The intermittent paladin

Urgh. This post has turned into a monster. In this I’m talking about why I’m not playing quite as much at the moment, and a bit about retribution paladin DPS.

Since the 4.01 patch hit, I’ve been a fairly infrequent visitor to the World of Warcraft. Partly that’s down to being busy with other things; busy at work, busy socially, other fun things to do. I must admit though, I’ve generally had a limited tolerance for the game when I *have* logged in. That’s not because of the changes to how retribution paladins play (I’ll talk about that in a bit), but more to do with the boring technical parts of the game, and with a current absence of in-game goals.

Firstly, there’s the technical1 stuff, which is closely connected to how and why I play. For example: I believe I’d be right in saying that most raiding players have fairly heavily customised interfaces. Obviously the degree varies, and there are plenty of players who are hugely successful raiding with the stock UI, but anecdotally, interface customisation seems prevalent. Addons are pretty important, and their effect on gameplay ranges from the inconsequential-but-convenient (SellJunk, ChefsHat) to the OMG-it’s-not-working-what-should-I-do (Raid/healing frames, action bar/unitframe replacements).

I hate dealing with that stuff. For the longest time, the only addons I ran were the peripheral sort, which required little configuration and could live without being integrated into the interface. Omen and recount were the only significant presences onscreen, and they were just… well, positioned as best I could to keep them out of the way. I did *try* some deeper customisation, but took one look at the resulting mess on first login and … just no.

EDIT: missing sentence here, clearly. Which should read “Eventually I decided I needed to do it, and spent some time fiddling and configuring a new interface”.

So: having to redo all of that, with addons that are continually updating, breaking, not-quite-working or plain not-yet ready? Hell. I hate it. Particularly interface layout — I spend all day doing layout, and whilst I love my job, when I log into Warcraft (or embark on any hobby) I’m doing so because I want to do something else. If I wanted to do more layout, well… I could continue working, or a could maybe make this site (or one of the other sites I’m supposedly working on) look a little less rubbish. But I don’t want to, because that’s work, and I’m here to play (insert XT voice sample here). Multiply that by however many characters on however many servers, and that’s a big pile of ‘no, ta.’

Plus there’s the fact that miscellaneous things don’t work at all, randomly stop working, or are buggy. I don’t have any major gripe about this: I’m happy to accept that in a release of this size, there are going to be bugs which don’t get caught or which aren’t deemed severe enough to be fixed before release. I’m happy to accept that addons are free, therefore having any expectation of them at all is unreasonable, and totally grateful to the developers of the various addons I use for not only creating and releasing them, but for their alacrity in responding to changes to the game client.

I don’t have to enjoy living with a buggy gameworld or buggy interface. I certainly don’t have to play whilst it’s not working properly. So there! *stamps foot*

What would you like to do today?
Hmm, dunno. I mean, I posted a list of things I wouldn’t mind doing on our guild forums a week or two ago. A few achievements in the WotLK heroics to get a drake. Outland dungeons/heroics I still haven’t seen. Take Centrella on her first all-guild raid (and, having seen the OPness of our raid group post-patch, I’m adding “get Kingslayer” to that).  See the Algalon fight. Not much of it is feeling particularly pressing though.

Running heroics to build up a supply of justice points for some nebulous future purpose holds little interest for me. Neither does the idea of cheesing ICC heroic modes for achievements or marginal gear upgrades. I was considering the idea of lerning2PVP but by the sounds of things, balance is a bit of an issue right now, so it’s probably not a great time to start.

So: I don’t have much in the way of goals to drive me to log in every night and tolerate the bugginess etc. Anyway, that’s enough about me. Let’s talk about paladining.

Retribution in 4.01
As you might have guessed, I don’t have extensive experience. I spent perhaps 30 mins over the past week whacking test dummies in Stormwind, to get a feel for the new paladin rotation/priority system. Then on Monday, we took a trip into ICC. It was very interesting, but my thoughts can probably best summarised as a bulleted list:

