Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Loot rewards

BoK has been discussing the PvP epics vs. regular epics discussion, and I thought I'd weigh in on it too...

Timesink. This game and virtually all other MMRPGs are unfortunately purely designed in this way, to waste as much time as possible to get as minimal a reward as possible. Part of the problem is the complete avoidance of the concept of character death - if you cannot lose your character in any way, shape or form, the rewards have to be slow and time-consuming, so that you cannot perfect yourself.

But they're really too slow.

People complain about being able to get PvP epics, but it isn't as though they're handed to you. I have 3 pieces from months of play from the arena, and the other 3 I earned from what can be asbolutely mind-numbing BG PUGs. I don't think there was any lack of effort on my part.

The difference is the staggering amount of time you comparatively have to spend in PvE efforts. Rep rewards, raiding time, all of these require ridiculous amounts of time put in. The only way to get everything out of the game is to sacrifice all of your other games and many other interests. At 10-15 hours a week I can never catch up to any of my goals, especially not with raiding in the schedule, and getting an epic flying mount is almost certainly never going to happen at this point.

Long story short, rewards take far too much time as it is. PvP rewards may be a bit too easy, but I believe the effort required to get PvE rewards is so severe that it makes PvP look a lot easier than it really is.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Set Bonuses and Gem Bonuses

Quick and dirty second post as I'm staring at a pile of invoices I need done before I leave tonight (groan), Firelight mentioned something in the CS comments that has bugged me for awhile - since Diablo 2, actually.... Blizzard is scared as hell of item bonuses.

They love the idea, which as I recall was originally to make people want to wear the entire set of a certain type of armor, so that characters looked more awesome. This was the plan going all the way back to D2. So they created the idea of set bonuses, to reward someone who took the time and effort to collect an entire set. One problem: the bonuses suck.

In mortal fear of breaking the almighty item value* laws, they minimize at all costs the actual utility of having an entire set. Bonuses are by and large weak and uninspiring. They're clearly afraid of making these items too valuable, and so most of the time they make it tepid and uninteresting. This of course makes people largely ignore the set bonuses (with a few exceptions) and they end up being willing to break a set the first chance they get. With socket bonuses, the situation has remained unchanged.

Take, for example, Tier 4 Holy. One of the set bonuses? Increased healing from JoL. Aside from the kinda maybe synergy that a Ret Paladin can have with it, by keeping it up FOR the Holy Pally, there's no way they make any real use of it, and it is pretty damn weak to begin with.

Or the fact that I don't have a single item bonus from any of my armor on my Prot Pally. Why bother? 12 sta gems will easily beat the +4 block value I'll get from utilising the far weaker red and yellow gems. +4 block value being one of the better possibilities on some of these sockets.

I'd like to see people utilizing real armor sets, and I'd like to see more sets in general. But to really push people to start wearing them, you have to give people a reason.

Anyways, the limited number of armor pieces in this game is kinda disappointing. I'd really like to have a lot of options, but it eventually gets to the point where I know what upgrade I need next and where I can get it, period.

* For the less experienced among us, each item is given a certain 'item level', which gives it a total amount of stat points it can have. In fact, I should probably make another whole post on this. Add it to the officially unofficial Retnoob planned updates.

WoW Web Stats

Dammit, now I'm on BRK's main page for links. Gee thanks BRK - way to make me feel like I need to update! I've got work too y'know. Grrr. Well, since someone is indirectly guilting me into an update, I'd like to lay down the posts I have planned coming up. That way, I'm forcing myself to actually get around to them.

1) Install WWS and use it to post some hard Ret numbers.

2) Post an e-mail requesting gear/playstyle advice

3) Post an e-mail from a heavy pvper requesting arena advice.

On a side note, I had an opportunity to put my prot pally to rest for a night and bring Modano back in for some good old fashioned fun. Unfortunately, very little of our DPS ends up being standard melee and so our enh. shaman drops down Wrath of Air instead of WF (damn hunters/druids/tanks!), and we rarely have warriors. Thus my numbers are never where they should be.

Ret Paladins are at their finest in 25-mans. Melee DPS is more dependent than anyone on buffs, and Ret Pallies/Arms Warriors may be the most dependent of them all, and not having a traditional 'melee' group that you would see in a 25-man (or 40-man back in the day) means not rolling with the buffs you're accustomed to. 10-mans play havoc with raid groups, since you can't really specialize your groups - you'll have a tank in the caster group, or a caster in the melee group, and nothing is really optimized in terms of organizing the buffs.

My numbers are anywhere from 600-1k+, depending on what buffs we're rolling with, what consumables I use, and the standard modifiers (dying, healing teammates, running around like an idiot to avoid AEs, etc).

So last night I had an enhancement shaman (no WF most of the time), feral druid, and MM hunter for my buffs. I know I should be posting a WWS for this, but hey, it's now in my brand new, official 'to do' list. My numbers for the run were 650-750 in our short-lived ZA attempt, and 580 against Nightbane, which of course isn't the best test of anything.

What could I have used? Well, against Nightbane, consumables - I was being a slacker and avoiding them there. I could have also used a living enhancement shaman. Nightbane turned to Icialis (the shaman) the second he landed and wasted him before our prot pally could pick NB up. Ouch. And after the first flight, Nightbane lands, turns to Icialis again and kaPOW, instant death. Again. I don't know if he was wearing evil shadow dragon pheremones, but Nightbane clearly was not his fan last night.

Also, me not dying in the first phase wouldn't have hurt. Nightbane decided to have a Paladin dessert to go with his 4-course shaman.

So I would say at the moment, with above average buffs and using consumables, 700 DPS is a comfortable amount for myself at the moment. I can add Rank 1 Consecrates for another 40-50, though I'm usually a little light on the mana to do that comfortably.

If I'm rolling with very weak buffs (Mark, BoM and Salv), staying at 600 by itself will be a challenge.

And if I'm rolling buffed to hell and back...watch out.

P.S. The link, of course, is much appreciated BRK, and I love ya for it. But it did in fact guilt me into this post. :P

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The New Crusader Strike

So Blizzard is finally starting to move forward with the plan to reduce our itemization requirements, which leaves Retribution in a tiny bit of a bind.

What am I talking about? The 110% damage buff and simultaneous nerf (no 40% dmg coefficient) of Crusader Strike.

They discussed back at BlizzCon removing spell damage as a stat for Retribution, and this is certainly a start, but at the same time, a lot of our gear still has a lot of spell damage. While it doesn't scale nearly as well as AP, it had its use, and removing it from Crusader Strike stings our damage a little - one of our major skills now has a rather poor synergy with a lot of our gear stats and one of our raid staples, Judgment of the Crusader.

I can't decide whether or not this is a buff or a nerf. It's the start to something that needs to be done, but at the same time a fair amount of our skills and gear are oriented in some way towards spell damage, and removing that coefficient just took away the 450 spell damage or so we end up having with JotC up on a target.

As a class, we have seen more rapid and fundamental changes than perhaps anyone. We used warrior only gear back when SoC and Consecration were our only damage abilities, JoC being a useless debuff. Then we used gear with spell damage when they added JoC and revamped our coefficients. Then we started to revert to melee gear, but still keeping around a fair amount of int and spell damage. Now it looks like we're going full steam back to melee gear, but at the moment we're still loaded out on spell damage gear.

At the moment, the CS change is probably neutral, just a start towards something that's been needed for awhile now, but any further changes to our skills to reduce spell damage dependency cannot occur without a serious revamp of a lot of our gear.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Fallout

One of the more curious side effects of the 2.3 patch is we're now seeing a lot of Paladins who originally rolled their character with the idea of being a true front line fighter now re-speccing from Holy to Ret. I've seen a few stories on the forums, heard a few say that they're going to re-spec on my server, and even gotten a couple of e-mails with questions from former Holy Pallies who are now trying to make Ret work for them. And the switch is, of course, always from Holy to Ret.

What interests me most about this is the transition pains of a game that has now come to rely on having those healers available. While druids and priests have really started to outshine us in healing these days, we're still tops at keeping up single targets, and best healer or not, so many of the healers for many guilds are Holy Paladins, and there are clearly Paladins who want to live their original vision for the class, the Uther Lightbringer ass-kicking.

