Monday, November 15, 2010

Paladin Tier 11 - First Impressions

Boubouille at MMO-Champion has just posted High Definition pictures of the final armour models for Tier 11, and my goodness are they a hodge-podge of styles. Without doubt Mages got the best of the lot, followed by Druids and probably Death Knights. Those with the short-end of the stick are Warriors (HAH!) and Rogues, though Hunters looking like they've spent a lot of time on their anglerfish trick-or-treat costume.

Paladins are somewhat middle of the pack. Most sets look better in-game than they do in screenshots and Reinforced Sapphirium is no exception, though more discerning Paladins may want to turn off helm graphics. It's certainly no Judgement or Lightbringer even in its' preferable white and gold colour scheme, but neither is it the obscenity that was Crystalforged.

Anyway, lets take a look at the Sets in more detail:

Retribution - Reinforced Sapphirium Battleplate

Hit Rating337
Expertise Rating168
Crit Rating228
Haste Rating754
Mastery Rating377

Hit, Mastery and Haste are strongly represented; Expertise and Crit much less so. The weakness of Mastery as a Stat for Ret makes it a prime choice to reforge away, especially in the leg slot which alone features a whopping 228. Remember, you can only Reforge into a secondary stat which isn't already present on the item, so choose carefully.

Set Bonuses.

2 Piece- Increases the damage of your Templar's Verdict ability by 10%
4 Piece- When you cast Inquisition its' duration is calculated as if you had one additional Holy Power.

The 2-Piece bonus is pretty straight-forward - Templar's Verdict represents around 20% of your damage at level 85, so it's worth a straight 1.5-2% of your damage. That's not quite as good as previous set bonuses for the class, but not bad overall.

By contrast the 4 piece bonus is harder to quantify. Inquisition is a better alternative than Templar's Verdict only if you refresh it after 17 seconds on a 3 Holy Power cast. In one aspect the 4-Piece bonus is therefore a quality of life bonus, but on the other hand it frees up one GCD every 2 minutes or allows you to cast TV sooner. The gents over at EJ have calculated that this effect is worth another ~2%, but this will be greatly dependant on gaps in the GCD-Space and hence Haste. The more Haste you have, the more worthwhile it becomes.

Each of the above bonuses are worth more than a typical upgrade to a Heroic version (i.e. 13 ilvls). If you have 4 non-Heroic (ilvl 359) Set pieces it's not worth breaking the Set until you have at least two Heroic (ilvl 372) alternatives to those slots.

Overall, I'd prefer it if the Set bonuses were swapped. I'm aware of the compelling reasons for having the simple bonus from 2 pieces; being able to easily quantify if set items are upgrades makes Badges/Point hoarding in advance of an elusive break-point less likely. However I quite like the idea of changing-up the rotation as early as possible, as Tier 10 used to, which leads to some very interesting gearing options at Tier 12 as and when we get there.

All in all it's not a bad set, even if it does lack the wow-factor of previous Tiers.


Protection - Reinforced Sapphirium Battlearmour

Hit Rating241
Expertise Rating0
Dadge Rating682
Parry Rating505
Mastery Rating257

The Paladin tanking sets strongly favour Dodge and Parry, as you might expect. Somewhat surprising is the complete lack of Expertise and relatively low levels of Hit. Capping Hit and Expertise will prove fairly challenging, especially if you choose not to take the Glyph of Seal of Truth.

Set Bonuses.

2 Piece - Increases the damage done by your Crusader Strike ability by 10%.
4 Piece - Increases the duration of your Guardian of Ancient Kings ability by 50%.

No doubt Rhidach will have a post up discussing the relative merits of Tier 11 soonish, but till them you'll have to make do with my mumblings.

The 2 Piece bonus is obviously a fairly strong Threat-Per-Second boost to your main threat-generating ability, and at 10% it scales better than the Warrior and Deathknight analogues. However I find it interesting that there isn't a commensurate increase in the AoE threat-generating ability - an attempt to keep AoE threat from getting out of hand perhaps?

The 4-Piece bonus is pretty much the same as that for other classes, and the cooldowns they affect are roughly comparable. Guardian of Ancient Kings has a duration of 12 seconds for Protection, so the bonus increases the duration to 18 seconds. I'm pretty sure that's a good deal, but I'm really not an experienced enough tank to decide if it's worth keeping over a half- or full-Tier upgrade.

Holy - Reinforced Sapphirium Regalia

Crit Rating540
Mastery Rating337
Haste Rating0

Setting aside the bonus for a moment, the stats on Holy Tier 11 seem very, very strange. They are absolutely chock full of Critical Strike and Mastery but lacking in Haste, which seems somewhat obtuse. Haste is obviously a raw throughput stat and as such as independently useful in almost all situations, but perhaps diminishing returns were starting to bite when you factor in multiple Haste Talents. Crit however is just not that good even as a mana efficiency stat given the loss of Illumination. It synergises with the Communion talent pretty well, but once you reach a certain level of crit the diminishing returns hit hard. Mastery is a straight through-put talent but like Crit the effect can be wasted through its' short duration and non-rolling nature.

Basically, Crit and Mastery are both situationally good, whereas Haste is just Good full stop. To not have any on our Tier gear is bizarre in the extreme, even though you have significant amounts via Talents and Raid buffs.

Set Bonuses

2 Piece - Increases the critical strike chance of your Holy Light spell by 5%.
4 Piece - Whenever your Holy Radiance spell is active, you gain 1620 Spirit.

The 2 piece bonus is your standard fare filler for each healing spec. Shaman and Priests have an analogous bonus on their Tier 11, whereas Druids have a crit chance bonus to Lifebloom ticks. In another time I'd have called these 'placeholder' bonuses, but not today when imaginative set bonuses are sacrificed to the alter of class equality. The value is strongly linked to how often you use Holy Light in your rotation (no flies on me, eh ;)), so this may be one Tier bonus you'd be happy to trade in.

The bonus for wearing 4 pieces of gear is roughly the same as all the Tier 11 healing sets. Holy Radiance has a 10 second duration and 30 second cooldown if you invest in the Speed of Light talent, so unlike other classes you're not able to keep a particular buff up 100% of the time but to compensate you gain more Spirit for a shorter period of time. Previously this may have allowed you to take advantage of other cooldowns to boost your regen rates to high levels for a short period of time, but I'm not sure that any 4.0 abilities function that way.


So there you have it, a longish introduction to the Tier 11 sets. As always, everything is subject to change


Hana 16/11/2010 17:44  

Since Cata is supposed to be a return to caring about mana, it might be like the TBC days where you didn't really want much haste until you could stop worrying about mana.

T11 might be too early in the progression to worry about haste. Whereas crit (under the new mana conservation system and the idea that people rarely need to be healed to full health) becomes more useful.

Rhidach 16/11/2010 18:08  

I had the same impression that you did with HotR's snub from the 2pc bonus, probably just their way of limiting AOE damage from tanks. In the end, the 20% boost to HotR from t10 was an INSANE bonus, and they assuredly don't want to repeat that.

Suicidal Zebra 16/11/2010 18:12  


I'd thought of that, and it's a pretty good possibility. I'm just not convinced that eschewing all Haste is a particularly good plan given how our spells interact with Tower of Radiance and the impact low-haste has on being able to sensibly raid-heal.

The new healing model tends to reward the right heal at the right time, and I'm just not sure how monster levels of crit and mastery really encourages it.

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