I don't really have a coherent post, so here's some general thoughts from Beta:
- Retribution and Protection have been slimmed down and cleaned up. They're really nice trees now, with a fair amount of free talent points to dip into the other trees. As well, the first tiers of each tree are very attractive now.
- Blessing of Kings got changed into a 5-point talent in Tier 1 Protection. While this makes it cost more for Prot, it's much easier for Ret and Holy to pick Kings up. I can make builds that include Kings for all three specs, and which I'd be happy to play.
- Art of War got redesigned yet again. It increases crit damage on Judgement, CS, and Divine Storm, and also gives you instant Flash of Lights when you get a melee crit! Unfortunately, at the moment the instant FoLs still reset your swing timer, but as soon as that is fixed, the talent will rock. It's really nice to see Ret be able to heal--if only a little bit--and not be punished for it. Also AoW's damage increase is bugged at 2% instead of 20%.
- Judgements of the Wise gives 20% of your total mana back. Essentially, Retribution doesn't need to worry about mana anymore. Ret is now limited more by cooldowns than by mana.
- Judgement of Command was changed. It no longer does double damage when hitting a stunned target. Instead, it's a guaranteed critical when you Judge a stunned target. It's a reduction in burst damage, but hopefully allows our sustained damage to keep pace.
- To be honest, Retribution is in really good shape at the moment. It plays well and is a lot of fun. It does solid damage. You press several buttons, but there's still room in the rotation to toss out Flash of Lights, Exorcism, Consecrates, Cleanses as you need to. It's quite possible that this is the best shape that any paladin spec has ever been in.
- There's some concern about JotW and Holy. At 20% total mana, it's really attractive for Holy to go 38/0/33 and pick up JotW. Part of the issue is that so much of the Holy tree centers around mana reduction, but getting back 20% of your total mana every 8-10s swamps all of those talents. It is expected that JotW will change to 20% of base mana, reducing its value for Holy, but keeping it the same for Ret as Ret base mana is roughly equal to Ret total mana.
- Protection is also in really good shape. It's doing a lot of damage, and is also fun. It's still missing an 11-point talent, so we'll see what Blizzard comes up with.
- Speaking of tanks, Blizzard appears to be changing course on general tank design. They seem to be doing away with extra threat on abilities, but increasing the damage to compensate. For example, Hammer of the Righteous used to do 100% weapon damage + 30% increased threat. It's been changed to 120% damage, but no extra threat. I think this is a great change in design philosophy, and will make playing a tank much more fun.
- Holy still needs some work. Kind of honestly, the biggest problem with the Holy tree is that it is very boring. Holy Shock is really the only talent that's remotely exciting. I think the new Infusion of Light, where you get instant Holy Lights after critical Holy Shocks has potential, but we'll have to see how it performs in instances.
- Beacon of Light is a weird talent. Part of the issue with Beacon is that it only works on effective healing, not raw healing. In a raid situation, this could cause problems, because if your heal target gets sniped by another healer before your heal lands, the Beacon target won't get healed. As the Beacon target is probably the tank, this will cause problems. On the other hand, if Beacon worked off raw healing, you would never ever heal the Beacon target. You'd spray overheals around like crazy, because the Beacon target would soak it all up.
I'm not sure what's going to happen with Beacon. A healer needs to heal the people who are hurt, not healthy people. At the same time, there's no sense in punishing the paladin because another healer got to her target half a second before her heal landed.
Anyways, that's a round-up of what's up with Paladins in Beta. Retribution and Protection are in good shape, have solid talent trees, and are fun to play. Holy needs some work.