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Thread: The State of Protection Paladins in Alpha

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    The State of Protection Paladins in Alpha

    We have seen plenty of mechanics changes for the other classes, while Paladins have got significantly less changes than the rest of the field. This is a departure from the past, when we got to relearn the class more than once over the development cycle of the expansion pack. However, some of the changes are still quite interesting.

    This is based on information available as of 11 June 2014.

    First of all, we shall have a look at Resolve.

    King Vengeance is dead, long live King Resolve

    Vengeance was originally intended to make tank dps scale with the content. In that regard, it succeeded, however it succeeded too well - especially in Throne of Thunder. Tanks felt encouraged to stand in ground damage and sit down to be intentionally critted in order to do more damage and maximize their self-healing. Blizzard reacted to this behaviour by removing Vengeance gains from being critted and from standing in fire/poison/whatever. Vengeance also increases the effectiveness of our self-healing, to the point at which our self-healing is even enough to make us almost wholly self-sufficient with regard to healing required to stay alive. In Warlords of Draenor, they are going even further by removing the offensive value of Vengeance and are renaming it Resolve.

    Resolve will effectively be “Attack Power for defensive and healing abilities”. This means that we will have scaling defensive capability without completely obliterating the dps on high tank damage fights (and thus shattering their precious and delicate egos). Abilities like Shield Barrier, Sacred Shield, Eternal Flame, Blood Shield etc will scale with Resolve instead of Vengeance. Percentage-based heals will also scale with Resolve, an example being the periodic healing effect granted by Empowered Seals (more on that talent later).

    The downside of this change, is that tank damage done will be reduced significantly without some kind of damage buff, as a tank with no Vengeance attack power does about 50k dps, as opposed to the 250-500k dps when tanking. Blizzard is therefore going to increase the base-damage of all tanks, with the aim of them doing approximately 75% of the damage of an equivalently geared and skilled dps character.

    I’ll try not to scare you off with all of the maths (mainly because I’d end up copy-pasting it all from Theck’s blog on the topic), but essentially Resolve is based on damage taken normalized to a percentage of your health pool over the last ten seconds. If you take zero damage for ten seconds, your Resolve level falls back to its default level.

    The default level for Resolve is your Stamina divided by 250 and then that result is divided again by a constant value called alpha (α). α is equal to 67 for a level 90 character and 261 for a level 100 character. So a character with 1000 stamina at level 90 will have a basic Resolve level of (1000/250)/67 = 0.0597 = 5.97%. So without taking any damage, a level 90 tank with 1000 Stamina will do 6% more healing and absorbs when the patch goes live.

    This is added to the in-combat portion of Resolve.

    The in-combat portion of the calculation is slightly more involved. We take the amount of damage done, multiply it by 2, and multiply this by 10-Δt. Δt is the amount of seconds since the last time we took damage. We then divide this by ten. We then divide all of that by our maximum health value. Finally, we multiply this by 0.25 to get the final amount of Resolve granted at that point in time.

    So for example, we have 100,000 life. We take a hit for 50,000 (unmitigated) damage (50% of our health pool). This hit gives us: (((50000*2)*(10-0)/10)/100000)*0.25) = 0.25 = 25% Resolve.

    The Δt factor means that as time passes, our Resolve decays. This happens in 1 second intervals. In the following examples I have highlighted the Time factor.

    So after 1 second, that 25% Resolve becomes:

    (((50000*2)*(10-1)/10)/100000)*0.25) = 0.225 = 22.5% Resolve.

    2 seconds after that 50,000 damage hit, it has decayed to

    (((50000*2)*(10-2)/10)/100000)*0.25) = 0.2 = 20% Resolve

    And so on. This decay rate means that after 10 seconds, the increased Resolve level due to that one hit is reduced to zero.

    (((50000*2)*(10-10)/10)/100000)*0.25) = 0

    Here, we have got 50,000 multiplied by 2, which is 100,000. But now that ten seconds has elapsed, that 100,000 is multiplied by 10-10 = 0. From this point onwards, we are dividing and multiplying zero which, as I’m sure you know, always gives 0 as the result and we only have our base Resolve level until we get the next hit. It ramps up quickly, due to the calculation only taking the last ten seconds of events into consideration, and also reaches an equilibrium point faster than Vengeance did.

