As was pointed out in the comments on a previous blog post, the protection 2-piece-turned-4-piece that returns holy power when Bastion of Glory (BoG) stacks are consumed will allow us to keep SotR up 100% of the time. That comes with a small disclaimer, namely that it takes about 40-45% haste to pull it off. But many players are already at or above that threshold, and more of them will reach it with T16 gear.
The more I think about it the less I think it was intended. To illustrate why, first let’s look at how the process works. Let’s assume a player has T16 4-piece and barely enough haste to pull this trick off. His finisher cast sequence looks something like this:
1: Build 3 HP, cast SotR, repeat 5 times to build 5 BoG stacks
2: Build 1 HP, cast WoG, cash in on 5 free Holy Power from set bonus
3: Cast SotR
4: Build 1 HP, cast SotR
5: Build 3 HP, cast SotR, repeat 3 more times to reach 5 BoG stacks
6: Build 1 HP, cast WoG, cash in on 5 free Holy Power from set bonus. This takes you back to step 3.
The player then repeats 3-6 indefinitely since that forms a closed loop. Let’s call a single traversal of that that loop a “cycle.”
For that cycle to maintain 100% SotR uptime, you need to generate 11 HP every 15 seconds. There’s 16 HP total expenditure per cycle, but you get 5 back each cycle as well. Eleven HP every 15 seconds is 0.733 HP/sec, which is easily achieved with ~40% haste and any of the T75 talents. Rather than re-do the math myself, I’ll just quote Thels, who worked it out:
Let’s take 2 minutes from a fight, so we can pop HA exactly once. We need 8 cycles of 15 seconds of SotR uptime, so 8 cycles of 11 HoPo, for a total of 88 HoPo every 2 minutes.
During 2 minutes, at 50% haste, we press CS/HotR exactly 40 times, and Judgment 26 times and a bit, for a total of 66 HoPo.
Our HA covers 6 CS/HotR presses and 4 Judgment presses, for a total of 20 extra HoPo, which brings us to 86 HoPo.
That would mean that we need 1 Grand Crusader proc per minute to indeed cap on SotR. Each additional proc allows us to underperform slightly.
The only thing I want to add is that each additional proc doesn’t just allow for under-performance, it also reduces the haste threshold. My conservative estimate is between 40% and 45% haste, but it will vary a lot based on the number of mobs you’re tanking, the amount of time you spend tanking those mobs, and the average melee swing timer of the bosses (Ji-Kun, for example, spends so much time casting that his effective swing timer is absurdly long). If you consider any real encounter with tank swaps, banking to 5 HP before starting the cycle essentially ensures 100% uptime while you’re tanking even at lower haste levels.
There are a few reasons I don’t think this was entirely intended. The fist concern is the “block cap” issue, because that’s really the same problem being recreated by this effect. We stack a particular stat (haste now, mastery in Cataclysm) so that we can reach a point where we take a lot less damage from physical attacks (>40% now, 30% in Cataclysm. That certainly feels like it could be a balance problem on any hard-hitting boss, just like the Cataclysm-era block cap was. How do you challenge all five different tanks when one takes almost half of the damage from the largest attacks?
In Dragon Soul, they simply made most attacks bypass block, but that solution doesn’t work with SotR. And an entire tier of Lei Shi doesn’t sound appealing, nor is the next tier likely being designed with this in mind. Block cap was a persistent problem the entire expansion, and they could (and did) plan for it when designing encounters. I doubt the same is true of this set bonus.
Second, the fact that they swapped the T16 set bonuses makes it clear that the developers thought the interaction between 2-piece tier 15 and this holy-power banking set bonus was a problem. Maintaining a constant +40% block chance buff was bad enough to swap the set bonuses so that it couldn’t happen. This effect is even worse, because it’s maintaining a constant 40% damage reduction. We may have had a lot of that uptime already, but I’d argue it’s still a much stronger effect than an extra 40% block chance.
