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? ;)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Uldum Loremaster - Dirty Birds and Phasing

Uldum is one of those rare Zones where the storyline actively encourages the completion of almost every quest, no matter how trivial or minor. Lucky thing too, there are almost exactly as many quests in Uldum (108) as are needed for Unearthing Uldum (the Cataclysm Loremaster achievement for the zone).

Note the qualifier - "almost". There are three quests which could easily be missed as you progress, one of which is very difficult to complete once you've passed a certain milestone in the Harrison Jones story due to phasing. All start when you kill a particular creature for the first time. You will need at least two of these three quests to reach 108 for the zone.

Do the World a Favour - Kill 12 Mangy Hyena's in the area south of Khartut's Tomb in NE Uldum. I don't think this quest has any significant phasing issues, but it's best to do it soon after starting the Harrison Jones quest line when you're ordered to killed Pygmy's in the area.

Just a Fancy Cockroach - Kill 5 of each colour Scarab inside the Obelisk of the Stars. Starts when you kill any colour Scarab but can sometimes bug out, requiring you to kill a particular colour to start it. Complete whilst on the Harrison Jones quest line.

Dirty Birds - Kill 8 Diseased Vultures in the Cradle of the Ancients. I'd advise you complete it when you're in the area for the first few Commander Schnottz quests because later phases in the Harrison Jones quest line remove all Diseased Vultures in the area. All is not lost if you're unlucky enough to be in the wrong phase.

You should note that if you're outside the Cradle looking in you can see the Vultures, which often fly around the edges of the phased area. Classes with 40yrd range attacks should be able to kill them at range and complete the quest relatively easily. Melee-based characters will find things a little more difficult because of the general 20 yard range limitation on their abilities (Paladin Exorcism, Warrior Taunts etc.), but there are a few ledges just outside the Cradle from which you can pull Vultures.

Ledge on NW Side of Cradle of the Ancients from which you can pull Vultures.

It takes a while because you have to wait for re-spawns, but at least the option exists until the phase is fixed.

Hope that helps you out if you're having any issues.


ADDED: From Antigen in comments:

Also, after you've done the quests up at the Obelisk of the Moon where you carpet bomb the camps and hurt the dragon that pats around there, Myzerian, you can either skillfully solo or group up and kill the dragon and loot its' head, which starts a quest that counts toward the achievement.

That quest, "Myzerian's Head" rewards three blue-quality gems and healthy amounts of gold and XP, so it's worth doing even at 85, IMO.

Thanks Antigen!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Archaeology - A Primer

The following is very much a first pass at the profession. Feel free to notify me of anything that would be useful. Sorry for placeholders for pics, they will be added to soon.

UPDATED - Max number of Fragments per Cache is 3 (slvl 75-525). Dig Sites in Hyjal/Uldum count towards your 4 in Kalimdor, Twilight Highlands Dig Sites are part of your 4 for Eastern Kingdoms.

UPDATE 2 - Dealing with bugged Dig-site (see Troubleshooting)

UPDATED 3 - 14/12/2010 Hotfix: Fragment Caches can contain between 3 and 6 Fragments rather than just 3

UPDATED 4 - Daily quests for buffs in 5-man dungeons have been in the game for some time, requiring a race's Keystone. See this post on the excellent WoW Dig Site resource for more info.

Archaeology is a new secondary Profession (like Cooking and Fishing) implemented in, and requiring, the Cataclysm Expansion. The aim is to compete a series of Research Projects, studies which give you some insight into long ago stories and lore, and in the process perhaps even create a functional artefact unique to the profession. Generally speaking it's fairly slow to level and provides no more day-to-day benefit than Fishing, but the pay-off if you're lucky can be pretty cool. Achievement chasers will be pleased to know that there is a whole new category just for this Profession.

Profession Basics

Learning the Profession

Like all secondary professions Archaeology can be learned at any major city. The best way to find the exact location of a trainer is to ask a guard in a capital city, but here is a full list of trainers with linked maps.

