Retribution 101

Current as of: Patch 4.3

What the hell is Holy Power?

Holy Power is a new resource available only to the Paladin class. The default UI shows Holy Power (herein abbreviated HP) on a glyph bar beneath the standard health and mana bars:

We gain one HP every time a Crusader Strike hits a target, or every time Divine Storm hits 4 or more targets.

Generally, CS and DS are referred to as our “HP generators.”

At level 85, we can use HP in the following ways, all of which are referred to as “finishers”:

The damage or healing of each move scales off how much HP you have at the time of using the ability; that is, the more HP you possess, the harder the hit or the stronger the heal.

What’s this Mastery thing?

Mastery rating is the new “stat” added in 4.0.1. Each spec has it’s own unique Mastery, with Ret’s being Hand of Light. As the tooltip states, our Mastery adds a certain percentage of the ability’s damage as Holy damage, which reads separately in parses, specifically as “Hand of Light.”

Mastery is one of our strongest stats right now, so stack it to your heart’s content!

What about Divine Purpose?

When Divine Purpose procs, you’ll see the following graphic:

What this proc means is that you have 3 “free” Holy Power to expend. The most ideal uses during a boss encounter are to either refresh your Inquisition (if it is in danger of expiring) or to hit TV, although WoG is permissible in transitions.

Note that the buff from Divine Purpose only lasts 8 seconds, so decide quickly!

How should I spend my talent points?

The generally accepted level 85 raiding spec is 7/2/32; this build takes every damage-increasing talent we can get access to. I went 2/2 in Eye for an Eye and 1/2 Acts of Sacrifice, but realistically those two points can be thrown anywhere in the Ret tree. It should be noted, however, that Eye for an Eye provides a minor boost to DPS due to the copious amounts of magic AoE damage being spewed out by most Cataclysm bosses at this time.

What about those pesky glyphs?


Glyph of Templar’s Verdict is the obvious first choice. Grab it.

Glyph of Exorcism appears to be our second-best choice, thanks to some number-tweaking on Blizzard’s part. This will leave a DoT after each Exo cast, lasting 6 seconds and equating to 20% of the Exorcism’s damage.

Glyph of Seal of Truth frees up some itemization on gear by giving us 10 free Expertise every time we have Seal of Truth active. It’s a good idea to use this glyph at all times, reforging any Expertise you have past the soft cap into either Hit, Crit, or Mastery.


None of our major glyphs directly increase our DPS. However, some of the mana-reduction glyphs (namely Glyph of the Ascetic Crusader and Glyph of Hammer of Wrath) could result in fewer necessary Judgements and more hard-hitting abilities.

Glyph of Divine Protection has many, many uses; I would definitely recommend keeping this glyphed at all times.

Other interesting major glyphs are Glyph of Salvation and Glyph of Holy Wrath. These, among others, will be the glyphs we swap out on an as-needed basis.


Choose whatever you feel you’d benefit the most from; none of these glyphs are very spectacular. At least pick up both Glyph of Truth and Glyph of Righteousness to make seal-swapping less painful on the mana pool.

How should I gear up?

General stat ranking as of 4.2:

Strength > Hit > Expertise > Mastery > Crit ? Haste

Hit to special attacks cap (961 rating, 8%), and Expertise to soft cap (781 rating, 26 points).

As we can get a free 10 Expertise (points, not rating) from a glyph, gemming or enchanting for the soft cap is unnecessary.


Patch 4.0.1 added the ability to reforge gear, taking 40% of a secondary stat on a piece of gear and changing into something else for a nominal fee. As of 4.0.6, it’s most beneficial to reforge for Hit and Expertise, if you’re under caps.

Remember: it takes 40% of the stat you choose and turns it into your reforged stat. Therefore, the larger the excess stat, the greater chunk you’ll get from the reforging.

Crit vs. Haste

There has been some uncertainty expressed over the relative values of Crit and Haste due to a heavy reliance on the Random Number Generator for maximum DPS. Haste stacking was viable at the end of Wrath, but in Cataclysm it has lost steam. With this in mind, I’m going to recommend that you take the opportunity to experiment! Reforge your Crit to Haste, reforge your Haste to Crit, keep them balanced… go wild!

How should I gem my gear?

For your meta, use a Reverberating Shadowspirit Diamond.

For most other sockets, you’ll use Bold Queen’s Garnet / Bold Inferno Rubies.

Occasionally, you’ll encounter a piece of gear with a great socket bonus but a blue or a yellow socket. For example, Immolation Legplates have a socket bonus of +20 Strength and would only require one hybrid gem. So, throw a Bold (+40 Strength) and a Skillful (+20 Strength / +20 Mastery) in there and you’ll end up with +80 Strength and +20 Mastery, thanks to the socket bonus.

Never gem specifically for Hit or Expertise; you can get those easily through reforging.

