Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Light and How to Swing It for holy, protection and retribution paladins. Seasoned ret paladin Dan Desmond is here to answer your questions and provide you with your biweekly dose of retribution medicine. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions, concerns, or suggestions!
We are close, my lovelies, closer than we have ever been. With Mists of Pandaria slated to launch on Sept. 25, 2012, now is the perfect time to become acquainted with all of the changes that a new expansion inevitably brings.
This guide will bring you up to speed with what being a retribution paladin in Mists is all about, from what our talents look like to what food we should be eating. It is my intention to update this guide continually with any major changes we may experience.
[Last updated for beta build 15972 on 8/15/12.]
What’s new in Mists?
New talent system With the intention of cutting down on cookie-cutter builds, Blizzard redesigned the talent system so that it was based around player preference and situational usefulness. Players now receive their core abilities automatically when selecting a spec, and talents serve to supplement different styles of gameplay.
New abilities While our class has not received another violent makeover like what we saw in Cataclysm, we did receive a few goodies:
Blinding Light Reminiscient of Eadric the Pure’s ability in Trial of the Champion, this AoE CC is our level 87 ability and will probably see more use in PvP than PvE, though it could have some usefulness in controlling large packs of mobs, provided you have a tank ready to pick them up after the CC is over.
Boundless Conviction This passive allows us to carry up to 5 holy power at one time. With the increased cap, we don’t have to worry as much about “wasting” holy power when we use Judgment or Exorcism from range.
Devotion Aura No longer just the domain of holy paladins, this revamped version of Aura Mastery carries a little more oomph than before with the addition of 20% magic damage reduction. Keep this button handy.
Higher holy power generation The holy power system has been improved upon for Mists, with Judgment, Crusader Strike, Hammer of the Righteous, Exorcism, and Hammer of Wrath all generating the resource. Hopefully this will make our playstyle more proactive and engaging than before.
Auras An iconic paladin ability since the early days of Warcraft, auras are now nothing but a fading memory. Seals now occupy the action bar where auras once stood. If you find yourself missing them terribly, a couple auras can be found hiding in our class abilities.
Holy Wrath For some, the loss of Holy Wrath is going to be a big hit, but for many of us it’s going to be a welcome reprieve from the hours of careful dancing while using this ability in an attempt to avoid breaking CCs or hitting an unwanted target. If you were playing just for Holy Wrath, you’re going to have to switch to prot.
Consecration Another ability that prot spirited away in the middle of the night, Consecration is being removed from our toolbox as well. Like Holy Wrath, I’m not particularly sad to see this mana hog go, but I will look back fondly on all of the great times we spent together.
How should I spec my character?
As previously stated, talents are now primarily situational in nature. Therefore, instead of giving you a cookie cutter to use, let’s briefly discuss each tier.
Tier 1: Level 15 This tier is all about movement, with three abilities to modify how we shimmy our way across the battlefield. Pursuit of Justice provides a passive 15% with a scaling 5% movement speed per holy power, up to 3. Long Arm of the Law is a 45% increase for 3 seconds, tied to Judgment, while Speed of Light is a separate 45-second cooldown with a 70% increase.
In general, PoJ is a good default choice, but when you run into an encounter that requires quick bursts of speed, pick up either SoL or Long Arm, depending on how often you need that speed and how quickly you need to move.
Tier 2: Level 30 Here we have a bit of a mixed bag. Fist of Justice replaces its cousin, Hammer of Justice, while increasing its range by 10 yards and lowering the cooldown by 30 seconds. Repentence is just a modification of the current model with a 15-second cooldown and 1.5-second cast time. Burden of Guilt is the passive choice for this tier, reducing your target’s movement speed by 50% for 12 seconds and tied to Judgment.
Your choice here will be dictated by whether you need a stun, CC, or snare, though PvPers will undoubtedly find it difficult to pick just one.
Tier 3: Level 45 The running theme here is dealing with damage taken. Selfless Healer‘s mechanics have been changed to a buff stacking on Judgment hits and interacting with Flash of Light. Eternal Flame replaces Word of Glory, buffing it a bit and adding a HoT. Sacred Shield becomes an active spell that lasts for 30 seconds and refreshes an absorb on the character every 6 seconds.
In my opinion, the choice will be between Selfless Healer and Sacred Shield for this tier. Eternal Flame sacrifices DPS through the consumption of holy power (as does WoG, naturally).
Tier 4: Level 60 This tier presents some options dealing with utility. Hand of Purity is a brand-new Hand spell, reducing DoT damage taken by 70% for 6 seconds. Unbreakable Spirit will allow us to reduce the cooldown of Lay on Hands, Divine Shield, and Divine Protection by spending holy power, up to a maximum of 50%. Clemency allows us to use our Hands twice before the game triggers their cooldowns.
These talents are very PvP-oriented. Hand of Purity could find some use in very specific circumstances. Clemency seems to really only be useful for Freedom and Protection, at least in a PvE setting. Unbreakable Spirit would appear to be a safe bet here since using 50 holy power should only take, at most, 2 minutes, which would effectively make Divine Shield’s cooldown 2.5 minutes and Lay on Hands’ cooldown 5 minutes.
