Friday, April 24, 2009

3 Days, 2 Hotfixes - No More Team Replenishment in Arena's

New Developments, Yay

Hot on the heels of the change to Exorcism, Replenishment is also getting the smack-down in the Arena.

We are making a hotfix (any minute now probably) so that Replenishment in arenas will only affect the character and not the whole team. It will continue to function as it does currently outside of arenas.

We feel Replenishment is balanced for larger groups, but just makes too much of a difference on smaller arena teams. Making the rules work differently in PvP and PvE isn’t a solution we like to use often, but in this case we think it fixes the issue cleanly, while still making the talents in question useful to the character who takes them. Alternatives, such as nerfing the amount returned by Replenishment in arena or making it not function at all, seem like more punitive choices from which we want to stay away.


I personally subscribe to Merlots PoV - if a classes unique raid-wide utility can ever become that broken for a subset of the game it probably shouldn't have been created in the first place. Especially as it makes caster classes more and more homogenised with regards to mana regen.

So, why am I posting this? Well, simple really, it screws monumentally with Ret+Healer Arena PvP. With Exorcism gone Ret PvP with a healer in 2's is predicated on high-pressure DPS and enough spike damage to kill someone if they get low, coupled with the knowledge that with replenishment they have a good chance of running the opposing team's healer OOM before their own healer runs out. Much as a warrior with MS relies on this reduced healing debuff to make the opposition healer run OOM before his healer does. With this sort of strategy Ret/Disc has been doing okay in 2v2 so far, though it is shit upon from a great height by Rogue/Priest. But no, we can't have that, so away goes Replenishment.

Of course Paladin's aren't the only class to be harmed by this, any comp which was running Replen+Healer will also be adversely effected against any comp which does rely on it (e.g. Rogue/Priest, DK/Holy, Warrior/Druid etc.). But here the other point comes to the fore: the class providing Replenishment will still benefit from it themselves. Rets differ from these other classes (Frost Mages, Surv. Hunter, Shadow Priests) in one significant way however: we have a really, really tiny mana pool. With no int on our PvP or PvE gear our net benefit from Replenishment is tiny (<15 mana per sec) and will not get higher as better gear comes our way.

To put that into perspective, it would take 15 seconds to regen enough mana for a single Judgement (which has a 5% base mana cost). If Replenishment alone was a talent no Ret PvP paladin would ever take it, other classes would at least consider it.

The net effect is to make Ret much less desirable as the sole DPS in a 2-man team, and potentially strikes a death-blow to the 3v3 Ret+2healer team.

Long-term: Ret PvP and Mana

Ret's got mana problems. We all know it, though few people want to stick their head above the parapet and say it. Our PvE issues have been negated to a large extent by all of massively buffing JotW, relying on JoW and popping Divine Plea, but on very specific encounters fudges had to be put into place to ensure that Ret could still function. Specific exemptions will as always highlight flawed design. PvP problems are now accentuated however by specific changes from the 3.0.9 state of play (within thich Ret was hardly overpowered):

  • No more Spiritual Attunement - no more Rage-like mana regen in PvP.
  • Divine Plea is once again dispellable.
  • Judgement hits for much less, increasing the chance of a full absorb which regens zero mana.

  • This sets up non-Shadow Priests to be a hard counter to Ret, and Shaman/warlock/hunters to be soft-counters based around mana regen alone. Reduce a Paladin down to <5% mana in whatever way you can (Mana burn/require him to heal etc.) and you will neuter their offensive and defensive potential, especially if you have an offensive dispeller.

    Ghostcrawler, in his 'oh hai, we nerfed Exorcism' post, stated that he wanted ideas on revamping Ret's combat system. Well, here's my idea: Remove mana from Ret completely. It's the reason why we can front-load damage and Warriors can't, and the reason why we are unable to do anything at zero mana for extended periods of time and all other classes are. Make Paladin offensive abilities totally cool-down controlled (with inter-dependant cooldowns were appropriate, i.e. CS prevents DS for 3 seconds and visa versa), Vengeance stack to 5 times and defensive/utility abilities consume one buff from the stack and more. Totally divorce the Ret Paladin from his mana bar and let him start juggling cooldowns and using a full range of abilities rather than the neutered sub-set available to this particular hybrid.

    The class is ripe for a re-design and there are a huge number of idea's floating around, but half way into an expansion we won't get it. The idea's I've read so far amount to either one-button spamming or passive reactive effects where ignoring the Ret is the best option in PvP. I'm not sure that either suits me and I think it's time for radical thinking rather than tinkering around the edges to make a combination of CS and DS less bursty.

    Sorry for the rambling nature of this post, written in a hurry.


    Karl 24/04/2009, 19:53  

    Well, so much for participating in arenas this go-around. With some sort of impending ret dps nerfage and rebuilding, I'm rapidly loosing interest in ret at all.

    I had planned on doing a ret-offspec, but now, meh..

    Shawn 24/04/2009, 20:15  


    I disagree with your opinion on PvP vs PvE mechanics.

