The Holy Paladin set bonuses are as follows:
Currently these bonuses are insanely powerful. I don't expect the 4pc to make it live at its current tuning values, unless we are only seeing a part of the picture. It is possible there are significant nerfs coming to Holy Paladin's damage, warranting a powerful set bonus, or some other context we are not aware of but currently this set bonus would lead to Holy Paladins having very high (and possibly permanent) uptime on Avenging Wrath
, which is of course a massive buff.
Gameplay wise in a vacuum the set bonus doesn't change much, it incentivizes you to occasionally use Word of Glory
, even if you wish to Light of Dawn
every 30 seconds due to the 2pc. However the reality is, this set bonus has excellent synergy with the Necrolord covenant, as well the addition of a second legendary being restricted to a Covenant legendary makes Duty-Bound Gavel
very appealing as well. All of this combined will make Paladin feel very different if you go down that route. The synergy between these abilities certainly means that Necrolord will be a competitive, or even Meta option depending on the fate of Ashen Hallow
Overall the set bonus is designed well. High Avenging Wrath
uptime is something that is fun to play around with and very thematic to0 Paladins. We saw something similar with the Ineffable Truth corruption late into Battle for Azeroth. We don't have any context for other balance changes. Paladins have been a hot-topic for a while now, and have consistently dominated progression raiding rosters, so I would expect to see some kind of changes.
The downside is this set bonus isn't fantastic in Mythic+ or PvP. It's clearly designed with PvE in mind. It also could result in a rise of other less common legendaries such as Shadowbreaker, Dawn of the Sun
In conclusion, this set bonus is good. It will feel powerful and I like that it fits into Holy Power generation, incentivizing aggressively accumulating and spending Holy Power. I would be surprised if it remains untouched going into live, but without the context of other class changes, we don't have the full picture of healing for next tier.
The announced 9.2 tier bonuses for Protection Paladins do not change their play style at all. The 2-piece bonus is entirely passive for something they do already - spend Holy Power on Shield of the Righteous
. The 4-piece bonus will have a chance to fire off a Judgment
when an attack is blocked. Spending Holy Power or blocking will happen regardless of what a Protection Paladin does and this won't impact how they gear, or press buttons. One interesting aspect is that the 4-piece could interact with The Magistrate's Judgment
and create a lot of Holy Power efficiency -- through gains and cost reductions.
Power-wise, the 2-piece bonus is pretty standard -- 4-5% damage reduction and this is in-line with other tank tier bonuses that provide similar amounts of damage reduction. The 4-piece will have a massive delta in performance between Raid and Mythic+. Part of that is damage profile -- there are some magic dots in the upcoming raid that won't trigger it but the other is just the number of targets we'll be fighting. It's possible that the bonus won't be included in an optimal raid set. Blocking is more common in Mythic+ because there are more targets doing mostly melee swings, and that will lead to situations where Holy Power can't be spent fast enough.
The gap in power for the 4-piece between Raid and Mythic+ will be really significant. The rate at which you block will obviously increase as you are tanking more targets and this bonus could scale to unreasonable levels especially when combined with The Magistrate's Judgment
. The 4-piece should be tweaked so it scales more reasonably when tanking multiple targets while bringing up the floor so it's better for raid content. Conceptually, I like both bonuses because they are attached to Block -- an area for Protection Paladin that doesn't get a lot of development but they just need to nail the tuning.
The Retribution set bonus is themed around the Art of War
passive, which gives your auto attacks a small chance to reset the cooldown of Blade of Justice
. Baseline, this chance is 12% with Rank 2 of Art of War
, but doubles to 24% with Blade of Wrath
, which is the most commonly picked talent in its row anyway. This isn't an RPPM proc, it's just a flat chance per auto hit. Art of War
can't proc on two melee hits in a row, but it will still average out to roughly 12% or 24% per melee over a fight. Depending on Haste, whether you're using Zeal
, and whether or not you have Windfury Totem
, you can expect to get somewhere between 5 to 8 Art of War
procs a minute.