Third, there are some rotational concerns. On these I’m a little more mixed. The set bonus means that players will literally be able to macro SotR to every ability in their rotation and ignore it. All they need to worry about is timing that single 1-holy-power WoG every ~15 seconds to keep their income level. This bothers me from a skill standpoint, obviously, but also from an annoyance standpoint. I don’t really want to write 7 or 8 new macros for my rotational abilities just so I can be lazy with SotR presses. But I probably would, because not having to pay attention to SotR would open up some attention bandwidth that would probably be beneficial.
That said, to pull this trick off you give up WoG as your emergency button, so you are making a sacrifice. Losing that big self-heal is certainly one fewer reactive tool we have at our disposal. But it’s almost certainly a sacrifice worth making if you ensure that you never take a full-sized hit. It’s sort of like giving up sunscreen to become immune to sunburn.
I’m also not certain that it was entirely intended that we could use a 1-holy-power WoG to return all five of our reserve holy power. That’s the key to this trick, after all: use a 1-HP WoG to refund 5 Holy Power, netting you 4 HP. If you can do that every 15 seconds, that’s 0.267 HP/sec. For comparison, you get an equivalent HP generation rate from 67% haste, which is ludicrous. The set bonus literally gives us about 67% haste worth of holy power generation, or about 28k haste rating. Now admittedly, that’s assuming that you already have about 40% haste, and the overall value of the set bonus will reduce somewhat if you’re below that point already. But no matter how you slice it, it’s absurdly good.
In fact, it feels a lot like using one-HP WoGs to game Divine Purpose back in Cataclysm. When that trick became fairly widespread, the developers modified the proc chance so that it scaled with holy power spent. The parallels between the two are somewhat uncanny, which leads me to believe that this bonus will be tweaked eventually as well.
I like the general idea of the set bonus, though. Removing the opportunity cost of WoG is neat. Having a Holy Power reserve is sort of neat as well. I can see interesting situational uses for the bank, like getting into real danger and saving the day with a clutch sequence of SotR – WoG – SotR -SotR. That would be pretty fun, and I feel like that’s the sort of thing the developers had in mind with this set bonus.
But I think I would like the “banking” idea a lot better if we were not able to use it to reach 100% uptime on SotR. Being able to reach that threshold changes the entire feeling of the bonus. It will feel not like a neat tool at our disposal, but like a maintenance buff. And a cheesy maintenance buff at that – something we have to do because it’s just so broken that we’re at a disadvantage if we don’t.
The ability to reach 100% SotR uptime with this removes the interesting aspects of the banking, like being able to choose when you want to use that HP reserve, and replaces it with a rote, “macro SotR to everything” style that feels really bland and boring. Instead of thinking about timing SotR on short time scales, we phone in our 1-HP WoG every 15 seconds and call it a day.
In more technical language, for the banking idea to be fun it needs to be more reactive than proactive. Just as WoG is a tool you use to react to a big hit, this set bonus needs to be a tool we use primarily to react to a dangerous situation. There’s certainly still going to be proactive potential here, like using the bank to cram a few extra SotRs in during a period where you expect to be in danger. But that’s still somewhere in the middle of the reactive-proactive continuum, because you’re reacting to a potential threat. When it becomes purely proactive, as it does if we’re just withdrawing from the bank every 15 seconds for the steady-state HP gain, it stops being nearly as fun.
I do think that it’s possible to tweak the set bonus slightly to keep the interesting aspects while preventing abuse. But to do that, the holy power refund we get needs to be scaled or limited somehow, either by the amount of HP spent (as Divine Purpose was) or by some other constraint. I can think of a few fairly simple systems for this:
1) Return 1 holy power per stack of BoG consumed, capped by HP spent.
In other words, you can only get as much HP back as you spend. That still removes the opportunity cost of WoG, but also removes the banking potential entirely. That’s a bit of a bummer, but at least it prevents abuse.
