Friday, October 15, 2010

Hey, Did'Ya Feel That? Yeah, You Just Got Hotfixed, In A Good Way.

Last night Blizzard pushed a number of server-side changes (AKA Hotfixes) to the Live servers to address the DPS imbalances seen at level 80, and Ret was amongst the classes whose DPS was boosted. SIGNIFICANTLY boosted.

We made many changes yesterday. A lot of these were bug fixes, and many bug fixes will affect damage one way or the other. So just because you don't see a specific change referenced below, doesn't mean it didn't change.

With that said, here are the specific changes we made in reference to my previous post:

1) We buffed the base points and coefficients of many warrior dps abilities. We didn't do as much to tanking abilities.

We buffed the base points and coefficients of many Ret abilities.

We buffed the base points and coefficients of many Feral cat abilities.

2) We lowered the base points and coefficients of many Mage abilities, but lowered Fire more than the other two.

3) We nerfed Shadow Word: Death, but it is possible we didn't nerf it enough. It should not be Shadow's biggest spell.

4) We returned Searing Pain's damage to its 3.3.5 levels.

5) We increased the benefit of resilience by 50% for players level 80 and below. The tooltips will probably not reflect this change.

We don't have any other changes to announce at this time. I am reluctant to mention additional classes or specs that we are looking at currently for fear of instilling excitement or panic. (Source)

In my naivete I was anticipating a simple and straightforward buff to Seal coefficients. Well the very fine folks over at Elitist Jerks have been busy beavers trying to extract the changes and it appears that the Ret changes are much more comprehensive than I'd expected:

Exorcism - Base damage increased
Judgement - damage increased by 50%
Censure (The Seal of Truth Dot analogous to the old Seal of Vengeance Dot) - Damage increased by 33%
Hammer of Wrath - Damage increased by 230% (not a typo)
Holy Wrath - Spell Power coefficient doubled
Templar's Verdict - Damage increased by 30% when you cast it by spending 3 Holy Power

Thanks to Redcape on said forum for these coeffs. If there are any new developments I'll update this list.

You'll note that most of the changes are to the Filler abilities, and as you might expect the Filler priority needs to be adjusted. Furthermore, it now makes sense to separate your Zealotry and Avenging Wrath cooldowns in order to maximise your DPS, whereas previously Zealotry and AW would be activated together. There may also be further implications at level 85 if the coefficients remain the same, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

The new Filler priority is:

1st:- Hammer of Wrath
2nd:- Exorcism + Art of War
3rd:- Judgement
4th:- Consecration
5th:- Holy Wrath

These are rough approximations. I believe that Exorcism+AoW and Judgement are pretty close together now in terms of DPS contribution, and Holy Wrath may just squeeze out Consecration due to Divine Purpose potentially proc'ing a point of Holy Power.

Glyphs also change slightly. In terms of Primes, Glyphs of Judgement and Exorcism are both probably better than Glyph of Crusader Strike now, with Templar's Verdict and Seal of Truth still being best in slot (the latter only if you are below the Expertise cap). In order to reduce the strain of casting Hammer of Wrath during Wings burn phases you'll almost certainly want to take it's corresponding Major Glyph to reduce the mana cost by 100%.

That's it from me for the moment, go out and give the changes a try for yourself. If nothing else your DPS level in static fights should be back up to 3.3.5 levels, and Hammer of Wrath crits are bloody hilarious.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Few More Words on Ret 4.0.1 - Stats and 'Rotations'

[UPDATED 14/10/10: Filler skill priority list updated to reflect hotfix. Significant changes.]

So, how was your Patch Day? Fraught with bugs and a learning curve which would put the average mountain stage of the Tour De France to shame? Good, I'd expect nothing less. If you've had the chance to play around with the new model yet, and perhaps even Raid, you'll probably think that things have gone backwards since 3.3.5. In some ways they have - Ret is broadly balanced around lvl85 and the two new DPS abilities we get from 81-85. You may even have lost DPS, a cursory glance at the WoL reports of a number of high-level guilds indicate a significant drop in DPS measured in double-digit percentage points. Level 80 is going to be an uphill battle in a way that the transition from Burning Crusade to Wrath wasn't.

