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Retribution Paladin Guide for PvE DPS

The Retribution Paladin PvE Guide

Human Retribution Paladin in T16 Raid Gear

Updated for Warlords of Draenor

Warlords didn’t change a lot for Retribution, Holy & Prot got the lion’s share, but a few abilities were hacked and others moved.

See the links just below the contents if you’re interested in other Paladin guides or PvP. This guide to the Retribution Paladin is primarily intended for use at level 100 in a raiding environment. However, the same principals will still apply during the leveling process, so if you’re looking for advice on leveling your Paladin, check out our Paladin Leveling Guide.

Retribution Contents

This page

  1. Retribution Talents
  2. Glyphs
  3. Ret Stats
  4. Rotations
  5. Gems
  6. Enchants
  7. Consumables
  8. Professions
  9. Races
  10. Leveling Quickly
Other Paladin Guides: 

Click Here for the Faster Paladin Leveling!
Level to 100, and Beyond, Fast. Click here to Start,


Retribution Paladin Talents

Different talents will work better in different situations.For example, one one fight you might want burst movement (Speed of Light,) but for the rest maybe Pursuit of Justice will be better overall. The picks below are for general raid content, but feel free to change them for your game or for specific fights.

Keep a stack of Tome of the Clear Mind in your bags for easy talent (and glyph) switching. Descriptions are below the image and our picks are checked: Best talent

Use the proving grounds to experiment with talents. Those same proving grounds are a requirement for random LFR and random Heroic dungeon groups in Warlords of Draenor.

Retribution DPS Talents for Warlords of Draenor

Tier 1, level 15:

Movement choices. Do you want burst movement or a general increase? These do not stack with other movement speed increases, such as the speed boost from boot or cloak enchants.

  1. Speed of Light is grants you a burst movement cooldown, a good choice for situations where you suddenly have to play “catch up.” 8 seconds of sprint with a 45 second cooldown will help you stick to the target. Especially when it dashes over there.
  2. Best talent Long Arm of the Law is a 3 second boost when you drop the Judgment hammer. It is good for fights where frequent shorter bursts of speed are needed. This can help you stick to mobile targets. With a very short cooldown this makes for a lot of sprints.
  3. Pursuit of Justice has the advantage of being passive (not taking up a keybind,) but just doesn’t offer the speed burst of the others. It’s just a nice, steady movement increase which isn’t bad at all.

Tier 2, level 30:

Crowd Control. Do you need a single target stun or an area effect for add groups?

  1. Fist of Justice is an improved version of Hammer of Justice, longer range and shorter cooldown, a single target CC. Stuns are always good and work well as interrupts.
  2. Repentance is a single target CC that lasts longer than Fist of Justice and has a shorter cooldown. It breaks on damage, but is good for incoming adds. If you’re on “add duty” then it’s a nice choice. Otherwise, take the Fist.
  3. Best talent Blinding Light disorients everything withing ten yards for 6 seconds. Nice for add groups and trash.

Tier 3, level 45:

You’re DPS, not a healer, but sometimes being able to aid an ally is valuable. Do you want to use Flash of Light or cast a Shield?

  1. Best talent Selfless Healer is good if you want to throw out emergency heals from time to time, on others or on yourself. Let it stack up and then get a quick and decent heal. Your team emember gets in trouble and you can give him some help. 
  2. Eternal Flame isn’t great when used on others, but it’s pretty sweet when used on yourself.  Nice for those incoming damage phases. The only issue is that it uses your Holy Power and is a DPS loss.
  3. Sacred Shield is the talent you are looking for. It can have considerable uptime with minimal effort and absorb a pretty fair amount of damage. This will make it an even better choice than before. It does not use Holy Power. Haste speeds up the effect.

Tier 4, level 60:

Kind of a “meh” tier for Retribution DPS, but there is some nice support stuff here.

  1. Hand of Purity is for encounters with particularly detrimental periodic effects, though it does provide some baseline damage reduction and so has some general value.
  2. Unbreakable Spirit is very nice for certain fights, such as the ones that quickly kill Ret Paladins. It reduces the cooldown on Divine ShieldDivine Protection, and Lay on Hands by 50%. Depending on your role (and how often you use those abilities) the changes might well make this the pick.
  3. Best talent Clemency is likely to see the most use of the three options in this tier, if you’re making good use of your hand abilities. If you figure you need your emergency abilities more often (eg: Lay on Hands, etc.) then go with Unbreakable spirit.

Tier 5, level 75:

All are good picks and over a long fight the DPS gained from all with be very close to each of the others. With the tier 17 set bonus (see: Battleplate of Guiding Light) Divine Purpose is the best pick, due to more effective Hammer of Wraths and yet more Holy Power generation.

