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The Light and How to Swing It: Fixing 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!

I almost feel a bit guilty talking about Inquisition so often, but unfortunately this ability seems to be a source of major division within the ret paladin community. It has been the ire of many players, old and new, and remains one of the only major complaints about ret from the beta. I have to admit that there is something going on when such a huge subset of the retribution community remains in violent disagreement over the implementation of this buff.

What can we do about it, you may ask? While sometimes it may feel like we are just along for the ride and have to endure every nerf that Blizzard throws our way, player feedback is one of the greatest engines of change within the game. Ultimately, yes, the decisions are in the hands of the designers, but the players hold the true power through our financial support of the end product. After all, if we aren't having fun, why would we continue playing (and paying)?

The blues can make educated guesses about what we perceive as fun and exciting, but they won't truly know what we like unless we tell them. Therefore, if we don't like Inquisition, let's tell them why. One way of doing this is by writing constructive forum posts that illuminate our reasoning and attempt to impart an understanding of what we see on our side of the fence.

Another way, which may be a bit more convoluted but works just as well, is to make suggestions for changes, essentially putting ourselves in the designers' shoes and, working within the concepts of the game, show them what we want. I definitely lean more toward this mindset, so I am going to share with you some of my thoughts on how to "fix" Inquisition.

Pacify it

Our first, most obvious option is to turn Inquisition into a 30% holy damage passive buff that is always on, running in the background like the sweet, unending stream of downloads from the Steam sale this week. This way, the DPS benefit of the spell would be maximized and would free up our attention to focus on other things by reducing our cognitive load, a concept that we are all certainly familiar with but was only recently put into words for myself when I read Mark Chen's WoW-related offering, Leet Noobs.

I am all for reducing the load on my cognitive functions as much as is reasonable, but nullifying Inquisition this way may take things too far. As boring as Inquisition maintenance may seem, the choice that it presents with regard to our holy power expenditures creates a risk/reward situation that adds some level of depth to the retribution experience. You may not realize it, but every time you reach to refresh Inquisition you are asking yourself several questions simultaneously:

  • Is anyone in danger of dying? Does anyone need a spot Word of Glory, including myself? Will I need to WoG myself or anyone else within the next few seconds due to an encounter ability?
  • Is Divine Purpose active, or will I be spending all of the holy power I have right now? If DP is up, do I want to use that to refresh Inq, or should I use it on something else?
  • Will I still be in melee range after I hit Inquisition or will I be forced out of range of the boss for a short while? Is there an upcoming phase transition that would make me move away from the target long enough to make my investment in another 36-second Inq not worth it?
  • Where is the boss at health-wise? If I refresh the buff now, will I use enough of it to justify the holy power expense, or would it be more logical to spend it on another Templar's Verdict and remain unbuffed for a few more seconds?
If Inquisition were made passive, many of these decisions would be made a bit simpler. The holy power expenditure debate would fall between Templar's Verdict and Word of Glory, i.e., damage vs. healing. For those who enjoy off-healing and/or don't get into theorycrafting and maximizing one's damage output, this might not be much of a problem. To the remainder, however, this option would linearize retribution combat to the point where "hit the button when it lights up" comes close to an adequate description of our optimal rotation.

Tie it to an ability 'round the ol' oak tree

Another option would be to tie Inquisition maintenance to a spell already in our repertoire, preferably one that we would actually use in a standard encounter (sorry, Turn Evil). This way, each time you activate the ability, you would have a chance (≤ 100%) to roll out Inquisition and, depending on duration, buff your holy damage until the next time that ability comes off cooldown. For example, imagine if each time you hit Templar's Verdict or Divine Storm, you would gain a shortened version of Inquisition that would tide you over until you can use either ability again and repeat ad nauseum.

Of course, there are a few ways of implementing this idea, but the main concerns are proc chance and buff duration. Let's say that Inquisition becomes tied to Templar's Verdict (and Divine Storm, of course, but let's work in single-target mode for now). If the proc chance is 100% and the buff duration is equal to or less than three GCDs (about the time it takes to generate enough holy power for a TV), then additional emphasis gets placed on holy power generation. Sanctity of Battle in Mists allows haste effects to lower the cooldown on Judgment, Crusader Strike, Hammer of the Righteous, and Hammer of Wrath, all of which are holy power generators (though CS and HotR share a cooldown). Therefore, it would be reasonable to assume that this implementation could have an effect on gearing and stat weights, favoring haste over other secondary stats in terms of raw damage output.

This may or may not be a bad thing, but it's easy to see how one little decision can trickle down and affect the spec as a whole.

Rich and refreshing

A third option for dealing with Inquisition is to leave it as is but give another ability a chance at refreshing its duration. We see precedent for this mechanic scattered all throughout the game in various forms, from the assassination rogue's Cut to the Chase to the feral druid's Blood in the Water to the protection warrior's Blood and Thunder.

Of course, just because it exists elsewhere does not mean it is a viable solution here; my logic professor in college would most likely say that this is a slight spin on an argumentum ad antiquitatem. The flip side of this, however, is that we have evidence that this type of mechanic works in comparable situations.

The implementation of this option would be similar to that of the previous option -- pick an ability (TV/DS) and allow it to proc on a given percentage of hits to refresh the duration of Inquisition. Initially I felt that a possible alternative would be to have, for example, Templar's Verdict crits automatically refresh the buff. The problem with this idea, I later figured out, is that it trivializes Inquisition maintenance at higher gear levels and has the potential of heavily favoring crit in our gearing schema.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of ideas on how to change Inquisition. Assuming that Inquisition is here to stay, what do you think needs to be done to make it bearable? Do you think it needs a flashy graphic, additional effects, or greater interactivity with other abilities? Does it need to be replaced altogether? What would you like to see take its place?

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.

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