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.