I was thinking again (yeah bad thing to do) and it came to me that realistically a non-dot class is always going to be burst based eventually (it might take some setup, and the setup period can be used to control PvP burst, however eventually it will need to be capable of doing N,000 DPS).
Thinking this, with Retribution hoping to sit around 6,000 DPS at T8.5 made me think of our rotation:
9 6 9 6 9 6 ... repeat, roughly 9s rotation (slightly longer to get the full pattern in place since the abilities swap position but basically a 9s rotation). Consecration handily lasts roughly this long, and is damage over time based.
So 9s duration, 6,000 DPS ~ 54,000 DPS (2 CS, 3 3.0s melees, 1 DS, 1 Judgement + seal procs) and I started to see an attack pattern more like:
Consecration---------------- 18,000 Damage over 9s ~ 2K DPS
|.Divine Storm------------- 4,500 Damage over 9s ~500 DPS
|.|.Judgement------------- 3,000 Damage, 6,000 Damage DoT (9,000 over 9s) ~ 1K DPS ~ 3,500 DPS at this point with low burst
|.|.|Crusader Strike + Seal Proc + applies debuff
|.|.|Crusader Strike + Seal Proc + applies debuff
|.|.|Crusader Strike + Seal Proc + applies debuff
The remaining 2,500 DPS to be made up over 3 GCDs (2,500 *9 = 22,500 damage per ability, roughly 3,500 CS, 2,000 Seal).
The rotation can be made interactive via procs (Art of War, Vengence, whatever) subbing in spike damage or large dots in place of the CS portions. At this stage the retribution Paladin cannot burst effectively as there are multiple options to forward / backwards setup buffs:
Consecration is the highest priority, it buffs all other damage. Divine storm then sets up a 3-5 stack of debuffs that can be taken off a target (setting up a CS string the same way death runes do for Blood giving the HS HS HS HS [HS HS] string if desired). Finally Judgement sets up CS to actually activate seal procs making Crusader strike the most damaging part of the rotation (however requiring the setup 3GCDs to actually perform well). If backwards synergy is desired, CS can setup a buff acting to improve damage done by non-CS sources meaning your rotation is always best served by mixing CS and other strikes (so the CS CS CS CS CS CS plan is a bad one, as is Judge CS CS CS CS CS CS).
Procs such as art of war feed into making the spec bursty, proccing nice damage boosts or tricks like exorcism.
This further compromises PvP burst by harming mobility, without an active consecrate under them the Ret paladin loses damage and thus becomes less capable of burst by default. This functions like desecration however without the snare making Ret's kill the use of HoJ to keep a target within Consecration (ticking at ~ 2K/tick) and enabling the burst setup. This also means casters must move from ret (standing and pounding is dangerous), and forces gap openings on melee combats to counter ret's lack of MS or similar (standing near Ret will hurt even if you are hurting them, ergo encouraging attack and feints).
On PvE fights, the short duration of the Rotation (9s) means a Ret forced to move is not overly penalised (they will get into combat, drop Consc within 9s and get upto speed in the rotation), and you are not penalised for swapping target overly other than the loss of the reverse synergy between the CS debuffs and DS/Consc/Judgment. Retribution at this stage has massive AoE DPS potential (2,000 DPS from consecration per target, in a situation like Freya with 15 targets would see spikes of 30,000 DPS) requiring the addition of a damage cap similar to that of other AoEs or perhaps scaling with the Paladin's stats (so a 2,000 DPS consecration caps at 15,000 DPS + crits, while a 2,500 DPS consecration caps at 17,500 + crits) to stop the problem other caps have of making the spell stop gaining power as you gear up.
A 9s rotation is quite short, however it is reasonably comparable to that of a destro lock:
Repeat to keep immolate up,CB / Conflag on cd.
Ours would require stricter control and the correct substitution of procs to make it effective rather than the Destro lock badly overlapping CD model.
I would argue that this model is already applied via Affliction locks and similar having an effective rotation (ok the dot timers line up horribly) similar to:
Corruption (should only need cast once, the exact order of this rotation is wrong but the idea is there)
Curse of Agony
Curse of Agony
The DPS of the spec is instantaneous (it is in its full swing from the second Haunt is up) and maintains this easily. The filler portions are due to the badly overlapping timers of the dots (which could be closed up and made into a perfect rotation like the 969 or my proposed Ret).