On the other hand, Ghostcrawler has recently acknowledged that Ret and a number of specs are underperforming, whilst casters (esp. Mages) are over the top. In fairness to Mages, their mechanics are so Crit-dependant I'd expect them to be more reasonable at lvl85. A few hotfixes may well be incoming, probably to Seal and Judgement damage rather than fundamental underlying mechanics, so keep your eyes peeled. Caster PvE DPS will probably wipe the floor with yours for the next couple of months even when you get the hand the new mechanics, and as for PvP.... ahahahah NO!

This makes optimising your Ret Paladin experience all the more important now, and with any luck you'll be ready for the post-Cataclysm future when it arrives whilst still pulling your weight in Icecrown.

Stats - Strength, Haste, all that Jazz.

Normally I'd discuss the rotation first but one stat in particular is pretty critical to how it's constructed.

Strength - By far the most important stat in terms of what increases your DPS, even more so than Hit and Expertise. It's now your primary stat for Gemming.
Hit - Should be capped, preferably through base stats on gear and reforging. Every DPS-increasing ability you have scales with Hit, in addition to Divine Purpose and Mastery procs.
Expertise - Not quite as important as Hit (Exorcism, Holy Wrath and Judgement don't scale with this stat) it's still very useful for the same reasons as Hit. Cap via base gear, reforging and Glyph of Seal of Truth.
Haste - See Below
Crit - No longer as important as in 3.X, no proc'ing abilities are directly dependant on it. This is the best stat to trade for Hit, Expertise and Haste via reforging.
Mastery - At present, Mastery increases the proc chance of Hand of Light by 1% per 32 rating. It's only available via reforging and isn't quite good enough to warrant investing into over Haste or Crit.


This is very much a first pass at the Haste issue and represents my thoughts and ideas on the subject. If you have anything to add, don't hesitate to do so.

Haste is a strange stat in 4.0. As before it increases the speed of your auto-attacks, reduces the cast time of your spells and shaves off a few milliseconds from your spell GCD. However it will now also reduce the cooldown of your Crusader Strike, presupposing you took Sanctity of Battle - you did take it didn't you? If you invest in the Judgements of the Pure talent you get 9% pretty much baseline, and the Wrath of Air Totem will grant you 5% more (Sanctity of Battle is both Melee and Spell Haste). Your effective cooldown will be:



CS_Cooldown_Raidbase = cooldown modified by JotP and Wrath of Air = 4.5/1.09/1.05 = 3.93184

Your target for CS_Cooldown_Effective should be around 3 seconds plus the average latency you experience when activating two instance-cast abilities. I.e.

2*GCD+2*latency = CS_Cooldown_Raidbase/(1+%Haste/100)

Assuming perfect (0ms) latency you want ~31% haste from gear alone, and substantially less as your latency increased. At the level 80 ratings of 32.79 per 1% Haste this equates to approx 1017 Rating.

Latency Optimum Haste Rating @lvl80

Obviously, Latency has a drastic impact on required haste rating and DPS. This optimum represents a soft-cap on haste. More will still strictly increase your DPS, but probably not by quite as much as Crit.


With that out the way, it's time to talk about rotations. In 3.X the rotation was basically a very sedate First-Come-First-Serve priority system, with the odd change-up from Art of War or the Tier-10 2 piece set bonus. Spare GCD's left wriggle-room for utility, such as Hands, and self-healing via Sacred Shield. 4.0 isn't quite the polar opposite, but pretty darn close.

The way I view it, there are three parts to the 4.0 Paladin DPS model.

1. Finisher

Templar's Verdict and Divine Storm (and Inquisition in 4.0.3) are your Finishers, analogous to Rogue Finishers. As a rule of thumb you should only cast them when you have 3 Holy Power or a Proc of Hand of the Light. However if either of those conditions are true, TV and DS are the only spells you should be casting.

2. Fulcrum

This your primary Holy Power generating ability, Crusader Strike, which is pivotal to your DPS. If you have reached the Optimum Haste Rating you will cast it on cooldown, 3 seconds + 2*Latency. At haste values substantially lower than the optimum the math starts to get messy - you need to judge whether delaying the casting of CS in favour of a 2nd filler is higher DPS than doing nothing. Some quick calculations indicate that it should be worth waiting until CS is off cooldown. Essentially, you'll hit CS whenever it is off cooldown AND you have neither 3HP nor a Mastery proc active.

