Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Singular focus

When the latest patch was in testing I was quite pleased with the developments for retribution paladins.  I figured that in general we were going to get a small buff, and in particular I would get a monstrous buff because my garbage legendary belt was getting completely changed to be our new best in slot item.

It ended up being even better for me than I had thought.

The main thing that changed is my passive AOE.  My old Blade of Justice generator attack hit a single target for 210k physical damage about 9 times a minute.  It generated 18 holy power while doing so.  My new Divine Hammer attack hits everyone nearby me for 392k damage 6 times a minute and generates 12 holy power over that time.  The 6 extra holy power generated by the old generator can be spent casting Templar's Verdict for 495k damage per 3 holy power.  What this means is that over a minute my new generator hits for 6*392=2352k damage, and the old one does 210*9+495*2=2880k damage.  That means I lose out on 528k per minute.  However, the higher damage rotation uses 5 extra casts to get that 528k, and even if I can only fill 3 of those slots with other attacks I will definitely do extra damage.

The nutty thing is that I am so far *only* considering the single target damage.  The new attack does a massive amount of AOE damage, basically for free!  It could potentially be a damage loss on a single target, but even that is debatable because I don't have a good value for the extra casting time I have with the new rotation.  But what is certain is that if I happen to have one extra target around I deal 2352k extra damage with the new rotation, which means I still use 5 less casts but I generate 1824k additional damage.  That extra 2352k can hit an unlimited number of targets too, so if there are a bunch of enemies around the damage is absurdly high.

Another similar sort of choice was found in my first tier.  I could either choose a passive 20% bonus to Templar's Verdict, the holy power spender I referenced earlier, or take Consecration, a new spell.  Consecration is an AOE which does 242k damage that I can cast 6 times a minute, and I can take it instead of the buff to Templar's Verdict.  I normally get about 12 Templar's Verdicts a minute, and the 20% bonus is about 80k of that, so I lose out on 960k damage.  However, I can then cast Consecration 6 times to gain 1452k damage, a gain of 492k damage.

When I saw this I was greatly amused.  One change cost me 528k, the other gained me 492k.  One change gave me five extra casts per minute, the other consumed six casts per minute.  This is a net loss, to be certain, when only one target is considered.  Probably about a 1% loss.

But when there are multiple targets it is *nuts*.  A large proportion of my damage is suddenly hitting everything in a large area.  If there is a single extra target around I am doing 3804k damage to it per minute, which is a 20% overall dps boost.  The outrageous thing is that keeps on going for each additional enemy around.  I do more damage if there are 2 targets for just 5% of the fight, and when there are a lot of targets I become ridiculous.

However, when you do some napkin math and decide you are ridiculous, you really ought to test it properly and see if it comes out in actual trials.  I am swapping to a new guild and last night we did a full clear of Emerald Nightmare heroic and Trial of Valour heroic.  My numbers on bosses were good, ranging from 1st to 6th, mostly in the 2nd to 4th range.  But on trash I was preposterous, doing 1.02B while the second place person did 549M.  Not even close.  Only two other raiders made it above half of my damage over the course of the raid.  Part of that is people doing loot after bosses, mind you, but mostly it is just that when we were AOEing down trash mobs I was a juggernaut.

Trash, however, isn't that relevant.  It helps to clear it quicker, but it is not often the thing that matters.  Crushing the meters over the course of the night is great for my ego, but not necessarily what I should worry about.

I guess the question becomes, what should I do going forward?  Clearly taking both of these talents is an upgrade, but perhaps I should only be taking one of them.  I feel like my rotation is fairly full at the moment, so I can't imagine that swapping back to Blade of Justice is a good idea because I can't find another 5 empty slots to cast with, it will just be a waste.  However, not taking Consecration to give myself 6 more casts over a fight might be worth it.  I will end up doing more single target damage that way I am sure, but at a significant cost to my AOE potential.

I suppose the trick is that I should figure out how much AOE there is going to be in boss fights in the next tier of content and spec accordingly.  If a big part of my job is going to be killing swarms of dorks, or even cleaving onto two enemies at once, I should spec full AOE.

I don't think Blizzard intended this at all.  They clearly noticed that Consecration and Divine Hammer weren't being taken, but their solution was to double the damage of both of them in this latest patch.  They succeeded in convincing me to use them, and got them close to competitive single target, but I think they overlooked just how nuts they were in AOE situations.  I can't imagine that they actually intended for me to do damage like this, and it makes me think that their testing may have been mostly target dummy or simulation testing which often ignores AOE potential.

Players focus too much on pure single target damage when evaluating abilities, and I suspect the developers do too at times.

At any rate I am having a blast with this new setup.  I love the absurd splash damage I do, as it reminds me of playing during Wrath of the Lich King.  A time, I should note, when retribution paladins were ridiculously overpowered, largely due to their passive AOE.

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