I'm curious as to how many healers are eventually going to be lost for many guilds who rely on those healers. I assume most will stay Holy, for the sake of progression and filling your guild's niche, but there's going to be some lean times for a lot of guilds, and I don't think a lot of guilds have been saying to themselves, "Man, we have so many healers!"

I suppose ultimately we'll see how it pans out. Perhaps this is all overblown in my mind, but the number of Paladins I've heard say they're re-speccing has surprised me. If it does play out in this fashion, I'll probably have a comment or two on the short-sightedness of this game's design that shows up at times. Really, making a healer out of a class every Warcraft player would've assumed to be a melee character? When you do get around to patching it up to making that melee playstyle not just viable, but vividly and clearly viable to the majority of the players, you end up taking out a huge chunk of the healers that you designed your game around. Tsk.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

New header

As my good friend and guildmate created an awesome forum signature for me, I thought I might update my header. I still need to do some width adjustment on it, as you can see, but I figured I'd put it up for now. Let me know what you think! If its too cheesy, I'll do something else with it, but I thought it was a pretty cool touch.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

It's all about the buffs.

Let me regale you with a short story of my last two raid events - Zul'Aman Monday night, and Gruul's Lair on a learning run with another guild on Friday.

In Gruul's Lair, I was in a group where the only notable buff was Leader of the Pack. We ran with only 2 Paladins, me and a Holy Pally, so my only 2 buffs were Salv and Wisdom.

I ran about 500-550 DPS for the total run, tops. A lot of running was a factor, as Gruul's involves getting chased off your boss fights, but it was still weak and I was frustrated at my performance.

Last night, I helped out on our last attempt of the cat boss. I was in a group with a feral druid, an Enhancement shammy (though no WF - agi was used for the druid), a fury warrior and a rogue. This time I had Kings, Might, Salv, Battle Shout, totems, Unleashed Rage, and LotP.

870 DPS.

I even used pots and and weightstones in Gruul's that I didn't touch for the ZA attempt. If I'd used my consumables, and gotten Improved WF outta the shammy, 1k DPS would have been no sweat.

So remember, it's ALL about the buffs. Running in a group with little buffing to help your damage will leave you languishing at the bottom. Running in a group with a absolute pile of buffs will have you rocking the charts from beginning to end.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Macros! Rotations!

Okay, really only one of each. In the previous post, someone mentioned the macro they used for Judgments. I've personally never really used a macro outside of old-school Decursive and targetting macros for various mobs in raid situations, so I confess to a bit of ignorance in the matter. So I tried it on our 4-man Heroic UB run the other night...

I like it.

The basic trick is:

/cast Judgement
/cast Seal of Command

Type that in for your macro and set it to your judgment button, and, with some caution, you'll never fail to have Seal of Command up for every proc - you can even cast it right before a swing with no worries.

The caution? Make bloody sure you don't hit the button while you're in GCD, or if you do, you have to click Seal of Command yourself. I'm still getting the feel of it, but I certainly see the potential it offers.

Using this macro and therefore lightening my button presses, I've found I'm generally able to fall into a steady rotation, which is more or less CS, Judge, CS, Rank 1 Consecrate, CS, Judge, Repeat. The 6-second CS adds a lot more activity, but I'm not feeling squeezed, and have still found time for Consecrate without getting screwed too much by the GCD. Things are looking up for our class!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Six Second Crusader Strike and You

So with the long-awaited CD reduction on Crusader Strike, a problem I first faced in ZG back in pre-BC 2.0 is this - how do you deal with adding such a frequent swing to your rotation?

Very carefully.

First task: Get a swing timer. A good one, anything on Curse with a decent rating should do. You must make sure never to let SoC not be up during a swing, and you'll be spamming a lot more attacks so be careful about this.

Second: Plan it out. I don't necessarily advocate finding "The Exact Rotation", where you know exactly what to do every second. I like a little ambiguity in my combat style, but the fundamentals of it are good to keep in mind. Falling into a steady pace isn't a bad idea at all, and at least understanding what you need to do to maximize your DPS is a good idea.

For example, timing can become a serious constraint: Hitting your Judgment at the wrong time means you have to recast SoC right when your CS is up from cooldown, wasting a couple of seconds. Not a big deal, of course, but do that enough times and it can really start to impact your ability to maximize your damage. Or perhaps you CS right after a judgment, and don't have enough time to recast SoC before your next swing. These are the problems that get in the way, and why you should have at least priorities on what gets precedence over other skills.

So what do you need to do? That is, what are the actions you must absolutely take?
Crusader Strike on the Cooldown, every time.
Have Seal of Command (or Blood for the BEs) up for every melee swing.

This is, of course, leaving out Judgments. These are still important, and the skills on older and newer librams available to us gives us the challenge of timing them right. For example, Libram of Avengement that jacks your crit rating up for 5 seconds. You want this for at least one SoC swing and one Crusader Strike, so your best bet is to get a melee swing in, Judge/Recast SoC (1.5 seconds GCD) and follow it up with a Crusader Strike that's just off cooldown. Nothing ever gets timed THAT well, of course, but that's the idea.

Judgments are a tertiary part of our damage, behind auto attack and Crusader Strike, but they have potential, especially with Avengement and the upcoming libram from Heroic Badges, and mean that you want to use a Judgment just before your other swings. Thus, it's ok to sit on the Judgment cooldown, since if you save it for when CS is nearly ready it can add a good chance for that CS to really count.

There are people who have worked out the Super Mega Perfect Combat Rotation for Retribution Paladins, and I'll probably quote some of their work if I can get a good solid quote sometime, but for now just keep in mind that Judgments should never be used if they'll in any way affect your Crusader Strike or swing timer. And, again, get a swing timer mod. Seriously.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Wow that was a long post

Figured I would boil my last post down some. Essentially, I broke down our problems that prevent hybridization: the constant attention that must be paid to our combat system these days, especially with 6 sec Crusader Strike coming up, the hit-it-and-forget it buffing system we now have, and the relative unimportance of our auras were my basic notes I touched.

My suggestion to fix our class to make us melee-oriented hybrids is to break down our combat system, make it simpler and reduce the time and global cooldowns we deal with in maximizing our damage. That, alongside offering instant cast, short duration buffs we can offer every 15 seconds to a group and making our auras oriented to different groups (an AP buff, one, a healing one, mana regen, etc) will allow us to get into the group we prefer, whether it be the buffed to hell-and-back melee group, or the shadow priest group for regen.

We can't do anything while we're banging our head on GCDs, and heals are limited due to the fact that auto attack is so important. If we want to see some offhealing thrown in, a new healing spell with an instant cast and a low mana cost (and a 5-sec CD to make sure that all it is is an offheal) we could see some real hybridization going on.

Long story short, I'd like to see variety in the class, and I don't want it to be just melee, or healing style, or tanking. In my opinion, our variety should be in how we support our group, and giving us the time and the tools to do it would be what makes the class interesting.

Of course, that might suck for soloing, so my suggestion is have self-buff only skills that would share the CD with our group buffs. Boost our personal skills when we don't have anyone else around and all that.

Beta Pallies

This discussion of hybridization of the class got me thinking about the past, one which I was a part of for a good while. It's an interesting path that Blizzard has taken with the class.

Ignoring the whole "the original team left and the remaining one bastardized the class" as it's part conspiracy theory, part bitter resentment and a whole hell of a lot of impossible to prove, let's discuss what we were, and what that gave for us.

First off, I'm ignoring the Forsaken-as-undead thing. It was great and fun, but class/race balance being the obsession that it is, was hard to continue to work with for Blizzard. It's gone for a reason, and let's accept that. I want to discuss our skills, and what they provided.

Second off, I'm going from memory and a quick visit of a few beta-era impressions to remind me of some basic things. I played a Paladin to roughly 42, and stopped roughly a few weeks after we first got our lvl 40 free mount (the quest, I might add, has not changed since they first implemented it. Not even a single letter). This is not a thorough guide, but rather an opportunity to expound on the strengths of an alternative combat system.

Paladins in Beta had a completely different combat system. Our blessings did not exist, and most of them were present in the use of auras, with only Devo, Ret and the Resist Auras left over from that original time. For example, Aura of Might, which increased the entire party's attack power for a decent amount. Auras for healing (out of combat only) and mana regen (maybe OOC only, don't remember) were also available, and the Paladin switched Auras frequently, as each benefited a specific group.

