As I write this, Retribution is competative PvE. Seriously topping the damage meters competative. Whilst HoPing the tank to remove Impale Debuffs. And saving the poisoned healer with a quick Lay on Hands. Its a good time to be a Ret Pala. But of course if you get the spec wrong this won’t be the case. If you get the spec wrong you will just sit at the bottom of the meters sobbing quietly into your cocoa. So what spec to go for in order to be and uber-ret?
Step by step: the basic retribution spec
Tier 1 > On the first tier you have little choice – a clear tanking ability in Deflection, or the mana reduction of Benediction. The winner is: Benediction (5 points).
Tier 2 > Up to the next tier now and you have two useful dps increases. Improved Judgements (2 points) and Heart of the Crusader (3 points). Improved Judgements affects how often you can use Judgements. More often = more hits = more dps. Heart of the Crusader adds a debuff that increases your melee crit chance by 3%.
Tier 3 > Conviction (5 points) is the easy winner, increasing your crit chance with everything by 5%.
Tier 4 > Sanctity of Battle (3 points) and Crusade (3 points) are both dps upgrades, increasing your crit and damage. Although Crusade only affects Humanoids, Demons, Undead and Elementals, thats still a substantial portion of raid mobs and bosses.
Tier 5 > Take everything here. Two-Handed Weapon Specialisation (3 points) since you intend to use two-handed weapons and Sanctified Retribution (1 point) to increase the damage of Retribution Aura and, far more importantly, increase the whole raid’s damage by 3% whatever aura you use. A bargin.
Tier 6 > Since you have Conviction, the way is open for you to take Vengeance (3 points). This is a debuff you apply to the mob that increases your damage. Its applied by critical hits of all kinds. It can stack 3 times, meaning you have 9% bonus Physical and Holy damage when its up in full.
Backfill! > You don’t want anything else on Tier 6, but you have to spend two more points to get to Tier 7. Divine Purpose is a PvP only ability that has no use in raids. Instead, go on back down to Vindication (2 points). This debuff was added in 3.2 and works like a Warriors Demoralizing Shout. Only its better, because instead of spending rage on it, you do it by accident!
Tier 7+ From here on in you take EVERYTHING:
- Repentance (1 point) is paladin cc. Useful in Ulduar and Trial of the Crusader. Its very effective since its instant, but can’t be reapplied easily if it breaks due to the long cooldown. And everyone and his brother is going to break it with any dps (other palas, warrior, warlock pets, hunter pets, any caster AoE, multishot, must kill!!!) Unless you threaten them loudly over vent ofc. You may have been able to skip it, were it not a prerequisite for a later talent.
- The Art of War (2 points) is a buff on you that procs from melee criticals. When it is up you can cast either a Flash Heal or an Exorcism instantly, consuming the buff. This is key to paladin dps these days. The ability also increases your damage, just for a bonus.
- Judgements of the Wise (3 points) is essential. It means your Judgements give the raid Replenishment, returning their mana. Blizzard considers this to be essential to success in every raid. For paladins, it can also return 25% of your base mana (which is pretty much the mana you see since you don’t have Intellect gear) and thats also fairly important if you don’t want to end up running on empty.
- Fanaticism (3 points) is yet another crit chance buff. Its also a threat reduction buff. Definitely needed.
- Sanctified Wrath (2 points) contributes to your dps in three ways – it increases the crit chance of your Hammer of Wrath, increasing your dps output when you can use it. It reduces the cd of Avenging Wrath, increasing how often you can boost your dps. Its third bonus, allowing you to bypass damage reduction effects, is really a PvP thing and won’t work in raids (most likely).
- Swift Retribution (3 points) causes your auras to give 3% melee haste. To everyone with the aura. Nice.
- Crusader Strike (1 point) may be boring, but its also your first priority attack.
- Sheath of Light (3 points) is interesting because it gives a small damage boost and a large utility boost. Your spellpower is boosted by 30% of your attack power. This gives you utlitiy to throw off the odd heal and it be effective, and increases the dps of you Consecration, which scales with spellpower. It also means when you do throw a heal, and it crits, you get a small HoT.
- Righteous Vengeance (3 points) means that critical Judgements, Crusader Strikes and Divine Storms apply another 30% damage over 8 seconds. This DoT rolls, so it is refreshed by further strikes.
- Divine Storm (1 point). Weeeeeeeee!! My favourite graphic. You spin, stuff dies. It can hit up to 4 enemies and it also heals up to 3 people for 25% of its damage.
So now you have 52 points in retribution. As of 3.2.2 you want to spend just one more.
- Seal of Command (1 point) gives additional Holy damage to every hit. And as of 3.2.2 it also has a cleave that strikes up to 2 additional targets. On trash that lives around 12 seconds, its better than a talented Seal of Righteousness. So you now want to pick it up.
Time to glance at the other trees and see what damage benefits they can offer you.
Here you want to take Divine Strength (5 points). This is what makes strength so valuable to a ret pala, increasing your total strength by 15%.
Seals of the Pure (5 points) is the dps increase here. This increases the damage done by Seal of Vengeance by 15%. And you’re actually using that now.
So that leaves you with 5/5/53. This is the core of any retribution spec. I would also strongly suggest taking two points in Pursuit of Justice (2 points). This means your run faster, which makes it easier to get to mobs (increasing dps) and get away from bad things (increasing survivability). So that leaves you at 5/5/55.
The optional points: choosing your utility
This leaves you with 7 points. I chose to spend them in a 5/9/57, adding Improved Blessing of Might (2 points) for buffing utility, Guardian’s Favor (2 points) reducing the cd of your Hand of Protection and Divintiy (2 points only) increasing the healing done to you by 3%.
Alternatively, you could go for Divine Sacrifice (1 point). I would do it as 5/11/55, removing your Improved Blessing of Might and replacing it with another point in Divinity and a point in Divine Sacrifice itself. Elitist Jerks recommends 5/11/55, removing Vindication so you can keep Improved Blessing of Might.
Which one you choose depends on your raid makeup. Raid with several holy palas? Well they should have Improved Blessing of Might too so drop that. Raid with a lot of warriors? Then they can do the AP debuff and you can drop those points. Also, do you need Divine Sacrifice? If you have other palas that include it in their builds, you don’t need to spend points on it – you certainly can’t get the talents to improve it and still have a top notch retribution build any more. All of those three builds are sensible PvE retribution options.
That was the second in a series of in depth paladin guides. The first was Meta Gems for Ret Palas, A True Story which covers all aspects of gemming just as soon as I get past the rant.
To follow should be:
- Enchants and Item Enhancements (including notes on professions)
- A simple guide to PvP ret
- A guide to holy and prot as an offspec
- Rotations (or why its not that faceroll)
- And anything else I can think of! Or that someone asks me to write!
Updated24 October 2009 when I realised some of the links were not working.