Slinging Shields in Slo-Mo

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:

Ability GCD
CS 0.94
J 0.92
HW 0.90
CS 0.76
J 0.78
SS 1.27
CS 0.90
J 0.90
HW 0.78
CS 0.83
SS 1.28
J 0.90

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:

Execution Sentence GCD Testing

Execution Sentence triggers a >1.30 second GCD.

Light's Hammer GCD Testing

Light’s Hammer triggers a >1.30 second GCD

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.

This entry was posted in Tanking, Theck's Pounding Headaches and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Slinging Shields in Slo-Mo

  1. Newsom says:

    Now that you blogged about it, maybe it will finally get fixed. 😀

  2. Kaarn says:

    “Sacred Shield for Holy Paladins can now be active on more than one target at a time, but the talent now costs mana, and has a 10-second cooldown.”

    I’m not sure if it’s the same for holy but in 5.4 it might be a bigger annoyance for them because they would spend more unhasted GCDs on it.

    • Theck says:

      It was definitely the same in retribution spec, but I didn’t test holy. I think that it’s the same in all three specs though.

  3. Holysmack says:

    Big fan of your blog,

    Off the subject, I tank on my Paladin and my partner tank in 10 man raids is a Monk. Now I have noticed a shockingly large difference in our threat output, being that the Monk does double my threat. I am control haste geared and he goes with either a crit build or a haste build. He is only slightly lower geared than me, and I can make up for it by careful timing of my Holy Avenger but it is a struggle. However we found that on the Iron Qon fight he was ripping aggro off me almost as if I was not producing threat at all. The Monk would stop DPS completely and I would even salv him while I was going all out to produce every bit of threat I could muster once the salve wore off he would gain aggro again often times. Many times he would run away from the boss all together to attempt to not regain aggro. Has anyone noticed this difference in threat production between tanking classes? And what is up with the Iron Qon fight in particular being that it seemed the boss ignored the fact that I was a tank in comparison to the monk?

    Here is my world of logs for that raid, please any explanation of this threat difference and especially during the Iron Qon fight would be hugely appreciated.


    • Holysmack says:

      Ops linked the wrong World of Logs. here is the one with Iron Qon in it.

    • Kerriodos says:

      I tank with a monk (13/13H, so we generally know what we’re doing), and while the problem is not nearly as pronounced in our case, if our monk doesn’t tone it down a bit after a taunt swap, it can get a little dicey. Keep in mind that Salv works similar to Fade–during it, the buffed person is treated as though they have no threat at all, but they do still produce threat; when Salv fades, all the threat from the damage they did during it will be there, which can often shoot them back up above you if they didn’t take it easy.

      Also keep in mind that threat is basically just the damage done, modified by your spec threat bonus. If the monk is doing a lot more damage than you, and your logs suggest he is, he is also doing a lot more threat than you. You’re doing 10N, so your vengeance levels are going to be comparatively low v. what I’m used to (and frankly Paladin damage is not so hot at low vengeance compared to other tanks, which might screw you), but in my experience a Paladin should be able to keep up with, if not beat, a monk in purely single target (AoE is a whole other ball game, and Keg Smash deserves the nerf), so I would be looking to your priority to make sure you’re optimizing damage output. I don’t really have the time to go through logs GCD by GCD, but…

      From a quick glance at your logs, your Avenger’s Shield looks low on your damage breakdown. That would contribute a lot. Also, I’m not sure what glyphs you’re using of each fight or how often you swap them, but I hightly recommend you make sure you’re using the correct glyphs for a fight. Glyph of Holy Wrath, for example, is only going to be effective for a small percentage of fights, and even then the stun isn’t super impressive versus, say, Leg Sweep. Meanwhile, the difference between glyphed and non-glyphed Avenger’s Shield on a single target fight is huge, and Alabaster Shield/Final Wrath are pretty noticeable as well. Also take a look at your level 90 talent. It looks like you favor Light’s Hammer, and the healing it can put out is definitely useful, but if it’s not necessary you’ll put out more damage single target with a well-timed Execution Sentence,

      You’re also at a haste level where you could consider Divine Purpose over Holy Avenger for pure DPS, but in terms of survivability it might lag behind–you can’t control it, and unless you’re tanking 100% of the fight, you’re going to have ‘wasted’ procs.

      You’re a little under expertise hard cap. Should focus on fixing that immediately.

