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The Light and How to Swing It: Readying your ret paladin for Mists of Pandaria

Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Light and How to Swing It for holy, protection and retribution paladins. Seasoned ret paladin Dan Desmond is here to answer your questions and provide you with your biweekly dose of retribution medicine. Contact him at dand@wowinsider.com with any questions, concerns, or suggestions!

It's hard to believe it's already May 2012. It seems like just last week that I was standing in line at BlizzCon with my guildmates, trying to make small talk and failing completely at it. Most of our interactions involved people watching and commenting on the information put forth at the various panels like those annoying people in the movie theater who feel the need to rate every preview on whether or not it will completely suck (see above).

Anyway, with any luck Mists will be released by the end of summer (I'm betting on an August launch, myself), so what better time than now to get your paladin ready so that you hit the ground running when the servers come back online?

The time will come during the next expansion when your hard-earned purples will be replaced by mismatched greens, but more work put into getting the best purples available to you now will keep that dreaded day far in the future. Also, how hard you hit is dictated by the strength of your gear, and the amount of time it will take you to kill a mob is dependent on how much damage you can dish out.

Get out there and run some heroics. Get whatever drops you need from those, and spend your valor points on more gear. Queue up in the Raid Finder and grab your tier. The two-piece bonus will change to a flat 15% damage increase to Crusader Strike, so unfortunately, you won't get 2 holy power per Judgment cast, but it's still a pretty decent extra chunk of damage.

PvP gear might be worth a look if you're on a fairly active PvP realm, as both Horde and Alliance will be sharing the same starting zone, à la Hellfire Peninsula. And this is probably a minor point, but all of that haste that some of you have been stacking isn't going to be real handy when the average encounter only lasts, at most, 20 seconds.

Speaking of gear, if you are one of those lucky individuals who grabbed a Gurthalak in Dragon Soul, remember that the proc will remain rooted in the ground. So unless you plan on pulling everything you can to that one area (an unlikely scenario, since you'll probably be running wild, competing with other players to tag mobs and such), I'd look into getting a different weapon.

Talents and glyphs

The devs have said that their intention with the new talent system is to prevent cookie-cutter builds (presumably because they don't like cookies). Regardless, certain talents will obviously pull ahead in certain situations, situations such as questing or instance farming. Let's go over an example build for solo questing and discuss some things.

If we go with the 1/2/3 scheme that seems to be pretty popular lately, I would probably go with a 2/3/3/2/3 build at level 85.

Long Arm of the Law gives you a short sprint every time you use Judgment, which will be quite often. Pursuit of Justice would be useful if we had an abundance of holy power after combat, but seeing as we should be dumping all of it in Templar's Verdicts during combat, I'm going to pass on this one. Also, Speed of Light's cooldown is too long to make me want to choose it over Long Arm.

The second and third tiers were a bit of a toss-up, really. A friend and I were debating about the runner snaring of Burden of Guilt over Repentance, as well as the instant-cast Flash of Light from Selfless Healer versus the no-cooldown absorb of Sacred Shield. You really can't go wrong, though I just don't like the cast time on Repentance when you're trying to minimize your down time. Selfless Healer would definitely pull ahead if you were questing with a friend.

Unbreakable Spirit was sort of a no-brainer, really. Clemency has never really impressed me, and Hand of Purity only becomes attractive if you're being camped by a gang of warlocks. (And I'm sure that, with such shining examples of proper warlock behavior as Adam Holisky and Megan O'Neill, they would never do such a thing.)

Finally, for the fifth tier, the general thinking is that for passive is better than active for such short encounters. I mean, you could take Holy Avenger, but with its 2-minute cooldown, you're not likely going to see a lot of use out of it overall. With Divine Purpose, even if you see a proc every third encounter, you're still getting more use out of it than HA.

As for glyphs, I'm probably going to start off with Immediate Truth, Double Jeopardy, and either Exorcism or Ascetic Crusader for majors, with Mounted King, Righteous Retreat (mandatory), and Winged Vengeance so I can look like a butterfly.

Strategize

It's going to be a dog-eat-dog environment out there in Pandaria, so you will need to be on edge and on top of your game, as well as other clichés regarding your level of preparedness. Now while I'm not saying you should be rude or selfish, the first few zones are bound to be highly competitive in terms of number of mobs and quest items available at any given time.

Remember to start your pulls with either Judgment or Exorcism, especially if you see someone else closing in on your intended target. Long Arm definitely pulls its weight here.

Keep an eye on your distances. If something is more than 40 yards away, it's generally faster to mount up than it is to run into range of Judgment and Long Arm your way over there.

Don't forget about your cooldowns! Avenging Wrath, Guardian of Ancient Kings, and (if you took it) Holy Avenger can definitely speed up the process and get you through those quests more quickly.

If you accidentally pull an extra mob or just feel like wrangling every quest mob you see in the area, remember to swap over to Seal of Righteousness and use Hammer of the Righteous and Divine Storm in lieu of your standard single-target repertoire.

The Light and How to Swing It teaches you the ins and outs of retribution paladins, from Ret 101 and how to gem, enchant and reforge your retadin, to essential ret pally addons.

Filed under: Paladin, (Paladin) The Light and How to Swing It, Mists of Pandaria

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