    When we take multiple hits during those seconds, the Resolve values are added up. So we will assume that we continue to take 50% max health unmitigated swings, every 1 second.

    First hit gives you 25% Resolve with the timer at 0 seconds.
    The second hit gives you 25% Resolve, which is added to the already decaying first hit's Resolve (22.5%), giving a total of 25+22.5=47.5% Resolve.
    The third hit is 2 seconds after the start of the Resolve buff, but the first hit's Resolve now has two seconds of decay and the second hit's Resolve now has 1 second of decay, so you have 25+22.5+20 = 67.5% Resolve.
    The fourth hit gives you a total of 25+22.5+20+17.5 = 85% Resolve
    The fifth hit gives you 25+22.5+20+17.5+15 = 100% Resolve
    The sixth hit gives you 25+22.5+20+17.5+15+10 = 110% Resolve
    The seventh hit gives you 25+22.5+20+17.5+15+10+7.5=117.5% Resolve
    The eighth hit gives you 25+22.5+20+17.5+15+10+7.5+5=122.5% Resolve
    The ninth hit gives you 25+22.5+20+17.5+15+10+7.5+5+2.5 = 125% Resolve
    The tenth hit gives you 25+22.5+20+17.5+15+10+7.5+5+2.5+0 = 125% Resolve

    We can clearly see that Resolve ramps up very quickly with it reaching 80% of its maximum value a mere 4 seconds after the buff starts (on the 5th attack), and then tapers off with the value stabilizing at 125% Resolve. While most bosses only attack every 1.5 to 2 seconds, the same principle applies (however it will take a little longer for the Resolve amount to stabilize).

    Additionally, attacks that ignore Armor generate 2.5 times as much resolve as attacks that do not ignore Armor. The health used in the calculation does not include temporary health increases such as Last Stand or Rallying Cry. The damage calculated is the value BEFORE percentage reductions and Armor. Avoided attacks generate the same amount of Resolve as the average damage from that attack.


    The Removal of Hit and Expertise

    Hit and Expertise are being removed in Warlords. This is mainly because these are stats that are boring to use. They are an arbitrary barrier of entry rather like Defense Skill was back in Classic through Wrath of the Lich King. Most players that care about their hit and expertise use addons and websites such as ReforgeLite or AskMrRobot to determine the most optimal mixture of reforging and gems to get as close to the caps as possible. I look forward to having 7650 secondary stats more to play with.


    Multistrike

    Multistrike gives us a chance to take additional healing from heals received. This sounds good on paper, but I have my doubts as to its usefulness in its current incarnation. We already have quite a large amount of self-healing, and adding to this won't make too much of a difference. If we need extra healing, we can simply hit Word of Glory, Eternal Flame or Lay on Hands and thus don't need Multistrike. If we don't need extra heals, we don't need the healing from Multistrike, and thus it is irrelevant. It is entirely dependent on the tuning of the boss encounters and the final scaling of our self-healing and absorbs with Resolve, but I don't see Multistrike being a useful stat as it is right now.


    Dodge and Parry


    Dodge and Parry rating have been removed from gear. Parry rating will be increased by Strength. Any existing Dodge and Parry rating on gear shall be converted into other universally useful stats.


    Armor

    Armor is making a return to gear after a two-expansion hiatus. It will provide an additional passive reduction to physical damage taken (doesn't apply to bleed effects) and I estimate it will be our third-best secondary stat for survivability.


    Haste

    Protection Paladins now gain an additional 5% more haste rating from items. Otherwise it is business as usual, and Haste will likely be our best stat.


    Mastery

    Mastery now increases our attack power in addition to its current effects. The heal-over-time from Eternal Flame no longer interacts with Bastion of Glory.


    Crit

    Crit is still a pure DPS throughput stat, however Paladins are getting a similar mechanic to the Warrior/Deathknight "Riposte". Crit Rating now grants Parry Rating to Protection Paladins. It is still going to be not a great stat, unless you are having no survivability issues (rather like it is now in Mists of Pandaria).


