This guide is designed for PVE. For PVP you'll want to talk to some of the other more skilled PVP Rets. Much of this guide will discuss preparing for heroics and starting Kara, but I will include some info for even the beginning Ret Pally.
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
1.0 About Ret
Retribution is the fastest spec for pally leveling, but at end game it is the least popular spec of Paladin in most circles, largely because it is one of the more difficult class/spec combos to play well at end game. If you are looking for a fun challenge, however, then Ret might be for you.
As you level your Ret, you'll see different people recommending different stats for you. Some would say that you should maximize strength, some say spell damage, and some a combination of both.
As you look at your abilities and how AP, Crit rate and Spell Damage affect them all, you'll see that Crit affects the 4 primary sources of damage (white damage, Seal of Command Seal of Blood for Horde Ret pallies, Crusader Strike, and Judgment of Command (Judgement of Blood for Horde). AP affects three of them (all but JoC). Spell Damage affects only 2 (SoC and JoC), and only one is noticeably affected by Spell Damage (JoC with 41% of your spell damage).
In the end it works out to both AP and crit being far more useful than Spell Damage for the most part. Best is a mix of AP and melee crit.
Also you will need some +hit, especially at end game. Spending 8 points in protection for precision will help a lot toward this.
To assist with determining which stats will help most for you dps here are some stat conversions for retribution. These numbers assume a 3.5 speed weapon, divine strength, improved judgment, conviction, two-handed weapon spec, vengeance, fanaticism, and sanctity aura with improved sanctity aura, and takes into account auto-attack, SoC procs, JoC, and CS as a base dps cycle. Ret Paladins boost their dps by a combination of str/ap (sometimes Spell Damage) and agi/crit/hit. These 2 categories of stats boost Ret DPS in different ways. Strength, attack power and spell damage all are straight DPS boosts. Crit %, hit % (and agility which is used by Ret's primarily for crit) boost the Ret's DPS by percentages rather than hard amounts. I've calculated these two categories seperately.
As you level up, and even at end game, you'll want to find the best DPS warrior gear or even Hunter and rogue gear. Higher armor is good assuming other stats are equivalent, but if a Leather piece has more Strength/Crit than your Plate piece, it's an upgrade. Also having a few pieces of traditional Ret gear and some of the Hunter gear with Intellect and mp5 on it will also help to sustain your DPS during the longer boss fights.
The Retribution tree was originally designed to be the leveling spec for the Paladin class. Because of this Rets were able to do damage comparable to any other DPS class up until end game, where Ret DPS started to fall behind other classes due to lack of good Gear itemization and no natural threat reduction.
Many determined Rets did their best to make Ret work as an end game spec and recently, in response to this, Blizzard has finally made steps to allow Ret Pallies to be viable for end game content. Patch 2.3 gave us talented threat reduction, Patch 2.3.2 gave us an easier time stacking stats, and Season 3 arena gear gave us a gear set that is finally itemized for maximum DPS.
So now that we are able to compete in end game content, what defines a Ret Pallies contribution to any group he finds himself in? Ret Pallies are great for buffs, flexibility in emergency situations and burst DPS.
You should make sure that appropriate blessings are always kept up on your group - BoW, BoM, BoSalv, etc. Also keep in mind that when needed you can BoP your healer or even softer DPS for 10 seconds of protection from melee damage. Also for any movement impairing effects that are not magic (magic effects can be cleansed) you can BoF your part.
As a Ret 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. This can also be maintaining healing and even OT sets of gear for some fights that might require more help healing or someone to keep a mob occupied till the tank can get to it.
There are 4 main sources of damage, and a few other spells and abilities. This isn't intended as a play by play of how to play Ret, but I'll go through each one briefly and describe its usefulness to a Ret.
White damage, or auto-attack, is typically your largest source of DPS. This ability is based on your weapon and scales with your AP and crits based on your melee Crit chance. This is the base of your attack. It takes 14 AP (7 strength) to get one dps from white damage.
For Alliance Ret pallies this is your primary Seal for DPS. SoC is not based on weapon speed, but is based on weapon damage. It will proc on average 7 times per minute and hit for 70% of your weapon damage. Because of this you want to look for the slowest, highest damage weapon you can find. SoC will also benefit from 20% of your rgular spell damage and 29% of your bonus from holy spell damage like Seal of the Crusader or Flask of Blinding Light. It takes 49 (25 strength) AP or 43 spell damage to get one dps from SoC.
