Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Little Inspiration for Aspiring Retnoobs

I critiqued the armory of a Ret Pally who requested help from BoK in this post, and lo and behold he not only finds his way here, but has his own Retribution blog!

Though there were indeed a few concerns about the gear overall, he's done an excellent job gearing himself out, and what's more, he's out there raiding and doing progression content in 25-mans as we speak.

It's important to remember as we hear crap from closed-minded guild masters, or get shot down by people pugging a 5-man, that Retribution is not only a solid, viable damage spec but that there are people out there doing it every day and making great progress in the end-game content. Paladins are breaking down walls - there was a post on Elitist Jerks from a Prot Pally who was the tank for his guild's first ever Illidan kill! Not only was he tanking progression content, he was doing so successfully for the biggest progression content there is. That's a hell of a statement for a class that's "supposed to heal."

So whenever you get frustrated with the people around you, take a look at the ret Pallies who are out there every day and doing the end-game stuff successfully. There are examples everywhere, and there are only going to be more.

How to join a PUG


There is no worse example of humanity than the idiots you will run into in a PUG. 70% of them in fact, are going to have at least one annoying useless person, and as if to add the whip cream on top of the stupid-flavored ice cream, that person will be the one who objects to your very presence. "omg palidins can't dps u noob l2p." This shining example of failing English class will be a response you see more than once. Paladins are only expected to heal any 5-man you join, for reasons of mass stupidity. You can get into a few groups that'll accept you, but I would just as soon avoid the whole hassle.

Ah, but you need gear!

OK, fine.

First keep in mind you have chosen to gimp your group finding by being Retribution. Sacrilegious as it may sound, speccing Holy or Prot while doing 5-mans for gear isn't a terrible idea at all, as you guarantee a group will have at least 1 of the 2 hard-to-find roles, healer or tank.

Failing that, there are three options that will make it easier to PUG. One, wait 'til the "LF1M for XXX" messages pop up. You're living a little dangerously here, as the last class is usually the one they NEED, aka tank, healer or CC, but if they filled all their roles, at this point they'll take nearly anyone, and may be willing to give you a shot.

Two, start the group yourself. This is important because if you gather up people in the list of people looking for that dungeon you're setting the rules yourself, and thus give yourself a chance to get in, since it is your group. This will take awhile since you now have to search for a healer and a tank for the run, but at least you have a shot at putting this together now. It's not a bad idea to casually mention that you'll be DPSing in the run to the first couple of people you invite. If they leave because of it, they're jerks you wouldn't want to run with anyways. Get them out of the way.

Three, bring at least one or two friends. By having people in the run who know you and are friends with you, the "omg noob" idiot who joins will be slightly more reluctant to start crap with you, as doing so means he pisses off 3 people instead. Honestly, run as many groups with friends/guildies as you can get a hold of. It'll save you a lot of heartache in the long run.

Just always keep in mind, idiots are going to be idiots, and you'll have to deal with them. The Commonly Accepted Belief ® is that Ret Specced Paladins are useless, and 90% of your brethren have done nothing to challenge that belief. If they act like they don't trust you in the group, that's fine. They have a pre-conceived notion about you, but as long as they allow you a shot at proving them wrong, you can and will prove them quite wrong indeed.

And every doubter you correct in the capabilities of being Retribution-specced is one more person who's suddenly more willing to give that second Ret Pally a chance in a later run. Every nonbeliever you convert is a believer who helps out a fellow Ret Pally down the road. It may drive you up a freakin' wall, but in the long wrong, it's worth it to push against these boundaries, as every little thing helps us become more accepted in the general WoW culture.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Pally Wars, Part 2

I'd like to follow up on my comments in Pally Wars, Part 1. I'll probably also have a Part 3, where I (gasp!) actually get around to discussing the Wars part of that title.

In part 1, I came down harshly on the concept of being a hybrid right after expounding on that in my original posts on this blog. It's a touch unfair. My point really is that the game forces us into a specialization on some level. I'm not a great healer in Ret Spec, and gear swapping only does so much these days. Thus, I never offer to mainheal in Kara, say, when I would not have thought twice about doing it in the days of ZG. It's still important to do what you can - say, toss a heal to someone about to die, BoP someone who pulled aggro, keep your blessings up, etc. You do what you can, but hybridization is a hard thing to pull off in raids with the way the game is designed. You need a DPS class to DPS, or you fall behind on my bosses. You HAVE to heal at all times as a healer class or someone will die. There's just so little slack offered most of the time, especially on progression content for your guild, and so hybrid-specs aren't worth the effort, by and large.

