The Light and How to Swing It: In defense of Inquisition

Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Light and How to Swing It for holy, protection and retribution paladins. Seasoned ret paladin Dan Desmond is here to answer your questions and provide you with your biweekly dose of retribution medicine. Contact him at with any questions, concerns, or suggestions!

When your paladin first hit level 81 and you visited your trainer, I bet you had no idea how much of an impact that little ability called Inquisition would have on your future DPSing career. OK, maybe if you read the tooltip you could have had some idea, but I will fully admit that I completely forgot it was in my spellbook until a short while after I hit 85. And to be fair, at the time it was a really lackluster ability. Sure, Exorcism hit like a truck thanks to the new version of The Art of War, and Hammer of Wrath still hit decently hard, but other than those two abilities, Inquisition didn't really buff a whole lot. One of the main selling points of Inquisition (if not the main selling point) came when Blizzard changed our mastery from 3 free holy power to X% extra holy damage off your most used abilities in patch 4.0.6, allowing Inquisition to boost an even larger percentage of our damage by 30%.

So, thanks to our mastery, Inquisition is here to stay. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? In case my own opinion wasn't made clear in the title, I have been a long-time supporter of this ability. However, I know that there is a very large group of players with a dissenting opinion, and that's OK. Some preferred the Wrath model of retribution to the current model, and for others, it's just the opposite. In an effort to make my reasoning clear, I'm going to pick a few of the most common complaints I have seen or heard. Hopefully, my responses won't make me seem like I'm a masochistic freak who loves to stare at a countdown and plot in advance exactly when to refresh it.

Because I'm totally not -- my therapist assures me that I'm a completely normal person.

Getting Inquisition up and maintaining it is too much work. I've seen variations of this argument all over the forums and even from fellow paladins in game. My knee-jerk reaction is to think that these people don't enjoy a challenge or preferred it when it really didn't matter what buttons we pushed. The biggest triumph of the Wrath model was that it gave ret a lot of breathing room. Not only could you manage to squeeze out a free Flash of Light or Salv that overzealous hunter who refuses to even touch Feign Death, but you could pay more attention to encounter mechanics, tank health, boss timers, and so on. These are all great habits and were seen as choices that defined a good ret paladin.

The problem arose when you were able to push some of these things to the back of your mind and play on autopilot, thereby having too much breathing room. Melee's switching legs on heroic Festergut when Putricide tossed out slimes from his balcony became second nature, and healers started actually seeing the ghosts on heroic Deathwhisper and miraculously moving away from them (a triumph, to be sure). Suddenly, your Hands are not vital to your group's success, your heals are hitting full health targets, and your muscle memory overrides your cognition and you immediately move out of Defiles. Idle hands a bored player makes.

Inquisition gives us something else to do. Granted, it isn't as satisfying as Saccing a tank when he runs out of cooldowns, but it's something. Does maintaining Inquisition become an automatic behavior, like the aforementioned activities? Absolutely, but I feel like there is enough active decision-making involved to keep you in the here and now and prevent you from mentally checking out.

Inquisition just doesn't feel like a fun or exciting ability. The dissenters may have some ground here. I mean, is casting Blessing of Might fun? Is changing your aura fun? Inquisition seems to fall along these lines to many people, and it's hard to blame them. A 30% increase to holy damage isn't the most perceivable buff, especially when refreshing the buff comes at the expense of using one of our heaviest-hitting attacks.

I don't play a rogue, but I imagine that maintaining Slice and Dice feels the same way. Does the fact that this problem exists outside of our retribution bubble make it OK? Certainly not, and perhaps we can suggest some ways to make Inquisition a fun ability to hit (aside from having fireworks go off from every orifice each time you refresh it to full duration). But please don't feel like we only have Inquisition because Blizzard hates ret paladins ... I think we all know the real reason for that.

So in case you missed it, I concede this point. This isn't to say that Inquisition is unrewarding or insignificant; the ability just lacks some pizzazz, that's all.

The cost associated with Inquisition maintenance is too high. At first blush, this seems like a very weak argument, but it actually holds some water. Let's go out on a limb and put forth a couple of hypotheticals.

First, let's imagine that Blizzard released another raid after Dragon Soul but before Mists of Pandaria (I know, try not to die of shock). Second, let's say that this additional tier of gear finally allows us to hit the mythical haste cap and achieve a 3.00-second Crusader Strike cooldown, including latency. Unfortunately, this new tier set makes us lose the two-piece tier 13 bonus, but let's swallow this pill and move on.

Anyway, you can now print holy power like sweet counterfeit money. Out of every minute of combat, if you maintain a near-100% uptime of Inquisition with minimal overlap, you will spend 6 holy power to maintain it. Your new super-hasted Crusader Strike grants you a total of 11 holy power per minute.

You can see how this cost might seem daunting, but we left out a few important details. Divine Purpose has the capacity of granting approximately 4.5 holy power per minute (15% chance on 10 attacks per minute, since CS isn't affected by DP but nearly every other ability is).

But perhaps the most important response to those concerned at the seemingly high costs of maintaining this buff is that our holy power generation is getting a huge boost in Mists. Crusader Strike will no longer be our sole provider of our alternative secondary resource, with spells like Judgment, Exorcism, and Hammer of Wrath being on the list of possible additional generators. Soon enough, we will have more holy power than we know what to do with. I realize that answer essentially boils down to "Just wait, Blizzard will fix it," but I figured it was better than my other answer: "Other classes and specs have it much, much worse."

So now that I've laid my heart open to the benign indifference of the universe and passionate ravings of my fellow ret paladins alike, what do you think? Am I completely and totally off my rocker here, or is there something to my arguments?

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.