Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Notes On the Latest PTR Changes

Just a quickie today. MMO-Champion is reporting that the new Mastery effect (+20% damage as Holy Damage for TC, CS and Auto-Attack, +2.5% per point) has been nerfed a little to +16%/+2.1%. Arghhhhh.... right?


Well, don't be too alarmed. Previous PTR builds weren't properly increasing the damage of our Mastery with Inquisition (+30% Holy Damage, lest we forget) and from the sounds of things Hand of Light was being balanced around the output seen on the PTR. Lylirra was kind enough to pop onto the PTR forums and clarify if this was intended:

RLimbaugh said:
Is the new Mastery we have suppose to be affected by inquisition or not? Been wondering that since it was announced.

It is. There was a bug that was preventing this from occurring, though, but it should be resolved in the next PTR build. :)


Rush is good for something. Who knew?

Another point of concern raised on the PTR testing sites (most recently by Antigen) was that Hammer of Wrath was hitting like a wet noodle (his words). Well, the CM was also nice enough to clarify this too in the same thread:

Samual Said:

Hammer of Wrath damage has been nerfed by 50% on the 4.0.6 PTR. [Is this intended?]

This is actually a bug. A very non-excessive, non-stealthy bug. There was small coding change in the latest PTR build that caused Hammer of Wrath, a ranged ability, to use ranged attack power instead of melee attack power. The change itself was completely unintended and has since been corrected.

That said, we're still watching paladin damage (both sustained and burst), and if we feel that further adjustments need to be made, Hammer of Wrath may actually be a good candidate.

Yay for Blues communicating :). I'm not convinced that nerfing Hammer of Wrath is that good a candidate for addressing higher than desired Retribution DPS (It's only up for a relatively short period of time, Tier 12-13 levels of Haste may significantly impact rotation with higher TV damage and better scaling for Exorcism), but a heads-up is always welcome to me.

The upshot is that Mastery Rating should be appreciably better than Crit and Haste, even though the effect of Haste on DPS is rather erratic and hence difficult to assess.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

UPDATED: 4.0.6 PTR Paladin Changes

UPDATE: Full Patch Notes here. Added Crusader Strike and Repentence notes.

UPDATE 2: Added Rebuke (happy Tankadins) and Sacred Shield (Happy PvP Ret) changes.

MMO-Champion has all the gossip on the class changes in the 4.0.6 PTR Build. As Boub rightly says many of the changes are tooltip changes reflecting the hotfixes of the past few months, but it looks like the promised changes to Retribution's Mastery and Divine Purpose are in.

Paladin Changes


  • Inquisition is now undispellable
  • Rebuke is now a baseline skill available to all Paladins at level 54. Retribution Paladins gain a new Talent in Rebukes position.
  • Crusader Strike base damage increased from 115% Weapon Damage to 135%
  • Seal Of Truth: All single target attacks (including Judgement, Hammer of Wrath, Exorcism, and Templar's Verdict) can now trigger this seal. Seal of Truth will no longer Proc Seals of Command twice from one attack
  • Forbearance
    • The duration has been lowered to 1 minute, down from 2.
    • Lay on Hands now causes Forbearance on the target. It used to only cause it when cast on the paladin. This was an old design from when Divine Protection caused Forbearance and the paladin didn't want to prevent a tank from using their defensive cooldown.
    • Lay on Hands cannot be a critical effect and will not be affected by most abilities which modify healing (such as Beacon of Light).
    • Since only Divine Shield, Lay on Hands and Hand of Protection cause Forbearance, the tooltips have been adjusted to better explain the mechanic.

    [It's difficult to understate the impact of Rebuke being moved to baseline for Protection Paladins. Where once it was brushed of as a 'Quality of Life' issue for tanks, not having an interrupt has more an more often been exposed as a genuine weakness for Tanks and DPS. Moving it to baseline makes a lot of sense, and the cheers can already be heard. Crusader Strike being buffed is good for everyone - more threat, more DPS.
    Inquisition, Zealotry and Righteous Fury now being undispellable make me suspicious that dispelling mechanics will be returning to PvE Raids in 4.1.]

  • Divine Plea now gives you 12% of your total mana over 9 sec, up from 10% of your total mana over 15 sec.
  • Light of Dawn base healing has been reduced by 40%, from 1008 - 1124 to 605 - 675.
  • Tower of Radiance no longer affects Holy Light.
  • [The latter two changes are tooltip clarifications. I wasn't aware of any Hotfix to Divine Plea though, so that's a significant buff to a fairly ropey skill]

  • Blessing of Kings now costs 19% of base mana, up from 6% of base mana.
  • Shield of the Templar (Rank 1) now reduces the cooldown of Guardian of Ancient Kings by 40 sec, down from 45 sec. Other ranks unchanged.

  • [I'm pretty sure that the SotT(r1) change was hotfixed in a while ago. Blessing Mana Changes are pretty meaningless in the main unless new encounters have a magic buff dispelling effect, implemented to maintain parity with Mark of the Wild apparently.]

