PvE Retribution Paladin Talents, Builds & Glyphs

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With the arrival of Cataclysm, the talent system received a massive overhaul, changing from the 71 talent points system to a more compact 41 points system. As such, many of the old talents were either completely removed or changed, resulting in way fewer possible build variations. One key aspect of the new system is that you must use at least 31 points in your main specialization in order to use the remaining 10 points in a secondary specialization.

Retribution Paladins have a few different talent builds they can use. While the new system has standardized the main build path they have to follow, you can freely swap around their utility talents depending on your raid’s needs! Below we’ll list a general talent build that is well-rounded, as well as some common variations.

Talent Builds

Click a build to see talent distribution and explanations

talent build
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The standard build offers several key strong talents that will be essential for high-end raiding, providing powerful mobility through talents such as Pursuit of Justice and Long Arm of the Law while also granting multiple damage-enhancing effects such as Blazing Light, Communion, Sanctified Wrath, and Inquiry of Faith. This build doesn’t spend any talent points in Eye for an Eye as its efficiency is yet to be proven while also relinquishing any possible points in Selfless Healer. You also have a fair bit of utility with this build through talents such as Guardian’s Favor and Acts of Sacrifice, however, you will not spend any points into Repentance as it can easily be removed by AoE effects during any high-end encounter.

This build also provides a certain degree of survivability through the Sacred Shield talent, ensuring that you are safe from any potential one-shot mechanic or heavy AoE damage. You can replace Guardian’s Favor with Selfless Healer to generate the best damage output, however, you must micromanage Selfless Healer perfectly if you wish to spec into it for its damage-enhancing effect.

talent build 2
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This build works in a similar fashion to the standard build, offering almost the same bonuses. The main difference of this build is the increased utility gained from the Repentance and Selfless Healer talents. However, you will suffer a penalty in terms of survivability as you renounce the Sacred Shield talent. You will also no longer be able to cast 2 x Hand of Protection during a long encounter since you no longer have any points in Guardian’s Favor.

Selfless Healer will mainly act as a potential damage-enhancing buff in this case as you don’t have access to the Eternal Glory talent to properly optimize it for consistent utility.

talent build 3
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This build variation is better suited for early raiding or dungeons as it focuses on providing utility as opposed to the best possible damage output. This build removes the Blazing Light talent in favor of the Eternal Glory talent to properly optimize Selfless Healer. It also makes use of both Guardian’s Favor and Repentance, removing points from Sacred Shield and Pursuit of Justice as a tradeoff.

