Retribution in the new world order (one week after 4.0.1)

So 4.0.1 has been out a week.  In that time retribution has gone down and up again.  Last night I had a chance to do my first full raid since the patch and generally speaking I’m feeling a bit happier now.  The rotation is starting to feel a bit more natural and I think its got potential.  When I do get it right, I seem to have more dps than before the patch.  I’m not really comparing myself with others yet as we’re all still learning.

After deciding that Shadow Priest wasn’t for me, since the Tier 11 set looks like a space suit, I’ve now discovered the fun that is the Unholy Death Knight.  Any rotation that makes me giggle is good and transforming your pet into an abomination is hilarious!!!  I’m still not stuck on my ret pala yet, though I’m further away from a class change than I have been so far since 4.0.1 hit (helped by the fact that the DK tier 11 also looks silly whilst the Pala one is the best I’ve seen so far – I do hope I can have the pretty silver version).   I  go through this every patch – do I want to stick with the same class for another two years.  Last time I caved and changed to my paladin.  I have no idea what I’ll do this time.

The rotation has been adapted by the buffs we recieved and I’m working as follows, which is based on the EJ advice:

Single target

  • Crusader Strike (CS) > Filler > CS > Filler + Use Templar’s Verdict (TV) whenever its a) free or b) you have 3 Holy Power (HP) overriding the normal rotation.
    Filler Priority: Hammer of Wrath > Exorcism with Art of War only > Judgement >  Holy Wrath > Consecration

Multiple targets

  • As above with Divine Storm replacing TV

With Zealotry

  • CS > TV > repeat (you might use TV twice if you get a free TV as well as a 3 HP TV)

With Avenging Wrath

  • You’ll be able to use HoW a LOT.  Make the most of it, but remember TV still trumps it and you still want to use CS to generate HP.  I haven’t fine tuned this one yet.  It feels to me like we end up more in a priority situation here than anywhere else.  You won’t quite be able to hit CS > HoW > CS > HoW.

Other points to remember:

  • Use Zealotry and Avenging Wrath seperately – both boost your dps by changing your rotation and using them together wastes the benefit of one of those.  Which one you use with Heroism and in what order is fight dependent.
  • Consecration ate your mana.  True story.  As long as I didn’t hit Consecration the blue bar was ignored.
  • Before you hit Holy Wrath look around for that trash your about to pull.  It doesn’t actually have a huge range, but the range is a lot less visible than Consecration and Divine Storm so you need to get the hang of it.

Builds and the Selfless part of Selfless Healer
I’ve seen a lot of builds recommending taking Eye for an Eye instead of Selfless Healer.  For PvP and maybe even levelling, that sounds like a good idea.  For raiding, especially 10 man raiding, I prefer Selfless Healer.

Eye for an Eye increases your trash dps but not your boss dps.  It doesn’t work on bosses.  It never has and it hasn’t been changed according to anything I’ve seen or read.  In all honesty I don’t need increased trash dps.  We have more than enough dps for any trash we’ve faced so far.

Using Word of Glory is a dps loss.  HP spent on TV will be better for your personal dps.  If thats all you care about stop right here and go spec Eye for an Eye.  And please never apply to my guild.  For me one of the great strengths of a paladin is that I can help out beyond my dps remit.  I can throw off a quick heal to save someone from dying.  I can pop a shield.  I’ve heard a lot of criticism of WoG – it doesn’t heal for enough, its not worth using.  But with the instant Flash Heal from AoW gone, its a useful option.  LoH and bubbles normally come first, but once they are on CD, WoG could save a death and even a wipe.  Healing was always a dps loss.  WoG is a dps loss.  But the dps you save will do more damage than you will lose.  Its whats best for the raid overall that counts not your own personal dps.

Yes that was a bit of a rant.  Yes there should be choice in the new talent trees.  But I am tired of reading that Selfless Healer is ‘bad’.  Selfless Healer rewards me for doing something I would do anyway!  Its a good talent to take from the choices available for raiding.  Its far more valuable than increased dps on trash!