  1. Best talent Holy Avenger has a 2 min cooldown, but you can have it right now, without having to wait for random numbers or a proc. Very nice damage/healing increase every two minutes. Stack it with any other “on use” items you have for massive burst. This is why it’s our pick, but the other two are also good choices. BTW – Holy Avenger and Avenging Wrath have the same cooldowns and can stack, for extra Ret goodness (massive burst.)
  2. Sanctified Wrath causes your Avenging Wrath to last 50% longer and grants more frequent Hammer of Wrath usage while it’s active.
  3. Divine Purpose is useful, but random. It will let you cast more of your Holy Power abilities and will help keep your DPS up inbetween burst phases. If you’re fine with random procs, not wanting to deal with fussing with cooldowns, then this is a good choice.

Tier 6, level 90:

Area effects or single target DPS?

  1. Holy Prism is one of two AoE DPS options in this tier, but it’s the weaker one. It is, however, nice when cast on the tank to help her sweep up adds.
  2. Light’s Hammer is the other AoE option, the choice between it and Holy Prism depends on the exact nature of the fight more than anything. Generally though, the Hammer wins, and is better than Execution Sentence anytime you’re fighting two or more opponents.
  3. Best talent Execution Sentence is the best choice for single target DPS, if your target is going to stay put for the whole ten seconds. Keep in mind the damage and healing ramp up over that time, so it’s most effective at the end of the period.

Tier 7, level 100

Tough call here.

  1. Empowered Seals: Your Seals also cause your Judgment to provide additional effects. This restores some effects that were removed from Judgment awhile back. Each effect lasts 20 seconds. A bit redundant with some other talents, but that Attack Power is nice and since you’ll be using Seal of Truth anyway, all the time, it’s a good pick. All effects last 20 seconds and Judgment has a 6 second cooldown, so this can be up all the time. It is not a DPS gain over Final Verdict, but might be more fun and it’s certainly more challenging to use well.
    • J. of Justice speeds you up a bit,
    • J. of Insight heals,
    • J. of Righteousness increases Hate by 15%,
    • J. of Truth increases Attack Power by 15%
  2. Seraphim: All of your secondary stats (Haste, Crit, Mastery, MultiStrike, and Versatility) all get increased by 1,000 for 15 seconds, with a 30 second cooldown. Line this up with Avenging Wrath and/or Holy Avenger. Final Verdict is still better.
  3. Best talent Final Verdict: A mighty strike, doing all of the damage as Holy. It also increases the radius and damage of your next Divine Storm, both by 100%. Replaces Templar’s Verdict. This is the best talent for single targets.


Retribution Glyphs

In Warlords the only real Glyph Changes are that you now learn several automatically, just as you do with your abilities. They are not installed, just learned, whether you want them or not.

  1. At level 25 you get the glyphs of: Harsh Words, Flash of Light, Alabaster Shield, Dazing Shield, Avenging Wrath, Templar’s Verdict
  2. At level 50, Glyphs of: Denounce, Divine Storm, Word of Glory
  3. At level 75, Glyphs of: Light of Dawn, Final Wrath, Double Jeopardy

Glyphs are pretty situational. For best effect you’ll be doing some swapping, so keep some Tomes handy.

Major Glyphs, more or less in order of usefulness. 

  • Glyph of Templar’s Verdict – Take a little less damage after using TV or Exorcism. Dead Paladins do no DPS. Makes your healer’s jobs a tiny bit easier.
  • Glyph of Double Jeopardy – useful if fighting two targets, does nothing against single targets. Minor DPS increase when fighting 2+ targets.
  • Glyph of Mass Exorcism – Primary target takes full damage, all other targets take reduced damage. Recommended if you’re fighting stacked groups and don’t need the range.
  • Glyph of Divine Protection – reduces magic reduction of DP by 20% but adds 20% physical damage reduction. Useful for fights with lots of group-wide magic damage.
  • Glyph of Harsh Words – Your Word of Glory can now be used in an offensive manner.
  • Glyph of Word of Glory – If you’re using WoG then this looks pretty interesting.
  • Glyph of Avenging Wrath – Heals you up for 10% of your health over 20 seconds while AW is active.
  • Glyph of Divine Storm – heals caster for 5% max health.
  • Glyph of Divine Shield: Removing harmful effects with Divine Shield heals the Paladin for each effect removed. This heal cannot exceed a percentage of the Paladin’s maximum health.
  • Glyph of Hand of Sacrifice: Hand of Sacrifice no longer transfers damage taken by the target to the Paladin. This means that the Hand now puts a shield on the target, making things somewhat safer for the Paladin. There is a very similar to the Warrior’s Vigilance ability change.