3. Fillers

Fillers are DPS abilities which are cast between every CS that doesn't result in reaching 3 HP. Each is prioritised against the other on a damage-per-cast basis, which results in the following priority order:

1st. Hammer of Wrath
2nd. Exorcism, presupposing Art of War Proc
3rd. Judgement
4th. Consecration
5th. Holy Wrath
6th. Exorcism (No Art of War)

This Rotation has been uipdated to reflect the changes brought in the Hotfix on the 14th October.

Using the above the basic Rotation is CS->Filler->CS->Filler->CS->TV/DS->CS. Divine Purpose procs for extra Holy Power allow you to hit TV earlier, and a Proc of Hand of Light allows you to hit TV immediately, followed by CS or TV depending on the subsequent amount of Holy Power.

There are certain situations where this priority may change slightly, the most obvious situation being when you're at >15yards range as a Judgement would allow you to close with the target more quickly, or when mana consumption is unsustainable. Note that Major Glyphs shave off some mana issues you may have.

Avenging Wrath and Zealotry should not be active at the same time so you can gain full benefit from the Sanctified Wrath talent, which allows Hammer of Wrath to be cast regardless of target health whilst under the effects of Wings. During Zealotry phases CS and TV should be cast back-to-back, but take care to ensure that you have plenty of mana before Zealotry comes off cooldown.

What does this all mean?

Well, for one say goodbye to those free GCDs, you should now be spending every GCD you have on a DPS ability. Proc-watching will also be a major part of your gameplay as you react to Divine Purpose granting you the 3 HP you need, or Hand of Light, or Art of War. In fact, the Cataclysm-equivalent of Wrath's CLCRet add-on will most likely be mandatory if you want to do effective levels of raid DPS without consuming a lethal dose Caffeine.

The problem with a full-GCD rotation is that latency has a huge impact on DPS, and that's being worked on by Blizzard. In the current Beta build a queueing system for abilities is being implemented, which should eliminate the latency experienced by chaining abilities which aren't on a spell-specific cooldown together. Until it's pushed to Live, mashing those keys is the best you can do.

One of the points I haven't mentioned is being aware of encounter phase transition timings so you can dump your remaining Holy Power before it decays (it decays at a rate of 1 HP per 10 sec IIRC),* but it's a fairly obvious point to observe.

*As corrected by Antigen in comments, Holy Power only decays whilst out of combat.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Retribution Patch 4.0.1 Talent Primer.

I just want to take a little time to do a quick run-down of Talents specs and Glyphs. Holy Power is something you'll really need to experience for yourself to get the hang of before serious raiding starts up, no amount of talking can suddenly make you accustomed to this new mechanic. It's worth noting that a recent change to the mechanic allows Divine Purpose's Proc'd HP points to stack to 4 (invisibly), which reducing the amount of wasted HP due to bad luck but still takes some getting used to.


Suggested 4.0.1 Talent Build for Level 80:
Final 4.0.1 PvE Build:- 3/2/[28+X]. Note that Points spent here in Guardian's Favour and Repentance can be spent elsewhere in Retribution according to your own taste.
Glyphs: Templar's Verdict (P) Exorcism (P) Crusader Strike (P) Aesthetic Crusader (Ma) Hammer of Wrath (Ma) Consecration (Ma) Lay on Hands (Mi)


Every Retribution build at level 80 has to take at least 31pts in the tree, and once those 31pts are spent you can diversify into Holy or Protection. You will want to do this! Ther are only 28 places to invest you talent points that increase your DPS in the Ret Tree, the 5 'spare' points will almost certainly be distributed between Holy or Prot Tier 1.