JoC is the least of the 4 main abilities most Rets use. Some don't use it due to the lower damage compared to the mana cost and the possibility of losing a proc of Seal of Command. Judgement of Command does double damage when the target is stunned, so in PVE the best time to Judge this is when either you notice the target has been stunned by another player or you use Hammer of Justice or Repentance. For max DPS, I recommend a careful use of this, except in PVP where judging this every time it's available can give you more consistent DPS. Also, JoC has a 10 yard range and can be useful for judging as you close the distance with an opponent. JoC benefits from 42.86% of your spell damage. It takes 18.5 spell damage to get one dps from JoC.
For horde Seal of Blood is a more consistent source of damage and in groups will help with mana regeneration since your healer will be forced to heal you. SoB deals 35% of your weapon damage each time you hit the target in melee. It also deals 10% of the damage you deal back to you. SoB benefits primarily from AP. It takes 40 AP (20 strength) to get one dps from Seal of Blood. For those who want to see the math behind why SoB is better here is a post from a while back comparing the two.
Judgment of Blood deals 295 to 325 holy damage to your target and 33% of the damage back to you. JoB benefits from 43% of your spell damage. It takes 18.6 Spell damage to get one dps from JoB.
Crusader Strike is a good amount of your damage and should be hit every time its up unless you're pulling too much aggro off the tank already. CS serves a second purpose in a group with more than one pally as it will refresh all judgments on the target. This is especially useful with a a healer paladin. CS does 1.1 times weapon damage, and does not benefit from spell damage. It takes 22 AP (11 strength) to get one dps with CS.
Exorcism is a great spell against undead and demons. At max level, it does 619 to 691 holy damage to demons or undead and has a range of 30 yards. It benefits from 42.86% of your spell damage. It takes 35 spell damage to get one dps with Exorcism if used every time it's up against demons and undead.
Hammer of wrath can be a great finishing move, but with the direction Blizzard has been taking Ret this will be somewhat weaker for Ret than our holy or prot brothers. It does 665 to 735 holy damage on targets with less than 20% hp and has a range of 30 yards. This should be used any time its available, especially against bosses. Because of its range its also a good finishing technique for runners. It benefits from 42.86% of your spell damage.
Against undead and demons in groups this is an awesome amount of burst damage. Holy Wrath does 635-735 holy damage to all demons and undead within 20 yards. This benefits from 19.05% of your spell damage. This ability can crit and I often see several hits crit per use. In places with many non-elites this with consecration will give you huge bursts. There are few tanks that can keep aggro off you after this so, it's best to be near the tank and bubble immediately after this to allow the tank to get aggro back. Otherwise you will likely die unless you have an amazing healer.
This is the Pally's main AoE ability. Consecration deals 512 holy damage over 8 seconds to any mob that stays in your melee range. This is good bonus damage for Rets. It benefits from 95.4% of your spell damage. This has a high mana cost, so if you use it too much you will quickly run out of mana. Consecration should be used primarily with pally tanks and is best when there is 3 or more mobs. Consecration (Rank 1) can also be used in PVP as a mana efficient stealth detection.
Professions are largely personal preference for Ret Pallies, but I'll list here a few that are possibly more useful for Ret.
Blacksmithing is one of the more useful professions for the PVE Ret. There are many BoP Blacksmith items that can be made that are very good for Ret including some epic armor and some of the best epic weapons in the game. Most of the armor can be replaced with Raid gear and the weapons can be replaced with Arena weapons. Before you get to BT/Hyjal though, BS'ing can be very useful.
Alchemy also is very useful in end game raids and heroics. The pots you make can have a noticeable impact on your DPS. A side effect of this is that it can be one more thing you can bring to raids to help everyone in your raid. Its not a huge thing since most people by this time can buy pots easily enough, but with the stigma Ret has had if you plan ahead enough this can be one more small selling point on why they should bring you along. Also the alchemist only pots are a good way to get buffed cheaply.
You will need your gear enchanted several times as you gear up through end game raids and heroics. Most of the enchants you will need are rather costly and being able to do them yourself is very helpful. Also being a generous enchanter can help make you rather popular in your guild. The ring enchants (+2 weapon damage and +4 stats) are also a nice addition that you can only get as an enchanter.
Jewel crafting is another one that can be quite useful for saving you a bit of money putting gems in the many sockets as you gear up through raids/heroics. Also the JC only gems are nice as they give you 2 more (typically) of whichever stat that ring gives which add up with enough gems.
Other professions can be taken for farming for these professions or for farming for profit if you just plan on buying your pots, enchants, and gems and getting armor from raiding. Engineering can also be taken for PVP for the ranged weapons and trinkets.
The following are continued in Part 2
|Parts of this page were originally written by toolofjesus.