      Other than that, think about holding onto some hard hitting abilities right after a taunt swap. Glyphed Avenger’s Shield is excellent for giving you a cushion to overcome the Vengeance lead your co-tank has, though a Keg Smash at the same time might negate a fair bit of that. In the worst case, this problem should be neatly solved by the threat bonuses being added to taunts in 5.4, but I would definitely take a look at some of the things I mentioned just the same.

      Hope that helps a little, if you have any questions you can get a hold of me on twitter, @Kerriodos.

      • Tengenstein says:

        If you’re not hitting enrages due to low DPS have him shift to tiger stance after you taunt. Or he could get Omen, and learn to ride the valley between pulling aggro and producing more threat than the other tank.

      • Thels says:

        A reason why things might be so noticeable on Iron Qon is because every time you get to a new dog, there’s an aggro reset. Each dog has it’s own aggro table.

        Therefor, if you tankswitch just after a new dog appeared, the amount of threat you both have on it is quite minimal, and it’s really easy to do 10% more than the other tank and overaggro.

        Do you guys run Omen? It might be worth installing to see how far the monk can go to not overaggro.

        And yes, as mentioned, get your rotations right. Also, save up 5 HoPo and AS for right after the tankswitch.

        On most bosses, it would help if you’d be the first to tank, as the first tankswitch is always the most dicey, due to lowest total threat and thus the smallest amount of threat needed to overaggro.

        • Holysmack says:

          Thanks everyone for the valuable advice.

          Yes we both run Omen and the monk does try to throttle in order to ride the line so as to do as much damage as he can with out pulling aggro off me, however on the Iron Qon fight he was having to all out stop attacking (not even white damage) until I pulled ahead then he would gingerly start attacking with just auto attack and we would both notice him gaining on me and then over take me unless he stopped again and ran from the boss. The only thing he was doing besides throttling his white damage was cast his Chi Wave.

          It just seems that if tank threat is supposed to be some what equal it sure seems like there is a problem with Monk threat, when there is no chance I can rip aggro off him even with popping my damage cool downs, and yet he has to throttle his white damage to avoid pulling aggro off me. Also noticed he is always in the top 3 on the DPS meter and often times very high in the healing meter as well. I tend to agree with Blizzhoof below that Monks must be broken but at the same time wanted to make sure I was doing everything I could to keep up with the Monk and find out if there was anything glaringly obvious that I was failing to do, also wanted to know if anyone else is noticing this or if this was an isolated difference simply between this particular Monk and I.

          • Newsom says:

            Thankfully they are band aid fixing this in 5.4 – all taunts now increase theat generation by 200% for a few seconds.

          • Thels says:

            Firstly, when are these tank switches? If you’re going to tank switch just after a new doggy popped up, then you’ll get threat issues regardless, by so much as looking weird at the new doggy.

            Next time, have the monk start the fight, and taunt the first dog around 50%. Whenever moving to a new dog, let the monk pick it up, and you taunt it off after 50% again. Since at 50% there should be decent threat on it, the 10% that he needs to overcome is much larger than the 10% right after a new doggy popped up.

            If this leads to him having aggro issues when switching, then simply macro RF to taunt, and take off RF every time a new dog spawns.

            And yes, monk tanks do a lot of damage, but… so do paladins! If he’s far above the DPS and you’re far below the DPS, you might be doing it wrong. Try uploading a couple of tries to WoL, and link it. Perhaps we can notice something from that.

    • blizzhoof says:

      It’s for the same reason that they are the only tank with a 40-yard taunt (every other tank has a 30-yard taunt) that also has the additional benefit of making the mob move faster. It’s the same reason that after Blizzard said during Cataclysm that they didn’t like people kiting adds they gave Monks Dizzying Haze (an ability specifically designed for kiting). It’s the same reason they have more mobility than a Warrior. Blizzard threw out the rulebook when they made Brewmasters and created an overpowered class. Keg Smash is and will probably will for the duration of this expansion be completely overpowered. Nobody can hold initial threat off of a Monk that is trying without putting up big DPS cooldowns (and even then it’s iffy). Your other tank needs to learn how to throttle and not rip aggro off you.

      Your specific issue though likely has more to do with the content you’re doing. 10N has the softest hitting bosses and almost all of the Paladin toolkit scales really well off of attack power, but has low base damage. Many Monk abilities scale off of weapon damage giving them high damage prior to Vengeance. If you were doing 25H content, the distinction wouldn’t be nearly as blatent. Again, the issue is that he needs to learn how to throttle.

