Season of Discovery (SoD) Paladin DPS Build Guide & Best Runes

paladin dps

Widely regarded as one of the most boring Damage Specializations due to their clunky Seal system, mana-management issues, and lack of Direct Damage abilities in WoW Classic, Retribution Paladin receives massive improvements with the arrival of the Season of Discovery, changing their lackluster gameplay to a dynamic playstyle with plenty of new offensive and utility abilities.

The new Rune System introduced by the Season of Discovery changes our playstyle by including new and exciting effects and abilities such as Exorcist and Horn of Lordaeron while also bringing some old ones that were available during TBC Classic and WotLK Classic such as Crusader Strike and Divine Storm.

Build Summary

With the arrival of the Season of Discovery, you can say goodbye to the old staring at our “Swing-Timer” bar and wait for Judgement‘s cooldown to refresh as Retribution Paladin now has access to a dynamic play style. Thanks to the new Crusader Strike, Divine Storm, Seal of Martyrdom, Exorcist, The Art of War, and Sheath of Light runes, Paladins can now properly generate a high damage output as their previous Classic version severely lacked Direct Damage abilities.

Crusader Strike will be one of our main damaging abilities, dealing Holy Damage to the target while also granting us 5% of our maximum mana with each cast. This helps us considerably with our mana issues as we can easily run out of mana with our high-cost spells, especially as we now have multiple spells that we can spam. The best part about this spell is that its current version doesn’t cost any mana, meaning we are left with a viable tool even in OoM situations.

Divine Storm acts as a very powerful AoE tool, allowing us to finally tackle multiple mobs at the same time efficiently. Depending on your current gear, Divine Storm can also act as a very powerful Single-Target tool as some items in the game specifically enhance Holy Damage. The Seal of Martyrdom is currently one of the most powerful Single-Target tools in our kit, serving as the main Seal in raid encounters.

Exorcism will now be usable on any type of target, having a very powerful bonus whenever it’s used against Undead or Demons thanks to the Exorcist rune. Additionally, The Art of War and Sheath of Light runes synergize perfectly with the Exorcist rune. The Art of War resets the cooldown of Exorcism whenever you land a critical strike with melee attacks while the Sheath of Light increases your overall Spell Power by 30% of your entire Attack Power for 1 minute, massively empowering Exorcism in the process.

A vast majority of our damage will come from Exorcism, generating the second-highest damage output besides Melee Swings. While it was possible until now for the Seal of Martyrdom to trigger The Art of War proc, as of 28th February this is no longer possible, reducing the overall performance of Exorcism by limiting the frequency of The Art of War procs.

Besides those new abilities, our old rotation still comes into play, with Judgement and our seals playing a large role in our overall performance. The Seal of Righteousness remains our primary seal while leveling while the Seal of the Crusader is used to empower our Holy Damage. The Seal of Command is the better version of the Seal of Righteousness once you can unlock it. We also gain access to the Seal of Wisdom and Seal of Light which can be used for mana and health regeneration, however, their use is rather situational.

Seal Twisting is still very alive in the Season of Discovery, however, it is certainly not beginner-friendly. While the Seal of Command “Seal Twisting” is not possible with the Seal of Martyrdom, “Seal Twisting” as a mechanic remains very relevant for us in PvP and for raiders who wish to maximize their damage output. It can currently be achieved with the Seal of Righteousness and the Seal of Martyrdom. Keep in mind, however, that “Seal Twisting” is very harsh on your mana reserves.

Seal Twisting Combinations:

Additionally, Retribution Paladins gain access to multiple utility runes such as Horn of Lordaeron, Divine Sacrifice, and Rebuke which can be hot-swapped whenever the situation requires it.

Spell Priority List

Seal of Martyrdom Build

Divine Storm Build



Divine Storm

  • An instant weapon attack that causes 110% of weapon damage to up to 4 enemies within 8 yards. The Divine Storm heals up to 3 party or raid members totaling 25% of the damage caused.

