First off I'd like to say thank you to several people who encouraged me to do this and helped to make it as useful as it is: Capjack of the Seven Seas, tommyguns (much of the formation of my opinions came from his posts), The RuenBahamut of Doom, Vaeliorin, Jornam
This is mostly updated to 4.0.1, but is not 100% complete. Additional information or corrections are much appreciated. Also I'll be rearranging some of this information shortly.
Table of Contents:
1.0 About Retribution
2.0 Spells and Abilities
5.0 Gear List
7.0 Other Resources
1.0 About Retribution:
1.1 Introducing the Cataclysm Retribution Paladin:
Retribution is the fastest spec for solo leveling via quests. Retribution has gone through several phases of popularity ranging from completely shunned to the Burning Crusade's one ret per raid acceptance to being the most overpowered dps spec in early Wrath. Recently it has been toned down in both PVE and PVP to a highly competitive but no longer excessively overpowered dps spec.
However, for all this time in the last 3 expansions, one theme remained the same - Retribution was a simple spec to play, often referred to as a faceroll spec. Wrath of the Lich King finally allowed us to see our old friend Arthas come to an end. However, this victory has come at a cost. The faceroll Paladin of the past (all 3 specs) has died with him. Welcome to the Cataclysmic Paladin.
This new Retribution Paladin requires a considerable amount of focus, brining a more engaging playstyle that will be more exciting to play for those that are able to keep up with the new pace of Retribution in The Cataclysm. In addition to all the fight mechanics that we've always had to watch for, we have a rotation that will change considerably depending on procs and fights that require the incredible utility that a Retribution Paladin with more regularity. Expect to dust off your Repentance, learn to interrupt (yes, a real, honest to goodness, off the GCD, 10s CD interrupt!) and re-read the tooltips on those Hand spells you've almost never used. And we'll still be expected to pull our weight doing competitive DPS.
1.2 What does a Retribution Paladin bring to a group?:
A properly specced and played Ret brings, 3% increased raid damage (Communion), mana regeneration (replenishment via Communion), minor healing (Divine Storm, Judgement, and emergency Word of Glory), targeted threat reduction (Hand of Salvation), limited Immunity (Hand of Protection), reducing another targets damage by sharing it (Hand of Sacrifice), removal of slows or snares (Hand of Freedom), an interrupt (Rebuke), and crowd control (Repentance), 2 powerful buffs to choose from Blessing of Might (10% AP + mp5) and Blessing of Kings (5% stats + resistances). While most of these abilities will be present in 10 & 25 man raids from other classes, few other classes offer this much Utility in one spec. High utility, high DPS and low maintenance make us one of the most preferred DPS specs now.
As a Retribution Paladin with the proper gear you can keep your group from wiping in many emergency situations. This can be as simple as a heal for the tank when the healer has a hard time keeping up, or taunting mobs off your healer or softer DPS when the tanks taunts are resisted or CC is broken early, etc. Always keep an eye out for any situation in your group where some ability you have will prevent deaths or ensure the success of the group.
1.3 Important Stats:
As you level your Retribution Paladin, you'll notice that in addition to the 5 base stats (Strength, Agility, Stamina, Intellect, and Spirit) there are several other stats that are available on our gear. Some of these, like Strength (str), Hit Rating, Crit Rating, Expertise (exp), Haste, and Mastery all have definite usefulness for Ret Pallies. Some, like Agility (agi), Intellect (int), Stamina (sta) all have some use for Retribution Paladins, but are far less important to directly gear for. Some, like Spirit and tanking stats, should never be taken if possible.
As you look at your abilities and how all these stats affect them, you'll see that str, crit and Hit all directly affect nearly all of our abilities. Haste and Expertise only affect a few abilities, but are still very useful. With Sheath of Light giving SP from Attack Power there is no need to try to stack int directly on your gear. For those interested I'll have the math for how each affects your damage at the end. Also I'll add the spell coefficients for the other spells you may use depending on the situation.
