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Paladin > WoWSep 24, 2015 1:00 pm CT

Lightsworn: Retribution Paladin changes I want to see in Legion

I’ve heard through my contacts at Blizzard that there’s a new WoW expansion coming out called Legion. I haven’t a clue what it’s about, but when I hear the words “new expansion” I begin subconsciously composing a wishlist of changes I’d love to see. Until the expansion is officially released (or at least until the beta starts) my dreams will be permeated by what could be, what Legion could bring to the game to make WoW as a whole that much better.

Before we begin in earnest I’d like to take a moment to apologize for my absence from this space for the past few months. I’ve been pushing through some health issues and found that I needed to take a step back. But I’m feeling better and I’m ready to dispense some unsolicited opinions, so let’s get to it!

Less dependence on RNG

Outside of my two-night raiding schedule in WoW, I’ve been logging some hours in Final Fantasy 14 leveling up a Dragoon (the closest thing to a Ret Paladin in that game, from what I was told) and the experience has given me a lot of material for my Legion wishlist.

Of all the differences between the two games, what struck me the most about the Dragoon was the complete absence of randomness in its rotation. Buff maintenance? Yes. Cooldown management? Definitely. Positional awareness? Very much so. But the Dragoon’s damage output does not rely on the one thing that can make or break a Retribution Paladin, and nowhere is this stark contrast more evident than in Ret’s strongest attack: Empowered Divine Storm.

Technically a perk granted while leveling from 90-100, Empowered Divine Storm takes our tried and true AOE Holy Power consumer and kicks it into overdrive, dealing 50% more damage and not consuming a single drop of resources. The problem is that this perk only has a 25% chance to proc when using a Holy Power consumer — that is Templar’s Verdict, Divine Storm, or Word of Glory. Additionally, this perk has some interactions with talents like Divine Purpose and Holy Avenger which helps increase your chances of seeing Empowered Divine Storm more often. However, something none of your talents or abilities can help with is proc drought.

If you’ve played Ret for any appreciable amount of time, you’re uncomfortably familiar with proc drought. In most encounters you’ll see a few procs here, some there, and after the dust has settled you’ll feel reasonably satisfied with how your performance contributed to the death of your foe. But there will also be those fights where one of two things happens:

  1. You emerge in a whirlwind of holy energy as your damage output tops every chart in existence, and you look down upon your raid group with a sad smile upon your lips, pitying them for being unable to comprehend the sheer glory of what you just accomplished, or…
  2. You scramble around the battlefield with tears streaming down your face, hastily picking up pieces of your armor that seemed to have fallen off mid-fight while your DPS “betters” throw your displaced weapon into a pile of their mounts’ manure.

The concept of either rewarding or punishing a player’s performance based solely on the roll of a dice is hardly new, but I would argue there is very little to make it fun either. If your group is nearing the end of the night and your raid leader has just finished a motivational speech that rivals Bill Pullman’s emotional kick-in-the-pants in Independence Day, simply knowing that you can give the next attempt your all and still get shafted by RNG can completely deflate you.

Personally, I’d love to see Empowered Divine Storm reworked into a type of combo system, where each successful Templar’s Verdict or Divine Storm builds a “charge” and when you reach X amount of charges you proc the perk (similar to Selfless Healer, actually). I’m not married to that idea, but I think having a way of guaranteeing that damage and not leaving our hardest hitting ability in the hands of random chance is the best way to move forward.

Another Holy Power consumer

Not too long ago our raid went through some attendance issues and, as a result, I found myself picking up a sword and a shield to spend some time on the other side of the boss. It was the first time I tanked a raid since Wrath of the Lich King, and as such I had to rapidly learn how to put that esoteric “active mitigation” thing I always heard tanks talk about into practice. Very quickly I found myself in situations where I didn’t know how I should spend my Holy Power. Should I use Shield of the Righteous and build a stack of Bastion of Glory so that a future Word of Glory might be more effective? Is my health low enough to justify wiping all of my Bastion stacks by using Word of Glory? Will there be a big hit I need to have Shield of the Righteous active for in the next couple of seconds?

Learning to wrestle with the uncertainty and picking up on what ability to use when turned out to be a very rewarding experience, so much so that I felt a small pang of regret when our second tank made a triumphant return and I had to switch specs. Perhaps it was simply learning a new role, but having so much weight put onto my decisions was refreshing.

I can’t say that I’ve ever felt that way when playing as Ret. With how our abilities are designed Ret Paladins are very bimodal and straightforward. Crusader Strike and Templar’s Verdict are for one target, Hammer of the Righteous and Divine Storm are for many. Even our seals are split in a similar fashion, with Seal of Justice and Seal of Insight essentially nonexistent for a PVE Ret.

As we all know modern encounters don’t exist in two ideal states but in a spectrum of targets that varies wildly from boss to boss, instance to instance, and difficulty to difficulty. Additionally, not all targets can (nor should) be neatly stacked within an 8 yard radius. I ask, therefore, why not find a middle ground? Why not take a page from the FF14 Dragoon, or even from Blizzard’s own Heroes of the Storm, and give Retribution a line attack as a third option for offensive Holy Power consumption?

Throw a wrench into things by having this ability (let’s call it Crusader’s Path, because why not?) deal more damage the farther you are from the target, interactions with our first tier of talents, some of those amazing Paladin ground effects we had ripped from our grasp when Prot took Consecration, stick a bow on it and hand it to us at level 110.

Of the many changes the arrival of the Burning Legion is sure to bring, I hope at least some part of our rotation is among them. An Ashbringer is nice, but in my eyes it’s not quite enough.

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