Earlier last week we got our first glimpse of the 5.4 PTR as Wowhead and MMO-Champion mined a massive amount of data from the latest update to the test realms. With new features like virtual realms, proving grounds, and flex raids, it's easy to be overwhelmed. As for myself, the first thing I did was hit Ctrl+F and searched for "Paladin" to see what, if any, changes we were due. Truth be told, I wasn't expecting a whole lot of changes for retribution -- we seem to be in a nice place, comfortably in the middle of the pack for DPS with heaps of utility to boot. Boy, was I mistaken.
Before we get into the discussion, do remember that none of these proposed changes are finalized. The "test realms" aren't named that by chance; the developers want to see how things like this play out on a large scale, larger than their internal testing can accommodate, and sift through player feedback from the community. So while we shouldn't get too worked up over one thing or another on the PTR, it's always beneficial to react to changes, at least in a civilized and logical manner.
The small potatoes
If the 5.4 patch notes were a meal, then the following would be the mashed potatoes -- hearty, delicious, but ultimately not the focus of the plate:
Not being a PvPer in any sense of the word, I almost forgot we had Turn Evil in the first place. With the change to Burden of Guilt we'll have an alternative CC to Repentance. Options are always good, and it's nice that they're breathing new life into an old spell, but did they have to name the talent "Evil is a Point of View"? While the quote apparently comes from an Anne Rice novel (and countless people before it, I'm sure), all I can think about is that it's one word away from quoting Palpatine from Revenge of the Sith and I'd rather try to forget that experience.
Hand of Purity's alteration is interesting but it seems a bit overly complex. How easy will it be for the player to determine what damage can be mitigated by immunities and what can't? Will Blizzard finally add a little icon into the Dungeon Journal indicating which abilities go through immunities? Something like that would have been nice to have from the beginning.
The simplification of Unbreakable Spirit is welcome, especially considering how impossible it proved to halve Divine Protection's cooldown given its base cooldown of 1 minute. If you claim you were able to spend fifty holy power over the course of thirty seconds without cheating with Holy Avenger, I think some physicists would like to talk to you about breaking a few laws.
The meat of it all
And now we come to the main attraction, the stars of the show, the tender and juicy chateaubriand of the paladin patch note platter: Inquisition and Guardian of Ancient Kings.
I am certain that a great many of you are excited about the idea that Inquisition's maximum duration could be doubled. Such a move might even get more players to try out ret if our "maintenance buff" was scaring them off. And since we would theoretically only have to spend half as much holy power on Inquisition as we are now, we could cast more Templar's Verdicts and Divine Storms -- an additional one TV or DS every minute, to be exact. Doing a bit of napkin math, it would only be a very slight DPS increase, but free damage is free damage, right?
On one hand, I'm all for the change to the glyph -- the current Glyph of Inquisition sees about as much use as a taunt in LFR, so making it something players actually might use is obviously a plus. It also makes Inquisition easier to maintain for shorter PvE content and during PvP combat (if it's not dispelled immediately after application, that is).
On the other, I can't bring myself to appreciate the change to the base spell. Weaving Inquisition refreshes into your rotation adds variety and a tiny bit of skill to pull off well, which presents itself as a mechanism for someone who wants to excel at ret DPS to do so. Doubling Inquisition's effective duration reduces the contribution of such skill to your overall DPS.
Ideally, I'd say let's split the difference: change the glyph but leave Inquisition itself alone. It seems to me that most people who truly abhor our holy damage buff are running shorter content like quests, dungeons, scenarios, battlegrounds, and arenas, where time outside of combat (or out of melee range) is more significant than a boss encounter in a raid environment, making Inquisition harder to maintain without a steady stream of holy power. The glyph would be a nice remedy for this problem.
I do recognize, however, that my opinion on this matter is a very unpopular one in the paladin community at large, so if push comes to shove I'll just grit my teeth and slowly turn into that guy that yells at joggers in the park about how everything was better back when you had to trudge barefoot uphill in the snow just to get enough holy power to cast Inquisition.
My other bone to pick is with the reduction of our longest cooldown, Guardian of Ancient Kings.
The ability itself isn't getting any stronger by being available more often; as you can see, they reduced both the cooldown and number of stacks by 40%. Conceptually, having GANK available more often could make our play a bit more engaging, and getting to see the golden shuffler scoot around more would be nice.
As it stands right now, I will pop GANK and Avenging Wrath together at the start of the fight, then five minutes later I will see GANK come back off cooldown, wait another minute for AW to come up again, then tie them together once more. With a lower cooldown, I'm afraid that it would result in more DPS if we simply macro the abilities together, delaying AW until GANK would be back up, and pushing an AW cast or two off the table for the encounter in the process.
We could, of course, use them separately and only tie them together when their cooldowns align, but GANK isn't a very independent ability. Most of the time it is active we are slowly gaining stacks of Ancient Power, but we don't hold onto a full stack for very long. So what do we stand to gain by turning two buttons into one except a blander playstyle?
In the end, none of this is set in stone. I'm not too upset about GANK or Inq or the dumb name they picked for Burden of Guilt's replacement because it's not final. I have faith in the blues to listen to feedback, and use their experience to give us a quality product. But as a columnist here at WoW Insider, and as a paladin player in general, I feel it's my duty to complain in some regard.
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.