GC: Analysis of a 3 year Ret Beta Tester

#0 - Oct. 27, 2008, 3:58 p.m.
Blizzard Post
The JOTW and other associated nerfs have prompted me to cancel my WoW subscription. Here's why.

I bought this game in October of 2005 and rolled a paladin. I have been a ret paladin ever since, dabbling only briefly with alts. This is the only toon I have ever cared about.

I had Field Marshal gear with Hand of Ragnaros and ZG belt/bracers at 60. At 70 I have been consistently toward the leading edge of ret paladins. I raid in a Sunwell guild (we're working on KJ now). Before 3.0 I was capable of doing 1800 DPS on Brutallus. In arenas I have gotten as far as the high 1900s (S3, war/drood/ret composition).

I have more time /played on this toon than I care to think about, and nearly 150 thousand HKs. So it's safe to say I am incredibly, even pathologically attached to my paladin.

I levelled him to 80 on Lich King. I was levelling when JOTW was broken and found it unworkable except by running SoW/JoW full time -- even with 9K mana (thanks to my S4 and T6 gear). Once JOTW was fixed, I finally found what this class/spec had always lacked: sustainability.

Was our burst damage too high? Maybe. Still, at 80, fighting pvp geared opponents in Strand of the Ancients, I found I would still unable to kill healers alone most of the time (particularly resto druids and resto shammies), and was still easy prey for frost mages. Our burst damage just wasn't all that impressive against lev 80 opponents with 23K health and 700 resilience.

Still, I had no complaints. We were very good -- even a bit OP.

Then 3.0 was released. Ret paladins were GROSSLY OP at 70. No question about it. A well geared ret paladin at 70 has almost all of the burst damage of a lev 80 ret paladin, but is facing opponents with half the health of a lev 80 opponent. Consequently, we dominated BGs in a way that caused an outcry from all the other classes and specs in the game. I won't even talk about arenas at 70 since 3.0, since they have been so broken, laggy and unreliable as to not even be worth doing.

But even in this domination, a couple things leapt out at me. Frost mages were still able to kite and kill me if they were exceptionally skilled. And I was still unable to solo kill a very well geared resto druid who was intent on healing and kiting.

So we were OP. But no more OP than frost mages or resto druids.

Then these nerfs were announced. The disgust I felt at this game, the developers and at myself for being so emotionally devoted to this character is hard to describe. Nerd rage, I guess you could call it.

The DPS nerfs, while of significant concern (particularly the seal/judgement nerfs, which strike me as very overdone), didn't make me happy, but were not the source of my disgust and rage. What drove me around the bend was the 60% nerf in the effectiveness of JOTW.

At lev 80, in full DPS gear, a ret paladin will have a mana pool of roughly 5000. That tiny mana pool will be consumed extraordinarily quickly unless it is constantly topped off. In order to keep this tiny mana pool topped off, we have been given 4 mana return abilities: JOTW/Replenishment, Seal of Wisdom, Judgement of Wisdom, and Divine Plea.

The reality is, all four have been nerfed to the point that they will be insufficient to meet the ret pally's needs.

JOTW has been nerfed to return 15% of base mana. Assuming we get that back every 8 seconds, that will be just enouygh to return the mana we expend on Divine Storm and Judgement (assuming 5/5 Benediction). That means that we will lose 8% of base mana every 6 seconds upon using Crusader Strike. If one assumes that we get a JoW proc on every CS, we lose 7% of our mana every 6 seconds.

Thus, just using Seal, DS, CS and JoW, we will be OOM in roughly 90 seconds.

Replenishment will make up for some of this. Let's assume we have replenishment up full time. That will give us back roughly 2.5% of our mana every 10 seconds. That would mean that instead of being OOM after 90 seconds, we will have roughly 22.5% of our mana remaining.

Divine plea you say? That will return 1250 mana per minute, assuming it is used on every CD.

What this all means in that, assuming JOTW, JoW, Replenishment and Divine Plea on every CD, we are at around 50% mana after 1 minute of DPS, and totally OOM after a few minutes. And of course, with the new Potion Sickness mechanic, we won't be able to use consumables to make up for this deficiency.

So, basically, what we are seeing is that Ret paladins will be the ONLY melee class in the game that will run out of its resource within 5 minutes of the start of an engagement, assuming the best of circumstances, and assuming a VERY conservative rotation of Seal (every 2 mins), JoW, CS, DS. Consecration, heals, Hand spells, etc. are COMPLETELY out of the question.

