The Light and How to Swing It: Retribution after patch 5.4

The Light and How to Swing It Retribution after patch 54

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!

Back in June (Wow, seriously? Tempus fugit, I suppose.) I shared my thoughts on some of the changes coming in patch 5.4. As is typical for me when it comes to change, I was a bit harsh in some of my pre-judgments and, now that we are well into the newest content Blizzard has to offer, I'd like to revisit a few of those points.

Inquisition's longer duration

Originally I was not very happy about this change. I felt that maintaining a relatively shorter duration buff was part of what distinguished a "good" ret paladin from a "bad" one, as if squeezing out a tiny amount of extra DPS would make a dramatic difference in performance, and that making it easier to maintain would make the spec utterly boring and unchallenging.

Boy, was I wrong. It took some getting used to at first, for as Inquisition's duration doubled the WeakAura bar that I used to track it remained the same, resulting in far too many early refreshes than I care to admit. But after the honeymoon I had settled into our new relationship pretty well. It may only be an additional 30 seconds, but it did wonders for setting my mind at ease when I went to refresh it.

I still wonder if this is where the devs will stop with it, or if they'll eventually make it passive or allow other abilities to extend its duration (essentially making it passive anyway). I would like to think that Blizzard has learned a great deal from how much tanks are enjoying active mitigation and realize that, on the whole, "active" is fun whereas "passive" is not.

Guardian of Ancient Kings' cooldown reduction

On the flip side, I was slightly looking forward to this change. A more available Guardian of Ancient Kings meant a more active approach to our cooldown rotation. For the most part, this was dead on. Hitting buttons more often at least makes you feel like you're doing more, although combining that logic with the truckloads of haste we're running with these days doesn't produce the same fulfilling effect for our rotation (but that's a different discussion entirely).

Now that the dust has settled though I'm fairly indifferent about the change. While it's nice to be hitting more cooldowns, my original concern that the ability wouldn't be able to support its own weight remains valid. I haven't done it quite yet, but macroing Avenging Wrath together with Guardian of Ancient Kings seems to be path of least resistance for the near future, if you plan on speccing into Sanctified Wrath that is.

This is all a bit sad as it seems like Blizzard wants to make Guardian of Ancient Kings a very iconic ability for paladins, but in the grand scheme of things (at least for ret) it can't live up to the majesty of its spell effects.

Our tier 16 four-piece bonus

Rather than spend a small portion of an article discussing the merits of the proposed four-piece for this latest tier, I decided to dedicate an entire column to extolling the virtues of a Divine Storm-centric bonus. Despite that very public defense, I still had some lingering doubts that the bonus would perform well on single-target encounters.

From my experiences thus far it appears to do alright for a small number of targets. Divine Purpose combined with the procs from the four-piece create a very satisfying RNG jackpot effect, the screen lighting up with golden notifications and your character blinded by the light of a thousand hammers orbiting around her.

Where the bonus truly shines is in multi-target environments, as I had expected when I first read the tooltip. What I did not expect, however, was how exhausting it can be cackling maniacally to myself as proc lead to proc and my enemies crumpled before the might of my divine tempest.

Siege of Orgrimmar itself

I actually didn't prepare for Siege as much as I should have. After spending several weeks working on heroic Lei Shen without success it was a bit deflating to have to pack our things and move on to a new instance. As such it was difficult to be objective, especially on most of the normal mode encounters that were tuned for people with far fewer ilevels than our raid had. Now that we're in a good rhythm and can repeat our successes with much, erm, success, I've been able to take myself out of the encounters a bit and judge them at a distance.

Overall, Siege of Orgrimmar is a very melee-friendly instance. I can count on one of Bart Simpson's hands how many fights are actually tough on melee, all of which are only classified as such due to the abundance of deadly ground effects on each encounter.

Both Galakras and Spoils of Pandaria really let us flex our four-piece muscles thanks to the gobs of mobs they throw at us. Protectors would also be a fun cleave fight if it wasn't one of the aforementioned ground effect extravaganzas. And I'd say that the short time I was on the conveyor belt team on Siegecrafter Blackfuse was the most fun I've had all expansion; that job is now unfortunately delegated to ranged DPS.

The remainder of the instance is fairly plain, I'm sad to report. Most fights amount to "sit in the hit box and make good numbers", and what doesn't immediately live up to that archetype eventually reaches it anyway before the end of the encounter. The Proving Ground-esque portion of Norushen is clearly meant to introduce a little flavor to the fight, but it fails to push the personal responsibility angle as much as the "connect the dots" phase from Twin Consorts did. Paragons of the Klaxxi is a messy amalgam of target switching and burst DPS. Even Garrosh Hellscream doesn't quite live up to final bosses past like Lei Shen or even Sha of Fear, despite some entertaining phase transitions.

But don't let my curmudgeonly descriptions ruin your fun if you're enjoying the instance so far. There are certainly some good moments in the raid, and as we delve deeper into its heroic encounters I'm sure I'll be changing my tune in no time.

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.