For example, we're considered by most to be a tank/healer hybrid. Obviously I disagree, but let's say that's what you want to play, and you want to raid too. Raiding requires at a bare minimum Holy Shield to become uncrushable, which means you spend 31 points in Protection, and have 30 points to spend in Holy. With only 30 points in Holy, you can never come close to Light's Grace to knock that half second off of your Holy Lights, and without a 2 sec Holy Light you will watch a lot more people die. Sure, you're a hybrid and you can fulfill both roles on that level, but I wouldn't trust you to Main Heal without Light's Grace, and I would rather you not Main tank without the 6% (soon to be 16%) stamina buff you get further down the tree. And without the beauty of Ardent Defender, you're going to be pretty easy to wipe out fast for most bosses.

Thus, the most you can do comfortably is offheal, and offtank, and you could never fulfill both.

I would love to see a fundamental change to the combat system in this game, but honestly, I'm sure that it will never happen. The most we can really hope for is to get the opportunity to specialize in the role of our choice. Now, and even more so with 2.3, we have that option, so I'm happy, and I'd hope most Paladins are happy as well.

A Retnoob's Answer

Time to discuss another Blessing of Kings post, this one from a Ret Pally on the EU servers who's having trouble with his gear, as well as with general acceptance of his spec from other players. The link to the person in question: Firelight

Rule 1: Most players are stupid and/or closed-minded.

Be ready to deal with this. Retribution is a solid raid spec, between being able to keep up 3 judgments in 2.3, or being the only Paladin able to put up Sanctified Crusader in 2.2. We offer a lot, and we offer solid damage to boot, especially with the soon-to-come threat reduction. 2.3 really needs to come out already, but I digress...

Most players don't understand that. You're already in a guild that accepts you, and that's great, though I understand feeling like most people think you're crazy or useless, because they don't understand. If the officers understand and want you in, then you're fine. If they're problems too, you may consider moving on. Look around to see who's making the kind of progress you're looking for, hit up an officer for that guild and tell them that you want to join, what you're going to do for them, and why that will be beneficial for them. A few talking points to consider:

  • I offer 3% increased crits to all members of the raid. Feral/balance druids can offer only 5% to one party, limited to one type of crit (spell vs. melee). Mention that by offering 3% increased damage to, say, 10 players (assuming there are that many mages/shamans/warrior/druids/rogues/destro locks/hunters doing DPS, there are probably more), you're doing 30% of their average DPS just by being there. Even blindfolded you can match 70% of the average DPS of those characters, making you clearly on an even footing with them.
  • If I'm given Windfury, my damage will be easily comparable to anyone in the raid (save rogues, who beat everyone), I can bring 2% more damage to any group, and 10% increased damage (and therefore threat) to any Prot Pally.
  • By bringing in me as DPS, you have an entire extra set of blessings to work with, without sacrificing a DPS player

Tell them you'd like to come in as a trial member for one raid, to prove your point. You won't roll on any gear, you'll just be along for the ride, and if they don't think your DPS is sufficient, you won't bother them again. With some luck you should have no trouble getting a few guilds to try you out in this manner. Request the melee group as strongly as you can - it makes a world of difference getting Battle Shout, Trueshot, WF, Leader of the Pack, etc. If you get the melee group, you will likely be just behind the rogues if it's a solid group (after 2.3 anyways, when we get some threat-cap breathing room).

This gets your foot in the door and an opportunity for you to show your stuff. And as for your stuff...

I like your gear, but for that attack power. After you hit the hit cap (9% including precision, as you recall), your next goal is 25% crit, and your goal after that is to pump AP as much as you can, turn your hits into something worth remembering you by. 1480 isn't going to cut it, not at that level of gearing. Cut back those gems and push in some Strength ones instead, str/crit if you like. With the upcoming 3% crit increase, your crit is not just a little too high, but now WAY too high, and you can sacrifice a lot of your gems to push your AP instead.

Your neckpiece also, as I'm sure you realize, needs an upgrade. Find one with a nice strength boost if you can, otherwise get one that prioritizes AP/str over agi/crit.

Bloodlust Brooch would be rockin' for a trinket to replace your Skyguard trinket, which really only has its use in very few fights aside from its heavy crit. But again, crit isn't your problem, AP is, and you could drop it.

Also remember that 10str > 22 AP, thanks to Divine Strength and Blessing of Kings. Itemize more Strength if you can, as it will stretch much farther for your item level budget.

Drop Mongoose for Savagery, though I admit that's a bit of a personal choice. I prefer pumping AP every chance I can get, and rather dislike the idea of Mongoose. Anything that reduces my chance to proc SoC every swing (and anything that involves haste rating does exactly that) drives me up a wall. I'd rather have a solid 70 AP boost to improve every swing than an increase to my attack speed, as that only increases auto attack damage and reduces the likelihood SoC will fire. While it's made up for in the long run, in the short run SoC droughts are maddening.