The Archaeology window can be found in via the Professions tab of your Skills window (default hotkey: P). From here you can see the current progress of your Research Projects and access a list of completed projects including lore flavour.

Your primary tool for Archaeology is the Survey action, which guides you to the Fragment Caches within a Dig Site.

Where Do I Dig?

Once you have learnt Archaeology a new feature will appear on your continental maps for Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms - four small trowels per map. These maps are 'Dig Sites', and represent small locations where Fragment Caches are known to exist. Unfortunately, you can't just dig anywhere!

Map of Kalimdor with Dig Sites in Un'Goro Crater, Tanaris,
the Southern Barrens and Aszhara

Clicking on the Zone will zoom you to the Zone Map, which will show you a more detailed representation of where you can Dig in that zone.

  • Kalimdor - Minimum Skill Level = 1 - Night Elf, Troll, Fossil and (infrequently) Dwarven Dig Sites
  • Eastern Kingdoms - Minimum Skill Level = 1 - Dwarven, Troll, Fossil and (infrequently) Night Elf Dig Sites
  • Outland - Minimum Skill Level = 300 - Orcish and Draenei Dig Sites
  • Northrend - Minimum Skill Level = 375 - Vrykul, Nerubian, Night Elf and Troll Dig Sites
  • Uldum - Minimum Skill Level = 450 - Tol'vir Dig Sites (Counts towards the 4 total Kalimdor Dig Sites)

  • How do I Dig?

    Once you've reached a Dig Site you're ready to start Surveying. Each dig site contains three Fragment Caches which only you will see and interact with; no-one can steal your Fragments. Firstly, activate the Survey ability.

    A theodolite (tripod with an eyeglass on top) will appear with its' eyeglass pointing in a particular direction and a glowing antenna in one of three colours:-

    1. Red - Your Fragment Cache is more than 100 Yards away. The error margin for your eyeglass is huge, almost 90 degrees in either direction. Follow the direction of the eyeglass ~150 yards and then re-Survey.

    2. Yellow - Your Fragment Cache is between 100 and 40 yards away. Your eyeglass now points in roughly the right direction, and has an error margin of 20 degrees in either direction. Follow and re-Survey ~70 yards

    3. Green - Your Fragment Cache is very close (within 40 yards) and the eyeglass points in the almost exactly the right direction. Re-survey at ~20 yards.

    Repeat your Surveying until you've found your Fragment Cache. Using Survey when you're within 10 or so yards of your Cache will unearthed it.

    The key to narrowing down the location of your cache quickly is dealing with Red results, and with that in mind here are a few rules of thumb:

    1. Start in the middle of the dig site - you'll eliminate a large proportion of the site whatever the result.

    2. Red results eliminate the area directly behind the theodolite. Multiple Red results chained together should be thought of as gradually cordoning off an area within which the dig site would be. This is especially important for the largest dig sites, in Tanaris, Unbound Thicket etc.

    3. In my experience there are areas where Caches usually aren't, most obviously within walls, under water, impassible cliffs and outside the dig site. Use these obstacles to narrow down your search further.

    What do I Get?

    From Profession Level 1-75 Fragment Caches contain 2 Fragments and thereafter you gain between 3 and 6 Fragments for the category of Dig Site you're surveying, for example Jaedenar in Felwood will always uncover Night Elf Research Fragments. Dwarven Racial bonus grants you one additional Fragment per Cache. These fragments aren't stored as items in your inventory, but as currency visible in your Research Tab. Fragments are never wasted - if you have too many fragments for a Project they'll be rolled over into your next Project.

    Additionally you may also get a Keystone in a Cache like the Highborne Scroll. Hang on to them even if you can't use them right away, they're worth a dozen Fragments in compatible Research Projects. Be careful though, they can be traded and sold to vendors.

    Research and Keystones

    Nine different research categories are currently available: Troll, Night Elf, Dwarf, Orc, Draenai, Fossil, Vrykul, Nerubian and Tol'vir. (Yes, there's a 10th icon... no, I don't know what it does yet).

