Monday, August 16, 2010

Quick Note on LAotL's Effectiveness: Not Quite Zeno's Paradox, But Close

Long Arm of the Law, Retributions new Talented Gap-Closer, was revealed on Friday and has already excited a lot of comment. Whilst many have hailed the chance at finally dealing with kiters, those with a more critical eye have analysed the talent and found it somewhat wanting.

UPDATE: Since posting this thread GC has responded to a query by Hofflerand on this topic:

We generally don't stack movement speed increases and PoJ explicitly says that it doesn't stack, but the 30% is a very conservative number so we left ourselves room to bring that up. It's 45% in our current builds.

Even if they don't stack, I think PoJ will be useful in a variety of situations and won't feel like a wasted talent.

Is this a meaningful Gap Closer?

Calling something a Gap Closer is somewhat overblown if the gap it closes is insignificant. Thankfully it's fairly easy to assess the numerical effectiveness of the talent for PvP and PvE:

  • Default Run speed is 7 yards per second (Source)
  • Most Players in PvP will utilise a minor run speed enchant for 8% increased run speed
  • Most Retribution Paladins will take the Pursuit of Justice talent for 15% increased run speed.
  • Long Arm of the Law increases run speed by 30% for 4 seconds

  • This implies:

  • In the duration of the LAotL buff (4 seconds) a PvP equipped enemy will run 30.24 yards.
  • A Paladin with PoJ will run 32.2 yards.
  • A Paladin with the Buff will run 36.4 yards.

  • The gross gap closed by a Paladin in an average PvP situation is 6.16 yards in this 4 second duration, which means that the net gap closed purely by the Long Arm buff is 4.2 yards. Note that at best this buff has a 10 second cooldown.

    The minimum range at which Long Arm can be used is 15 yards. Presupposing optimal conditions, at the end of the buff duration the Paladin will still be 8.84 yards away (~4 yards out of melee range) and it would take another 6 seconds to get into melee range. Most accomplished players of classes that can kite should easily be able to land another snare on the Paladin within that time frame. On the other hand it will reduces the time of getting an enemy into the range of a Hammer of Justice, which would be helpful when coupled with a cooldown reduction on this latter ability.

    In this regard therefore, Long Arm of the Law is most effective when dealing with escaping classes that have no Sprint/Ranged Snare/Inst. CC of their own, i.e. Warriors, the class which Retribution is already best equipped to deal. Against classes with easily apply-able snares (Hunter, Mage, DK) Long Arm has limited use, especially when Hand of Freedom is on cooldown. In essence, Long Arm doesn't make the class any less kiteable in of itself.

    Is Long Arm of the Law Reliable?

    A major change for all Paladins in Cataclysm is the removal of buff protections such as Stoicism (30% reduced chance that your magical buffs and debuffs will be dispelled), leaving crucial abilities like Hand of Freedom and Justice significantly more vulnerable to dispel effects. The crucial question was whether or not Long Arm would be a magical effect, and thus dispellable. Unfortunately it is dispellable, and to have crucial PvP abilities neutered by simple class abilities with no cooldown or effective cost bar a GCD feels like bad design. As a consequence of minimum range Ret Paladins will also have to utilise a range finder add-on to guard against using a Judgement in the dead-zone.

    Should you take the talent?

    In PvE the talent should be a fairly significant buff as outlined in the previous post. Even without the talent a 30 yard range Judgement has pretty significant implications when it comes to encounters with lots of mobility and target switching.

    The jury is still out in PvP. Whilst any movement speed boost is nice it has to be weighed against the additional DPS or utility talents you would otherwise spend the talent points on. On the other hand, more proficient Paladins will utilise Judgement focus or mouseover macros against tertiary targets to close the gap on their main target. The game will definitely be harder in Arena and Battlegrounds for Ret because of the changes already on the cards, and LAotL does little to really address underlying weaknesses in the class against the most basic mechanics.

    It feels a little churlish to complain about a movement speed buff but in my opinion it still needs work before it's really ready for primetime. Until then, it should be no surprise to anyone that Engineering will remain the de facto PvP profession.

    Saturday, August 14, 2010

    Long Arm of the Law - Ret's New Gap-Closer. [12759]

    New Beta builds inevitably mean new Paladin changes, and yesterdays' is no different. The talent calculators haven't been updated quite yet but Curse Networks twitter feed released a few very interesting changes. I know a number of Retribution Paladins will be very interested in them:

    Improved Judgement - Now increases Judgement range by 10/20 yards.

    Okay, so a longer range Judgement for Ret (and other specs willing to throw two talents in Tier 1 Ret). Longer range always represents a DPS increase in encounters with target switching so that's a flat buff to the talent, even though the cooldown reduction is no a factor. PvP considerations would be more significant if the Judgement debuff still limited run-speed to 100% (as Judgement of Justice does now), but this effect has been rolled into Seal of Justice's debuff (as opposed to a minor stun). The trade-off therefore is one of damage for utility when choosing your PvP Seal, and it should be interesting to see if Judgement will be able to proc SoJ's speed limiting effect.

    We then come to the gap-closer:

    Long Arm of the Law (tier 3): 50/100% chance; 30% move speed buff for 4 sec when using Judgement on targets >= 15 yds away.

    As gap closer's go, it's an interesting mechanic. The principle is that if your target is a long distance away you've got some ability to close the gap, but staying on a close (<15 yard) target requires some utility cooldowns if that target has snares/sprints of their own. In PvE it's a straight buff for target-switching encounters such as Professor Putricide where time-on-target is paramount.

    On the flip-side, this talent is a sprint, not a snare. As such, snares against you will still be very effective and mean that closing the gap to competent Hunters and Mages will remain a difficult proposition. Equally, staying in melee range will be harder due to the lack of Judgement of Justice, possibly necessitating the use of SoJ in place of a Seal which deals significant damage. I'm also not sure if Pursuit of Justice is still a part of the Cataclysm talent trees. Another point worth investigating is just how close to someone you can get in 4 seconds at 30% speed from 15-30 yards away.

    And yeah, I'd call it the 'Swift Hand of Justice' if there weren't already a trinket by that name.

    Other interesting changes revealed were:

    Sanctity of Battle: Causes haste to reduce the cooldown of Crusader Strike.

    Divine Storm buffed to 150% weapon damage (from 90%) with 3 Holy Power.

    Hammer of the Righteous - Hits target for 39% weapon dmg, all other targets in range for x to y holy dmg. 4.5 sec cooldown.

    Divine Favor - Increases spell casting haste/crit by 20% for 20 sec. 3 min cooldown.

    As well as the new graphic for Holy Power charges.

    I'm highly unconvinced by Haste reducing the cooldown of Crusader Strike unless CS's base cooldown has increased significantly (beyond the current 4.5s). The 1.5sec Global Cooldown on most Ret abilities result in this only effective when haste brings CS's cooldown close to whole multiple of 1.5s (give or take latency), and tbh I'm really struggling to see the point. Hopefully there'll be more information on how this works soon.

    Finally, Eskostar in the Elitist Jerks Cataclysm Change for Ret thread mentions an explicit change to Divine Purpose: 40% chance to generate holy power on Judgement, Exorcism, Templar's Verdict, Divine Storm, Inquisition and Holy Wrath. This greatly increases the Holy Power generation rate, though whether you'd spend this HP on anything other than Templar's Verdict/Divine Storm is another question.

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