As Ret you will find that you need hit and exp to ensure your other stats will be worth maximum value. After you reach hit and exp caps, str, crit, haste and mastery will give you the biggest increases to your DPS.
1.4 Gear Selection:
Before the Cataclysm we have often found ourselves wearing leather and mail armor despite being a plate class. This was due to odd itemization and agi/crit/ap stacking especially on leather gear. In Cataclysm we are learning a new passive ability called Plate Specialization. With this learned we will gain 5% of our primary stat. As a Retribution Paladin this will be strength. With the reduced gain from agility gear and this 5% str boost there will be nearly no reason to ever take gear that's not plate unless it's a very large upgrade.
In general a higher item level piece of plate dps gear will likely be an upgrade due to reforging. Even if a piece of gear has a slightly less desirable stat, we can reforge it to a more desirable stat that's not on it already.
2.0 Spells and Abilities:
These are the main spells and abilities that you will use as a Retribution Paladin. This isn't intended as a play by play of how to play Retribution, but I'll go through each one briefly and describe its usefulness to a Retribution Paladin. These are generally grouped as primarily single target abilities (2.1-2.7), primarily AoE abilities (2.8-2.11), damage increasing buffs (2.12-2.14), cc/utility (2.15-2.22). While I'm including Inquisition, this will not be available until level 81.
2.1 White Damage:
White damage, or auto-attack, is typically one of our largest single sources of DPS. This ability is based on your weapon and scales with your attack power, exp, and Haste and hits and crits based on your melee hit and crit chances. This is the base of your attack. It takes xx AP (xx str) to get one dps from white damage.
2.2 Seal of Truth:
Seal of Truth deals 12.5% AP + 12.5% SP (increased by 6/12 by Seals of the Pure)over 15 seconds. This stacks up to 5 times for a total at 5 stacks of 62.5% AP + 62.5% SP over 15 seconds. Additionally, once you have reached 5 stacks of Corruption, each melee attack will deal 16% of WD as Holy Damage. This ability stacks fairly slowly as only melee attacks will apply/refresh the stack, so it is best used on targets that will live longer than about 20 seconds (takes ~15 seconds to stack for most Rets). This is the best seal to use on any single target boss fight.
When this seal is active your Judgement spell will deal (14% AP + 22% SP +1) multiplied by 10% additional damage times the number of stacks. At a full stack this will do base damage times 50% (i.e. 21% AP + 33% SP +1).
In Wrath of the Lich King our Judgement ability was split into 3 different spells, each with different effects. This was a short lived change and Judgements are once again combined into a single Judgement spell. This ability "Unleashes the energy of a Seal to judge an enemy for Holy Damage". There is no longer a Judgement of Wisdom or Justice effect, and Judgement now returns only 1% of max health per attack on the target. With the greatly increased health pools in Cataclysm this will still be a significant amount of healing.
Judgement has a base range of 10 yards, but with 2 points in Improved Judgement this increases to 30 yards total. Judging a target farther than 15 yards away will increase your movement speed by 45% which will help with fights with heavy amounts of movement. Judgement is also still our source for mana, both for ourselves (via our Judgements of the Bold primary skill and replenishment via Communion). Judgement also increases our melee and casting haste by 9% with 3 points in Judgements of the Pure. It will also have a 40% chance to generate a point of Holy Power with 2 points in Divine Purpose. As you can tell, depsite the seemingly less damage that Judgement is doing now, it will still be a very important ability in our rotation due to the incredible amount of utility it provides us personally and also our party or raid. Because of this, Judgement will be next priority after Templar's Verdict and Crusader Strike.
2.4 Crusader Strike:
Crusader Strike (CS) is a fair amount of your damage and should be hit every time its up unless you already have 3 Holy Power. CS does 100% of weapon damage on a 4.5 second CD, and does not benefit from spell power. CS also grants you a charge of Holy Power (this is our only 100% guaranteed Holy Power generator). This ability will also proc any seal you have up. Additionally, it can now be talented to deal an additional 30% damage and have an additional 15% crit chance. With Sanctity of Battle we can also decrease the cooldown of CS with haste. Because of this CS should be every second attack we make unless another ability generates a 3rd Holy Power.
