- Author: Furious
- Date: June 3, 2019
- Updated: June 20, 2023
- Expansion: WoW Classic
Welcome to our Retribution Paladin guide for WoW Classic! Retribution Paladins admittedly have a bit of a poor reputation for low damage and a simple rotation, but they’re far more valuable than they’re given credit for. Not only do Retribution Paladins deal damage, but their blessing buffs are crucial for empowering your whole raid group.
Despite a simple rotation, there is a fair bit to understand when it comes to a Retribution Paladin. In this guide we’ll cover everything you need to fully utilize your Retribution Paladin’s toolkit! That includes race choices, different talent tree builds, and several different ways to optimize your performance!
Paladins are by nature followers of the Light, which certainly can be found throughout the Retribution specialization. The ability to buff allies and also serve as a backup healer are important to keeping a Retribution Paladin relevant despite low damage output.
If you’re deciding to play a Retribution Paladin, you should understand you probably won’t top the damage meters. The paladin is a hybrid class by nature, evidenced by their ability to fulfill all three roles. When a class has so much flexibility, it loses specialty. In the case of paladins, they lose out on superior damage in favor of more utility and healing. This makes a Retribution Paladin quite a unique damage-dealing class, one that won’t always be actually attacking.
Best Retribution Paladin Races
Paladins can only be played by two races from the Alliance. These are humans and dwarves. Neither race has very good active racial abilities for Retribution Paladins, but humans do have a slight edge in offensive power due to Mace Specialization and Sword Specialization.
On the other hand, dwarves are a bit tankier because of the use of Stoneform. Since neither advantage is very big, it doesn’t matter too much which race you choose. If you want to be safer, play a dwarf. If you want a little more power, pick a human! You can check out all the racial differences here.
Retribution Paladin Talents
There are multiple different ways that you can build a Retribution talent tree. This is because your talents will ultimately be decided by your play style and what you’re aiming to accomplish. Are you strictly focusing on damage, in which case you want Consecration? Do you need to build a raid-supportive path instead so you have Blessing of Kings?
Your talent choices are definitely up to you, but here are a few good talent trees to serve as starting points:
This is a fairly standard 12/8/31 build that you might find on most level 60 Retribution Paladins. It takes you far enough in the Holy tree to grab Consecration, in the Protection tree to put 3 points in Precision, and in the Retribution tree to grab Repentance. The 5 points in Divine Intellect at the beginning of the Holy tree are flexible and can be swapped elsewhere if you so desire.
This build is a little more defensive, opting to take Blessing of Kings instead of Consecration. This does mean that you’ll need to spend more time buffing and you’ll also lose a damage ability in your rotation. Usually you’ll only use this build in niche situations where your raid composition would benefit from having Blessing of Kings over Blessing of Might.
This build is very support-oriented and has less of a focus on dealing damage. With this build you’ll have the shortest cooldown for Lay on Hands while also having strong healing output from Holy Light and Flash of Light. Note that this 20/0/31 build does not have 3 points in Precision, which does mean you’ll have a lower hit chance. This build should only be used in scenarios where your raid needs more damage overall, but is struggling to keep the tank alive.
Something that is often overlooked in regards to Retribution Paladins is optimization. Even though it is a hybrid class that doesn’t have impressive damage output, you will want to spend the time required to optimize a Retribution Paladin. You might not jump to the top of the damage charts, but you’ll certainly make yourself look more respectable while also offering plenty of utility to the raid.
The first thing you need to know about optimizing is stat priority. Retribution Paladins probably have the weirdest stat priorities in the entire game because of their ability to benefit from both Attack Power and Spell Power.
With that thought in mind, here are the stat priorities for a Retribution Paladin:
- Strength: The most important stat for a Retribution Paladin is still Strength. Strength boosts the damage of your auto attacks and many of your abilities. Considering a large portion of your damage is from auto attacks, you’ll want to amplify that damage as much as possible.
- Critical Strike: Just under Strength is Critical Strike. Critical Strike is actually very important because it allows for your Vengeance talent to activate, which grants +15% damage to both holy and physical damage for 8 seconds after a Critical Strike. Your ultimate goal is to have Vengeance active at all times, so Critical Strike is crucial to maintaining it.
- Spell Power: After Strength and Critical Strike, Retribution Paladins benefit the most from Spell Power. This is because nearly every ability Retribution Paladins use scale with Spell Power, meaning this will directly boost your damage output. Most of your Spell Power will come from consumables.