What about enchants?

Head: Arcanum of the Dragonmaw
Shoulders: Greater Inscription of Jagged StoneLesser Inscription of Jagged Stone
Chest: Peerless StatsMighty Stats
Cloak: Greater Critical StrikeCritical Strike
Wrist: Major StrengthCritical Strike (Greater Expertise/Precision if below caps)
Hands: Mighty StrengthExceptional Strength
Waist: Ebonsteel Belt Buckle
Legs: Dragonscale Leg ArmorScorched Leg Armor
Feet: MasteryPrecision if in need of Hit
Weapon: LandslideAvalanche

What professions should I get?

From a purely numerical standpoint, Jewelcrafting is the best raiding profession at the moment for a retribution paladin, if only because it provides one additional point of Strength for its profession bonus. However, most other professions appear to give equal bonuses (i.e. 80 Strength).

Alchemy: Adds 80 Strength to the 300 you get from our flask alone, as well as doubles its duration. Also, the Volatile Alchemist Stone is a very nice pre-raid trinket thanks to the gobs of Strength and Mastery.

Blacksmithing: Two extra sockets (bracers and gloves) in which you can add two +40 Strength gems, resulting in 80 additional Strength.

Enchanting: Enchant both rings with Strength, resulting in an additional 80 Strength.

Engineering: Harder to quantify, you gain access to Reinforced Bio-Optic Killshades for a raid-level helm, Synapse Springs to gloves, and movement helpers like Nitro Boosts and Flexweave Underlay. The inclusion of Strength in the glove enchant has helped make Engineering a competitive raid profession again (remember to macro it into your abilities!)

Inscription: Lionsmane Inscription to shoulders, an 80 Strength upgrade from the exalted Therazane inscription.

Jewelcrafting: Allows three JC gems, Bold Chimera’s Eyes, to replace normal +40 Strength gems, resulting in an 81 Strength increase.

As of 4.3, the benefit of jewelcrafting has dropped significantly due to the introduction of epic gems, bringing the bonus down to a 51 Strength increase.

Leatherworking: Draconic Embossment – Strength, which gives an additional 130 Strength in place of 50 Strength.

Tailoring: Swordguard Embroidery (Rank 2) provides a chance at 1000 AP for 15 seconds.

Mining, Herbalism, and Skinning are not commonly considered raiding professions.

Is race-changing worth it?

Generally, not really. Going from Horde to Alliance, however, will net you some free combat ratings no matter which race you choose.


Humans get Mace and Sword Specializations, meaning they can free up some itemization from gear to go for some more Mastery (ideally). This IS a DPS increase, and I am super jelly. Also, Every Man for Himself can be used to break out of CC effects, though presently these are few and far between in a raid setting.

Dwarves get Mace Specialization, much like Humans. Again, less Expertise from gear/reforging means more DPS stats. Stoneform is a neat survivability cooldown which may or may not save your ass.

Draenei get Heroic Presence, essentially a free 120 Hit rating that you won’t have to reforge for. They also get Gift of the Naaru, a free HoT that heals for 20% of your total health (not base health, in this case).


Blood Elves get Arcane Torrent, an AoE silence. I love having it as a back-up to Rebuke, but it contributes nothing to DPS.

Tauren get both War Stomp, an AoE stun with a cast time (resets your swing timer), and Endurance, a 5% increase to base health, meaning it doesn’t scale with buffs or gear. Again, nothing for DPS.

What about auras, seals, and blessings?


With the talent changes, we don’t have access to Aura Mastery anymore. Let’s have a quick moment of silence for raid utility.

Keep up Ret Aura by default. If your raid leader needs you to do something else, you can easily change it up.


Single-target: Seal of Truth

Multi-target (4 or more): Seal of Righteousness, when talented with Seals of Command


If you have a druid who is putting up Mark of the Wild, cast Blessing of Might.

If you don’t have a druid, cast Blessing of Kings.

If you have two or more paladins, frolic in your abundance of buffs and coordinate accordingly.

What about Judgements?

No need to worry; there’s only one Judgement now. Just hit the button.

Casting Judgement when running into melee range is a great idea thanks to three things:

The quicker we can “close the gap,” the quicker we can start pumping TVs into the boss.

What buttons do I push?

We’re back to a proc-based priority system. Ideally, we’d have a 100% uptime for Inquisition because it not only buffs our already hard-hitting Exorcism and somewhat harmful Holy Wrath, as well as the red-headed stepchild that is Consecration, but it also modifies our Hand of Light damage. This means that Inquisition uptime has become all the more vital to our DPS.

Try to refresh Inquisition as close to the wire as you can, ideally with under 3 seconds left on the buff. This may not be possible if you have to move and/or can’t generate three more HP in time (sans the RNG nature of Divine Purpose), so plan accordingly and use your best judgment.

