Before we begin, let's have a quick overview of our snazzy new tier 13 armor, complete with set bonuses!
Aesthetically speaking, I really like the look of it. Sure, the helm is a bit gaudy, but I think the color scheme and overall design really fit the concept of paladin well. Blizzard stated that it based the design off of Guardian of Ancient Kings, but it obviously went beyond that just a tad. Also, for those of you not keen on plate dresses, this set should be right up your alley!
As for the set bonuses:
The two-piece, recently changed from its 50% proc chance iteration, should increase our holy power generation by anywhere between 40% to 50%, depending on your amount of haste. I imagine this set bonus will bump Judgement's priority up a few notches as well as smooth out our opening sequence.
The four-piece is your typical 2% buff (12% damage increase during an ability with a 16.67% uptime), but it comes with an increased emphasis on our cooldowns. We have long considered ourselves a cooldown class, a very burst-centric melee DPS spec, and it seems Blizzard is giving us a reassuring nod with this bonus.
Anyway, this week I thought I'd deviate from playing catch-up with the Firelands guides and answer Blizzard's call for class feedback. I've spent a fair amount of time browsing the paladin class feedback thread on the official forums, comparing others' thoughts on the state of the retribution paladin against my own. I have to say it has been an enlightening experience, and I recommend that those comfortable enough with posting on the forums go ahead and fill out Blizzard's questionnaire.
What are your biggest quality-of-life issues?
A lot of the quality-of-life issues I read from posters had to do with Inquisition. I'm going to try to contain my disappointment long enough to type this out:
Having to maintain a 36-second buff to our holy damage does not mean we have a lot to micromanage.
If you want to see an actual example of micromanagement, talk to someone with a feral druid. Blizzard heard our initial pleas to roll a part of our tier 11 four-piece bonus into the spec and dutifully fulfilled that request by buffing Inquiry of Faith. I know that refreshing a buff once every 30 seconds or so can be slightly annoying, but trust me -- it could be worse. Imagine if we didn't have Inquisition, and all you had to spend your holy power on was Templar's Verdict and the occasional Word of Glory. I don't know about you guys, but I would hate to see our spec lose some of the complexity it gained this expansion.
The next most common quality-of-life concern involved seals. Some want Blizzard to remove their duration, similar to what it did with Righteous Fury in patch 3.2. Others (myself included) want Blizzard to remove seals from the GCD to make seal-swapping less punishing. A few even suggested that they need more fish and open water for recreation.
Get it? Seals, as in both the paladin mechanic and the seaborne mammal ... bah, forget it.
The seal duration complaint is very minor, similar to the calls of rogues for an end to poison duration. Truthfully I would be fine either way, but I think we have bigger fish to fry.
For instance, taking seals off the GCD. Having to burn two global cooldowns just to switch between AOE and single-target scenarios is unnecessary and quite cumbersome in practical use. Keeping mana costs of seals restrictive (even after minor glyphs reduce their cost) would help prevent seal-swapping from getting out of control. If Blade Flurry is off the GCD, our seals definitely should be off the GCD.
What makes playing your class more fun?
This section is highly personal and varies from post to post, but I'll try to summarize the many opinions I have seen on the forums.
Utility Having one of the most impressive sets of utility abilities for any DPS spec is what draws many people to play a ret paladin, and it's hard to blame them. Reducing threat, transferring damage, protecting friends against melee attacks, freeing others from slows and snares, healing injured allies -- the sheer amount of game-changing abilities we have at our disposal is truly awesome.
Burst damage Have an enemy that is only going to be vulnerable for short periods of time? Ret paladins are uniquely suited to maximize these weak points by combining cooldowns such as Zealotry and Avenging Wrath. Toss in Guardian of Ancient Kings and a Golemblood Potion and you become a holy wrecking ball.
RNG This is truly a double-edged sword. The "fun" edge of the sword is when RNG works in your favor and blesses you with a Divine Purpose proc right when you need it and Art of War procs when you are wanting for fillers.
What makes playing your class less fun?
RNG The "not fun" edge comes when you just don't get any procs, and your DPS suffers as a result. More importantly, your enjoyment suffers because you are left adrift in a sea of longing, waiting for your next big and shiny ability to come off cooldown.
Aside from that, I am having trouble finding much else that I consider not fun about the spec. Do not, however, take that to mean that we only have one small issue. Our reliance on procs, namely Art of War and Divine Purpose, makes our DPS extremely variable, even leading some in the theorycrafting community to conjecture that "player skill" takes a back seat to RNG in determining our damage on any given fight. I have always relished the fact that if I spend time honing my skills and truly learning how to play, I am eventually rewarded with higher returns. As it stands now, I am more inclined to agree with the theorycrafters as I watch my damage fluctuate week after week without any changes in gear or skill.
How do you feel about your rotation?
The favorite adjective among feedback posters is "clunky." Again, this comes back to the RNG nature of our rotation. You can either be busily pumping out TVs faster than Samsung, or drumming your fingers on your desk waiting for Crusader Strike to come out to play. I believe this variation was by design, however. I remember some discussion about a number of specs being "GCD-locked" and how this was leading to tunneling, among other things. Not being GCD-locked means we can take a moment to survey the battlefield for potential dangers, help our allies in need, or even just admire the scenery.
For ret paladins, these lulls in the action are intended to be ideal opportunities to spend a global on a Hand spell or a quick heal, but we all know that these moments rarely intersect with when these utility abilities are most needed. So in the end, the rotation only becomes clunky when the player refuses to use these downtimes wisely. Personally, I really like our current rotation. Sure, it could stand to be improved in certain areas, but I generally enjoy myself while playing my paladin. The rotation isn't so involved that you miss out on what's going on around you, but it also isn't so mindless that you're playing a game while you're playing a game (might want to turn down your sound for this one).
What's on your wish list?
First, give us another single-target filler ability and/or get Holy Wrath out of our single-target repertoire. Blizzard hinted that it's considering toying with Hammer of Wrath, redistributing its damage to other abilities to even out damage between cooldown cycles. Here's a way to kill two birds: Lower Hammer of Wrath's damage when not in execute range or under the effect of Avenging Wrath and make it available all of the time. If the improved HoW has a short enough cooldown, we can take Holy Wrath and the occasional Consecration out of the single-target rotation entirely.
Second, turn Consecration into an AOE holy power finisher. The HP-dependent functionality could be folded into a talent (might as well be Sanctity of Battle for all the good it's doing right now), so it wouldn't break Consecration for the other specs. Make the damage significantly lower than TV on a single target, but scale it so that the damage over four or more targets results in higher DPS overall. Naturally, moving Consecration over to the holy power resource would remove its mana cost and prevent us from going OOM on AOE-heavy encounters.
Overall, I'm pretty satisfied with retribution. Going into Cataclysm, I wasn't expecting much out of our new resource system, but it has grown on me. Refreshing Inquisition at the right times has become a sort of minigame. With the changes to Divine Storm and Seal of Righteousness, our AOE DPS is back to being competitive, and it is pretty fun to boot. Having to use Holy Wrath as a filler on single-target encounters is a mere inconvenience, and not having an AOE finisher just makes our AOE rotation a bit of a bore. Of course we would all like to do more damage, but let's wait and see what 4.3 has in store for us before we grab the torches and pitchforks!
The Light and How to Swing It teaches you the ins and outs of retribution paladins, from Ret 101 and how to gem, enchant and reforge your retadin, to essential ret pally addons.