I think I am playing a different game than some of my fellow Paladins. While it doesn't seem to take much to get the Paladin community up in arms, this latest round of 'nerfs' seems to have really pushed the community over the edge. Personally, I don't know what form the changes will hold when 3.3 goes live - but right now let's really look at Lay on Hands and Sacred Shield.
A level 80 ability that lasts for 6/9/12 sec, procs after damage is taken, and can only proc once every six seconds. It's key feature now is the additon of a HoT whenever a Flash of Light is cast on the target. This HoT is applied, even if the shield itself hasn't procced yet. The spell was changed in 3.1, removing the ability to cast multiple shileds on the party/raid - but it is still usefull.
Now, in its current itteration, an untalented Sacred Shield will last for 30 seconds, abosorbing 500 + .75SP points of damage - up to once every six seconds - if the target is taking damage. In most tanking or PvP situations, the target is always taking damage, so the shield is regularly consumed. This provides a moderate ammount of absorbtion, and can help with sustained damage. It doesn't really help with spike, as you must be damaged first to activate the shield.
Now I'm not the math genuis that Womb's GF is, but I ran some base numbers and came up with the following numbers.
Unbuffed I have 861 Spellpower when tanking. This means that my Sacred Shield (since I have 2/2 in DG) will absorb 1.2(500 + .75(861)) - or 1374 damage every six seconds. Now in a full raid environment where I'm running with Blessing of Sanctuary, Imp SoE totem, maybe even some Str food - my SP might go up to say...by 200 points at most.
To put it into perspective, in our ToGC(10) last night against Anub'arak my SS absorbed a total of 24,299 points of damage. Compare this to the 21,819 I got from LotP, 34,167 from LoH, and 220,883 from JoL....and Sacred Shield just doesn't seem to be that big a deal. Now granted this fight lasted about 4:30, and Anub is buried part of the time.
So let's look at some other fights.
Twin Valks ToGC(10) - 13,616 (2:37)
Jarraxas ToC(10) - 9,895 (2:08)
Now let's suppose I was a healing Paladin - and I was rocking something closer to say, 2500 SP. In my 51/20/0 spec, my SS would now absorb 1.2(500+.75(2500)) or 2850 every six seconds - roughly double what I'm pulling down as Prot, even though I have three times the spell power. This is of course what made the 4pc T8 so hot in my book, as it lowered the proc time to 4 sec (from 6).
Why Paladins are in arms
On the latest PTR they stated that they are changing SS so it procs once every 30 sec - unless you spec deep into the Holy tree, down to Infusion of Light - just one step away from the 51 point talent. Prot pallies are upset because it's a chunk of mitigation gone. Ret pallies are upset because it's PvP survivability gone.
Wombcrusher - our resident retadin - is packing a whopping 1,298 SP, making his SS in PvP absorb...wait for it...1,768 damage in PvP. Ooohhhh. Don't forget it can be purged and spellstolen folks.
Why the change is happening
Now GC didn't call me to confirm, but I'm willing to bet a fair ammount of anything that this change is aimed specifically at two people. The first, you love to hate them, the HealProtadin! That's right - the folks who still spec deep into the prot tree to Arena and PvP. These folks are still packing a ton of SP, and their shields - while not game breaking - can tip the balance.
The second group of folks is one I'm guilty of supporting myself - though I think they are a far secondary concern - and that's the Arcane Mage. Using Incanter's Absorbtion in heavy raid damage fights, can boost my Arcane Mage's SP by 15% of the amount absorbed - for 10 sec (with a six second proc on the SS). That's no small boost, especially on Anub P3 where raid damage is high, the tank is getting overhealed anyway, and you need as much DPS as possible.
I don't know if this change will go live or not - and it doesn't really matter. If it does I'll keep tossing SS up on our mage, and I'll just replace it with every other Judgement to keep it proccing. For Holy, nothing will change, and Ret will lose just a little more in the PvP setting. I don't think the change is game breaking by any stretch of the imagination - and I'm sure there's those who can come up with more interesting uses than I have.
TO THE GROUND!