Guest Post: Just Say The Word

Hi there. I’m Pliers, the new ret paladin in town. Antigen’s been kind enough to offer me a chance to guest post. I’m working on a longer post that’ll go into how I came to be a ret paladin and the steps I took in deciding to pick up a real spec (I should say, the only spec), but put that on hold while I wrote this post about our utility.

In Antigen’s last post, Meloree and I had a good conversation in the comments about looking past the damage meter, and how there’s more to us than meets the eye. If you have a few minutes, I really recommend checking out the comments in that post.

To sum it up, we spoke about two different approaches to playing a ret paladin: pure DPS and support. The first group focuses on being the best DPS you can be, maximizing personal performance and squeezing out as much damage as possible. The second group is willing to sacrifice personal performance if it may help out the raid. Antigen considers himself to be in the former group, while I am working to train myself to be in the latter. Neither is strictly better than the other; both come with advantages and disadvantages, and you should look at your personal raiding situation before deciding which is for you.

Today, I’m going to talk about Word of Glory. Paladins have more ways to help out the raid than any other class, and even though it was sizably nerfed when 4.1 gave it a cooldown, this often overlooked ability deserves the spotlight. I will use Baleroc as an example of where, how, and why we should be eager to WoG, rather than reluctant or unwilling.

To start, here’s a link to the spec used, which has 1 point in Eye for an Eye, and no Repentence, to allow for 2/2 Selfless Healer.

Here’s one of my WoL reports, for a heroic Baleroc attempt from Tuesday. In this instance, Baleroc has 196 million health, and enrages after 6 minutes.

Before I get into the meat of my post, you might notice that I cast precisely 0 WoGs. I got off to a bit of a rough start, and made sure to do what was needed of me before I worried about saving others. While it is a shameful example of not meeting ret’s potential, it does make for a good control for the rest of what I have to say.

First, the obvious. WoG is a heal that requires Holy Power to use, scaling linearly. Without Selfless Healer, a regular WoG will land for around 20k from a ret paladin, with roughly a 30% crit rate. It’s not a regular part of our rotation, since it takes the place of Templar’s Verdict, our highest source of damage. TV accounts for roughly 25% of our damage, once you include HoL procs. Looking through my WoL report, in 5.25 minutes, I did 38 TVs, or one TV every 8.3 seconds. To make things simple on myself, scaling it to a 5 minute fight would have 35 TVs.

Say I noticed people occasionally dying, and decide to keep an eye on the raid frames to toss out the occasional heal when someone was dipping low. Let’s examine what would happen if I were to use WoG once per minute on average. I lose 5 TVs from using their Holy Power on WoG, plus 1 DP proc that I wouldn’t have gotten due to losing those TVs. So, that’s 6 lost TVs out of 35, and TV is 25% of our damage.

(6/35)*.25= 4.3% damage lost.

Mitigating this loss, I’d gain some damage from Selfless Healer: 4% damage per Holy Power, for 10 seconds, once per minute.

(10s/60s)*(.04*3) = 2%.

4.3%-2%= 2.3% net loss.

That is a 500-550 DPS loss. Looking at it slightly differently, I would have done roughly 165k less damage total. That number doesn’t hit me as hard as “500+ DPS”, but regardless, it’s a noticeable loss for a ret pally and will show at the end of the fight. However, it comes out to less than 0.1% of the total damage the raid needs to deal. That means I would lengthen the fight by 1/3rd of a second.

In the meantime, you fired off 5 heals on low health targets. Your healing done from the 5 WoGs will be the 20k baseline, times 1.5 for Selfless Healer, times 1.3 for your crit rate. In return for your 165k damage sacrifice, you will have done 20k*(1.5)(1.3) = 195k healing, and had 5 separate opportunities to save someone who may otherwise have died, while sparing healers mana and potentially cooldowns.