Tier 5: Level 75 The fifth grouping of talents has to do with our DPS cooldowns and similar effects. Holy Avenger is a reworked Zealotry, now functioning off of all of our holy power generators, buffing holy power generator damage by 30%, and lasting 15 seconds. Sanctified Wrath, for ret, increases the duration of Avenging Wrath and decreases the cooldown of Hammer of Wrath, both by 50%. Divine Purpose functions similarly in Mists as it does in Cataclysm, except it now has a 25% proc rate off of abilities that cost holy power.
Holy Avenger, after some recent buffs, seems to pull ahead as the strongest on-demand choice here. Divine Purpose and Sanctified Wrath lend themselves to more sustained damage. Divine Purpose carries the benefit of being passive yet retains its random nature, meaning its on-demand value is quite low but its overall DPS contribution is relatively high. Current sims are placing DP ahead of the pack here in terms of raw damage.
Tier 6: Level 90 At our final level, we have three cooldowns to choose from. Holy Prism has a dual functionality, either damaging an enemy and radiating healing, or healing an ally and radiating damage. Light’s Hammer is a targetable, AoE attack, creating a zone that does both damage and healing. Finally, Execution Sentence is a single-target ramping damage (or healing) cooldown.
Light’s Hammer seems a bit weak, what with it being intended for multiple targets and completely stationary. Execution Sentence has the potential to be our number one single-target cooldown this tier. Holy Prism is interesting if only because of its 20-second cooldown, but I’d wager that because the healing component is baked in rather than it being an either-or scenario, the resulting damage output will be lower than ES.
For leveling to 90, I am considering using a talent build like this one: 33323
What about glyphs?
Similar to talents, glyphs are becoming more situational in nature. Prime glyphs have been removed and minor glyphs are purely cosmetic or flavorful additions, so retribution-relevant majors are the only glyphs we really need to discuss here.
Avenging Wrath Heals you for 1% of your max health every 2 seconds for the duration of AW. Gains a boost from the AW duration extension of Sanctified Wrath.
Divine Protection Reduces magical damage reduction to 20% and adds 20% physical damage reduction.
Divine Storm Divine Storm heals you for 5% of your max health.
Double Jeopardy Judging a different target than your current one increases the damage of that Judgment by 20%.
Harsh Words Turns WoG into a ranged holy power finisher, hitting for as much damage as it would have healed.
Mass Exorcism Turns Exo into a melee range AoE attack, with all enemies within 8 yards of the initial target taking 25% damage.
Rebuke Increases the spell lockout of Rebuke by 2 seconds while increasing the cooldown by 5 seconds.
Word of Glory Increases your damage by 3% per point of holy power used after casting WoG or EG, lasting 6 seconds.
Of those that concern damage:
- Word of Glory is a stopgap glyph that is meant to mitigate some, but not all, of the damage lost from using WoG.
- Inquisition is generally a DPS loss, though for those unfamiliar or less concerned with Inq uptime, this glyph might be useful.
- Harsh Words is an interesting option, though holy power will still be primarily spent on Inquisition and Templar’s Verdict.
- Double Jeopardy is a nice DPS boost for little to no cost, provided a second target exists.
- Immediate Truth could see use in PvP and other heavy target-switching environments, basically anywhere a 5-stack of Censure isn’t feasible.
- Mass Exorcism is obviously useful on large groups and low movement encounters with two or more targets.
As for the rest:
- Avenging Wrath and Divine Storm don’t appear to heal for enough to be of considerable value in terms of overall survivability.
- Divine Protection’s glyph goes the opposite way that we have been leaning toward throughout Cataclysm, and unless raid damage profiles change significantly, I don’t believe this will see much use in a PvE setting.
- Hammer of the Righteous provides a decent, if not miniscule, buff that I suspect will be used more by prot paladins than rets.
- Rebuke is a PvP glyph, pure and simple.
- Templar’s Verdict is a handy, reliable source of damage reduction and should provide at least 50% uptime with standard TV usage, if not more.
My own picks for leveling will probably be Immediate Truth, Templar’s Verdict, and Word of Glory.
What does my rotation look like?
Similar to Cataclysm, retribution’s rotation is a combination of priority and combo point systems. Holy power generation and expenditure remain our primary concern, but it will be much faster and smoother than ever before.
From the Mists beta ret thread at Elitist Jerks, we have a framework for our DPS rotation:
Inquisition > 5HP Templar’s Verdict > Exorcism > Hammer of Wrath > Crusader Strike > Judgment > 3-4HP Templar’s Verdict
Maintaining Inquisition uptime remains priority number one. The rest, however, may require some explanation. The reasoning behind waiting until we are sitting at 5 holy power before we use TV is described quite well by Meloree in Maintankadin’s ret beta thread:
If you have 3HP and CS and J are both off cooldown, and you use the TV, then you’ve pushed back your holy power generation by a GCD. If you do that continually over the course of an encounter, you generate significantly less holy power, and thus use less TVs (and have more empty GCDs, and do less damage).