Exorcism is a single target spell that deals Holy damage. By itself it is not an amazing abilty due to the cast time resetting our swing timer and the moderate damage it does. It benefits from 15% SP but has a 1.5 second cast time. With Art of War our melee attacks have a chance to make Exorcism free, instant cast and do double damage. When this procs Exorcism will be nearly the highest damage ability we can hit after Templar's Verdict. It can also be talented to increas it's damage by 20% and to have a 40% chance to generate a charge of Holy Power. After CS, TV and Judgement an AoW Exorcism is the next highest priority spell.
2.6 Hammer of Wrath:
Hammer of wrath is a great finishing move. It deals holy damage on targets with less than 20% hp and has a range of 30 yards. With 3 points in Sanctified Wrath this has an additional 60% crit chance and can be used regardless of the targets health % whenever Avenging Wrath is available. Because of its range its also a good finishing technique for runners. This ability scales based on 15% AP + 15% SP.
2.7 Templar's Verdict:
Templar's Verdict is our special attack gained when we choose Retribution as our specialization. This is an instant melee attack that will consume our charges of Holy Power and deal damage based on how many charges it consumes. With 3 charges it will deal 225% Weapon Damage. This can be talented to gain an additional 30% damage (Crusade), 12% crit chance (Arbiter of the Light) and have a 40% chance to generate a Holy Power (Divine Purpose). On a single target this will be our highest priority ability any time we have 3 Holy Power or when we get a Hand of Light proc (mastery bonus) which causes any Holy Power ability to consume no Holy Power and act as if it was cast with 3 Holy Power.
2.8 Seal of Righteousness:
Seal of Righteousness is arguably the best DPS seal for trash and PVP. Seal of Righteousness deals Melee Weapon Speed * (1.1% of AP + 2.2% of SP) damage as holy damage on each attack. Additionally, with Seals of Command it will deal an additional 7% weapon damage and chain to 2 additional targets nearby. Used correctly on multiple mobs and boss fights with two or more targets nearby this seal can do very large amounts of damage boosting your dps considerably. This seal is not ideal on single targets and should only be used on AoE fights.
When this seal is active your Judgement spell will deal xxx? as Holy damage. This is by far the most underwhelming Judgement we have, however, on multiple mobs the Seal itself more than makes up for it.
2.9 Divine Storm:
Divine Storm deals has been changed to be a Holy Power consuming ability. It now consumes your Holy Power stacks and deals damage based on how many Holy Power you have to all targets (not only 4 anymore) around you and heals up to 3 party members for a total amount of 25% of the total damage done. With 3 Holy Power this will deal 150% Weapon damage. The healing done is split among the 3 people healed rather than each healed for the full amount. For example, Divine Storm hits 4 targets for 1000 each totaling 4000. This will heals 3 targets for 333 each. With more than one mob this abiltiy should be top priority any time you have 3 Holy Power. This can also be talented to have a 40% chance to generate a Holy Power.
2.10 Holy Wrath:
Holy Wrath can now be used against any target. Yes, that means this is now a full fledged AoE spell for any situation we find ourselves in. Additionally when used against Demons and Undead it will stun them for 3 seconds on a 15 second cooldown. Holy Wrath deals holy damage to all demons and undead within 10 yards. This scales based on 30% SP. Additionally, with Divine Purpose this will have a 40% chance to generate a charge of Holy Power.
Consecration deals holy damage over 10 seconds to any mob within 8 yards on a 30 second cooldown. It scales based on 2% AP + 2% SP per tick. This has a high mana cost and lower single target damage, and should be used primarily for AoE fights. It can be glyphed to last 2 seconds longer and increasing it's cooldown by 6 seconds, reducing its effective mana cost by 25% over the original cost per damage dealt.
