Thursday, May 22, 2008

Mythbusting: Exorcising misconceptions about Ret Paladins

Exorcising! Get it? 'Cuz I'm a Paladin, and I can cast Exorcism... and...

Nevermind. Punny is not funny.

There's a lot of misinformation floating around about Retribution Paladins, both regarding mechanics of their combat and general facts. Today, I'm going to address several of them and declare here, once and for all, the truth of the matter. The following are true statements about Retribution Paladins, and you better not start arguing with me, otherwise I'm going to have start a link-fest.

  1. Crusader Strike is not holy damage. The 41-point Retribution talent is an instant attack that deals physical damage and refreshes any active debuff Judgements on the target. Try it - borrow a Feral Druid friend, have him/her get naked and duel you. Crusader Strike the Druid in caster form, and note your damage. Now have him/her suit up in bear gear, go bear form, and duel again. Crusader Strike and note the damage. You're going to see a HUGE difference in damage output. Holy damage would be unaffected by the change - magic damage doesn't get reduced by armor.


  2. Haste is worth equipping for Alliance Paladins. Tons of Paladins go talking their heads off about how haste sucks for Alliance Paladins since we don't have Seal of Blood. THIS IS UNTRUE. Haste does not suck - in fact, it's quite good at higher gear levels. 50% of a Ret Paladin's damage in a raid environment is from his auto-attack. 1% haste will increase 50% of your damage by 1%. I bet you that 1% haste will turn out to be more damage than 20 extra attack power. Go ahead, do the math, I'll wait. ... you done? Good. It's why the Dragonspine Trophy remains in the top 5 trinkets for all Retribution Paladins, despite haste being "terrible for Alliance."


  3. Your mana pool does not matter. You should not gear for Intellect, there is absolutely no reason to accept less attack power or crit chance for an increased mana pool. The main portion of your rotation - auto-attack, Seal of Command, Crusader Strike, Judgement of Command - is not mana intensive. If you were to use only those abilities through an entire fight with Judgement of Wisdom on the mob and raid buffs, you would be able to sustain your rotation indefinitely, especially if you bring Super Mana Potions. Where you start operating at a net loss is the inclusion of Exorcism and/or the upper ranks of Consecration. However, these are fairly static damage increasers and have poor damage to mana ratios, and are a small portion of your damage. It is much more costly to overall DPS if you sacrifice AP, crit, expertise, haste, armor penetration, or other melee-related stats in order to gain extra mana, as that extra mana only lets you eek out a single extra Exorcism or Consecration r6 over the course of the fight. In the same vein, mana/5 is not a DPS stat either. Concentrate on the stats that scale the majority of your damage, and just let mana come naturally on upgrade gear (mostly tier pieces).


  4. Vindication does not cause extra JoWisdom procs. The theory that immune-procs of Vindication on boss mobs were causing extra JoWisdom mana returns was a false claim. The extra return when you attack a raid boss that you have judged with JoLight or JotCrusader and a different paladin has judged with JoWisdom is from a bug that counts you refreshing your JoLight or JotCrusader as a spell that is eligible for JoWisdom returns. Vindication does not amplify the results.

  5. Mongoose is the best enchant for your raid weapon. This debate should end - if you're gearing correctly, you will have less Armor Penetration than necessary to make Executioner worthwhile, and Savagery is an inferior enchant in every way to both of them. 'Goose your weapon and stop asking this question. The breakpoint where Executioner surpasses Mongoose would require you to gear so much for Armor Penetration that you would lose DPS in the process, sacrificing AP and crit. Crit + haste = good.


  6. Relentless Earthstorm Diamond with as many +strength gems as you can muster should be in your gear. Your meta socket is important. Relentless Earthstorm Diamond in a tier 4 helm will increase your damage more than that Felsteel Warhelm will. Do not stride into battle without a meta socket helm! As for gemming, +strength everywhere you can afford, and just enough yellow/blue to satisfy RED's requirements. Which means 2 oranges & 2 purples, or just 2 greens, and the rest red gems. Don't stack crit gems, don't stack AP gems, don't stack mana/5 gems, and don't stack (/shudder) intellect gems: stack strength gems.