Lo and behold, one of the most powerful abilities from WotLK Classic making its way into WoW Classic! Divine Storm is a very strong AoE ability that can damage up to 4 enemies, however, it can also be proficiently in Single-Target encounters due to its very high damage.

Horn of Lordaeron

  • The Paladin blows the Horn of Lordaeron, which increases total Strength and Agility of all party members within 30 yards by 17. Lasts 2 min. Exclusive with Blessing of Might.

This rune grants us quite a powerful utility tool, however, it sadly shares the same rune slot with Divine Storm and Seal of Martyrdom. For those of you who play Shaman, you might recognize this spell as a simple yet effective variant of the Strength of Earth Totem and Grace of Air Totem effects combined. The only issue with this spell, besides the shared rune slot, is that it cancels out the Blessing of Might buff.

Seal of Martyrdom

  • Fills you with holy spirit for 30 sec, causing each of your melee attacks to deal 40% weapon damage to your target, but you lose health equal to 10% of the damage inflicted. While this seal is active, your party members within 40 yards each gain mana equal to 10% of all damage you take. Unleashing this Seal’s energy will judge an enemy, instantly causing 70% weapon damage at the cost of health equal to 10% of the damage inflicted.

This rune was previously presented to us as a decent AoE alternative for Divine Storm, however, it quickly got revamped into a potent Single-Target tool. Besides its very high Single-Target damage, it provides a good amount of mana regeneration for your group. The initial thought regarding this ability was that we were able to “Seal Twist” it by using the Seal of Command.

In its current state, the Seal of Martyrdom is the most potent Single-Target Seal that you can use for Gnomeregan if you have the proper equipment. This rune truly shines with weapons that can grant an Attack Speed-enhancing buff. The Seal of Martyrdom was also able to trigger the The Art of War effect, however, as of the 27th of February, this has been patched.


Crusader Strike

  • An instant strike that causes 75% Weapon Damage as Holy and regenerates 5% of your maximum mana.

The Crusader Strike is yet another fan-favorite ability from the later expansions that makes its way into WoW Classic thanks to this rune. This ability is widely regarded as one of the best abilities to ever bless Retribution Paladins, granting them a powerful way of dealing Direct Damage to their targets besides Judgement and Seal of Martyrdom.

In Season of Discovery, this ability is quite different from its future counterparts, with the ability now dealing Holy Damage based on 75% Weapon Damage that fully ignores Armor while also regenerating 5% of your maximum mana! The maximum mana regeneration part was increased from 3% to 5% at the release of Phase 2 while the change to its damage type was recently implemented with the changelog on February 27th.

Those changes make Crusader Strike a much more potent and important part of any Single-Target rotation, as opposed to how it only served as a filler spell with an added regeneration tool up until now.


Sheath of Light

  • Dealing damage with your melee weapon increases your spell power by an amount equal to 30% of your attack power for 1 min. In addition, your critical healing spells heal the target for 60% of the healed amount over 12 sec.

This will be your main Waist rune as it grants an incredible damage boost to all of your Holy spells! A total bonus of 30% of your entire Attack Power as Spell Power simply allows us to use Judgement and Exorcism as straight-up nuking tools. Additionally, with the change of Crusader Strike‘s damage from Physical Damage to Holy Damage, this rune will also empower its damage output!

Furthermore, Sheath of Light can also be useful for any Paladin who wishes to use the Seal Twisting mechanic, as the Seal of Righteousness directly benefits from the added Spell Power.


Divine Sacrifice

  • 30% of all damage taken by party and members within 30 yards is redirected to the Paladin for 10 sec. Damage which reduces the Paladin below 20% health will break the effect and grant the paladin 10% increased damage and healing done for 10 sec. Divine Sacrifice cannot be used while you are under the effects of Blessing of ProtectionDivine Shield, or Divine Protection, and prevents you from being targeted by those abilities while it is active.

Introduced as a talent during WotLK Classic Divine Sacrifice makes its way to WoW Classic, being widely regarded as one of the best utility tools that Paladins possess. While we won’t be able to benefit from its full effect as its WotLK Classic counterpart, it will still allow us to use its effect for our current party group.