2.12 Avenging Wrath:
This is a key Paladin ability and especially useful for Ret Pallies. This will increase the damage and healing done by 20% for 20 seconds every 3 minutes and is best used during Heroism or other raid damage increasing abilities. Note: Avenging Wrath has a shared internal CD with Divine Shield and Hand of Protection of 30 seconds. Be careful to hold off if you expect to need any of these soon. This is not on the GCD and can be macro'd together with Zealotry for maximum effect of both abilities.
Zealotry consumes 3 Holy Power and causes your Crusader Strikes to generate 3 charges of Holy Power per strike rather than 1 per strike for 20 seconds. During this 20 seconds you can alternate between CS and either TV for a single target or DS for aoe. This can be macro'd together with Avenging Wrath for maximum effect.
Example macro for AW+Zealotry:
/cast Avenging Wrath
The #showtooltip Zealotry is because you can only use this when you have 3 Holy Power and this allows you to see both when the cooldown is available and when you have the Holy Power to activate this. Avenging Wrath needs to be first since it is not on the GCD but can not be cast while you are on the GCD.
Inquisition is a third damage increasing ability that we gain at level 81. This will consume any Holy Power we have and increase our Holy Damage by 30% for 4 seconds per charge of Holy Power. This can be talented to be increased by 2.5 times for a total of 30 seconds at 3 charges of Holy Power.
This only affects the damage dealt by Seals, Judgement, Exorcism, Hammer of Wrath, Holy Wrath and Consecration. Because of the limitation to Holy Damage and the high percentage of damage that comes from physical damage this ability is not ideal to maintain for the loss of a Templar's Verdict. Depending on gear scaling at 85 this may change.
2.15 Hammer of Justice:
Hammer of Justice stuns a target for 6 seconds. This has a 10 yard range and a 1 minute cooldown. While it is possible to get 2 points in Improved Hammer of Justice to decrease the cooldown by 20 seconds, this is not ideal because of the damage increasing talents we would need to pass on. Hammer of Justice can be a great tool to keep you or your party alive by giving you (and your healer) 6 seconds of breathing room on any target that is not immune to stuns.
Rebuke is Retributions long asked for dedicated Interrupt. This has a 10 second cooldown and will interrupt spellcasting and lockout that school of magic for 4 seconds.
Repentance is Retribution's crowd control (cc) ability. It will force a target to meditate for 1 minute. Any damage caused to the target will break them out of their meditation and the cooldown is 1 minute, so careful placement of your Repentance targets is necessary.
2.18 Turn Evil:
Turn Evil is an additional form of cc that can be used when there is plenty of room and an undead or demon target. This will cause an undead or demon to flee in fear for 20 seconds. This has a 1.5 second cast time and any damage caused will break the target of it fear. Do not use this with other groups nearby as it will likely aggro those groups.
2.19 Hand of Sacrifice:
Hand of Sacrifice will transfer 30% of any damage taken on the target to yourself for 12 seconds or until 100% of your health has been transfered. This has a 2 minute cooldown. Proper timing of this can save either a tanks life or any other party member that may be targeted by a high damage ability.
2.20 Hand of Salvation:
Hand of Salvation can be placed on any friendly target, including yourself, and will reduce their total threat by 2% per second for 10 seconds. This will reduce their threat a total of 20%. This affects their total threat not just the threat they're generating at the time. Using this on yourself or any other high threat DPSer that doesn't have their own threat dump can save a life.
2.21 Hand of Protection:
Hand of Protection will protect the friendly target from any physical attacks for 10 sec and will prevent them from dealing any physical abilities.
2.22 Hand of Freedom:
Hand of Freedom will grant immunity to movement impairing effects for 6 seconds. Use this when yourself or another member of your party or raid needs to avoid being slowed.
Edited, Oct 12th 2010 8:07pm by toolofjesus
Edited, Oct 15th 2010 3:31am by toolofjesus