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Kalgan on Retribution

Eliah Hecht

Everyone wants to DPS. And if a Paladin wants to DPS, he's likely to look at the Retribution tree. However, that tree has been somewhat de-emphasized as of late; the developers have out and said that the Paladin is a tanking/healing hybrid, and its DPS is meant to be somewhat sub-par. Of course, this implies that Ret is not a very strong talent tree: if Pallies are meant for healing and tanking, it stands to reason that Holy and Prot will probably be stronger trees than Ret.

Indeed, many players are currently dissatisfied with the state of Ret, and Kalgan (a.k.a. Tom Chilton, the WoW designer responsible for classes, among other things) recently stopped by the forums to chat about Ret a bit. Here's what he had to say (the responses are scattered through this thread):

However, while I don't disagree that there aren't many highly rated ret pallies, it's worth pointing out that there also aren't many highly rated prot warriors, destro locks, balance druids, survival hunters, enhancement shamans, etc.

While trying to get each spec to be arena viable in the different formats is a noble goal, the reality is that it isn't an immediate goal for every spec to be optimized for every aspect of the game (arenas, battlegrounds, solo-ing, raiding, heroics, etc).

In the case of arenas, it seems to me that getting each class reasonably represented in highly rated teams is a more important goal, and unfortunately the paladin class happens to be somewhat grossly over-represented in this regard.

So...there's too many Paladins in arenas, therefore they can't buff Ret, because that would cause even more Paladins? Hm...

If you want to do damage in pvp as a paladin, then I'd say that ret is your spec. It just so happens that it's outshined by the reality that holy paladins are much more likely to help your team win.

Ouch! Ret Paladins, what do you think of that?

When asked whether the nerf to Illumination was a "direct result of our arena superiority," Kalgan replied:

he primary reasons to change this talent were for pve encounters and itemization (since it placed an excessive emphasis on spell crit... favoring spell crit is fine, but the power of that talent pushed the value of spell crit beyond mere "favoring").

The arena affect is secondary, although still a positive change. Of course, I say this from an overall balance perspective (obviously I don't expect holy paladins to view that change as "omg positive change for me!", but that's the nature of it).

So he wanted spell crit to not be as uber for Pallies as it was. My initial reaction was the same as a subsequent poster in the thread: Blizz writes the items; why not just reduce spell crit on Paladin gear? Kalgan:

So, solve the symptom instead of the problem? No thanks.

I'm not sure I follow his reasoning here. The "problem" is that spell crit is doing too much for Paladins. How is spell crit being all over the place a symptom of that? Ah well, I guess that's why I'm not a developer -- these things fail to make sense to me. On the topic of the Illumination nerf, by the way:

We're certainly keeping an eye on the 50% number.

I should hope so. That was a drastic overnerf, like Prayer of Mending's 20-second cooldown. And then as now, I think the smartest speculation that I've seen around says that they just threw the number out there (50% in this case, 20 seconds before) to see how it would do and how players react, and they always planned on reducing the severity of the nerf. This makes it almost look like the affected classes are getting a buff, when in fact that's only true in relation to the previous nerf.

Anyway, coming back to Ret. Players asked "if Ret's not for Arenas, what the heck is it for?" The response:

It's an effective solo'ing/questing/"grinding" tree. It's also an effective tree for damage in pvp, although most of our pvp is group oriented and your groupmates will generally prefer that you play a support role since their classes can often supply the needed dps but aren't able to supply the support a paladin is capable of.

It's also quite possible to get groups for 5-person instances as a ret pally, provided you aren't the type that will rule out healing in an emergency or for certain encounters provided it would help more at that moment.

This is definitely true. As someone who forms a lot of PuGs, I'm not in the least averse to taking a Ret Pally to fill a DPS slot. In fact, I rather like the buffs and occasional backup healing they can do. And finally, Kalgan claims (although I'm not sure I quite buy it) that Ret Pallies are viable raid DPS:

Actually, ret pallies can do some surprisingly strong raid dps if they're in a good melee group dps composition. Encouraging raid leaders to do this is the reason for this change:

- "Sanctity Aura" now increases all damage caused by affected targets by 1/2% and no longer increases healing done to affected targets.

Well, that's a lot to digest. Paladins, thoughts?

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