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The Light and How to Swing It: On gap-closers and empty GCDs

Gregg Reece

With the Light as his strength, Gregg Reece of The Light and How to Swing It faces down the demons of the Burning Legion, the undead of the Scourge, and soon, an entire flight of black dragons. Please send screenshots as well as any comments to

For a couple of weeks on the beta forums, PvP paladins were constantly asking for a gap-closer -- all of this in the middle of the new holy power implementation. The developers did listen to the requests, and with some of our hybridness cut out, our prayers have been answered somewhat in the recent beta builds.

On a completely unrelated note, not pressing buttons isn't fun. Having a global cooldown with absolutely nothing to do is so foreign to me as a paladin that when it's happening on the beta, I'm convinced I'm not seeing a button. We'll touch on that a bit later. Onto the article!

Closing the gap

Closing the gap on an opponent is an important trait that we've never been that good at. Sure, we've got Repentance to make opponents think really hard about the bad things they've done so that we can run in and chop their heads off, but in PvP, they can just trinket out of that and start nuking and kiting us from afar. Plus, the range on Repentance isn't spectacular.

We've also got Hammer of Justice, which can stun opponents for a brief moment while we run in to try and bash their brains in. The problem with it is that it has an even smaller range than Repentance. Besides, wouldn't you rather save HoJ for more important moments than just catching up to people?

So other than grabbing a couple points in Pursuit of Justice for extra run speed, what is a paladin to do in Cataclysm? Judge and run. Wait, I know what you're thinking. Judgement only has a 10-yard range, which is the same as Hammer of Justice. A-ha! Things have changed.

Our old Improved Judgement talent has morphed from a cooldown reducer to a range increaser. You can bump up the range of your Judgements by 10 yards per point, taking them up to a 30-yard range ability. OK, sure, this is nice, but hitting opponents from 30 yards away every 8 seconds isn't going to kill anything very fast.

That's where the joy of Long Arm of the Law comes in -- yet another talent that got added into the tree that increases run speed by 45 percent for a short period of time when you judge an opponent more than 15 yards away. It isn't Sprint, but it'll help you close that gap. Also, for those number crunchers out there, you can't add Pursuit of Justice into that, as the bonuses don't stack.

Some of you PvE guys might be thinking that Long Arm of the Law is a PvP talent and you'll skip it for more damage or crit elsewhere. Just remember that every second faster you can get to the boss means more damage done and thus higher numbers in the meters. In the beta, it has even been handy to have for soloing, as you can tag and get to your next quest mob (aka: loot bump) that much quicker.

Empty GCDs

With the current ret paladin rotation model, we don't get a lot of time off. You can generally find something with which to fill every GCD. That feeling of accomplishment is being removed from us. Sure, in those opportunities, you could jab at a partial Templar's Verdict just to fill that second-and-a-half of nothingness that is an empty GCD, but the damage could be nerfed, and you'd have to re-earn up that 1 or 2 holy power points you just spent on it.

Ghostcrawler (WoW lead systems designer) says this isn't a bad thing. Classes and specs like feral druids, DPS warriors and rogues have empty GCDs in their rotations in which they don't have anything to do because of their resource systems. Casters have long moments in which they can't do anything, but these are designed into the longer cast times. Having those empty spots offers a moment to see if there is anything else going on.

As a paladin, this has been a slightly frustrating thing to run across as I'm going through my rotation and suddenly have absolutely nothing to hit. I've even double-checked all of my buttons to make sure I wasn't missing anything that I could be pressing. It's going to feel wrong at first, but those are the places where you can hit someone with a Hand of Salvation or one of your utility abilities, make sure you aren't standing in fire or just worry about something that isn't mashing buttons.

Take that short time out to stop and smell the corpses and just relax before cracking some more skulls.

The Light and How to Swing It tries to help paladins cope with the dark times coming in Cataclysm. See the upcoming paladin changes the expansion will bring. Wrath is coming to a close, and the final showdown with the Lich King is here. With Cataclysm soon heating things up, will you be ready?

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