Is Ret Fun?
I’ve spent far too much time on the official Paladin forums lately, responding to some threads, reading a few others, and I’ve picked up on an attitude that seems to permeate each Ret post:
“Our rotation is too hard / not fun at all, GG BLIZZ! Change it back to the way it was in Wrath!”
Do we really want this?
Wrath of the Lich King
Here’s a quick screenshot of my UI during some heroic Sindragosa work:
What did we have to manage at this time? Well, the Power Aura shining brightly there is for Art of War, which at the time allowed you to cast Exorcism or Flash of Light instantly. Otherwise, there was our one cooldown, Avenging Wrath, to worry about. If you notice, I was specced into Aura Mastery at the time… oh God, the nostalgia is critting me!
So basically, during Wrath, we had one proc to watch for, one cooldown to use, and seven attacks to keep on cooldown in a priority order.
Oh right, two-piece T10 turned Divine Storm into an interesting proc as well, that proc being “When you see DS light up before it’s technically off cooldown, MASH THE SHIT OUT OF IT!”
And to counter my Sindy screenshot, here’s a Shannox one:
So what do we have to keep an eye on now? Art of War is still on our list of “procs to watch,” but now we also have Divine Purpose to look for. We have to keep Inquisition up for as close to the entire duration of the fight as we can, intelligently refreshing while not to sacrificing too much DPS. We need to juggle both Avenging Wrath and Zealotry, though it is recommended to macro them together nowadays (I started doing this a couple weeks ago; I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks!) We also have Bananaman (Guardian of Ancient Kings) to pop every five minutes.
Of course we got a whole new resource system to keep track of and utilize effectively, and after a few patches we finally got our AoE DPS groove back.
If you add it all up, that’s two procs, three cooldowns, one buff to maintain, a second resource mechanic to manage, and seven attacks.
What is Fun, Really?
Okay, you’re probably thinking, Ret has certainly gotten more complicated than before, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily more fun.
I completely agree. “Fun” is a subjective term, of course, but I don’t think it’s completely disjoined from “complication.”
Look at Blizzard’s raid encounters over the past couple expansions. For someone who started on a paladin during Wrath-era Naxx, Patchwerk was a pretty boring fight to me. It was a great fight to measure e-peens and chart DPS on, but the fight itself was extremely blah.
Fast forward to Firelands, and the closest analog you will find to Patchwerk is Baleroc. Sure, he stands in one spot the whole time; sure, there isn’t any AoE damage or fire to avoid, but his Shards of Torment, healing buff stacking, tank swaps, and level of coordination necessary far surpass that required for Patchwerk.
In essence, Blizzard has made fights more busy, more complicated, in the hopes that the player-base would find them engaging and, hey, fun. I think we can all agree that killing bosses week after week that just stood there and said “Oh, I’m going to kill you in the name of my master!” and did absolutely nothing else would be quite boring.
This design philosophy extends directly to player classes, Ret specifically.
Is the spec harder to play? Definitely.
Is it less fun? That depends:
If you happen to believe that folding laundry, counting change, and watching water pour out of a faucet are the most amazingly fun activities in the world, then maybe the spec isn’t for you.
However, if you’re the type of person that enjoys learning from his or her mistakes, finds satisfaction through honest effort and hard work, and just generally likes to use that spongy organ we call a “brain,” then I think you’ll fit right in.