pve retribution paladin stat priority (wotlk 3.3.5a)
  • Author: Pride
  • Date: September 20, 2022
  • Expansion: WotLK Classic

Retribution Paladins have a similar stat priority to other Strength-based physical DPS specs, with the extra gimmick that we also care about capping our spell hit chance, as a few of our abilities are considered spells and require that you meet the spell hit cap in order to not miss with them.

Stat Priority

  1. Hit Rating
    • Cap: 263 / 230 if there is a Draenei in your party
  2. Expertise Rating
    • Cap: 26 Expertise = 132 rating / 107 for Humans using swords or maces / 91 for Dwarves using maces
  3. Strength
  4. Agility
  5. Crit Rating
  6. Attack Power
  7. Haste Rating
  8. Spell Power
  9. Armor Penetration Rating
    • Cap: 1400 rating (100% armor penetration after raid debuffs)

Stat Explanation

Hit Rating is the most important stat that you can acquire for most DPS classes, and Retribution Paladins are no exception. It takes 32.79 hit rating to get a 1% increased chance to hit with physical attacks, or 26.23 hit rating to get a 1% increased chance to hit with spells — both are relevant for us Rets.

Retribution Paladins require 8% (referred to as the “soft cap”) increased hit chance in order to never miss with melee attacks, and 17% (referred to as the “hard cap”) increased hit chance in order to never miss with spells. 17% is too high of a threshold to reach, so we’ll be aiming for the 8% soft cap instead.

As Retribution Paladins, we unfortunately have no talents that boost our hit chance. This means that we need a whopping 263 hit rating. Having a Draenei player in your party reduces the requirement by a further 1% thanks to Heroic Presence, meaning we need 7% bonus hit chance or 230 hit rating in order to cap.

Expertise (and expertise rating) will be your 2nd most important stat — again, if you can’t hit your targets, you’re not dealing damage. You gain 1 expertise for every 8.1974 expertise rating you have. 1 expertise reduces the chance that your attacks get dodged or parried by 0.25%. However, expertise has an unfortunate quirk: you cannot have fractional amounts of it. For example, if your character has 111 expertise rating in total, you will end up with 13 expertise, rather than 13.54 which is what you get if you divide 111 by 8.1974.

The soft-cap for melee hits versus level 83 (boss) enemies is 26 expertise, reducing the chance that your attacks get dodged by 6.5%. You do not have to care about the hard-cap, which involves eliminating parries, as you should always be attacking the boss from behind, and enemies cannot parry from behind. This means that melee characters need 214 expertise rating in order to reach the expertise cap — but there are ways to reduce that.

Retribution Paladins are in the very fortunate position of getting a massive +10 expertise from the Glyph of Seal of Vengeance, which every Ret Paladin should be using. As a result, we only need 132 expertise rating. Furthermore, dwarves using maces gain +5 expertise thanks to their racials, meaning they only need 91 expertise rating. Humans meanwhile get +3 expertise when using swords or maces, meaning they only need 107 expertise rating.

Bear in mind that Glyph of Seal of Vengeance‘s expertise boost only applies when you’re using Seal of Vengeance. You won’t be getting the bonus in AoE fights, as you’ll typically be using Seal of Command instead. This means that on those fights, you’ll need the full 214 expertise rating. Dwarves using maces will need 173 expertise rating, while humans using swords or maces will need 189 expertise rating.

Paladins are a strength-based class, meaning strength will be your “bread-and-butter” stat, so to speak — you’ll be stacking it after you’ve reached your hit and expertise caps. Strength-based classes gain 2 attack power per 1 point of strength.

Retribution Paladins gain 15% extra strength thanks to the Divine Strength talent, and when you’re buffed with Greater Blessing of Kings, you’ll gain a 10% extra strength on top of that. Thus you effectively gain 2.53 attack power per 1 point of strength, making strength significantly better than raw attack power in many cases.

Some may be surprised to see agility on this list, as it is typically associated with rogues and hunters rather than paladins. The truth is that it’s useful for every physical damage dealer, as it increases your crit chance, by an amount that varies between classes. Paladins in specific gain 1% increased chance to crit for every 52.08 agility they have, or 1% crit per 47.34 agility when buffed with Greater Blessing of Kings. Note that agility only boosts your physical crit chance, not your spell crit chance, so our spells, like Exorcism and Holy Wrath will not benefit from it.

In general, agility will be a slightly weaker version of crit rating, like attack power is a weaker version of strength. It’s by no means a bad stat — don’t shy away from taking an item because it has agility, as many strong physical DPS items items will be leather or mail, and thus have agility on them. Most strength items don’t have agility however, so don’t go out of your way to grab agility items either. Never gem agility!

Crit rating is a great stat for any physical damage dealer, increasing your chances of landing a critical strike. You gain a 1% increased chance to crit for every 45.91 crit rating you have.

