So far with my experience with beta having done dungeons and messing around on dummies for a fair bit I think while there are a decent number of changes which improved Retribution I believe that the spec overall has gotten worse going from BFA to Shadowlands.
Wake of Ashes: I think the addition to this ability to the core Retribution kit was a very good move as it’s sort of been an unmoved talent slot for practically the entire duration of BFA. It’s a cool looking ability and it’s design mechanically of doing good damage and giving holy power on a moderate cd is great and helps provide good bursts of damage for retribution in between waiting for wings to come off cd.
Hammer of Wrath: Yet another good addition for pretty much the same reason, it took up a talent slot that more or less went unchanged for the entirety of the expansion and it feels good to have a part of the core rotation allowing us to pick other options.
Level 40 & 50 talent rows: I think for the most part these rows have a bunch of great abilities on them that can offer diverse playstyles for ret, and while I have gripes with some of the options in terms of numbers I think they’re all unique abilities that are a great fit.
Legendary Powers: I think most of the Retribution specific legendary options are great, I think I welcome the divine storm, final verdict and mad paragon legendary powers with open arms as they all either have a clear purpose or introduce cool mechanics like an emphasis on using hammer of wrath on a high priority.
Vanqusher’s Hammer: While I think the overall design of this ability is very cool I think it’s underwhelming considering it has a holy power cost so in scenario’s where you build to 3 holy power, you spend 1 on vanquishers hammer then build another to spend it on Templar’s Verdict. I think with the circumstances the class can fall under in terms of how the rotation especially early on with low haste can lead to us having downtime or no feasable way to build to 5 holy power it feels bad to spend 1 holy power, generate 1 more just to spend it properly. I’ve also strongly believed for a while that perhaps making vanquishers hammer a 2 minute CD and providing 4 stacks would make the Covenant ability much more interesting to me as it could be used together with wings to give a good burst option and give us the ability to cleave while technically doing single target damage in the most important damage window retribution paladin has. I think this could also justify having a higher holy power cost if removing it’s cost is out of the question.
Divine Toll: I think this ability has been the most fun and most rewarding to play with in m+ and multi target scenarios, it pretty much operates like a second Wake of Ashes, but on single target this ability feels absolutely atrocious to use. People in past have suggested that the ability should get a shorter cd based on number of targets it hasnt hit, so if divine toll hits one target you gain 1 holy power and an extra judgment debuff on the target, but it’s cooldown properly reflects the gain. and equally so for 5 holy power and 5 judgment debuffs it has it’s intended 5 minute cd.
Blessing of Seasons: I think this ability sort of makes me sour because I originally believed after the rework it could be used in ways for Retribution players to properly express their ability to play and be cognizant of their surroundings and synergize with their team, instead this ability moreso becomes something along the lines of "hey if you use spring/winter on actual utility, you will be punished heavily because now you have to wait to use autumn with wings because of how good autumn synergizes with wings and mad paragon legendary.
Ashen Hallow: I think a four minute cd is far too long for something like this and I think a majority of Retribution players would rather this cooldown take a duration cut and be on a two minute cd than try to deal with a 4 minute cooldown, which essentially can make this an ability used twice a fight, of which can be especially punishing if the boss involves heavy movement. I also think the ability having no type of priority system of who or what it damages is very bad as it can repeatedly choose a target that has a damage reduction in a pack of mobs and effectively do less damage as a high commitment 4 minute cd, Id prefer if the ability either did aoe damage or splitting damage to compensate for that.
Shield of Vengeance: This cooldown I’ve pretty much thought forever was a bad replacement for Divine Protection and I sort of hope every day to wake up to a build where Divine Protection returns and Shield of Vengeance gets sent to spell jail, I’m not sure where to start but for a two minute cd 30% max hp shield seems extremely low even if the reward at the end is damage, in BFA it was changed to always explode for the damage it absorbed which sort of made it a less toxic cd to use as most of the time you felt unrewarded or more inclined to take extra damage to commit the full absorb but I think with much of the melee specs having % damage reduction I think replacing this ability with Divine protection would be a welcome addition to Retribution’s kit. While we do have an eight second immunity that renders us completely mobile and able to attack at full damage, in more instances than retribution can feel they are in more danger at times because of a 5 minute CD that we have to sacrifice a mobility option (of which we are poor in that department) to lower to 3.5 minutes.
Mobility: This has been an issue for literally forever I feel like with retribution and I think it’s time to finally make the commitment to adding an entire talent row committed to mobility, or significantly improve the class’s mobility in order to make the class able to compete with the likes of other melee like warriors, dh, rogue, monk, feral, shaman, and hunter. I understand there is a conduit that allows for a longer duration on divine steed but I am very skeptical that anyone will be that willing to give up damage options with conduit slots in order to take the finesse or endurance slot that allows for this mobility, I think this was yet another poor trade off, that while other classes get mobility for what seems like free and have full options for damage available to take, were left with a tempting option at the cost of dps, same scenario can be given for our level 35 tree, an example which I believe is perfect for this is N’zoth, on that fight during early progression had very telegraphed times to use bubble for two sets of thought harvester soaks, which pretty much mandated we go unbreakable spirit to meet the CD requirement to make both soaks, so on a super mobile fight like nzoth, we had to be very picky with our movement and where we used divine steed, it didn’t feel great to see other classes fly across the room meanwhile I used my divine steed earlier due to corruption slows to meet one set of basher tentacles and now I’m the sole person taking a warlock gateway to get to the basher tentacle about to spawn on time.