  7. Speed is not everything for your weapon. Choose your weapon based upon weapon DPS, damage-range, and stat boosters. A Cataclysm's Edge will do more damage than a Vengeful Gladiator's Greatsword, despite the Vengeful weapon being slower. Getting a 4.0 weapon speed is not your goal - your aim is to get the highest top-end damage on your weapon coupled with a high DPS rating. It's why [Torch of the Damned] is so good for Alliance Ret Paladins.


  8. You can be dodged while attacking from behind. Until you achieve the expertise dodge-cap, any attack you make has a chance to be dodged no matter where you are in relation to the monster's front. You cannot, however, be parried or blocked when attacking from behind. Because of this, you should always attack from behind.


  9. The blessings you want, in order of importance, are Salvation, Might, Kings, and Wisdom. Despite our dependance on mana, Wisdom is the least important of the main 4 raid blessings for a Retribution Paladin. You will get more DPS from attacking with Salv/Might/Kings and not using Consecration/Exorcism as much than if you were attacking with Salv/Kings/Wisdom and going hog-wild with Consecration/Exorcism as your mana allowed. 41-50 mana/5 is not worth 10% all stats or 200-300 extra AP.


  10. Hammer of Wrath decreases your DPS. Even if you time the cast of your Hammer of Wrath to happen immediately after your auto-swing and it does not coincide with the cooldown of any of your other damage abilities, and even if you have 4 pieces of tier 6 ret gear equipped, using Hammer of Wrath will delay your next auto-swing, and make you lose damage overall. The damage of your next auto-swing coming that much earlier will outpace the damage your Hammer of Wrath will do. Hammer of Wrath does not scale with strength or attack power, the main stats you stack - it scales with spell damage, something you should have zero of on your gear. The only situations that merit use of Hammer of Wrath are when you are trapped at range (most often temporarily) from a boss during his execute range (examples being Rage Winterchill if he Death & Decay's immediately around himself, or Supremus during his kite phase.)


  11. The 2.4 "SotC fix" does not give you carte blanche to seal-weave. Despite the fact that Blizzard fixed a bug with Seal of the Crusader in patch 2.4, it still is not a DPS increase to attempt to "seal-weave" and gain the effects of Seal of the Crusader on Crusader Strikes and put Seal of Command back up for your auto-attacks. This is mana-intensive for very little benefit, and will most likely end up screwing up your skill rotation and resulting in less damage overall.

Hopefully, this will end any debate or false statements about these topics, because dispelling these myths has become a crusade of sorts for me lately - Firelight over at http://retribution-paladin.blogspot.com/ can attest to that based upon my recent comment bonanza on his May 14 post.

4 comments:

Suicidal Zebra said...

One additional point worth mentioning is the 2.4.2 Seal of the Crusader/Crusader Strike change, i.e. SotC still isn't raid viable and trying to weave it into your CS rotation isn't a good idea. Apart from that I think you have all the Ret-specific ones covered.

Nice post Josh.

Stop said...

Explain to me why I feel like with 2/2 in Judgements it feels like I either have to clip Crusader Strike or Judgement. Kind of feels like the BT/WW rotation. The other thing I'm wondering is can I macro SoC right after a Judgement?

Josh said...

@Zebra
I'll stick an additional bullet in about SotC seal-weaving, thanks for the contribution!

@Stop
You're feeling that clipping issue with 2/2 Imp. Judgement because that is an issue. Many Ret Paladins adopt a 9 second rotation so as to stagger CS and Judgement and prevent cooldown overlap. 1/2 Imp. Judgement is not unheard of to force yourself into this 9 second rotation. I prefer to keep 2/2 Imp. Judgement for increased flexibility to either a) judge a new mob earlier when switching targets, or b) be able to burst more quicker in some situations. The DPS difference between the 8 second and 9 second rotation is minimal - check the first post in the Ret DPS Theorycraft thread on the Elitist Jerks forum for more info on the cycle differences.

As for the SoC/Judgement macro, you're pre-empting a topic I'm working on! Yes, you can macro SoC right after a Judgement. Basic macro for this:
#showtooltip Judgement
/cast Judgement
/cast Seal of Command

I've got a draft of common Ret Paladin macros in the works, it'll probably be up next week.

Alex - aka Firelight said...

Nice post Josh!

Thanks for all your advise this past week :D