- Agility: Less important than the three above is Agility. Agility matters because it offers you a slightly increased Critical Strike and a slight boost to Dodge. You likely won’t need to itemize for it, but it certainly won’t hurt you to have gear with it.
- Mana per 5 (MP5): MP5 is useful because it can help keep your mana up. If you run out of mana, you can’t use any of your spells, which severely gimps a Retribution Paladin. If you’re spending too much time healing, you can easily run out of mana. You’ll probably only itemize for MP5 if you’re playing as a backup healer.
- Intellect: Last on this list is Intellect. You should never go out of your way to prioritize gear with Intellect, but it certainly won’t hurt to have. Intellect boosts your total mana pool while also granting a slight spell Critical Strike chance.
Another important part of a Retribution Paladin is raising your weapon skill. Because a Retribution Paladin is a melee attacker, you will want to ensure that your attacks actually land. Thanks to the Precision talent, you won’t need to look for very much Hit rating. However, you will need to max out your weapon skill for whatever weapon type you decide to use.
Not only does it increase your hit chance but, each weapon skill point also gives you:
- 0.04% reduced chance to miss.
- 0.04% reduced chance of opponent blocking attack.
- 0.04% reduced chance of opponent parrying attack.
- 0.04% reduced chance of opponent dodging attack.
- 0.04% increased critical strike chance.
Retribution Paladins have the flexibility of choosing whatever professions suit their fancy. Engineering remains the best option for added utility, but there are a few others that are also helpful for a Retribution Paladin.
Here are the professions you’ll benefit from as a Retribution Paladin:
- Engineering: There is no secret that the best profession in WoW Classic is Engineering. Bombs and created devices make for fantastic utility additions to any class. If you don’t need a specific profession for a soul-bound best-in-slot item, you should probably have Engineering. This is no different when it comes to a Retribution Paladin.
- Enchanting: Another solid option for any class is Enchanting. Any character looking to optimize will need enchants. If you can supply your own Enchanting materials, you’ll have a much better time actually getting them onto your gear.
- Mining: If you picked up Engineering, Mining makes for a great pairing. All the ore and stone you’ll find while Mining will be used to raise your Engineering skill. Since Engineering is likely your first choice, why wouldn’t you want to make it easier and cheaper to level?
- Alchemy: A solid alternative to Engineering or Enchanting is Alchemy. Much like enchants, everyone will also need potions, flasks, and elixirs to enhance their combat abilities. While you don’t need Alchemy to use them, having the ability to make them yourself eliminates needing to find an alchemist!
- Herbalism: If you chose Alchemy, you’ll definitely want Herbalism to supply the materials needed to raise your Alchemy skill level. High level herbs can get quite expensive, so save yourself some gold and farm them yourself!
Another important aspect of optimizing is enchanting! Because of the unique stat priorities of a Retribution Paladin, you’ll benefit from a mixture of traditional melee bonuses and spell bonuses. This means that you do have a lot of flexibility when it comes to choosing enchants, so you’ll want to choose based off of your needs.
Here are the best enchants to choose from as a Retribution Paladin:
- Helm: Syncretist’s Sigil, +10 Stamina, +7 Defense, +24 Spell Power or Arcanum of Focus, +8 Spell Power
- Shoulders: Zandalar Signet of Might, +30 Attack Power
- Cloak: Lesser Agility, +3 Agility or Greater Resistance, +5 All Resistances
- Chest: Greater Stats, +4 All Stats
- Bracers: Superior Strength, +9 Strength
- Gloves: Greater Strength, +7 Strength
- Helm: Syncretist’s Sigil, +10 Stamina, +7 Defense, +24 Spell Power or Arcanum of Focus, +8 Spell Power
- Boots: Greater Agility, +7 Agility or Minor Speed, + Movement Speed
- Weapon: Lifestealing, + Chance on Hit to Steal Health
Once you’ve finally got all of your enchants and gear ready to go, you’ll want to start stocking up on some consumables. These can often be expensive and time-consuming to collect, so you’ll want to make sure you save these for raid encounters only. While they might not seem essential, failing to stock consumables can absolutely be the difference between killing a boss and completely wiping.
Here are some of the most important consumables to have as a Retribution Paladin:
- Flask: When it comes to flasks and elixirs, the best option for a Retribution Paladin is Flask of Supreme Power, which adds +70 Spell Power. If you can’t afford flasks, Elixir of the Mongoose will give +25 Agility and 2% Crit.
- Potions: There are actually two different potions you’ll want to keep. These include Mageblood Potion, which gives +12 MP5 for an hour, and Major Mana Potion, which restores around 1750 mana on a 2 minute cooldown.