Second, Seals were not part of our combat system, but our buffing system. Seals still lasted 30 seconds, but provided a buff to the class we cast them on - we had a buff to massively increase attack power against undead, a buff to increase threat caused by the targeted player, a buff to reduce threat in the same way. These buffs were quick instant casts (one seal per player per Pally) that provided a nice benefit to the target. I believe, however, BoP existed in its current form, though don't quote me on that.

Our combat system was basic, and kind of boring, but it was nice and decently interactive (less so compared to our modern system, thanks to the advent of a useful JoC and the new CS). You had Crusader Strike, and Holy Strike. Crusader Strike did only a little damage, but every application increased Holy damage done to the target by a certain amount and stacked to 5 times. I believe at 42 it was 30 per appication, up to 150 total. Fully spammable, its only weakness was poor mana efficiency, as it generally did less damage than it cost to cast. Thus on trash mobs you'd usually only use 2 or 3, and then follow up with your real weapon, Holy Strike.

Holy Strike was on a 10 sec cooldown, and did instant Holy damage of your weapon damage, plus a set amount, plus however much Crusader Strike debuffed them for. It gave a Pally flexibility. You had the choice of leading off with this, which did a solid amount of damage without any CSs up, or waiting til you stacked a few Crusader Strikes first. It wasn't a lot, but it at least gave you something to think about, and since a huge chunk of your damage came from Holy Strike and Crusader Strike (you had no skills that added damage per swing whatsoever, so auto attack was auto attack), you were left free to think about other things, and quick in-fight decisions were easily available. Drop the threat seal on your tank to give him some early aggro (or on yourself - you regularly tanked), drop the threat redux on the crazy mage. Switch auras to help the rogue out, switch again to get the mage some mana regen.

We were a melee class. We'd throw out heals in support here and there, but I never heard of any Paladin who tried to heal an instance. It was probably do-able, but who would want to take a class like this out of the thick of things? That's where we shined.

This is what made us a hybrid. We could tank pretty well, and would do it, but our tanking buff was just as easily thrown on a warrior. Our goal was to be upfront, buffing people, dropping the strikes and throwing out the occasional heal. Our combat system used primarily instant strikes, which meant between them if we threw out a couple of heals we'd only lose the occasional auto attack, not miss out on the SoC proc that would drop a big hit on the mob.

We have an actual combat system now, what with Crusader Strike, Judgement/Seal, Consecrate, etc. It's not nearly as interactive as a Rogue or Warrior's but it requires enough interaction that we can't ignore it, and using GCDs in the middle of the fight will hurt your damage when you're trying to maximize it.

I believe two things come out of Beta that we need to reconsider - the combat system and the auras. All of this is probably too complex, but I think if it were at least considered on some level the era of the hybrid could return.

Regarding the combat system, if we could reduce the attention paid to our melee swings without reducing our damage, we can use some of our spare time to be hybrid-y. Waiting 8 seconds between your Holy Strikes? Throw a quick heal before your next Crusader Strike. Toss out a few seals to give the tank some breathing room.

People seem to want to be able to heal while fighting - you see the occasional request to make Vengeance improve healing, for SA to improve healing, etc. But we cannot divert attention away from our combat system without weakening our ability to fight, and thus to improve our hybrid abilities, I'd like to see a more simplified combat system, and an increase to the interactivity of buffing. Dropping blessings for a system not unlike the beta seal system would make for some interesting options, assuming you prevent micromanaging each Pally that way (I'm thinking 15 sec cooldown between casting a Seal, and/or 1 minute active seals that buff a group rather than a player).

Second, the reason some Paladins find it hard to get into the melee group in a raid and score the buffs that make our damage hurt (Windfury Totem, Leader of the Pack, Battle Shout, Trueshot Aura, etc) is that what we offer we can offer from any group. The 2% increased damage is a start, but no one will drop you in the group just for that. Our old aura system, where the only way that rogue gets his 200 AP bonus is if you're in his group, would've ensured it. These days Holy Prot and Ret are viable in raids, and it's hardly unheard of to have at least one of each in a run. Devo will be available to the tank, Holy can provide a mana regen aura and Ret could thus offer an AP boost to everyone. Making Auras more valuable would help us dictate our position in the raid, especially if we can spec to improve them based on our talent tree.

I believe the advent of the Blessing system is what first chased us away from our original position. The combat system didn't help, but Blessings turned us into buffbots. While things are better now, with the advent of first 15 and now 30 minute greater blessings, it's still a turn away from the old, on-the-fly buffing system, and means our buffing is purely passive. Kings wore off, so recast. Salv wore off, so recast. Blah.

To condense my long post, I believe the following fundamental shift will create an interactive supporting class whose job is to be on the front lines, while improving the skills of everyone around them, the way a great leader should. And what, other than a great leader, should a Paladin be?

The change: simplified combat system retaining the equivalent damage currently available. Reduce reliance on auto attack and allow the Paladin to fill his time working on other tasks.

Eliminate Blessings and implement a new short-term buff system that allows a Paladin to toss out new buffs to a different group every 15-20 seconds, with some variety (increased mana regen, healing regen, increase threat, reduced threat, etc).

Improve Auras to the point that they dictate which group the Paladin should be in.

I believe if they could took a good hard look at Paladins and implement something along these lines, we can be a good old fashioned melee-focused hybrid with real group utility.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Little Inspiration for Aspiring Retnoobs

I critiqued the armory of a Ret Pally who requested help from BoK in this post, and lo and behold he not only finds his way here, but has his own Retribution blog!

Though there were indeed a few concerns about the gear overall, he's done an excellent job gearing himself out, and what's more, he's out there raiding and doing progression content in 25-mans as we speak.

It's important to remember as we hear crap from closed-minded guild masters, or get shot down by people pugging a 5-man, that Retribution is not only a solid, viable damage spec but that there are people out there doing it every day and making great progress in the end-game content. Paladins are breaking down walls - there was a post on Elitist Jerks from a Prot Pally who was the tank for his guild's first ever Illidan kill! Not only was he tanking progression content, he was doing so successfully for the biggest progression content there is. That's a hell of a statement for a class that's "supposed to heal."

So whenever you get frustrated with the people around you, take a look at the ret Pallies who are out there every day and doing the end-game stuff successfully. There are examples everywhere, and there are only going to be more.

How to join a PUG


There is no worse example of humanity than the idiots you will run into in a PUG. 70% of them in fact, are going to have at least one annoying useless person, and as if to add the whip cream on top of the stupid-flavored ice cream, that person will be the one who objects to your very presence. "omg palidins can't dps u noob l2p." This shining example of failing English class will be a response you see more than once. Paladins are only expected to heal any 5-man you join, for reasons of mass stupidity. You can get into a few groups that'll accept you, but I would just as soon avoid the whole hassle.

Ah, but you need gear!

OK, fine.

First keep in mind you have chosen to gimp your group finding by being Retribution. Sacrilegious as it may sound, speccing Holy or Prot while doing 5-mans for gear isn't a terrible idea at all, as you guarantee a group will have at least 1 of the 2 hard-to-find roles, healer or tank.

Failing that, there are three options that will make it easier to PUG. One, wait 'til the "LF1M for XXX" messages pop up. You're living a little dangerously here, as the last class is usually the one they NEED, aka tank, healer or CC, but if they filled all their roles, at this point they'll take nearly anyone, and may be willing to give you a shot.

Two, start the group yourself. This is important because if you gather up people in the list of people looking for that dungeon you're setting the rules yourself, and thus give yourself a chance to get in, since it is your group. This will take awhile since you now have to search for a healer and a tank for the run, but at least you have a shot at putting this together now. It's not a bad idea to casually mention that you'll be DPSing in the run to the first couple of people you invite. If they leave because of it, they're jerks you wouldn't want to run with anyways. Get them out of the way.

Three, bring at least one or two friends. By having people in the run who know you and are friends with you, the "omg noob" idiot who joins will be slightly more reluctant to start crap with you, as doing so means he pisses off 3 people instead. Honestly, run as many groups with friends/guildies as you can get a hold of. It'll save you a lot of heartache in the long run.

