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  • Author: Nevermore
  • Date: January 31, 2024
  • Updated: February 2, 2024
  • Expansion: Cataclysm

Welcome to our PvE Retribution Paladin guide for World of Warcraft: Cataclysm!

Tired and weary after battling endless waves of undead, yet overjoyed with the Lich King’s fall, Retribution Paladins focus their righteous gaze on a new terror: Deathwing the Destroyer. Devout followers of the holy inquisition, those fierce and battle-hardened templars bring their just verdict upon any foe that dares to spread the chaotic influence of the Old Gods. Ready to cross paths unknown and bring a stop to any misbegotten ideal of the Twilight Council, Retribution Paladins bring a zealous swift end in a burst of holy vengeance to any who would dare trample the memories of their allies.

Many people have come to truly appreciate the power of Retribution Paladins during the WotLK Classic, with the specialization showing its true potential during Icecrown Citadel. In Cataclysm, Retribution Paladin receives a massive overhaul, gaining an entirely new resource system named Holy Power, a plethora of damage-enhancing buffs, and a very strong direct damage ability that increases their overall DPS in the form of Templar’s Verdict. As such, the specialization will uphold the reputation it gained during Icecrown Citadel, evolving even further into an even stronger Damage Dealer, with very strong Single-Target and AoE Damage capabilities. Besides its powerful burst damage, Retribution Paladin will also retain most of its utility spells while also gaining new ones. Unfortunately, some fans will discover that some of their favorite utility spells and effects will be long gone, with others taking their place.

This guide will teach you everything about playing a Retribution Paladin in PvE, with a focus on raids. We will be covering everything from enchants and consumables, to talents, stats, reforging, rotations, macros, and addons. By the time you finish reading this guide, you will become a true force of reckoning, bringing justice to all who claim an evil path!

Retribution Paladin Strengths & Weaknesses


  • Dynamic gameplay with the new Holy Power resource
    Retribution Paladins receive numerous changes to their overall gameplay in Cataclysm, with their most prized addition being the new Holy Power resource system. Holy Power introduces a dynamic system to Retribution Paladins when compared to their previous gameplay in WotLK, overhauling a considerable number of their abilities. Crusader Strike and Divine Storm become their main Holy Power generators with Judgement also offering one Holy Power once the 2-piece Tier 13 bonus (Battleplate of Radiant Glory) comes into play. The new Templar’s Verdict, Inquisition, Zealotry, and Word of Glory act as their main Holy Power spending abilities, with the whole system revolving around proper Holy Power management based on the situation and the available procs.
  • Extraordinary AoE Damage
    Cataclysm has changed many things for Retribution Paladins, with their AoE Damage receiving one of the best overhauls. Their AoE capabilities receive a massive boost with the overhaul of Seals of Command Talent. Retribution Paladins now use the Seal of Righteousness as their main AoE seal, with the spell being able to affect all available nearby targets. Divine Storm also receives a massive overhaul, with its cooldown being massively reduced, further enhancing AoE capabilities.
  • Incredible utility
    Paladins have always been renowned for their massive utility, with Retribution Paladins bringing forth one of the best utility kits in Cataclysm! They retain most of their prized spells from WotLK, with Auras, Blessings, Cleanses, and “Hands” playing a pivotal role in any raid encounter. They also receive a much-desired interrupt ability in the form of Rebuke. Retribution Paladins also bring specific utility effects such as the Communion talent which grants a 3% damage increase to all players that benefit from one of your auras while also causing Judgement to grant the raid-wide Replenishment effect.
  • Incredible Single-Target Damage
    Retribution Paladins were known to only be great in Single-Target encounters during the last phase of WotLK, however, that is no longer the case in Cataclysm! With the addition of Holy Power, Inquisition, Zealotry, and Templar’s Verdict, they can now dish insane amounts of Single-Target Damage as soon as the first phase of Cataclysm. As long as a Retribution Paladin properly manages its procs and Holy Power, its damage will keep ramping up as the expansion unfolds and more powerful items become available. Just wait for Gurthalak young Paladin!
  • Awesome survivability
    Besides being one of the few classes that can wear Plate Armor, Retribution Paladins also have access to a plethora of defensive abilities that grant them incredible survivability. While losing access to some defensive spells such as Divine Guardian & Aura Mastery, Retribution Paladins will still benefit from Lay on Hands, Divine Shield, Hand of Protection, Divine Protection, and the new Word of Glory. All of those spells combined with the high Armor and Health make Retribution Paladin one of the sturdier DPS specializations!