    When you collect a Fragment it's attributed to the Research Project for a corresponding category. Don't worry, there's no fiddling with backpacks required, they're counted as a currency for storage purposes and it's all done automatically. Once you have collected the required number of fragments for that Project you may choose to 'Solve' it, creating the item associated with the project. These items can be kept, or sold on to generate a small amount of cash.

    Some projects can be solved more quickly via the use of Keystones. These projects have a number of hexagonal slots below the progression bar within which you can place a Keystone just before you click to solve. Each Keystone boosts your progression by 12 fragments, more than the value of a whole dig site. If you have the opportunity to use a Keystone to solve a project you should always take full advantage of it, there's no reason not to.

    Look closely, this Project has two Keystone slots.
    The second is greyed out until you've placed a Keystone in the first slot

    Resulting Artefacts

    Most Projects create 'Common' (Grey) items which can be safely vendored. Details of the Artefact including additional flavour text are stored in your 'Completed Projects' tab.

    Sometimes these common artefacts are linked in common a narrative, and uncovering all these artefacts will net you an Achievement. One such story is 'The Tragedy in Three Acts', the tale of Pyramond and Theleste.

    Rare Project Artefacts

    A few Research Projects are 'Rare', and instead of resulting in a Common item have Rare or Epic rewards. Rare projects typically required substantially more Fragments to complete, but also often have multiple Keystone slots to ease the project along.

    There's no way to predict when a Rare project will become available, though the rare projects available to you may depend on you Archaeology skill. For reference, I gained the Fossillized Hatchling project at approx. skill level 150 and Queen Aszhara's Dressing Gown project at 250. If you're after a particular Rare item, such as the upgraded Zin'rokh, Destroyer of Worlds, tailor your continent to that Category (in this case, Eastern Kingdoms for Troll Ruins).

    Levelling Strategies.

    Completing a Survey and looting Fragments can generate skill points in Archaeology up to 100, though 95+ tends to be very infrequent. Solving a Research Project grants 5 skill points. Fragments are never wasted, and so those seeking to maximise the speed of levelling should not solve Projects until they've reached 100.

    Rare Projects are generally poor for levelling the skill, though the item you'd gain may be worthwhile. If you're seeking to maximise levelling speed avoid continents heavy in your Rare Projects' Category.

    Alternatively, those seeking to level the skill as their character levels should be aware that looting fragments generates a non-trivial amount of XP (modified by the Rested bonus). Level 80 characters seeking to power-level the Profession will gain enough XP to at least level to 83, and normal Alt levelling progression may be significantly affected by the amount of XP you gain. Two gathering professions and Archaeology could easily grant you enough XP to out-level zones you were planning to experience.

    You can level all the way up to 525 on one continent if you so desire. Just like Fishing, the location Surveyed or Project completed has no bearing on skill point gain.

    Fast Mounts are well worth their gold. Travelling between dig sites and survey points are the most significant uses of time when levelling, and mounts allow you to traverse between dig sites and survey points at speed. At low levels your Archaeology progression will be stymied significantly by a lack of fast mount and flying.


    You may rarely come across a Survey where your Cache is inaccessible, either through being in the middle of an obstacle or outside the bounds of the dig site. When this happens, move on to another Dig Site and gain your fragments from that location and then return to the bugged Site. Depleting a dig site re-sets the position of Caches in all Sites, so with any luck that bugged Cache will have moved to an accessible location.

    Tuesday, November 30, 2010

    New Nitro Boost Includes a Painful Backfire.

    I love Engineering, you love Engineering. And so it pains me to say that there's been a bout of mass amnesia during the events of the Shattering (probably from too much Mind Amplification) and everyone seems to have forgotten how to make Nitro Boots. Goblins and Gnomes have rushed to bring a quick substitute to the marketplace of innovation, Nitro Boosts, with rather mixed results.