  • Blessing of Might now costs 19% of base mana, up from 5% of base mana.
  • Divine Purpose:- The following attacks now have a 7/15% chance to cause your next Holy Power ability to consume no Holy Power and to cast as if 3 Holy Power were consumed. - Divine Storm, Exorcism, Hammer of Wrath, Holy Wrath, Inquisition, Judgement and Templar's Verdict.
  • Hand of Light (Mastery) - Your Crusader Strikes, Divine Storm and Templar's Verdicts deal 20% additional Holy Damage. Each point of Mastery increases this value by 2.5%
  • Censure no longer breaks Repentance
  • Templar's Verdict tooltip now shows 35%/104%/270% weapon damage for 1/2/3 HP.-Lack of confirmation for one week, removed note
  • Rebuke moved to Baseline
  • New Talent: Sacred Shield - When reduced below 30% health, Paladins gain the Sacred Shield effect. The Sacred Shield absorbs [1+2.8*AP] damage and increases healing received by 20%. Lasts 15 seconds. This effect cannot occur more than once every 30 seconds. Undispellable.
  • Zealotry is now undispellable
  • [see Below]

  • Glyph of Divine Plea - now adds 6% mana, for a total of 18% over 9 seconds.

  • Professions
  • Meta gems with the Chaotic and Relentless prefixes now have a requirement of 3 red gems.
  • New meta gems have been added: Agile Shadowspirit Diamond (Agility/3% critical damage), Reverberating Shadowspirit Diamond (Strength/3% critical damage), and Burning Shadowspirit Diamond (Intellect/3% critical damage). These new recipes are unbound and can drop from any Cataclysm creature. The new meta gems have a requirement of 3 red gems equipped.
  • Synapse Springs now increase Agility, Strength, or Intellect (whichever is highest for the character).
  • Bracer Enchantments with +50 Agility, +50 Intellect and +50 Strength have been added to the in-game files

  • The new Retribution Mastery greatly increases the value of Mastery Rating, probably placing it above Crit and Haste Rating in the stat pecking order by some margin. TV, CS and DS deal more damage per cast, though I think that only Templar's Verdict will have changed positions in the rotation (to more important that Hammer of Wrath and Exorcism). All round, it's VASTLY better than Live's Mastery in absolute terms and scaling.

    Somewhat disappointingly the change does little to make Divine Storm more attractive over Crusader Strike in AoE situations unless the Hand of Light mechanic has a more subtle interation with CS and DS than we're seeing from the tooltip. Similarly, the Glyph of Crusader Strike (+5% crit rate to CS) will still be the 4th best Prime because it's unlikely to increase the crit rate of the HoL portion of the damage.

    Finally new Divine Purpose, on the face of it, is slightly better than Live Divine Purpose (15% chance of +3 Holy Power rather than 40% change of 1 HP), though GCD conflicts could have an impact which makes them more similar in their DPS contribution. Interestingly Zealotry should be a better fit with this incarnation of the talent than Live as proc'd Holy Power isn't wasted.

    -There's going to be an impact on rotations as and when it goes Live. Three HP Inquisitions will likely be the order of the day until you get 4 Piece Tier 11, but some analysis needs to be done.

    All in all, good changes. But remember, this is the PTR and things can change between now and when it's pushed to Live.

    ADDED: First impressions of the new Mastery, tested as a level80 premade on the PTR, from Ronark on the Elitist Jerks forums:

    Hand of Light is classified as an additional damage source. It cannot be dodged, parried, or miss as long as the initial attack lands. Hand of Light damage is calculated after the initial attack swing, and thus will deal no damage and will not be reflected in the Combat Log against targets that were killed by the initial attack (Example- Killing a Critter will only yield in Crusader Strike damage, and no Hand of Light damage).

    The damage done is based off the damage of the initial attack, and remains constant, meaning that damage boosting effects such as Avenging Wrath does not cause Hand of Light to "double dip" and deal 44% extra damage.

    Finally, because it is a technically a separate attack, the damage dealt by Hand of Light from using Divine Storm does not contribute to the healing component- The heal is still based on solely the physical damage of Divine Storm.


    Hence talents, glyphs and abilities which scale TV, CS and DS directly (noteably Glyphs and Raid Buffs) will increase the Hand of Light damage but HoL shouldn't double-dip. This, couple with the buff to CS, may cause Glyph of CS to edge out the Glyph of Exorcism. Interaction with Inquisition hasn't yet been tested.


    Sacred Shield could be a massive boost to Retribution Paladin survivability in PvP, though to a certain extent it's dependant on the amount absorbed by the Shield. It seems to be utterly passive, which is pretty nice in the same way that old Ardent Defender was pretty nice (see: will get a lot of nerf calls). 2.8*AP doesn't strike me as overpowered, but it is a pretty healthy amount of damage absorbed. I imagine that it'll be present in most 4.0.6 PvP and PvE builds.

    That it cannot be dispelled is a nice boon for a class used to being nullified in PvP due to over-reliance on Magical buffs.