Notable Talents

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  • Long Arm of the Law is a very interesting talent for raid encounters that require a lot of movement. While the talent is by no means mandatory and it was commonly considered a PvP talent, Retribution Paladins quickly realized that this talent is extremely practical. You may also use this talent in conjunction with the Pursuit of Justice talent to maximize the movement speed bonus.
  • The Art of War was entirely reworked with the arrival of Cataclysm, receiving both a buff and a debuff at the same time. The talent now has a 20% chance to proc based on your auto-attacks rather than your critical strikes as it was back in WotLK Classic. The Art of War also no longer empowers your Flash of Light, as it now only empowers Exorcism. This talent is an absolute must-have in any talent build, as we will consistently use Exorcism on every The Art of War proc.
  • Divine Storm is a fan-favorite talent (spell) that received a tweak with the arrival of the new Holy Power resource system. The spell itself now hits all nearby enemies instead of only 4-targets while also acting as the main “filler” ability for any AoE encounter to generate Holy Power. This talent is absolutely mandatory and should never be skipped!
  • Communion is a new talent introduced in Cataclysm that combines two previously available talents from WotLK Classic: Sanctified Retribution and Judgements of the Wise. Communion has two distinct parts: The first part increases the damage dealt by all players who are currently under the effect of one of your auras by 3% while also increasing your damage by an additional 2%. The second part grants your Judgement spell the Replenishment effect, affecting up to 10 nearby raid members. This talent is mandatory and should never be skipped! If you consider skipping it just because the raid group already has Replenishment and either one of Arcane Tactics or Ferocious Inspiration, keep in mind that Communion also increases your damage by an additional 2% besides the general 3% damage buff.
  • Seals of Command received a massive overhaul in Cataclysm as opposed to the old Seal of Command talent. The new version removed the Seal of Command spell from the game and now grants Seal of Righteousness, Seal of Truth, and Seal of Justice an additional 7% direct weapon damage every time a seal is triggered. Additionally, the Seal of Righteousness now replaces the old Seal of Command and can affect all nearby targets. This is a massive change for Retribution Paladin as it can now properly deal AoE damage. In case we didn’t make ourselves clear enough, you will never want to skip this talent!
  • Sanctity of Battle has been completely revamped in Cataclysm, becoming one of the strongest talents that you can acquire. Through the Sanctity of Battle talent, the Crusader Strike and Divine Storm spells will now have their cooldowns reduced by any haste effects. Since we use both spells to generate Holy Power, this talent is absolutely mandatory as it can be used to generate huge burst windows when a Retribution Paladin is under the effects of Time Warp/Heroism/Bloodlust or Haste Pots.
  • Sanctified Wrath is just as important as it was back in WotLK Classic, however, it receives a small tweak in Cataclysm. While it no longer allows a Retribution Paladin to bypass damage reduction effects, it now allows the player to cast Hammer of Wrath during the entire duration of Avenging Wrath without requiring the target to be under 20% Health Points. This talent is a must-have as it enhances your burst!
  • Divine Purpose is a new talent that Retribution Paladins can acquire in Cataclysm which adds another powerful proc to their arsenal. This talent is a must-have as it grants a 14% chance to acquire a proc that allows you to freely cast an ability as if you already have 3 Holy Power. Depending on your luck with the RNG, you may be able to use this proc to trigger either one of Inquisition or Zealotry early on to easily transition into a burst.
  • Acts of Sacrifice is a talent that you must acquire for a simple reason! Besides the cooldown reduction it grants to the Hand of Freedom, Hand of Salvation, and Hand of Sacrifice, it will also allow your Cleanse to remove one movement-impairing effect. Since you can gain the Cleanse buff with a single point spent in this talent, many players choose to opt for a single point spent, with the remaining point being used for another talent. You can choose to spend two points on this talent if you plan on playing a utility-based build.
  • Inquiry of Faith is yet another mandatory talent that has two distinct parts. The first part solidifies the use of the Seal of Truth, empowering its damage overall damage by 30%. You will need it for any Single-Target encounter! The second part increases Inquisition‘s spell duration by 200%, making it an absolute must-have.
  • Zealotry is a must-have talent that made its appearance with the arrival of Cataclysm. This talent is mandatory as it’s your new “BIG DAMAGE” button, besides Avenging Wrath. It grants Crusader Strike the ability to generate 3 Holy Power stacks while the effect is active, allowing you to spam Templar’s Verdict as a result. The only sad part about this talent is that it doesn’t apply to Divine Storm as well, making it quite ineffective for AoE encounters.
  • Seals of the Pure is a must-have talent as it empowers Seal of Truth, Seal of Righteousness, and Seal of Justice by a considerable amount! The talent speaks for itself, so not much more to be said about it.
  • Judgements of the Pure is a very strong talent that we will consider mandatory thanks to its Haste component. While the mana regeneration gained from Spirit is also strong, it pales in comparison to the Replenishment effect or the Judgements of the Bold effect.
  • Blazing Light is a very strong talent that we will want to prioritize for any build that doesn’t focus on utility! The reason for this is the limited number of talent points, with many builds that focus on utility talents such as Selfless Healer simply lacking the points for it.