Consecration: This ability feels incredibly useless I’m not sure what to say, the tuning on this ability feels really bad and there is no reward for using this ability as it doesnt award the player with any holy power for using it, so while it does bad damage and generates no holy power it’s become retributions single target filler for when everything else is on CD, on aoe it’s damage is nothing significant either, you need a sizeable pack in order for it to make any sort of impact. not to mention that I think while consecration might be “iconic” paladin ability to some I find it very bothersome to use as a melee player who is more accustomed to following mobs not guiding them, if it did anything worthwhile (which it doesnt) I’d imagine it would feel horrible to see tanks move mobs out of your consecration as soon as it was dropped due to some of the built in tank movement affixes in keys like sanguine, raging, necrotic and etc. I’d much rather go back to a more recently introduced ability in Legion, Divine Hammers, so atleast even if it’s useless, when a tank moves and I have it up I can be at ease knowing that it’s still tickling the mobs I’m chasing.
Eye for an Eye: I imagine this talent serves good purpose in pvp but in all honesty in most pve content whether its raids or m+, practically nothing from this expansion has done aoe physical damage that would make this ability usable in any sense. I’d like to see some sort of rework of this ability that would make it actually competitive with the talent row it resides in.
Justicar’s Vengeance: I’m not sure what to say here, it’s been two expansions, and this ability has to be approached at some point right? it does literally nothing and has no business belonging in a tree with two other “healing” talents. If it’s actually a dps gain, you can expect most if not all retribution paladins will have it slotted, but instead of setting that precedent it’s gone unused and unchanged for going onto three expansions now.
Healing Hands: This talent has very poor design I think it’s reward doesn’t justify it being taken simply put, it takes a cooldown that is very good but used maybe once a pull and makes it so you could potentially use it twice a pull maybe three. I’d rather this talent be used for something more interesting and potentially more rewarding to compete with (X talent slot that isnt justicar’s vengeance) and selfless healer, perhaps effecting Word of Glory? I’d be interested to see it do something like heal more targets or do increased healing while incurring a CD or a lazy approach could be make casting WoG have a chance to refund 3 holy power, essentially giving you a free word of glory.
Empyrean Power: I think from the get go I believe this spell when it was an azerite trait should’ve gone into the base Retribution kit as it was a fun way of adding RNG to the class from it’s base while not being severely impactful to the damage Retribution can do like Vision Major did especially in Nyalotha. I also think that this talent simply doesnt fit into the row it’s currently placed in, and I’m not sure what row I’d put it in, but having to pick a chance at a free aoe spender versus two abilities that directly impact holy power generation is something I don’t think should exist. I believe the row should be focused on holy power generation instead of adding more globals. Especially after the proc chance nerf to this talent, it feels especially punishing knowing I could pick an option with more consistency or an option that is directly buffed by a currently existing conduit, it also feels like a lose lose in aoe rotation prioritizing CS over spells like blade/judge, hammer of wrath just to fish out procs, consider maybe reverting this ability back to all spells instead of exclusively cs.
Wake of Ashes: I know I mentioned this in the good section, but between it going from a talent to being a baseline ability, it broke a few ribs falling into the trees while descending from heaven, it received a large single target damage buff which is nice, but suffered having about 40% reduced damage to secondary targets. People I’ve spoke to have mentioned that this is an okay change because alot of other classes suffered the same fate with reduced secondary target damage, but this ability also suffered with losing two holy power on gain. it sort of took away from how impactful wake of ashes could be knowing that this button could give you five holy power to work with which could be then used to do a myriad of things like commit to a TV, build again, and spend on another TV, and this can be replaced with divine storm and word of glory, it felt nice to know this ability could be used in a pinch. If secondary target damage won’t return I hope dearly that either the CD of Wake is reduced to around 30 seconds to atleast make synergy with wings and execution sentence a lot better, or to return the ability to its 5 holy power glory.
Holy Avenger: My problem with this ability isn’t a big one, but I think a three minute cd doesnt fit at all with this ability, unless there is some long con being played which will make wings a 1:30 cd I literally cannot see why this CD can’t be in perfect synergy with when wings is used unless there is some hidden goal here like synergizing this ability to be used on cooldown with execution sentence, seraphim and inquisition when it needs to be refreshed. For the most part I think most rets are going to see this ability come of CD and proceed to not care about it for another minute while they wait for their 3rd wings to come off cd. More or less what I’m asking for here is either make the CD 4 minutes and buff it, or make the CD 2 minutes and nerf it, 3 minutes in it’s current state makes the ability weird.
TL;DR - Wake, Legendaries, Hammer of Wrath, level 40/50 rows are good, class specific covenant abilities, Shield of Vengeance, Mobility, Consecration, Eye for an Eye, Empyrean Power, Healing Hands, Holy Avenger and Justicar’s Vengeance are bad.
Thanks for the work you guys have been putting in so far going into shadowlands I hope the experience can be significantly improved with the feedback provided by all of us when the game finally launches.
Also PS. please add a glyph that makes my divine steed a Favorited mount.