Retribution Paladin Raider’s Crib Sheet

Cross posted at Big Hit Box on 24 November 2009

Since my crib sheet format seems to  be quite popular, I thought I’d produce a short form of the retribution paladin info.  Much shorter than my other guides, and the EJ guide.  But packed full of information.

Specs and Glyphs

  • Without DSac 5/9/57
  • With DSac 5/11/55
  • Use Major Glyph of Judgement and Major Glyph of Consecration.
  • Use Minor Glyph of Sense Undead, Minor Glyph of Lay on Hands, Minor Glyph of Blessing of Might.
  • For your last Major slot use Glyph of Seal of Vengeance if you are NOT expertise capped from gear.  If you ARE expertise capped from gear use Seal of Exorcism.

Abilities: DPS

  • Your ‘rotation is FCFS or First Come First Served.  Hit the best of the abilities that is available to you at any given time.
  • Priority order without 2P t9 set bonus from best to worst: HoW, CS, Judgment, DS, Cons., Exorcism, Holy Wrath.
  • Priority order with 2P t9 set bonus from best to worst: Judgment, HoW, CS, DS, Cons., Exorcism, Holy Wrath.
  • Only use Exorcism with a 2 point Art of War proc.
  • Only use Holy Wrath on Undead only.
  • You can only use Hammer of Wrath after the mob is below 20%.
  • Always stand behind the mob if possible.  This means it cannot parry you.  But only if standing behind the mob won’t cause you or your tank to die horribly.

Abilities: Utility

  • You can dispel magic, disease and poison and you should.
  • Spare CDs and Art of War procs can be used for Flash Heal.  So can non-spare ones.  You can’t dps if you die.
  • Use your Sacred Shield to reduce the damage you take.
  • Lay on hands is good.  So are bubbles, Hand of Salvation, Hand of Sacrifice, Repentance, etc.  Learn how to use all your utility in a fight.


  • Your hit cap is 8% hit (263 or 230 for Drenai).  You should ensure you are always capped.
  • Your expertise cap is 26 or 214 rating (lower for Humans and Dwarves with certain weapons).  You should strive for this.
  • After those stack strength, followed by critHaste and  Armor Pen are meh – don’t stack them but don’t avoid them.  The same is true of Agility and Attack Power.  Spellpower and Intellect are bad.
  • To see how your item rates against possible drops check out the Retribution Paladin Gear List.

Gems and Enhancements

  • Use the Relentless Earthsiege Diamond meta gem.
  • Use one Nightmare Tear +10 stats gem to activate it (this gem is prismatic and so counts as 1 red, yellow and blue).
  • Use any hit/expertise gems to help you reach the cap.
  • Use Bold Cardinal Ruby +20 strength gems in all slots, unless you have a yellow gem slot that will give you a +6 strength socket bonus or more.  Then use an Inscribed Ametrine +10 strength/+10 crit.
  • Unless you have a profession that provides a better enchant, or are enchanting for caps, enchants and enhancements are:
    • Head: Arcanum of Torment (Knights of the Ebon Blade – Revered)
    • Shoulder: Greater Inscription of the Axe (Sons of Hodir – Exalted)
    • Chest: Enchant Chest – Powerful Stats (+10 stats)
    • Wrist: Enchant Bracer – Greater Assault (+50 AP)
    • Hands: Enchant Gloves – Crusher (+44 AP)
    • Waist: Eternal Belt Buckle (Made by BS, BoE)
    • Legs: Icescale Leg Armor (Made by LW, BoE)
    • Feet: Enchant Boots – Greater Assualt (+32 AP)
    • Weapon: Enchant Weapon – Beserking

Gotta love Ghostcrawler: Paladin utility in 3.3

Cross posted on Big Hit Box on 28 October 2009.

One of the best Blizzard posts ever:

Dear OP,



Spot the double-entendre in OP (original poster, overpowered).