I believe with your current gear, a few changes to your gems and an addition of Savagery, you'll lose ~2% crit and the chance for a Mongoose proc, but be able to push close to 1700 AP unbuffed, and with that your swings will count for much more. A new weapon wouldn't hurt either. The Hammer is nice, but I'd take Gorehowl over it any day.

Remember kids, once crit is at 25%, making those crits count is what matters. And you make them count by pumping that Attack Power!

It's the weapon.

I see often people who struggle with Ret DPS, and oftentimes it comes specifically from one mistake - their weapon. From level 20, when you first get Seal of Command, to max level, everything revolves around the weapon in your hand. If you're running around with anything green, at all, stop immediately, run to the auction house, and buy yourself a weapon. If your blue is more than 5 levels below your requirement, you should seriously look into getting a new weapon.

Nothing has a more direct impact on you than your blade.

Second, this may be obvious to most, but its still important - there is no 1H weapon that should be used. Ever. Your DPS is simply not meant to use a 1H, so don't.

Finally, consider your weapon choices. Again look at stat primacy, but now you have a second thing to consider - the DPS and speed of your weapon. If you're a Blood Elf, the speed isn't particularly important, and you can use any 2H you like. If you're an Alliance Paladin, your only option is Seal of Command (with a few advocating Seal of Righteousness, but SoR only outdamages SoC in very specific clinical conditions. Not worth it overall). SoC is all about procs per minute (6.8 ppm to be exact), so the faster your weapon the less likely it is to proc, and more important, the less damage it will do.

Basically, SoC fires 6.8 times per minute, no matter what, and its damage is 70% of your normal weapon damage, period. If you use a faster weapon, which if otherwise equal to the slow weapon will have lower max damage, your 6.8 SoC procs will do less damage.

Long story short and getting out of the poorly described mathematical design, faster weapons literally equal less damage, and should be avoided at all costs.

So if you want to see results as a Ret Paladin, get a 3.5 or slower weapon, the slower the better, never let it fall far behind your level, and always keep it blue. If you practice this to the letter, you will hit far harder.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Specialize your gear!

It has improved considerably since the first time I noticed this phenomenon back before BC, but I still see this now and again: people who don't focus their gear towards their immediate goal. If you were to inspect every Pally you saw for the next week, I'd guarantee at least 10-15% have gear for multiple roles on at the same time: healing piece, defense piece, str/crit piece.

Nothing weakens your ability to handle your current role than wearing something that doesn't fit. For every piece of gear that has int, +heal and mp5 on it you're losing that much in item value of strength, crit and stamina, or vice versa.

This can be said for Prot Pallies and Holy Pallies too, but we're over here at Retnoob, so I'm going to speak to that gear.

I've mentioned gearing priorities before but I'll lay them out in more detail now.

First, no healing pieces, no pieces with defense or block/parry/dodge rating. Period. Don't even TRY it. If you're healing/tanking for a fight, then swap to the necessary gear set. Oh, and carry multiple sets any time you're raiding. If your raid needs more healing, be ready to help out. No, you're not great at it, but you're good enough, and that's what counts. Carrying multiple sets for 5-mans is nice too, but I've suffered bag space problems enough to understand anyone who chooses not to.

While you're DPSing though, your gear should consist ONLY of the following possible stats: Strength, Agility, Stamina, Intellect, Crit Rating, Attack Power, Hit Rating, Spell Damage and the occasional touch up of MP5 if you're wearing a mail piece (which is acceptable while dpsing/healing, and offers a huge array of useful gear for you). Spell Damage is NOT a priority, you just get it on the occasional piece and that's fine. Until I started picking up S2, I had a grand total of 5 spell damage, from the set bonus on my Warmaul of Infused Light, and I never had a problem with it.

If you maximize the potential of your gear, it will go a long way towards improving your damage. If you continue to wear whatever you have, everything is diluted and you can do nothing well.

Now, let's talk stats to shoot for. This is a common theme:

Attack Power: 1500
Crit %: 25
Hit %: 9

9% to hit is what you need to eliminate misses on boss mobs. While Sword/Mace spec used to get you a LONG way to that goal, it will now only offer 1% to crit, so forget about it. You need 9% to hit with talents, so 6% after you pick up Precision from the prot tree. The hit rating required from gear for 6% is around 96, which isn't too hard to get once you start gearing up in Kara (again, wear mail gear. Plate DPS gear is nonexistent until Nightbane).

Crit Rating is important for two reasons. One reason is Vengeance, because Vengeance is great and wonderful and the reason for our existence. Every crit keeps that 15% increase to your damage up. It will be less important in 2.3 when Vengeance lasts for 30 seconds. An abomynal crit % would be required to not be able to keep Vengeance up at that point, something akin to 15%.
Reason Two is just as important. Everything we do CRITS. SoC, Melee, JoC, CS, etc. Thus a 25% crit rate increases our DPS by 25%.