Just always keep in mind, idiots are going to be idiots, and you'll have to deal with them. The Commonly Accepted Belief ® is that Ret Specced Paladins are useless, and 90% of your brethren have done nothing to challenge that belief. If they act like they don't trust you in the group, that's fine. They have a pre-conceived notion about you, but as long as they allow you a shot at proving them wrong, you can and will prove them quite wrong indeed.

And every doubter you correct in the capabilities of being Retribution-specced is one more person who's suddenly more willing to give that second Ret Pally a chance in a later run. Every nonbeliever you convert is a believer who helps out a fellow Ret Pally down the road. It may drive you up a freakin' wall, but in the long wrong, it's worth it to push against these boundaries, as every little thing helps us become more accepted in the general WoW culture.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Pally Wars, Part 2

I'd like to follow up on my comments in Pally Wars, Part 1. I'll probably also have a Part 3, where I (gasp!) actually get around to discussing the Wars part of that title.

In part 1, I came down harshly on the concept of being a hybrid right after expounding on that in my original posts on this blog. It's a touch unfair. My point really is that the game forces us into a specialization on some level. I'm not a great healer in Ret Spec, and gear swapping only does so much these days. Thus, I never offer to mainheal in Kara, say, when I would not have thought twice about doing it in the days of ZG. It's still important to do what you can - say, toss a heal to someone about to die, BoP someone who pulled aggro, keep your blessings up, etc. You do what you can, but hybridization is a hard thing to pull off in raids with the way the game is designed. You need a DPS class to DPS, or you fall behind on my bosses. You HAVE to heal at all times as a healer class or someone will die. There's just so little slack offered most of the time, especially on progression content for your guild, and so hybrid-specs aren't worth the effort, by and large.

For example, we're considered by most to be a tank/healer hybrid. Obviously I disagree, but let's say that's what you want to play, and you want to raid too. Raiding requires at a bare minimum Holy Shield to become uncrushable, which means you spend 31 points in Protection, and have 30 points to spend in Holy. With only 30 points in Holy, you can never come close to Light's Grace to knock that half second off of your Holy Lights, and without a 2 sec Holy Light you will watch a lot more people die. Sure, you're a hybrid and you can fulfill both roles on that level, but I wouldn't trust you to Main Heal without Light's Grace, and I would rather you not Main tank without the 6% (soon to be 16%) stamina buff you get further down the tree. And without the beauty of Ardent Defender, you're going to be pretty easy to wipe out fast for most bosses.

Thus, the most you can do comfortably is offheal, and offtank, and you could never fulfill both.

I would love to see a fundamental change to the combat system in this game, but honestly, I'm sure that it will never happen. The most we can really hope for is to get the opportunity to specialize in the role of our choice. Now, and even more so with 2.3, we have that option, so I'm happy, and I'd hope most Paladins are happy as well.

A Retnoob's Answer

Time to discuss another Blessing of Kings post, this one from a Ret Pally on the EU servers who's having trouble with his gear, as well as with general acceptance of his spec from other players. The link to the person in question: Firelight

Rule 1: Most players are stupid and/or closed-minded.

Be ready to deal with this. Retribution is a solid raid spec, between being able to keep up 3 judgments in 2.3, or being the only Paladin able to put up Sanctified Crusader in 2.2. We offer a lot, and we offer solid damage to boot, especially with the soon-to-come threat reduction. 2.3 really needs to come out already, but I digress...

Most players don't understand that. You're already in a guild that accepts you, and that's great, though I understand feeling like most people think you're crazy or useless, because they don't understand. If the officers understand and want you in, then you're fine. If they're problems too, you may consider moving on. Look around to see who's making the kind of progress you're looking for, hit up an officer for that guild and tell them that you want to join, what you're going to do for them, and why that will be beneficial for them. A few talking points to consider:

  • I offer 3% increased crits to all members of the raid. Feral/balance druids can offer only 5% to one party, limited to one type of crit (spell vs. melee). Mention that by offering 3% increased damage to, say, 10 players (assuming there are that many mages/shamans/warrior/druids/rogues/destro locks/hunters doing DPS, there are probably more), you're doing 30% of their average DPS just by being there. Even blindfolded you can match 70% of the average DPS of those characters, making you clearly on an even footing with them.
  • If I'm given Windfury, my damage will be easily comparable to anyone in the raid (save rogues, who beat everyone), I can bring 2% more damage to any group, and 10% increased damage (and therefore threat) to any Prot Pally.
  • By bringing in me as DPS, you have an entire extra set of blessings to work with, without sacrificing a DPS player

Tell them you'd like to come in as a trial member for one raid, to prove your point. You won't roll on any gear, you'll just be along for the ride, and if they don't think your DPS is sufficient, you won't bother them again. With some luck you should have no trouble getting a few guilds to try you out in this manner. Request the melee group as strongly as you can - it makes a world of difference getting Battle Shout, Trueshot, WF, Leader of the Pack, etc. If you get the melee group, you will likely be just behind the rogues if it's a solid group (after 2.3 anyways, when we get some threat-cap breathing room).

This gets your foot in the door and an opportunity for you to show your stuff. And as for your stuff...

I like your gear, but for that attack power. After you hit the hit cap (9% including precision, as you recall), your next goal is 25% crit, and your goal after that is to pump AP as much as you can, turn your hits into something worth remembering you by. 1480 isn't going to cut it, not at that level of gearing. Cut back those gems and push in some Strength ones instead, str/crit if you like. With the upcoming 3% crit increase, your crit is not just a little too high, but now WAY too high, and you can sacrifice a lot of your gems to push your AP instead.

Your neckpiece also, as I'm sure you realize, needs an upgrade. Find one with a nice strength boost if you can, otherwise get one that prioritizes AP/str over agi/crit.

Bloodlust Brooch would be rockin' for a trinket to replace your Skyguard trinket, which really only has its use in very few fights aside from its heavy crit. But again, crit isn't your problem, AP is, and you could drop it.

Also remember that 10str > 22 AP, thanks to Divine Strength and Blessing of Kings. Itemize more Strength if you can, as it will stretch much farther for your item level budget.

Drop Mongoose for Savagery, though I admit that's a bit of a personal choice. I prefer pumping AP every chance I can get, and rather dislike the idea of Mongoose. Anything that reduces my chance to proc SoC every swing (and anything that involves haste rating does exactly that) drives me up a wall. I'd rather have a solid 70 AP boost to improve every swing than an increase to my attack speed, as that only increases auto attack damage and reduces the likelihood SoC will fire. While it's made up for in the long run, in the short run SoC droughts are maddening.

I believe with your current gear, a few changes to your gems and an addition of Savagery, you'll lose ~2% crit and the chance for a Mongoose proc, but be able to push close to 1700 AP unbuffed, and with that your swings will count for much more. A new weapon wouldn't hurt either. The Hammer is nice, but I'd take Gorehowl over it any day.

Remember kids, once crit is at 25%, making those crits count is what matters. And you make them count by pumping that Attack Power!

It's the weapon.

I see often people who struggle with Ret DPS, and oftentimes it comes specifically from one mistake - their weapon. From level 20, when you first get Seal of Command, to max level, everything revolves around the weapon in your hand. If you're running around with anything green, at all, stop immediately, run to the auction house, and buy yourself a weapon. If your blue is more than 5 levels below your requirement, you should seriously look into getting a new weapon.

Nothing has a more direct impact on you than your blade.

Second, this may be obvious to most, but its still important - there is no 1H weapon that should be used. Ever. Your DPS is simply not meant to use a 1H, so don't.

Finally, consider your weapon choices. Again look at stat primacy, but now you have a second thing to consider - the DPS and speed of your weapon. If you're a Blood Elf, the speed isn't particularly important, and you can use any 2H you like. If you're an Alliance Paladin, your only option is Seal of Command (with a few advocating Seal of Righteousness, but SoR only outdamages SoC in very specific clinical conditions. Not worth it overall). SoC is all about procs per minute (6.8 ppm to be exact), so the faster your weapon the less likely it is to proc, and more important, the less damage it will do.

Basically, SoC fires 6.8 times per minute, no matter what, and its damage is 70% of your normal weapon damage, period. If you use a faster weapon, which if otherwise equal to the slow weapon will have lower max damage, your 6.8 SoC procs will do less damage.

Long story short and getting out of the poorly described mathematical design, faster weapons literally equal less damage, and should be avoided at all costs.

