Saturday, June 20, 2009

3.2: Retribution Paladins

  • Exorcism: Now has a 1.5 second cast time, but can once again be used on players.
  • Seal of Blood: This ability has been removed.
  • Seal of the Martyr: This ability has been removed.
  • Seal of Vengeance and Seal of Corruption: These seals have been redesigned to deal substantially more damage. Now, once a paladin has 5 copies of the debuff from these seals on his or her target, on each swing the paladin will deal 33% weapon damage as Holy, with critical strikes dealing double damage.
  • Art of War: Now only applies to melee critical hits, but will make your next Flash of Light or Exorcism instant.
  • Crusader Strike: Damage reduced to 75% weapon damage to match the new 4-second cooldown.
  • Seal of Command: Redesigned. This seal now deals 36% weapon damage on every swing, and deals substantially less judgement damage.
  • Vindication: Redesigned. Now lowers target attack power, is consistent and does not stack with Demoralizing Shout.

Seal Changes

With Seal of Blood removed, Blizzard appears to be pushing Seal of Vengeance as the sustained damage seal, and Seal of Command as the burst damage seal. SoV needs 5 hits to get the full debuff rolling before it starts dealing damage, but looks to do more damage overall than SoC, especially if you pick up Seals of the Pure in the Holy Tree. This looks like a pretty good design to me.

General Rotation Changes

I'm not really a fan of the direction Blizzard is taking Retribution. I really liked the model of 3 abilities with 6-10s cooldowns. It felt measured with lots of open GCDs to do hybrid things. The upfront burst was a problem, but I think it could have been fixed without moving in the direction that Blizzard has gone.

The thing is is that I like the "few big hits" model. I'm not really a fan of the rogue/deathknight "many small hits" style. It feels wrong and frantic for a 2H weapon class. But it also appears to be the only model that this Blizzard dev team can balance, so all the melee classes are trending towards it. For paladins, that has resulted in Consecration and Exorcism being part of the regular rotation, and a weak, quick Crusader Strike.

As for the Art of War change, I don't think it makes much of difference. Ret crits a lot, so it should be available whenever it is off cooldown. It will be used a lot less in PvP though. I don't think this change will result in any extra thought or deliberation on the paladin's part.


This is a good change for Vindication. It becomes useful in PvE, provides another alternative to Demo Shout, and let's the warriors do more DPS. All good.


The Ret changes are probably mathematically sound, and will probably result in Ret doing the proper amount of damage in PvE, while reigning in their burst in PvP. However, I'm not sure I will like the resulting button-mashing playstyle. It just doesn't feel right for a 2H class.


  1. I can't see any benefit at all here, it's an across-the-board nerf once again because Ret has too much burst in PvP.

    How is it 'good design' to have a baseline seal *still* substantially outperform one that costs a talent point? The only reason to have SoC now is for leveling.

    Art of War is a straight-up nerf. It only procs off melee swings, meaning once every 3-4 seconds. Previously it was up practically all the time.

    Exorcism is removed from the Ret rotation and becomes a conditional attack only. Other specs will lose its use completely. Prot can't use it for example, because during that 1.5 second cast you can't block. It's back to being that useless spell that sits in the spellbook and gets pulled out periodically the few times that the situation warrants it. And that doesn't even consider the fact that with crusader strike being cast twice as often we're going to run out of mana if we put an exorcism in there as well...

    You would think that blizzard would have figured out a way by now to fix the PvP burst problem without nerfing PvE potential at the same time. But it seems like it's all they're ever able to do.

    I'm also a bit annoyed that the 'new and exciting things' that they were talking about doing with crusader strike turned out to be reducing its damage and cooldown. It's still a boring weapon strike and we still don't have a distance closer or an interrupt. :(

  2. How is it 'good design' to have a baseline seal *still* substantially outperform one that costs a talent point? The only reason to have SoC now is for leveling.

    SoC is a burst seal now. The way I read it, SoV works like:

    Hit 1: Applies stack of debuff
    Hit 2: Applies stack of debuff
    Hit 3: Applies stack of debuff
    Hit 4: Applies stack of debuff
    Hit 5: Applies stack of debuff
    Hit 6: 33% weapon damage
    Hit 7: 33% weapon damage

    While SoC goes:

    Hit 1: 36% weapon damage
    Hit 2: 36% weapon damage

    So if the mob is killed quickly, or you can't stack the debuff easily, SoC is the preferable Seal. That's levelling, trash, adds, and PvP. While SoV is for the actual boss.

    That's enough differentiation for me. I think you might even see a Ret paladin switch Seals for different phases of the same fight, depending on his assignment. For example, use SoC during Thorim phase 1, and switch to SoV for Thorim phase 2.

    Art of War is a straight-up nerf. It only procs off melee swings, meaning once every 3-4 seconds. Previously it was up practically all the time.

    I'm assuming that Exorcism still has a cooldown. You'll get the AoW proc you need in time for the cooldown to finish.

  3. You're right, I hadn't read the new SoV carefully enough. In that case, though, what are prot paladins going to be using on trash? I suppose it probably doesn't matter since they'll be pumping out AoE threat anyway. I suppose it's not very deep into the tree and they'll be going that deep anyway.

  4. I didn't like that ret didn't seem to have a proper rotation, but the solution isn't to just flood it with filled GCDs. That's a nerf to our hybridity. Yes, new word. Will we now have to stop using specials to cleanse or shield someone?

    @NegativeZero: The problem with ret is that it has very little offensive utility. Defensively it's pretty strong with cleanse, spot heals, and damage redirects. Offensive utility is usually more effective, especially CCs. Since ret has pretty much none of that, it ends up being 'balanced' around burst, which is boring and frustrating for all parties involved.

