First Impressions of Ret and 2H Prot PVP in Patch 4.0.6


Before I discuss Ret and 2H Prot, let me first talk briefly about Prot.

Viability of Prot in 4.0.6

I can now beat comparably skilled/geared (2k+ Rated) Shadow Priests and Warlocks in duels, largely due to two changes:

  1. the faster stacking of Seal of Truth, esp from ranged attacks (Judgement and AS), and
  2. Rebuke

Previously those classes beat me consistently in 4.0.3a, because I couldn’t deal much damage from range nor interrupt/lockout casting while meleeing aside from AS. Comparably skilled/geared Mages still beat me consistently, but Mage continues to be an imbalanced class, so it is what it is.

I am experimenting with glyphing SoT over CS for the Expertise buff, which reduces the target’s avoidance. I’m not clear yet whether SoT glyph is the better choice, but it feels like the more conservative play in terms of maintaining HoPo generation.

In BGs, my damage and killing blow numbers are higher relative to other classes in 4.0.6. In PUGs, I’ve put up over 3 million damage and led killing blows by a significant margin.

Prot still faces the same dynamic in Arena that it always has:

  1. opponents will focus-fire your team mates because Prot is so durable, and
  2. we can be kited due to our lack of Cleanse for Magic-based roots

That being said, AS is still a great counter to kiters due to its mechanics (damage/silence/daze). And we deal more DPS now than we did before. Prot is still very 2k viable IMO – but your main challenge will be finding a skilled/geared partner willing to run with Prot.

Net-net: In 4.0.6, Prot is excellent for BGs and duels and is slightly improved in Arena relative to 4.0.3a.

First Impression of 2H Prot

I decided with the 4.0.6 changes to give Ret a try, as my main concerns with Ret were addressed (squishiness and vulnerability to dispels). So I saved up 3400 Conqueror points and bought the Vicious Gladiator’s Greatsword.

If you read the WoW Pally forum regularly, you have probably seen Vir’s thread:

2 Handed Prot – The New Hotness?

While I was skeptical about 2H Prot, I figured since I had bought a 2H PVP weapon I should try it out.

The spec leverages 2H for the higher CS (and SoT) damage and weapon swaps to 1H+shield to use abilities such as AS and SotR. The spec also relies on opponents mistaking you as Ret and not dispelling the Vengeance AP buff.

The crits from CS with 2H are significantly higher than with 1H – e.g. on a 3800 Resil target ~14k vs ~9k. It’s entertaining to see such large CS crits. However, the spec feels “stiff” because of the need to weapon swap to unlock key abilities such as AS and SotR.

To address the weapon swapping issue, I wrote macros that both cast an ability and perform a weapon swap. So for example, if AS is coming off cooldown in 1 global cooldown (GCD), in this GCD I would use a macro that fires CS and swaps to 1H+shield. Then  I can use AS the next GCD because I have a shield equipped. While this creates some hotkey clutter, it does work, except for one significant issue: if Grand Crusader procs and resets the cooldown for AS, I have to use a macro that fires an ability and weapon swaps to 1H+shield, and this uses a GCD before I am able to cast AS. This is not good against kiters, whom you want to hit with AS as often as possible to refresh the Daze effect and apply the silence/interrupt, or against MDPS that can be silenced (Pallies and Shamans).

On a target dummy 2H Prot generates higher DPS than 1H Prot, but against the same live opponents in duels, 1H Prot felt much more smooth and effective than 2H Prot, especially against Casters.

Net-net: 2H Prot has some fun factor, but I found the weapon swap and waiting on GCD to be both annoying and limiting, and as such I don’t plan on experimenting with it any further.

First Impression of Ret

Let me first state that Ret’s mechanics are significantly different from Prot, and I am still very much learning how to play Ret.