  • Exorcism can now be cast on any target and has 100% increased critical strike chance against Undead and Demons.

This rune is amazing for us as it grants us another core spell that we can use in any type of encounter! Thanks to this rune, Exorcism will now be a part of our core rotation, being empowered by Seal of the Crusader. Since the ability has a low cooldown, we will always want to cast it whenever it’s available. The only concern with this ability is that it can be quite costly, meaning that you risk burning your entire mana pool if you don’t pair it up with consistent Crusader Strike casts.


  • Interrupts spellcasting and prevents any spell in that school from being cast for 3 sec.

An interrupt effect for Paladins in WoW Classic? Finally, Blizzard, thank you! Thanks to this rune, we now have access to the Rebuke ability which can be used to interrupt those annoying pesky spellcasting mobs and bosses. The only issue with this rune is that it shares the same spot with the Exorcist rune, meaning that we will lose one of our core damaging abilities by using it. However, since runes are hot-swappable, you may use this rune only for encounters where damaging the boss is less important than interrupting its dangerous spells.


Guarded by the Light

  • Each time you hit a target with your melee weapon, you gain 5% of your maximum mana per 3 sec for 15 sec, but the amount healed by your Flash of Light, Holy Light, and Holy Shock spells is reduced by 50% during this mana regeneration.

While this rune is not considered viable at all due to the existence of The Art of War rune sharing the same Rune Slot with it, the Guarded by the Light rune can be a very useful tool for any build that focuses on Seal Twisting! The main theory behind it is that each 5% mana tick should cover the cost of a Seal Twist if you are using a slow weapon. However, since Exorcism currently dominates both the PvP and PvE scenes, the Guarded by the Light rune barely sees any play.

The Art of War

  • Your melee critical strikes reset the cooldowns on Holy Shock and Exorcism, and the mana cost of Holy Shock and Exorcism is reduced by 80%.

The Art of War is the most powerful rune that Paladins can acquire in Phase 2 of Season of Discovery. This rune allows you to spam Exorcism, provided that you consistently land melee critical strikes. This effect can be triggered by Melee Swings, Crusader Strike, Divine Storm, Judgement, and even your Seals! However, as of 27th February, the Seal of Martyrdom can’t trigger The Art of War anymore.

Talent Builds

sod phase 2 pve retribution paladin talent build
Paladin DPS Build Talent Calculator

With the raise of the level cap to level 40, Retribution Paladin now has access to some of its most impactful talents gameplay-wise. We will still use some of the talents from Phase 1 such as Benediction, Improved Judgement, and Improved Seal of the Crusader, however, we will only spend 3 points on Benediction as we will no longer experience mana issues. We will also be treating Improved Seal of the Crusader as a simple filler to reach more important talents further down the Talent Tree since we no longer have any use for it.

We will now want to spend 5 points on Improved Blessing of Might to maximize our Attack Power while also maintaining 5 points on Conviction to increase our Critical Strike Chance as a mandatory core talent. Seal of Command will be used as our primary Seal whenever we don’t use the Seal of Martyrdom. while the Pursuit of Justice talent is great for overall mobility, both in PvE encounters and in the open world.

We will now finally have access to Sanctity Aura, Two-Handed Weapon Specialization, and Vengeance which are some of the most impactful talents for increasing our overall damage output. Sanctity Aura improves all of our Holy damage by 10% while Two-Handed Weapon Specialization grants an overall 6% damage buff while using a Two-Handed Weapon. Vengeance is the “pièce de résistance” in this build, granting a 15% damage bonus to both Physical and Holy damage after landing a critical strike. The existence of Vengeance alone emphasizes the importance of Critical Strike Chance for Retribution Paladin.

Lastly, we will want one point in Divine Strength to slightly increase our overall Strength. While this bonus is rather low, it adds up with the other damage-enhancing effects that we can finally access.

