Blizzard have taken to the Wrath Classic forums to write up a very in-depth post on class balance and Retribution Paladins in particular.
Ret Paladin (Source)
The team has been looking at this thread and discussing the topic of class balance amongst ourselves a lot recently, and we wanted to take a moment to talk about class balance vs. spec balance and clarify some comments that we’ve made in recent discussions and interviews, and also generally explain our philosophy around class balance in Wrath Classic.
“We will be watching class balance closely, and my perspective is we should just let it be, unless a class is pushed out entirely and the community says ‘this class is complete junk, we don’t even bring them anymore’ and then I think we should take a look at it”
We’ve seen this quote and others like it that we’ve made increasingly taken out of context and it’s important to highlight a few key words here. Namely; “class” balance is the key word in this statement, and this might be being conflated with “spec” balance.
Using Paladins as an example, we are hard pressed to think of a class that is more well-represented in Wrath Classic raiding across multiple specializations. Holy is one of the strongest healing specs in Wrath of the Lich King, and Protection Paladins have never been stronger tanks. While Ret is not at the top of the meters relative to other damage specs, they provide stellar raid utility across the course of the entire expansion with several key raid buffs, including Sanctified Retribution, the effect of which is only shared by Beast Mastery Hunters (another spec that is traditionally seen as a PvP spec and has lower representation in raids) and Arcane Mages (a spec that scales well early, but starts to taper off later into the expansion). Additionally, late last week we fixed a bug with Hammer of Wrath that was causing it to not scale properly from Melee attack power, which should be a fairly significant increase to Retribution damage, especially on longer fights with sizable execute phases.
In general, we feel that Paladins are in an exceptionally strong position as a class and see no reason for any major changes at this time. The scenario in which we would step in to make a direct buff to baseline class functionality is quite specific and that’s when a class as a whole is at a point where they are almost never taken in raids across a broad spectrum of skill and performance levels. Having one spec be stronger than another is not a problem if the class itself is well represented. Also, if bleeding-edge groups going for realm firsts, or engaging in speed runs or other highly competitive activities choose to eschew a certain spec to hyper-optimize their setup, that alone is not a sufficient reason to make direct and inauthentic changes to a spec’s core functionality or scaling. Those groups simply do not represent the majority of the raiding population in Wrath Classic and we should not be attempting to balance the game around them.
I hope this helps clarify some of our previous statements. The team is watching this very closely, and we will take action if specific classes start to see a significant drop in inclusion in raid groups, but we are nowhere near feeling the need to do that at this time. The place we do not want to find ourselves in however is making a lot of inauthentic class changes and trying to chase perfect balance across every damage, healing, and tanking spec in the game during every phase of Wrath Classic. Doing so is extremely dangerous and we run the risk of damaging the original gameplay feel of individual classes and specs, which is directly counter to our design pillars for Wrath Classic.
Thanks to everyone for participating in the discussion!