Thursday, June 10, 2010

Seal of Command: Cleave Your Way to Victory!

I remember when paladins didn't even spec into Seal of Command.

"That's a leveling seal!" they'd say. "It has no endgame viability!"

Blizzard heard these people and proclaimed from a nearby mountaintop, "NAY! Seal of Command in 3.2.2 will be re-tooled, and henceforth be known as Seal of Cleave! Let it be so!"

We all know how awesome this seal is for AoE situations, mainly trash packs and the like. But say you're a dedicated raiding ret paladin with some extra time and gold to spend; should you use your offspec for a Seal of Command-specific AoE build? Does such a thing exist?

How about you and me find out? Yeah? Maybe we can get some ice cream after? Awesome! Yeah, ice cream!

In assessing our core talents, let's see which are "mandatory" and which can be shuffled. Say you have a boomkin in your raid providing Improved Moonkin Form, as they should and as my guild has had in both 25m and our 10m group. This buff does not stack with Swift Retribution, so those talent points can be reallocated. Also, since we're trying to build an AoE trash spec and will be using Seal of Command, 5/5 Seals of the Pure is unnecessary, so those are up for grabs as well.

Here's our spec so far: 0/5/52

We have a whopping 14 points free to place at our discretion. The power... the POWER!!!!!

Let's try and find damage-increasing talents in the other trees and assess their accessibility.



Holy Power - In order to get this nifty talent, we'd need to dump 25 points into the Holy tree just to get to it, 30 points to go 5/5. When using Seal of Command, I believe (haven't tested or found a specific source) this would modify Judgement of Command, Consecration, Holy Wrath, Exorcism, and Hammer of Wrath. Would be nice, but all in all, getting to it would be a bitch.

Holy Shock - I'm upset that I missed the whole "Shockadin" fad. I'm a little excited to be getting this as a base spell for all paladins in Cataclysm, but as for right now, it's in the same boat as Holy Power. Too many talents in Ret would need to be sacrificed to reach this puppy.

Holy Guidance - I know about all the 'rawr no SP anymore rawr' coming from the Ret community as a whole, but most of our attacks (i.e. the attacks I listed as being affected by Holy Power) are still modified by spellpower, making this worth looking into. Given the average ret paladin's unmodified Intellect as roughly 120, this talent could up our spellpower by an incredible 24 points. So... yeah, never mind. Next!

The remaining talents (Judgements of the Pure and Enlightened Judgements) would be hawt for ret, but they're just one tier above Beacon of Light, so there is NO way we can get those.


Combat Expertise - Like Enlightned Judgements in Holy, this talent could free up some itemization in our gear for more direct DPS-based stats (that is, Strength), while also increasing our crit by 6%. Too bad this requires 38 points in Protection to be fully active.

Touched by the Light - Oh yes, the talent at the center of the Prot/Holy PvP spec of days passed. In the original iteration of this talent, the spellpower increase was based off of Stamina, not Strength, meaning holy pallies could use a protection spec while wearing holy gear to get loads of spellpower and an increase of 10% to their critical heals. In terms of our DPS, increasing spellpower by using our Strength seems like an awesome idea. However, the position of this talent in the Protection tree (requires 43 points to get 3/3) makes it impossible to get.

Summary: Even with 14 free points, we can't reach any DPS-increasing talents in either Prot or Holy trees. Bummer.

So what now? As you might have guessed, it comes down to a battle of cooldowns:

Aura Mastery vs. Divine Sacrifice.

Say you are this hypothetical ret paladin with an unused offspec (not me, by the way). You have your main raiding spec all neatly organized and glyphed and framed on your wall, and your other spec is empty. Your main spec will pick up 5/5 Seals of the Pure, and if you followed my advice in this post, you probably picked up AM, meaning that picking up that cooldown for a second spec is kinda... odd.

I need to clear something up before we get into the pros and cons of these two cooldowns. Previously I was a bit harsh on World of Matticus's own Matticus (and Ophelie's guildie) when I read he was choosing to spec into DivSac over AM, and for that I really do apologize. My Elitist Jerks training kicked in when I saw a spec that wasn't EJ-approved and I didn't even stop to think that there could be situations where DivSac would be better than AM, especially if you already have an AM somewhere.

Anyway, in the comments of that post, Ophelie said the following little gem that I completely glossed over:
There's no significant dps loss in going DS instead of AM so saying he shouldn't go into ICC because he's specced into DS is kind of exaggerating.
She's absolutely correct. First, that I exaggerate a lot, and in doing so look like an idiot. But more relevantly, that taking DivSac carries with it no DPS loss to speak of. True, grabbing Divine Guardian DOES, but only when we're talking about single-target encounters, such as most boss fights, and not AoE-loving trash, or the unique Dreamwalker encounter.