    The first thing to note is that Nitro's are no longer a Boot augmentation, they now take up the Belt tinker slot in which you may previously have had the Frag Belt/Spyglass. No, I don't think that a speed boost coming from your belt is at all logical either, but I won't be complaining too much. The upshot is: you can now use regular Enchants such as Greater Assault on your boots (Yay!) but lose the use of Frag Grenades (Boo). At a very reasonable 6 Volatile Triggers and 6 Handfuls of Cobalt Bolts, Nitro Boosts are hardly likely to break the bank and would be a no brainer.

    I say 'would be', because there's now a couple of pretty big downsides to this Engineering augment. Backfire rates are up, way up, and can now occur in Raids and Battlegrounds. At level 80 there are some reports that the tinker is backfiring more often than it's actually working, but under normal circumstances the tinker would still be well worth it.

    The second pieces to this horrid puzzle is a new additional backfire effect. No longer will Nitro backfires only throw you up in the air and deploy a parachute for a nice and soft landing, you additionally may get the following debuff in BGs and Raids:-

    Yes, that's 120% of your Maximum Health over 8 seconds, otherwise known as 'ouch'. The idea was probably to discourage the highest-end raiding guilds from stacking this profession simply for the Boots, but now using the boots is just too damn risky unless the levels of healing flying around is huge. I'm tempted to suggest that Blizzard adjusted the backfire rate for >lvl80 and inadvertently upped the level 80 backfire rate. If you're an Engineer you may want to consider just using the Frag Belt for now.

    It's a shame really, Nitro Boots were a massive boon to melee specs in Wrath (especially for 'stay out of the Defile' moments) and a very competitive profession in end-game raiding if you looked beyond the pure numbers. In Cataclysm it's a shadow of its' former self for melee dps, though Casters will gain the very strong +480 Intellect/12 sec Synapse Springs and Tanks an armour cooldown in the form of Quickflip Deflection Plates. As times goes on Engineering remains pretty weak for Retribution, and without at the very least a lvl85 speed boost (with associated low backfire rates that do much less damage) it may well be one to avoid if you're a top-flight Raider.

    Thursday, November 18, 2010

    More Damage Via Tradeskills - Retribution Professions in Cataclysm

    EDIT: Made a few updates based on corrected information. Doesn't change Profession priority.

    EDIT2: Tentatively included the changes in 4.0.6 patch notes which would have an singificant effect on the value of the professions, namely changes to Bracer Enchants and the Synapse Springs Engineering Tinker.

    Upon the Shattering you'll have the chance to roll a new character and experience a new adventure in Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms. Some few of you (very few I should think by now) will be levelling a brand new Paladin, and a sub-set of those will be Retribution and levelled to engage in end-game content. In this endeavour, it behoves you to choose your professions wisely and maximise your potential. To that end the following is a brief run-down of the options available to you and their relative value:

    1) Leatherworking.

    **** UPDATE: In 4.0.6 (build currently on the PTR servers as of 11/01) Bracer Enchants for +50 Intellect/Agility/Strength are being added to the game files. Leatherworking will be once more on a par with Blacksmithing, Inscription, Jewelcrafting, Enchanting and Alchemy. *****

    Previously, Leatherworking is been somewhat overlooked by Retribution Paladins in search of more bang for their tradeskill buck. Not any more however as the profession gets four new wrist slot enhancements worth 130 of your Primary stat, with a Strength option for Plate DPS. Tanks have the option of a well-budgeted equivalent - 195 Stamina.

    Budget-wise the profession isn't over-valued, it replaces level 85 Wrist Enchantments which are up to +65 in a Secondary stat. Par for other professions (which can utilise wrist enchantments) is +80 in a Primary stat, so you could even argue that it's under-budget. However given that in Ret's case Strength is worth ~100% more than Crit or Haste Rating (the best 65 Rating Enchantments) and 33% more than Hit Rating (50 Stat enchantment) Leatherworking is obviously slightly better. In fact, any class which values a Primary stat >33% more than Crit or Haste Rating will find that Leatherworking is the best profession for them.