Masteries are passive abilities and active skills you gain from choosing a specialisation. The Masteries you gain from being awesome enough to choose Retribution are:

Templar's Verdict - Strike that scales with Holy Power
Sheathe of Light - Increases Spell Power by 30% of Attack Power [N.B. Many spells which scaled from AP and SP now only scale from AP or SP, whichever is greater]
Two-Handed Weapon Specialisation - 20% Increased Damage with 2-handed Weapons
Judgements of the Bold - Gain 25% of your base mana over 10 seconds whenever you cast Judgement
Hand of Light - 8% chance on Auto-attack for your next Holy Power ability to cost no Holy Power and cast as if it used 3 Holy Power. Chance increases by 1% for every point of Mastery (~32 Mastery Rating @lvl80)

Talent Run-down

Ret Tier 1:

Eye for an Eye (2 Pts):- We're still in the dark over whether this talent can proc from Boss attacks, but the answer is probably not. Perhaps worth experimenting with it using spare Ret points.

Crusade (3 Pts):- A flat 15% boost to Templar's Verdict and Crusader Strike, your staple DPS abilities. Take it.

Improved Judgement (2 Pts):- Better than you might think, this new talent increases the range of Judgement by 20yards. Ideal for high-movement encounters and opening up at range. Take it. Prerequisite for Long Arm of the Law.

Tier 2:

Guardian's Favour (2 Pts):- Still a strong PvP utility talent, it's of less use in PvE when your raid is switched on. Candidate for spare points.

Rule of Law (3 Pts):- Increases the critical effect chance of your Crusader Strike by 15%. Not as great as it would be if Crit played a greater role in your DPS than it currently does, it's still a DPS-increase. Take it.

Pursuit of Justice (2 Pts):- 100% chance of gaining HP when struck by Stuns, Fears and Immobilises AND 15% increased run speed. Probably the best 2 pts you can spend in Ret for PvP or PvE, take it!

Tier 3:

Communion (1 Pt):- Players affected by your Aura's do 3% more damage, you do 2% more damage and gain Replenishment when you cast Judgement. Take It.

The Art of War (3 Pts):- In a slightly different take to 3.x's AoW, your autoattacks have a 20% chance to cause your next Exorcism to be instant cast, cost no mana and deal 100% additional damage. Awesome talent in terms of 'fun', you'll want to be investing in this.

Long Arm of the Law (2 Pts):- Judgements increase your run speed by 45% for 4 seconds when cast on targets >15yards from you. Whilst not being as good as you might think it's still not bad, and perhaps one that will be tweaked later on. Take it in both your PvP and PvE builds though, you've got nothing better to spend the points on.

Divine Storm (1 Pt):- If we had more than 31 DPS-increasing points to spend debate over whether or not to take this skill would rage long into the night. As it stands, though much diminished it's still our best AoE ability. Take It. [NB As with Whirlwind, Divine Storm no longer has a target limit]

Tier 4:

Rebuke (1pt):- The long awaited Retribution interrupt, it's essentially Kick for Paladins. There aren't any PvE encounters which make this talent mendatory so you may want to give this a miss for now. PvP is another matter.

Sanctity of Battle (1pt):- Haste reduces the cooldown of Crusader Strike. In 4.0 @lvl80 this is going to be significant due to the high haste rating on gear. 50% haste from gear and effects result in the optimal 3sec CS cooldown, which probably won't be achievable at level 85. Take this ability and go nuts whilst it lasts.

Seals of Command (1pt):- Your damaging Seal Procs now do an additional 7% weapon damage, and your Seal of Righteousness will now cleave to 2 nearby targets. No brainer, take it.

Sanctified Wrath (3pts):- Largely unchanged in 4.0, it has had the former Glyph of Avenging Wrath effect rolled into it which allows you to cast Hammer of Wrath regardless of target health whenever you pop Wings. Due to a recent buff to Hammer of Wrath Damage, Wings and Zealotry shouldn't be activated at the same time.

Tier 5:

Selfless Healer (2 Pts):- 50% stronger Words of Glory and 4% more damage caused per Holy Power used. This is not a damage increasing talent, use Holy Power on anything other than a Templar's Verdict or Inquisition (lvl81) and it'll be a DPS loss. It does however mitigate the DPS loss somewhat. May be interesting in PvP but not too useful in PvE because you shouldn't be wasting HP on heals except in specific circumstances (e.g. phase changes).

Repentance (1 Pt):- Still the same effect, still out only effective CC. You'll definitely want to take this in Cataclysm Heroics, but for now you can avoid it at your discretion in PvE. I'll be taking it, it's been a life-saver in the past.