I really will not go into why or why not you should pick up DivSac, as I feel I've already beaten that topic to death (some of it being right, some of it being blatantly ignorant); if you feel your raid could use a 2 minute cooldown that:
  1. Effectively soaks up 50,000 damage (given the caster paladin's health pool is approximately 25,000) that is spread out among the members of your party (and your raid, when combined with Divine Guardian),
  2. Cannot be bubbled a la 3.2 awesomeness, meaning that once you absorb the 50,000 damage the spell breaks,
  3. Makes said ret paladin the center of healing focus for ten seconds,
Then I say go for it. With my raid set up, however, it makes little sense to take, as our holy paladin and two prot paladin MTs (as well as me, in my prot spec) all take DivSac in their builds, in addition to Divine Guardian. I will leave this choice up to you.

However, getting back to the topic at hand, if you did take AM for your main spec and you're deciding which cooldown to take for your trash offspec, may I suggest taking DivSac? It's moderately useful on trash, but I think the real benefits of choosing this route are Guardian's Favor, Divine Guardian, and surprisingly, Toughness.

Guardian's Favor - Brings BoP's cooldown down to 3 minutes and increases Freedom's duration to 8 seconds; increased usefulness to two potentially life-saving utility cooldowns = win, in my book.

Divine Guardian - Remember how I said that grabbing this talent gibs your DPS "only when we're talking about single-target encounters, such as most boss fights, and not AoE-loving trash, or the unique Dreamwalker encounter"? Without needing Seals of the Pure, we can grab this talent, not only giving your raid a 20% DR raid wall, but also making Sacred Shields you toss out more powerful and last longer.

Toughness - I admit, I took this mainly get to Divine Guardian, and figured it was worth more than Improved Righteous Fury, Anticipation, and Divinity combined. More armor? Meh. A 30% reduction in slows? Yes please!

Therefore, after much ado, I present you with your DivSac/AoE trash offspec: 0/19/52


The glyphs I chose in the link above are fairly straightforward, although the removal of the Glyph of Seal of Vengeance opens a third slot for one of the following:

Glyph of Seal of Command - Hurting for mana for some reason? Use this!

Glyph of Holy Wrath - Are most of the mobs you AoE down Undead or Demons AND your tanks need some help with snap aggro? Use this!

Glyph of Divine Storm - Are your healers not very good with large amounts of AoE raid damage, especially in the melee? Use this!

Glyph of Salvation - Are you an overzealous aggro whore? Use this!


And finally, we come to FCFS priority. Since EJ doesn't have an AoE-based FCFS priority system, let me introduce you to mine!

Judgement > Divine Storm > Crusader Strike > Consecration > Hammer of Wrath > Exorcism

Randomly toss in some Holy Wraths to help CC (gasp!) Undead and Demon mobs, or to get interrupts on Risen Archmages, but I wouldn't use it as a primary spell (even when glyphed).

Don't worry, I didn't just pull this out of my butt; I used Rawr to devise the highest DPS rotation using my gear (T10 equivalent) with 3 Humanoid targets for 1.0 minutes while using Seal of Command. So if you're worried I put a lot of hard work and effort into it, don't be. If you look really carefully, you'll notice the only difference is prioritizing Consecration over Hammer of Wrath, which makes sense with multiple mobs.


As I've mentioned, I lack the dust-collecting offspec in order to try this out, as I'm often asked to switch back and forth between prot and ret during both 10's and 25's. However, if you already dumped the gold into getting Dual Spec and really aren't doing anything with it, why not give it a shot?

Rather than just use this for trash, a spec such as this would be ideal for the Dreamwalker encounter under if you have an AM from somewhere else for when the Blazing Skeletons cast Lay Waste (Fire Resist Aura + AM = win). The Divine Guardian-enhanced DivSac would certainly help for this ability, but I think this ability is better saved for crunch time, when adds are overwhelming your tank(s) and your healers are trying to pump out as many heals as possible to end the encounter. Again, it's up to you.

A few more reasons for why this spec would be great for Dreamwalker:
  1. Guardian's Favor would result in more BoPs to hand out for people too slow to run away from exploding Blistering Zombies, and a longer Freedom to give to those who need to run away from something but were just hit by an Archmage's Frostbolt (5/5 Toughness is nice for this ability as well),
  2. Suppressors bunch up nicely at Dreamwalker's feet, making them nice and cleave-able,
  3. While the other adds don't necessary bunch up, most of the adds will die within 15-20 seconds, which is the DPS threshold for Seal of Vengeance, so in this timespan Seal of Command outperforms
  4. Even 1/2 Improved Hammer of Justice means more interrupts available over the course of the fight to stop the Archmages' casting (and on heroic this is vital)

That's it for now. Any questions? Comments? Concerns?