Thus, this nerf renders us unsustainable and undesirable in PvE. But PvE is where this nerf is the LEAST concerning. Where it really breaks us is in PvP. Because this nerf obviously does not take into account the usage of mana draining abilities in rendering us inert.

With a tiny mana pool of 5000, a disc priest will be able to mana burn us to nothing in a matter of just a few seconds. Same goes for a hunter using viper sting, or a lock using Drain Mana. We will be rendered useless and impotent at the start of any engagement with these classes.

Well we can get that mana back right? Nope. 15% of base mana every 8 seconds doesn't even begin to make up for the mana we lose. 12.5 mana per second back from replenishment? Ha. JoW or SoW? Nerfed badly and easily defeated by kiting. Divine Plea? Instantly dispelled.

So, we can't outlast anyone anymore. But we can still kill fast by bursting them down right? Uh, no. Not even close. With this nerfed burst damage, we will be completely unthreatening to a lev 80 with 23K health and 700 resilience.

And the one PvP utility we brought ( to compensate for lack of sanres, healing debuff or interrupts) -- healing -- has been rendered completely unavailable to us by this mana nerf. We simply will not have the mana to heal at all.

Ret paladins will, once again, be utterly and completely useless in organized pvp (read: arenas). You have ensured, once again, that there will be NO ret paladins in top tier arena competition. Indeed, the fact that you claim to have spent hours arriving at this decision to nerf JOTW by 60%, to this 15% base mana return point, convinces me that you either have given no thought whatsoever to the tiny mana pool and mana burn implications in pvp, or that you HAVE given it thought, and don't care, and have chosen to intentionally cripple this class/spec.

Either way, congratulations. You have vastly overcompensated for perceived imbalance by breaking this class spec AGAIN by radically overnerfing it on the eve of a release -- just like you did at vanilla release, and TBC release.

By repeating this obvious, manifest and widely warned-of error for a third time, you have lost me as a customer. I will not be paying $50 for WOTLK. I have already cancelled my subscription.

My dissatisfaction with you and with this entire process can hardly be overstated. In light of the foregoing, I will be writing to Vivendi and Blizzard management (including Rene !%**%son and Robert Kotick) to enlighten them on my views as to the gross mismanagement of this game service, and why they have lost me as a customer.
#71 - Oct. 27, 2008, 5:08 p.m.
Blizzard Post
Q u o t e:
Strangely enough the Beta forums went down right after the latest round of nerfs went live on the beta realms. It's one of those "test it, tell us about it, but... erm... don't actually tell us about it" things. You know? Like pretty much the entire Paladin Beta experience.

Do I smell a conspiracy? :) As I posted, if we were really trying to reduce protest by locking people out of the beta forums, do you really think I would have immediately come over here?

Q u o t e:
GC has admitted that druids, for example, have "rabid" advocates among the devs, who have a "vested interest" in seeing that class "succeed". That explains, quite clearly, why resto druids have been OP PvP healers for nearly 2 years without any serious nerfs.

Do I smell another conspiracy? We have rabid advocates of paladins too. I used to say stuff like that to counter the arguments that "Blizzard never plays X" but I learned there is no good way to counter those arguments so I just tend to ignore them now.

Q u o t e:
Burst was a little extreme, yeah, but our overall damage was FINE. Now they gutted that and KILLED our mana regen.

"Killed" your mana regen would have been removing the ability completely. It was a big nerf, but I think the obituary for your mana is a bit premature.

What I have learned from reading all of these responses is that many paladins assumed the new model for Retribution was supposed to be that you just go from target to target like a rogue and never have to watch the blue bar at all. That wasn't our intention, but I understand now that many people thought it was. Now we could rebuild the spec to either not use mana or be able to ignore mana, but it would mean waiting more on cooldowns and energy regen like a rogue, cat or death knight.

I do feel for you guys, just because I know how challenging it has been on our end to get Ret balanced. I know you'll argue about the efficacy of your defenses and healing, but from a very high level, just consider the following:

Paladins in Warcraft are a plate-wearing class with some healing capabilities. Everyone is probably in agreement there. Okay, let's make a dps version of a tanky, healing class, oh and let's base their dps around stuns and big crits. Yikes. There is no way that's going to be easy to balance. I'd go as far to say that it may be the hardest spec to balance. But we're not giving up. The goal is still to see Ret high on the damage meters in raids and in 2000+ Arena teams.