Hey, Solsacra here. I’ve been involved with the Paladin community since The Burning Crusade and am a longtime Mythic Raider, Retribution Theorycrafter and former guide writer. I also moderate the Hammer of Wrath discord server. I hope this breakdown will shed some light on the changes Retribution has been receiving this testing cycle.
Retribution in Battle for Azeroth continues to play similarly to Legion Ret. One simple yet powerful change, is a shift in Mastery’s design. Mastery now provides an increase to all Holy damage done, even when striking unjudged targets. As such, we no longer have Jugement
as the centerpiece of Ret’s rotation in which we want to fit as many finishers into a brief window as possible. Jugement
complements instead of dominates the rotation, being limited to only one finisher. Though, being consumed so quickly leaves a bit to be desired and raises questions of how its presence might impact the decision to AoE with three targets present when also talented into Verdict vertueux
We also have significant improvements in the talent trees layout. Many of the rows now have a singular thematic focus. Such as Single target, AoE, utility, and survivability talents all having their own row. As opposed to what we see now in Legion, which is a mess of different types of throughput and pacing talents mashed on to one row, often times in jarring ways.
The ‘AoE’ tier is of particular interest, not only does it add to AoE, but also a considerable amount of single target value as well, in two of three cases. One talent, is Traînée de cendres
. The crucially important Porte-Cendres
ability from Legion. The ability to line this up with many of the redesigned talents like
will continue to provide pretty impressive burst, which is all i could hope for in it. We also see Consécration
migrate to this tier, and it now generates Holy Power. Resulting in a significant increase in both performance and ‘attractiveness’. However, Consécration
has its problems that many players would rather not deal with, particularly it’s immobile nature. Personally, i would just prefer Divine Hammer instead. It’s one less button to worry about, isn’t nearly as frustrating to use, AND we get more Hammers. There is nothing wrong with more hammers when every problem is a nail! Lastly, we have a new talent, Vengeance divine
. I think it’s safe to say that Vengeance divine
needs some serious work, it’s not much more than Dessein divin
's stunted sibling. It’s a very underwhelming talent by comparison, thanks to it lacking Holy Power generation and single target benefit. Traits that both Traînée de cendres
possess. If it does not have these properties it will never be used.
For the ‘single target’ tier,
has been redesigned to be a burst window talent, similar to what Jugement
was in Legion, in a more limited form. This is a huge improvement over its predecessor and rewards clever usage of cooldowns, and is of course a good way to annihilate priority targets. Verdict vertueux
(formerly known as Final Verdict) is much more involved. Verdict vertueux
is clearly inspired by the success of Murmure des nathrezims
, providing a 15% damage increase for the next Verdict du templier
cast within 5 seconds. Which is very much an improvement, by giving us something to think about when throwing out Finishers. Zèle
, a fresh talent as of build 26175 offers a potentially promising auto-attack passive with further adjustments. Something i’m personally okay with, provided it has a strong visual presentation. Marteau de courroux
returning is certainly a big plus. But, the current implementation does raise a few questions, primarily relating to long term balance. Should Marteau de courroux
continue to be usable during Courroux vengeur
, its value will be tied to Croisade
. Which means we could ultimately see these talents not as individual choices, but a package deal to satisfy the balance concerns for the rows they occupy when taken together. To get around this, and to deliver on the old school feel (actually hitting hard, and not being yet another noodle), Hammer of Wrath could function as an execute with a much higher AP coefficient. Thus solving the balance problem while still keeping these talents where they are.Inquisition
is also returning. While controversial, it’s certainly worlds better than Holy Wrath. Inquisition functions a bit differently than what we remember, while it is still maintenance oriented, it now provides a damage and haste multiplier, instead of a holy damage multiplier with extra crit. Inquisition takes up a slot on the level 100 row, alongside Croisade
and Dessein divin
. All in all, the inclusion of Inquisition
rounds out the tree in a way that will define how your character deals damage. We now have the very real choice between a Cooldown centric, RNG or sustained damage build. Not only for different gameplay tastes, but different tasks as well. Which is a nice improvement over being, essentially, a one trick pony.
Beyond these much needed and promising improvements players will, unfortunately, find a decrease in active time. BfA Ret has a significantly slower base rotation thanks to the cooldown increase of Frappe du croisé
, and Traînée de cendres
moving to the level 60 tier. While the Wake change isn’t so much a problem in and of itself, I view the Frappe du croisé
change as a significant issue. Because we don’t actually have a method in which we can close out that downtime whilst not sacrificing choices elsewhere that you may also want to make. Such as needing to take either Flammes de justice
or Lame de courroux
to marginally satisfy that, and excluding Marteau de courroux
. As a result the rotation just doesn’t flow ‘well’ (full of awkward pauses between abilities). It’s very much a “Wait for things to happen.”, rather than “Make things happen.” rotation. Which is a pretty bitter pill to swallow.
The current Frappe du croisé
cooldown also raises balance concerns with talents on the level 30 row. Flammes de justice
simply cannot compete with either Lame de courroux
or the much stronger Marteau de courroux
. By reducing the baseline cooldown of Frappe du croisé
, it can better prop up Flammes de justice
(better than tuning the talent directly would), relative to Lame de courroux
and Marteau de courroux
, while retaining the current baseline pace that players find familiar. Not to mention that nerfing Marteau de courroux
(or Lame de courroux
) down to Flammes de justice
is most definitely not the answer. We want Marteau de courroux
to continue feeling like, well, what Marteau de courroux
should feel like! Something to be feared on the receiving end, and a strong niche ability that gives us a moment to shine.
With all that said I think Retribution will be in a far better place yet by:
Ultimately, in my opinion, this is very nearly the best DPS toolkit Ret has seen. BfA Ret is quickly shaping up to be a fusion of the last three expansions best sides, with very few of the downsides.