Monday, July 27, 2009

PTR Patch Notes Updated: More SoV/SoCor Nerf Info

New Seal of Vengeance news. I noted on Friday that the implementation of SoV had changed significantly on the PTR, i.e. that the Seal no longer interacted with Crusader Strike, Divine Storm or Judgement. This afternoon the 3.2.0 Patch notes have been updated, and the following line has been included:



Seal of Vengeance and Seal of Corruption: These seals have been redesigned to deal substantially more damage. Now, once a paladin has 5 copies of the debuff from these seals on his or her target, on each swing the paladin will deal 33% weapon damage as Holy, with critical strikes dealing double damage. In addition, the damage-over-time effect is now considered a melee attack instead of a spell attack and the effects from these seals can only be triggered by auto-attacks and Hammer of the Righteous.

However, Ghostcrawler clarified Blizzard's stance:

Only white attacks can stack the Sea of Vengeance / Corruption dot. However special abilities should still trigger the bonus weapon damage. I'm not sure the current PTR build you have reflects that last bit.

The goal was not to nerf Ret for PvE. We do want the ramp up time to be significant for PvE or it won't solve the PvP problem we're trying to fix. However, once you get the stack up, your damage should be pretty decent. On very short kills (say trash or something like Thorim arena) you won't be able to get the full benefit from the dot, but any class with a finishing move typically loses that damage as well. Balance is important for both short and long fights, but it's normal to use different rotations or abilities for those two extremes. (In other words, we're okay with a long ramp up time for this ability.)

We will continue to monitor Ret numbers coming out of the PTR and even once the patch goes live and make changes if necessary.

Stacking the SoV Debuff 5 times to enable the 33% damage proc will take 10 secs with a 2-h weapon hasted to 2.5 speed, making SoV much less suitable in environments where you are changing your target often or have >15secs of DPS down-time or time off target. SoV will also be of no benefit in situations requiring high AoE damage, necessitating the use of Seal of Righteousness (which with 5/5 SotP is slightly better than SoCommand). In other words the change sucks for Freya-like encounters*.

Given that target switching and AoE damage requirements are a fact of life one answer could be to allow Seal switching at a much lower mana cost, 'no change in rotation' applies because only auto-attacks can proc the DoT. Knocking down the cost of SoR/C and SoV to <5% of base mana would make Ret much more competitive during AoE burn phases and slightly raise the skill level of playing a Ret Paladin, without murdering mana reserves.

SoV and Command/Righteousness are now sufficiently different for either to be useful to a PvE Paladin, and SoV is no longer a no-brainer in PvP. Command could still do with some love, especially given the low Judgement damage, in order for it to be clearly worth the talent point investment rather than 'making do' with the comparable 5/5 SotP SoRighteousness. As things stand, I'd still use Righteousness in PvE, and probably take SoC in PvP only (spending the 4 TPs saved on Prot PvP utility talents such as Imp HoJ).

All in all, the mood has been downgraded from 'panic' to 'simmering discontent'.


This was going to be a big fat whine, before I saw GC's post. Phew, glad I didn't make a fool of myself ;).


* Honor's reminded me that when I said 'Freya-like encounters' I really should have said 'Ulduar-style encounters'. In T8 raids (including Emalon) target switching, heavy burn phases and extended periods of time-off-target are the rule, rather than the exception. Experienced Ulduar hard-mode raiders in the EJ forum are extremely concerned with the enforced DPS downtime, describing it as much more punishing than even Rogue and Druid target switching mechanics. It's possible to shave off some time by switching to a fast one-hander and prioritizing other skills, but a meaningful DPS increase from this method is unlikely.

The proof of the pudding will be in the eating, but as things stand most Ret Paladins won't view the elimination of SoB and new variants of SoV and SoC as any sort of DPS buff except in obsolete Thaddius/Patchwerk style encounters. Look at, for example, the abilities of the Twin Valkyr, where target switching is an essential mechanic of the encounter. SoV is a positive liability in such fights.

If SoV looks like a liability in the long run, especially T8/9 raids, Blizzard will probably alter the mechanic. It appears that Balancing PvP and PvE is even more problematic with this Seal than the old Seal of Blood, and looks like gutting the ability in PvE as things stand.

Horray for PvP nerfing PvE, eh?


Will Armstrong 28/07/2009, 02:08  

Out of curiosity, isn't it possible to switch to an extremely fast 1h weapon, even something that has pathetic damage, in order to burst up as many stacks of SoV as possible, then switch back to a slow two-hander and unleash hell?

A quick check of WoWhead reveals there are weapons with speeds as fast as 1.50 that paladins can use, including the level 42 Flurry Axe.

Anyone feel like crunching the numbers?

Suicidal Zebra 28/07/2009, 02:37  

Yes, you can. The quandry is just how much DPS you can push out with a decent ilvl fast 1-hander + shield by prioritising other skills such as Shield of Righteousness, Consecration and Exorcism. It should obviously be noted that a weapon switch would could a GCD, which in itself is pretty expensive.

My gut instinct is that the damage increase of going this route would be fairly minimal, but it's probably worth doing the sums. I have a think about the best approach to the problem tomorrow.

Honors Code 28/07/2009, 14:57  

" I.e. the change sucks for Freya-like encounters"

Think about how much of T8 is Freya like.

Ulduar fights with significant burn windows, heavy trash or target-switching elements, potential windows of time off-target, or two or more of the above:

Iron Council

In addition there's Emalon. The overcharged add had better be dead before your SoV stack is even up or you'll wipe the raid.

Anonymous 28/07/2009, 16:30  

The one thing that weighed pretty heavy in SoC's favor for me was the new glyph that gives back 8% of total mana on its judgement. Granted, I was only out grinding mobs in icecrown, but it was pretty amazing how long I could sustain myself with instant FoL's via the mana gained from the glyph. I know this wouldn't be so important in a raiding situation, but if blizz intends on making aoe situation last perhaps longer, then SoC would definitely be the seal of choice for aoe damage. Only thing that sucks about that is now they can expect us to use consecrate more often w/o us having the argument that it is too mana expensive.

Karl 28/07/2009, 19:28  

It's time to think about my hunter again.

Ret is my offspec, so there's no way I'm going to be profficient enough with seal-and-gear swapping mid-fight to be effective.

When I'm asked to go ret for a fight, I'll bring in my hunter instead.

On the plus side, I'll have more bag space. I won't be carrying ret gear anymore.

Jong 28/07/2009, 19:29  

Exemplar's comment regarding weapon swap:

Firespirit 28/07/2009, 23:10  

Slithering Disconent? I have said it once, I have said it a million times zebra - I am tired of being constantly nerfed in PvE for PvP reasons.

hell, give us a talent (or three) to drop in to to get the special attack applications back.

I agree with honors - and you of course - the seal only preforms when you are stationary on the target. Since there aren't hardly any fights like that in T8 (and beyond) we went from decent to terrible the moment that patch drops. My ulduar team is finally going to have a better chance at catching up to my DPS now.

For Gods Sakes, I hope this doesn't hit live, but I suspect it will. I only wish I had a way to protest, in a meaningful way, against the constant PvE nerfs to balance PvP.

Anonymous 03/08/2009, 20:20  

"I only wish I had a way to protest, in a meaningful way, against the constant PvE nerfs to balance PvP."

Which is why I'm not playing my holy paladin anymore, and have swapped to my warlock. It sucks too, because I get into less groups and the people looking for healers lost yet another available healer.

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