    One last thing to note is that sane Meta Gems requirements will be returning in 4.0.6 and new +Str/3% Crit gems will be added which will have 3 Red requirements. It goes without saying that this will be de-facto Best In Slot.

    Using Inquisition Effectively.

    During 4.0.1 we all got used to a nice and simple rotation using almost every available GCD if Haste-capped. Now that the haste-cap is pretty much unattainable there's plenty of dead space, throwing timings off and leading to more cooldown watching, rather than less. To address this third-party add-ons are configured specifically to reduce the information overload during encounters, CLCInfo (previously CLCRet) being a prime example targeted at Retribution's Rotation, but you shouldn't use them as an excuse to disconnect the brain entirely.

    One of the weaknesses of the current Retribution Rotation that can cause players to have a brain fart is Inquisition, more specifically when to recast Inquisition. If Holy Power generation was nice and smooth and regular the answer would be pretty trivial, but throwing in the proc mechanics of Divine Purpose and Hand of Light can sometimes throw you for a loop. Because of this, and the strange interaction 4 pc Tier 11 has with the rotation, it's best not to let an add-on do the thinking for you.


    The basic rotation/priority system for level 85 Retribution DPS is:

    Inquisition > Hammer of Wrath > Exorcism > Templar's Verdict > Crusader Strike > Judgement > Holy Wrath > Consecration

    Fairly obviously Inquisition should be up pretty much 100% of the time (expect for periods when you're not DPSing), and it's easier in the basic case to rebuff for a full 30 second duration. Assuming a 3 Holy Power Inquisition is optimal, the longer that buff is up without being re-cast the more resource efficient it is (Both in terms of Holy Power and GCD's used). Unsurprisingly re-casting Inquisition as late as possible requires a certain amount of pre-planning - you don't suddenly have 3 Holy Power to use just because you need it!

    Laying out the maths is a little over the top, but it works out that you're okay continuing to spend Holy Power on TV whilst you have more than 6 seconds left on Inquisition. Less than 6 seconds left should mean that you re-cast Inquisition as soon as have 3 Holy Power or a proc of Hand of Light.

    The only other important consideration is that first cast of Inquisition upon engaging a boss or if you've allowed the buff to fall off and have zero Holy Power. In these cases it's more important to get the buff up with a solid duration of 20 seconds rather than wait for 3 Holy Power.

    The time sensitive nature of Inquisition reinforces the need for an Add-on that tracks the buffs duration and displays it conveniently. I use CLCInfo for the purpose mainly because it was handy at the time I was re-learning 4.0 keybinds and tinkering with my UI, but any number of tools like Power Auras, ForteXorcist, ClassTimers and IceHud for RealUI would do the job just as well. Perhaps better in fact as they're designed for that sort of functionality.


    Special Case- Sapphirium Battleplate 4 Piece Bonus

    Once you've gathered four parts of your Tier 11 your Inquisitions will last for an additional 10 seconds. You might think that this is license to use 3 Holy Power and only cast it once every 40 seconds, but it's not quite that simple.

    Inquisition also procs Divine Purpose, with the same frequency no matter the amount of Holy Power used. This means that casting Inquisition using less Holy Power is more efficient from a HP resource perspective -

    Without 4-Piece, 40% Chance of Holy Power via Divine Purpose Proc per Cast

    10s Duration - 1 HP Cost - 0.06 HP per second
    20s Duration - 2 HP Cost - 0.08 HP per second
    30s Duration - 3 HP Cost - 0.10 HP per second

    With 4-Piece

    20s Duration - 1 HP Cost - 0.05 HP per second
    30s Duration - 2 HP Cost - 0.067 HP per second
    40s Duration - 3 HP Cost - 0.075 HP per second

    We tend to cast Inquisition every 25-30 seconds because it has the lowest GCD cost. Casting every 15-20 seconds would start to interfere with the cooldown of other abilities especially when Art of War is factored in, and that flexibility is important. With 4 Piece Tier 11 we can make use of this more optimum usage of GCD's but make it 33% more cost-effective under ideal conditions. Subject to the vagaries of an encounter, refreshing Inquisition with 2 Holy Power for 30 second duration is usually better than 3HP for 40 whilst still adhering to the rule of looking to rebuff when the duration is < 6 seconds. Of additional non-trivial consideration is that 2HP Inquisitions are far easier to cast - it'll take at worst 2 Crusader Strikes to generate the resources you need, rather than 3.


    Remember than none of the above are hard and fast "Laws of Good DPS" to adhere to come hell or high water, I just want to express how key being aware of your timings can be even with something as simple as keeping a buff up. Encounter mechanics will play havoc with your rotation at the best of times, so having a few simple guidelines to follow should help you to concentrate on the encounter more than rotation.

    It's been stated that Divine Purpose is likely to change in the future, probably eliminating the additional Holy Power proc in favour of moving the Hand of Light Mastery effect into the tree in this position. If mechanics are changed in this fashion you'll be using every Hand of Light Proc on Templar's Verdict and alternating Inquisition with TV as you max out your Holy Power bar. We'll see how the changes play out when they're announced in detail.

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