Our priorities are as follows-

Normal rotation:

Inquisition > Crusader Strike (0-2 HP) > Templar’s Verdict (3 HP) > Exorcism (AoW) > Hammer of Wrath > Templar’s Verdict (DP) > Judgement > Holy Wrath > Consecration

For Undead or Demon enemies (because Exo auto-crits for U/D):

Inquisition > Crusader Strike (0-2 HP) > Exorcism (AoW) > Templar’s Verdict (3 HP) > Hammer of Wrath > Templar’s Verdict (DP) > Judgement > Holy Wrath > Consecration

For AoE encounters (> 4 targets), simply replace CS with DS.

What about these cooldown buttons?

Barring trinkets, we have three cooldown abilities at 85: Avenging WrathZealotry, and Guardian of Ancient Kings.

The best use of Avenging Wrath and Zealotry can be found if you macro them together so that their benefits stack.

Note that Zealotry requires 3-HP to use, so keep that in mind if you want to pop this one during a Bloodlust/Heroism.

As for Guardian, I try to pop this cooldown early so it will be back up later on in the fight. However, if there is a burn phase within the encounter, I try to pop Guardian first, wait about 10 seconds to stack Ancient Power, then use Wings.

Note that the Guardian is untargetable and therefore unkillable. Like most other pets, it now behaves according to the new Assist functionality, so we’ll see how well that works. Also, his shuffle is quite amusing.

What consumables should I nom on?

Flask: Flask of Titanic Strength

Potion: Golemblood Potion

Food: Beer-Basted Crocolisk / Seafood Magnifique Feast

Any useful addons or macros I should know about?


clcRet. I have been vehemently opposed to using this addon for quite a while, but recently I decided to at least see how it functioned. The current iteration of it (as of 3/1/2011) has some wonky Inquisition settings, but overall it appears to be a very good learning tool. I recommend this for beginners, but discourage it for intermediate and advanced retadins.

PallyPower. I have since decided to ditch this addon, as it wasn’t allowing easy seal-switching while in combat, which can be a problem for fights like Maloriak where one needs to go between single-target and AoE rapidly. Still not a bad little piece of code, and it saves some action bar real estate, but it’s not quite my cup of tea anymore.

Power Auras. Great for seeing procs and the like. Now that Blizzard has given us two Power Aura-esque graphics for both Art of War and Hand of Light, we don’t have much for Power Auras itself to do. I still use mine, however; having a larger visual for when I get 3 HP is very handy.

Omen, Recount, and Deadly Boss Mods. Necessary raiding addons. Just get them.

(Yes, I’d say Recount is necessary; if you’re botching your rotation, your DPS will suffer, and you’ll notice a relative drop in your DPS output, shown in Recount. Try not to tunnel vision the meters, though.)

20 Responses to “Retribution 101”

  1. Issy October 20, 2010 at 12:29 pm #

    Nice guide. Just a couple of things to be nitpicky :)
    1. you don’t mention anywhere what the expertise cap is.
    2. Can you make the flowchart any bigger.. I know I am old, but the writing is teeny tiny :)
    3. You don’t mention CLC Ret in the addons part (I don’t use it btw, couldn’t get on with it at all, but someone new to Ret might like to know about it).

    Good work though – easy reading, and simple to follow :)

    • Antigen October 20, 2010 at 12:42 pm #

      Good catches. I updated the expertise cap info (not sure how I left that out… I blame the Mucinex).

      If you click on the flowchart picture, it’ll bring you to another page, and just click the picture again to get the full version. I haven’t quite figured out how to not get that second page from popping up, but I have an idea that I might try out. But, to answer your question, I can’t make the image larger because it’ll expand outside the column and look crappy, so try clicking until you can’t click anymore.

      And I didn’t include CLCRet because I don’t really think it’s necessary. There was a moment there (a lapse in judgment, perhaps) where I considered downloading it to make learning our new rotation easier, but I ended up getting acclimated much more quickly than I thought.

      After some thought, I’ve come to the belief that CLCRet and addons like it don’t properly train your muscle memory. Instead of going through the mental process of “Ok, I did this, now what?”, you’re simply reacting to the ability popping up on your screen. Sure, you’ll probably eventually be able to do without it, but my guess is that once you install it, you don’t uninstall it.

      In short, I don’t like it, so I don’t link it! :P

  2. Issy October 20, 2010 at 1:21 pm #

    Cheers – thanks for that :)
    I will click more furiously and often next time

    It’s really funny – I also hate CLCRet, I really do (but hey, some people swear by it).. but I love Shock and Awe which does more or less the same thing on my Shaman.

    • Antigen October 20, 2010 at 1:30 pm #

      “I will click more furiously and often next time”

      Spoken like a true Ret. I salute you!