So you keep a solid amount of Crit going, but never so much that you're not pimping out on the AP. AP is ultimately the most fundamental DPS stat. If you have a 35% crit rate but roll with 1200 AP, your crits will look like my hits at 1600 AP. That's why 1500 is the stat to shoot for. It's not gonna be easy, or perhaps even possible, without some raiding/arena gear, but it's your first milestone. From there you push on to the higher numbers, but 1500 AP, 25 Crit and 9 Hit Rating is when your damage starts to become truly noticable.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Pally Wars!

Rohan of Blessing of Kings made an interesting post regarding the warring factions of the Paladin class, which I'd like to make a few comments on as well.

Rohan breaks down the various Paladins into 4 factions: Holy, Prot, Ret and Hybrid, who want all of the trees to keep the hybrid concept going, as in nothing too specialized for a role and therefore gimped in others, and further states that Holy and Ret are at each other's threat because each gave up the other's ability (damage and healing respectively) and want to pretend they lost nothing by antagonizing the other group. Further, there's an indirect suggestion that the hybrids are the only ones who really prefer the hybrid nature and everyone else just wants to do only one thing.

I enjoyed doing the hybrid thing...back in 5 mans....before Burning Crusade. I was great at it too. Grab the extra mob, offheal the injured rogue, beat the face in of the boss, etc. A 31 point ret build was actually good at doing anything - I'd top healing charts in ZG, be in the top 5 for damage when healing wasn't needed, offtank a few fights here and there. The great thing was that protection was so broken that none of its skills worked properly, and you were just as well off leaving the whole spec alone and just slapping on sta/def gear as a Retnoob. Hell, there was a protection tanking guide in the forums back in the day, where the writer said to not stack defense, so that you could get crit and actually utilize redoubt and reckoning. Not insulting the author, but that's how badly prot was built. Meanwhile, healing just required that you understood downranking, as FoLr1 and HLr4 were kings for mana efficiency.

But once you start raiding, you can't do all of the jobs at once. If I wanted to heal, I'd swap in healing gear. If I wanted to DPS, I'd swap in DPS gear. And I've had a REALLY understanding guild this whole time. We have something like 9 Paladins, of whom 4 are Prot, 2 are Ret and 3 are Holy.

There are two things that prevent trying this whole hybrid thing: 1, most guilds are not that understanding, and 2, BC almost demands specialization.

You're not going to see resto shamans dps'ing a fight. You won't see Prot warriors dps'ing either (unless you're desperate), and you're very unlikely to see a feral druid heal. It's the nature of the way they designed the game. Specialization is everything. Raiding requires it, and we needed a fix. They gave it to us in a way that limits our hybridization, granted. But OT was never a great skill for us, and there's still nothing stopping us from doing a little OTing: RF still gives us 1.3 Holy threat, which is enough to keep off healing aggro at the least. And really, we still have that third option, healing, which means we can use our hybrid skills, so long as we're willing to swap out gear before a fight. I've kept people alive when healers were dropped in raids, but it's very touch and go - if the healers are down, the raid will almost certainly soon follow.

I wish this game were one where I could go into a fight and reasonably expect to help out in any role needed - tanking, a little healing, a little dps'ing, but this isn't possible designed as it is, so I do what I can, and in this version of the game, if I spec Ret, that means I DPS. Period.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Looks like Blizzard finally caved and offered the one, ONE thing everyone has consistently begged for, and they came through in a big way. Passive, constant 30% threat reduction from Fanatacism. That talent is no longer one you can get away with only 3 or 4 points in, as it's a 6% threat reduction per point, and you want all you can get.

Really amazing - most Paladins were hoping for 15%, maybe 20%, and we just got 30% threat reduction dropped in our laps. Threat cap is no longer an issue, and running Kings of Might with a ret spec may even be do able with a higher threat tank (Paladin or Druid).

There's really only a few issues that are even left that people are concerned about, and I'm sure as hell satisfied. There are a few issues that Retnoobs could use looking into, but it's hard to even care at this point. So many of the fixes we begged for are finally instituted. Everything is....good.

On a side note, Precision now affects spell to hit alongside melee to hit. If you're going Retribution, GET IT.

Why? Judgment of Command's hit is based off of spell. 3% to spell hit means 3% fewer resists on JoC and therefore more damage. 5/8/48 is probably the standard Retribution build nowadays.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


I tend to use a lot of abbreviations, and that isn't necessarily the best choice amongst people just learning a class. As such, I'll list all of the abbreviations I'm likely to use in this Glossary.