I know some people don’t like the guy, but I’m a GC fan.  Probably because I’m a reasonable person.  And hes funny.  I may not like nerfs.  I may not like that a lot of my nerfs are because of arenas which I don’t really like.  But I am reasonable enough to understand the need for many of the nerfs.  I do feel a bit like PvE ret right now is a giant accident caused by the arena problem, and I hope that Cataclysm will tidy it up a bit.  But on the other hand, I’m competative and I bring great buffs to the raid so the scales are weighing heavily on the plus side at the moment. Whats happening in 3.3 then
Well the nerfbat has arrived. Sacred Shield has taken a massive nerf as a baseline spell.  Instead, to get the current Sacred Shield you’ll have to take Infusion of Light which is way, way up the Holy tree.  The idea is that Sacred Shield was meant to be a healing tool, and that for retribution and prot its overpowered in comparison to other tanks and melee.  Which it probably was.  Blizzard balances classes around certain abilties they are intended to use.  Its when people get creative and go outside those boundaries that things like this happen.

Divine Guardian
I’ve not been posting about the many, many changes to this spell.  I said in my first post about it that I thought it would be nerfed because it was overpowered.  It was (theres a shock).  The duration has been halved to 6 seconds.  Theres also one fairly large improvement.  It no longer ends when Divine Sacrifice is removed.

Lay on Hands
This one really worried me for a minute!  But it seems that it has been/will be reverted.  For a short while, Lay on Hands was no longer going to be castable on the paladin.  Now I love my Lay on Hands.  If it was taken away from me I would find myself being splatted far more often!  Its a great spell every ret pala should use.  Health looking a bit low and you seem to be on the wrong side of the room? LoH.  Raid damage hitting when you were already a bit low? LoH.  On 6% health and its all going a bit wrong? LoH.  I can’t count the number of times this spell has saved my life.

Now the forum trolls are out in force (OMG I’ll quit | Warriors go ‘haha’ | Nerf everyone else too ) and being fed tasty blue titbits.  I actually think the dev team does this to give us something to laugh about you know.

So are palas still OP?
This is what GC had to say for himself:

The Aura Mastery change (to 6 sec duration) is one we think is appropriate. If I had to guess, this one will stick.We are trying some things with Sacred Shield to make it more of a Holy tool and less useful for Ret and Prot (without being totally irrelevant). I don’t have a lot of faith that the implementation on the PTR is the one we’ll go with for a couple of reasons, but our overall goal is to make Ret less tanky and the Holy tree feel like it’s the right one to focus on for healing. I would expect a Sacred Shield change of some kind though.

I wouldn’t worry too much on the Lay on Hands change at this point. I don’t want to promise we won’t change the spell for 3.3, but our intent was to revert the others only change before it went out to the PTR, which is why we didn’t patch note it. We have already changed it back on our local builds.The paladin class isn’t just supposed to be for support anymore, but at the same time, the original intent for many paladin abilities was to help the group. Over time however they have contributed into making the paladin into a “one-man army,” able to play offensively, defensively and heal without say the stance changing or shapeshifting or sometimes event talent specialization required of other classes. Many of the LK balance problems we’ve had with the class are because of that core issue.With that said, we’re just not sure a Lay on Hands change really accomplishes much from a balance perspective, while it feels bad to lose such an iconic ability. We just don’t think the bang for the buck is there on this change, which is why we reverted it. But I’m not going to promise we won’t touch it.

In fact, I’m not going to promise anything with this post. 🙂 Please don’t dredge it up later to try and argue against any upcoming changes. I’m just trying to clear up some confusion.


Now this is a reasonable argument.  Step back a second and pretend you don’t want to be a one-man-army who is vastly OP (which secretly we all do).

