So its getting closer, its getting through the nerfs, watching the game close down fully and watching the Beta dry up like some kind of prune left out over night. Being honest I stopped wanting to post about Paladins for a while, we were in such as state of flux and changing rapidly that there was no real point in it, we cannot sway the developers we can only give feedback and pray their thoughts are the same as the community.
Unfortunately its not happened well for us, while many classes complain that they received less attention, that they didn't get a new mechanic and such like most of us got something to play with. My Warlock is actually reasonably happy, I specced into affliction for raiding with her, and achieving good dps above that of many others due to actually knowing the rotation and knowing when to clip myself. Of course I can't say Paladins came out badly either.
What did go wrong though was the whole approach, in each expansion we basically change a lot because the idea of the class is so fuzzy, in fact its positively non-existent. Our three roles do not mesh well, and we don't have the fluidity Druids once had (and they got kicked in the shapeshifting body part as well there), nor do we have the original planned cross overs.
Blizzard achieved something early in the Beta, Paladins were cross speccing.
Protection was protection, we can't realistically afford to move into another tree due to the obvious requirement on mitigation and threat not present in the baseline, Retribution similarly was speccing deep into their tree to acquire the needed skills to perform well, Holy however had options.
We saw the rise of the close in healer with infinite mana, the Baconboy, HoThealing and several others, suddenly Holy was a lot more interesting. Then it was nerfed, things were thrown around, infinite mana (throw the only class with no HoTs, AoE etc a bone please?) was a thing of the past, Retribution getting to throw the occasional heal was gone and the generic 51/x/y builds started to come back, something was gone. Being honest I hope it comes back, I want to see more of it, I want to see a fourth role in the game:
Tanks will be tanks, the game design almost requires them, a single or multiple classes designed to focus damage for the raid, Healers are also required to assist the tank and handle damage flying around (otherwise raids have a very strict timer like RoS). By adding combat healers like Retribution Paladins and Enhancement Shamans we could see a new class role, suddenly you have maybe 3-4 healers per raid like tanks, and these close up healers who maintain "aura" like healing coupled with flash healing, in short damage -> healing in a small radius.
The last group I would love added is group support, meaning Elemental Shamans, Shadow Priests (or possibly Disc) and Boomkin, add raidwide and support healing to these classes to cover the raid wide damage.
Raid make up would be more interesting, suddenly you have tanks and melee supported by the close range burst healers, doing damage to feed healing. The group support healers sacrifice some dps to heal, but achieve optimal DPS by weaving in some healing (you could tie in a chain heal like effect, heals the target for X and then the target target for X healing or y damage, causes a stacking bonus to damage spell q).
Finally your healing classes are responsible for the bursts in damage to the raid, to the tanks, make healing slightly more restrictive (Paladins / Shamans are Tank / small group healers, Priests / Druids larger group healers, but with some cross over) and allow them to interact more with the targets, shields to buy breathing room, reactive heals, damage based heals.
We won't ever see the game change completely, but we did see the start of something like this, we saw change and we liked it, healers that DPS'd, DPS that could spot heal and truly fluid hybrids. We got to use the base abilities of our class and found a reason to cross talent spec, as GC said the 51 point talents aren't more powerful than any other otherwise we would automatically take them, but they did move things down the tree to stop cross-talent builds...
Put talents in positions to let people use them, 11 point talents are open to all, 21, 31 and 41 should be open to some builds and the 51 point a serious contender, let us choose to be a sheatheadin or a baconboy, but either way let us make a choice.