  • High loot competition
    Retribution Paladins have the misfortune of sharing loot with two of the most popular classes in Cataclysm: Warrior and Death Knight. As such, gearing a Retribution Paladin can prove itself to be considerably more difficult than the other Damage Specializations. Given their gear dependency, Retribution Paladins can fall short of the Damage Meters until they acquire proper equipment.
  • Very weak Cleave Damage
    While Retribution Paladins were known for their bad Cleave Damage in WotLK, the situation completely changes in Cataclysm. With the rework of Divine Storm and Seals of Command, Retribution Paladins gain the upper hand in AoE encounters but get completely destroyed in any type of Cleave scenario. This is mainly due to Divine Storm‘s prerequisite for generating Holy Power, the necessity to hit at least 4 targets in order to generate 1 Holy Power. This has massively stomped any Cleave Potential for Retribution Paladin in encounters with less than 4 targets, as they must constantly generate Holy Power for Templar’s Verdict, Inquisition, and Zealotry.
  • Awkward utility restrictions
    Retribution Paladins have three massive limitations when it comes to their utility: their very limited range, the shared raid buff slots, and the Forbearance effect. While other damage specializations can offer powerful utility effects on a large scale, Retribution Paladins are limited to a 40-yard range for their Auras and a 30-yard range for their Hand spells. Depending on the encounter itself and the group’s positioning, this may result in some players no longer benefiting from the buffs themselves. Blessing of Kings and Blessing of Might are no longer considered unique buffs, meaning that they are now forced to share a slot with similar effects such as Mark of the Wild or Unleashed Rage. Furthermore, whilst their utility spells are very powerful, effects such as Hand of Protection and Lay on Hands debuff the target with Forbearance, preventing any other similar effect from being placed on the target for a minute.
  • Prone to high Mana consumption
    Retribution Paladins can dish out extremely high burst damage, however, their spam-like rotation can quickly result in OoM situations early on. Cataclysm brought some massive changes to the spell’s mana cost, with AoE encounters showcasing this issue the most. While they technically benefit from Replenishment and Judgements of the Bold, they can quickly burn through their mana with high-mana cost spells such as Consecration, Exorcism, and Divine Storm. The high-mana consumption becomes more visible the more a Retribution Paladin spams its abilities in a short period of time, with Judgements of the Bold barely managing to keep up. The most concerning part is the huge nerf that Divine Plea received, with its effect barely replenishing 12% of the total mana pool once every 2 minutes.

Retribution Paladin Utility

Cataclysm has brought many changes to Retribution Paladin, with many utility spells and effects being removed or completely altered. Examples of such removed abilities and talents for Retribution Paladin are: Judgement of Light, Judgement of Wisdom, Judgements of the Wise, Aura Mastery, Divine Sacrifice & Divine Guardian, Heart of the Crusader, Sanctified Retribution, Swift Retribution, and Divine Intervention.

The following revamped effects and abilities represent the new utility tools brought by a Retribution Paladin in Cataclysm:

  • 5% Stat & Resistances Increase buff (does not stack)Blessing of Kings
    In Cataclysm, Blessings of Kings received a massive overhaul, resulting in a pretty huge nerf. While it was a previously exclusive buff provided by the Paladin Class, Cataclysm revamps the ability entirely and places it in the same buff category as the Mark of the Wild ability. The buff no longer provides a static 10% increase to all stats, but rather a 5% increase to Strength, Agility, Stamina, and Intellect along with a 97 increase to all types of resistances. Blessing of Kings is considered mandatory and should always be present in case there is no druid available that can cast Mark of the Wild!
  • Attack Power buff (does not stack)Blessing of Might
    In Cataclysm, Blessing of Might also received a huge overhaul, restructuring its effect into distinct two parts. The first part is a 20% static Attack Power increase for Melee players and a 10% Attack Power increase for Ranged players, placing it in the same category as Trueshot Aura, Abomination’s Might, and Unleashed Rage. The buff is no longer unique, meaning that it won’t stack with any of those effects. This effect is absolutely mandatory for heavy Physical Damage comps and it’s extremely important if any of the other similar effects can’t be brought!
  • Mana Regeneration buff (does not stack)Blessing of Might
    While Mana Regeneration was previously provided through the Blessing of Wisdom buff in WotLK, in Cataclysm, the Mana Regeneration effect was introduced as the secondary part of Blessing of Might. This change placed it on the same buff slot as Mana Spring Totem and Fel Intellect, meaning that it won’t stack with either of the two. The buff itself is only considered a must-have for 25-man raids, as the Replenishment effect is strong enough for any 10-man raid. On the bright side, you will no longer require a reagent to cast this ability!
  • 3% Damage Increase buff (does not stack) – Communion
    Previously granted by the Sanctified Retribution effect, the 3% Damage Increase buff is now granted by the Communion effect. This buff is absolutely mandatory and it’s one of the main reasons why every raid comp desires a Retribution Paladin. This buff shares its unique effect with Ferocious Inspiration and Arcane Tactics, meaning that it won’t stack with either of them. Since Fire Mage will completely dominate throughout the majority of the expansion while Beast Mastery Hunter is treated as a pure PvP specialization, Retribution Paladins will be the main way of gaining the 3% Damage Increase buff!
  • Replenishment buff (does not stack)Communion
    Previously granted by the Judgements of the Wise, the Replenishment effect is now granted through the Communion effect. This buff is absolutely mandatory, as there are many classes with a high mana consumption rate. This effect is unique effect is in the same category as the Replenishment granted by Vampiric Touch, Enduring Winter, Soul Leech, and Revitalize, meaning that it won’t stack with any of them. Luckily, this buff can be constantly refreshed, meaning that raids will often choose to bring at least 2-3 classes that can bring this effect to keep it permanently active.
  • Hands
    Retribution Paladins retain their “Hand of..” spells, maintaining all of the effects they had available during WotLK! Those spells are extremely valuable, offering multiple effects ranging from movement-impairing effects invulnerability, threat-redirection, physical damage invulnerability, damage-redirection, and taunt. ( Hand of Freedom, Hand of Salvation, Hand of Protection, Hand of Sacrifice, and Hand of Reckoning). It is yet to be seen whether or not Blizzard will maintain the effect of Glyph of Hand of Reckoning in Cataclysm Classic, as it was introduced in WotLK Classic.
  • Auras
    Our beloved auras receive somewhat of an overhaul, albeit a small one. This can be treated as both a buff and a nerf, depending on how you look at it. While auras such as Devotion Aura, Retribution Aura, Concentration Aura, and Crusader Aura remain the same, our resistance auras (Fire Resistance Aura, Frost Resistance Aura, Shadow Resistance Aura) get melded into a singular ability named Resistance Aura. As we mentioned, this can be considered both good and bad, depending on how you look at it. From a beneficial perspective, you can now get all the previous effects from a singular ability, making it a very strong utility tool. From a detrimental perspective, this means that fewer Retribution Paladins will be required for a raid rooster, meaning that our class’ desirability will be reduced. Furthermore, since Aura Mastery is no longer provided by a Retribution Paladin, we lose quite a substantial amount of utility.
  • Lay on Hands
    The iconic Paladin spell, Lay on Hands, makes an even stronger return in Cataclysm! The iconic spell that saved many lives is now more powerful than ever, receiving a massive buff to its cooldown. You can now cast it every 10 minutes, making it a very potent raid-wipe prevention tool if used properly. The only downside is that we no longer have access to the Improved Lay on Hands talent, meaning that it will no longer grant any Physical Damage Reduction.
  • Word of Glory
    Retribution Paladins receive a new instant-cast ability that they can use to both heal themselves and their allies, namely the Word of Glory spell! While Retribution Paladins used to be able to provide instant-cast heals through The Art of War talent combined with Flash of Light, in Cataclysm they are no longer able to do so. This former utility tool has been replaced by the new Word of Glory spell which consumes Holy Power in order to be activated. While the heal itself is barely viable for yourself considering the damage you will receive in an actual raid encounter, it can be very viable for your allies thanks to the Selfless Healer talent! This ability is not only used as a clutch heal but also as a damage-enhancing buff for yourself if used in conjunction with the Selfless Healer talent.
  • Repentance
    Repentance remains the same as it previously was in WotLK Classic! While this spell is usually considered underwhelming, it can still be considered a valuable tool for any raid encounter or thrash-mobs cleanup where there is a strong foe that you wish to isolate. As such, Retribution Paladins may use this tool to incapacitate a very strong foe and isolate it for an entire minute if their raid group or dungeon group struggles with a certain fight.
  • Rebuke
    Lastly, Retribution Paladins finally get their hands on a spell they desired for ages, Rebuke! With this ability, Retribution Paladins can finally interrupt caster mobs and boss abilities. Since this ability shares a cooldown with other similar abilities such as Kick, you will now increase your overall desirability in any raid comps.


We hope this guide has been able to help you decide if PvE Retribution Paladin is the class / spec for you. Make sure to check out our other sections, such as talents, gear, gems etc., to get more information on how to improve your performance as a Retribution Paladin in Cataclysm!


About the Author


Hey there folks, I am Nevermore and have been deeply passionate about WoW for more than a decade. Whether we talk about the hidden mysteries of Azeroth or the otherworldly Outland, my journey brought me here to share the things that I have experienced with you all.
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