  1. taking out glyph of consecration is tbh, stupid. Lowers the mana cost and allows for more ability spam in between conc's which if ur going for aoe, is all important especially with 2p t10. Dropping swift retribution in favour of am or divine sac isnt a good idea either. What if u boomkin is out of range, or dead? u just lost 3% haste for the benefit of absorbin dmg. If your lookin for aoe spec for raiding, its exactly the same as single target. Ret palas are not mages, we have 1 dps spec with optional extra points. If ur serious about dmg, its not a good idea to spec out of it

  2. and just so u know, the fcfs prio for aoe is thus:

    Divine storm, Conc, Holy Wrath, Conc, JM, Exi

  3. First, I never took out Glyph of Consecration. If you look at the 0/19/52 build I linked, it has both Judgement and Consecration glyphs. I removed Glyph of Seal of Vengeance because we weren't going to use Vengeance for AoE-based encounters. Please check your sources before you throw words around like 'stupid.'

    Second, I dropped 3/3 Swift Retribution because I assumed the presence of a boomkin. If you don't have one, feel free to take 3/3 Swift Ret and go only 4/5 in Toughness and 1/2 in Divine Guardian. If you do have one, I feel their aura is "better" than ours for the following reasons:

    1. According to the information I've been able to gather, Improved Moonkin Form has a 45 yard range, while Swift Retribution has only a 30 yard range. This means that you will more than likely not outrange your boomkin, since you'll be in melee range of the adds, and Hurricane has a 30 yard range, which is what a boomkin will spam for their AoE damage. This safely gives you 15 yards of breathing room between you and your crit chicken.

    If you have a boomkin who is liable to quick or easily-avoidable deaths, then go with 3/3 Swift Ret.

    If your boomkin dies during the encounter, it IS going to be a hit to your DPS, don't get me wrong. If you don't place as much faith in your healers/boomkin as I place in mine, feel free to take Swift Ret.

    2. Improved Moonkin Form, as a talent, is necessary for a boomkin's DPS, as they gain 10% of their spirit as SP (while minor, every serious raiding moonkin build I've seen takes it), while our 3/3 Swift Retribution is taken because there simply aren't any other DPS-increasing talents in range, and because the presence of a boomkin isn't always guaranteed.

    Third, I agree that using our standard raiding spec for AoE is just fine, and you see NO (that is none, nadda, zip) DPS increase by taking the spec I linked, as I thought was implied in the statement,

    "Summary: Even with 14 free points, we can't reach any DPS-increasing talents in either Prot or Holy trees. Bummer. "

    The purpose of this odd spec is utility. If you don't see a reason to spec into this for extra raid cooldowns or what have you, you don't have to.

    Fourth, other than having Consecration listed twice (Conc = Consecration, right?), and a complete lack of Crusader Strike and Hammer of Wrath, you are at least partially correct about my FCFS: it's inaccurate. I'm trying it out this morning from home (I did my previous testing on my work computer) using a ret paladin from my guild, as I logged out in my tank gear, and I got the following data:

    Rawr 2.3.18

    Fight Parameters:
    Fight length = 1.0 minute
    Mob type = Humanoid
    Seal = Seal of Command
    Targets = 3.0
    Bloodlust = checked

    The rest was left to the default.

    FCFS priority used: DS>CS>Judge>Cons>HoW>Exo

    DPS: 29,868

    I was unable to model Holy Wrath in the sim, probably because it's on a 30 second CD unless glyphed, which would mean you could use it 3 times in a 1 minute fight (beginning, middle, end). So I'm unsure of that aspect.

    For reference,
    My original FCFS: Judge>DS>CS>Cons>HoW>Exo
    DPS: 28,949

    Your FCFS: DS>Cons>Judge>Exo>CS>HoW
    OR DS>Cons>Judge>Exo>HoW>CS (you didn't list either of CS or HoW in your given example)
    DPS: First- 29,465, Second- 29,385

    We were both a bit off, and granted yours does more DPS. I intend to edit the original post to include this data.

    Thanks for the opportunity to reevaluate this post, and sorry for the raid-wall of text! Haha

  4. When I read "14 points free" my vision got cloudy and I started shouting in the middle of my cubicle "DIVINE SACRIFICE AND DIVINE GUARDIAN." I'm assuming that was the WoW version of the holy spirit.