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The Light and How to Swing It: The Retribution solution II

Zach Yonzon

Crusader Strike
The Problem
It's boring. No, really, the only thing wrong with Crusader Strike is that it does nothing except deal damage. For a cornerstone 41-point talent that's pretty sad.

The Crazy Idea
I know Ghostcrawler and friends are already hard at work on something for Crusader Strike, but I'll give this a shot, anyway.

Crusader Strike
Requires 40 points in Retribution
Instant cast, 6 second cooldown
Requires melee weapon
An instant strike that causes 110% weapon damage and afflicts the target with Contrition, increasing Holy damage done to the target by 3% for 10 seconds.

With the shift in much of the Paladin's damage to Physical, there doesn't seem to be much threat in increasing Holy damage. The only other class that benefits from this is a Priest, and even then their DPS build is Shadow-based. In this case, the debuff is a minor DPS increase for the Retadin, and a relatively minor increase for the raid -- think of it as a form of Curse of the Elements for Holy damage. At any rate, the numbers can be tweaked but the key element is another debuff for Paladins that plays a part in something a little more complex.

Does this make Crusader Strike "more exciting," as Ghostcrawler put it? On its own, probably not. On the other hand, I thought it was a good opportunity to work with another spell that Blizzard has been having trouble with...


The Problem
Blizzard just doesn't seem to know what to do with it. First of all, the change in 3.1 made it a staple in Retribution's rather uncomplicated rotation. It was a good idea for PvE, but giving a burst damage oriented spec with another burst ability was a nightmare in PvP. It was quickly hotfixed to not work against player targets and later disabled its use against player pets, as well, citing its advantage against Hunters and Warlocks. This is a rare instance of Blizzard seriously considering splitting the functionality of a spell for PvP and PvE. That's just unwieldy.

The Crazy Idea
Blizzard has been trying to figure out a way to make Retribution less of a brain dead spec where players simply blow all their cooldowns in an attempt to unload as much damage as possible and hopefully kill their opponents before they can do a thing. Sometimes this works, which is frustrating for those on the receiving end, and sometimes it fails... spectacularly. Against healers, particularly, Retribution Paladins will often find themselves getting their targets down to a sliver of life and -- having no interrupt or heal-impairing ability of any sort on a short cooldown -- have their targets go back up to full.

Instant cast, 12 second cooldown
30 yard range
Consumes Contrition on a target, causing [822 + 0.15 * SPH + 0.15 * AP] to [917 + 0.15 * SPH + 0.15 * AP] Holy damage to a target with Judgement. Also heals the caster for [564 + 0.15 * SPH + 0.15 * AP] if the target has Judgement of Light, returns 10% of base mana if the target has Judgement of Wisdom, and immobilizes and silences the target for 1 second if the target has Judgement of Justice.

Forget the automatic crit on a Demon or Undead target. It's nice in terms of lore, but creates problems as far as consistent DPS is concerned. Exorcism is a nice ability, but pure instant burst DPS is just bad news in PvP so disabling it was understandable. But to remove the spell's functionality completely against players is just inelegant.

I think Judgements are one of the coolest features of the Paladin kit. Something needs to take advantage of that. A spell such as this one makes the choice of Judgement a strategic one, particularly in PvP. In raid situations where a target is likely to have two or all three Judgements, it's less strategic than it is essential -- the heal component compensates for the feedback damage of Seal of Blood, making it less of an awkward mechanic; while the mana return is simply another means to regain mana for a low mana spec. The numbers can be tweaked, but the idea is there.

In PvP, this brings Retribution Paladins back to their roots: it's all about setting up. Players need to apply a Judgement, apply Contrition through Crusader Strike, and then consume Contrition through Exorcism. That's two GCDs before Exorcism can deal damage, assuming all spells land. The biggest problem with Exorcism against players was that it was mindless burst from a distance. Retadins used it to open an engagement before closing in. The reverse is true here, and Exorcism simply can't be used as an opener. Instead, it becomes a finishing spell that can be prevented through dispels.

The root and silence solves two of a Retadin's most glaring playstyle weaknesses -- the ability to close the distance and interrupt a heal. The spell should be brought down to 12 seconds (with damage reduced accordingly) to make it fit more smoothly into a Retadin's rotation as well as make it a more reliable interrupt. It still needs to be set up, however, making it less convenient than a Kick or a Pummel. It's a Silence effect, which suffers from diminishing returns, and doesn't cause a school lockout.

Will it solve a Retadin's problem with healers? Maybe not. But it'll help, and brings some versatility to the table and makes a case for all three Judgements to be used in PvP. The obvious flaw in this particular suggestion is that Exorcism becomes purely a Retribution spell because of the Contrition requirement. I'm not too fussed about that. Holy and Protection have Shield of Righteousness, anyway...

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