  • Retribution DPS on single targets appears to be just fine. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. On the stand-there-and-hit-him fights, where I could forget about movement and concentrate on pressing the buttons at the right time (that’s Saurfang using the Michael Bay strategy, and Festergut), I was doing over 12k — a little more than I’d typically have done in the past and just enough to plonk me at the top of the DPS chart for those fights.
  • On fights where there was lots of movement, my DPS ranged from pretty good all the way down to pretty terrible. This doesn’t especially worry me though, as there are number of contributing factors, all of which I can fix over time.
    • Firstly and most importantly, I simply need more practice at hitting the right buttons at the right time. Having to think about what to press next means it all goes to hell if I have other things to consider. The order of precedence for abilities has changed significantly, and seems much more situational; my muscle memory needs retraining!
    • To support that, I probably need to change my keybinds a little, as I need instant access to a larger number of abilities and the bodge-layout I set up for Monday left me reaching all over the keyboard.
    • I also need to clean up my various proc alerts to simplify the display and actually show what I’m interested in — currently it’s a MESS for me. I don’t much fancy working on this until the bugginess/addon compatibility problems are a little less rife.
    • I probably attempted to get a bit too clever a bit too quickly, trying to “strategically” use abilities and cooldowns that I don’t fully understand yet, which generally had the effect of competely borking my output whenever I tried it. Stupid paladin is stupid — I guess somethings don’t change (in before the DiscoPriest :))
  • Retribution DPS for trash/AOE seems woeful. Well, perhaps not woeful, but on trash fights where I’d typically have expected to shine (or at least share the glory) I was generally well down. This could, of course, be part of the same pressing-the-wrong-buttons problem that I had on movements fights, but I got the feeling that even getting it exactly right, I’d still be weak. On the pre-Sindragosa trash (the buggy little dragonettes), our newest rogue did a majestic 30k. I did 10, ish *sadface*. More investigation needed, of course.

I am encouraged, though. Whilst I do miss the slightly frantic PRESS A BUTTON NOW2 nature of the ret paladin in Wrath, the new abilities and priorities are not without merit, and once I have my proc alerts working correctly I think it will be fun to play. One of the things I really enjoyed about retadin-ing was the way procs rewrote what you did next on the fly (especially with 2pc t10 resetting Divine Storm’s cooldown). The next buttonpress was heavily dependent on what had procced, and I like that. I’ll take Berserking over Massacre, not because it’s higher DPS (although it is), but because I like the oop-here’s-all-my-procs-at-once-hold-onto-your-aggro moments that can crop up. I’ve no idea how much mastery will be available as we level and get Cataclysm gear, but if there’s a reasonable amount then I could be a very happy paladin.

The little bit of theorycrafting I have read seems to suggest that paladins now have a third stat to “cap” — in addition to the hit cap, and the expertise cap, thanks to haste’s interaction with crusader strike, there are now haste targets to aim for which allow more rapid use of CS and therefore a faster build up of holy power. The tradeoff between haste and other stats (including mastery) will be interesting.

Do I have a conclusion? Not really. But “will be interesting” doesn’t seem like much of an ending to me. Instead I’ll end by congratulating Aidan, Tanka and Dain, all of whom picked up Kingslayer titles last night in a LK oneshot (which I wasn’t present for). Aidan is the rogue mentioned above doing stupid DPS on trash, and Tanka is Anka, grabbing Kingslayer for a second hunter. Confused? Me too…

  1. Okay, it’s not really technical, but I can’t think of the right word []
  2. NB: that’s press A button now, not press ANY button now. Facerolling might have provided acceptable DPS, but who the hell wants to do “acceptable” DPS? Not me. []

5 thoughts on “The intermittent paladin”

  1. I miss whimsical convo’s.

    But i’m getting my head around doing everything from scratch again… hate that.

    Maybe i’ll join you sometime this week, for some old goal action.

  2. I do still play a bit, but admittedly I feel like I haven’t had much time since the patch. Just busy in general I guess. At the moment I mainly logon and do my Halloween event, and then I’ve admittedly had a couple of raids. But I don’t seem to get any of the “little” stuff done at the moment.

    Like I want (actually, make that need cause I find it boring and would happily not do it) to get the marks from the argent tournament for the mounts/pets on my warlock. I want to do Northrend Loremaster on my Warlock. Farm Stratholme for the mount.. just so many things I’d love to do, which unfortunately take a lot of time .. and time seem to be scarce at the moment.

    Oh, and the UI.. it makes me sad. I had a customised UI.. just the way I want it.. and now it’s all broken and I’m back to Blizzard’s basic UI with just a few must-have addons (omen, DBM) and it kills me. But at the same time I don’t see myself spending the time to make a new one when Cataclysm is around the corner and I might have to do it all over again in 2 months. Just not worth it.. but it still annoys me every day that I look at the UI I don’t want to use *lol*

  3. At first, I was really excited when the patch hit. And then desperation came, because I have to re-learn everything and everything seems so complicated. My dps went down the drain because I struggle with the right rotation and have no clue what I shall go for. Sure, I read up a bit on what’s hot with hunters… but I don’t seem to be able to make it work properly. I was exasperating – until Aidan pointed out to me, that the talent trees we have now are actually set up for lvl 85 and not 80. We are lacking key-skills.
    Until then, I will de-install Recount, because it only frustrates me. I will play what is the most fun and use the pet that is prettiest to me. With all the changes we’re going through at the moment, all the theorycrafting – we forget one thing: It’s a hobby, it’s supposed to be fun. Maybe it’s a good thing so many add-ons don’t work at the moment. Back to the roots, as it was intended to work in the first place. :-)

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