Ret at this point would have lowered burst, and high DPS potential, however still lacking is a reason to break the rotation in PvP. The obvious solution to this is to alter the functionality of DS and Judgement making one of these an interrupt (I would suggest judgement for this setup since in my vision it enables the seal procs on CS), and the other into a mutating ability such as the use of Death Runes such that it can be worthwhile losing the setup damage from the DS in return for the mutated ability proccing from it in certain situations. In this case something like:
Divine Storm: Deals 110% weapon DPS*N to M targets (including current target) and heals for (M, max 4) * damage dealt * K. The paladin gains "awesome buff" for 9s increasing Holy damage by L%.
Paladin MS: Prevents all healing to the target for 4.5s (GCD + 2 Strikes), requires the Paladin to not have awesome buff.
In effect a forebearance effect: PMS > DS works, DS > PMS does not, meaning if you expect the target to be healed you break your damage rotation (substituting in CS with no seal proc, or an early judgement) for the ability to interrupt the healing done to the target.
This finally puts us in the right position:
Paladins have a simple rotation
Paladins have a modifiable rotation (proc based so its not a simple macro dps)
Paladins have a reason to reduce their DPS potential for utility gain
Paladins have the ability to kill healers / other targets by chaining Stun / MS effects, however need high time on target to do so
Paladins retain the utility at the cost of damage model they have currently.
One major issue which crops up with this solution is the power of consecration. Dealing 18,000 damage over the 9s is ideal to reduce single target burst damage while maintaining overall damage (if you need any help quelling doubts go do the Illidari council fight, his ticks for about 3,000 iirc and is very effective at denying an area but does damage slowly enough that you can escape with only 1-2 ticks at most).
The issue with this is a fight like Kologarn (and to a lesser extent Freya with the adds, however in that case a simple DPS cap on the ability will come into play due to the number of adds), where there are N large high health targets such that the consecration damage is multiplied up in a useful way (Kologarn + active arm = 2K bonus free damage, + health on arm to blow off for last transition means the health taken off it is not useless). This implies some kind of diminishing returns on targets / a target cap such that:
1 Target: 2,000 DPS
2 Target: 3,000 DPS
3 Target, 3,750 DPS
Damage cap applies and reduces effectiveness.
If this is seen as overly powerful, the buff effects can be affected by forbearance making bubbling a real choice rather than a DPS drop for the duration of the immunity. This means that you can effectively tag the paladin into a low DPS support mode by forcing the bubble, however doing this is unlikely given the availability of other similar cooldowns.
A Crab has spoken,
Retribution has too sustained damage for PvE
We shall nerf the damage of Retribution
Alas, once again the wrong approach has been taken between a PvP balance issue and a PvE damage issue. The solution our favourite crab has implemented is to force Retribution into using a dot based seal to build up its damage, and to only stack the dot for this seal through white attacks meaning 3.6s (-haste) between dot stacks.
The major issue burst classes have (Destro locks, Ret Paladins etc) is that we have few attacks and must attain reasonable DPS, for an assumed 6K DPS sustained with a spammable attack and an auto attack we are looking at:
In other words, assuming we hit for 2K with white attacks (4.0 speed weapon), we need to be capable of doing 5.5K DPS with yellow attacks, since these are typically GCD limited we are looking at 5.5*1.5 ~= 8.25k Damage per hit. This is problematic, in PvE its realtively fine it just means we hit very hard with no ramp up (Destro Locks require 1GCD/14s to maintain 100% immolate uptime, and this can likely be averaged to rougly 1GCD in 10). Other classes have other methods for ramping up DPS, and to assist in switching targets part of the ramp stage remains on the player not the target.
For Retribution to achieve 6K DPS we need to look at our abilities:
Judgement - 10 yards, 8S CD (talented)
Crusader Strike - Melee, 4s CD (talented)
Divine Storm - Melee, 10s CD (talented)
Seal procs - Melee, varies.
Consecration - 8 Yard AoE, 8s CD
So for a 60s period, observing GCD limits (so no 4s crusader strikes I am afraid), we can get:
6 Divine Storms
13.33 Crusader Strikes
20 Auto attacks (assume 3.0 speed)
Seal procs equivalent to all melee attacks: ~46.
Assuming damage is split equally we see 6K DPS*60s = 360,000 Damage done per minute, averaged over 100 attacks so roughly 3.6k damage per strike. Assuming this can be done perfectly our burst is now:
3.6k / 8 = 450 DPS consecration
46 attacks @ 3.6K + 46 Seal strikes at 3.6K = 5.5K DPS
Each GCD however you receive 3.6K + 3.6K + 0.45K ~ 7.6K Damage, in other words highly burst based damage since this assumes strikes do not overlap where as melee + special will do so upping the damage potential to 15.2K _ 7.6K + 15.2K as the damage pattern.
