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Patch 3.0.2 primer for Retribution Paladins


Let's face it. Retribution blows.

Blows things up, that is. Out of all the trees -- and I mean all including the other classes -- no tree got more love than Retribution in the Echoes of Doom patch. For many of us, it's been a long time coming. No other class spec has been the butt of more jokes and the target of such derision as Retribution. Not anymore. Not in Patch 3.0.2 and the days leading up to Wrath of the Lich King. Retribution deals so much pain that we've sent the rest of player base running to Ghostcrawler crying for a nerf. And we're getting nerfed. To the ground.

Don't panic. The changes are really, mostly aimed at PvP Paladins -- okay, that's me -- but will largely leave Paladin PvE damage output the same. That's excellent news. Because I've grown accustomed to the idea that quite a lot of you guys prefer PvE to PvP, we'll take a look at a PvE Retribution build that will make you the darling of your Heroic runs and more than welcome in raids. Let's bring on the pain after the jump.

First off, we spend five points in the Protection tree for Divine Strength. Got that? It's been buffed to 15% and is only in the Protection tree (moved from Holy) just so we can say we didn't spend all our talents in Retribution.

Ok, now for the awesome stuff.

Invest 5 points in Benediction. This was reworked to affect all instant cast spells, which means pretty much everything -- Seals, Judgements, special strikes, and heck, even the occasional heal. I know we have great mana management now, but cost reductions are always good. Skip Deflection. That's only in the Retribution tree so Protection Paladins can say they didn't spend all their points in Protection.

On the second tier, get Improved Judgements because we'll be judging every single time it's up. The more we Judge, the more hurt we bring. Heart of the Crusader is that special buff that used to occasionally get us into raids. Get it. It's not the only reason we'll get invited to groups, but they'll love us for it, anyway. Improved Blessing of Might was buffed to a 2-point investment, which frees up three points later on. Get it, love it.

We come to the third tier where, if you were a PvP guy, you'd pick up everything. For this build, though, we're skipping Vindication even though it's now more affordable at 2 points. As far as I've tested, it doesn't work on some mobs and most bosses are immune to it. We're skipping Seal of Command, too. I know, sounds crazy, right? Because Seal of Blood is now available to the Alliance as Seal of the Martyr, that's what Retadins will be using in raids. The days of Seal of Command being a default for Retribution are now in the past. Feel free to pick it up at Level 71, though.

We're skipping Pursuit of Justice, too, for obvious reasons. It's got a nice new disarm duration reduction feature, but since very few mobs actually disarm you -- and in a raid they shouldn't even be looking your way -- this is pretty much a PvP talent. On the other hand, we should put five points into Conviction, which now affects melee attacks and spells due to the consolidation of crit. I don't even have to explain this one, right?

On the fourth tier, we'll skip Eye for an Eye, which has been buffed but like many talents in this tree (gotta love it), it's geared towards PvP. Even in a PvP build I'm inclined to skip this just because there're so many other delicious things deeper in the tree. Sanctified Seals is picked up by PvP players mostly for the dispel immunity and PvE players for the added crit. Everyone goes home happy. The wonderfully buffed Crusade is a flat 6% DPS increase in most instances and raids and 3% against everything else. Max it out and be merry.

Two-Handed Weapon Specialization
on the fifth tier is another pure DPS increase, so we'll want three points in that, too. Remember when I said that Protection Paladins should stick to the new and improved Devotion Aura? Sanctified Retribution is one reason why. A 2% DPS increase for us and all our friends? Why, thank you very much. Remember when we used to spend three points getting Sanctity Aura and Improved Sanctity Aura just to get this? Remember when it used to affect heals? Those days are behind us now.

We're skipping Divine Purpose because -- again -- this is for PvP. That stun removal is freaking insane.

Vengeance was nerfed, not exactly to the ground, but enough so that it doesn't scale too powerfully. We'll still want three points here because it's a flat 9% DPS increase when we get it to full stacks. We're skipping Improved Retribution Aura just like we always have. Don't get me wrong, though, the buffs to the baseline spell are great. We just don't get hit enough for this to actually matter. Apologize to your Tank and send him a chocolate cake.

Tier seven is full of win. We have my favorite The Art of War which is awesomely named. It's a DPS increase, sure, but the chance to get instant Flashes of Light is downright sweet. Just remember that casting Flash of Light will trigger your GCD, so it'll drop your DPS significantly if you use it every time it procs. Your friends will love you for it, though. It's important to note that The Art of War will be changed to reduce burst damage but remain the same overall. Sad news for PvP players, unfortunately.

The new Repentance is very cool. It's a change that should've been done a long time ago, but later is better than never. It's much more useful for 5-mans, but there'll be the occasional raid where a mob won't be immune to it. Oh, and it's not just for humanoids anymore, either. It will be nerfed to 6 seconds in PvP in a future patch.

Lastly, we have the majestic (I'm going to run out of superlatives going through this tree, seriously) Judgements of the Wise, which is another reason why we're raid darlings in the post 3.0.2 world. Sure, Survival Hunters and Shadow Priests also bring Replenishment, but every Hunter and his uncle will be specced Beast Mastery trying to get Core Hounds while Shadow Priests will be too busy being emo about no longer being the only cool kids on the block. Remember when I said we'll be judging every time it's available? This talent makes it completely worth it.

We need to pour points in tier eight, too. Fanaticism is a burst damage increase -- we're probably the burst-iest spec in the game right now -- but we're picking it up also for the threat reduction. New and improved tanks will be holding their threat just fine, of course, but we bring so much mayhem that accidents can happen. Then we put two points in Sanctified Wrath, which is flat out awesome because it means we can use Avenging Wrath more often. It also means we can do major damage against dying bosses thanks to the changes to Hammer of Wrath. Good times.

Then we have tier nine, which is still crazy good. Swift Retribution, along with Sanctified Retribution, makes a Retadin's Retribution Aura one of the best passive buffs for a raid. It's just a straight up DPS increase overall. Naturally we pick up Crusader Strike on the same tier, which was effectively nerfed and is now a vanilla weapon damage strike since it can't refresh Judgements. But it's not like we have a lot of strikes to choose from, anyway. Finally, we have three points in Sheath of Light, which has that HoT component that makes Holy Paladins assume the fetal position from envy and confusion. Oh, and it's got that nice spell power boost that scales with our attack power, too.

On tier ten we have the soon-to-be-reworked Righteous Vengeance, which will confer a DoT similar to Deep Wounds. Again, this change is intended to reduce the burst potential of Retribution which has gotten a bit out of hand. Five points here simply because it a straight up DPS increase that scales with crit.

Finally we have the incredible Divine Storm, which has gotten every Retribution Paladin raving and blowing things up left and right. Unfortunately, it was nerfed through a hotfix to deal a boring Physical damage instead of the near unmitigatable Holy damage. It's still an awesome ability, of course, and is another button to add to our rotation. Yes, it heals our friends, too. It's just plain phenomenal, so get it and -- to take a line from that awful M. Night Shyamalan movie 'Signs' -- "swing away".

This is the best time to be a Paladin, whether we're Holy, Protection, or Retribution specced. Never in the history of the game has the Paladin class been more fun to play. So... go play.

Filed under: Paladin, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Guides, Talents, Wrath of the Lich King

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