PvP aside I almost never die in raids.  In order to die I or someone else has to screw something up big time (pull aggro, healer dies, stand in fire like a moron, etc.).  I have so many saves its unreal.  And most of them I can just pop and carry right on dpsing.  Now imagine you’re a druid or a shaman or a rogue?  Do they really come close?  Shamans are the only other melee who can heal without changing form and therefore nerfing dps.  They are squishy.  Our shamans drop like flies at things I barely even notice.  So I can understand the problem.  I’d love to say thats because I am a great player, but I don’t think that would be true.

So whats really making ret palas OP?
Armor.  We have lots of it.  Plate means more health compared to mail, leather and cloth.  I’ve been a clothie and I remember the difference.  I remember stacking PvP gear to live back when Aran was hard and the extra HP made a difference.  Warriors don’t have as many other saves, so their armor is not as OP.  Death Knights are at least as OP as paladins!

Cooldowns.  We have lots of them.  I can LoH.  I can bubble, I can use an Art of War proc for a Flash Heal.  Druids can dash (reduced dps).  Shamans have Earth Shield (not as powerful sadly for them).

Abilities.  I can cast a Holy Light.  Because I get spellpower from strength its effective, even if it is a mana hog.  I can use Sacred Shield.  I get healing back from Divine Storm.  I get heals from Judgement of Light (which admittedly all other healers get too).  I get additional healing from Divinity.

I totally get the accusation that ret palas are a bit … tank like.

If I ruled the world…
Now for the opinion part, concentrate.

Theres certainly no good solution that will be implemented in 3.3.  I suspect in Cataclysm there will be a major shake up of talents.  If Blizzard want the three specs to be more distinct, then the lower talents need to do their double duty and the higher talents need to be more specialised to their respective roles.

Divinity?  Should move up if its making ret palas too tanky.  The Sacred Shield change?  Makes perfect sense.  PvP abilities in the prot tree should come down the tree so that PvP builds can access them.  Abilities you don’t want to make paladins OP in PvP  or non-tank specs should go up.   This would solve a lot of problems.  Divine Storm is good because its essential.  It can be used to put OP tanking talents out of reach of ret.  Make sure Holy does the same thing.

This in turn, would trigger a rethink of some of the talents.  Retribution is often criticised for being a bit dull at high levels.  Repentance should be lower down the tree – its dull and boring and not that useful.  The many many improved crit abilities could be consolidated and crit that should also be available to holy and prot should be lower with more interesting raid buffs and ret only crit being higher.  I’d also like to see an end to ‘increases damage on certain mob types’ abilities.  I get the reason, but they’ve caused us grief in the past.

I would like to see new abilities.  On all my other 80s (paladin, druid and death knight) there is some creativity required to get a good spec.  You can choose to take a combination of abilities that differentiate you from the rest.  In retribution, to its detriment, there are dps abilties, which you should take all of, and then utility points, which you juggle.  Thats less true of prot and holy where you make trade offs that affect how you play (holy-ret vs holy prot for healers or Crusade vs Seals of the Pure for tanks).  For ret its Vindication vs. DSac.  Thats not really the same thing.

Seal of Command could be higher up the tree, and at that point a little more powerful (just a little!) so that its clearly good for short fights all the time.  I actually like Seal twisting and that could be used to affect other things.    I’d like to see an Improved Crusader Strike that made it a bit more exciting.  Perhaps something fun that procced off of Divine Plea for us?

I’d also be happy to accept some bubble consolidation.  Even I get confused by how many bubbles I have!!!  Consolidate Hand of Protection and Divine Shield.  Put a short cooldown on it (say 3 minutes) and make it castable on anyone.  But add a long debuff on it (say 10 minutes).  So you can use it a couple of times a fight, but not on the same person.  Then make that debuff affect Divine Protection.  And instead of the shared 30s cooldown just make it so Avenging Wrath can’t be active at the same time as the bubbles (make one cancel the other – that’d make people more careful about them!)

What do you think?
How would you solve the ret pala problem?  How would you make the class more fun without making it OP and how would you reduce survivability without making us too squishy?


Retribution Builds to top the PvE Meters

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:

  • Glyphs
  • 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.

Blog at

Up ↑