With 3.2 due out in early August and some stability in class mechanics over the last few builds it's time to start nailing down the impact of 3.2 on gear and playstyle. This is the first part of a 3.2 Retribution Paladin Primer.
Ah, so much to say, so much room to say it in. 3.2 is close at hand and we all need to get a grip on the latest class alterations in the new patch. Having had a few weeks to ruminate and cogitate on the ins and outs of 3.2 here is my take on Talents, Seals and Retributions' DPS Rotation, such as it is.
1. Base PvE Talent Build
It would be easy to drone on and on and on about the talents to take, but come on guys this isn't rocket science. There's still only 59 talents which increase your DPS, and taking all the essentials (including JotW) only requires an investment of 62.
Baring a few points shaved here and there this is the cookie cutter talent build most Ret Paladins will be working from in 3.2:
The only change from the 3.1 cookie cutter build is 5 points spent in Seals of the Pure. Currently, SotP accounts for a little more than 5% increase in DPS as it increases the damage of the DoT, Judgement and Seal Proc of SoV by the listed 15%. Where you place those final 9 points will largely be up to you and your raid composition. Divine Sacrifice is the strongest of all available talents because of the raid-wide mitigation it allows when activated in conjunction with Divine Shield. Other talent choices will largely depend on your raid line-up, with Imp. BoM and Vindication registering as the strongest contenders. I'll be taking a more detailed look at these utility talents in a later post.
Seal of Vengeance/Corruption will be the Seal of choice in the vast, vast majority of cases. The DPS output of this Seal is significantly higher than any alternative, and four seconds to accumulate the 5-high stack requirement for its' direct damage proc isn't a hardship.
The jury is currently out on which of the other two Seals represent the best DPS in the blessedly rarely situations where SoV isn't optimal. Command has a much stronger melee proc whilst Righteousness deals painfully more damage on Judgement. Against AoE Instance Trash Command just about has an edge because of procs from Divine Storm, but otherwise Righteousness /w 5/5 SotP is so close to the damage output of Command that the additional talent point spent becomes somewhat unnecessary. If you're pressured into raid-utility talents ditching Command may be necessary, even if you have to hold your nose and sometimes run with Righteousness.
PTR testing currently puts SoV DPS output at ~25% of total, which may well be looked at closely as finer balancing takes place towards the end of the testing cycle. JoV also hits very, very hard (pre-nerf JoB hard) with AP trinket/libram procs and 5-stack Holy Vengeance, and that may well be dialed down because of PvP and the fact that JoV also procs the Seal.
3. FCFS Priority Rotation, or 'Hulk Mash Buttons!'
You'd be forgiven for assuming that Crusader Strike cooldown reduction and the 'Art of Exorcism' effect had changed our FCFS priority system for DPS. In reality it simply constitutes an increase of 1 GCD spent per 12 seconds and therefore a bit more key pounding but not much more thought required. DPS is generally higher than the 3.1 baseline, but making use of utility skills such as Sacred Shield come at a commensurate DPS loss.
More GCD's used means that the conflict resolution priority each skill has is more important than in earlier patch cycles. A skills position of priority within the sequence isn't down to a simple analysis of damage per cast or stand-alone DPS, a more rigorous methodology to assess the relative DPS cost of using one ability in preference to another is required.
If I prioritise Divine Storm over Judgement once every 40 seconds Divine Storm has an effective cooldown of 10 secs and Judgement 8.3 seconds. If I prioritise Judgement over Divine Storm once every 40 seconds Divine Storm has an effective cooldown of 10.375 secs and Judgement 8 seconds. If Judgement does J damage per cast and DS D damge per cast, which is greater: (J/8.3) + (D/10) or (J/8) + (D/10.375).
Of course, there are a number of potential permutations to go through with the possibility that each priority can affect another skills position in the priority listing. With that said, the following is a good rule of thumb:
Hammer of Wrath > Crusader Strike > Judgement > Divine Storm > Consecration > Exorcism
which of course is conditional on mob health and mobility. You'll crit often enough for Exorcism to always be instant cast unless you have a really terrible crit rate, so nothing has changed on that regard.
Glyphs will be the next topic in this 3.2 Ret Primer.