So if you want to see results as a Ret Paladin, get a 3.5 or slower weapon, the slower the better, never let it fall far behind your level, and always keep it blue. If you practice this to the letter, you will hit far harder.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Specialize your gear!

It has improved considerably since the first time I noticed this phenomenon back before BC, but I still see this now and again: people who don't focus their gear towards their immediate goal. If you were to inspect every Pally you saw for the next week, I'd guarantee at least 10-15% have gear for multiple roles on at the same time: healing piece, defense piece, str/crit piece.

Nothing weakens your ability to handle your current role than wearing something that doesn't fit. For every piece of gear that has int, +heal and mp5 on it you're losing that much in item value of strength, crit and stamina, or vice versa.

This can be said for Prot Pallies and Holy Pallies too, but we're over here at Retnoob, so I'm going to speak to that gear.

I've mentioned gearing priorities before but I'll lay them out in more detail now.

First, no healing pieces, no pieces with defense or block/parry/dodge rating. Period. Don't even TRY it. If you're healing/tanking for a fight, then swap to the necessary gear set. Oh, and carry multiple sets any time you're raiding. If your raid needs more healing, be ready to help out. No, you're not great at it, but you're good enough, and that's what counts. Carrying multiple sets for 5-mans is nice too, but I've suffered bag space problems enough to understand anyone who chooses not to.

While you're DPSing though, your gear should consist ONLY of the following possible stats: Strength, Agility, Stamina, Intellect, Crit Rating, Attack Power, Hit Rating, Spell Damage and the occasional touch up of MP5 if you're wearing a mail piece (which is acceptable while dpsing/healing, and offers a huge array of useful gear for you). Spell Damage is NOT a priority, you just get it on the occasional piece and that's fine. Until I started picking up S2, I had a grand total of 5 spell damage, from the set bonus on my Warmaul of Infused Light, and I never had a problem with it.

If you maximize the potential of your gear, it will go a long way towards improving your damage. If you continue to wear whatever you have, everything is diluted and you can do nothing well.

Now, let's talk stats to shoot for. This is a common theme:

Attack Power: 1500
Crit %: 25
Hit %: 9

9% to hit is what you need to eliminate misses on boss mobs. While Sword/Mace spec used to get you a LONG way to that goal, it will now only offer 1% to crit, so forget about it. You need 9% to hit with talents, so 6% after you pick up Precision from the prot tree. The hit rating required from gear for 6% is around 96, which isn't too hard to get once you start gearing up in Kara (again, wear mail gear. Plate DPS gear is nonexistent until Nightbane).

Crit Rating is important for two reasons. One reason is Vengeance, because Vengeance is great and wonderful and the reason for our existence. Every crit keeps that 15% increase to your damage up. It will be less important in 2.3 when Vengeance lasts for 30 seconds. An abomynal crit % would be required to not be able to keep Vengeance up at that point, something akin to 15%.
Reason Two is just as important. Everything we do CRITS. SoC, Melee, JoC, CS, etc. Thus a 25% crit rate increases our DPS by 25%.

So you keep a solid amount of Crit going, but never so much that you're not pimping out on the AP. AP is ultimately the most fundamental DPS stat. If you have a 35% crit rate but roll with 1200 AP, your crits will look like my hits at 1600 AP. That's why 1500 is the stat to shoot for. It's not gonna be easy, or perhaps even possible, without some raiding/arena gear, but it's your first milestone. From there you push on to the higher numbers, but 1500 AP, 25 Crit and 9 Hit Rating is when your damage starts to become truly noticable.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Pally Wars!

Rohan of Blessing of Kings made an interesting post regarding the warring factions of the Paladin class, which I'd like to make a few comments on as well.

Rohan breaks down the various Paladins into 4 factions: Holy, Prot, Ret and Hybrid, who want all of the trees to keep the hybrid concept going, as in nothing too specialized for a role and therefore gimped in others, and further states that Holy and Ret are at each other's threat because each gave up the other's ability (damage and healing respectively) and want to pretend they lost nothing by antagonizing the other group. Further, there's an indirect suggestion that the hybrids are the only ones who really prefer the hybrid nature and everyone else just wants to do only one thing.

I enjoyed doing the hybrid thing...back in 5 mans....before Burning Crusade. I was great at it too. Grab the extra mob, offheal the injured rogue, beat the face in of the boss, etc. A 31 point ret build was actually good at doing anything - I'd top healing charts in ZG, be in the top 5 for damage when healing wasn't needed, offtank a few fights here and there. The great thing was that protection was so broken that none of its skills worked properly, and you were just as well off leaving the whole spec alone and just slapping on sta/def gear as a Retnoob. Hell, there was a protection tanking guide in the forums back in the day, where the writer said to not stack defense, so that you could get crit and actually utilize redoubt and reckoning. Not insulting the author, but that's how badly prot was built. Meanwhile, healing just required that you understood downranking, as FoLr1 and HLr4 were kings for mana efficiency.

But once you start raiding, you can't do all of the jobs at once. If I wanted to heal, I'd swap in healing gear. If I wanted to DPS, I'd swap in DPS gear. And I've had a REALLY understanding guild this whole time. We have something like 9 Paladins, of whom 4 are Prot, 2 are Ret and 3 are Holy.

There are two things that prevent trying this whole hybrid thing: 1, most guilds are not that understanding, and 2, BC almost demands specialization.

You're not going to see resto shamans dps'ing a fight. You won't see Prot warriors dps'ing either (unless you're desperate), and you're very unlikely to see a feral druid heal. It's the nature of the way they designed the game. Specialization is everything. Raiding requires it, and we needed a fix. They gave it to us in a way that limits our hybridization, granted. But OT was never a great skill for us, and there's still nothing stopping us from doing a little OTing: RF still gives us 1.3 Holy threat, which is enough to keep off healing aggro at the least. And really, we still have that third option, healing, which means we can use our hybrid skills, so long as we're willing to swap out gear before a fight. I've kept people alive when healers were dropped in raids, but it's very touch and go - if the healers are down, the raid will almost certainly soon follow.

I wish this game were one where I could go into a fight and reasonably expect to help out in any role needed - tanking, a little healing, a little dps'ing, but this isn't possible designed as it is, so I do what I can, and in this version of the game, if I spec Ret, that means I DPS. Period.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Looks like Blizzard finally caved and offered the one, ONE thing everyone has consistently begged for, and they came through in a big way. Passive, constant 30% threat reduction from Fanatacism. That talent is no longer one you can get away with only 3 or 4 points in, as it's a 6% threat reduction per point, and you want all you can get.

Really amazing - most Paladins were hoping for 15%, maybe 20%, and we just got 30% threat reduction dropped in our laps. Threat cap is no longer an issue, and running Kings of Might with a ret spec may even be do able with a higher threat tank (Paladin or Druid).

There's really only a few issues that are even left that people are concerned about, and I'm sure as hell satisfied. There are a few issues that Retnoobs could use looking into, but it's hard to even care at this point. So many of the fixes we begged for are finally instituted. Everything is....good.

On a side note, Precision now affects spell to hit alongside melee to hit. If you're going Retribution, GET IT.

Why? Judgment of Command's hit is based off of spell. 3% to spell hit means 3% fewer resists on JoC and therefore more damage. 5/8/48 is probably the standard Retribution build nowadays.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


I tend to use a lot of abbreviations, and that isn't necessarily the best choice amongst people just learning a class. As such, I'll list all of the abbreviations I'm likely to use in this Glossary.

SoC/JoC - Seal/Judgment of Command
SotC/JotC - S/J of the Crusader
SoB/JoB - S/J of Blood
SoR/JoR - S/J of Righteousness
HoJ - Hammer of Justice
AW - Avenging Wrath
CS - Crusader Strike
DS - Divine Shield
BoP, BoF, BoM, BoS, BoSanc, BoW, BoK, BoL - Blessing of : Protection, Freedom, Might, Salvation, Sanctuary, Wisdom, Kings, Light respectively
Wis - BoW
Salv - BoS
FoL - Flash of Light
HL - Holy Light
r(X) added at the end of FoL or HL, (X) being a number - a specific rank of the spell. For example, FoLr7 is currently our highest rank of Flash of Light
PoJ - Pursuit of Justice
HS - Holy Shield or Shock. Play the context clues game in this case, I tend to use it for both.