Minor Glyphs

These are primarily cosmetic.


Retribution DPS Stat Priorities

In Warlords of Draenor the Hit and Expertise stats are dead. So if Reforging. To replace them you have two new stats: Versatility and Multistrike.

Your Str no longer adds to Crit, but you have a base 5% to start with. You also have an “Attuned” stat. This is the stat that Blizzard feels will help you do the most damage overall. In your case it’s your new level 90 Righteous Vengeance.

  • Stat Priority (at level 100:) Strength > Mastery >= Haste (until ~15% total with all buffs) > Multistrike or Crit > more Haste > Versatility (ask the robot)
  • Note that the value of these stats, Mastery through Haste, is very close. This means this if you have “a bit too much” in one or the other you won’t be kicked from the guild. Probably. What it really means is that unless you’re absolutely perfect with your rotations you won’t see a difference in your DPS.

Strength improves all of your damage. It’s a straight up add to everything you do.

Mastery causes various of your strikes and their Multistrikes to do additional (holy) damage. It’s a nice, straight up, damage add.

Multistrike gives you a chance to do one or two additional strikes at 30% effect. These can Crit and are affected by your Mastery. You should pick one or the other of Multistrike and Crit as you’ll get better effect than by picking both. Note that the chances of actually getting those two multistrikes are pretty low.

Crit gives you a chance for a harder hit. You Mastery adds damage and those hits can Crit, as well as any Multistrikes, which are also added my Mastery. So these three work very well together. You should pick one or the other of Multistrike and Crit as you’ll get better effect than by picking both.

Haste speeds up everything you do, including cast times, and reduces global cooldowns. Reducing the cooldowns leads to faster Holy Power generation.

Versatility “Increases damage, healing, and absorption done. Reduces damage taken.” So overall it’s a fairly useful stat, the others are simply better for overall Damage.


In-Depth Retribution Paladin Rotation:

  • Seal of Truth should be your seal of choice for single target fights.
  • Seal of Righteousness for larger groups (4+)
  • Blessing as to your preference (Kings)
  • Your Str potion can be taken right before combat begins and again at some point during the fight.

The key to maximizing your damage is proper management of Holy Power.

As we can store up to a maximum of 5 Holy Power and our abilities utilize 3 charges at most, you can use this to pool Holy Power for when you’ll receive a damage boost and then unleash a quick Templar’s Verdict followed by any attack that generates Holy Power and then another 3 point Templar’s Verdict.

However, it’s also important that you never waste an opportunity to build additional Holy Power, which means you need to expend it as quickly as possible upon reaching the 5 stack cap or else you’re effectively wasting potential damage while inhibiting yourself from building further charges for future attacks.

When facing multiple targets, Hammer of the Righteous becomes your primary Holy Power generating attack and Divine Storm your method of expending it. Target switching is necessary to get the optimal effect from Seal of Truth when facing multiple enemies by placing its censure effect on all targets.

In Short, and in Order of Priority, Single Target:

HP = Holy Power

  1. Rotate Judgement > Exorcism > Crusader strike until 5 HP.
  2. Execution Sentence
  3. 5 HP Templar’s Verdict (Final Verdict)
  4. Hammer of Wrath (low health targets)
  5. Crusader Strike
  6. Judgement
  7. Exorcism
  8. Templar’s Verdict (Final Verdict) with less than 5 HP

Multiple Target

  1. 5 HP Divine Storm
  2. Light’s Hammer (If you have it.)
  3. Hammer of Wrath (low health targets)
  4. Hammer of the Righteous
  5. Judgement
  6. Exorcism
  7. 3-4 HP Divine Storm 

How to: Retribution


13 and 14 are your first and second trinket slots and this macro fires them both.

#showtooltip exorcism
/cast avenging wrath
/use 13
/use 14
/cast exorcism



Retribution Paladin Gems for DPS

Some warlords Notes:

  • Gems sockets are actually few and far between, they have a (small) random chance to appear on Raid gear and other gear. The gems themselves are actually available. They are all prismatic, meaning they fit into any socket. None have Str, they all have secondary stats (Mastery, etc.) There are no Meta sockets or gems.
  • Older (Mists of Pandaria and earlier) gems work until item level 600, but the item squish cut them down a bit. What used to be 160 Int is now 10, for example. The new Prismatic gems are 50 points of Mastery or whatever.
  • Older gems (Mists of Pandaria and lower) that used to code for Hit now do Crit, gems that had Expertise are now Haste.

In Warlords: Gem for Mastery, it’s that simple.