Based on ~60 Arena matches this weekend, here are the primary differences compared to Prot:

  • Ret has much stronger WoG offhealing per HoPo, however…
  • Ret’s HoPo generation is much slower (due to 4.5 base cooldown on CS) except when Zealotry is up, in which case each CS generates 3 HoPo
  • Ret is much more squishy on the “frontend” of the health bar – Prot has passive 10% damage mitigation from Sanctuary, 2 more mitigation abilities, and a shield to block against physical attacks – but at the backed of the health bar Sacred Shield provides an excellent boost to survivability
  • Ret has a lot more RNG which means it’s a lot more unpredictable. Ret has procs such as Divine Purpose and Art of War that have to be thoughtfully worked into the rotation
  • Ret has better sustained DPS than Prot and when cooldowns are used (e.g. AW, Zealotry, GoAK) it has very good on-demand burst damage
  • Ret can Cleanse magic-based roots/slows on itself and gets a speed buff from long-range Judgement casts – this allows better on-demand counters to kiters

I found Prot to be stronger than Ret in duels, simply because it is not as dependent on cooldowns. That being said, I was able to make some incredible comebacks in duels as Ret by kiting (HoJ, Repentance) and waiting for Zealotry/AW/SS to come off cooldown.

In Arena, Ret is able to provide strong burst offhealing. The ironic thing is that opponents know this, so as Ret you will often get tunneled (focus-fired).

I ran a Ret/Unholy DK/Disc 3v3 comp and about 80% of our matches I was the primary focus-fire target by the other team. So I had to play defensive a lot. We went 8-5 at ~1900 TR, and my team mates got their 1550 achieves. AFAIK they have not done Arena at 1800+ previously so this is a learning experience for the 3 of us.

Would we have gone 8-5 if I had gone Prot? I don’t know. If we ran Prot/Unholy/Disc, the healer would likely have been the focus-fire target for many of those matches instead of me. I will likely try some matches with our team as Prot.

I ran with a skilled/geared Shadow Priest (Thinkimrich) as Prot and we went 5-5 at about ~1850 TR. Those were our first 10 matches together so we were trying to sort out our comp’s mechanics. He was almost always the focus-fire target. I switched to Ret and we went 15-10, but that was starting with another team that had a 1742 TR, and we got up to the low 1800s for TR.

Keep in mind I’m relatively new to Ret, so I am still sorting out the timing of cooldowns and such.

My initial (and therefore don’t read too much into this) impression is that Ret as a spec can run with a wider variety of specs in 2v2 compared to Prot. Does that mean Prot sucks and we should all re-roll? Not in my opinion. I love Prot and it is a blast to play in BGs in 4.0.6. If you are a hardcore Arena player who is obsessed with getting the highest rating possible, you’ll probably find it easier to stick with Ret, especially as team mates will not believe (correctly or incorrectly) that losses are due to your spec.

These days, given that players can get the same stat gear regardless of rating – with the exception of the 2200 weapons – therefore, IMHO players should play whatever spec they enjoy most.

Net-net: In 4.0.6, the major flaws of Ret were addressed (namely survivability and vulnerability to dispels), and we are seeing Rets climbing the Arena ladders.

I leveled to endgame to play “Protribution” but the bottom-line is I am a Paladin first and foremost, so I will continue to play Ret and Prot and let you folks know how it goes. People have been bugging me about making more videos, and I’m almost ready – I’ve been experimenting with Ret and waiting until my 3v3 team is at 1900+ TR before making Ret Arena videos. This week I hope to publish a BG video with Prot that highlights the mechanics changes in 4.0.6.

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Posted in Paladin, PVP, World of Warcraft
19 comments on “First Impressions of Ret and 2H Prot PVP in Patch 4.0.6
  1. Paravian says:

    Good post, I have been doing a similar thing lately and playing Ret has been fun. In BG’s I am consistently top dmg and KB’s but found in 2’s that I was focussed hard and wasn’t able to survive long enough to contribut burst dmg, this is at 1500 rating without the pvp 2 hander tho.