If you cast CS and then J (and get to 5HP), you’re guaranteed to have an empty GCD before your next CS comes up, it’s not possible to waste HP generation – thus, prioritizing CS and J over TV results in more CS and more J, and thus more TV.
Unless you’re banking HP for burst, if you have an empty GCD and 3HP, you’ll certainly use the TV ahead of using nothing. Similar logic prioritizes filler spells ahead of 3 or 4HP TVs – it’s better to get them on cooldown, so that you have the chance to use more of them over the course of an encounter.
Since Exo, HoW, CS, and Judgment all generate holy power, priority is now assigned based on the damage done by each ability.
Our AoE rotation is nearly identical to our single-target rotation — just replace all instances of TV with DS and CS with HotR.
Which stats do I want?
At this stage of the game, stat weights are something that are still being calculated and re-calculated, so it’s a bit difficult to say with certainty which stats we will be favoring, at least until Blizzard stops fiddling with our numbers. Of course, I will offer some of my own thoughts as to which stats might be stronger than others, but understand that they are just opinions and have no delicious math to back them up quite yet.
Hit and expertise Blizzard has changed things a bit with regards to these two stats. Both hit and expertise cap at 7.5% (that is, the soft cap for expertise is at 7.5%, which is what we’ll be going for), which conveniently equates to 2550 rating either way.
Also, hit and expertise contribute 1:1 to the spell hit cap of 15%, which means by capping both we will be capping spell hit as well. This is only really important for Exorcism, but at least there’s some peace of mind to be had.
Mastery Hand of Light remains our mastery effect, now proccing off more abilities. This stat was quite arguably king during Cataclysm, and I would expect it to at least remain very competitive going into Mists.
Haste Thanks to a retooled Sanctity of Battle, haste now affects both the cooldown and global cooldown of Judgment, Crusader Strike, Hammer of the Righteous, Exorcism, and Hammer of Wrath. This is a big step up from Cataclysm and could result in haste becoming a much more favorable secondary stat this expansion.
Crit A recent change to Inquistion saw the addition of 10% crit chance to the spell, which means we’ll be getting a nice baseline boost to crit at level 90. I have a gut feeling that crit will be our worst stat, but time and math will tell if my gut is right.
How do I gem and enchant?
Gems Our gemming strategy depends largely on stat weights, which as previously mentioned have yet to be finalized. Let’s not let that hold us back, though.
The uncertainty here arises when deciding which socket bonuses are worth grabbing. Currently, secondary stats are receiving twice as much budgeting as primary stats (compare a Delicate Primordial Ruby with a Fractured Sun’s Radiance), making the community lean towards grabbing favorable socket bonuses instead of brute-forcing Bolds into every available slot.
Enchants As for enchants, let’s break it down — hit the music, Johnny!
Helm Head enchants are gone. Poof.
Shoulders Greater Tiger Fang Inscription
Cloak Superior Critical Strike or Accuracy
Chest Glorious Stats
Bracers Exceptional Strength
Gloves Super Strength
Belt Living Steel Belt Buckle
Pants Angerhide Leg Armor
Boots Greater Haste or Greater Precision
Weapon Dancing Steel or Windsong
A few quick notes about this list:
- Profession perks are not displayed. I will write up a separate piece on those with some other info not included here and link it in at a later date.
- The choice between Greater Haste and Greater Precision on your boots will be dependent on whether you can reforge enough secondary stats to reach the hit cap. If you find that you need that extra boost, then this enchant is for you. Same goes for Superior Critical Strike and Accuracy for cloaks.
- I did not include Superior Mastery, Greater Haste, or Superior Expertise for gloves in this list because strength should far outpace any secondary stat you may have, point for point. Expertise comes close to overturning that decision, but with the option to reforge the rest of your gear to meet the expertise cap, you really should take the strength option here.
- The default weapon enchant should be Dancing Steel, but as documented on the beta realms, there is a good chance that you will have all three procs from Windsong up at the same time. If this is intended behavior, then once our stat weights are calculated we will have an easy metric for determining which is better; if the stat weight for strength is greater than the sum of the stat weights for haste, mastery, and crit, then Dancing Steel is the clear winner.
- Elemental Force could be a good choice for your weapon as well, but I’m a little skeptical that this will end up being a competitive option. Comparing the mat costs for the separate enchants, it looks like EF will end up being a good starter enchant, with DS and WS competing for endgame enchants.
What consumables should I be using?
Food So far, there doesn’t appear to be any Strength-specific food items other than Pandaren Banquet (the Great Pandaren Banquet is for 25 players), the new raid feast. Otherwise, there is a food item for every secondary stat:
Flasks This one seems to be a no-brainer — Flask of Winter’s Bite. No elixirs even come close to providing the same DPS value as the flask.
Potions Alchemy has given us another no-brainer here — Potion of Mogu Power. Keep these in stock in an inventory near you!
The Light and How to Swing It teaches you the ins and outs of retribution paladins, from Ret 101 and how to gem, enchant and reforge your retadin, to essential ret pally addons.