Ret Fixes - Not Until WOTLK? : (
"...regarding Retribution Paladins, we've made some recent changes to the class that were very nice and they're wondering if we're going to update the Seal or the Judgement of Command with the new model that we were following."
Tom responded by saying:
Absolutely. What we're trying to do, a big push that we have in the expansion, is to get different specs and different classes to use similar types of gear. What we don't want to have to do is drop different kinds of gear for every single different kind of spec in the game. Unfortunately, that has the side effect of making people feel as though a lot of loot that isn't for them drops. It's great when the item that is for your class, for your spec drops but you've got to figure that there's a whole lot of other classes and specs out there just thinking ‘another item that's not for me?'
So, what we're trying to do is make sure that the items are shared more among the different classes and specs. So, we're really looking towards moving Retribution Paladins farther towards using the same kind of itemization that warriors use and we've made a couple of changes recently in patch 2.3 that kind of go part of the way there. And really, that was just to shore up some of the immediate problems that we were having with it.
Really, we want to go further with that and make sure that across the board, all the different Seals, Judgements, and all the different paladin abilities in general kind of follow that same scheme. But that's something we'll likely be seeing the full effect of in the expansion. (emphasis mine)
My immediate reaction to this was a combination of lack of surprise and forehead-slapping "WTF!?" You should note that this was the first of a number of various questions posed to Chilton, and one of primary concern among Paladins - a painfully obvious fact if you've browsed their forums on any given day since 2.3 was released. I could understand spreading changes out over the course of two major patches, but delaying major changes until the expansion is just stupid when you take into account the impending addition of Death Knights.
The Death Knight and the Retribution Paladin are very similar at first glance. Both are offensively oriented and deal a combination of physical and magical damage. The Paladin, however, comes to the class balance table hamstrung with a variety of core defensive mechanics that give developers pause when considering whether or not to add offensive capabilities. As a result, I believe they consistently hold back on making changes. The Death Knight, however, is a clean slate from which they are free to work. We already know they will have an ability to turn healing and damage shields against their intended targets. Expect them to have at least one readily spammable snare and spell interrupt, and probably a way to quickly close the gap between himself and his target.
If Blizzard waits until Wrath of the Lich King to bring much-needed fixes to the Retribution playstyle, there won't be that many Paladins left to take advantage of it. They will have all rolled Death Knights. And unlike many players who may try the new class out and abandon it or convert it to a bank alt when they get bored of the playstyle, the former Retribution Paladins will stick with it.
With regard to patch 2.4, I'm still holding out hope that they will finally bring an end to this faction-specific seal nonsense. The lore mechanism is already in place, with Mu'ru having fled his prison in Silvermoon and the Blood Knights now pledged to A'dal in Shattrath. What better time to exchange knowledge and give SoB and SoV to the Alliance and Horde respectively? Unfortunately, there has been no official word on this yet. I'll be keeping a close watch on the PTR as newer and newer builds are introduced with incremental changes.