Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Understand Divine Sac Change

I'm still trying to wrap my head around the Divine Sacrifice change in 3.3.

Divine Sacrifice was :

30% of all damage taken by party or raid members within 30 yards is redirected to the Paladin (up to a maximum of 150% of the Paladin's health). Lasts 10 sec.

In 3.3, Divine Sacrifice changes to :

The effect of Divine Sacrifice is now party-only and the maximum damage which can be transferred is now limited to 40% of the paladin’s health multiplied by the number of party members. In addition, the damage transferred to the paladin is now reduced by 50% before being applied to the paladin. Finally, the bug which allowed Divine Sacrifice to sometimes persist despite reaching its maximum damage has been fixed. Divine Sacrifice will now cancel as soon as its maximum damage value is exceeded in all cases.

Divine Guardian was :Improves the effectiveness of your Divine Sacrifice spell by an additional 10% and increases the duration of your Sacred Shield by 100% and the amount absorbed by 20%.

In 3.3, Divine Guardian changes to:

Divine Guardian: This talent no longer increases the amount of damage transferred to the paladin from Divine Sacrifice. Instead it causes all raid and party members to take 20% reduced damage while Divine Sacrifice is active.

Let's try to unpack the changes here.

The Paladin 'raid wall' has been nerfed from a 30% damage reduction to a 20% damage reduction, and the Paladin must now spend an additional 2 talent points to get the raid wall. The amount absorbed has been buffed from 150% of the Paladins health to 200% of the Paladins health (40% times 5 party members = 200%). The damaged transferred will be reduced by 50%.

Let's put some numbers to this. A raid buffed Paladin with 45k health would allow a raid to absorb 90k worth of damage (or 3600 damage per raid member in a 25 man raid) and do 45k to the Paladin. As long as he's getting some heals, he Paldain should be able to survive the damage. A Ret or Holy Paladin taking the talent would knock those numbers about in half.

Normally, whenever a Paladin uses Divine Sacrifice, he couples it with Divine Shield and takes no damage. The durations of the two spells work out almost perfectly. Divine Shield is 12 seconds and Divine Sacrifice is 10 seconds. The Paladin hits Divine Shield, then has a 1.5 second global cooldown, and hits Divine Sacrifice. Both spell end at nearly the same time. I took this near perfect synergy of timing to be a clue from the Developers that these two spells were designed to be used in tandem.

Since the Paladin takes no damage under Divine Shield, there is effectively no cap on the damage. The Developers now call this a 'bug'. In 3.3, the bug which allowed Divine Sacrifice to sometimes persist despite reaching its maximum damage has been fixed.

If we assume a 20k Holy Paladin, this puts a cap on Divine Sacrifice of 4000 incoming DPS. If your raid is taking more than 4000 incoming DPS from the Boss ability, Divine Sacrifice will stop working before the full 10 seconds is up. A 40k Protection Paladin raises the bar to 8000 incoming DPS.

I believe the Developers are trying to uncouple using Divine Shield and Divine Sacrifice. I have this sneaky suspicion they saw how powerful the combination was going to be in the upcoming Icecrown Raid.

So pretty much Divine Sacrifice/Divine Guardian is a nerf to Paladins and even the part that might look like a buff is taken away from the 'bug fix'.

What's this mean to your average Protection Paladin?

Well if you were mostly maintanking boss fights, you likely weren't popping Divine Sacrifice all that often. That likely won't change. Even with a 50% damage reduction on the redirected damage, you don't want to voluntarily take a hit equal to your full life bar while you are tanking the boss and raid damage is flowing around. That's a ticket straight to an Ardent Defender proc and possibly even death.

If you offtank most fights, you were probably using Divine Sacrifice liberally, or should have been. It's a fantastic tool for an offtank, and some might even argue it pushes Paladins a little bit into the offtanking role. In 3.3, you'll still want to use Divine Sac to help out the healers and possibly save the raid or a fellow tank in a tight spot.

I will still have Divine Sacrifice in my spec in 3.3, but that is only because it's required to get Divine Guardian. The Divine Guardian buff of Sacred Shield (longer time, more absorbed) is still part of the talent. Since we don't run with any Holy Paladins, I am in charge of my own Sacred Shield, and Divine Guardian means I only have to refresh it once a minute instead of once every 30 seconds.

NO DS Live DS Damage Reduced 3.3 DS (no cap) Damage Reduced Change from Live
iDPS per person 2000 1400 1600
10 man 160000 112000 48000 128000 32000 16000
25 man 400000 280000 120000 320000 80000 40000
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