Ghostcrawler talks some more on Retribution DPS

Zach Yonzon
Z. Yonzon|03.19.09

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Ghostcrawler talks some more on Retribution DPS

I'll be honest with you. Retribution DPS has made me a rather sad panda lately. It wasn't my DPS exactly, but I sat down to watch my brother-in-law farm Valkyrs in Valkyrion with his three-week old Level 80 Death Knight. He pulled about five mobs and proceeded to demolish them. With Cinderglacier and Killing Machine proccing, he hit all mobs with a Howling Blast for about 6-7k each, and topped things off with a 7k Frost Strike. It made my jaw drop. Mind you, my brother-in-law is an excellent player, so this probably isn't your average Death Knight. But then, he was only equipped in heroic gear, with his best loot being a Wraith Spear. He hadn't even hit his peak.

I know anectdotal stories like these are plenty and tangential to the issue, but if you've raided as a Retribution Paladin with equally geared and skilled players, you'll know exactly what I'm trying to say. So it was a major surprise in Patch 3.1 that the slimming down of the Retribution tree hit our DPS hard with a nerf to Fanaticism (reduced to three ranks for an 18% crit, down from 25%) and Righteous Vengeance (reduced to three ranks for 30% damage, down from 40%). Was it to balance out the fact that Exorcism could be used on any target? Certainly not. At any rate, Blizzard was aware that Retribution DPS on the PTRs wasn't where they want it to be.

Ghostcrawler talked a little bit about Retribution DPS, explaining to players that Righteous Vengeance was bugged, causing to deal less damage than intended. He proceeds to explain that the damage can also get resisted, which accounts for some of the lowered output. Of course, Ghostcrawler has also had a number of posts dedicated to the Spiritual Attunement change, which will make a baseline ability a deep Protection talent. The good news is that Blizzard realizes something that a lot of Retribution Paladins have always known: Judgements of the Wise in its current form isn't enough. In fights where we don't get healed, we're starved for mana.

Naturally, the reverse is true, and Ghostcrawler mentions this in Blizzard's decision to yank SA from the Paladin trainers. It makes a lot of sense. While this leave Retribution sustainability in question, he mentions that Blizzard might buff the mana return on JotW as necessary. He also explains that it wasn't their goal to nerf Retribution's mana return but to make it more stable and independent of the nature of the encounter. We'll have to see how that turns out, but Blizzard realizing that mana returns might be too low is a good start.

Finally, Ghostcrawler admits that the Glyph of Seal of Blood doesn't quite make sense anymore, and mentions that the glyph will be reworked to reflect the change to SA. The fate of the recoil from Seal of Blood / of the Martyr, little more than a gimmick now, is up in the air. He closes his post with a reassuring note, saying, "when all that is said and done, Ret's PvE damage is still probably a little low." There are several ways by which they can do this, actually, and there are several places in the tree that can be tweaked to accommodate this.

My first thought? Crusader Strike. It is the saddest, most boring 41-point talent out there right now. It's a vanilla weapon damage strike. Another spot would be Seal of Command, which isn't even the premiere PvP seal anymore because of how strongly and consistently SoB/SoM can hit. Seal of Command is a DPS drop in PvE, and simply isn't appealing enough to pick up for PvP. If SoB/SoM is reworked to remove the recoil (I'll be sad to see that go, actually, since I enjoyed emo DPS), what will happen to SoC then? A guaranteed crit on a stunned or incapacitated target won't be enough to make it worth picking up. It isn't worth it now.

It'll be interesting to see how Blizzard chooses to tweak the Retribution tree or make our DPS competitive. Ghostcrawler mentioned how they want Retribution to branch out a bit, but there's nothing compelling in other trees right now. Even the new Aura Mastery doesn't improve the haste from a Swift Retribution-improved Retribution Aura on the PTR. Even if it did, I'm not sure I'd spend 10 useless points in Holy just to pick it up. I guess we'll have to wait and see. For now, all we can hang on to are Blizzard's recognition that Retribution DPS is still too low on the PTR. One caveat, though, as Ghostcrawler says... they make no promises.
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