Pre-Warlords Gemming plan: 

You DO want to match gem colors for the socket bonuses.

In Warlords gem for Mastery, period.

Gem Priorities


Mists of Pandaria Gems, for gear under ilevel 600.
Meta Reverberating Primal Diamond: +14 Str & Increased Crit Effect
Red Bold Primordial Ruby: +10 Str
Yellow Fractured Sun’s Radiance: +20 Mastery
Orange Skillful Vermilion Onyx: +5 Str and +10 Mastery
Blue Rigid River’s Heart: +20 Crit
Lightning Wild Jade: +10 Haste and +10 Crit
Green Sensei’s Wild Jade: +10 Crit and +10 Mastery
Purple Perfect Etched Roguestone: +5 Str and +10 Crit
Cogwheel Requires an engie helm, such as this.
Quick Tinker’s Gear: +38 Haste
Smooth Tinker’s Gear: +38 Crit
Fractured Tinker’s Gear: +38 Mastery



The Retribution Enchants

Short on gold?  If you want to buy the best enchants, fund all of your alts, donate to the guild, etc., but don’t have the cash, then see what the Tycoon Addon can do about about fixing your poverty.

Helm enchants are gone in Mists of Pandaria, shoulder enchants all come from the Inscription profession. Your Plate Bonus adds to all Str enchants.

In Warlords there are only enchants for your neck, ring, cloak, and weapon items, none for other items. Earlier enchants still exist, but cannot be applied to an item higher than ilevel 600. The Warlords enchants can be applied to lower level items and will scale down appropriately.

Enchantments for Retadins

Mists: Enchant Weapon – Dancing Steel: Sometimes increases Str by 103.

  • Enchant Cloak – Gift of Mastery– +100 Mastery and +10% movement speed
  • Note: There is a “breath of” version of each of these enchants which have the same stats, but without the 10% movement bonus, and which is probably cheaper.

Mists: Enchant Cloak – Accuracy: +12 Crit rating

Other enchants, for gear under item level 600.
Shoulders Greater Tiger Fang Inscription: +15 Str and +5 Crit
Chest Enchant Chest – Glorious Stats: +9 to all Stats
Bracers Enchant Bracer – Exceptional Strength: +15 Str
Gloves Enchant Gloves – Super Strength: +25 Str
Belt Livingsteel Belt Buckle: Sockets your belt, pop in the best gem.
Leggings Angerhide Leg Armor: +19 Str & 11 Crit rating
Boots Enchant Boots – Pandaren’s Step: +10 Mastery and Slight run speed increase.


Retribution Consumabes

All food buffs last one hour and provide only one stat. Foods are available that provide secondary stats, but they’re only worth about 200 points of Str and you don’t need the Stam.Foods and potions should be cheap enough on the Auction House or you can get a guildie to make them for you. If gold is an issue then go here.Your Plate Bonus adds to all Str consumables (and any other Str item.)Note that Pandarens get twice the food buff.

Warlords note: There are no new DPS Elixirs, but there are for Potions and Flasks. There are no Str foods, either.

Warlords note: There are no new DPS Elixirs, but there are for Potions and Flasks. There are no Str foods, either.




Elixirs – you can have one battle and one guardian elixir up at a time. You flasks are much better.


  • Stout Augment Rune: +50 Str for one hour. Occasionally drops from WoD bosses (in Raid Finder mode) and is also rarely found as mission rewards from your Garrison. Stacks with flasks and other buffs.




Race choice for Retribution PaladinsRetribution Paladin in Tier 15 Gear

Yes, I know you want to play an Undead or Gnome Paladin. Sorry, it ain’t happening. Not even Pandarens can be Paladins.

As far a DPS abilities, none of the races really stand out, but some have useful abilities.

The best? Draenei for the Str increase and maybe Human for the Versatility increase. Tauren for the hugs.

Blood Elf – Best hair, subject to off-color jokes.

  • Arcane Torrent is a worthwhile ability. Somewhat redundant with Rebuke, it’s an area effect interrupt/silence, which is definitely useful when fighting groups with casters. It’s not a PvP interrupt. The mana gain from AT is minor.
  • Good with Enchanting, if you’re taking that skill.
  • +1% crit rating

Draenei – They’re massive enough, the males, so certainly look the part. Best Pally race?

  • Bonus to Str.
  • Their Heal might make some difference on occasion, but it isn’t important to you.
  • Good with Jewelcrafting, if you want that skill.

Dwarf – Short, best beards in the game.

  • +2% to crit and healing effect
  • The Stoneform ability reduces damage by 10% in addition to washing away bleeds and such. Probably more PvP value than PvE, but then there is a lot of raid wide damage in most raids these days.
  • Good with Archeology.