Optional Talents

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  • Repentance works the same as it did back in WotLK Classic, with no changes whatsoever to it in Cataclysm. This talent is entirely situational with many Retribution Paladins choosing to directly skip over it. It can be extremely useful for tricky pulls where an elite mob is extremely threatening to your current raid comp, but the reality is that the ability usually gets instantly removed by some random DoT or AoE effect. Skilled raid comps may find this ability extremely useful, especially in the early gearing days.
  • Selfless Healer is a talent that can be extremely powerful but it requires a lot of micromanagement to pull off its effect correctly. Its main purpose is to serve as a clutch heal for your allies, however, its more interesting effect is the damage-enhancing buff you can receive by using Word of Glory. The issue is that its effect lasts only 10 seconds and the power of the proc itself depends on how many stacks of Holy Power you use. Including this effect into your rotation can prove itself to be powerful as long as you manage to micromanage it properly as you can potentially gain a 6% damage increase for all of your abilities.
  • Pursuit of Justice is mainly considered a PvP talent by the majority of the community, however, it can be very strong in encounters that require a lot of repositioning. While the main effect is entirely useless for PvE, the 20% static movement speed bonus is very valuable, especially when combined with the Long Arm of the Law talent.
  • Eternal Glory is a talent that pairs very well with the Selfless Healer talent, as it provides a 30% chance for your Word of Glory to be used without consuming any Holy Power. You will mainly want to avoid this talent in any build that doesn’t utilize Selfless Healer or any other utility talents.
  • Eye for an Eye is a very tricky talent, as some claim that it’s very functional for AoE abilities used by raid bosses while others claim that it’s entirely useless for any PvE encounter. We will know for sure whether or not any AoE damage can be redirected towards a boss once PTR is available.
  • Guardian’s Favor is a pure utility talent that reduces the cooldown of Hand of Protection by 2 minutes while also increasing the duration of Hand of Freedom by 4 seconds. This talent is very useful if you know that you will be the only Retribution Paladin in your raid comp, as it allows you to use Hand of Protection at least 2 times during an encounter, provided that the encounter lasts over 6 minutes. If you know that encounters won’t last that long, you may choose to use this talent for fights where mobility is crucial and Hand of Freedom is indispensable.
  • Sacred Shield is a great talent for beginner groups as it grants a lot of survivability, especially in fights with heavy AoE or One-Shot mechanics. The shield granted by this talent will become less and less efficient as the healers in your groups become more geared and more experienced. You will generally want to avoid this talent in favor of other more beneficial talents, however, you can pick it up if you find yourself badly struggling with your overall survivability.


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  • Glyph of Templar’s Verdict
    • This glyph is a must-have for all types of encounters since it empowers Templar’s Verdict by a static 15%! Considering that there are no better options, you will want to take this glyph even in heavy AoE encounters, as you will find yourself spamming Templar’s Verdict.
  • Glyph of Exorcism
    • This glyph grants Exorcism a DoT effect amounting to 20% of its total damage in addition to its direct damage. This glyph proves itself to be extremely strong when paired with the Blazing Light talent. You will mainly want to prioritize this glyph over the Glyph of Judgement, although you may choose to use them both together during dungeons or Single-Target fights if you already have enough expertise rating to forgo the Glyph of Seal of Truth.
  • Glyph of Seal of Truth
    • This well-known glyph makes a return in Cataclysm, offering Expertise Rating for all the Retribution Paladins in need. This glyph is absolutely amazing in any type of scenario and should be used in any scenario in which your current gear doesn’t bring you to your soft Expertise Cap. You may also choose to build your gear setup based on this glyph, giving up on either reforging more Expertise Rating or on items that already provide Expertise Rating.
  • Glyph of Crusader Strike
    • This glyph is rather underwhelming when compared to the others, however, it might prove useful during Single-Target fights. While it’s not as strong as the Glyph of Exorcism or the Glyph of Judgement, it may be strong if your build already has a very high Critical Strike Chance. Objectively speaking, this glyph has a way too high dependency on the RNG factor when compared to the static damage buff gained from the Glyph of Exorcism or the Glyph of Judgement.
  • Glyph of Judgement
    • This glyph can be considered situational based on the rest of your build. It is objectively weaker than the Glyph of Exorcism if your build has the Blazing Light talent. The 10% damage static bonus to Judgement will be better for early builds during Dungeons, as most of the high-end builds that focus on damage will always include the Blazing Light talent.

