Upcoming Ret Changes: A New Hope

Early this morning, Ghostcrawler published a blog post about intended class changes in an upcoming content patch. Instead of giving definite numbers and values, he outlined the philosophies behind a lot of the design decisions they made, which I think is a lot more useful than simple numbers and values. Let’s take a look at what he has said regarding Ret.

In terms of PvE in general (boldface added for emphasis):

We’re happy with damage overall. We have very few traditional tank and spank fights (even Argaloth likes to parry melee) so it’s hard to get consistent numbers without very large data sets. Still, we see Survival hunters and Unholy DKs on top of a lot of single target fights. Arcane, Marksman, and Beastmaster damage is too low. Retribution, Shadow, and Fire and Frost mage damage might be too low, but we’re still watching them.

Some in the Ret community, myself included until fairly recently, mistakenly believed that with all of the changes to our rotation, our DPS would be competitive only with tank damage. Early simcraft data showed Ret to be near the worst off, save for every Rogue spec, but it has become clear that this is no longer the case. I have seen rogues tearing up heroics, and have seen parses where they rank in the top 3 of damage done among whom I consider to be equally-skilled players.

I have also seen my own damage and DPS to be chart-topping among melee-friendly groups… not to toot my own horn or anything. Granted, I have only put a few attempts on the first two bosses in Blackwing Descent, but from that and from the numerous heroics I’ve run, I think I can make that claim with a fair amount of confidence.

We’re not in a terrible place DPS-wise; where the Ret spec truly fails is its execution. I think this post by Bravehearth in the Paladin forums sums up my feelings quite nicely:

DPS isn’t the issue for most people, it’s all the damned RNG. Building up 3 holy power so we can hit our big signature move…oh wait, art of war procced, better hit Exorcism first because it hits harder. Alright SWEET I can now hit my signature move..no wait, Inquisition is about to fall off, better hit that. Oh awesome, a hand of light proc, I can FINALLY hit templar’s verdict again…oh damn, the boss just went under 20% so i better hit hammer of wrath first because it hits harder. Oh, now I can hit Templar’s Verdict…but wait, Zeoltry is off cooldown! This will be awesome! Crusader Strike…Templa….no wait, art of war proc, gotta hit that first…oh another art of war proc…oh hammer of wrath is off cooldown…HAND OF LIGHT PROC…wow I can hit templar’s verdict twice in a row…crusader strike…Oops, better refresh my inquisition lololol.

It’s just frustrating to play. There’s just no rythem to it. It is by far the most convoluted dps “rotation” in the game currently.   (source)

There has to be a distinction between complication and convolution, as I feel our rotation is too far off the deep end as it is.

On the topic of Mastery:

Mastery is a new stat for us, and there are a few specs that don’t value it enough. In some cases (e.g. Combat rogues), the design for mastery is fine and we just need to buff the effects to make it more desirable. In others, we don’t think it’s possible to buff mastery enough in its current form. For example, the Retribution mastery, Hand of Light, is fun, but it doesn’t contribute enough damage. To make it contribute enough damage, the proc would need a very high chance, which then can cause paladins to devalue other sources of Holy Power. Instead, we are redesigning Retribution mastery to add a percentage of the damage of Templar’s Verdict, Crusader Strike, and Divine Storm as Holy damage (which also plays better with Inqusition). Because Hand of Light is fun, however, we are going to change Divine Purpose as a chance to proc Hand of Light instead of a chance for extra Holy Power (which will also remove a little of the randomness from the rotation).

If you’re like me, you just breathed a very audible sigh… a good one.

To put it kindly, Hand of Light really gummed up the works, and I’ll be glad to see Divine Purpose and Hand of Light rolled into one talent.

Putting their proposal of our new Mastery into perspective, let’s look at one of the most simple versions of Mastery out there: the flat percentage increase.

Let’s imagine they made the Ret Mastery a “increases your X damage by Y% for each point of Mastery.”

If X were “Holy,” then it would just be like a perma-Inquisition. In practice, this would only buff Exorcism, Holy Wrath, and Consecration, the latter two of which are on “long” cooldowns, the former being spammable but costly. If we stacked Mastery in this situation, we’d see bursts of high DPS centered around hard-hitting Exorcisms; a high priority on Inquisition and Art of War procs with little emphasis on the actual generation of Holy Power.

If X were “physical,” then we would be gearing for Haste and Mastery over all else, trying to get that most sacred 3.0s CS cooldown and pretty much removing Inquisition from our bars.

What the proposed scheme does is roll both of these concepts into one.

  • By basing the amount of damage contributed to our DPS by Mastery on our physical damage spells (TV, CS and DS), they create an emphasis on Strength and Haste (in reducing the cooldown of CS/DS and increasing TV output as a result).
  • By making that additional damage Holy, they create an emphasis for keeping Inquisition rolling throughout an encounter, as I assume that damage would be modified by it.

Let’s hope this solution pans out; as I’m sure many other specs can agree, it just plain sucks having a Mastery that clashes with the rest of your rotation.

Finally, on our single CC (Repentence):

Censure will no longer break Repentance.

Why this wasn’t the case before I don’t understand, but it’s a very welcome change indeed.

13 Responses to “Upcoming Ret Changes: A New Hope”

  1. Stop December 28, 2010 at 3:32 pm #

    Sigh of relief incoming: /phew!

