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Upcoming Retribution Paladin Changes in Wrath Classic

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Blizzard outlined Retribution Paladin changes that will go live in Wrath Classic after the weekly maintenance next week.

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In an upcoming weekly maintenance period within the next few weeks we’ll be implementing the following changes:

  • A new Major Glyph for Paladins has been added to the game: Glyph of Reckoning - Your Hand of Reckoning spell no longer taunts the target and can deal damage to untauntable targets. This glyph can be learned from Inscription Trainers in Dalaran.
  • The Holy Vengeance and Blood Corruption DoT effects from Seal of Vengeance and Seal of Corruption may now be applied by Divine Storm and Crusader Strike, in addition to normal melee hits.

The intent of these changes is to provide a small boost to Retribution Paladin damage via Hand of Reckoning, as well as helping with the ramp time needed to apply the vengeance/corruption DoT. The ramp time needed for this could be frustrating, particularly on fights with regular downtime or a lot of target swapping.

When examining Paladins and determining the approach to take here we had a few goals in mind, which we feel it’s important to elaborate on.

  1. Goal - Give Retribution paladins a slight bump to bring them roughly on-par with Fury Warriors right now. Using the end of the previous tier as a baseline, Fury Warriors were also close to the bottom of the meters, but as new, more powerful gear is beginning to be acquired they are beginning to trend upward, and will continue to do so with an increasing pace for the rest of the expansion. We felt that Fury output at this moment and over the next few weeks is a fairly solid baseline for where Ret should be. We also wanted to be very careful not to overbuff Ret now, and cause issues for ourselves in a later tier such as Icecrown Citadel, where Ret has an extremely powerful tier set.
  2. Goal – Minimal to zero PvP impact with this change. As it stands now, Hand of Reckoning does not deal damage in PvP or contribute to paladin burst at all in Arenas or BGs, and with this new Glyph, that will not change.
  3. Goal – Smooth out the poor gameplay of having to build stacks of Vengeance/Corruption DoT effects when there is downtime or target swapping occurs. This is mostly a quality of life improvement, but it does help Retribution DPS ramp-up time quite a bit which we feel is a net positive.
  4. Goal – Don’t make massive mechanical changes to how Retribution plays. Hand of Reckoning is off the GCD and can easily be weaved in between other abilities without adding a lot of mechanical change to how the class plays now. We feel that this is a fairly low-impact solution to provide a bit more output for players that want to opt-into this Glyph.

It’s also potentially more important to recognize what are not goals with these changes:

  1. Not a Goal – Make Retribution competitive with the highest output specs and classes in PvE. The utility of all Paladins cannot be overstated here and is absolutely a factor to consider still. With access to critical raid buffs, auras, and raid cooldowns such as Aura Mastery and Divine Guardian, all flavors of Paladins have a vital place in any raid composition, and as we’ve previously stated, we are pleased with their overall representation in raids, as a class. We do not want to start seeing Retribution become stacked in raids. Most raid groups that run Retribution Paladins typically include a single Retribution Paladin, and we feel that 1 or 2 is still a good target number to have in each raid.

  2. Not a Goal – Embark on an effort to provide ongoing balance to all classes phase over phase. We think its very important to WoW Classic that classes behave largely as you’d expect them to throughout the current expansion without constantly worrying about major design changes altering the feel of the class. This includes having them scale mostly as you’d expect them to. Warriors are a great example of this, and in almost every early expansion of WoW, Warriors start weak and scale exceptionally well with gear. This is especially true in Wrath where Armor Penetration becomes more prevalent and available around the midpoint of the expansion, and gear in the later tiers is more tightly optimized to allow Warriors to lean into their strengths and shine. This sort of ebb and flow feels right for classic and we do not want to change this paradigm, and feel that these adjustments will allow Retribution to stay more relevant now without creating a massive new imbalance or placing them well above where we’d expect them to be relative to other classes and specs during this or future phases.

  3. Not a Goal – Bring all of the classes with poor PvE output up similarly. Frost Mages, Subtlety Rogues, Arms Warriors, and Beast Mastery Hunters are all at or below the output of Retribution in PvE and it would be easy to point to this change and say “What about [insert spec here]”. That’s fair, and this very argument was a motivator for us holding off on making changes here. A key argument that swayed us however is that all of those classes have very viable alternatives for PvE DPS, whereas Paladins only have Retribution in this role. All of these specs also have traditionally been viewed as PvP specs, and we are very leery to shift the meta in PvP while chasing a buff to PvE. This is why we went the direction we did for Retribution; as the impact to PvP shouldn’t be large. We’ll continue to evaluate things as time goes by, but we do not have any plans for other similar class adjustments after this one.

As we’ve previously stated, we do not make these changes lightly and we are extremely hesitant to make modifications to the original 3.3.5 designs of classes. We will continue to monitor class representation as we have been, and will make additional adjustments if things start to play out in a way that deviates significantly from how we and other Wrath enthusiasts would expect them to. We also may roll back these changes or make further adjustments if we feel this adjustment went too far. We will continue to be very cautious with changes in general, and will reserve these adjustments for specific situations.

We appreciate all the feedback we’ve gotten on this topic, and the changes we’ve opted to make here were inspired directly by the discussions and suggestions we’ve seen from players. We are thrilled to see how many of you are progressing through Ulduar over the past few weeks, and we hope you are all having as much fun as we are progressing, downing hard modes, and scooping that awesome loot!

Thank you again!

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