The Light and How to Swing It: Paladining at BlizzCon

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The Light and How to Swing It: Paladining at BlizzCon
The Light and How to Swing It Paladining at BlizzCon

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!

Wow, what a weekend. Not only was the convention a lot of fun but it was great to meet fellow paladins and non-paladins alike. Most of my time was spent meeting people, watching panels, and playing demos. Amidst the chaos I didn't allocate much time to mulling things over, how the proposed changes in Warlords of Draenor would affect how I, and so many other ret paladins, approach the game, so now that I've had a decent night's sleep and my liver is mostly alcohol-free, I'm spending my day off in blessedly quiet reflection.

We didn't see much of any class discussion this year, and unless I missed an entire panel there wasn't a single paladin-related question throughout the entire convention. There are some big questions that it would be nice to have answered, like the permanency of holy power, the relative weights of our stats, the deletion of the warlock class, etc. We did get a few overall changes, changes that will affect ret in turn, so let's see how some of these could impact our day-to-day facesmashing in Warlords of Draenor.

Hit, expertise, and reforging gone

I more or less expected this change to happen. The developers' disdain for these mechanics was no secret; it was just a matter of time until they fell unceremoniously to the cutting room floor. Arranging gear upgrades to meet these caps isn't something many would classify as enjoyable anyway, especially before Cataclysm brought us reforging. The best you can hope for is meeting your caps exactly and not "losing" any excess rating, a scenario that many of us could only wistfully dream about after the release of Throne of Thunder and its hoards of hit gear.

An obvious upshot of the fact that hit and expertise are being baked in and the capping meta-game is becoming a thing of nostalgic contemplation is that we'll be able to take upgrades and use them on the fly without punishing ourselves by dropping below caps.

Perhaps the larger impact of this change, however, will be that stacking a single stat will have to be done primarily through item acquisition. If we're looking for haste yet again in Warlords and a crit/mastery piece drops, we won't be able to squeeze anything else out of it. If our secondary stats are as skewed towards one big player in the next expansion as they are right now, we could see a slower increase in DPS compared to other specs as we try to collect as much haste gear as we can while preparing for raid content and the like. Something like this won't mean much in the long run, but right out of the gate it could be a bit disheartening to see your death knight pal surge ahead of you as you wait to be handed more fuel for the Sanctity of Battle fire.

Tertiary stats

To add a bit of fun to getting a new piece of gear, tertiary stats will be lightly salted onto gear and give some rather odd bonuses, things like movement speed, crit amplification, lifesteal, and avoidance. The devs are assuring us that it will be highly unlikely that anyone other than a very dedicated farmer will be able to grind out an entire set of a single tertiary stat.

In practice, I can see myself hoping for one stat over another. Crit amplification, for one, could be a very desirable straight DPS gain, and provided no damage-boosting alternatives I think the incentive will be there for players to do what they can to get those pieces, within reason. The onus of grinding out these randomized pieces will likely exist and make players feel that they can't soar to the top of the meters because they simply don't have the tools to do so. Of course, you can have all of the best gear in the world and still do quite poorly if you aren't playing at or above your item level, but I don't expect that argument to hold much water with people who will blindly roll those dice until they've ruined the game for themselves.

The easiest way to prevent any of this behavior would be to axe any sort of DPS-enhancing stats, but then arguments could crop up saying that movement speed is really a DPS stat because it ensures that you can be on your target more often, or that avoidance and lifesteal contribute to your damage because they keep you alive longer. It's a slippery slope to be sure, but the best way to avoid tumbling down it is to stay contently at the bottom of the hill with loads of tertiary stats to apply to any number of circumstances you may find yourself in.

New max level talents

Originally I was going to make this entire post about the talents, peppering in some pictures I was able to sneak by the watchful Blizzard overseers (yes, I just had to complete that condiment analogy). Unfortunately my pictures look like they were taken by a two year old with a broken Etch-a-Sketch, so let's just pull a couple screengrabs from the internet.

The Light and How to Swing It Paladining at BlizzCon

The Light Within Depending on which seal we use we will gain a passive boost to either attack speed or attack power. I know what you're thinking because I was thinking it too – "Oh no, seal twisting."

Seal twisting does provide an extra level of play beyond simple Inquisition maintenance and holy power expenditure. If done correctly, it could be a small (2-3%) DPS reward for players who can pull it off correctly, and ideally the bonus would be small enough not to press newer rets into feeling that it's mandatory.

However, I would worry about how that behavior trickles down from the most elite players to the paladin population at large. If ret were my alt I wouldn't want to have to learn how to swap seals every 20 seconds to maintain two buffs, and doing it without losing an egregious amount of DPS in the process would likely be a very difficult thing to do.

Then again, the buffs could be mutually exclusive and override each other when you try to switch, something that I'm thinking is much more likely than bringing back the paladin's stance dance.

The Light and How to Swing It Paladining at BlizzCon

Seal of Faith While under the effects of Seal of Faith, damage you deal will increase the potency of your next healing spell in a rather roundabout manner.

To be quite honest, I don't think this is a real talent. I think this is filler until they can come up with something else. Ignoring the numbers for now (because those will certainly change), significantly reducing my damage output to heal a friend does not compute for retribution in a PvE environment. It is probably interesting in PvP, but even then all this talent does is turn you into a slightly more offensive holy paladin.

Not to mention the fact that seal switching eats a GCD, and the cast time of whichever spell you want to toss out will consume at the very least another GCD (as long as Word of Glory remains on the global cooldown for retribution, that is), I just have a hard time believing that this will make it into the beta.

If it somehow did emerge unscathed, all it means is that our max level talent decision will be that much easier.

The Light and How to Swing It Paladining at BlizzCon

Divine Conviction This talent will grant us Final Verdict, a replacement for Templar's Verdict that will hit slightly harder.

This tier is actually reminiscent of our level 75 talents in that our options appear to be between burst and sustained DPS. Math needs to be done once more solid numbers are pounded out, but I would hope we could have some play between them – at least, until gear scaling blows one or the other out of the water.

I'm almost positive I'm missing some talking points here and there, so if you can think of something you want to talk about feel free to discuss it in the comments below.
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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