    However, the other part of that change to HoL makes me worry. Popping Hand of Light onto Divine Purpose instead of randomly generating Holy Power could be interesting, but it gives me even less of an incentive to respec into Divine Storm – 40% chance of getting to hit DS then Inq/TV, or 60% chance of hitting DS then twiddling my thumbs?

    I spec’d out of DS a day or two ago and have been basically just assisting tanks and single-target burning in instances. I’ve barely missed its absence from my bars – I feel more effective this way.

    • Antigen December 28, 2010 at 4:02 pm #

      The problem with Divine Purpose was the spillover of Holy Power and how complicated and unpredictable it was making our HP generation. There have been plenty of times where I just assume I have 0 HP after I use TV or Inquisition, then look down to my bar and see two HP just staring at me awkwardly.

      “Oh, I didn’t see you guys there… I guess those Crusader Strikes were basically a huge waste, huh?”

      As for the Divine Storm issue, I don’t really see a reason to go out of your way to spec out of it. It’s quite handy for AoE packs, like the murloc hunter guys in Throne of the Tides or the patrolling little rocks in Stonecore.

      It not reliably producing Holy Power in an AoE situation is a non-issue because we don’t have any AoE finishers, and the situations in which you’d use DS don’t call for the strong single-target Templar’s Verdict anyway. Hand of Light and Divine Purpose have been enough for me to keep up Inquisition when I need it during those situations.

      To each their own, though; it certainly is not part of our “boss rotation,” so it’s really at the mercy of the individual.

  2. Vidyala December 28, 2010 at 7:45 pm #

    You know that I know pretty much nothing about ret (except I clench my teeth when I log on to Vid and hope for the best). Fire does seem a *little* low and RNG dependent but I think it’s gear. I struggled with mana management until I learned better, but I looove how it plays. If they feel a buff is deserved I hope they just tweak the numbers a bit but leave the play alone because it’s pitch perfect.

    • Vespers December 28, 2010 at 9:39 pm #

      Fire does play great (I swapped to a mage from a pally this xpac, now of course they get around to fixin ret after I’ve swapped). I hope they fix some of the bugs, though.. Ignite munching (not so much of a problem at this gear level I guess), not being able to cast Pyroblast! when moving, and the weird as shit Living Bomb/Impact interaction.

      However, even with all those bugs in Fire, i still like 4.0 mage better than 4.0 ret. Maybe that’ll change if they fix ret enough.. i dunno.

      • Antigen December 29, 2010 at 10:15 am #

        Leave it to you, Vid, to change a perfectly honest discussion about paladins into something as vile as mage damage! Haha

  3. saif December 30, 2010 at 11:19 am #

    I find Ret DPS to be a lot of fun, when I’m not tanking, though I honestly thought the RNG confusion was mostly me not being used to the rotation enough. I gave up on Feral DPS a long time ago because of the complexity of the rotation and when I was getting ~11 – 12k out of melee friendly fights in heroics, I thought that I could do better with more practice.

    While I’m comfortable with my boss damage, I’m really not too comfortable with AoEing. But I’m not too worried about that – I only really AoE on > 3 targets and that’s rare in the CC world.

    I never though I’d say this but I’ll appreciate less RNG and fewer procs. When Exorcism, HoL and Zealotry all light up at the same time, I go a bit deer-eyed. Especially as I’m about to swap to kill adds on H: Erudax. >.<

    Hopefully this will let me do some decent DPS when we have too many tanks. :-)

    • Antigen December 30, 2010 at 11:47 am #

      “I never though I’d say this but I’ll appreciate less RNG and fewer procs”

      We all will. We can go like 10 seconds, at least, just chaining procs and not touching Judge or CS or anything. Honestly, if they did away with Hand of Light altogether and just left Art of War, I think I’d be totally okay with that.

      “While I’m comfortable with my boss damage, I’m really not too comfortable with AoEing. ”

      Yeah, I feel the same way. Divine Storm feels like it’s not doing enough damage to use it on < 6 or so targets. It’s great that they removed the target cap, though, so those massive groups of little mobs that are meant to be AoE’d can be.

  4. Suicidal Zebra December 31, 2010 at 5:45 pm #

    A few points (sparsely put, so as not to pre-empt my own blog post on the subject)

    1) Loss of Divine Purpose is great from one perspective – it makes religiously watching the Holy Power meter less of a requisite. OTOH losing DP is a MASSIVE DPS loss which will need to be addressed in some fashion.

    2) Mastery scaling, if done correctly, should allow DS to scale better than CS for multiple targets (though the loss of Holy Power generation with DS is still an issue). Depending on how the change is implemented (static Holy damage, multiple of weapon damage, multiple of attacks damage) expect to see DS being used more often and to greater effect.

    3) Removing DP will increase the value of Zealotry, as will the new Mastery so long as Hand of Light proc rates aren’t significantly higher than current values. The changes proposed may well kill two ‘this sucks’ birds with one stone.

    As always, the devil is in the detail and I still think that other things need to be addressed, SoT ramp-up time or Holy Wrath for example. Slowly but surely we’re getting there, but don’t be surprised if the numbers are lower than needed on the first PTR pass.

    • Antigen January 4, 2011 at 12:30 pm #

      I’m eagerly awaiting this post you’ve promised!

  5. Rhidach January 4, 2011 at 12:34 pm #

    I like this! Please write more on this topic!

    • Antigen January 4, 2011 at 12:45 pm #

      That’s it, banning your IP!

      • Rhidach January 4, 2011 at 12:49 pm #

        NYOOO, I have so many delightful things to sell you!

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