  5. I think you guys have it wrong somewhere. The wording in the information post seemed to point out that SoV is the PvP seal while SoC would be the PvE tool. You may scoff, but stick with me here.

    SoC specifically said that the Judgment damage was significantly reduced which, coupled with the sustained nature of base weapon scaling, seems to point towards PvE intent. The numbers are obviously off for it to remain better than SoV, but below I'll outline why I think it will be THE PvP seal.

    At 5 stacks, your Judgment, melée swings, and melée abilities all increase in damage substantially. Timing an Exo Art of War proc with these above abilities demonstrates serious burst potential, but only after investing time on target. Furthermore, should you lose time on target, the results aren't as ridiculously painful as a substantial dot will still tick.

    All in all it looks to me that Ret burst is not gone, just repurposed. You can no longer rely on blowing somebody up in the first few moments of a fight, and your burst should be strategically used to kill a wounded target that you've invested time into instead of just jumping on any target with the intention of bursting from 100% to dead. With so much time during this, the interesting and fun mechanics behind Paladin defensive utility and healing can come around much more often.

  6. That's a very interesting way of looking at it, Kris. At least for PvP. The same thing applies to a boss, though. I guess we'll have to see what is meant by a "significantly reduced" Judgement.

    As for Prot Paladins, they can use Seal of Righteousness for trash if it is really important.

  7. Just a few things.

    First, I don't think that this playstyle will feel any more frantic that the current. I am already pushing a button on every GCD. What makes Death Knights and Rogues so frantic is the 1 second GCD. If they did something like make Retribution Aura lower our cooldown to 1 second it might feel frantic. They won't do that however because all of our new cooldowns fit very neatly with a 1 second cooldown. and we would become even more front-loaded than we are now.

    Second, I am not sure which seal they mean for us to use for what. I think it is funny that they stated that they want us to have a solid PVP seal and a solid PVE seal. If they were 'solid' at what they do you would think we would be able to tell them apart. I think we will know more when we see actual numbers.

    Finally I have seen this statement alot about Art of War. That we will only have a chance to proc it every 3-4 seconds. It says melee critical hits. Divine Storm and Crusader Strike are both melee. What this does remove is Judgement. But to be honest with talents and raid buffs my Judgement crit rate was up around 80%. It felt automatic and maybe that is what they are wanting to move away from. With CS going down to 4 seconds, every 16 seconds (roughly the Exo CD) we will have the same number of chances to proc art of war. We will miss out on 2 judgements but gain 2 CS's

    The only thing that makes me sad about these changes in the marginalization of Seal of Command. For as long as I can remember it was THE talent that defined you as a Ret paladin. It was powerful and fun and irritating all at the same time. Attacking a paladin carrying a 2 hander was a dangerous game. Either it would not proc and you would destroy him/her or the paladin would explode on you like a boss with an enrage timer. I can understand why that needed to change and have been very happy with Martyr. But I will always have a love-hate relationship with Seal of Casino.

    My healers will definitely not miss Seal of the Emo-din though.

  8. what most people seem to forget with out punishingly hard hits ret paladins have nothing to pressure a healer.

    crusader strike needs to apply some short lived but significant debuff or do something defensive to buff/heal the paladin swinging for the fences.

    now would be a great time for blizz to show some forethought and give ret a new spell that adds something to ret's offensive tool bag for pvp other then dmg.

  9. SoV MIGHT work as a PvP seal against certain targets / comps. Fighting a Druid / Warrior? Sure. Fighting Priest of any type? Nope - he'll dispell the debuff before you get it anywhere. Then again, another debuff could be useful to block dispells.

    Re: Exorcism - Retribution should have no problems using it every cooldown. Most raids don't need the Art of War for heals anyway. In PvP it will allow a Ret Pally to show some brain power by choosing to nuke instead of heal. A good thing, in my opinion.

    However, not all Paladins are Retribution.
    Protection Paladins are losing another ranged pull. If you have to pull adds from 3 different directions, you're screwed.

    Since I tend to solo as Holy, I'm going to really hate the cast time - and unlike Retribution there is no hint that I'll be able to make it instant. At the same time, it DOES give Holy Paladins the ability to add some pressure in an Arena fight (not much, but it's better than the absolutely nothing we have now).

    I guess what I'm trying to say - Retribution will be OK, but the other two specs will probably feel the sting of the new Exorcism sooner or later.

  10. @Rohan, I don't see why Prot wouldn't use SoV now more than ever. Although the ShoR change results in a net TPS decrease on that ability for a large portion of tanking Paladins, we'd gain a significant portion of threat through Seal of Vengeance's new buffs. They did mention Seal of Righteousness, but I think the intent was to say that it would remain a tanking Seal until an alternative like SoV is ready.

    Also, to be honest, Seal of Command appears to be decent for Protection as well.

    @Dorgol, you can spec Stoicism and have a bit of a dispel resistance there.

    Also, I'd like to point out that in the informative post they mentioned that they are definitely not going to sit on their asses. If these changes work, they'll be looking at some of the other design issues like utility, a gap closer, or a debuff on Crusader Strike. In the end, I think this is a good place for them to start and I like the changes, but we'll see.

  11. Kris, Prot would use SoV most of the time. You might use SoR for trash or adds though. Times when the mob dies too fast for the SoV debuff to stack.

  12. Rohan, I definitely agree with that SoV comment, but it seems to me that with these changes, Seal of Command would be a stronger choice for those fights where you'd use SoR. I already go 18 points into Ret for Crusade so personally, picking up SoC is a viable choice.