Divine Purpose (2Pts):- Pretty much every non-CS special attack you will do will have a 40% chance to grant you 1 Holy Power. Take It, Obviously. [N.B. If this procs when you're already at 3 Holy Power you will gain a 4th application, though you won't see it in the UI].

Tier 6:

Inquiry of Faith (3Pts):- Increases the periodic damage of your Seal of Truth (your main single-target Seal) by 30%. Take it. [N.B. Also increases Inquisitions duration by 150%, but that is meaningless until lvl81+ is unlocked].

Acts Of Sacrifice (2pts):- This is a strange one. 20% Cooldown reduction of Hands of Freedom, Salvation and Sacrifice is great for PvP, and would be pretty good for PvE if the old Glyph of Salvation (20% damage reduction) still existed as a Major. It doesn't, and so in theory this talent should be avoided in PvE. The great unknown is just what sort of state Threat will be in come 4.0. If any classes are threat capped this talent will be a DPS-increase for the Raid, otherwise it's of only marginal value.

Tier 7:

Zealotry (1 Pt):- Our Superb, Ultimate Talent - except it kinda isn't. Zealotry costs 3 Holy Power, but causes Crusader Strike to generate 3 Holy Power per hit. For 15 seconds our rotation becomes hectic, spammy and not at all elegant, and Divine Purpose procs are wasted. You'd want to synergise it with Avenging Wrath but this inevitably steps on the toes of Sanctified Wrath's tertiary effect of allowing Hammer of Wrath to be cast regardless of target Health. Instead, keep Zealotry and Wings phases independent of one another. Take it, but use the opportunity to practice with it.

You should continue to synchronise AW with Bloodlust/Timewarp, Zealotry phases gain little from the Bloodlust cooldown.

Off-Spec Trees:

At level 80 you only have a total of 36 Talent points, leaving 5 spare once you've invested the bare minimum into Retribution. The result is that Tier 2 Holy and Prot is beyond your reach. Thankfully, there are a total of 7 places you can invest your remaining talent points which increase your DPS.

Protection Tier 1.

Divinity (3 Pts):- A relic of 3.X, this increases the healing you take and do by 6%. Avoid at level 80, but consider at level 85 if Tier 2 Prot has something really juicy you want to take.

Seals of the Pure (2 Pts):- Increases the damage done by your Seal of Truth/Righteousness/Justice by 12%. It should also affect Seal of Truth's DoT and Seals of Command. Probabably a toss-up between it and Arbiter of the Light, this should be the better PvE talent presupposing it scales the abilities correctly.

Eternal Glory (2 Pts):- 30% chance for your Word of Glory to consume no Holy Power. Avoid when Ret.

Holy Tier 1.

Arbiter of the Light (2 Pts):- Increases the critical effect chance of Judgement and Templar's Verdict by 15%. Pretty tasty in PvP, it's slightly weaker in PvE than SotP and JotP. Probably.

Protector of the Innocent (3 Pts):- I can't envision a situation where Retribution or Protection would take this talent (save it being extremely buggy and proccing on Judgement Heal of Replenishment ticks). Avoid unless Holy.

Judgements of the Pure (3 Pts):- Increases casting and melee Haste by 9% for 1 minute following a Judgement. That's 9% passive haste, which affects Exorcism (yawn), Holy Wrath (yawn), Crusader Strike (Yay), Auto Attacks (Yay) and Ret Mastery. The math needs to be crunched on it, but it's worth at least one point and probably all three.

Final 4.0.1 PvE Build:- 3/2/[28+X]. Note that Points spent here in Guardian's Favour and Repentance can be spent according to your own taste.


Unfortunately I don't have a lot of time to discuss glyphs, but Antigen at Haz Mace Will Raid has a great run-down of Glyphs here. Here are my thoughts

Prime (AKA the only ones that Really matter):

1st: Glyph of Templar's Verdict - 15% More TV damage. Obvious choice.
2nd Glyph of Exorcism - 20% increased damage for Exorcism.*
3rd: Glyph of Crusader Strike - 5% more Crit for CS.*
4th: Glyph of Judgement - 10% more damage for Judgement.

