Not much to report. I played for about an hour and 45 minutes last night. Once again, VERY rough going as a retribution paladin. More than once, I seriously considered ending this experiment and switching back to Protection.
I’m about halfway through 64 at this point. I don’t think my goal of reaching 66 by Monday is attainable, as I’ve got plans for the weekend so I won’t be able to play much. Add to that, I am almost out of rested XP, so it’s going to take double the time. So far, I’ve been able to get about 5 bars an hour, taking me 10 hours to level up. With rested XP gone, I’m estimating 20 hours per level. Of course, since I don’t play much, I’ll probably increase my rested XP along the way.
That’s actually a huge chunk of time if you break it down. I figure it’ll take me a week for each level, playing 2 hours a night during the week, plus another 10 hours over the weekend. As long as I hit 70 by the time the expansion drops, I’m golden.
ANYWAYS, things didn’t go as smoothly as I had hoped last night. I was struggling as a ret pally, having to deal with being out of mana at very inopportune times. Honestly, it’s like playing my rogue again. Except I’m also paying for water. And once again, life wasn’t made any easier by the level 70 alliance gankers. One hunter in particular was able to gank people inside of Stonebreaker Hold without being attacked by the guards.
I did make some real progress towards the end of my session. The key to leveling is all about finding a process, a repeatable pattern you can execute on any mob. I know this makes the game kind of boring, and one of the reasons I hate playing DPS classes, but the fact is you need to be as efficient as possible in PVE combat.
I’ve worked out process for PVEing as a Ret Pally. At most I can fight 3 mobs before I need downtime to eat and drink. It’s all about managing your seals, and making sure you are being as efficient as possible with them. For me, this means I sacrifice judging crusader on some mobs, but it’s the only way I can reduce my downtime.
Long fights are necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes it’s worth it to me to finish a fight with no seals up, just because it gives me a chance to let my recharge my cooldowns and regen some mana. Ideally, I have Sanctity Aura and Blessing of Might up, and then light up Seal of Crusader. I don’t immediately judge crusader, instead I auto-attack the mob a couple of times. After I have judged crusader, I immediately light up Seal of Command. During the fight, I throw in a few sparse Crusader Strikes, usually in between my normal swings, just to keep a constant stream of damage. Once SoComm is at the end of its timer (doesn’t always happen) I usually judge that to end the fight. If not, I save it and immediately attack the next mob with a SoComm judgment to start the fight. I then re-up Seal of Command and continue the process.
The key to conserving mana is managing your seals. I try to avoid activating a seal SOLEY for the purpose of judging it. It seems like a waste to me to switch from SoComm to Crusader then immediately judge Crusader, THEN bring up SoComm again.
Equally important is making sure you try to keep Vengeance up at all times. Pursuit of Justice is great for this, since you can run to the next mob and keep the fighting going.
If I’ve done a good job managing my mana, I will also throw in a Holy Light heal to keep me going. Healing with Holy Light reduces my downtime, since I don’t have to stop and eat between fights. I like to keep it simple and cheap, so instead of drinking and eating, I’ll try to bring myself to full health and just drink. Cheap, I know, but that’s how I play.
For Ret Pallys, you use damage as your defense. If you pick up an add, that’s when you have to go all out to burn them down. As protection spec, the more the merrier, but even with heavy plate, a Ret Pally can’t take a lot of hits.
Also, playing as Ret, I’m very liberal with my divine shield. This is a stark contrast from Protection spec, where I try to save DS for emergencies only. But playing as Ret, it’s a great weapon for keeping fights going and dealing with multiple targets. You can get off a Holy Light heal and full bandage with the shield, which usually brings me back to full health.
I really need to start carrying Mana and Health pots with me at all times. I’ve never really done this, but it’s becoming a necessity to have that available in case you get into trouble.
Overall, I’m impressed with the damage a Ret Pally can deal, but I’m not sure it’s the right fit for me. I will keep it up till I hit 65, but I’m most likely going back to Protection for the last 5 levels.