  3. Velaria October 21, 2010 at 9:58 am #

    I’m curious how you came up with your haste numbers.

    Curently I’m at 1020 haste (through gear, reforging and gems) When I have JotP and WoA active, my Crusader strike is at 3 sec.

    If I were to drop my haste to 887 as you suggest, I would not be at the 3 sec. CS.

    • Antigen October 21, 2010 at 11:37 am #

      You are absolutely correct. In my haste to publish the page (no pun intended), I ‘dun goofed.’

      Of all of the new changes 4.0.1 brought, I’ve found time and time again that our newfound dependence on haste has brought me the most headaches. I try to do the math myself to try to confirm what numbers I read on forums and find in-game but, as I’m writing this, I still can’t get the numbers to work out. I’m still digging and scribbling down numbers, so hopefully I can figure something out rather than just be spoon-fed the values.

      Anyway, the generally-accepted calculated value is 1019 with WoAT and JotP (essentially your 1020), which I remembered incorrectly as 1015, and then proceeded to butcher through improper calculations.

      • Issy October 22, 2010 at 9:06 am #

        I can’t figure the haste stuff out right now either.. I just aimed for *many*, reforged and regemmed. :)

  4. Chris October 21, 2010 at 10:09 pm #

    Clarification: Crusader Strike doesn’t have to do damage to generate Holy Power, it just has to hit. You can generate Holy Power from an Immune (tested on paladins bubbled and Headless Horseman), Absorbed (tested in arena), or fully Blocked Crusader Strike (couldn’t test since block works differently now but I’m not sure if mobs can fully block still)

    • Antigen October 21, 2010 at 11:07 pm #

      Very astute of you! I wasn’t too sure about immunes, absorbs, blocks contributing to HP generation at first, so I scribbled down “does damage to a target” and promised myself I’d look into it.

      When I read your comment, I immediately petitioned my guildies for a priest to hit. In a duel, I was able to squeeze out a point of HP on a shielded disc priest.

      As for immunes, I did what you suggested and entered the HH event and, sure enough, HP generation on immune when he lost his head.

      Blocks I wasn’t sure how to test, but luckily I was perusing our WoL parses from last night earlier this afternoon and noticed I had some blocked attacks during the Lich King encounter. Here’s a link:

      What’s nice about this particular log is that the number of Crusader Strikes (under Damage by Spell) matches with the amount of “Unknown gains” from Crusader Strike (under Buffs Gained)! So it does appear that a blocked CS will still grant HP.

      As for “fully” blocked CSs, I don’t think that’s possible anymore. What I think happened was they removed block value but left block rating intact. Essentially, you block for a constant percentage of damage taken, while your block rating simply increases the chance to block. As for mobs and bosses… well, I think it would be quite odd for the devs to change up players’ block model but leave NPC block unchanged, maybe that’s just me though. If anyone can confirm or deny this with some certainty, I’d love to make some corrections!

      Ok, that’s enough rambling. Thanks for the catch, Chris, I’ll be sure to change it in the post!

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  8. Leorad June 18, 2011 at 7:02 am #

    I’m a little late to the party, but after reading over the guide I only had one thing that bothered me.

    You suggest using a +Hit gem, which I’m fairly sure is a big no-no. Because you can reforge and enchant into hit, and you cannot reforge into strength, I was under the impression that there was never a time to use the +hit gem. I would argue that the str/stam gem might be a worthwhile option. Either way, seems like a loss of itemization.

  9. Antigen June 18, 2011 at 9:55 am #

    There are certain situations where using a +Hit gem is acceptable. For example, our tier 11 chest, the Reinforced Sapphirium Battleplate, has a red socket and a blue socket with a socket bonus of +20 Strength. In the red socket you’ll obviously throw a Bold, and in the blue socket you can safely put an Etched Demonseye because, with the bonus, you’ll end up with +80 Strength and +20 Hit; you won’t lose any Strength at all compared to if you put two Bolds in it.

    I do need to update that flowchart though, so thank you for reminding me!

  10. Leorad June 19, 2011 at 8:09 am #

    I see. So if (in general) you will end up with the same amount of strength, its almost free +hit, allowing you to have more mastery or crit through reforging, but only in very specific circumstances. Its really more of a ‘never gem for hit…unless”

    As an aside, I got here through Rhidach’s blog (am prot/holy right now), but I have been considering ret as an off spec, and I have a brother leveling ret who will need help once they hit 85. What I mentioned on his blog I’ll pass along here: Mr. Robot makes those reforging/chanting/gemming decisions crazy easy.

  11. Antigen June 19, 2011 at 9:32 am #

    Generally, Mr. Robot is pretty damn good with all of that stuff; you just have to watch if it recommends weird gems (right now, it’s telling me to put an Etched in my boots when I’m already over Hit cap, which is obviously wrong!).


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