Examples of Prime Glyphs depending on the PvE content:

  • Dungeons: Glyph of Templar’s Verdict/Glyph of Seal of Truth/Glyph of Exorcism/Glyph of Judgement
  • AoE-Centric Fights: Glyph of Templar’s Verdict/Glyph of Judgement/Glyph of Exorcism
  • Single-Target Fights: Glyph of Templar’s Verdict/Glyph of Crusader Strike/Glyph of Exorcism
  • High-End Raids: Glyph of Templar’s Verdict/Glyph of Seal of Truth/Glyph of Exorcism
  • Glyph of the Ascetic Crusader
    • This glyph is extraordinary in most encounters or any situation where mana regeneration might prove itself to be an issue. Since we will spam Crusader Strike as much as possible, we will want to benefit from the 30% mana reduction at all times. This is especially true since Retribution Paladins have mana-management issues early on in Cataclysm due to their spam-like rotation.
  • Glyph of Hammer of Wrath
    • This glyph is amazing for mana management, especially during the early process of gearing your character. Since it completely removes the mana cost of Hammer of Wrath, it will enhance your overall burst without having you worry about your overall mana pool. This glyph becomes less useful during 25-man encounters where there are multiple mana regeneration effects available from your allies. Depending on the raid itself and the encounter itself, you may choose to forgo this glyph in favor of more utility-based glyphs or survivability glyphs.
  • Glyph of Holy Wrath
    • No more undead? Oops, guess this ability flies directly out the window. Luckily that won’t be the case as this glyph now allows Holy Wrath to affect Elementals, making it absolutely amazing for providing utility. This is especially true as Cataclysm features a high number of Elemental creatures. You will find yourself often using this glyph in high-end raiding!
  • Glyph of Divine Protection
    • This glyph is amazing for any dungeon or raid encounter that features a lot of AoE Magical Damage. It replaces the 20% Physical Damage reduction of Divine Protection with a 20% Magical Damage reduction buff. You will often find yourself using this glyph in many high-end encounters.
  • Glyph of Lay on Hands
    • This glyph further enhances Lay on Hands, reducing its cooldown by 3 minutes. Since Lay on Hands was already massively buffed in Cataclysm, this glyph allows you to make the most of it as one of the strongest utility glyphs available in your kit. However, you should consider using this glyph only during long encounters or if you know that you are attempting a new boss and a wipe is possible.
  • Glyph of Divinity
    • This glyph is extremely underwhelming when compared to the rest of the available Major Glyphs and should generally be avoided. The reason for this is that there already are other more potent mana regeneration tools. Another reason to completely avoid this glyph is its situational use, with Lay on Hands being a very important cooldown that should only be used in cases of emergency, not as an instant mana regen tool.
  • Glyph of Divine Plea
    • This glyph attempts to fix the major nerf that Divine Plea received in Cataclysm, however, its effect is considerably weaker when compared to the other available glyphs. You should avoid this glyph at all costs!
  • Glyph of Salvation
    • This glyph is extremely useful in both Single-Target and AoE encounters where the tank is struggling with threat management due to some steamroller DPS. This glyph changes the Hand of Salvation spell, removing the permanent over-time threat reduction effect in favor of a complete aggro generation removal for its entire duration. This glyph is especially useful if your raid rooster has a BiS caster that struggles with aggro management during pulls.

Examples of Major Glyphs depending on the PvE content:

  • Dungeons: Glyph of Holy Wrath/Glyph of the Ascetic Crusader/Glyph of Hammer of Wrath
  • AoE-Centric Fights: Glyph of Salvation/Glyph of Holy Wrath/Glyph of Divine Protection
  • Single-Target Fights: Glyph of the Ascetic Crusader/Glyph of Lay on Hands/Glyph of Hammer of Wrath
  • High-End Raids: Glyph of the Ascetic Crusader/Glyph of Holy Wrath/Glyph of Divine Protection
  • Glyph of Blessing of Kings
    • This glyph reduces the mana cost of Blessing of Kings by 50%. This glyph is entirely optional as you won’t find encounters that dispel your buffs.
  • Glyph of Blessing of Might
    • This glyph reduces the mana cost of Blessing of Might by 50%. This glyph is entirely optional as you won’t find encounters that dispel your buffs.
  • Glyph of Truth
    • This glyph reduces the mana cost of Seal of Truth by 50%. You will want to use this glyph in encounters that require you to constantly swap between damaging a boss and a group of adds.
  • Glyph of Righteousness
    • This glyph reduces the mana cost of Seal of Righteousness by 50%. You will want to use this glyph in encounters that require you to constantly swap between damaging a boss and a group of adds.


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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