    2) Tailoring

    Tailoring is at least the second best or perhaps even the best Profession to take if you're eager to maximise your DPS, it's all down to the as-yet unknown proc rate of Swordguard Embroidery Rank 2. Like Leatherworking it replaces a +65 Crit enchantment, though casters also have the option of a highly rated +50 Intellect enchantment to their cloak instead.

    If this enhancement follows the mechanics of its' WotLK equivalent it will have an 45 second internal cooldown and very high proc rate, generally modelled as a 15 second up-time with 50 second cooldown. This averages to around 300AP, the equivalent of ~135 Strength, more if synchronised with cooldowns such as Avenging Wrath.

    3) Blacksmithing, Enchanting, Inscription, Jewelcrafting, Alchemy.

    Each of these Professions, in their own way, provide a bonus of exactly 80 Strength (or 80 of your primary stat if you're not Plate DPS). Blacksmithing allows you to add a socket to gloves and wrists for a total bonus of +40 Strength each. Enchanting has a +40 Strength Ring enchant. Inscription trades a +50 Str/+25 Crit shoulder enhancement for a +130 Str/+25 Crit one. Jewelcrafting has +67 Strength Epic gems available (the +67 is rounded up, three net you 200 Strength total). Alchemy's passive benefit of increased effectiveness for flasks grants you the extra 80 Strength when you imbibe a Flask of Titanic Strength.

    Ancillary benefits, such as the ability to craft your own gear or generate gold, should therefore factor into your decision. Jewelcrafting and Inscription are without doubt the better gold generators and Inscription is just about the most interesting of the four in terms of 'other things' it can create. Enchanting doesn't really require a gathering profession to support it, making it ideal if you're rerolling fresh on a new realm. Blacksmithing in theory allows you to make what you craft, but raw materials are costly and crafted items can usually be bought from the AH anyway.

    4) Engineering

    *** Patch 4.0.6 features a change to the Synapse Springs tinker. It will increase your Primary Stat (Strength in Retribution's Case) by 480 for 10 Seconds (1 min cooldown) rather than Intellect, pushing Engineering from one of the worst professions for this spec to one of the best. The Engineering Tinker recipes are randomly discovered as you craft your way to 525 profession skill ***

    It's not looking good for our old pal. A Primary stat boost on the order of +80 in the glove tinker slot would place it in the leagues of Leatherworking and Tailoring but only Intellect is represented. Melee DPS are lumbered with a rehash of the rocket-glove, the Tazik Shocker. Used on cooldown (every 2 minutes) it's pretty much a flat 40 DPS increase, modified slightly by Avenging Wrath. This activated ability could be boosted to a 45 second cooldown in the future to match that of the rocket-glove, so if you already have very high level Engineering (400+) it's probably worth holding out for a bit before jumping into a better profession.

    There's no Nitro Boost boot tinker for Cataclysm, and using the current one has a high backfire rate outside of Raid zones. On the other hand unlike WotLK Nitro Boosts do stack with boot enchants, though they no longer have an additional 24 Crit Rating bonus.

    I should probably also mention the new Engineering Goggles. This time around they're item level 359, the same as Tier 11, and have a stat budget commensurate with that. Retribution has access to the Reinforced Bio-Optic Killshades, a set of plate +Strength goggles with a Meta and two Cogwheel sockets. Cogwheels are an engineering-only gem type which feature 208 Rating of a Secondary Stat of your choice, allowing slightly better customisation though obviously reforging won't be an option. Whilst they're unlikely to be better overall than dropped Tier 11 Helms they will allow you to gear up more quickly than you otherwise would be able to if you're willing to shell out the gold on Materials. More casual players with less consistent access to raiding environments should appreciate this.

    Currently Engineering is in a pretty bad way, but a Profession parse before the first major patch would hopefully alleviate much of the issue. If you're rolling a new Paladin it may be best to avoid it, especially as many of the most useful utility tinkers are being prohibited in Rated Battlegrounds.

    5) Skinning, Herbalism

    Maximum proficiency in Skinning grants you Master of Anatomy Rank 7 which increases your Crit Rating by 80. It's definitely not the most optimal of professions, and should probably only be taken if you intend to sate the voracious leather requirements of other characters.

