Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Clunky New Retribution Rotation

The new Retribution paladin is getting lambasted on the forums, and rightfully so. The new rotation is extraordinarily clunky. It just feels bad and frustrating to play. I imagine that it most players will just end up using an add-on to tell them which button to press.

Here's my analysis of the new rotation, and why it just doesn't work. There are four main pieces to the rotation:
  • Blade of Justice - 10.5s cooldown, +2 holy power
  • Crusader Strike - 4.5s cooldown, +1 holy power, 2 charges
  • Judgment - 12s cooldown, +20% damage to holy power spenders for 8s
  • Templar's Verdict - costs 3 holy power
To the previous paradigm of generating and spending holy power, Legion adds this concept of a Judgment "window". You want to Judge and then squeeze as many Templar's Verdicts in those eight seconds as you can. The Ret paladin mastery emphasizes this as well, increasing the damage done by spenders in that window.

The first problem is that there are simply too many levels to Ret now. You have to track your cooldowns, your total holy power, and the Judgment window.

The second problem is that the cooldowns for Blade of Justice and Judgment are slightly off. Judgment is 8 GCDs, and Blade of Justice is 7 GCDs. So they never quite line up, and are always changing position in the rotation relative to each other. This makes it impossible to really get into a rhythm.

The third problem is that Judgment changes its traditional position in the rotation. Ever since Vanilla, paladins open the fight with Judgment. It's the only ranged ability as well. But now you want to delay judgment until 5 holy power has been generated. It's not really an issue on long fights, but it's very annoying to have to hold off on the ranged ability when going to attack something new.

Even Holy's combat rotation is better, simple as it is. There the Judgment window improves Holy Shock and Crusader Strike. So you Judge as you run towards the mob, Shock, and CS as you get into melee range. It works intuitively and smoothly. (Also, you get to use Consecrate as a regular part of the rotation, which is always fun.)

I gather Blizzard is enamored of the Judgment window, seeing as it's also the new Mastery. My suggestion would be to smooth out the cooldowns by increasing the Blade of Justice cooldown to 12s (increasing the damage done to compensate). The heart of the Retribution rotation would become Judgement - Spender - Blade of Justice. That common piece would anchor the rotation, giving it a regular rhythm that you always return to.

This simplifies the cooldown level, and allows the Ret paladin to focus on Holy Power and using spenders in the Judgment window.

The new Retribution rotation reminds me of one of the Jedi Sentinel rotations in SWTOR. It had the same concept of cooldowns, generating and spending resources, and a damage window. But it simplified the cooldown and resource levels, allowing the player to focus on the damage window.


  1. It's pretty horrid, I'm not a fan of it at all.I'd much rather we got Inquisition back if we need to track buffs/debuffs

    I think my biggest problem with it is that it feels like it's missing attacks, timing around the judgement window I get a LOT of dead space in my rotation, and when the mob hits low health I keep reaching for my hammer of wrath hotkey, then remember that that ability no longer exists and I get a little sad. Every time.

    I miss hammer of wrath, I miss excorcism, I miss blessings as buffs and seals and auras. For as much as blizzard has been spouting off about how they want to enforce "class fantasy", they've taken away damn near everything that feels familiar as a paladin. I've played a paladin as main for over 10 years now, and seen some massive overhauls to the class in that time, but this one feels like such a massive step backwords. Ret has been in a good place the last few expansions, and these changes just feel like they're out of left field. They took away all our offhealing and raid buffing and utility and mobility and left us with this wonky, stilted system

    1. I miss Hammer of Wrath too, but I think Blizzard is taking some long overdue steps to de-homogenize the classes, and try to give them some real weaknesses. Paladins not having an execute or ranged abilities is a necessary weakness.

      Personally, I've always disliked Seals (see a lot of old posts on the Seal tax). I've always thought they end up contributing to excessive burst and then Ret get nerfed.

      The Blessings thing is a bit weird, but an interesting experiment. So overall, I'm intrigued to see if the Ret paladin works out. But the rotation is unnecessarily clunky.

  2. Either I'm missing something in your description, or you've never played feral druid.....
    BTW It would seem me that you can open with Judgment. Something like Judge->CS->BoJ->TV (which is still in the window), then just make sure you get 5 HP every 12s and you're done, no? Are there any procs messing up with the CDs?

    1. Heh, and the thing about feral druid is that all these years later we still make John Madden jokes.

      You can start with Judgment, but you only get one spender in your first window. Maybe that's the way people will end up playing, but it feels a little counter-intuitive to me.

      And you still have the 8/7 GCD thing, which really just feels unpleasant.

  3. Short of Divine Purpose, there isn't much for procs for Ret currently. Haven't played with the artifact myself.

    I'm not sure I agree that the rotation is "clunky", nor that in this case it's a bad thing. When things line up entirely, you can reduce the rotation to a single macro keybind (see old Prot Paladin 6,9 rotation). By having different cooldowns, they're deliberately shaking up the rotation on a larger scale. Also note that gap will close as you get more Haste--about 30% Haste will get Judgment's cooldown small enough the window disappears entirely if you use Judgment on cooldown.

    There is a talent that alters BoJ to have a 12s cooldown, Divine Hammer: ; though I believe Haste still affects the cooldown there as well.

    For anyone feeling upset about losing utility, offhealing, and mobility, turns out they took that from pretty much everybody. I cannot solo half the things I could solo as Enhancement before the patch now because I lost 90% of my heals/utility/defensive cooldowns. Saying that doesn't really help the classes that are feeling the loss so much as it just says we're all in the same place. We'll see how artifacts change that up.

    Right now Ret has a fair bit of self-healing through Divine Purpose-Justicar's Vengeance combos (even more if you can stun the enemy), Flash of Light, and Shield of Vengeance. Less than before in terms of you cannot spam all of your HP into Word of Glory casts, but nothing to scoff at either, relative to other melee classes.

    1. Personally, I think having a "fixed" rotation is underrated. I really enjoyed a lot of SWTOR's mechanics, and they tended towards very structured rotations.

      I think it's important for a rotation to have a certain degree of predictability. To allow a player to say, "First X, then Y, then Z". The 8/7 thing makes this very difficult. Sometimes BoJ is near Judgment, other times it's far away. It's like music, you generally want a constant beat, and then you "decorate" around that beat. To me, Ret is missing that beat which makes a rotation enjoyable.

      The other part too is that I think having an odd cooldown rotation would be okay if there was less happening in the other layers. If there was no judgement window, or if HP generation and spending was a little smoother. Something like having any 2 of the 3 would be good, but all 3 is a lttle too much.

    2. JV is also interesting because it adds your stun to the rotation.

  4. That's on live, will the artifact change that at all? I'm not sure as my pally is not my main, and she's currently ret (I played her as holy through wod). It feels like i'm always waiting for divine purpose procs and.. not much else.

    1. I'm not really sure. There is a new ability, but it has a 30s cooldown. I don't think there's any artifact talents that actually change the timing of the base rotation.