Human – Best Pally race overall?

  • “The Human Spirit” adds to your Versatility
  • The escape ability has occasional PvE use and will trivialize some mechanics/gimmicks. In PvP it allows the replacing of the PvP escape trinket with something that adds stats.
  • Diplomacy is very nice if you’re going to be doing any rep grinding, but obviously won’t add much to your DPS numbers.

Tauren – Big, warm, and fuzzy makes the Tauren the ultimate Pally race. Oh, that’s not enough? Ok…

  • 5% health bonus is always nice, but probably more useful for PvP than PvE and it doesn’t scale well at very high level. Still, it amounts to at least three Stam gems worth of Health.
  • War stomp is an Area Effect stun which is, again, probably more useful for PvP than PvE, but should help with some crowd control when fighting anything less than a boss.
  • +2% to crit and healing effect
  • Good with Herbalism, which is a nice cash skill and adds a Haste & Heal effect.


Professions for the Ret. Pally

Warlords of Draenor has slain all profession bonuses. No more fine, self only, gems from Jewelcrafting or gem slots from Blacksmithing.

The value of the professions now is in making your initial raid gear and a useful item or two. You can also use that starter gear at level 91, which is pretty nice for Draenor leveling or dungeons.

Check our wow gold tips for info on increasing your cash flow and maybe making some extra gold with your profession.

Alchemy – You can create a nice trinket which will add to your Mastery, sometimes add Str, and also increase healing done to you. The ability to turn into a dragon (if you have lots of gold and the Archeology skill) is also fun.

Blacksmithing – Can make your starting Raid pieces (you can equip only three,) keys, sharpening stones, and a few other interesting items.

Enchanting – Can enchant neck items, rings, weapons, and cloaks with Draenor enchants.

Engineering – All kinds of fund things, such as Razorguard Mechshades, rockets, shields, gliders, essential raid items like the Blingatron, and so on.

Inscription – You can make glyphs, of course, and a number of other useful items.

Jewelcrafting – Create useful rings, neckpieces, mounts, ans the usual gems.

Leatherworking – Nothing to see here, move along please. Well, the Drums are rather interesting.

Tailoring – Can make yourself a flying carpet.

Gathering – Mining, Herbalism, and Skinning are best used for gold or for supplying a crafting profession.


Paladin Leveling, the easy WayClick here and get to level 100, ASAP

If you’re leveling your Paladin, with the intent of reaching the end-game Retribution goodness, then you need to know that the fastest way to get leveled is with an semi-automated Paladin leveling guide (it doesn’t actually play the game for you.) Even if you boost to 90 you still want to zip through those last ten levels, right?

Wouildn’t it be nice if you never again have to ask, “Where do I go and what do I do when I get there…”

Zygor’s guide is our preferred leveling guide. It’s an in-game guide that shows up as a small window on your screen. It shows the current quest and displays an arrow pointing the way to go, showing you the most efficient way to knock out the most quests in the least time.

What? You want to do a few dungeons and/or clean up the Battlegrounds for a few levels? No problem. Zygor has been gemming and gearing for Int and is smart enough to figure out where you are and where you need to go, no matter what level you start with or how many you gain in the dungeons. Watch the video on his home page and he’ll show you exactly how that works. Zygor’s Guide is much like having a skilled partner helping you out every step of the way.

Its fully updated for for all the lastest patches and expansions, including Warlords of Draenor.

Grab it now and cruise to the level cap. Then you can be the one to answer the “Where do I go at level…?” questions in the chat channels. Get your copy here or read our Zygor review first.

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6 thoughts on “Retribution Paladin Guide for PvE DPS”

  1. really, really nice guide, as a comebacker do WOW in 3 years absence this will help me a lot on my old Ret Palla (and only one since Vanilla)

  2. I like your guide, but in your reforge notes, its Hit + Expertise > haste, but when you get down to the Tauren and their herbalism you state, “Haste is a poor stat for you, but it’s free.”
    Doesn’t that statement run counter to what you say in the reforge section?

    1. Nice catch. That was old info, from the days when Haste was bad. I’ve updated it. Thanks.
      Speaking of updates, a 5.2 update is coming soon.

  3. Love the guide, just one question. You say both hit and expertise to 7.5% > haste. Does this mean, keep those two 7.5% percent above whatever your haste is or just in general they are better than haste and to not worry about haste?

    1. Hey,

      Good question. No, Hit and Expertise numbers have no connection to your Haste number. Once you have each of Hit and Exp. to 7.5% then you can start reforging for Haste.


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