Thursday, March 05, 2009

Yeah, Good Luck With That GC...

With the consolidation of Retribution talents (6 points eliminated) and the moving to baseline of Kings, Retribution has a lot of slack in its' PvE builds. As of the latest PTR your average DPS build leaves you with 11 or more points left over. This isn't a problem per se, but it is disappointing that however you spend those spare points the benefit you gain will be marginal in a raid setting. Essentially it's poor talent design, but hardly surprising to anyone familiar with the iterations Paladins have gone through over the last 4 years. A thread on the official forums outlining this, and Ret's low PTR DPS, elicited the following response from the Crabbed One.

One of the changes we are trying to do with Ret is to get them into the other trees a little more. This is definitely one of those specs where players would go 0/0/71 if we let them. I would not assume that trees with few talents are unfinished. The Prot warrior lost a lot of talents in LK, but it was a good change for them. Overall, our trees are probably too thick for lots of classes which makes it hard to spend many points in a second tree.

We do want to bring Ret's damage up a little, and we would like to get more talents in the other trees that they actually want to take.


Ironically you can't spend 71pts in the 3.1 Ret tree, there is only space for 66 talents (and that includes Deflection and Eye for an Eye).

So, where should Ret spend it's spare points? Well, there's Divine Strength, but that's about it. Any additional point investment is of marginal value at best, totally useless at worst. Ret may as well spend 61s point and not use the rest, they'll never be of any raid value. The problem is that unlike most Hybrids Tier 1-4 Holy and Prot are very focused on either PvP or thier respective roles of Healing and Tanking. Ret by contrast has something for everyone.

There's no easy way to fix it, and I'm not sure that Blizzard are really that invested in addressing it at this stage. Ret, Prot and Holy remaining viable in their primary role is the big thing and messing around with Tiers 1-4 Prot (as this would be the tree likely to see the changes) without a clear purpose runs the risk of interfering with Tankadins too much. Apart from taking a long look at the three 11pt talents the time and scope of potential changes is probably too much. Some mechanic changes made earlier could provide a simple out: moving Aura Mastery to 11pt Prot and Imp. Devo Aura down a tier would allow Ret to spend points to give the raid a tangible benefit (a 40 yrd aura with +3% damage, +3% haste and +6% healing). Unfortunately that's not really a solution, just a fudge for now which makes Tier4 Prot look decidedly sparse.

If I were a betting man, I'd say that no more significant changes to Paladins will be made before 3.1, and making Retributions' talent point investment beyond the 60th meaningful will remain aspirational rather than a priority. That's not to say that 3.1 is a let-down, all of the changes bar those that resulted in reduced DPS have been very good ones. You can only spend your time once and Blizz has other things it needs to address, not least some of the inconsistencies and bugs in current Paladin talents.

With a presumptive deadline of the Noble Garden holiday (April 12th, the 7th being the Tuesday before this) for 3.1 Blizzard need to hop like a bunny to address what GC mentioned. Hopefully we'll see a new PTR build tomorrow or early next week, but apart from the odd DPS-increasing tweak and Tier 8 Set Bonus' there's probably not much new to come for Paladins specifically.


Green Armadillo 05/03/2009, 20:26  

Great catch on the Noble Garden deadline, you're the first person I've seen to notice that. :)

As to the talents, I've heard (possibly here, too many class changes to keep track of) that using Art of War procs aren't going to cost Pallies DPS anymore? If so, then maybe there'll be an incentive to spend 8 in Holy for Healing Light?

Then again, perhaps Retadins should be glad there isn't an absolute must-have in the 11-20 point range. All Frost mages, and Fireball-spec Fire mages, basically have to spend 18 in Arcane to obtain Torment The Weak, which is a 12% damage boost against raid bosses that are being tanked by a tank. Frostfire-spec Fire specs basically have to take 18 in Frost, and Arcane specs would universally prefer to follow them for Frost Channeling (though some are forced to go fire to provide Improved Scorch for their raids). There's a fine line between having a reason to go down other trees and having all 71 points of your spec dictated by the need for a specific 53/18 combo.

Suicidal Zebra 05/03/2009, 21:09  

It's probably useful to draw a distinction between DPS-Increasing talents and utility talents. The former are pretty much mandatory in a DPS class/role, the latter much less so. The risk of casting a certain build in iron as 'The PvE Build' will always be there, but in general a revamping of Tier 1-4 Prot and Holy will, if not increase Ret's DPS, at least improve their functionality.

Problem is, it'll take a lot of Dev hours to do it, and I'm just not sure there are many to spare.

(as an aside, I'm tempted to say that Torment of The Weak is too strong. Mages need that 12% in raid, but it's very cheap for 3 pts so low in a spec. Sharing that boost around a few other talents in other trees would be a good idea IMO)

Green Armadillo 05/03/2009, 21:56  

My guess is that TTW was Blizzard's attempt at overcompensating for the TBC era frost builds that had very relatively limited reason to spend points outside of the frost tree. I agree that it's a very blunt instrument, especially since there is no strong reason why a serious frost mage would benefit from points in the fire tree.

(If you're having fun soloing TBC instances, then a Water Elemental/Impact build like the one I use is entertaining, but I'm literally paying a third of my potential DPS to get to screw around with that build -i.e. my DPS would literally go up 50% if I respecced cookie cutter Arcane.)

My guess is that fireball got added to the mix when they realized that there was no good reason for a fire spec to actually cast fireballs instead of (more mana efficient) frostfire bolts anymore. Fireballs are really only about 10-12% ahead damage-wise, so the build is competely dependent on TTW.

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