    Similarly Herbalism is only really suitable if you're looking to invest in herb-dependant tradeskills on other characters, primarily Alchemy and Inscription. Skilled Herbalists gain Lifeblood Rank 8, a buff granting 480 Haste rating for 20 seconds on a 2 minute cooldown.

    6) Mining

    Very simple. Toughness Rank 7 grants you 120 additional Stamina and is gained when you max out the Mining skill at 525. This is a profession ideal for tanks, not for DPS or Healers.


    So there are your options. I certainly wouldn't beat yourself up if you don't have the two absolutely most optimal professions available to you, but if you're still using gathering professions you may want to replace it favour of the better ones.

    A point to note: as we up the gear Tiers to a higher value of Gem all the professions will probably be adjusted to compensate, staying the same relative strength. On the other hand if a new range of ultra-power wrist enchants with the a high budget and utilising Primary stats is released the value of the major crafting professions could be turned on their head.

    As always, choose the best fit for you, and enjoy!

    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

    Friday, November 12, 2010

    DPS Meta Gem Requirements for Retribution.

    UPDATE: Blizzard have announced an intention to revert the colour requirements of 3% Crit Damage Meta Gems back to 3.3 specs - 2 Blue one Red for Chaotics and one of each colour for Relentless. The changes should come into effect in an upcoming patch, making the rest of this article moot unless the revert is reversed.

    Level 85 Meta Gems have been implemented on the Beta Servers, or perhaps that should be partially implemented. You can find the full list of Meta Gems discovered so far on Wowhead Beta Site here, but lets have a quick look at those useful to Melee Specs. Note that rare gems in the Beta (the highest Tier available so far) have a budget of +40 stats i.e. +40 Strength/Hit Rating/Expertise Rating etc.

    PvE Melee/Caster DPS

    Chaotic Shadowspirit Diamond
    +54 Critical Strike Rating and 3% Increased Critical Damage
    Requires more Blue gems than Red gems

    PvE Tanking

    Austere Shadowspirit Diamond
    +81 Stamina and 2% Increased Armor Value from Items
    Requires at least 2 Yellow gems

    Eternal Shadowspirit Diamond
    +81 Stamina and +5% Shield Block Value
    Requires at least 3 Blue gems

    PvP Melee/Caster

    Destructive Shadowspirit Diamond
    +54 Critical Strike Rating and 1% Spell Reflect
    Requires at least 2 Red gems

    Enigmatic Shadowspirit Diamond
    +54 Critical Strike Rating and Reduces Snare/Root Duration by 10%
    Requires at least 1 Blue gems
    Requires at least 1 Yellow gems

    Fleet Shadowspirit Diamond
    +54 Mastery Rating and Minor Run Speed Increase
    Requires at least 2 Yellow gems

    Impassive Shadowspirit Diamond
    +54 Critical Strike Rating and Fear Duration Reduced by 10%
    Requires at least 1 Blue gems
    Requires at least 1 Yellow gems

    Powerful Shadowspirit Diamond
    +81 Stamina and Stun Duration Reduced by 10%
    Requires at least 2 Blue gems

    Obviously the majority of these are variations on a theme intended for PvP, no biggie. But look at the change to the Chaotic gem requirements - "More Blue than Red Gems". With the changes in 4.0 melee DPS can finally get some use out of Blue Gems via the Hit Rating, but in the case of Retribution Red +Strength Gems are still point for point on the order of 33% better when below the Hit Cap. We can't even revert back to a level 80 RED, both it and Chaotic Skyflare are being retroactively changed to have the same Blue>Red requirements.

    For Retribution, and many other specs if what I'm hearing bears out, whether or not to satisfy Meta Gems requirements is going to be a thorny issue. Tier 11 gearing levels will include 8 sockets at minimum and 12 or more in optimal configurations, so that's between 7 and 11 Purple gems and 1 Blue gem. In Ret's case, when below the Hit Cap you're trading up-to 260 Strength (all-Red) for 260 Hit Rating (Blue>Red), obviously a reduction in overall DPS. To be an attractive proposition this has to be less than the value of +3% Critical Strike Damage.