- Food: There are two good options when it comes to Retribution Paladin food, Smoked Desert Dumplings for +20 Strength and Nightfin Soup for +8 MP5.
- Juju: As a cheaper alternative to flasks and elixirs, you can also use jujus. Retribution Paladins should aim for Juju Might (+40 Attack Power for 10 minutes) and Juju Power (+30 Strength for 30 minutes).
- Sharpening Stone: Retribution Paladins do have flexibility once again when it comes to temporary weapon enhancements. Brilliant Wizard Oil is an excellent option for +36 Spell Damage and +1% Crit. Alternatively, you can use Elemental Sharpening Stone for +2% Crit. If you’re having issues keeping up Vengeance at all times, use the stone!
- Others: So long as you make sure to stock up on flasks, potions, and food, you should have most of your consumable needs down. If you really want to go above and beyond, Demonic Rune / Dark Rune is a good choice for restoring mana at the cost of health. If you also manage to find any Winterfall Firewater, save it for raid encounters for +35 Attack Power. The same can be said for the rare drops of Scroll of Strength, granting +17 Strength for 30 minutes.
Rotation & Gameplay Tips
While the actual gameplay aspect of a Retribution Paladin isn’t difficult, you definitely will want to understand your role and purpose beforehand in order to be useful. While paladins are definitely labeled as a damage-dealing class, they’re often utilized for their powerful blessings as well.
When it comes to choosing a seal, you’ll want to apply Judgement with Seal of the Crusader active to increase the holy damage they take. After that, your seal choice will depend on the attack speed of your weapon. If it is 3.5 or slower, you can use Seal of Command. If it is 3.4 or faster, you’ll continue using Seal of the Crusader.
As a paladin, your most noteworthy abilities are your blessings. More specifically, Blessing of Might for extra Attack Power, Blessing of Wisdom for mana regeneration, and Blessing of Kings for +10% to all stats. Kings requires you to select it via talents, but you’ll probably take it if you have a raid group with several casters.
You’ll want to ensure these blessings are maintained at all times. Considering how simple your rotation is, this makes it very simple to maintain blessing buffs on the whole raid while also keeping up with your rotation. You’ll just need to remember that buffing is part of your role.
On top of buffs, you also have the iconic paladin bubble. This grants invulnerability for 10 whole seconds, but it also renders your target unable to attack. While this might not seem terribly useful, it can save a raid member in a dire situation. You can also use Lay on Hands for a instant, full-health heal on a long cooldown.
Retribution is the damage-dealing specialization for paladins, but that doesn’t mean it is your entire role. Retribution Paladins have very few actual abilities to use, which makes them have fairly low damage output. Despite low damage output, this deficit is compensated by the benefits a Retribution Paladin can provide to your whole raid.
The largest benefit is definitely blessing buffs. Given that Greater Blessings last for 15 minutes, you’ll only need to refresh them 4 times an hour. If you don’t have upgraded Blessings, they’ll last just 5 minutes, requiring 12 refreshes per hour. It certainly isn’t difficult to buff your raid, but it will certainly become tedious if they only last 5 minutes.
As a Retribution Paladin, you will be required to maintain blessing buffs on the raid. This makes buffing just as important as your rotation and dealing damage.
On top of blessing buffs, you also have the flexibility to serve as a backup healer in a pinch. This is mostly due to Blessing of Protection and Lay on Hands, both of which have lengthy cooldowns. You do still have access to Holy Light and Flash of Light, meaning you can help top off a tank when damage is very high.
Your raiding role as a Retribution Paladin will ultimately be decided by your raid group. You’ll probably just focus on distributing buffs with a secondary focus on dealing damage.
Part of why Retribution Paladins aren’t very popular is the rotation. Or quite frankly, the lack thereof. Retribution Paladins rely on auto attacks and passive procs for a bulk of their damage. This does work very well for them considering their raiding role, giving them plenty of freedom and time to apply blessings because there aren’t many active offensive abilities they need to prioritize.
Despite that, there is an accepted way of ensuring you deal the most damage. You’ll want to start every fight with Seal of the Crusader so that you can immediately use a Judgment to cause your holy attacks to deal more damage. After that, you’ll want to keep either Seal of the Crusader or Seal of Command applied at all times (SotC: Weapon Speed 3.4 and lower, SoC: Weapon Speed 3.5 and higher).
To simplify, debuff with Seal of the Crusader > keep a seal active > Consecration with Vengeance up. A very simple rotation, but fortunately the Retribution Paladin has more to do than just sit back and swing away by buffing and healing!