*after WoL analysis, Glyph of Exorcism appears to contribute significantly more DPS than Glyph of Crusader Strike and Glyph of Judgement. Priority adjusted accordingly

Also consider: Glyph of Seal of Truth - Still at least better than Glyph of Crusader Strike below the Expertise Cap. Probably better to take this than reforging your gear to reach the cap.


Why oh why isn't Glyph of Seal of Truth a Major? Anyway, most of the Majors are mana cost reductions, which aren't that useful to Ret. On the other hand, Major's should be the slot with most situational utility and so are prime candidates for tailoring to specific encounters. Here are the more situational Glyphs.

Glyph of Divine Protection: no physical damage reduction, but in trade you gain 40% magical damage reduction. On a 1 minute cooldown. No longer causing Forbearance. Awesome IMO.
Glyph of Salvation: Could have potential on burn phases for threat capped players, we don't really know enough about how it works just yet.
Glyph of the Aesthetic Crusader: Flat mana cost reduction on our spammiest spell. Probably will turn out to be a staple of Ret over time.
Glyph of Turn Evil: Much less of a trade-off to take it in 4.0 than 3.X, it's still situational in PvE. Great in PvP.
Glyph of Holy Wrath: Extends Holy Wrath's stun to Dragonkin and Elementals. V. useful in lvl85 content, you shouldn't be using it much anywhere other than Ruby Sanctum till then.
Glyph of Consecration: Would be a no-brainer in 3.X, but the changes to the spell in 4.0 (10 sec duration, 30 sec cooldown, 55% base mana cost, less damage per tick) make the spell extremely situational. However it is the only Major glyph that represents an actual DPS increase. Further analysis of WoL data indicates that Consecration is higher up in damage-per-cast than I was expecting, boosting the value of this Glyph.


Glyph of Lay on Hands
and any others you fancy. None are particularly valuable for Retribution, though Glyph of Seal of Righteousness and Seal of Truth will make Seal Switching less of a mana-related headache.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Press Release: December 7th Cataclysm Release - Official!

Update: Official Press Release.

EDIT: Kotako are also quoting the same press release here.

If this is the case then Cataclysm is 2 months away, with 4.0.1 (the pre-Cataclysm preparatory build inclusing event) landing on live servers either tomorrow or next week in all likelihood.


No independent confirmation for this source as yet, multiple websites are quoting the same group: BusinessWire

IRVINE, Calif., Oct 04, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. today announced that World of Warcraft(R): Cataclysm(TM), the highly anticipated third expansion for the world's most popular subscription-based massively multiplayer online role-playing game*, will be released starting on December 7, 2010. The expansion will be available on DVD-ROM for Windows(R) XP/Windows Vista(R)/Windows(R) 7 and Macintosh(R) at a suggested retail price of $39.99 and will also be offered as a digital download from the Blizzard Store. A special Collector's Edition packed with bonus items will be available exclusively in retail stores for a suggested retail price of $79.99.

"Cataclysm includes the best content we've ever created for World of Warcraft. It's not just an expansion, but a re-creation of much of the original Azeroth, complete with epic new high-level adventures for current players and a redesigned leveling experience for those just starting out," said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. "With the help of our beta testers, we're putting on the final polish, and we look forward to welcoming gamers around the world to enjoy it in just a couple of months."

The first two World of Warcraft expansions, The Burning Crusade(R) and Wrath of the Lich King(R), each shattered PC game sales records upon their release.* In Cataclysm, the face of Azeroth will be forever altered by the return of the corrupted Dragon Aspect Deathwing. Players will explore once-familiar areas of the world that have now been reshaped by the devastation and filled with new adventures. In an effort to survive the planet-shattering cataclysm, two new playable races -- worgen and goblins -- will join the struggle between the Alliance and the Horde. As players journey to the new level cap of 85, they'll discover newly revealed locations, acquire new levels of power, and come face to face with Deathwing in a battle to determine the fate of the world.

The beta test for World of Warcraft: Cataclysm is currently underway. Visit the official website at to set up a account and sign up for a chance to participate. To learn more about World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, visit

*Based on internal company records, public data, and reports from key distribution partners.

SOURCE: Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.

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