    • taugrim says:

      The PVP 2H will definitely help – Resil is king, esp for specs that tend to get a lot of focus-fire.

      That being said, after Sacred Shield is gone, if you don’t help from team mates and don’t have Zealotry and/or Divine Shield available, you’re likely done.

  2. Ironshield says:

    Love the blog Taugrim, I’m another one stubbornly sticking with Prot in spite of the haters :)

    As far as the 2h prot macro thing, I was just wondering if there was a reason you don’t put you weapon swap on the same button as AS / SotR rather than CS so that on GC you can just spam button until it fires. Or maybe swap to shield & 1h on as / SotR, and swap to 2h on CS.

    Does a weapon swap take a GCD?

    • taugrim says:

      A weapon swap outside of combat does not trigger the GCD.
      A weapon swap during combat does trigger the GCD.

      I did have weapon swap as part of the AS macro. E.g.:

      #showtooltip
      /cast Avenger’s Shield
      /startattack
      /equip Vicious Gladiator’s Bonecracker
      /equip Vicious Gladiator’s Shield Wall

      The issue with this is that during combat, you would need to hit this twice – the first press would trigger the weapon swap, and the second would fire AS. But that extra GCD is what I found to be the issue.

      So to address this I tried to write other macros that would allow me to use an ability and swap weapons, e.g. the following CS and Judgement macros that I would use prior to using AS:

      #showtooltip
      /castsequence reset=2 crusader strike, judgement, crusader strike
      /startattack
      /equip Vicious Gladiator’s Bonecracker
      /equip Vicious Gladiator’s Shield Wall

      and

      #showtooltip
      /cast judgement
      /equip Vicious Gladiator’s Bonecracker
      /equip Vicious Gladiator’s Shield Wall

      But at the end of the day a weapon swap – even with an ability use – still represented a delay in AS or SotR. And that was not good.

      My long-time habit as Prot is to hit AS the moment it’s available, and that’s the right thing to do. AS packs a punch and has some excellent debuffs attached to it.

      I didn’t find any cases where I was able to beat an opponent as 2H Prot that I couldn’t take as 1H Prot. Granted, against unskilled/undergeared opponents 2H Prot would wreck them with big CS crits, but those are fights I would win regardless of spec.

  3. Mortenebra says:

    Taugrim, I am oh-so eagerly awaiting your Ret videos. I’ve swapped over to Ret to try stuff out; I’m trying to climb that learning curve and it’s been a difficult process. I’m currently dealing less damage and dying faster as Ret than I did as Prot. :) I know it’s just because I’m still at the point where I have to consciously think about my actions before doing them instead of the near instinctual muscle memory I have as Prot.

    The hardest thing for me to adjust to is actually CS’s 4.5s cooldown. I keep wanting to CS->x->CS, but it’s not up and by the time I realize this and pick my next ability, I’ve wasted a GCD.

    I’m also trying to figure out the general priority of Ret in PVP. If you could touch on that in your video or just post your thoughts on it here, that’d be great. Right now I’m thinking keeping up Inquisition is key along with hitting CS every time you can–delaying HoPo generation seems more painful as Ret than it is as Prot. Beyond that, I tend to kind of mix stuff up. Should Art of War procs be used before Divine Purpose procs? What do you find yourself using DP procs for mostly? I’ve noticed I’m using them for Templar’s Verdict quite often and I know I need to start throwing out more WoGs. I’m just stuck in the prot mindset and subconsciously treating TV as SotR while also forgetting that my WoGs are much stronger and I can actually make a better use of Inquisition.

    That’s a big wall of text to say that I’m excited you’re trying out Ret and I’m eagerly awaiting more videos, of both Prot and Ret. :)

    • taugrim says:

      I’ve swapped over to Ret to try stuff out; I’m trying to climb that learning curve and it’s been a difficult process

      I’m in that learning curve too :)

      The hardest thing for me to adjust to is actually CS’s 4.5s cooldown. I keep wanting to CS->x->CS, but it’s not up and by the time I realize this and pick my next ability, I’ve wasted a GCD.