If there's any I failed to mention that I've used, please mention it in the comments or an e-mail and I'll add it!

The talents

So let's talk the specific talents. I mentioned general specs you could try, but I'd like to go down the list of Ret talents, and mention a few talents in the other trees worth contemplating. Get a talent calculator out to follow along - I won't be linking the skills, I'll just be discussing the talents as the list goes down (and yes, I'm sad to say I can actually do this off the top of my head - I've played WAY too much as a Paladin).

So I'll rate the skills on an out of 5 basis, for PvE and PvP separately. This shouldn't be taken as a 'this talent is too weak, they need to buff it' list, more of a guide on how much utility you can expect to gain from using this skill.

Improved Blessing of Might
PvP - 2/5
PvE - 3/5

No denying that an extra 42 AP is useful, but it's a hard task to find a time to use this buff yourself. Threat is always a #1 issue, and Mana consumption is often #2. You can mostly cover the spread by getting Sanctified Judgment, but that's deep in the tree and hard to find a spot for, so often your first two buffs are going to be salv, then wis. #3 is then a battle for Kings or Might, and both have their arguments, since Kings will provide extra mana, health and crit on top of 100 or so AP in good gear. So while I like to have 42 AP, can I find a spot for it myself? Not particularly, when it's right next to....

PvP - 3/5
PvE - 4/5

-15% cost of casting seals and judging makes a world of difference, and that difference will only become more stark in the next patch, when we start to spam Crusader Strike and blow through mana like a '90s era dotcom. You want to save every point of mana you can, and this will help you a lot.

Improved Judgment
PvP - 4/5
PvE - 4/5

It increases your DPS. Any skill that offers a substantial improvement to your damage can't be scoffed at. Deflection is nice, and helps plenty in PvP, but there's nothing like buffing your damage. Warriors are, outside of the heavily geared MS types, cake, rogues are usually easy and there's just no reason to spec to improve your ability to kill them. You should take them anyways.

Improved Seal of the Crusader & Sanctified Crusader
PvP - 1/5 & 2.5/5
PvE - 4/5 & 5/5

Imp. SotC is going baseline, so it's not particularly relevant anymore. That said, it's great for PvE, almost useless for PvP. Spec into it if Arena isn't what you live and breathe.

Sanctified Crusader...tough call. I can see why you might try to use it, what with the free 3 crit and all, but I never find time to start judging someone with things that don't do damage. Perhaps I should try it on hefty targets, like well-geared holy paladins/resto shamans, or bear dr00ds, I just haven't considered it. So I can see Sanc Crusader being good for PvP, but only against specific targets in specific situations. Spec into it at your leisure. For PvE, though, no question. Take it and LOVE it.


PvE 1.5/5
PvP 2.5/5

Again, rogues and warriors are your targets to beat, don't go out of your way to improve your skills against them. That said, I've run into hard to kill warriors, and this might have helped, but in arena I've got my mage buddy to help burst anyone down so I don't worry too much. For PvE, if you tank for your friends in 5-mans, or you've been asked to OT or some such, it helps. But you're a pretty damn weak raid tank so it's more of a last resort kind of thing. I wouldn't worry about it.


Now & Next Patch

PvE - 1/5 & 1/5
PvP - 2.5/5 & 4/5

Currently, kinda weak - again with the making you beat rogues & warriors MORE. In 2.3, it decreases ALL stats by 15%, so your target can lose 900-1000 health, mana & lose str and agi as well, so it's got some nice utility. Very good looking skill from a theorycraft point of view. We'll get to test it out soon enough! As for PvE, no raid boss can be affected by it, so yawn. Clears trash a bit faster if you're knocking out their stamina. I'm getting it, but I'm getting it for Arena, not for my Kara runs.


PvE - 5/5
PvP - 5/5

Must have. Don't question it.

Seal of Command

PvE - 5/5
PvP - 5/5

Slightly less if you're BE, but even so, I'd take SoC over SoB for PvP to get the burst, and if you raid Kara still, you MUST have this while fighting Prince, so you might as well spend the ONE point it costs.

Pursuit of Justice

Now & Next Patch

PvE - 1/5 & 3/5
PvP - 2.5/5 & 4/5

The speed boost is going to be a lot of fun, and the reduced chance to be hit by spells will save your butt nicely once in awhile. 15% means no more getting kited, and getting into the action sooner. There's nothing but goodness for PoJ. Right now though, rather bland. Get a boot enchant if you want the speed.

Eye for an Eye

PvE - 1/5
PvP - 3/5

I like this skill, but if you're getting this to proc for real damage that means you're getting your ass kicked anyways. Fun and I've gotten use out of it, but if it were removed tomorrow I wouldn't even think about it. Sitting on the same Tier as Crusade makes it hard to spec for. Especially since your most challenging targets are Lock and Shadow Priests, neither of whom are likely to need any crits to kill us.

Improved Retribution Aura

PvE - 2/5
PvP - 2/5

This was great back before BC when I did a lot of 5-man tanking, but nowadays I hardly even think about it. Prot Pallies can make use of it, but we don't get a whole lot of use for it these days, with Sanc Aura up most of the time.

PvP it could be used to annoy a rogue, but meh, I'd rather be punching his face in. Let the Tankadins do the reflective thing.


PvE - 4/5
PvP - 3/5

3% is fairly small, but it adds up easily for PvE. For PvP, why not take a skill that ups your own damage? E4E would be a reasonable alternative for PvP, but I prefer increasing my own damage first.

2H Weapon Specialization

PvE - 5/5
PvP - 5/5

6% more damage all the time? Get it. On a side note, these percentage skill may sound weak at first, but you have to look at it this way: if you do 800 dps, increassing that by 6% gives you another 48 dps. To increase your damage by that amount via attack power, you have to get hundreds of points worth (just to get it equal on your character profile, the amount would be 672 (14 * 48)). This is a LOT of damage for 3 measly points.

Sanctity Aura

PvE - 5/5
PvP - 5/5

Increases all Holy Damage by 10%. Which skills are holy damage? Oh, only everything but auto-attack and Crusader Strike.

Improved Sanctity Aura

PvE - 4/5
PvP - 3/5

2% is getting harder to justify this deep in the tree as you start making small sacrifices. For example, in PvP that 10% damage reduction to crits is very nice and worth getting. For PvE there's still no question, that's a 2% increase in damage for all party members, but it starts getting to the point where you know certain skills are going to compete and you'll have to sacrifice. To sacrifice this is not something I would recommend, but I would certainly understand.


PvE - 5/5
PvP - 5/5

This is what makes Retribution work. It is our Serpent's Swiftness, our Flurry. Avoiding this is sacrilege, plain and simple.

Sanctified Judgment

PvE - 4/5
PvP - 3/5

This is actually a very nice skill - ret pallies burn through mana very easily, and this seriously reduces your mana consumption. I calculated it out awhile back and found it be worth at least 80 mp5 if you judge/seal every 8 seconds, and so it can go a long way towards keeping your mana pool up. PvP, fights shouldn't last long if you're ret, that's the whole point. Burst damage and whatnot. So it's nice and might save you by keeping you from going dry, but eh, your choice to spec or not.

Sanctified Crusader & Sanctified Seals

PvE - 5/5 & 5/5
PvP - 2/5 & 5/5

To be swapped out next patch. Currently, same story as above. Huge for PvE, potentially useful in PvP, but I can't really say a time that I've taken advantage of it in PvP. Sanctified Seals, however, is going to be amazing. No dispelling/purging of seals - it's a massive buff against smart shamans and priests, and since it'll be getting melee crit on top of that, there's no argument that this is a vital skill for all ret pallies.


PvE - 3/5
PvP - 5/5

This skill comes up big many times. Back before 1.9 (reaaaaaallly long time ago) this was the top skill in Protection, and was half the reason I was specced Prot. Well, that and the reckbombs. When they changed it in 1.9, I immediately followed Repentance to the Retribution tree, and have largely stayed there since. Great skill, allows you to catch up with people and cause big fat JoC crits. For PvE it even has its use now and then. Accidentally hit a sheep? Repent him so the mage has time to put him back. Combined with HoJ, it can even give you a 12 sec CC, which is a fun trick.

