Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Embracing Your Inner Gnomish Army Knife: Ret Utility Talents in 3.2.

Imagine the scenario: 3.2 has dropped... doesn't take much imagination, does it? Your talents have reset, and you just don't know what you should be speccing into. Well, I hope to take you through a few of the available options for a 3.2 PvE talent spec.

The Retribution Base Spec.

Retribution has always been both blessed and cursed with a really, really simple base build. Dump all your points in the DPS increasing talents and you've got 14 talent points to play with. Well, in 3.2 you'll be down to 9:

3.2 PTR Ret Base Spec

All that's changed is taking 5/5 in Seals of the Pure, which increases the DoT, Proc and Judgement damage of your Seal of Vengeance/Corruption. When SoV is firing on all cylinders the talent really is a quite considerable DPS increase, and also has the happy coincidence of also improving SoR to a generally better level than SoC. Until you hear differently, always take this talent in your PvE build.

So, there are 9 Points to spend and two major routes to go down: Holy or Prot... putting all of your 9 spare in Ret isn't really necessary. So, what should you go for?

Variant One: Lay On Hands and Aura Mastery (13/5/52 + 1)

Buried away there in the patch notes is the change to Improved Lay on Hands. Rather than increase Armour by 25/50% for 15secs the talent now reduces physical damage taken by 20%. This is an improvement from 3.2 for all classes with less than 16700 (~Shaman + Shield) or greater than 36600 Armour. 3.2's Imp LoH is a maximum of 1.7% effective damage reduction worse than the 3.1 incarnation (at 33k unbuffed armour). The value of this talent is therefore lower than you would like as LoH is typically for tanks, but has some breathing room for Mail and lesser wearers in PvE vs adds.

Aura Mastery hasn't had much impact in the PvE landscape, but the resistance to spell pushback and uninterruptability has been a lifesaver in many an Ulduar hard-mode. The temp boost to Resistance Auras isn't nearly as useful as I'd hoped it would be, but overall it's well worth grabbing if you traverse down the tree that far.

This build would leave 1 spare point to place into any talent of your choice which strikes me as a very expensive investment, mainly because the 5 of the 8 points are pretty much worthless. The build is somewhat less than ideal considering that most of the remaining utility talents in range are 2pt talents.

Variant Two: Divine Sacrifice (5/11/52 + 3)

In the past I've been grossly unfair to this skill. My initial criticism still stands: an AoE damage redirection skill is too dangerous with the amount of damage thrown out in many encounters, and in other encounters the damage redirected would be too trivial to matter. However, I've moderated my opinion slightly in one particular set of circumstances: when the talent is used in conjunction with Divine Shield.

One of the quirks of damage redirection such as DiSac and HoSac is that they do not bypass the immunity provided by Divine Shield. Hence, if you DiSac just after DS damage is still redirected but not inflicted; there is no risk of insta-gibbing.

In 3.1, Divine Sacrifice whilst under the effects of Divine Shield was pretty much uncapped, leading to the term 'Raid-wall' being coined to describe DS's 30% raid-wide damage reduction for 10 seconds at the cost of 2 GCD's and a 5 min cooldown. Theorycrafters don't have a solid understanding of why this happens; it has been by turns ascribed to server timing issues, bizarre interaction with immunities or the buff continuing to redirect damage from all raid members until one has redirected an amount totaling 150% of the Paladins health, at which time the effect fades from all raid members. That it's buggy is the only firm conclusions which can be made

Unfortunately, this talent continues to be buggy and opportunities to test it have been few and far between. The best intelligence so far is that it's even more buggy, and may last the full 10 seconds or may break early. If the skill hasn't been changed then it is far and away the best raid-wide mitigation talent in the game, but if the damage redirected is properly capped even under the effects of DS its' value is significantly diminished. I'll repost on Divine Sacrifice as/when I know more, but given how good it's been in 3.1 it seems churlish not to give it a go in 3.2.

Update: Barrelroll in comments states that it is fully capped at 150% of the Paladin's Health, meaning that its been nerfed hard and probably isn't raid viable. Better to use DS and HoSanc as a single-target shield wall when absolutely necessary and spend the points elsewhere.

Taking DSac leaves 3 talent points spare, 4 if you only take 1pt in Pursuit of Justice (not recommended!).

Variant 3: Other Utility

Divine Guardian, a great talent investment and mainstay of 3.1, is no longer reachable in PvE builds. The improvement to Flash of Light and higher Ret GCD use makes this a double-blow. On the other hand Vindication is now a viable PvE talent, so at least there's still something to invest in.

Depending on the build you choose somewhere between nine and one talent points are left over, and your options are a little sparse between.

Improved Blessing of Might - +62.5AP per point, max 2 points.
Vindication - -287AP per point, max 2 points. Now works on Boss Mobs.
Divinity - Increase healing done to you by 5% and healing you do by 5%.
Guardian's Favor - Reduces HoF and HoP cooldowns by 8 and 120 seconds respectively.
Divine Purpose - HoF generates a stun break.

Vindication should probably be your first investment choice for your remaining talent points. It doesn't stack with Demoralizing Roar/Shout, but its' effect is as strong as the fully improved version of these two abilities. As it procs from Divine Storm the -AP proc can be distributed amongst multiple enemies in situations where more than one target is in melee range. It also doesn't require a GCD to refresh, and that's quite important for Ret's GCD-heavy rotation. Protections Paladins will probably take this ability, so consider it if you are rolling with Druid, Warrior or Deathknight tanks.

Imp. BoM is Imp. BoM, the spell hasn't changed and still rocks your raid. Holy Paladins seeking the improved mana efficiencies of a Ret build will probably pick it up though, and even a Tankadin may well have at least 1 point in it. This should be second place in priority after Vindication.

Divinity isn't as strong in 3.2 with the nerf to JoLight's healing power. It makes reasonably useful filler for getting down to Divine Sacrifice or for left-over points, but otherwise it's not really powerful enough to warrant the points.

Divine Purpose and Guardian's Favour are both exceptionally dependent on the encounter mechanic. At times they may be extremely useful, in other circumstances the abilities that they affect may not even be hotkeyed. Shouldn't normally be a part of your PvE build.

Paladins interested purely in doing DPS should have rolled a rogue and happy to pass up raid mitigation talents in Prot and Holy could choose the following build (or some variant): I'm a Fighter, Not a Lover build.


So, there are your options.


Barrelroll 04/08/2009, 14:41  

They nerfed Dsac on the PTR, it's capped at 150% hp (regardless of bubble) and is now a pretty craptastic talent.

Suicidal Zebra 04/08/2009, 14:50  


I'd heard conflicting reports from the PTR on the topic, even in the last week. You're right, if that's the current status of the talent it's going to have to be put in the bin labeled 'craptastical'.

I'll update the original post with this info.

Firespirit 04/08/2009, 16:52  

I am currently in divine sacrifice build, but after patch, I dont know where I am going to end up. The talent just sucks majoryly. I might go the way of LoH, I am always the one throwing mine around whenever I can.

Ohh the patch blues. my patch is downloading at a rate of about 30 megs an hour. At this rate I will never get to play tonight, I am pretty confident that my raid is going to be cancelled.

Ferarro 04/08/2009, 21:41  

It's true: The talent went from godly to utterly pointless. The reasoning being that it was too hard to tune encounters based on a constantly changing variable (that being, the number of Paladins in the raid that could mitigate the entire raid's damage by 40% for ten seconds), which makes sense. It turned "Hard Mode" into Normal Mode That Just Lasts Longer".

Still, a 150% cap is pretty severe the other way, and I don't see it being changed soon.

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