In medias res is a Latin phrase meaning “in the midst of affairs” or said more colloquially “in the middle of things.”
This is where I believe we are at in the state of the PTR, especially to how it relates to the current firestorm going on about the change to SoV/C on the PTR.
Just to bring you up to speed, SoV/C causes a stacking DoT on your target. It is currently the default seal of tanking Paladins. It rocks. It’s actually been buffed on the PTR. When you get your 5 stack up, the next time you proc the seal it will 33% of your weapon damage as Holy. Tanking Paladins are hopeful this damage will offset the threat loss from the nerf to Shield of Righteousness.
On the PTR, it’s also the default seal for Retribution Paladins. Having Ret and Prot use the same Seal is not a good plan for future balancing issues.
But it’s the most recent change to SoV/C that has all the Rets reaching for their pitchforks to march on Blizzard headquarters. Basically the change is that only auto attacks can put up the stack which translates to a 15 second ramp up time before Ret starts doing ‘real’ damage.
This effectively and elegantly solves the PVP Ret burst problem. As an added bonus, this change doesn’t affect Tankadins much because we tend to use fast 1.5 second One handers compared to Rets 3.0 second plus Two Handers.
Mission accomplished, break out the champagne.
Not so fast my friend.
This basically breaks SoV/C for PVE. Ghostcrawler has explained it as a balance of short versus long fights, and pointed out that classes with ‘finishing moves’ often suffer in those fights, and specifically mentioned Thorim as an example.
Let’s look at Tier 8 fights with significant burn windows, or heavy trash or target-switching elements, or potential windows of time off-target, or two or more of the above:
Emalon, XT (Hard), Razorscale, Iron Council, Kologarn, Auriaya, Hodir, Thorim, Freya, Mimiron, Yogg
11 of 15 fights, that’s a fairly significant percentage. This isn’t about short versus long. This isn’t about ‘fnishing moves’. Rogues, probably the class you think of first when you hear ‘finisihing moves’, are topping damage throughout Ulduar.
Simply put, it’s going to put Ret at a significant disadvantage throughout Tier 8 fights.
But I don’t think it’s going Live as is.
What I’d like to do now is to try to walk a ‘mile in the moccasins’ or perhaps pincers of our favorite crab.
I believe what they’ve been trying to do since really 3.0 is to get the Seals separated out.
The plan was that we’d use SoBlood for PVE, SoCommand for PVP, and SoVengeance for Tanking.
The problem with that approach was that Rets found that using SoCommand was pretty lacking and that SoBlood was better in PVP despite the kickback damage. They mitigated the damage the same way they mitigated the kickback damage in PVE, with Sacred Shield and Art of War proc’ed Flash of Lights.
So in 3.2, the Developers removed Seal of Blood and redesigned Seal of Vengeance. The idea was the SoV would be the PVE Seal, and we’d finally use SoCommand for PVP. They additionally made a curious statement about SoRighteousness being a Tanking seal, expect no one uses Righteousness to Tank. The Developers know this too, and all you have to do is look at the Seal of Vengeance Glyph to see that. But maybe there was more to that statement than met the eye.
But once again, Rets on the PTR found SoCommand lacking and went with SoV in PVP. With the DoT stacking from everything, the 5 stack was up quick and Ret Burst was still an issue.
Then you have the recent change for the DoT to stack only on auto attacks. This fixes the PVP burst problem with SoV.
Mission accomplished, break out the champagne.
Not so fast my friend. Now you’ve broken SoV for PVE.
The developers now have to figure out a way to buff SoV back up for PVE without buffing it for PVP. This is not an easy task.
One of the core issues in all of this is Seal of Command. The developers haven’t been able to find a way to make Command more attractive to use in PVP than the PVE Seal of the Month. Kickback didn't work, and making ramp up time work really hurts it in PVE.
I believe Ghostcrawler may have tipped their hand unintentionally a bit. Their long term goal might be for Prot, Ret PVE, and Ret PVP use different seals. Righteousness for Prot, Vengeance for Ret PVE, and Command for Ret PVP. This is analogous to the discussion the Developers had concerning Hunters and their signature shots. If you want to buff Survival and Survival only, you make changes to Explosive Shot.
If you need to buff Ret PVE, but you don’t want to affect Ret PVP or Prot, you buff the Ret PVE Seal.
But to do that you must make Command really attractive in PVP, but not be too bursty, since that seems to be Ret’s core PVP issue. You also must make the Ret PVE Seal work in PVE, but not so well that it becomes the default for PVP as well. Yet, at the same time, it has to work in fights with time off target, or burn phases. If you want to further separate out Prot, you’ll have to find some way for the Tanking Seal to be more attractive to tanks than the Ret PVE Seal.
It’s a tall order, but I think you can see the developers are In medias res.