SoC/JoC - Seal/Judgment of Command
SotC/JotC - S/J of the Crusader
SoB/JoB - S/J of Blood
SoR/JoR - S/J of Righteousness
HoJ - Hammer of Justice
AW - Avenging Wrath
CS - Crusader Strike
DS - Divine Shield
BoP, BoF, BoM, BoS, BoSanc, BoW, BoK, BoL - Blessing of : Protection, Freedom, Might, Salvation, Sanctuary, Wisdom, Kings, Light respectively
Wis - BoW
Salv - BoS
FoL - Flash of Light
HL - Holy Light
r(X) added at the end of FoL or HL, (X) being a number - a specific rank of the spell. For example, FoLr7 is currently our highest rank of Flash of Light
PoJ - Pursuit of Justice
HS - Holy Shield or Shock. Play the context clues game in this case, I tend to use it for both.

If there's any I failed to mention that I've used, please mention it in the comments or an e-mail and I'll add it!

The talents

So let's talk the specific talents. I mentioned general specs you could try, but I'd like to go down the list of Ret talents, and mention a few talents in the other trees worth contemplating. Get a talent calculator out to follow along - I won't be linking the skills, I'll just be discussing the talents as the list goes down (and yes, I'm sad to say I can actually do this off the top of my head - I've played WAY too much as a Paladin).

So I'll rate the skills on an out of 5 basis, for PvE and PvP separately. This shouldn't be taken as a 'this talent is too weak, they need to buff it' list, more of a guide on how much utility you can expect to gain from using this skill.

Improved Blessing of Might
PvP - 2/5
PvE - 3/5

No denying that an extra 42 AP is useful, but it's a hard task to find a time to use this buff yourself. Threat is always a #1 issue, and Mana consumption is often #2. You can mostly cover the spread by getting Sanctified Judgment, but that's deep in the tree and hard to find a spot for, so often your first two buffs are going to be salv, then wis. #3 is then a battle for Kings or Might, and both have their arguments, since Kings will provide extra mana, health and crit on top of 100 or so AP in good gear. So while I like to have 42 AP, can I find a spot for it myself? Not particularly, when it's right next to....

PvP - 3/5
PvE - 4/5

-15% cost of casting seals and judging makes a world of difference, and that difference will only become more stark in the next patch, when we start to spam Crusader Strike and blow through mana like a '90s era dotcom. You want to save every point of mana you can, and this will help you a lot.

Improved Judgment
PvP - 4/5
PvE - 4/5

It increases your DPS. Any skill that offers a substantial improvement to your damage can't be scoffed at. Deflection is nice, and helps plenty in PvP, but there's nothing like buffing your damage. Warriors are, outside of the heavily geared MS types, cake, rogues are usually easy and there's just no reason to spec to improve your ability to kill them. You should take them anyways.

Improved Seal of the Crusader & Sanctified Crusader
PvP - 1/5 & 2.5/5
PvE - 4/5 & 5/5

Imp. SotC is going baseline, so it's not particularly relevant anymore. That said, it's great for PvE, almost useless for PvP. Spec into it if Arena isn't what you live and breathe.

Sanctified Crusader...tough call. I can see why you might try to use it, what with the free 3 crit and all, but I never find time to start judging someone with things that don't do damage. Perhaps I should try it on hefty targets, like well-geared holy paladins/resto shamans, or bear dr00ds, I just haven't considered it. So I can see Sanc Crusader being good for PvP, but only against specific targets in specific situations. Spec into it at your leisure. For PvE, though, no question. Take it and LOVE it.


PvE 1.5/5
PvP 2.5/5

Again, rogues and warriors are your targets to beat, don't go out of your way to improve your skills against them. That said, I've run into hard to kill warriors, and this might have helped, but in arena I've got my mage buddy to help burst anyone down so I don't worry too much. For PvE, if you tank for your friends in 5-mans, or you've been asked to OT or some such, it helps. But you're a pretty damn weak raid tank so it's more of a last resort kind of thing. I wouldn't worry about it.


Now & Next Patch

PvE - 1/5 & 1/5
PvP - 2.5/5 & 4/5

Currently, kinda weak - again with the making you beat rogues & warriors MORE. In 2.3, it decreases ALL stats by 15%, so your target can lose 900-1000 health, mana & lose str and agi as well, so it's got some nice utility. Very good looking skill from a theorycraft point of view. We'll get to test it out soon enough! As for PvE, no raid boss can be affected by it, so yawn. Clears trash a bit faster if you're knocking out their stamina. I'm getting it, but I'm getting it for Arena, not for my Kara runs.


PvE - 5/5
PvP - 5/5

Must have. Don't question it.

Seal of Command

PvE - 5/5
PvP - 5/5

Slightly less if you're BE, but even so, I'd take SoC over SoB for PvP to get the burst, and if you raid Kara still, you MUST have this while fighting Prince, so you might as well spend the ONE point it costs.