      Indeed.

      You should be using Judgement, Holy Wrath, and (when Art of War procs) Exorcism in between your uses of CS, in part because filler abilities can proc Divine Purpose.

      I’m also trying to figure out the general priority of Ret in PVP. If you could touch on that in your video or just post your thoughts on it here, that’d be great. Right now I’m thinking keeping up Inquisition is key along with hitting CS every time you can–delaying HoPo generation seems more painful as Ret than it is as Prot.

      Here’s the really short skinny:
      – use Zealotry when you need burst healing or when you want to burst and a Mage or dispeller is around and not CC’d
      – use Inquisition with AW to boost your HoW damage. If you get 2-HoPo Inq that lasts 20 sec (with 3/3 Inquiry of Faith) and will cover most of the uptime of AW

      Keep in mind that Inquisition boosts Holy damage only, so it doesn’t help with CS, TV, or auto attack damage. Therefore, I would not recommend using Inq during Zealotry – the mechanics don’t synergize.

      Should Art of War procs be used before Divine Purpose procs? What do you find yourself using DP procs for mostly?

      I typically use DP procs first, because AoW insta-cast Exorcism can re-proc DP.

      I use DP on either WoG or TV, whichever is needed at the time.

      • Mortenebra says:

        Thanks for the response, Taugrim.

        “Keep in mind that Inquisition boosts Holy damage only, so it doesn’t help with CS, TV, or auto attack damage. Therefore, I would not recommend using Inq during Zealotry – the mechanics don’t synergize.”

        Maybe not directly, but the Ret mastery does grant extra holy damage on Templar’s Verdict and Crusader Strike (and Divine Storm, but meh). I -think- the mastery damage would benefit from Inquisition. It’s not a lot, so I don’t know if Inquisition’s contribution would even be worth the time it took to generate the HoPo and cast it, though.

  4. Paravian says:

    An interesting macro I have tried for burst is this. Build up 3 hp or get a dp proc and get inquisition up first, then in 1 macro you can have /cast guardian of ancient kings
    /cast avenging wrath
    /use 14 (on use trinket here)
    /cast hammer of wrath

    Press is twice to get the hammer off, no GCD between any of them. This also means that with Goak up boosting ur strength for the next 30 secs, ur spell power goes up and so does your HoW hits, plus it’s holy dmg so it gets a boost from wings and inquisition. The wings will run out first, but still another 10 secs of GoAK. Not bad for 2 quick presses for a timed mass dmg burst cause after you press it you just go back to spamming CS, TV and any time HoW or Exo is up use them as priority due to holy dmg buff.

    I also run with Exo glyph for toons/ranged kiting me for an extra dot. The above macro “should” also be buffing your SoT ticks, I had mine tick on a dummy for 6 k and the judgement hit for 13k.

    Btw, without 2h pvp weapon the HoW hits with above macro chained in were hitting a dummy for 48k at least twice and once for 25k in the 20 secs I had wings up. That’s serious burst especially against casters and Healers trying to run. It also hit my hunter friend in a duel (900 resil tho) for 41k…….. Hot a free HoW cause it dropped him to below 20 %.

    Try it.

  5. Paravian says:

    /cast [@arenapet1,harm][@arenapet2,harm][@arenapet3,harm][@arenapet4,harm][@arenapet5,harm][@mouseover,harm][]Turn Evil

    Useful macro, should instantly fear any undead pets in an arena match, without targeting it or on mouseover. Plus it will fear a DK in lichborne on mouseover (or so I am told). If glyphed, turn evil can be instant cast.

  6. Asuran says:

    The few times that I play ret. I dont like playing with a 2hand (I am a shield lover), so I only use it for a break when I am tired of prot.