2) Let’s assume that solution is too severe. Instead you could cap the returns by (HP spent + 1). For example, with a 5-stack of BoG:
3 HP WoG grants 4 HP back
2 HP WoG grants 3 HP back
1 HP WoG grants 2 HP back
This has the downside of not being very intuitive. It also encourages you to use WoG at less than 5 stacks of BoG to avoid “wasting” potential gains. For example, the 1-HP WoG cycle would turn into two consecutive SotRs followed by a 1-HP WoG. That requires 5 HP every 6 seconds if we’re aiming for 100% uptime on SotR, which is a higher threshold (0.8333 HP/sec), but probably still attainable with L75 talents and ~50% haste.
Another concern is that it doesn’t “fix” the problem, it simply raises the threshold. And if one L75 talent turns out to be the best at HP generation (like the new version of Sanctified Wrath, or “Holy Judgment Spam” as I like to call it), it might be the only valid choice if it lets us reach that threshold. That just ends up turning the set bonus into a constraint on talent choices, which isn’t much fun.
3) Internal cooldown. HP gains from the set bonus are limited to once every N seconds. This doesn’t eliminate the banking feature, but does limits the maximum HP generation rate one can achieve by it. For a few points of reference, here are the rates one would achieve for several different values of N assuming we use a 1-HP WoG at 5 stacks of BoG, which is a 4 HP gain:
N=30 gives 0.1333 HP/sec, or about 33% haste equivalent
N=45 gives 0.0889 HP/sec, or about 22% haste equivalent
N=60 gives 0.0667 HP/sec, or about 16.7% haste equivalent
N=75 gives 0.0533 HP/sec, or about 13.3% haste equivalent
N=90 gives 0.0444 HP/sec, or about 11.1% haste equivalent
Any longer N would probably be too weak, simply because we’re likely to give up about 10% haste just to wear 4-piece unless the itemization team starts embracing our new Mists mechanics. So at that point it would be a wash in the HP generation department, and whether or not to use the set at all would become a question of whether it’s worth giving up the raw HP generation rate (and DPS!) we’d gain by using well-itemized off-set pieces to gain the short-term HP banking ability that the set bonus provides.
That may still be an interesting choice, but I think that a 1.5-minute or longer effective cooldown will turn players off. I already heard complaints about the new version of Sacred Shield (30% absorb bubble every 2 minutes, triggered by low health) even though it’s rather powerful. The complaints were always, “meh, once every 2 minutes is so rare it might as well be never.” I completely disagree, of course. How soon we forget the stupidly overpowered Wrath-era Ardent Defender talent. But most players form their opinions based on gut feeling rather than rational analysis (you’d be surprised how many prot paladins still gear for dodge and parry!), so I think a long internal cooldown on the set bonus will be generally end up being viewed as not worth it.
And it’s worth noting that this version still only raises the threshold, it doesn’t eliminate it. It raises it by a lot more than the other methods because it severely reduces the steady-state holy power generation rate that the set bonus provides. So by the time we have enough haste to hit 100% uptime with this extra income, perhaps we’d already be well above 90% uptime anyway.
Still, I think the internal cooldown idea is probably the most even-handed. And likely the easiest to implement as well, given that it doesn’t involve a significant change to how the HP returns are calculated. A 60- to 75-second ICD would put a cap on how effective the set bonus is, and if chosen correctly might make sure that the 100%-uptime SotR panacea is out of reach.
Though I feel obligated to mention that I’ve ignored the potential interactions with the revised version of Selfless Healer, which would return 5 HP for zero HP cost via Flash of Light. I’m ignoring that because the version of Selfless Healer on the Public Test Realm doesn’t grant the set bonus effect yet. That may be intended, or it may be an oversight, it’s anyone’s guess as to which. In fact, my guess is that it’s an oversight that will become intended once this blog post becomes common knowledge.
But more importantly, I don’t believe that the increase in effectiveness we would gain over the regular 1-HP WoG version is worth sacrificing Sacred Shield and tying yourself to the GCD with Flash of Light. However, if the set bonus is “fixed” in a way that leaves the HP generation threshold in reach, it could become a concern, much like the level 75 talents might be. It all depends on what, if anything, happens. As much fun as it might be to be a stupidly-overpowered block-capped paladin tank, I hope something does. If not for the sake of making the set bonus more interesting, than for the sake of the other tanks we’ll leave in the dust.