Today’s post is just a quick one, since I’ve been really busy with SimC work this week. However, it’s something that is a little more immediate, namely the Sacred Shield global cooldown (GCD) bug we’ve been struggling with all expansion.
For those that don’t stack haste, or are otherwise unaware of the bug: Sacred Shield is ostensibly a spell (it would be tough to argue that it’s a melee attack). Most spells in the game trigger a hasted GCD – that is to say, the GCD length is reduced by your spell haste. However, on live servers this isn’t the case, as Sacred Shield incurs a full 1.5-second global cooldown. The same bug affects two of our level 90 talents as well: Execution Sentence and Light’s Hammer. I would have guessed that it’s an issue with spells that are granted through talents, but curiously neither Holy Prism nor Hand of Purity exhibit the behavior.
While it’s mostly a quality-of-life issue, it’s extremely jarring to be cruising along with nearly 1-second GCDs and then all of the sudden hit a 1.5-second GCD with one of these three skills. It’s like a sudden, poorly-marked speed bump on your rotational highway.
Unfortunately, the bug still hasn’t been fixed on the PTR, at least as of build 17227.
To demonstrate, I performed the following tests on the PTR. I used my own character in protection spec, but wearing high-haste ret gear. In that gear I was able to get 32.32% melee haste and 45.55% spell haste with Seal of Insight active. At those haste levels, the global cooldown should be:
Melee GCD: 1.50/1.3232 = 1.134 seconds
Spell GCD: 1.50/1.4555 = 1.031 seconds
To get a numerical measurement of the GCD, I used Gnosis Castbars, which has a GCD monitor showing the remaining duration on the GCD. I tweaked the settings to make the text large so that we could easily see it. Then I captured a video of me wailing on a dummy with Fraps set to 60 frames per second so that I could go back and step frame-by-frame to see the maximum number Gnosis displays.
This is the annotated video showing the effect, running at 1/4 speed (15 FPS):
Slo-mo paladiny goodness.
Since it’s hard to see the instant that the GCD starts even when played back at 1/4 speed, here are the observed GCD times in the video by stepping frame-by-frame:
There’s clearly some delay involved between the GCD being registered and Gnosis displaying the number, as the CS casts are only being shown almost 200 ms after they’re happening (i.e. the countdown timer should start at 1.134, but Gnosis doesn’t get around to displaying them until 0.94). In extreme cases, it’s delaying as much as 400ms (the 0.76 CS cast). But note that this is an asymmetrically distributed error – it can only make the numbers smaller, not larger. So we can be confident that the largest number we see is a minimum bound for the length of the GCD.
And it’s clear from the data that Sacred Shield is an outlier. We never see a GCD time above 0.95 seconds for Crusader Strike or Judgment (melee), or above 0.90 seconds for Holy Wrath (spell). Those are consistent with what we expect after accounting for ~200 ms of display lag, give or take. But Sacred Shield is clocking in at about ~1.3 seconds. Once you include the display lag, that gives us our full 1.5-second GCD.
Also note that this cannot be a display bug, as the GCD for Sacred Shield should never be above 1.03 seconds if it was a spell or 1.134 seconds if it were affected by Sanctity of Battle. It would only ever show a time shorter than those two, not >100 ms longer.
I’ve also tested Execution Sentence and Light’s Hammer on the PTR, and both are giving full 1.5-second GCDS:
Again, Holy Prism and Hand of Purity seem to be working properly. The highest I was able to achieve with either on the PTR was about 0.85 seconds, which puts them both solidly within “hasted GCD” territory. Less quantitatively, both of them felt like hasted GCDs when I tried to perform a full rotation.
It’s clear from this testing that these three abilities aren’t exhibiting hasted GCDs yet. What’s not clear is, “why?” I don’t think it’s the result of a conscious choice on the part of Ghostcrawler & co. For one thing, treating these abilities differently than most other spells in the game doesn’t make much sense. And doing so doesn’t solve a significant balance problem, nor does it have a significant impact on the value of haste. And it’s certainly not a deciding factor in choosing our level 45 talents. It’s mostly just a minor annoyance, not a creative way to fight back against the haste machine.
No, more than likely it’s probably just an oversight, especially given that Holy Prism and Hand of Purity are properly affected by haste. My guess is that the three affected abilities went through more (or fewer) iterations in the Mists of Pandaria beta, and along the way someone just forgot to flip the “GCD affected by spell haste” switch on them.
But with more paladins reaching the 50% haste mark in 5.4, this minor annoyance will become even more noticeable. So it would be a nice quality-of-life buff if it were to be fixed. Hopefully there’s still time to influence that change before 5.4.