Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Seal Tax

"Let the bears pay the bear tax, I pay the Homer tax."
- Homer J. Simpson

Part of the reason I'm insistent that Seals should not proc of instant attacks is because those Seals exact a "tax" on our abilities. To see what I mean, compare Mortal Strike and Crusader Strike.

Mortal Strike is easier to get (31 points vs 41 points), has an awesome debuff, and does about the same damage as Crusader Strike (100% Weapon + 380 vs 110% Weapon).

Yet that comparison is not quite accurate. CS will proc a Seal. If we assume Seal of Blood (Seal of Command is much the same, only more bursty and with a bit more complex math), Crusader Strike actually does 110% Weapon + 28% Holy Weapon. *That* ability combination compares well with Mortal Strike. Paladin attacks will always seem weaker than you would think, because of the hidden "Seal tax".

You can see the same thing with Divine Storm. 100% Physical Weapon damage to 4 targets, with a small heal, is seriously not worth being a 51-point talent. It's pretty much Whirlwind, only Whirlwind is a baseline warrior ability. But 100% Physical Weapon + 28% Holy Weapon is much closer to a decent talent.

Maybe it's a problem with perception, more than anything else. Paladin attacks just look weak, and I think that hurts the morale of the class. If abilities didn't proc seals, but were slightly buffed, I think paladins would be happier. If for example, assuming no seal proc, Crusader Strike did 125% Physical Weapon damage, and Divine Storm went back to 100% Holy damage, they would look more powerful. A direct comparison to warrior abilities is not so one-sided anymore.

Second, having abilities proc Seals tightly couples Seals to the abilities. This means the abilities don't really exist independently of each other, and it's harder to tweak abilities without affecting Seals and vice versa. For example, Seals have been significantly nerfed since the start of Beta, primarily to keep Retribution damage in line. But this has had the side-effect of significantly hurting Holy's ability to solo. If Seals were separate from abilities, the Seals could be made more powerful, and Ret's abilities tuned separately. This would help improve Holy soloing, while not adding to Ret's burst or sustained damage.

Third, I think Blizzard is coming too close to making a Retribution paladin feel like a "Warrior-lite". Crusader Strike is Mortal Strike without the debuff. Divine Storm is Whirlwind. Apparently we're getting a Deep Wounds variant just like Warriors. We gear like warriors, and use warrior weapons. Judgements of the Wise mimics rage.

Having some points of differentiations is important in my view. For example, the new Art of War talent is a very nice talent--assuming the heal doesn't interrupt the swing timer--because it plays up to the *paladin* side, and doesn't feel like a warrior talent at all. Even the old Crusader Strike refreshed all Judgements, which is a very paladin-centric ability. One of the knocks against the new CS is that it really doesn't feel like a paladin ability anymore.

One of the main points of differentiation is that paladins do Holy damage. That's our shtick. Crusader Strike is the exception, mostly so we can still do something when Silenced. The old Divine Storm was Holy damage, reinforcing the differentiation, and the paladin identity. And this manifests in subtle ways. As Slayton at points out:
Making Divine Storm be physical damage also takes away from the good itemization. The armor penetration we weren’t stacking just got an itemization buff, and that destroys the simplicity of who got what and what was best. We got the haste strength gear, warriors got the hit armor pen.

It's not to say that armor penetration and hit are useless to Ret paladins, just we value those stats slightly less than warriors, and that's a good thing. Too much homogeneity is bad for the game.

I want a Ret Paladin to feel like a Ret Paladin, not a warrior rip-off. Keep Divine Storm as Holy damage, decouple Seals from abilities, eliminate the Seal Tax and balance abilities so that they can stand on their own.


  1. I must admit I agree with you on the Seal affair. Being Holy - at least until wotlk hits - I am the one getting the wrong end of the stick (on the damage output department) while Ret damage remains `burstly' probably more than it should. Inevitably, in order to keep Ret damage consistent one should minimise these sudden spikes and replace them with a consistent model. Increasing the Seal damage, eliminating additional seal procs and normalising higher base retry abilities ought to do the trick (probably, I am reluctant to be definitive on something I do not have the alogrithms for...).

    This would fix ret burst, replace it with consistency, fix Holy judgements and generaly eliminate more problems.

    Nonetheles, I must admit Holy damage might seem less but the uptime, speed and rotations result most probably in a higher net damage. Or so it seems, things die faster now for sure and less rec is required.

    On the uniqueness (sp?) of the paladins abilities, I agree with you but I feel for long ret paladins were asking for this warrior-type crossover to some extent. I think some aspects of our abilities must remain close to the paladin paradigm, even if they are more cosmetic.

    As a Holy I would like a consistent, adequate output for solo playing and the odd pvp. As a retry I would like to regain credibility as, at least, a middle-class dpser and maintain supportive elements. I feel though the most important thing is to have such abilities as not to give arguments to others of been `OP' while maintaining a competitive level more or less as the current one and a high fun factor. This will also help a lot towards the `social acceptance' of retribution paladins.

    Make no mistake, I like hammering people :-p. But doing it with a huge spike leaves out many abilities, makes the encounters too speedy and... well, kinda eliminates the need to be more skillfull, introduce some improvisation, use definitive paladin abilities to bring the opponent to his knees...

    But then again I have not played retribution for quite some time so I may be wrong.

  2. Something needs to be done I agree. Although, I don't mind feeling like a "Warrior-lite", I would like some kind of differentiation between the gear I look for and the gear they look for, even if its as minor as Haste vs Armor Pen, like you pointed out.