    So, is it better to socket all Red rather than aim for the Meta Requirements? Well, it's a tough call. Current World of Logs parses indicate the +3% Critical Strike damage bonus is a not inconsiderable ~1% of total DPS, but the relative value of 260 Strength over 260 Hit is in that ball-park too. There's not an awful lot in it, but the equation gets much worse for Chaotic Shadowspirit as you gain more sockets, discover gems with higher stat bonuses, reforge Crit into other stats, or surpass the Hit Cap. For what it's worth, quick calculations of my own lead me to believe that running with the Chaotic Meta is fractionally better than not.

    If 3% Crit Damage is worth it Gemming and Reforging priorities won't be affected, though the numbers game would become more interesting. Gems choices will tend to be Purple Etched Demonseye (as they are more convenient for item socket bonuses) plus one Rigid Ocean Sapphire or Green Gem with +Hit/+Other Rating when near the Cap.

    Reaching the opposite conclusion - that 3% Crit Damage just isn't worth it - will mean you have to reforge much more aggressively to reach all the relevant Caps. The priority of Hit then Expertise will remain in place but you may find yourself reforging away stats that in an ideal world you'd like to keep. It goes without saying that the Meta Gem of choice when gemming straight red would be the Destructive Shadowspirit Diamond.

    But that's not all, for that would be too easy, there are still Socket Bonuses to cogitate over. Cataclysm Socket bonuses are much, much more significant than they are in Wrath itemisation, to the extent that it's not uncommon to see +20 and even +30 bonuses in key slots. Any bonuses valued at 10 Strength or greater per off-colour choice will be valuable, and they occur with considerable frequency at Tier 11. Yellow gem slots are ideally filled by Inscribed Ember Topaz until +Strength/+Haste Orange gems are included, but don't forget to balance with an additional blue if you're aiming for the more stringent Meta bonus.

    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.

    Wednesday, September 08, 2010

    One Week from a Release Date Announcement?

    "Gosh, this sounds familiar" was a feature of the talk on WoW-Twitter when the Alpha was first announced. It appeared that the start of the Catacysm F&F Alpha closely coincided with the Wrath of the Lich King Alpha leak 2 years earlier - make that 2 years to the week earlier. Speculation then run rampant - "How long will the Alpha Last?", "When will we get the Beta?", "What does this mean for the release date?" etc. but no-one really had much of a clue.

    If Cataclysm was following Wrath's development timetable then the Alpha turned into the Beta somewhat earlier than ones expectation. This has been explained away as a rush due to poor Alpha feedback and widespread information leaks, far more widespread than Wrath, which I suppose is a reasonable rationalisation. Beta start dates are small beans to our prospective Nostradamus's though as the real date of contention is the release date, and for those who want to believe that Cataclysm is mirroring Wrath's development schedule the next week or so is a key milestone. The release date of Wrath of the Lich King was announced on the 15th of September (for true obsessives this was the 3rd Monday in September), 2 months prior to the 13th November launch. If the smart money of a mid-November release is correct then a announcement may be imminent.

    If Cataclysm is to be mid-November then we may or may not see 4.0 go live about one month before that date. When 3.0 was launched the devs. still had a full month to add to and polish Northrend before anyone would step foot there, whereas the whole of Azeroth is being redeveloped in this latest expansion. Putting unfinished zones which aren't absolutely new (such as Winterspring) off-limits will be much more difficult to justify to the subscriber base, and so its' live date will be much more fluid. Furthermore, holding off on launching 4.0 till new 80+ content is released makes a lot of sense; class balance could well be shot to hell, making top-tier Wrath raiding content nigh-on impossible.

    Hey, it could happen :P

    And with that rampant speculation out the way, go and enjoy the Battle for Gnomeregan/Fall of Zalazane.

    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.

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