Key Spells and Abilities

Seal of Command

The Seal of Command is one of our core abilities that can be used to empower our normal attacks, granting them a chance to deal an additional 70% Holy Damage based on Weapon Damage. Unleashing the Seal of Command with Judgement will deal higher amounts of damage than the unleashed Seal of Righteousness, doubling the amount of damage dealt against any stunned target.

The Seal of Command can also be used for Seal Twisting in combination with the Seal of Righteousness. It can also be used with the Seal of Justice, however, it can’t be used to twist back from the Seal of Justice to the Seal of Command. The Seal of Command can’t be used in combination with the Seal of Martyrdom for Seal Twisting. The only issue with Seal Twisting is the high mana cost associated with the action and its difficulty in activating the “Twist” itself.

Seal of Righteousness

The Seal of Righteousness is our primary Seal as Retribution Paladins during this low-level bracket until we acquire the Seal of Command. This ability empowers our normal attacks with additional Holy Damage while also dealing a moderate amount of Holy Damage to a target whenever it’s unleashed by Judgement.

The Seal of Righteousness is the main Seal available for Seal Twisting, being usable with both the Seal of Command and the Seal of Martyrdom! The only issue with Seal Twisting is the high mana cost associated with the action and its difficulty in activating the “Twist” itself.

Seal of the Crusader

The Seal of the Crusader is the primary way of empowering all of our Holy Damage, including the unleashed Seal of Command, Exorcism, and Crusader Strike. Its primary effect increases your attack speed by up to 40% while also granting you a 96 increased Melee Attack Power. However, you will deal less damage with each attack you inflict, making this seal a bad choice for prolonged use. Its unleashed effect, Judgement of the Crusader, is what we truly desire, empowering all Holy Damage dealt to the target by up to 80 for 10 seconds.

The best part about the Seal of the Crusader is that you only need to apply it with Judgement once at the beginning of the fight. The 10-second Judgement of the Crusader effect resets itself each time you land a Melee Swing.

Seal of Wisdom

The Seal of Wisdom is a useful utility tool that can be used to regenerate mana both for the Paladin and its allies. The seal itself regenerates a low amount of mana with each melee hit while its unleashed effect grants mana to every party or raid member that lands a melee hit on the target.

Seal of Light

The Seal of Light is a useful utility tool that can be used to regenerate health both for the Paladin and its allies. The seal itself regenerates a low amount of health with each melee hit while its unleashed effect grants health to every party or raid member that lands a melee hit on the target.


Judgement is one of the core abilities of a Retribution Paladin, which allows them to unleash the secondary effects of their seals. You will consistently use this ability on cooldown! The effect of Judgement is different for each single Seal.

Hammer of Justice

The Hammer of Justice is a utility ability that can stun mobs for 4 seconds. Beware, however, that bosses are generally immune to stun effects, which means you can’t use this ability to interrupt their spell-casting. This spell may also be used in combination with the Seal of Command to double the seal’s unleashed effect.

Divine Shield

Lo and behold, the most loved and hated ability at the same time, Divine Shield. This ability can be used to mitigate raid mechanics entirely negating any debuff, threatening effect, or incoming damage. It grants complete immunity for up to 10 seconds with the only drawback being a 100% reduced Attack Speed.


Purify is a utility spell that can remove 1 Poison and 1 Disease effect. While this type of spell is usually used by your healers, you will want to use it on yourself to lessen the burden placed on healers.

Divine Intervention

This ability has two distincts functions. It can be used as a way to remove debuffs from targets, effectively deleting any harmful effect or stacking debuff that a boss might place on the target or it can be used as a time-saving effect during a raid wipe.

The first method of using Divine Intervention is rather extreme and it requires a battle resurrection effect to revive the Paladin afterwards. The second method of using Divine Intervention is much more practical as it can be used as a last-ditch effort to preserve a healer’s life, effectively creating a respawn point. The healer can remove the effect manually after the wipe occurs, resurrecting all its allies, effectively saving time by eliminating a corpse run.

Resistance Auras

Besides the second level of Shadow Resistance Aura, Paladins now have access to Frost Resistance Aura and Fire Resistance Aura which are vital utility tools for multiple PvE situations. The Frost Resistance Aura and Fire Resistance Aura are extremely useful for the last boss of Gnomeregan, as it can deal high amounts of Fire and Frost damage.