The 2 set bonus provides Seraphim
for 2 seconds whenever Art of War
procs, which should end up being around 10-15s of extra Seraphim
per minute. Currently, Seraphim
is mostly used to buff the Execution Sentence
window, so random procs in that situation won't matter a whole lot, but they do work a bit better when you also consider the 4 set bonus. 2 seconds of Seraphim
is enough to fit 1-2 GCDs in - more on that below - so you're likely to be able to use at least a spender or a Wake of Ashes
proc within that Seraphim
proc window, or potentially both. You'll also get an extra 2-3 Wake of Ashes
casts a minute, considering that you won't get any "natural" wake casts anymore, which is a very solid damage boost in either single target or AoE. The 2 set alone might not be a huge damage gain, but together they should provide a sizeable increase. Numbers aside, it's also just really fun to be able to cast Wake of Ashes
Set bonuses aren't actually testable on the PTR yet, but fortunately the way the set works seems to be relatively straightforward. There's only two things that aren't fully clear:
- Hardcast Seraphim - it seems pretty reasonable to assume that the 2 second Seraphim procs would add duration to an existing Seraphim rather than overwriting it or just doing nothing, given that many other similar effects work the same way. Because Art of War effectively has an ICD by not proccing on back to back auto attack hits, it wouldn't lead to chain procs for a longer Seraphim buff than intended either.
- Blade of Wrath - Apart from increasing the number of Art of War procs, it also increases the damage of the next Blade of Justice. I would assume that it wouldn't increase Wake of Ashes damage if it reset that instead, but I think that it should. Blade of Wrath can proc just after you cast Blade of Justice, reset Wake of Ashes instead, and then proc again before Blade of Justice comes off cooldown. Alternatively, with low haste Blade of Justice could just not come back off cooldown before the Blade of Wrath buff expires, since it has a 10s duration and Blade of Justice's cooldown is 12s baseline. Randomly wasting Blade of Wrath isn't a fun outcome, and could be easily fixed by making it increase the damage of whichever ability it resets instead.
This tier bonus ends up pushing Ret towards a slightly different build than it currently uses. Because Art of War
just procs off auto attacks, effects that increase the rate of auto attacks obviously become a lot better. Zeal
, as well as effects that cast more Judgment
s for more Zeal
hits like Divine Resonance
, will probably be the best options to use to maximize Art of War
procs. Execution Sentence
may still be usable, but instead of holding Wake of Ashes
for each window like we do now it'll just be used on cooldown instead. For conduits, Expurgation
will become a bit worse, since half of your Blade of Justice
resets will reset Wake of Ashes
instead, but Truth's Wake
may become good enough to see use for the first time.
My biggest concern with the tier set has to do with the gameplay adjustments that need to be made to maximize the Seraphim
buff. 2 seconds is theoretically long enough to fit 2 GCDs in, but in practice this won't happen consistently for most players. For example:
- Reaction time to the proc needs to be taken into account. At the moment it's easy to slam Blade of Justice when you see an Art of War proc, but with the set bonus you'll first need to process which ability actually got reset before using it. Even though this is only a split second hesitation, it can very easily make the difference between getting an extra cast off before the Seraphim buff drops or not.
- Auto attacks will happen mid-GCD. If you happen to cast an ability just before an Art of War proc, you're almost certainly not going to get a second GCD buffed by Seraphim.
To maximize the chance of getting a second GCD inside Seraphim
, it's very likely that an auto attack tracker will become necessary to track exactly when a proc could happen. It'll probably result in a style of play where you try to use a spender right after an auto attack happens, just in case you get a proc, so that you don't have to instantly react to it in order to get another ability inside the Seraphim
This punishes players who can't make these small optimizations in one of two ways: either they don't track auto attacks and only get half the value from each Seraphim
proc as a player who is, or they do track their autos and start leaving large gaps in their rotation to try to accommodate potential procs, leading to a DPS loss from holding their ability casts for too long. This problem could be fixed by changing the 2 set bonus to simply buff your next 2 abilities instead, to give the same benefit without requiring as strict of a timing window. Just to be clear, there's no problem with having tier set bonuses that change the way that you play a spec - that's ideally what you'd want from a set bonus. The issue here is that the level of optimization required to maximize procs will be prohibitively high for many players, and the difference between optimizing it and not will probably be significant.
Other than that, whether or not you have Windfury Totem
will also start to make a very big difference on Ret's damage output. Even this tier, when it only affected Blade of Justice
resets, Ret was one of the best melee to have in a Windfury group after Arms and the Rogue specs. But considering extra Wake of Ashes
resets and Seraphim
procs, Windfury will probably be more like a 5% DPS increase. If Enhancement is still good and more guilds start to bring them then this isn't as big of an issue, but it'll be frustrating playing without Windfury knowing that you're losing a significant amount of damage without it.
Overall, I like the design of the set. Random extra Wake of Ashes
resets seems like it'll be a very fun addition to Ret's playstyle, and push it towards a build that is a bit different to what's been used in Shadowlands up to this point. If the 2 set gets adjusted to be a little less punishing for players not fully optimizing to play around it, then I'll be very happy with how it looks going in to next tier.