Divine Purpose

PvE - 2/5
PvP - 3.5-4/5

That plus a healthy dose of resilience makes you take a considerable reduction in damage from crits. It's actually quite a nice trick. That said, I haven't personally used it, but I've seen what resilience can do to my crits. Thus, I don't know that it works against spells too. If it does there's no question that it's worth getting for PvP, but that's not what the tooltip says, and I won't have any testing to say one way or the other until 2.3 comes down the pipe and I re-spec.


PvE - 4/5
PvP - 4/5

Great skill, though many cut it a touch short - say, 3/5 or 4/5 rather than getting the full 5 points. That has its uses and allows you to spend elsewhere, but the big boost to crit will be very noticable, especially on stunned targets. Well worth it.

Crusader Strike

PvE - *
PvP - *

CS gets stars instead of a numerical score because it's that important. Especially when it hits a 6 sec CD.

I'll finish up a post touching on possible talent choices in the other trees, since no one in their right mind will put 61 points in Retribution. To be continued!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Back to the task at hand!

Had a Kara run last night. While our guild has struggled with getting ready to staff a full 25-man raid and thus haven't tried Gruul's yet, we're damn near finished with Kara. Our DPS has been off and on, but last night it was most certainly on.

A few months ago I specced out of Retribution and into Holy to allow me to join a semi-serious 5v5 and start racking up points. I was stuck rolling in mostly blues and not particularly looking forward to Kara gear, as the only piece of DPS plate was off Nightbane, and I'd be stuck rolling against hunters for their mail gear, which is never fun. I had a long-term plan of getting all 3 PvP non-set epics, 3/5 Arena 2 gear and 2/5 Tier 4 to flesh out a full set of epics, and I planned on having this take awhile.

And then Despair dropped, rapidly accelerating the plans. I respecced a couple of weeks ago, and I got my 2nd piece of Arena 2 gear and my final non-set epic this week. I swapped out the planned T4 helm with what I could get now, and was better anyways - the engineering goggles - and put together a pretty solid DPS set - 1550 AP, 25.5% crit unbuffed or so, along with more hit rating than necessary (stocking up for a 2.3 re-spec). So I'm nearly finished with my gear and this was the first week to really test out my gear set-up.

Holy cow.

I put out nearly 2 million damage from Attumen through Shade, and stayed at the top of the charts from beginning to end, as well as leading our best DPS to date: we absolutely blew through everything. Curator went down just after the second evocate without a single moment with more than one flare out, Shade down to <30% before poly'ing. In about 4 hours, we had the place nearly clean. Another hour and we'd have had Illhoof and Prince out for the count as well, I'm sure.

So this stellar run put thoughts in my head of what was to come - specifically, what my damage will look like in 2.3. They still haven't brought up threat issues, so I don't know how that will turn out, but everything else promises to seriously increase my damage. Ignoring the threat cap, which I came damn near hitting a few times last night and did in fact hit on a fair amount of trash, I expect another 100 dps increase from the patch, between the 3% to crit and the 6 second Crusader Strike. Throwing out numbers, fully raid-buffed I start hitting between 1000-1500 on Crusader Strikes, good for 100-150 dps (not including crits). Kick it down to 6 seconds, and suddenly it goes up to 160-250 dps. If I'm rolling with 28% crit, this could be a massive, massive increase.

We use a lot of off-specs, so our DPS isn't as amazing as some raids, but even so we put it out tonight, and a Ret Pally was able to lead the way. The changes in 2.3 offer a lot more promising damage, and I expect that I can start consistently challenging my buddy Caylith and his crazy fire mage on the charts. Things are definitely looking up for Retribution.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


It's amazing at times to witness the complete and utter lack of class shown to people in MMRPGs. Retnoobs and anyone who has ever played a ridiculed spec has a firsthand account of the pointless rudeness thrown at others just because that person doesn't like how you play (hi, Boomkins!).

It's one thing to be angry at someone for playing poorly. That I understand, though I would not advocate being rude to the person for their lack of skill, or ignorance in how to handle or gear their class. Of course, a gentle nudge towards some advice and help is always a good idea (and acting as a repository for knowledge about a poorly understood spec is largely why I created this blog).

What I have seen countless times, however, goes far beyond that.

Back before BC it was especially brutal, and paradoxically far less necessary. While spec'ing holy would certainly boost your healing ability, it was anything but necessary - though I did very little raiding, everything up to and including UBRS was doable as any job with any spec. I tanked Drak as Ret, healed it as ret, and DPS'd it as ret. I tanked all the 5-mans, and always held my own when we did do ZG (though I never tanked it, I may very well have been able to. My druid friend or our prot tank were usually available to handle it so it wasn't necessary to test it). Back then your spec was not very important - prot was even counterintuitive to tanking (half your skills required you to get crit to be used, and getting crit is never a good thing while tanking).

But man did I have some negative runs - the druid who tried to tell me his catbush would pull aggro off me and quit when I offered to OT in UBRS. The jackass who said in a PUG ZG when I asked about rolling on DoW, "Yeah, right. Pallies don't get that shit." All while ripping on me to his guildies in vent while I was listening.

BC has been better, if only because I largely avoided PUGs when I wasn't holy or prot (though prot still gets some crap from people, it's mostly accepted as a tanking class for 5-mans). But I received a run-in that was an instant blast from the past last night.

In AV, a Holy Pally gave me hell for my spec, all because I cast Might on all Pallies. He, in his poor grammar and general stupidity, tried to tell me all about how awful my spec was and how I'm useless in raids and arena. Nevermind that he was guildless and unlikely to be doing any raiding himself, he seemed to feel it necessary to rub my face in how I essentially had no right to be on the front lines. And while I had a couple people on my side, a former Retnoob and a warrior, some people chimed in with him as well.

And this is what comes to my point. It amazes me at times how much anonymity affects the way people treat each other. I don't know this guy, I have no way of finding out who he is and so as such he thinks he has some right to be as rude as he wants.

I'm tired of this. I'm tired of the populace being my #1 problem. As much as I'll bitch about our utility needing to be increased, or our threat problems, ultimately my only real problem with my spec comes directly from the image it has with other players, and it's been this way since I hit 60 with Modano. I have always enjoyed this spec, always done well with it and I rarely have had trouble putting myself in a decent spot on the charts, all while maintaining the group utility necessary to be a Good Paladin.

Though the class has shown its weaknesses at times, those weaknesses have always paled in comparison to the biggest challenge - image.

And I'm tired of it.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Gearing up

One of the biggest weaknesses I've seen among Ret Pallies is the distinct lack of gear optimization. As I've said before, Paladins carry multiple sets: healing, tanking and DPS (and a 4th for Spell Damage is a good idea when you need to consecrate a group of mobs). Do NOT wear your tanking gear when you're in a DPS role. So how should you itemize your gear?

Ordered by priority:
Tanking: Sta, Def, Spell Damage, Avoidance (Parry & Dodge Rating - Block Rating is pointless without Holy Shield), Int, MP5. Wear only plate.

Healing: Int, Healing, (if you have 5/5 Divine Illumination) Spell Crit Rating, MP5, Sta. Wear any armor that gives good stats.

DPS (as ret): Strenth/Attack Power, Crit Rating, Hit Rating, Sta, Int, Spell Damage. Wear as little leather and mail as you can get away with.

Hit Rating is an important point - eliminating misses is huge, and is actually something I would consider a first priority, but you hit a cap at how useful it is after a certain amount of points (Blessing of Kings has a great post on this), and once you hit that it is completely useless.

So, to steal a line from BRK, if you're DPSing in a raid and I see you wearing Timewarden's Leggings or Breastplate of Many Graces, I'm pulling your Pally license.

There are some pieces that have spell damage and defense rating, and you may think, 'You know, I kind of like gearing up with spell damage and this piece has a lot of it, so I'll use it', there's one very very important thing to keep in mind: each piece of gear has a static 'item value' of sorts. From this value a pool of stats is created, and each point spent on one stat is a point not available for another stat.

In shorter terms, every point spent on defense is, from a DPSing perspective, wasted. Every point spent on healing is wasted. Wear gear that optimizes your current role, and leave the rest in your bags/bank (you should always have at least your healing gear ready - some fights, such as Maiden of Virtue, are not Ret Pally friendly, and stepping back to be the guy who keeps Sacrifice up on the tank, heals him and cleanses everyone is often the better choice).

