wrath are all leaving our spell books. The first two are going to Holy, and the last one is Ret only (along with a cool redesign). Bon voyage! Speaking of losing abilities to Holy, Redemption will now only be available to that specialization from the looks of it. I’m not sure how removing an out-of-combat resurrection spell from non-healing Paladins is in-line with the new philosophy pushing class fantasy and I think it’s a pretty terrible change. Hopefully this one is reversed.

The one removal that hurts the least is that Turn Evil is being removed from the game. I can see why they are doing it, and truthfully I won’t really notice its removal. However, this is another ability chipped off of the edifice of our class fantasy and I never saw the harm in letting it just nap idly in our spell book.


New and changed spells

In the new expansion we have a few new abilities, though the majority of the new toys come from talents (see just ahead). Similarly, we have a bunch of changes to our abilities that take the form of a slight redesign or, a less than exciting name change. On the boring side of the spectrum are the Hand spells. These are being reshuffled so that Hands are now debuffs on enemies, and the abilities that buff allies are once again Blessings. (I guess that’s finally a check in the “adds class identity” column.)

Hand of Protection and Hand of Sacrifice are now blessings — so BoP is once again BoP — and Hand of Reckoning remains a Hand. However, Hand of Reckoning has also been changed to the charge system. At baseline it has only one charge with an 8-second recharge timer, which is functionally a cooldown. If this seems confusing, it’s only because the ability needs to be able to be modified by a new talent (Day of Reckoning) that adds charges.

We also will have two talented blessings: Blessing of Negation and Blessing of Salvation. Perhaps the most exciting new spell is Divine Steed, a 100% sprint with a 1-minute cooldown. This baseline ability is compensation for the removal of our other speed boost talents. The idea of jumping on the charger in the middle of combat and launching forward into the fray just sounds so cool and iconic. I can’t wait to try that ability out in the middle of a boss fight.


Noteworthy talents

Initially, the implication for talents in Legion seemed to be that they would be adding additional depth to our abilities, while the abilities themselves would be trimmed to free up more possibilities for the talent grid. While it’s still very early in the pre-expansion process, looking at the talents, I’m not seeing many options that would really have a major effect on how we prioritize our main abilities (possible exception: First Avenger).

As a whole, the new talents and their positioning feels a lot better than the current system. There aren’t any tiers where I see a 100% always-on option, like Unbreakable Spirit is right now. A lot more of the talents scream “situational” and I’m hopeful that I’ll be playing with the different talents a lot more often.

Some of the stand-out talents include:

  • Day of Reckoning: As mentioned, this is why Hand of Reckoning has charges now. This will allow you to use the ability more often, which could come in handy if a fight requires really frequent taunts. More importantly, the damage-dealt debuff that it offers a unique twist to boring old taunts and will be interesting to play with.
  • Blessing of Negation: It’s like Blessing of Protection — but for magic!
  • Divine Bulwark: This will be a powerful burst cooldown, and be useful in the same way Holy Avenger is used now.
  • Aegis of Light: Ever since the Sha of Fear encounter, I always wanted the ability to create that column of light and act as a literal bulwark for my allies. The execution of that encounter feature was just so perfectly aligned with what it meant to tank. I am looking forward to trying out this talent, especially for encounters where there’s a big burst of damage to the raid. This will definitely be an iconic talent.
  • Knight Templar: One of the abilities that I cannot wait to play with in Legion is Divine Steed. I’ve been a sucker for speed bursts and gap closers for a long time now, and any ability that gives me that chance to leap forward into battle or to quickly run to the aid of an ally is always welcome. This talent will only make Divine Steed more powerful to use.
  • Final Stand: After years of bubble-taunting, I think it is time to hang up that macro once and for all. This talent takes the functionality of that combination and streamlines it, while adding the extra utility of taunting everything around you as well. This will definitely be a powerful tool in our arsenal, especially in those painful final percents when things have a bad habit of falling apart.

Lastly, if anyone can tell me why Blinding Light has been battle rezzed yet again, I would be very interested to hear it!

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