Sunday, November 20, 2016

The next big thing

Blizzard is making a bunch of balance changes to WOW in the next patch and I am excited to guess what they will do.  The main thing I am thinking about is how they will change retribution paladins.  They have said that they want to fix the screwy scaling people have with their various secondary stats and so I expect to see changes to ret paladins mastery in particular.  Right now ret paladins have a situation where all of our stats are pretty boring.  Haste just makes everything in the rotation happen faster in a predictable way.  Crit just increases our damage.  Versatility is never interesting, though it is perfectly effective.  The last stat is mastery, and our mastery is just bad.

I don't think the numbers are off, but I do think that something ought to be done to make things overall more interesting.  Other classes have special effects that happen when they crit or mastery that actually works or even haste that does good things for them, but ret has little of that.  In terms of stat scaling I would really like at least one stat that is more interesting / powerful than versatility, which just offers pure, flat damage benefits.

The other issue with ret is that it has one totally dominant talent.  Crusade replaces Avenging Wrath as a powerful 20 second cooldown.  However, Avenging Wrath is a flat bonus and Crusade stacks up to outrageous levels, eventually offering a 2.3x damage multiplier.  Artifact traits let you extend the duration of Crusade, which is absurd because you extend not the mean benefit, but only the massively stacked portion of the effect.  This is a problem because the traits that extend Avenging Wrath are reasonable, but when they are extending Crusade they become absolutely dominant to the exclusion of all else.  I suspect Crusade is so broken because Blizzard just didn't realize how powerful the traits that extend it would be because they are decently deep into the tree.

Baseline Avenging Wrath is worth about 10% more damage.  The other decent talent choice aside from Crusade is worth something like 9% damage.  Crusade is worth 30% more damage, so even when you lose the base 10% damage of Avenging Wrath and forgo the 9% it is still totally dominant.  I don't think that this talent being so completely mandatory is a good thing.  It also grants so much haste that it makes it really hard to hit buttons reasonably during it and I dislike the gameplay a lot.  I want an alternative, but the other two options are so crap that I am stuck taking it.

In one build during the last patch cycle Blizzard removed Crusade, so it is clear they aren't happy with it.  That build didn't go to live though, but I expect some changes will be incoming.

What I would do is scrap Crusade completely.  Build something new and exciting, and make sure it is worth about 9% damage so it is worth taking but other options feel worthwhile.  Of course this would be a 10% nerf to ret paladins, so something else would have to happen.

I think that thing should be a doubling of the damage done by Judgement.  Judgement does about 10% of our damage now, so this would make up for the Crusade nerf in terms of damage, but it would add a lot of value to our mastery.  Mastery would, at that point, come close to other stats in value, and could be pushed a lot higher by taking talents that boost Judgement like Greater Judgement and the new version of Crusade that we saw weeks ago.  When Blizzard had Crusade changed on that previous version of the PTR they had it boosting Judgement a ton, and I think this would be a fine sort of replacement assuming the numbers were right.

This set of changes would accomplish a few things.  With the boost in Judgement damage Mastery would be a solid but slightly subpar stat.  However, should you take the two Judgement boosting talents then Mastery would end up becoming quite powerful indeed, probably jumping up to best stat status.  The way Greater Judgement works it would also devalue crit to some extent.  This would leave ret paladins some interesting choices.  They could stack mastery and take the appropriate talents, stack crit and take other talents, or stack haste and hedge their bets.  It leaves multiple gearing and spec paths open, and means that every talent row would have some interesting choices to be made.

That is the crux of it really.  Make sure there are multiple ways to play, multiple spec options on each row, and lots of thinking and planning to do.  There would still be a bazillion ways to play badly, of course, but it would open up a lot more in terms of possible optimal loadouts.

If I am permitted to ask for absolutely anything I would also get rid of Holy Wrath.  I just don't see how it is ever going to ride the edge between total garbage and overpowered.  It should be replaced with something that preserves the current ret paladin style that focuses around a extremely powerful and long Avenging Wrath setup.  Maybe just something that increases crit damage by 100% during Avenging Wrath.  It would turn Avenging Wrath into a really powerful cooldown to sync with other abilities, not push up against haste limits of the UI, and also change the value of crit a lot for a build that wants to do that.  Plus if you love the huge cooldown type build you can stack Avenging Wrath duration and crit and have a blast with it.

Now to see if any of my suggestions have any legs!

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