Solving this is not a simple task, however you cannot force a large build up onto the class without killing it
What we need is to combine a few tools:
Self buffed damage: Damage increases based on time on target, does not drop off immediately
Target debuffed damage: Damage increases based on time on target, drops off relatively quickly if not focused.
Positional buffed damage: increase damage based on "static" fights
Breaking it down this becomes relatively easy to solve:
Seals proc their effects based on self buffed damage, once you achieve a certain time in combat (15-20s say) you remain buffed unless your opponent can elude you for a significant period (30s-1 minute between strikes, 15-30s if toggleable from range). This is movement independent, target swap independent.
Seals build additional damage based on target debuffs stacked through divine storm and white attacks (Linear increase, not a cliff). This rewards / punishes fast changes but allows the building of aoe threat and damage.
Consecration becomes a self damage buff, stacking 1 stack per tick upto 8, lasting 20s, and boosting the effectiveness of crusader strike.
By combining the 3, we reduce PvP burst (~10s on target for full burst), ramp up linearly, and maintain damage if we are forced to move. We are also forced to employ high mana cost abilities (consecration) to maintain our damage output meaning we will need to trade off Exorcism / Divine Storm for the sustained damage.
So for the third time I decided to level a level 80, my first (Prot Paladin) hit 80 in around 3 days from launch letting me do heroics and gain achievements with the people that honestly didn't care that you were in blues, because if you were in that crowd you were simply good enough to do it. My second character (Death Knight - Blood Tank / Unholy DPS) had a relatively easy time, being a tank I had options to form groups, and due to the lack of a second tier of raiding it was easy to get into a group because it was simply acceptable for a new level 80 to not have an achievement.
My third character(Warlock) is having a much harder time, I do more dps than I ever did as a tank (2.4k ish give or take, enough for even Emalon 25 though lacking for Ulduar). Instead now both of my non-main characters are now having issues because the standard for gear for T7 instances is T8 gear and achievements.
I have been looking forward to the badge alterations, and awaiting the announcement of it since the days of 3.xx. Simply this is a requirement because the expectations of people rise as the tier level rises, for those of us without a raiding multicharacter guild the loss of relative gear quality makes it harder to get the gear to make up the relative gear gap.
I want to really look at this, it makes such little sense that people change so much as a new tier becomes available yet I have seen this so many times so far. From the heroics which I did in bad blues and some junk gear (because I knew I would replace it in those heroics) which now require epics, to the first tier instances which required reasonable blues that now require the epics from the tier above it because people refuse to take the risk that a blue geared character won't fail shocking, even though they can show it on their other 19 characters.
So finally Blizzard has caved in resulting in massive tears, whining, fear for the future, guaranteeing that casuals and raiders both will be punished and abused by this. In case you are wondering I am talking about emblems being grouped together (2 active types), and making them more easily obtainable (current content vs old content), and all I can say is I told you so.
The 2.2, 2.3, 2.4 badge gear while requiring grinding allowed people to move uptowards current content rather than leaving good players stuck in guilds that won't allow them to move onwards within it, and without requiring the guild hopping which leaves a guild in its particular rut unless it gets lucky. I am honestly surprised it has taken Blizzard this long to start this change, the division of 10 and 25 man content into casual and raider status already made a bad division of gearing and the badge situation made it worse.
There isn't really a lot to say for this, it benefits casuals (who eventually get better gear), it benefits alts (who can get better gear), it benefits casual raiders (who get better gear), and it has no major effect on cutting edge raiders (who are the badge ahead of this change anyway). The second change is much more interesting, high end badges (Triumph) from daily Heroics and daily Dungeons, this increases the rate at which a high end raider can achieve gear, and allows non high end raiders to achieve the same gear over a longer period. This does have a negative effect on high end raiders (40 minutes or so dungeons a day for 3 badges weighed against progress ... is it the gear or is it the fun of progress that drives people), and has a minimal effect on anyone else other than allowing us to actually havea reason to do these low end content once we pass our 2nd week of being 80.
Blizzard have done what is necessary, however I believe it will be unpopular for a while up until people realise it needs to be done. The rest of the changes I will hold my tongue for at the moment, I have lots to say but until we get slightly closer to being finalised conjecture is kindof pointless.