Pursuit of Justice

Now & Next Patch

PvE - 1/5 & 3/5
PvP - 2.5/5 & 4/5

The speed boost is going to be a lot of fun, and the reduced chance to be hit by spells will save your butt nicely once in awhile. 15% means no more getting kited, and getting into the action sooner. There's nothing but goodness for PoJ. Right now though, rather bland. Get a boot enchant if you want the speed.

Eye for an Eye

PvE - 1/5
PvP - 3/5

I like this skill, but if you're getting this to proc for real damage that means you're getting your ass kicked anyways. Fun and I've gotten use out of it, but if it were removed tomorrow I wouldn't even think about it. Sitting on the same Tier as Crusade makes it hard to spec for. Especially since your most challenging targets are Lock and Shadow Priests, neither of whom are likely to need any crits to kill us.

Improved Retribution Aura

PvE - 2/5
PvP - 2/5

This was great back before BC when I did a lot of 5-man tanking, but nowadays I hardly even think about it. Prot Pallies can make use of it, but we don't get a whole lot of use for it these days, with Sanc Aura up most of the time.

PvP it could be used to annoy a rogue, but meh, I'd rather be punching his face in. Let the Tankadins do the reflective thing.


PvE - 4/5
PvP - 3/5

3% is fairly small, but it adds up easily for PvE. For PvP, why not take a skill that ups your own damage? E4E would be a reasonable alternative for PvP, but I prefer increasing my own damage first.

2H Weapon Specialization

PvE - 5/5
PvP - 5/5

6% more damage all the time? Get it. On a side note, these percentage skill may sound weak at first, but you have to look at it this way: if you do 800 dps, increassing that by 6% gives you another 48 dps. To increase your damage by that amount via attack power, you have to get hundreds of points worth (just to get it equal on your character profile, the amount would be 672 (14 * 48)). This is a LOT of damage for 3 measly points.

Sanctity Aura

PvE - 5/5
PvP - 5/5

Increases all Holy Damage by 10%. Which skills are holy damage? Oh, only everything but auto-attack and Crusader Strike.

Improved Sanctity Aura

PvE - 4/5
PvP - 3/5

2% is getting harder to justify this deep in the tree as you start making small sacrifices. For example, in PvP that 10% damage reduction to crits is very nice and worth getting. For PvE there's still no question, that's a 2% increase in damage for all party members, but it starts getting to the point where you know certain skills are going to compete and you'll have to sacrifice. To sacrifice this is not something I would recommend, but I would certainly understand.


PvE - 5/5
PvP - 5/5

This is what makes Retribution work. It is our Serpent's Swiftness, our Flurry. Avoiding this is sacrilege, plain and simple.

Sanctified Judgment

PvE - 4/5
PvP - 3/5

This is actually a very nice skill - ret pallies burn through mana very easily, and this seriously reduces your mana consumption. I calculated it out awhile back and found it be worth at least 80 mp5 if you judge/seal every 8 seconds, and so it can go a long way towards keeping your mana pool up. PvP, fights shouldn't last long if you're ret, that's the whole point. Burst damage and whatnot. So it's nice and might save you by keeping you from going dry, but eh, your choice to spec or not.

Sanctified Crusader & Sanctified Seals

PvE - 5/5 & 5/5
PvP - 2/5 & 5/5

To be swapped out next patch. Currently, same story as above. Huge for PvE, potentially useful in PvP, but I can't really say a time that I've taken advantage of it in PvP. Sanctified Seals, however, is going to be amazing. No dispelling/purging of seals - it's a massive buff against smart shamans and priests, and since it'll be getting melee crit on top of that, there's no argument that this is a vital skill for all ret pallies.


PvE - 3/5
PvP - 5/5

This skill comes up big many times. Back before 1.9 (reaaaaaallly long time ago) this was the top skill in Protection, and was half the reason I was specced Prot. Well, that and the reckbombs. When they changed it in 1.9, I immediately followed Repentance to the Retribution tree, and have largely stayed there since. Great skill, allows you to catch up with people and cause big fat JoC crits. For PvE it even has its use now and then. Accidentally hit a sheep? Repent him so the mage has time to put him back. Combined with HoJ, it can even give you a 12 sec CC, which is a fun trick.

Divine Purpose

PvE - 2/5
PvP - 3.5-4/5

That plus a healthy dose of resilience makes you take a considerable reduction in damage from crits. It's actually quite a nice trick. That said, I haven't personally used it, but I've seen what resilience can do to my crits. Thus, I don't know that it works against spells too. If it does there's no question that it's worth getting for PvP, but that's not what the tooltip says, and I won't have any testing to say one way or the other until 2.3 comes down the pipe and I re-spec.


