It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of the beta and what's coming our way in Mists of Pandaria -- so easy, in fact, that we lose sight of what we stand to lose in this transition. Retribution isn't undergoing as extensive of an overhaul as warlocks are, but amid the improvements and buffs are abilities, talents, and mechanics that are going by the wayside. Unfortunately for many of you, Inquisition isn't one of those mechanics, but below are a few things that I will look back on and yearn for in the coming expansion.
Holy Wrath and Consecration The loss of these two abilities isn't so much about how our AoE toolbox is going to suffer in their absence. No, Hammer of the Righteous and Divine Storm should more than make up for these relatively weak filler abilities, and I'm sure our mana pools won't miss Consecration in the slightest. When I first started playing the spec, I had visions of my character being not only a powerful warrior but also an adept wielder of the Light. There's just something about a paladin using generous amounts of holy magic to battle demons and the undead that just seems so right and makes the departure of these abilities hurt the overall feel of the spec. Yes, we still have Exorcism, Judgment, and Hammer of Wrath, but aside from Exo, these spells just seem like they have holy damage added on to them after the fact.
Of course, I'm not debating the impotence of these spells on live servers. I've been in the same situations as the rest of you, with an open GCD and Consecration's mana-hungry maw grinning fiendishly at me, beckoning me to hit the button just this once. I have adjusted my playstyle to accommodate for Holy Wrath's damage-splitting behavior and have drawn a crude mental map of its range so as to not break CCs. Admittedly, the spells just weren't working out for ret, so it made little sense to hold onto them when they could be replaced by just about anything else. Still, their longevity and quirkiness has earned these spells a place in my heart -- specifically, near a cholesterol-encrusted valve where the property values are the lowest.
Even given all of its wonders, I am forced to admit that I can see why this decision was made. In principle, the change is very similar to the process that Ardent Defender went through between Wrath and Cataclysm. Passive mechanics are all sunshine and rainbows until they start having sweeping impacts on active gameplay. Prot paladins with Ardent Defender had a cooldown that was out of their control, and as such, they couldn't really plan around it.
Last week, Matt Walsh discussed hero moments, opportunities when one player can save the day or sacrifice themselves for the greater good of the raid by redoubling their efforts, masterfully stringing cooldowns together, or traversing a hellish firestorm like a well-prepared duo on Supermarket Sweep deftly weaving through the aisles. What better way is there to rob the player of this experience than by making these decisions for them?
My wager is that the same reasoning has been applied to Sacred Shield. I love surviving boss mechanics that have killed lesser melee types, but it's an empty satisfaction knowing that my life was saved by my talenting prowess and not by any actual combat-related aptitude.
Auras I would be remiss to conclude this post without mentioning the removal of auras. These days, the management of auras is an afterthought of raid leadership on most fights, with the real power being levied to the holy paladins through Aura Mastery.
Not long ago, this power was within our grasp, and brandishing it at the right moments produced a sensation that you were standing on a mountaintop as the hero of the raid. Auras became a big part of our play because we had a raid survivability cooldown available to all flavors of paladins that increased the effectiveness of those auras by 100%. The different resistance auras became primary targets for AM, with Devotion Aura following close behind.
Again, I am forced to accept that auras, by themselves, weren't what was producing that York Peppermint Pattie feeling -- that was Aura Mastery. Selecting which aura to modify was a relatively simple decision made before combat started, leaving AM to be the active ability that took proper planning and a little finesse to use properly.
Like Consecration and Holy Wrath, auras have been at the heart of the paladin class for a long time. With the removal of spell resistance in Mists, we would be left with four auras, three of which affect combat. Instead of trying to devise some novel way of revitalizing these few relics, Blizzard decided to roll some of their effects into other abilities and passives (Devotion Aura, Heart of the Crusader) and nix the concept completely. It will be sad to see them go, but clinging to an outdated, ineffectual mechanic for the sake of nostalgia makes little sense in the long run.
What will you miss, readers? Does anyone prefer the slow and steady holy power generation of Cataclysm? Will you miss hard casting Exorcism, being able to use Divine Light and Holy Light without respeccing holy, or shedding snares with 1/2 Acts of Sacrifice?
The Light and How to Swing It teaches you the ins and outs of retribution paladins, from Ret 101 and how to gem, enchant and reforge your retadin, to essential ret pally addons.