Paladins can offer a multitude of blessings, some of which provide momentary respite while others enhance a target’s overall performance. Besides the standard Blessing of Freedom, Blessing of Wisdom and Blessing of Might buffs, Paladins can now also grant Blessing of Salvation to powerful damage dealers, effectively reducing their threat generation by a considerable amount. They can also offer the Blessing of Light, however, we won’t be utilizing it as a Retribution Paladin.

Example Best-in-Slot

Below is an example of an all-round Best-in-Slot list that you can tweak to fit your individual needs.

  • Tempered Interference-Negating Helmet
    • The Tempered Interference-Negating Helmet is the best possible helmet that you can acquire in Phase 2! While it shifts our profession from Leatherworking to Blacksmithing, the benefits are surely worth it! It grants a huge amount of stats while also possessing an on-use effect that increases our overall resistances and Attack Speed.
  • Troggslayer Pauldrons
    • The Troggslayer Pauldrons are the only viable option that you can acquire in Phase 2 for the Shoulders slot, granting an astonishing amount of Attack Power and Agility.
  • Blooddrenched Drape
    • While there is another cape available from Gnomeregan, the Blooddrenched Drape claims the first spot thanks to its Critical Strike Chance increasing effect! Since the Seal of Martyrdom has been nerfed, removing the possibility of The Art of War proccing of Seal of Martyrdom, we will want to acquire as much Critical Strike Chance as possible to trigger the effect from any other sources!
  • Insulated Chestguard
    • The Insulated Chestguard is the first Tier item that we will acquire, granting us access to powerful item-set bonuses and raw stats. While there are other types of armor that we can equip such as Mail Armor and Plate Armor, we will opt for the Leather Armor set since the 2-item set bonus can grant us increased Critical Strike Chance. As such, we want to pair this item with another one from the same set to increase our Critical Strike Chance as much as possible.
  • Berserker Bracers
    • The Berserker Bracers are undoubtedly the best Wrists that you can acquire in Phase 2! The item grants amazing overall stats, with an insane amount of Strength! The only issue with the item is that it can be quite tedious to farm, annoying many Retribution Paladins in the process.
  • Grubbis Grubby Gauntlets/Machinist’s Gloves
    • The Machinist’s Gloves are the best possible option whenever you encounter a mechanical enemy! Thanks to its unique bonus, we will want to use this item on most of Gnomeregan’s Bosses and Trash Mobs. However, we will want to use Grubbis Grubby Gauntlets as a BiS option whenever we don’t encounter a mechanical foe. The safest bet is to utilize the Grubbis Grubby Gauntlets for the first two bosses and the Throgg area in Gnomeregan while swapping to the Machinist’s Gloves for the rest.
  • Hyperconductive Goldwrap/Power-Assisted Lifting Belt
    • For the Waist slot, you have two distinct options that you can treat as a BiS. The Hyperconductive Goldwrap is the superior option thanks to its overall stats and on-use effect, however, it’s locked behind the Engineering specialization. The Power-Assisted Lifting Belt is the second option, presenting itself with great raw stats, although, its secondary stats bonuses are rather weak by comparison.
  • Insulated Legguards
    • The Insulated Legguards are the best possible option, aiding us in reaching the 2-piece item set bonus. The increased Hit Rating and Critical Strike Chance from the set bonus alongside the high raw stats make this item the best possible option for the Legs slot.
  • Shinkicker Boots/Highlander’s Lamellar Greaves
    • The Shinkicker Boots are the best possible option thanks to the high amount of Strength and Agility they offer. As an alternative, you can use the Highlander’s Lamellar Greaves which provide Stamina and Intellect besides almost the same amount of Strength and Agility while also increasing your movement speed by a tiny amount.


Retribution Paladin may use multiple weapons during a single encounter to fully maximize it’s damage output!