PvE - 4/5
PvP - 4/5

Great skill, though many cut it a touch short - say, 3/5 or 4/5 rather than getting the full 5 points. That has its uses and allows you to spend elsewhere, but the big boost to crit will be very noticable, especially on stunned targets. Well worth it.

Crusader Strike

PvE - *
PvP - *

CS gets stars instead of a numerical score because it's that important. Especially when it hits a 6 sec CD.

I'll finish up a post touching on possible talent choices in the other trees, since no one in their right mind will put 61 points in Retribution. To be continued!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Back to the task at hand!

Had a Kara run last night. While our guild has struggled with getting ready to staff a full 25-man raid and thus haven't tried Gruul's yet, we're damn near finished with Kara. Our DPS has been off and on, but last night it was most certainly on.

A few months ago I specced out of Retribution and into Holy to allow me to join a semi-serious 5v5 and start racking up points. I was stuck rolling in mostly blues and not particularly looking forward to Kara gear, as the only piece of DPS plate was off Nightbane, and I'd be stuck rolling against hunters for their mail gear, which is never fun. I had a long-term plan of getting all 3 PvP non-set epics, 3/5 Arena 2 gear and 2/5 Tier 4 to flesh out a full set of epics, and I planned on having this take awhile.

And then Despair dropped, rapidly accelerating the plans. I respecced a couple of weeks ago, and I got my 2nd piece of Arena 2 gear and my final non-set epic this week. I swapped out the planned T4 helm with what I could get now, and was better anyways - the engineering goggles - and put together a pretty solid DPS set - 1550 AP, 25.5% crit unbuffed or so, along with more hit rating than necessary (stocking up for a 2.3 re-spec). So I'm nearly finished with my gear and this was the first week to really test out my gear set-up.

Holy cow.

I put out nearly 2 million damage from Attumen through Shade, and stayed at the top of the charts from beginning to end, as well as leading our best DPS to date: we absolutely blew through everything. Curator went down just after the second evocate without a single moment with more than one flare out, Shade down to <30% before poly'ing. In about 4 hours, we had the place nearly clean. Another hour and we'd have had Illhoof and Prince out for the count as well, I'm sure.

So this stellar run put thoughts in my head of what was to come - specifically, what my damage will look like in 2.3. They still haven't brought up threat issues, so I don't know how that will turn out, but everything else promises to seriously increase my damage. Ignoring the threat cap, which I came damn near hitting a few times last night and did in fact hit on a fair amount of trash, I expect another 100 dps increase from the patch, between the 3% to crit and the 6 second Crusader Strike. Throwing out numbers, fully raid-buffed I start hitting between 1000-1500 on Crusader Strikes, good for 100-150 dps (not including crits). Kick it down to 6 seconds, and suddenly it goes up to 160-250 dps. If I'm rolling with 28% crit, this could be a massive, massive increase.

We use a lot of off-specs, so our DPS isn't as amazing as some raids, but even so we put it out tonight, and a Ret Pally was able to lead the way. The changes in 2.3 offer a lot more promising damage, and I expect that I can start consistently challenging my buddy Caylith and his crazy fire mage on the charts. Things are definitely looking up for Retribution.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


It's amazing at times to witness the complete and utter lack of class shown to people in MMRPGs. Retnoobs and anyone who has ever played a ridiculed spec has a firsthand account of the pointless rudeness thrown at others just because that person doesn't like how you play (hi, Boomkins!).

It's one thing to be angry at someone for playing poorly. That I understand, though I would not advocate being rude to the person for their lack of skill, or ignorance in how to handle or gear their class. Of course, a gentle nudge towards some advice and help is always a good idea (and acting as a repository for knowledge about a poorly understood spec is largely why I created this blog).

What I have seen countless times, however, goes far beyond that.

Back before BC it was especially brutal, and paradoxically far less necessary. While spec'ing holy would certainly boost your healing ability, it was anything but necessary - though I did very little raiding, everything up to and including UBRS was doable as any job with any spec. I tanked Drak as Ret, healed it as ret, and DPS'd it as ret. I tanked all the 5-mans, and always held my own when we did do ZG (though I never tanked it, I may very well have been able to. My druid friend or our prot tank were usually available to handle it so it wasn't necessary to test it). Back then your spec was not very important - prot was even counterintuitive to tanking (half your skills required you to get crit to be used, and getting crit is never a good thing while tanking).

But man did I have some negative runs - the druid who tried to tell me his catbush would pull aggro off me and quit when I offered to OT in UBRS. The jackass who said in a PUG ZG when I asked about rolling on DoW, "Yeah, right. Pallies don't get that shit." All while ripping on me to his guildies in vent while I was listening.