    What I would like to see is maybe a Titan Grip lite in the Ret tree. Soemthing like you can hold a two hander in one hand, and a shield in the other,and then that could be combined with Shield of the Righteous. It would really add some flavor to the class, dontcha think? I know I am fantasizing :P My point is, make us different from Warriors in a cosmetic sense. With enough instant attacks at hand like CS, DS, Judgement, SHotR, and HoW we could really de-couple the seals from the instants and possibly repeal this tax we have.

    Did that even make sense? Damn I am tired tonight :P

  3. To be honest, and while I can't speak for Ret, as Prot I actually like Seals proccing on specials. With SoV and HoR, it's a lot easier to keep up threat on smaller groups (1~3 mobs) without needing to blow a ton of mana on Consecrate, since HoR will drop SoV on all 3 mobs.

  4. Even with the change to Divine Storm I'm seeing a lot of people calling for more Retribution nerfs. I don't think people like all of sudden having to worry about paladins dealing the same amount of damage as rogues and warriors.

    Anyways I'm hoping we don't get anymore emergency balance nerfs before the expansion, but I doubt it. What do you think they'll go after next?

  5. "Anyways I'm hoping we don't get anymore emergency balance nerfs before the expansion, but I doubt it. What do you think they'll go after next?"

    I have a Ret pally and an arcane mage. I know Ret is a little OP in an overall scence. They have high burst damage, great heals, and almost a full mana bar thanks to judgements of the wise. The burst damage they output isn't going to touch an arcane mage though. I feel this is fair since mages can't heal, but the fact that arcane mages are hitting an instant spell on a 3 second cooldown that hits for 1.5k and crits for almost 3k is retarded. Mages also get to cast fireblast between arcane barage as well. Arcane mages never have to use any casting spells in PvP now. They are with out a doubt burstfully delisious class.

  6. I think the basic paladin mechanics are to blame, which includes the seals. Blizz has had a hard time giving us decent moves, in part due to the fact that against most classes we have invincibility for 10 seconds, while being able to attack or being able to heal. Invincibility, plate, healing...why should they get dps?
    There was a post on the wow forums that asked for a revamp of the paladin, creating sort of a hybrid between a paladin, a warrior of sigmar and a bit like a death knight.
    Imagine for a second, that not all paladin abilities relied on mana, however mana was still an integral part of the paladin. There would also be a holy energy bar that sotres holy energy much like the vial of the sunwell. Healing and crits (maybe other things, like blocks....test it obviously) could fill up this energy bar. Some paladin moves could only be used with a x amount of energy, just like a warrior. The energy could also affect the strength of moves. Say, for example, nerf the baseline divine shield so it's protection for just a few seconds...and dispellable. However, provide bonuses such as extended time and undispellability if you have 100% holy energy when you use it.
    It would help holy paladins exactly as the vial of the sunwell works...adds +healing to spells when you activate the use of the energy for it. This means a holy paladin could build up +healing to use in burst situations, even while mobile...activate the energy bar to use up all built up energy on the next cast, and cast shock.
    Could this energy be burnable? I'd like to avoid that, so I'd advocate for this energy only to be able to be used if you have the mana to cast the spell in the first place.
    If you must burn this energy, then i suggest a rage burn, energy burn, and runic power burn...just to be fair. (and to piss off the rogues)
    The suggestion is unpolished, however, when I look at it, it screams paladin. (I do not take credit for the idea, its bits and pieces from warhammer and warcraft characters put together by Aeito of Bloodscalp)
    Think about it. Please...I'd like feedback.

  7. Maybe for ret, the paladin would do the most consistant dmg while the holy energy was going unused, making it very unappealing to be healing and doing dps at the same time.

  8. Im seeing inconsistancies in the comments. although i agree i think DS should be holy damage because it bypasses armor, i think the coef could be downranked to compensate.
    now the healing that DS does is that effected by the fact that the damage is now physical instead of holy? if you DS a warrior vs a mage is the healing you get back going to be bigger on the mage?
    if the damage is going to stay phisical why cant DS do a hamstring like debuff?
    Pallies one problem seem to be getting kited and this would help once we get in range. supposedly the debuff dot that DS will be doing should be pretty good according to Suicidal Zebra, but im still gettign kited all over the place, hamstring, wingclip, fear ect. Vindication is great but it doesnt prevent targets from getting away. i would trade the 20% stat debuff for 10% stats and a movement imparing effect.
    we are still one of the easiest classes to kite in the game.

  9. That's not a terrible plan. Would melee attacks use mana or holy energy? The way you describe it i think it might be best to use mana for most attacks, so that holy energy can be boosted an add the +dmg to attacks. Makes sense for it to be +holy dmg. Some paladin moves, a few strong ones at least, should use only holy energy though. That would give the paladin the option to do burst dmg or higher sustained dps. Talents down each tree could affect the amount of holy energy you receive from certain abilities. ie: increase the amount of holy energy from healing, something ret and prot would have to miss out on. To nerf DS further, maybe even make it a holy talent. ....maybe that's going to far. Start the pally REVOLUTION!


  10. Read my Paladin lips: No new Seal Taxes!

  11. Divine Storm should go back to holy dmg. If a melee class in plate that deals spell dmg is imbalanced then well people are going to howl bloody murder when Death Knights are 80 and start pvp.

    Having high consistant dmg for raiding and having the burst for pvp is a difficult thing. The other melee classes can spec for pvp burst or high raid dps.

    If ret is go become less bursty and more consistant dmg then we will need more and better tools for pvp.

    For holy well i suggest you remove the AP scaling or Seal of righteousness and make it really good for holy with some talent consolidation. I suggest you combine the first two talents in holy. In the place of the seals talent in tier 1 holy, a talent that does what holy light glyph does but for flash of light.

    ret has been and should always be about bursting the target down as fast as possible in pvp.

    with any changes to crit dmg modifiers. well why should ret paladins be the class/spec with no crit dmg modifiers??