  • Gnomeregan Peace Officer’s Torque
    • This is by far the best possible option for your Neck slot! It offers a considerable increase in stats over the former BiS, granting increased Stamina, Attack Power, and vital Critical Strike Chance.
  • Hypercharged Gear of Devastation
    • Yet another epic from Gnomeregan, the Hypercharged Gear of Devastation is truly a powerful ring! It offers increased Nature and Arcane resistance which aid with the majority of the Gnomeregan fights while also increasing your Strength, Agility, and Stamina.
  • Protector’s Band/Protector’s Band
  • Avenger’s Void Pearl
    • The Avenger’s Void Pearl from Blackfathom Depths remains one of the BiS options for us as it continues to grant a considerable amount of Attack Power!
  • Domesticated Attack Chicken
    • This is by far the best trinket that you can acquire in Phase 2 as a Retribution Paladin! It can either buff your entire party with a 5% Attack Speed increase for 4 minutes while also acting as a minion. The only downside of this trinket is that the Attack Speed buff is entirely random, meaning that it may not occur at all, resulting in only a decent damage output generated by the chicken itself.

Noteworthy Items

  • Nightblade
    • The Nightblade is one of the most memorable epic items from WoW Classic! It has a great overall damage output, with a fast Melee Swing Timer and a great proc effect. The only issue is the RNG of the proc itself, with the proc chance itself being quite chaotic. The effect can either occur in a row or not at all during an encounter.
  • Fiery War Axe
    • The Fiery War Axe is yet another one of the most memorable epic items from WoW Classic! This still remains valid in Season of Discovery, as the item itself has a rather impressive damage output. The only issue is the RNG component of the item, with the proc chance itself being quite chaotic. The effect can either occur in a row or not at all during an encounter.
  • Deadly Strike of the Hydra
    • This item is the former BiS from Phase 1. It still packs a punch, as its overall damage can still be useful until you acquire stronger weapons such as the Fiery War Axe.

Race Choice

In Classic, the Paladin Class is exclusively available for the Alliance faction. Humans and Dwarves are the only races able to become Holy Crusaders in search of Retribution. Between the two races, Humans have the upper hand in PvE environments while Dwarves are better for PvP content.


Humans are widely regarded as the most iconic representations of Paladins in World of Warcraft. Their main beneficial racial effects for PvE content are Sword Specialization and Mace Specialization, with both racial effects increasing their Weapon Skill whenever they use a Sword or a Mace. This effect grants them an edge over Dwarf, as Hit Rating is rather hard to come by in the Season of Discovery. Since Retribution Paladin doesn’t benefit from the Meditation effect that some healing specializations have, The Human Spirit is useless for us during any combat, with the effect only slightly decreasing our downtime in between pulls. Other than those effects, the rest of them are quite useless in PvE, with Perception being a PvP/Leveling effect that has close to no practical use in any raid content, while Diplomacy is only useful for acquiring the reputation rewards from Warsong Gulch and Ashenvale slightly faster than other races.


Dwarves follow in the footsteps of Humans, joining the ranks of devout believers in the Holy Light. Dwarves have two main racial effects which focus on improving survivability, with the rest of their racial effects being either situational or outright unfit for our specialization. Stoneform is the first racial effect that can be somewhat beneficial for us, even though it’s mainly a PvP ability, providing us with a reliable way to remove Bleed effects while also granting a 10% increased Armor for 8 seconds. Frost Resistance is the second racial effect that can be useful for improving our survivability, especially in the first phase of the Season of Discovery, as Blackfathom Depths will certainly feature bosses and mobs that deal Frost Damage. The rest of Dwarf’s racial effects are not properly suited for us in PvE, with Find Treasure being a gimmick ability for the open world while Gun Specialization is entirely useless since we can’t even use guns.


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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Joseph Biden
Joseph Biden
6 months ago

Who the fk though it was better to have 10% str over 5% crit when we have liek 100 strength at level 25? 20 attack power is no where near better than 5% crit… Nevermore at it again

6 months ago

Definitely Conviction>Divine Strength with our current stat values at 25. The crit will have a much higher impact. Rest of the guide looks fantastic!

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