BC has been better, if only because I largely avoided PUGs when I wasn't holy or prot (though prot still gets some crap from people, it's mostly accepted as a tanking class for 5-mans). But I received a run-in that was an instant blast from the past last night.

In AV, a Holy Pally gave me hell for my spec, all because I cast Might on all Pallies. He, in his poor grammar and general stupidity, tried to tell me all about how awful my spec was and how I'm useless in raids and arena. Nevermind that he was guildless and unlikely to be doing any raiding himself, he seemed to feel it necessary to rub my face in how I essentially had no right to be on the front lines. And while I had a couple people on my side, a former Retnoob and a warrior, some people chimed in with him as well.

And this is what comes to my point. It amazes me at times how much anonymity affects the way people treat each other. I don't know this guy, I have no way of finding out who he is and so as such he thinks he has some right to be as rude as he wants.

I'm tired of this. I'm tired of the populace being my #1 problem. As much as I'll bitch about our utility needing to be increased, or our threat problems, ultimately my only real problem with my spec comes directly from the image it has with other players, and it's been this way since I hit 60 with Modano. I have always enjoyed this spec, always done well with it and I rarely have had trouble putting myself in a decent spot on the charts, all while maintaining the group utility necessary to be a Good Paladin.

Though the class has shown its weaknesses at times, those weaknesses have always paled in comparison to the biggest challenge - image.

And I'm tired of it.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Gearing up

One of the biggest weaknesses I've seen among Ret Pallies is the distinct lack of gear optimization. As I've said before, Paladins carry multiple sets: healing, tanking and DPS (and a 4th for Spell Damage is a good idea when you need to consecrate a group of mobs). Do NOT wear your tanking gear when you're in a DPS role. So how should you itemize your gear?

Ordered by priority:
Tanking: Sta, Def, Spell Damage, Avoidance (Parry & Dodge Rating - Block Rating is pointless without Holy Shield), Int, MP5. Wear only plate.

Healing: Int, Healing, (if you have 5/5 Divine Illumination) Spell Crit Rating, MP5, Sta. Wear any armor that gives good stats.

DPS (as ret): Strenth/Attack Power, Crit Rating, Hit Rating, Sta, Int, Spell Damage. Wear as little leather and mail as you can get away with.

Hit Rating is an important point - eliminating misses is huge, and is actually something I would consider a first priority, but you hit a cap at how useful it is after a certain amount of points (Blessing of Kings has a great post on this), and once you hit that it is completely useless.

So, to steal a line from BRK, if you're DPSing in a raid and I see you wearing Timewarden's Leggings or Breastplate of Many Graces, I'm pulling your Pally license.

There are some pieces that have spell damage and defense rating, and you may think, 'You know, I kind of like gearing up with spell damage and this piece has a lot of it, so I'll use it', there's one very very important thing to keep in mind: each piece of gear has a static 'item value' of sorts. From this value a pool of stats is created, and each point spent on one stat is a point not available for another stat.

In shorter terms, every point spent on defense is, from a DPSing perspective, wasted. Every point spent on healing is wasted. Wear gear that optimizes your current role, and leave the rest in your bags/bank (you should always have at least your healing gear ready - some fights, such as Maiden of Virtue, are not Ret Pally friendly, and stepping back to be the guy who keeps Sacrifice up on the tank, heals him and cleanses everyone is often the better choice).

So if you need an upgrade on gear (and if you're running under 22% crit and 1250 AP, you do) before you hit Kara, hit up thottbot and look for items with the stats I pointed out, and check out the BoK post regarding boss hit caps. You don't have to be capped out on hit before you start running Kara, but a getting a few % points worth of hit on top of Precision (Prot talent) would be a very wise choice.

Feel free to take a look at my Armory: I rarely log without my DPS gear on.


As you can see, Str/AP, Crit and Hit are optimized, Sta, Int and Spell Damage are increased where possible. Not that I use a fair amount of PvP gear - currently, Season 2 Arena stuff and the non-set PvP epics are some of the best PvE ret gear out there. Why? No resilience.

In a classic example of what I was noting before, PvP epics have a very high item value: they get a LOT of points to spend on their attributes. However, Retribution gear is the ONLY gear without any points spent on resilience. Because of this, there are zero points wasted on attributes you won't use, and so all of the points are optimized to stats you can use (skewed slightly towards stamina, but not so badly as to make the item weak in any way). Thus spending some weekends in the battlegrounds and getting some friends together for Arena is a very wise choice, and can get you geared out nicely. Kara, after all, has only one piece of plate DPS gear. At the final boss. And while the mail/leather pieces are nice for DPSing, you'll always feel a little guilty for swiping them from rogues/hunters that need that gear too.

Long post, but the essence is this: Don't wear gear with stats you're not using at that moment, PvP is great for optimized gear, and make damn sure you work on getting to the hit rating cap.