Current Retribution Rotation
Retribution is in a bit of a mess at the moment. It is very close to being good, but there are two intertwined problems, one with PvP, and one with PvE. I think it might be worthwhile to take a step back, and look at the issues again.
For reference, here is a graph of what the first 20s of a Retribution rotation looks like:
The PvP Problem
To see the PvP problem, look at the area marked "PvP Burst". See how tightly compacted the abilities are. In the space of 4.5s, a Ret paladin gets two auto-swings, all three special attacks, and any assorted seal procs. This is a large amount of burst, and always occurs at the beginning of the rotation.
If you look at the rest of the rotation, you can see how spread out the abilities become. There's lots of empty Global Cooldowns or wasted space. This part of the rotation is much less bursty than those first few seconds. A lot of Ret's problems with burst in PvP would go away if those first 5 seconds looked more like the remaining 15s.
The PvE Problem
The PvE problem is a little more subtle. See the Empty GCDs in the rotation? Retribution is balanced around those GCDs remaining empty, and not contributing any damage. If those Empty GCDs contributed extra damage, the damage of the main abilities has to be lowered in order to keep the total DPS the same.
Taken too far, you end up where Death Knights are. Death Knights get a Strike every GCD, but each Strike only hits for 50% weapon damage. Which is a bit odd for a 2H weapon class, in my opinion. 2H Weapons should hit hard, but hit slowly, which is the model for Retribution Paladins.
Those Empty GCDs are also useful for tossing paladin utility spells, like re-Sealing, Flash of Light, Cleanse, or the various Hand spells. As well, against Undead, Exorcism can be used, emphasizing the Paladin's prowess against the Undead. Finally at the end of the fight, those GCDs are needed for burning down the enemy with Hammer of Wrath .
The main problem here is Consecration. If a Ret paladin can use an Empty GCD for Consecration, they've increased their DPS. Blizzard wants to avoid having to water down the main abilities, so they are trying to prevent Consecration from being used. The current tactic is to try and restrict the Ret paladin's mana, so that the paladin cannot cast Consecration without worrying about running dry.
The problem here is that there is not a lot of room to maneuver. If Retribution doesn't have enough mana for Consecration, they also have trouble being able to cast the non-damage spells, and it's very easy to lose mana from a mistake. That's hurts the flexibility of Retribution, which makes a paladin a paladin. If they have too much mana, they start casting Consecration regularly, and end up with higher DPS than they should.
So can we kill two birds with one stone? I think we can. Here is my suggestion:
- Have Judgement, Crusader Strike, Divine Storm, and Consecration share a 3 second cooldown (in addition to their normal individual cooldown).
- Change Judgement as follows:
- Increase cooldown to 12s.
- Increase damage by 20%.
- Change Improved Judgements to increase damage by 10/20%.
- Increase the duration of the debuff to 30s.
- Change Divine Storm as follows:
- Increase cooldown to 12s.
- Make it do Holy damage once again.
- Remove Seal procs from specials, and tune abilities upwards as appropriate. (Not really necessary, but I may as well throw it in.)
The new Retribution rotation would look like:
Note how the problem with PvP burst goes away. Each individual ability hits like a truck, but you can't string a whole bunch of abilities together in a row. The Retribution Paladin hits bone-crushingly hard, but hits slowly, as is appropriate for a 2H class.
For PvE, there's no room to cast Consecration in the basic rotation because of the shared 3s cooldown. You'd have to kick out a Crusader Strike. That means Consecration becomes more appropriate for AoE situations, as it is meant to be. Overall dps remains roughly the same, once abilities are tuned to match the new cooldowns. However, there are still tons of Empty GCDs for the paladin to cast utility spells, Exorcism, or Hammer of Wrath. Judgements of the Wise can be tuned a little higher, giving a Retribution paladin room to breathe, without the danger of contributing additional damage.
Essentially, what we are doing here is creating a Retribution Global Cooldown. The normal Global Cooldown is the limit on how much damage can be dealt in the shortest amount of time. By basically doubling that cooldown for Ret paladin special attacks, we space out the damage, allowing the individual damage abilities to remain powerful, while still leaving room for the utility spells that make a paladin a paladin.
Finally, I don't think this would be very hard to implement. There's no new major mechanics. It's just fiddling with cooldowns and damage. This makes it far more feasible to be implemented before or just after Wrath of the Lich King.