    I ‘ve made a macro that pops trinket, wings, zealotry and throws a hammer. I’ve made sure that I have inquisition duration of 15+ secs left, 3 HoPo, pvp-trinket, bubble and HoF are rdy to use if needed, and an exorcism proc rdy to use as well. I use a power aura to be sure of all those conditions with a strong visual and audio effect.

    When I do get to use that, I feel more than just OP. :)

    Another note, Taugrim u mentioned that inquisition does not synergize well with zealotry. This is not really true. SoC, SoT, mastery damage are all holy damage. Plus you might still use a hammer or exorcism while w8ting for CS cd.

    • taugrim says:

      I ‘ve made a macro that pops trinket, wings, zealotry and throws a hammer

      It doesn’t make sense to stack AW and Zealotry from what I’ve seen and read. Chained? Sure. Stacked? No.

      Another note, Taugrim u mentioned that inquisition does not synergize well with zealotry. This is not really true. SoC, SoT, mastery damage are all holy damage. Plus you might still use a hammer or exorcism while w8ting for CS cd.

      HoW is generally not usable unless someone is going to die, in which case I’d rather use TV as a finisher to drop them instead of Inq. I only put 1/3 in The Art of War so it doesn’t proc that often.

      I tend to find that outside of Zealotry I do not have as much HoPo as I would like to work with.

      But you might be right regardless. I get a lot of damage from SoT/SoC with my spec.

      Recount has not worked for me since 4.0.6 launched so I can’t test to see actual numbers.

      • Mortenebra says:

        Try Skada instead of Recount. It still works for me and can do a similar breakdown in terms of what your damage is coming from.

  7. Xolair says:

    Ugh 4.1 changes, holy nerf…
    Word of Glory now has a 20 sec cooldown.

    Here is the rest from MMO
    Paladin
    Holy
    Divine Light now costs 30% of base mana, down from 33%.
    Flash of Light now costs 27% of base mana, down from 30%.
    Walk in the Light (Mastery) now removes the cooldown on your Word of Glory.
    Word of Glory now has a 20 sec cooldown.
    Aura Mastery now improves the effect of Devotion Aura, Resistance Aura, and Retribution Aura instead of all auras.
    Conviction now procs from non-periodic spells.

    Protection
    Divine Guardian now has a 3 min cooldown, up from 2 min.

    Retribution
    Divine Storm now grants a charge of Holy Power if it hits 4 or more targets.
    Sacred Shield now cannot occur more than once every 60 sec, up from 30 sec.

    • Xolair says:

      Curious will that be only for a holy build or for all specs?

    • taugrim says:

      I predicted that SS internal cooldown would get increased – in its current state it’s a bit OP.

      But the WoG nerf is just killer for Pallies in PVP of any spec. 20 seconds? LOL.

      • Meankitty says:

        Agree with you, Holy will get the cool down removed based on speccing into the tree. (or thats what I think I saw) But this is very disheartening if it sticks.

        With the 20 sec cool down which spec does it hurt more in your opinion?

        • taugrim says:

          With the 20 sec cool down which spec does it hurt more in your opinion?

          This will destroy the viability of both Ret and Prot in Arena. The #1 asset that Ret brings to an Arena team right now as a DPS is the offhealing.

          This will destroy the viability of Ret in BGs – they’ll basically be squishies with limited capability. Prot may last a bit longer due to their innate survivability but the change is still crippling.

  8. Vaun says:

    It is a HUGE nerf. Prot pallies just don’t lay down the damage to give up that much healing… especially in arena. A 20 second CD from no CD? Brutal… and RETS are going to become pinata’s again. Holy pallies are the only ones that can give up some healing ability.

  9. Vir says:

    Cool to see I got mentioned here Taugrim. Good luck with Rift! If you’re ever bored, check out some of my old blogs, you might get a laugh out of them:

    http://wowriot.gameriot.com/user/Vir

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