Crit is an amazing stat for Ret Paladins, thanks to our multitude of crit-related talents, like Righteous Vengeance and The Art of War. Crit is an exceptional stat for Ret Paladins all in all — though generally, an equivalent amount of strength will be better.

Attack power makes your attacks hit harder — it is the core stat of all physical damage dealers, melee or ranged. For Ret Paladins in specific, you’ll get the bulk of your attack power from strength, as items with strength will generally offer more attack power than items that offer raw attack power. it is not a bad stat at all, you’ll simply gain more of it via strength.

Haste is one of the most straight-forward stats — it makes you attack faster. You gain 1% increased attack speed for every 25.22 haste rating you have.

Stat is a great stat for Retribution Paladins, as a big chunk of our damage comes from our auto attacks and seals, both of which benefit from having a faster attack speed. However, about half our damage doesn’t benefit from haste at all besides having a reduced global cooldown thanks to the spell haste component, which unfortunately diminishes the value of haste for us. For that reason, it’s not as good as, say, crit rating.

Spell power, as its name suggests, boosts the damage of your spells. As a physical-magic hybrid, Ret Paladins use a lot of spells and thus spell power boosts our damage by a good chunk.

However, there’s a catch: we never really want to use items focused around spell power. Thanks to the Sheath of Light talent, items that give us strength or attack power also give us spell power, and thus improve our spells further. Thus, you’ll want to just stack normal physical DPS items with strength or attack power as normal, and get some spell power from those for free. You don’t want to gem or enchant for spell power!

Armor penetration is infamously the strongest stat for physical damage dealers in Wrath of the Lich King. Ret Paladins unfortunately don’t benefit from it as some other physical damage dealers, as a very large part of our damage is Holy and thus ignores armor already. Despite this, it’s still a useful stat for us, just not one that you will want to prioritize above strength, crit or haste.

Armor penetration is one of the most “math-y” stats out there and it’s generally pretty difficult to understand, so we won’t go into details about how it works here. The only thing you really need to know is that it takes 1400 armor penetration rating in order to reach 100% armor penetration in raids. After that point, you gain virtually no benefit from armor penetration. However, as mentioned previously, armor penetration isn’t a stat that you’ll want to stack as a Ret Paladin, so you don’t have to be worried about the cap.

As a Ret Paladin, armor penetration will mostly be a welcome bonus stat on an already powerful item. You’ll generally find items that lack armor penetration better than those that have it, but occasionally some items will have armor penetration on top of other very powerful stat — you shouldn’t avoid them just because they have armor penetration.


About the Author


Classic WoW is my jam, with a passion for PvP. Most know me as Baranor, the ret paladin guy, but I'm secretly a druid main, don't tell anyone. In my free time I play Switch games, particularly JRPGs. Some day I'll be making my own games and I humbly hope you play those too!
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11 months ago

Is it really not worth going for the last bit of spell hit ? if my horrendous math skills havent left me for good then 8% melee hit would be around 12.5% spell hit, you would only need 1.5% (~40ish) more spell hit to reach the hard cap with balance druids/shadow priests in your raid.

Reply to  Dudumoo
11 months ago

Ret paladins do not need spell hit. Their abilities works off of melee hits.

11 months ago

Hi Pride, thanks for your work!
Do you have a pawn string using your calculations?

6 months ago

Idk why agility is higher up in priority over crit attack power and haste? agility should be below attack power then crit then haste then armorpen. If the piece has agility on it its bonus crit (agi is only for melee and crit rating scales higher than agi) but sense all the stuff out of ulduar has high agi and low AP it sucks for ret. you are better off stacking str, crit, and haste while staying hit/exp capped.

Last edited 6 months ago by JANKYASS
1 year ago

You actually need 9% hit. It was recently released with WoW Classic by Blizzard themselves that any ?? or Boss mobs actually have an unseen 1% hit suppression aura that ignores 1% of hit from gear. This has been in the game ever since 2006 so make sure your hit is 9%, even on private servers.

Reply to  Pride
11 months ago

Pretty sure if you are hitting from behind enemies cant dodge or parry. So why do you have to be expertise capped?

Reply to  Raz
11 months ago

That’s only in pvp. Pve you still get dodged

Reply to  Pride
10 months ago

Blizzard never removed the weapon skill stat for Wrath, that was for Cataclysm.. You still need to hit 400 weapon skill in Wrath. Pretty sure you’re talking about Cataclysm where they removed all weapon skills.

Reply to  TheSamwise78
10 months ago

The author is talking about the weapon skill STAT not weapon skill in general.
And weapon skill stat did indeed get removed in BC. Weapon skill stat refers to items with “+8 dagger” or smthg like that.

11 months ago

Ret paladins don’t need armor pen whatsoever. Shouldn’t even be on the list. 😉

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