For me, the most anxiety-inducing change that came with patch 5.0.4 was the prospect that I would have to find a replacement for my beloved RealUI -- the previous author Nib stated that he/she would be unable to continue its maintenance, causing hundreds of minimalistic UI lovers to suddenly cry out in terror. Thankfully these pleas were silenced as someone else offered to take up the reins and pushed out a new revision just in the nick of time.
Before giving an official verdict on any of these changes I wanted to raid a bit to see them in action. Unfortunately I've had to resort to sidelong glances at Dragon Soul as my guild is finishing up T11 metas and mounts for everyone before the expansion closes. I did, however, get to down heroic Ragnaros again for another pretty bird and run a handful of Hour of Twilight heroics, so I did get at least some experience.
The redesigned talent system feels more like a wider selection of powerful glyphs than any previous iteration of talents that we've seen before. I remember getting to the Bronze Dragonshrine in End Time and someone asked if I could CC one of the dragonkin. I was in the middle of typing out, "I'm not specced into Repentance, sorry :(" (complete with sad smiley face so they knew I was truly sorry) when I realized that I could just open my talents, unlearn Burden of Guilt and pick up Repentance in like 10 seconds flat. Similarly, on a quick jaunt through heroic Firelands we arrived at Alysrazor without much of a plan for slowing down the meteor when I remembered I could unlearn Repentance and pick up Burden.
Of course, being this flexible comes at a price, and that price is straight cash. As I struggle not to finish that Randy Moss quote, think about whether you agree with the gold requirement for changing talents. On one hand, it's a pretty effective gold sink as anytime anyone wants to change a talent they will need to pay a nominal fee. On the other hand it seems a bit outdated to hold on to one reagent when tossing out most others. We can save that discussion for another time, though.
I have to admit, tier 5 for me is usually between Holy Avenger and Divine Purpose. Sanctified Wrath just isn't producing comparable numbers in sims and it doesn't really have its own niche in which to excel.
The paladin apoc-glyph-a
When I got my addon situation mostly settled I was confronted with many empty glyph slots and few choices from which to choose to fill them. I learned just about every glyph under the sun on my Horde paladin, but when I recently leveled my Alliance paladin and started playing that full-time I generally ignored glyphs until I got to max level.
My initial reaction was, "Boy, what a poor choice that was," until I started looking for glyphs I'd actually want to buy. I eventually settled on two majors, Double Jeopardy and Templar's Verdict, and whatever minors I had that converted from old glyphs I had learned. The truth is, those were the only two majors that really stood out as glyphs I could get some use out of; my healers would probably appreciate GoTV, and GoDJ makes target-switching just a tiny bit less painful. I used to cringe when I saw other paladins without a full complement of glyphs, but now my response is much more apathetic (especially considering the current state of the glyph market).
After playing so much on the beta, I felt I had a pretty good grasp on the new rotation and, therefore, didn't need to sit on a target dummy before jumping into a Bastion of Twilight run with my guild. A quick check at the damage meters argued otherwise.
The dramatic increase in holy power generation takes some getting used to, as does Exorcism's new behavior (don't only hit it when The Art of War procs!). The new rotation has a rhythm but it's hard to discern. Haste and Sanctity of Battle compress the rotation to a degree that can throw off your pre-established timings for abilities, an effect amplified during Heroism/Bloodlust. Burn phases have actually become somewhat humorous as playing a ret paladin while Heroism is active turns into Frantic Button Smashing Simulator 2012.
Really, though, the basic framework of the rotation remains intact; all Blizzard did was inject holy power into every orifice they could find. It will take some time to adjust, but once we do I believe that we will enjoy the more upbeat, active pace of retribution combat.
Dust off your WoG button
One of my more memorable experiences post-patch involved two very useful changes to our utility toolkit -- Word of Glory had its 20-second cooldown rescinded, and Sacred Shield became an instant cast HoT-like buff.
Basically, I was running an Hour of Twilight heroic with a couple guildmates when our death knight tank keeled over at about the time when Asira Dawnslayer was at 40% health. I was second on threat so the boss went straight for me. Instinctively, I tossed up SS and continued with my rotation. Surprisingly I didn't get immediately squashed, so our holy paladin healer put his SS on me as well and continued healing.
There were two bugs that the healer and I unwittingly took advantage of to keep myself alive while the group burned down the boss. The first involved the on-cast behavior of Sacred Shield which would immediately put the absorb effect up after being cast. With two shields available, no mana cost, and only a six second cooldown to boot, that bug basically saved the day. This has since been fixed, as stated by Ghostcrawler in this post.
There were still periods of high spike damage (namely, the times when the SS absorb effect wore off), so being able to WoG myself with my own holy power as well as my own Divine Purpose procs sure took some weight off the healer's shoulders. However, I began to notice a pattern in my DP procs soon after 5.0.4 hit live servers. The proc rate seemed normal when using Templar's Verdict, Divine Storm, and Inquisition, but when I would go to heal with WoG I would suddenly see proc after proc. This unsurprisingly happened during my HoT engagement, and it definitely helped keep my plated behind alive while I was kiting Asira out of the clouds.
(Edit: A recent hotfix should have fixed this odd behavior. Ghostcrawler details why the extra procs were happening in this thread.)
What about you, readers? How have your experiences been with ret in 5.0.4?
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.