Monday, December 20, 2010

Haste and Retribution, Level 85 Redux

Look back into my blogging past and you'll see a storied history of how Haste has affected the DPS of Retribution Paladins. It used to be awful, then good for Horde Paladins (through Seal of Blood), then good for everyone, then awful again (Blood was killed off /mourn), &c.

There should be winners and losers in the stat meta-game and it makes sense for capped Stats (Hit and Expertise) to be better than un-capped ones; Crit and Haste are at least close enough together in value to make stat selection for differing playstyles potentially viable. Rating Inflation - the increasing amount of rating required for 1% effectiveness - has unfortunately meant that high levels of Crit or Haste, where playstyles could be tangibly different, are difficult to reach without reducing overall DPS. Trading Strength for Haste or Crit is simply never a sensible option because Strength is so much more valuable than any secondary stat.

Further reading, including a first pass at relative stat valuation - The Retribution Concordance: Ret in 4.0.3a At Elitist Jerks.

You'll have to excuse my disappointment in this state of affairs. The Ret tree looks tailor-made to take advantage of Haste to really shake up how the spec worked but generally fails to realise any benefits over that of Crit.

So why is this? Lets take a look at what Haste Rating does:-

1) Via Sanctity of Battle, it decreases the cooldown of Crusader Strike and hence increasing the rate of Holy Power generation. Passive Retribution damage, i.e. damage which is easy to maintain such as auto-attack and DoT damage, is pretty low so maximising your Global Cooldown usage is important. The optimum state to be in is continually on GCD, prioritising your abilities to maximise DPS further.

2) Increases Auto-attack speed and DPS to the effect of
- Faster Ramp-up on applications of Censure (the Seal of Truth DoT)
- Increased Art of War procs per minute by increasing auto-attack speed.
- Increased Hand of Light procs per minute by increasing auto-attack speed.

3) Increases Censure Damage Over Time.

I should note right now that I've never been a fan of SoB. I've always felt that utilising your spare GCD's effectively (wrt utility) was the sign of a better Paladin than one who could merely 'do the job assigned', and SoB makes the DPS trade-off for utility higher than it really should be IMO. Anyway, lets set that aside for now...

Most of (2) and all of (3) can be quantified pretty easily, but Sanctity of Battle's value is difficult to assess. It's fascinating to see just how much of our DPS rotates around abilities directly affected by Haste, and yet the stat seemingly has little impact.

Reducing the cooldown of CS by 10% should optimally see CS being used 10% more often. I can't say strongly enough that this is faulty analysis. In reality you can only reduce the effective cooldown of CS if you have a spare GCD to eat into. Spare GCD blocks only occur when you either having absolutely nothing to cast or when skipping an ability to cast CS sooner would make sense. In reality delaying an ability for an earlier CS is rarely worthwhile, CS simply doesn't hit hard enough and Haste doesn't reach high enough levels.

Hitting the soft-cap for a 3 second CS cooldown is too often seen as the Holy Grail for Ret, but it encounters two problems that make this attitude unrealistic.

a) The Haste Cap. At level 80, and with latency having an effect, the haste soft-cap for a 3 sec CS was a very achieveable ~900 Rating with a spot of Reforging. At 85, with the Latency Fix now in-game, you're now looking at an absurd ~3600 Haste Rating which is unrealistic at Tier 11 gear levels.

b) A lower cooldown on CS doesn't change the priority of each ability. Neither Crusader Strike nor Templar's Verdict are the highest priority in Retribution's rotation at current gear levels as both Art of War Exorcism and Hammer of Wrath do more damage-per-cast than either ability even after you consider the Holy Power generated. Rigidly sticking to a 3-sec CS cooldown can result in a DPS loss if there's no flexibility to take advantage of Procs and Hammer of Wrath.

The strength of 3-sec CS was always predicated on Templar's Verdict and CS being very strong DPS contributions, but nerfs to both abilities late in Beta put pay to it. The even when the soft-cap is reached you'll struggle to see anything like a 1 sec reduction in the effective cooldown of CS or the knock-on 7% more Templar's Verdicts because of Hand of Light and Art of War Procs.

The jury, to some extent, is still out on Haste whilst RAWR is being updated to 4.0 environment. Right now, it's probably best to invest in Crit and Haste roughly equally once Hit and Expertise caps have been reached in case of strong diminishing returns.

At least it's not as bad as Mastery though, right? ;)


Klepsacovic 20/12/2010, 21:44  

I love mastery. At this point in my gearing and progression I don't care much about getting every last bit of DPS I can. So in that context, mastery means fun things like back to back to back to back TV. Or lots of self-healing. As an added bonus, it's useful across specs (though obviously varying), so right now my ret hat is also my prot hat (engineering ftw), with a mastery and a haste gear in the sockets. Haste isn't much of a prot stat, but maybe it can help with the god awful slow HP generation.

Antigen 21/12/2010, 15:22  

You know something's wrong when our Mastery is worse than Agility point for point.

What Blizzard has now, with the current state of affairs with Ret, is an emphasis placed on Inquisition, and that's really one of the things they want to happen. 30% increased damage to one of our hardest-hitting abilities is a no-brainer. But their specially designed Ret combo point generator/finisher system is shoddy at best, and as we've seen, low in our spell priority because of its inadequacy.

Ideally, I'd like to see both of these mechanics working properly, but how to do it.... that's the question.

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