So if you need an upgrade on gear (and if you're running under 22% crit and 1250 AP, you do) before you hit Kara, hit up thottbot and look for items with the stats I pointed out, and check out the BoK post regarding boss hit caps. You don't have to be capped out on hit before you start running Kara, but a getting a few % points worth of hit on top of Precision (Prot talent) would be a very wise choice.

Feel free to take a look at my Armory: I rarely log without my DPS gear on.


As you can see, Str/AP, Crit and Hit are optimized, Sta, Int and Spell Damage are increased where possible. Not that I use a fair amount of PvP gear - currently, Season 2 Arena stuff and the non-set PvP epics are some of the best PvE ret gear out there. Why? No resilience.

In a classic example of what I was noting before, PvP epics have a very high item value: they get a LOT of points to spend on their attributes. However, Retribution gear is the ONLY gear without any points spent on resilience. Because of this, there are zero points wasted on attributes you won't use, and so all of the points are optimized to stats you can use (skewed slightly towards stamina, but not so badly as to make the item weak in any way). Thus spending some weekends in the battlegrounds and getting some friends together for Arena is a very wise choice, and can get you geared out nicely. Kara, after all, has only one piece of plate DPS gear. At the final boss. And while the mail/leather pieces are nice for DPSing, you'll always feel a little guilty for swiping them from rogues/hunters that need that gear too.

Long post, but the essence is this: Don't wear gear with stats you're not using at that moment, PvP is great for optimized gear, and make damn sure you work on getting to the hit rating cap.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Holy #$&@!

We interrupt our regularly scheduled guide to discuss upcoming changes for 2.3. They are awesome.

The list:
First, Improved SotC, the Tier 2 talent, is being made baseline. ALL Paladins just received a 15% boost to the damage provided by SotC. Improved SotC is now being replaced by Sanctified Crusader, so a 3% increase to Melee and Spell Crit for the entire raid is now easily gotten by all Paladin specs. This is a VERY good thing. Prot Pallies the only Pallies in your raid up front? Now they can judge Crusader and provide everyone a 3% crit boost. Excellent benefit.

Second, Crusader Strike's CD reduced to 6 seconds. Excellent benefits - now one Ret Paladin can keep as many Judgments as you have Paladins in your raid on the mob. Light, Wis, Crusader, all of them will be up if you have 3 Pallies in the mix. The only challenge will be mana drain - speccing for Sanctified Judgment to get the mana return would be a wise choice now - you will burn through mana like no tomorrow.

Also, it gives us a nice punch to our burst damage in PvP, which brings us to 2 major changes: Vindication and Pursuit of Justice.

Currently, Vindication reduces an opponent's strength and agility by 15%. It procs pretty frequently, and while I haven't used it since they made raid bosses immune (something on the order of a year and a half ago), I rarely would fail to apply it onto a mob. Now it reduces all stats by 15%, procs more often, and lasts longer. It should be a nearly guaranteed application, and will reduce your opponent's health and mana by a nice chunk in the arenas. It was kind of a meh talent for the arenas before, but now you must get this.

Second, Pursuit of Justice, which at 2 points currently provides an 8% running and mounted speed bonus. It will be a 3-point talent now that they're kicking up to 15% and it will increase your chance to resist spells by 3%. (Making PoJ quite tempting for a prot Pally to get as well)

Hoo boy.

Finally, we have the talent spot that Sanctified Crusader used to occupy up in tier 7. We got one weird thing and one very good thing: basically, it will still be a 3-point talent, but now increase our melee and spell crit by 3%. Why Ret Pallies just got a 3% spellcrit boost, I don't know. Perhaps they thought that Exorcism and Judgment of Righteousness would actually be even somewhat used, but hey, I'm not complaining. Just odd. What matters is we have another 3% melee, on top of our 5% from Conviction and the 3% from Sanctified Crusader. 11% crit on top of our gear? 30% melee crit should be do-able in PvP gear, no problem.

All told we're going to be rolling with a lot more damage, and some excellent PvP utility. The only glaring omission, a lack of threat reduction (to be discussed in a later post and one of our most critical weaknesses) a blue post even promised was being looked into. If they drop a 15 or 20% threat redux in our laps on top of all this, I will have no complaints. For once.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The spec

There are quite a few small variations on a proper ret spec, all to do with the player's individual gear, their main venue (PvP vs. PvE) and the functionality they're looking for.

So what are you looking for?

If you want to be able to heal decently, a 20/0/41 build with 5 points in Illumination gives you very strong longevity and allows you to take advantage of all the healing gear with spell crit for Pallies.

Tanking is pretty limited with a ret spec but 5-mans and maybe even the occasional OT in a raid (if NO ONE else is available) is do-able as long as you spec for Improved Righteous Fury and Kings (that's a 0/14/47 or 0/20/41 build).

A little bit of balance between all three trees isn't a bad idea (healing without Divine Focus will make you cry), which is the basis for my current spec (9/11/41). Nailing that spec gives you enough Focus to get away with healing out of the bubble (put up conc aura if you can afford the GCD), the precision talent which is GODLY for Ret DPS (see future posts) and Kings to make your raid happy.

I'll link the builds recommended based on these points in a later edit. Your focus should be upping your damage as much as possible, while still placing points in basic skills that will help you in other tasks you like (aka, healing).

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Understanding your class

The most important thing to remember about being a Paladin is that you have 3 roles that you can handle. Everyone can DPS, but not everyone can heal or tank. You can do all of them, though the latter two you should specialize in if you're interested in handling them full-time. That's one aspect that is usually missed by most players. Keep an eye on health bars and heal if your healer is overtaxed, keep an eye on Decursive (don't have Decursive? Get it. NOW.) and click off debuffs. Drop a Blessing of Protection on a squishy that's got mobs beating him to within an inch of his life.

Paladins are inherently a support class, but people take the image of 'support' as being some hanger-on that barely contributes enough to stick around. Far from the truth - support means you're what makes the gears turn. You make everything run better, everything smoother, and while people may not always notice, YOU know you got the job done, and that should be what matters. Quality Paladins get re-invited to groups, whatever their spec.

Thus, your goal is not to lay out the best damage you can possibly do at all times, your goal is to help the group complete its task. As a Retnoob, of course, those two goals are usually aligned, but if the healer gets nailed or the mage has mobs all over him, sometimes these goals diverge, and you have to pick up the healing slack or slap on a shield and piss off some adds.

Which brings me to point #2. All Paladins have at least 3 gear sets. As a Paladin you should have a healing set, a DPS set and a tanking set. So if the next pull has a couple of adds that can't be CC'd, you can take on the task of keeping them busy by slapping on tanking gear, or if you're on Prince and your raid wants 3 healers for the task, you can throw on the healing gear and save a few lives. I know, I know - you have no bag space. You want to be up front beating up stuff. Preaching to the choir. Learn to live with it if you want to be known not just as a guy that's good on the damage charts, but as a good Paladin. Who just happens to beat the ever loving snot out of anything that gets in his way.

Opening Shot

There are few specs more maligned than the infamous Retribution Paladin. From the day that Seal of the Crusader was nerfed into oblivion years ago until present day Burning Crusade, Ret Pallies have been fired upon as useless weaklings operating under a false pretense of being able to do damage.

And unfortunately, 90-95% of the players operating with a ret spec prove them right.

There is no group of players more in need of an overhaul in playstyle than Ret Pallies, and that's what Retnoob will be about. I'm here to lay out a full guideline on exactly how to play this spec, and after I give the guts of what matters to playing this spec, I'll offer my thoughts and provide advice.

What do Ret Pallies offer? First, we have all of the instrinsic support abilities of a Paladin at our fingertips. It's an easy way to squeeze in an extra set of blessings in a group or raid without bringing too many healers/tanks and slowing down the raid. We can save a squishy's butt with a timely bop, free up a melee class to get out of a snare and cleanse off everything, all without taking more than a short GCD. We don't even lose our melee swing.

Played right, from my experience over the last 2 years a good Ret Pally can handle 80% of the damage of a good DPSer. Add in our buffs and cleanses, as well as the melee support abilities we have (specifically, our Judgments) and we hold our own in any raid. But you've gotta learn how to play that well, and you've gotta learn how to gear right. And that's what I'm here for.

Welcome to Retnoob.