    • Zaeron says:

      Your DPS is incredibly low considering your gear level – You’re better geared than me except in a couple slots that are weird (bracers and belt should change ASAP).

      Your damage done on Durumu is almost 30k below mine, and you’re only 2 ilevels below me. Here’s my log from Durumu:

      I used Durumu because that’s a fight we don’t 1 tank. That said, you should be one tanking Iron Qon. You’re leaving tons of free damage on the table. Either way, the gap between our damage is pretty clear despite you being about the same ilevel as me – I suspect the problem is in your rotation.

      One thing you can do immediately is switch from the tank metagem to the melee DPS metagem. You absolutely don’t need the extra mitigation from the tank metagem, and the DPS meta is a straight ~10% DPS increase for me in pretty much any situation. It’s a big deal.

      Other than that, the problem isn’t immediately apparent from your logs. You’re hitting all the right buttons. So, with that in mind:

      Avenger’s Shield and judge immediately after taunting. Prioritize high damage abilities – if you can unload two SotRs right as you taunt, Avenger’s Shield and Judge, you should be able to lock threat fairly well. Likewise, rather than completely stopping attacks, have your monk just pool energy for a bit – it’s extremely important for your monk to be able to keep doing his rotation so that he can build shuffle. Having him avoid keg smash might be worthwhile.

      The other thing that might be going on is that you might be leaving GCDs on the table. It’s really important that you be hitting a button every single GCD as a haste build paladin. Even just half second gaps between abilities add up quickly when you have a 1.1 second GCD.

  4. Geodew says:

    Haha. Video was fun to watch. Hope it gets fixed (or at least addressed and acknowledged as intentional?). Monks have a 1s GCD by default and I know I’d notice if one particular instant-cast spell had a 1.5 GCD. :<

  5. Balloon says:

    This is something that has annoyed me since the beta. We lifted it up early during 5.0, and then again during 5.1 and 5.2 PTRs but never got any response about it. Tried several times to twitter GC about it, never any answers. The fear is of course that it will only get worse as we reach the GCD cap, which will easily happen in 5.4 for every raiding paladin tank.

    While it is not something major, it is simply about quality of life.

    Think it was also lifted up back in 5.1 how this will upvalue HPrism towards the other talents as you reach the GCD cap.

    Every time you use LH/ES you delay your entire rotation by 0.5 seconds, You do not have the same effect with HPrism, add that together with how consecration scales with haste, which leads us to get fewer fillers, or well you can clip cons but that is not really attractive either, having the extra fillers that HPrism provides over the other talents is not bad either. I am almost of the opinion that once you reach the GCD cap HPrism just has too many benefits over the other talents simply because of the GCD issue.

    • Ceomao says:

      My solution has been not using SS LH ES if applicable during Holy Avenger otherwise try to pick holy prism. Worse scenario if u do have to endure long GCD on those spells named just think it as talking to my girlfriend, no matter how much haste I have she still comes with a NRG duration of GCD before answer my question seriously.

  6. Kerriodos says:

    I’d definitely noticed this happening, but aside from the annoyance never really thought about the *why*. So, as usual, thanks for putting in the effort to get this stuff out there.

    I do really hope it gets fixed–I’m already only ~6% from the GCD cap and it’s been bothering me more and more as I get closer. :/

  7. Jackinthegreen says:

    According to it looks like we’ll be getting haste on our tier gloves and helm. I admit my first thought on that is going to be “Now it might actually shut up some of the naysayers who can’t accept that the haste gearing strategy works quite well despite there being megabytes of data showing that it is.”

    Hopefully they’ll fix the GCD bug for those spells though. Have they been included in the latest SimC update?

    • Theck says:

      Megabytes is underestimating. I cleared at least a few Gigabytes of simulation data out of my MATLAB archive folder once I retired that code.

      I have to double-check, but I’m pretty sure SimC assumes a full hasted GCD for all spells, including the ones that are currently bugged. If the bug isn’t fixed by the time 5.4 is released, I’ll fix that. I’m holding out hope that it will be, though.

  8. Theck says:

    Good news: Looks like this bug has been fixed on the PTR

  9. Schroom says:

    I belive Righteous fury got the same bug. the GCD is soooo long :(

    • Theck says:

      Righteous Fury is an odd case. You can’t cast it during the GCD, but casting it also does not *incur* a GCD. So you can just cast Righteous Fury and then immediately cast another spell.

Leave a Reply