Check out a second spec variation here. I’ve given up 1 point from both Blazing Light and Eye for an Eye, and picked up 2/2 Last Word, giving my WoGs an extra 60% crit on people under 35%, which covers just about every WoG you’d be tossing out. On that attempt, Exorcism came out to 8% of my damage. The top parse for all ret paladins has 10% damage for Exorcism, so I’ll use that. A high estimate for Eye for an Eye on that fight puts it at .5% of the total. Losing 1 point from Blazing Light will put my Exorcisms at 110% damage instead of 120%, going from 8% to 7.3%. Combined, I have lost another 1.2% damage, on top of the 2.3% from using WoG, putting me roughly 800 DPS lower than where I started for a total loss of 240,000 damage. I’ve now lengthened the fight by just slightly over half a second. This is equivalent of a single raider stopping DPS completely for about 12 seconds. I’ll come back to this in a moment.

On the other hand, WoG has increased dramatically in potency. Making the same calculation as above, only with 60% more crit, your WoGs will be landing for an average of 57k, totaling 285k healing. To put that in perspective, 57k is over 40% of the typical raider’s health bar.

Let’s assume the following:

Someone dies. Fortunately, the raid has a battle res up to spare. Miraculously, the raid’s debuff rotation hasn’t changed, and no one else is dead or debuffed as a result, so the raid as a whole can continue as if nothing happened. It takes 3 seconds for a druid to decide to Battle res, target the person, and start their 2 second cast. The res goes off and is instantly accepted. The druid buffs MotW and immediately continues DPSing, while two other people toss out their buffs, and, in a stroke of luck, all other combat buffs are automatically applied by other classes in the course of their DPSing, instantly. The person who died didn’t need mana, didn’t clip their cooldowns, has no ramp-up time, and only loses 1.5 seconds moving back into position before starting to DPS again.

In this ridiculous extreme, the druid lost 2 seconds of DPS ressing and 1.5 seconds buffing, two other people lost a global each, and the person who died is out of commission for 5.5 seconds, putting us back at, yes, 12 seconds, the same amount of time you effectively cost the raid by changing your spec and firing out WoGs.

There’s no guarantee you would have saved someone, but you’re only using it in situations where people are most likely to die without help. Battle resses are a commodity, and there will be significantly more time lost in getting the person up and back in the fight. The cost is cheap. Shit will hit the fan if people die. You could very well be the difference between a kill and a wipe, and if nothing else, you can pat yourself on the back knowing that wipe was in spite of you doing your absolute best.

Mostly, what I’m hoping to do here is outline an alternative method of play that de-emphasizes our position on a meter. Just because we’re not #1 on stateofdps.com doesn’t change that we’re the best class in the game. I focused on Word of Glory and Baleroc for this post, but we have a ton of other tools that will help on just about every fight which aren’t part of our standard dps rotation. Using them at the right times can and will turn the tide of a fight. In the end, what matters is getting the boss down, and I know that when a boss finally bites the dust, there’s no better feeling than knowing I made a difference.

As always, play intelligently. Don’t wait around with 3 Holy Power, or start topping off people who aren’t in danger. Stay alive, stay focused, and push the limits of your DPS potential. Just remember to keep your eyes open for opportunities to show what sets you apart from the pack. The only reason Recount doesn’t have a tab for “Awesome” is because there’s already a tab on Blizzard’s raid frames that says how many paladins are in the raid. Work to make your teammates jealous when you whip out another tool from our utility belt, not just our dashing good looks and fabulous hair.

Side note: Mouseover macros are awesome. Using heals, Hands, and taunts without having to swap targets (and losing autoswings in the process) is something everyone should be taking advantage of.

#showtooltip
/cast [target=mouseover,help] Word of Glory

This macro will attempt to WoG whatever you have your cursor over, and if that fails, saves the holy power so you can use it on TV. I have this bound to my mouse button 4 for super easy use (you cannot use mouse buttons for mouseover macros in general, but I went into my mouse settings and remapped my mouse button 4 key to work around that issue).

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