    I will be wholly serious when I say that I am totally tired of being constantly nerfed because of PvP concerns. Enough is E-Freaking-Nough.

    Now, you could say that mana is the problem, and I would concede that your suggestion is a completely valid position to have. I don't like the flavor of it.

    The simple fact of the matter is that burst is a completely viable option in PvP. Combined with Ret's completely debilatating lack of an ability to close the distance to our target (and Blizz's complete ability to ignore this through the screaming of practically every Pally out there that PvP's), we simply HAVE to have the frontloaded burst because once we get to them, we arent likely to do it again for a while (oh hai kyteing hundars - U can haz an asplody hugg b4 you runz me in circulz poking me in the ayz wit ur arrowz!!!!1!!11!one one)

    Even as it is, it is difficult, if not impossible to get any healer down with current methods.

    But again, with fear bombs, and kiting, we arent likely to get into range again, even against clothies.

    The thing I dont get is they say that our burst is way too high, were overpowering everyone we come incontact with.... If that was the case, why arent we overfilling with Ret Pallies in the top of the arena brackets?

    The day they address the overwhelming weakness of the class is the day that they should redesign the combat system. NOT BEFORE.

    And hell, separating PvP from PvE is not a bad idea. I, personally, hope they go that direction. You have dual specs.... use them.

    Suicidal Zebra 24/04/2009, 23:45  

    Shawn -

    I'm not of the opinion that Ret should be for PvP or PvE, which is what you seem to be saying. Your comment on dual-specs can be thrown at any of our three different roles, to the extent that we could be pigeon-holed into a 100% PvE or 100% PvP class. This may be okay for you, but I'd hate it if my class was by design as useless in PvP as it was in Season 3. I also don't agree with the underlying premise that you can't balance a particular spec for PvP and PvE at the same time (with subtle variations) as it worked plenty well enough for most healing specs and no small number of DPS classes.

    That said, I agree that Ret without Burst really brings nothing to the table PvP wise, and even with the burst we bring getting healers down is an exercise in futility (fecking Resto Druids). The problem is that for all our protestations Blizzard has time and again cited our burst as a problem, but at least are now addressing it in a way that targets PvP exclusively rather than impacting PvE as a side-effect. However the continual nerfs are nickel and diming the spec to death in PvP without dealing with the fundamental issues:

    1) Ret Paladins have extremely simple combat mechanics amounting to cooldown-watching.

    2) Paladins have very few baseline abilities and uncomplicated talents amounting to defensive utility or simple damage scaler's (Art of War, Vengeance, Sanctity of Battle). This leads to the 'press it as it lights up' gameplay style rather than any real interactivity. It's progress from 1.0, 1.9 and 2.4, but there is still a very long way to go.

    3) Mana is completely the wrong resource system for Melee. No ifs, no buts, it just isn't appropriate. It is for this reason Spiritual Attunement simulates Rage when tanking and JotW provides a constantly regenning source of mana.

    Balancing PvE DPS is absurdly easy because calculating DPS is absurdly easy. You can create whatever combat mechanic you want and tweak the numbers enough to make it work. But to have it work in both PvP and PvE you have to address all three points outlined above. Whether you like my suggestion for a mechanic change is irrelevant because I'm just a nobody e-raging on the internet, but it would work. As would countless other suggestions. Blizz has never been very good at understanding the implication of their class design for Paladins, as exemplified by GC's belief that Exorcism would steal away a GCD from Ret which instead just gave us another button to press. But this is by-the-by, the point is that there are many other systems that would work and could be balanced for PvE that by their very nature wouldn't pose the same problems for PvP (and hell, may encourage a little more design flexibility).

    Frankly, rather than a general call for ideas what we need from Blizzard is some indication of the direction they want to go. Is Ret supposed to be simply a burst class (leading to issues when the Burst won't ever secure a kill @ high HP, Res. and HoT levels), burst + offensive utility (DPS pressure, mobility and range closers) or sustained + defensive (i.e. worthless). Without direction any suggestions we make are totally moot, and from this direction we can start to suggest abilities which wouldn't break the design intention of the Class.

    One last point. I agree that any nerfs can't come without corresponding buffs. In no role is Ret (or any Paladin spec) currently overpowered and if you want to remove at least a portion of that capability something else needs to be provided in return. And Ret could do with being more than a one-trick pony.

    Anonymous 25/04/2009, 04:49  

    I had suggested something similar to runic power or rage for retribution paladins called Fervour... I seem to recall being mocked. I still think it'd be a good idea, though.

    Will Armstrong 25/04/2009, 04:58  

    @ Peregrine:Keep in mind that most of the people who post at the WoW Forums (or even MMO-Champion forums) are idiots. In fact, the intellectual level of the community is one of the reasons I am now seriously considering quitting the game.

    Like you, I've posted my fair share of ideas, only to have them ignored, mocked, or picked at. I've only seen a few cases of real constructive criticism; most can't read more than 3 sentences before they go cross-eyed and start drooling.

    People don't understand change and completely lack vision. All they want is to hit things harder and keep things from hitting them back, and that's their limit.

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