    Versatility

    Versatility replaces Readiness as the second "new" secondary stat. It increases your damage and healing done by 1% and reduces your damage taken by 0.5%. It stands to be quite a powerful stat, however this is mostly dependent on the amount of rating it requires per 1% increase. For tanks, I would expect us to primarily want it for the healing increase unless healing mechanics and the boss fight tuning demand a certain level of increased damage reduction.


    Ability Pruning

    Blizzard is on a crusade against superfluous abilities. Abilities that are commonly macroed together are being merged or cut. Raid cooldowns are being reassigned or cut. Raid dps cooldowns are being removed (with the exception of Bloodlust/Time Warp/Ancient Hysteria/Heroism).

    In the raid cooldown department, Protection Paladins are losing Devotion Aura (now holy spec only). As for abilities, Avenging Wrath is being taken from Protection, and Hand of Salvation is being removed completely. Blinding Light has been removed completely. Celestalon has, however, said that they could add the Avenging Wrath graphic back to Protection due to its status as an iconic Paladin ability.


    Ability changes

    The healing version of Execution Sentence, Stay of Execution, has been changed to front-load its burst healing instead of the final heal being the large burst. Sanctuary now increases parry chance by 3% and makes Word of Glory and Eternal Flame instant casts (They have been made those two spells 1.5 second casts for Holy). Eternal Flame no longer benefits from Bastion of Glory, bringing it more in line with Sacred Shield.


    Talents:


    Not much has changed in the talents department other than the new row of talents granted at level 100:

    Empowered Seals grants a 20 second buff to our power depending on the seal that is currently active. Seal of Insight grants a 5% max hp heal that ticks every 2 seconds. The heal scales with Resolve, but does not appear to scale with Haste. Seal of Truth increases our Attack Power by 15%, Seal of Justice increases movement speed by 20% and Seal of Righteousness increases attack speed by 30%. The idea is that you swap seals to maintain these buffs. What I imagine will happen though, is that we use Insight most of the time, possibly swapping to Righteousness for the increased attack speed for Seal of Insight procs from weapon swings and attacks.

    Seraphim increases our Haste, Mastery, Crit Chance, Multistrike, Versatility and bonus Armor from items by 30% for 10 seconds on a 30 second cooldown, however it does cost 5 (yes, five) Holy Power to activate. This makes it almost unusable in its current state – if you need more DPS, you need to compensate 2 Shield of the Righteous. If you need more survivability, you will almost always be better off spending the Holy Power on two Shield of the Righteous. If you need more Healing, you have Word of Glory. To make this talent attractive, I would put it on a longer cooldown (perhaps 60 seconds), remove the Holy Power requirement and make it increase those stats by a flat 30%, not 30% of stats on gear.

    Holy Shield allows us to block spells and damage-over-time effects, and our blocks deal a nominal amount of damage to the attacking enemy. This could be very useful against quite a few bosses – so many boss abilities are spells and DoTs, and being able to reduce them by 40% (albeit a rather unpredictable 40%) will contribute a decent amount to our survivability.


    All in all, Protection Paladins are getting relatively few changes (as of date of publishing). This is a significant departure from previous expansions, which have completely overturned our gameplay. We are losing a few iconic abilities – I am really not looking forward to losing Avenging Wrath and Devotion Aura. “Wings” and auras are a core part of the Paladin class in the Warcraft universe, and removing them just seems wrong to me. Celestalon has, at least, made the concession that Avenging Wrath’s graphic is so iconic that they could implement a cosmetic glyph that changes the appearance of one of our abilities to the Avenging Wrath wings.


    We have got a long few months ahead of us, let’s see how much else changes.
    Last edited by Fetzie; 06-13-2014 at 02:21 AM.

  2. #2
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    Does Grand Crusader still proc with Parry and Dodge? If so it will make crit interact with our active mitigation a little more interesting, but still will be no were near the top of our stat priory.
    "Warriors make you sap, Paladins let you sap."

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by angelflavor View Post
    Does Grand Crusader still proc with Parry and Dodge? If so it will make crit interact with our active mitigation a little more interesting, but still will be no were near the top of our stat priory.
    It does, but you are still stacking a parry chance and a chance to proc on that parry (for example if you have 30% parry and 30% proc chance = 9% chance to proc on any melee swing).

    Basically if you are taking crit you are taking it for the increased damage, not for the increased parry chance.

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