Thursday, June 26, 2008


By the request of Tom at Blessing of Might, today I'll be sharing with you my personal impressions on playing a Retribution Paladin in arena PvP during season 3. Before proceeding, please note that I regard myself as a raider, not a PvP'er, and that I have no accurate knowledge of how good (or bad) I am at PvP, despite having played an unhealthy amount of 2v2 and 3v3 games over the past arena season with an assortment of combos and partners.

All though I rarely log out in my PvP gear nowadays, I possess 4/5 Vengeful gear for Retribution, gemmed up with epic gems and enchanted to the max. I am only missing the shoulders from the set, and use a season 3 mace enchanted with Executioner in conjunction with my PvP armor for arena/battlegrounds, in addition to having all the honor-based trimmings (belt, boots, bracers, rings, necklace, trinkets). In short, I'm was a 2000-rated team short of having absolute full season 3 gear. The highest I have reached in each bracket is in the high 1700's in 2v2 (Ret/ShS Rogue combo), 1970ish in 3v3 (Ret/MS/Resto Druid), and 1860something in 5v5 (Ret/MS/Enh Shaman/Resto Druid/Disc Priest).

Playing arena for me is alternately frustrating and a raucous good time. It depends on who I'm playing with. There's a fine line to be walked between having a good time while not investing too much in each match, and playing strategically/analytically with good timing and fluid interaction with my partner. Take each match too lightly, and the losses mount as you get outmaneuvered. Invest too much in each match, and it becomes frustrating when a Repentance gets broken or a string of events gets the better of you and you lose a match. I tend to get way too invested in every match, so I've eased off the arena throttle recently.

This bracket makes it very, very hard for a Ret Paladin to succeed. Not having very much crowd control or a healing debuff precludes Ret Paladins from pairing with a healer at high levels, so that forces us into a double DPS combo. The most common partners are ShS Rogues, SL/SL Warlocks, and Frost Mages, because all of those classes provide a large amount of battlefield control while the Ret Paladin brings defensive buffs and big burst damage. In the case of the ShS Rogue and the Frost Mage, both partners can go effectively immune to damage for a time, which is very valuable for a heal-light team. More often than not, any combo in 2v2 with a Ret Paladin will require a perfectly executed CC chain (for example, Sap - Blind - Repentance - Hammer of Justice - Blind) on one opponent while the other is being focused, and then the fight is "reset" as the Paladin shields/heals and the partner uses a "get away from me" cooldown (Ice Block, Vanish, etc.). It's a lot easier to get a 2v2 team online at the same time to play games, but I feel like I'm at a distinct disadvantage whenever I go into the 2v2 arena.

When I was playing arena seriously, my preferred bracket was 3v3. The two combo's I tried with the most success were Ret/MS Warrior/Resto Druid, and the same combo replacing the Druid with a Resto Shaman. I managed to get each combo into the 1900 range, but never could quite crack the 2000 barrier before strings of bad losses caused my teammates to start pointing fingers and eventually the teams broke up. With a Shaman healer, the basic strategy was simple - zerg the squishie. With Windfury totem, Mortal Strike debuff, and two 2H-wielders beating on a target, possibly both with Heroism, not many could stay alive for very long. The team had a noticeable lack of crowd control, however, and depended on the Warrior's hamstrings and a tenuous Blessing of Protection to protect the healer. Very easy for things to go south. On the other hand, the Resto Druid healer was a bit more self-sufficient and provided some crowd control, but the damage output of the team was a lot lower without Windfury/Heroism. In both cases, an excellent healer is hard to find, as playing both of those healer classes at a high level is tough.

This bracket feels like a total cluster-f*ck to me. There are so many buffs/debuffs flying around, and 10 people usually stacked into tight spaces, that I get a bit overwhelmed and tend to try and tunnel vision on a target to compensate, which is never the right thing to do. I was able to zerg a team to 1860 or so going 27-2 over two play sessions on a tri-melee rush team, but I think that was luck combined with some bad opponents and out-of-their-mind play from my teammates over those two days. We were never able to replicate that success, and having no CC would have hurt us later. I've never been on a 5v5 where I wasn't leading the team and calling the targets - I might find it more enjoyable if I weren't the leader.


Since I have a day job, raid 3 nights a week, desire at least 5 hours of sleep a night, and attempt to maintain some semblance of a social life, arena is generally relegated to a sideshow with me, reserved for random weekend afternoons when I'm bored and don't feel like being productive. Because of that, my feelings on arena might be totally skewed, but I tend to see myself as a bit of a gimp in the arena. I bring defensive abilities (BoP, Cleanse, BoF, HoJ) to my team in addition to high raw damage output, but there are glaring weaknesses to the Ret Paladin in the arena - easily drained of his mana, no CC, no healing debuff, weak heals, and once Divine Shield gets blown he's a sitting duck 12 seconds later, if not sooner. I could launch into a huge QQ post here, but I'm going to bite my tongue, since I complain about Ret's shortcomings too much.

I hope this sates you, Tom. I know I didn't relate any specific 2v2 experiences like you requested, but then again that's my least memorable bracket, and I'm not a PvP'er.

For anyone seeking more in-depth discussion about Ret Paladin arena, head over to Arena Junkies, Cromfel's forum or, as there are many more avid PvP'ers that frequent those forum communities. Megan over at Out of Mana is also a much better arena resource than I amongst the bloggers, even though I do not think she has played her Paladin as Retribution.


Suicidal Zebra said...

The word from the front (Blizz WWI dev panel) of potential interest to Pally PvPers in Wrath is that short-term blessings will no longer overwrite long-term ones. I believe this means that temporary buffs such as Blessing of Freedom or Protection will no longer overwrite the longer blessings like Might.

Also, Windfury is moving from a weapon enchantment to become a 'buff'. Not sure whether this means that it will be 'castable' or remain totem-based, but it does give a new leaf on life for Weapon Stones and Rogue Poisons.

Josh said...

Those are both very welcome changes. Can't wait to see if those go thru in WotLK! Thanks for the heads up zebra, as always :)