Loooong post. I wanted to make a post here and on the WoW forums to discuss Ret Paladin damage in pvp, hopefully in an intelligent and relatively unbiased manner.
Most posts I see on the forums are non-paladins saying "ret pallies hit too hard, i got pwned 1v1 and I demand nerfs!" countered by paladins going "nuh uh, we do not hit hard! please please please don't nerf us please... I like my raid spot and we're only ok in arenas and ur jus bad thats all!"
Most of the whiners don't think too much about the ramifications of nerfing ret's burst damage, they just want us nerfed. And most of the ret paladins are a bit dishonest and don't care about the problems others have against us, we just want to be sure we keep our viability in Arena and Raiding. So I wanted to tackle the whole issue head-on and really give it a lot of thought and encourage others to do the same.
Quick Analysis of changes to ret attacks in 3.1-
These are probably really obvious, but I didn't want to leave anyone in the dark with what I was saying.
SoB= Seal of Blood, or Seal of the Martyr for alliance. JoB= Judgement, using SoB burst dmg= direct damage done, how hard it hits dps= damage done with it over time, obviously
-Judgement of Blood damage lowered significantly. Alone this change would have made ret burst laughable. Went from highest burst dmg ability and dps ability to lowest (well exorcism is lower dps because of it's cd).
-Crusader Strike damage increased via 'new' talent, by 15%. Now highest dps ability, and second highest burst dmg against non-plate targets.
-Seal of Blood damage increased. SoB is holy damage, procs off every white attack, and does maybe double what it used to. Alone should make up for judgement nerf, but only if paladin is always hitting the target. Hits about as hard as Seal of Command now, but with 100% chance (SoC= ~40%).
-Divine Storm damage increased by 10%. Not much. However, it procs SoB, which does a lot more, makes DS ret's highest burst dmg ability and second highest dps. SoB proc means it hurts a lot even vs plate.
-Exorcism buffed and now usable in pvp. Low dps, decent burst (I usually see 3.6k crits, but I'm not using the exorcism glyph in pvp atm, which adds 20%). I've heard people say 5k crits, and while I doubt that's normal, I don't doubt it happens. Good ability for piercing plate and especially druid bears.
___________________________________________________________ Overall Effect of Changes-
Judgement used to be great burst damage vs any target, no matter their armor level. Now Crusader Strike and Divine Storm hit cloth for about as hard as judgement used to, maybe even a little harder. This would mean ret paladin damage vs high armor targets was lowered a lot, except the SoB and Exorcism buffs basically make it a wash. Since warriors and DKs get all up in my face, I can take full advantage of the SoB buff. Paladins still tear warriors apart :\
Emphasis on melee strikes and weaker judgements DOES mean that when being kited, even with someone just a few yards out of melee range, ret paladins do a lot less damage. Judgements are easy to land even vs kiting targets due to their 10 yard range, so Judgement is used much more than any other attack in pvp. Exorcism does not make up for the judgement nerf in this regard- Judgement+exorcism alone once every 15 seconds is just not much pressure at all.
On the flip side, if a ret paladin can stay in melee range long enough he can do Crusader Strike>Divine Storm>Judgement>Exorcism>Crusader Strike (plus autoswing), for a LOT of pressure over 6-7 seconds. Devastating vs cloth, if you can actually stay near a clothie long enough to do it.
___________________________________________ Is it Balanced in Arenas?!
I specify Arenas partly because I feel pvp balance is most relevant there, but also because it's not even a question in BGs or world pvp. Ret paladins are amazing for that. This is largely because the presence of a healer has a much more negative effect on ret paladins than most dpsers, and on the flipside if you don't have a healer with you, the ret paladin is going to destroy you.
That would be because while ret puts out a lot of pressure, it's over a few seconds rather than all at once, as opposed to a shatter combo or whatever. That means it can be healed through with a Penance or Riptide+LHW, and ret paladins have no MS, short cd interrupts or 'consistent CC' (like poly or fear) to counter the healer, all they have offensively is burst damage and HoJ.
Not saying ret is weak in arena, just that it's god-mode in battlegrounds because that stuff comes into play a lot less. It's hard to say if ret paladins are overpowered in 3.1 in regards to arena. But the burst damage itself is definitely on the high side.
And let's face it, relying on 'omg i hope i crit a bunch and do too much damage for him to heal through' is not fun for the ret paladin or the people facing him. While I am not ready to make a definitive call either way, I think PROBABLY ret paladin burst damage should be toned down. It's just for the good of the game.
__________________________________________________________ How to nerf ret without screwing up PvE
These are just some suggestions.
Like I said, ret's pvp damage, at least the burst, should probably be nerfed. However, ret paladins already suffer from somewhat low pve dps. Blizzard struggles to keep ret in line in pvp without screwing over raiders. I have a few ideas on how to do this.
PvE Specific Talents- Start by nerfing ret paladin attacks, whatever is needed to make PvP balanced. Then, by improving or making talents that only pve ret paladins can afford (due to pvp ret paladins picking up pvp specific talents, like imp HoJ from prot), you can improve pve dps without improving pvp. Examples:
-A tier 2 Holy talent that improves ret dps, ie- increases SoB's damage. Could even by Seals of the Pure moved up a bit. PvP ret paladins wouldn't have enough points to spare for it.
-A talent (Righteous Vengeance would be perfect) that increases Consecrate's damage. Consecrate is not get used in pvp for damage at all, just unstealthing. It's easy to avoid and does damage slowly. It's the perfect place to improve PvE damage.
Make Seal of Blood bad for PvP- ie when using SoB, your armor is lowered by 33%. Or when using SoB you take 20% more damage. By making SoB undesirable for pvp, you can further separate pve damage from pvp damage, and ret paladins will use SoC in pvp, which is much lower overall damage.
-The first idea, 33% less armor, means SoB would still be good vs casters, but it would have no real negative effect on raiding, since most raid damage is magic. I mean, rogues get along fine with leather.
-The second one does a better job of making SoB bad for pvp, but would be kinda bad for pve. However this could be offset by a talent (I like the idea of adding it to Swift Retribution, another pve talent) reducing the AoE damage ret paladins take by 15% or 30% or whatever. Most raid damage is AoE after all.
Straightforward nerf for Exorcism- Make it like Flameshock, where it does some instant damage and then DoT damage. Reduces burst and could even be used to improve PvE damage. Makes sense, I totally burned you with holy power.
Again, these are all only suggestions, not demands. I'm sure there's plenty of ways to get similar results.
___________________________________________________ Would Retribution still do well with lower burst?
Honestly I don't know. If it does prove to be weak in Arenas because it lacks offensive pressure without the really high burst damage (a very real possibility), then Blizzard might have to compensate with buffs to utility somehow.
We have some great defensive utility, but very little offensive utility that creates pressure. So... the obvious ways to make up for lowered burst would be stuff like a pummel or a snare. But ugh. Homogenization. Although not much else comes to mind right now, I'd rather avoid copy/pasting kick onto Paladins or whatever. But if we had more counters to healers, and lower damage, then things would be a lot more fair in battlegrounds and world pvp etc. vs non-healers.
Maybe you have some ideas? Or let me know what your opinion on the whole post and the ret paladin situation is. I'd love to see some discussion on it, and get an idea of how other people (paladins and non-paladins alike) feel about it. I'm also planning on posting this on the official DPS forums.
And sorry, I know it's a lot of reading, I couldn't seem to condense what I wanted to say any more than this. This is like 2/3 the original length. :| :| :|