Friday, February 5, 2010

The slap I missed

So apparently the Paladin tanking community has just been slapped in the face with a nerf to our Sacred Duty talent – reducing the overall bonus stamina from +8% to +4%. This was hotfixed in yesterday, and if I read the Paladin forums correctly, I should be up in arms and using my massive blogging base to slam Blizzard for the affront to my tanking manliness.

Or I could just come clean and admit that this nerf was so massive that I missed it entirely.

That’s right. This huge slap in the face was so big, that I failed to notice any change. Maybe it’s because it was late, or we continued to have problems with Sindaragosa (we’re making progress though), or because – hell I don’t know. Regardless, I seemed to have glazed right over it.

The nerf I’m expecting

What I do expect to see though is some kind of nerf to SoC. It’s got to be pretty difficult to fix though, because it’s a seal, not a spell (in and of itself). This single talent, one tiny talent point in the ret tree, is such a huge part of why Protadins are insane DPS machines in heroics. Here’s why.

1) SoC is not affected by any kind of AoE reducing coefficient. While the tooltip states that it will strike up to 2 additional targets, I know my SCT shows a lot more ticks going off (maybe due to the next issue).

2) SoC can proc off of 2 of our base 9/6/9 rotational abilities, plus all white swings. This now means that 4 of 5 of the 9/6/9 abilities are AoE attacks.

3) Reckoning can cause more strikes – so the more mobs you pull, the greater your chances of getting reckoning to proc. I believe that SoC cannot proc off Reckoning, but I could be wrong.

4) SoC is holy damage that works off the physical damage table. This means with enough expertise and hit (which most tankadins have), your SoCs will hit for incredibly large numbers. It’s not uncommon for me to pull 5k+ DPS in heroics whle tanking, and I’m pushing 9k in 25 man raids.

5) Minimal cost to get SoC. While I lose Vindication, this talent isn’t especially needed for heroic/trash tanking.

How did this happen?

First – you can blame dual specs. If we didn’t have the ability to swap between a trash/heroic spec and our progression spec with the click of a button, I highly doubt you’d see this going on as much (though there would be other problems to contend with). Just switching glyphs out would get expensive, and giving up Vindication and Divine Guardian/Sacrifice is a nice hit to survivability.

Second – blame the retadins. SoC was changed to give them the ability to produce adequate DPS on non boss fights, and is really their first ‘interesting’ talent when leveling. You still don’t have any more buttons to push, but at least the numbers are flashier than you get with say, Seal of Righteousness.

Finally – blame arenas and PvP. This spec was born in the blood soaked soil of the arena, in a retadin’s desperate attempt to do good damage, and still have an interrupt of some kind. A clear lack of an interrupt on a decent CD pushed some players in this direction.

OK – so how do we fix it?

This is a lot more challenging (I believe) than say, fixing HotR to only work with 1H weapons. It’s not a spell in and of itself, it’s an ability. While the coded it to specifically not work (SoC) with HotR, I believe it would be a lot more difficult to set it to not proc when using a 1H weapon. While they could shove it down in the ret tree another rung, making it a 21 point talent, they would do so at the risk of hindering ret paladin leveling. Waiting until level 31 for a new damage seal is a long time.

This issue would be fixed (and quite a few others) by using stances, but as someone who played a warrior for many years, stances are aggravating. It’s one thing for an ability to not work as well (say, self healing for a DK), it’s another to be locked out completely. They also have done a great job of keeping the tank classes relatively unique. Bears have forms, Warriors have stances, and DKs have presences. Paladins – well, we have everything I suppose.

What it means in the end

We’re still going to be viable tanks. If anyone shows up to raid tonight and loses their spot over this nerf, well – let’s just say I’ll eat the proverbial hat. Then I’ll kick their raid leader right in the syrup maker.

The tanks classes are fairly well balanced. We have some great AoE tanking and AD. Warriors have interrupts, stuns, and the ability to close distances in a hurry. DKs have, uh, pets? They actually have amazing versatility and CDs, plus the ability to tank in three completely different styles. Druids have amazing HP and armor, great CDs, and the ability to strap a rocket to their ass. That has to be worth something in the end.

We’ll be fine. Even if they do make SoC a 21 point talent.

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