This edition of The Light and How to Swing It, where we'll discuss gemming, enchanting and reforging your retribution paladin, was in the works a few weeks ago, but I made the decision to hold off on it for awhile because we weren't entirely sure when patch 4.0.6 would launch at the time. Patch 4.0.6 flipped paladin stat priorities upside down. Haste, which was our favorite stat ever, is no longer so important to us. Mastery, which was some sort of bad joke previously, is now the best secondary stat for us.
It didn't make a lot of sense to release a guide to customizing your paladin's stats when all of it was going to change within days. Now that patch 4.0.6 is here, we don't need to worry about that any more.
Knowing the stat hierarchy is the core to getting the best out of your class. Once you know which stats are best for you, your gear choices will become second nature.
The current stat priority seems pretty solid post-patch 4.0.6, but I'll include my usual warning about these numbers: Theorycrafting is an ongoing process, and we're only in the first tier of Cataclysm raiding. The stat landscape could change drastically as soon as someone comes along and brings a new angle to the table. However, you can't live in fear of potentials, so currently, you want your stats in this order:
- hit until capped (8% for raids)
- expertise until capped (26 for raids)
- critical strike
Mastery is supreme as our secondary stat, due to the mastery changes in patch 4.0.6. Mastery now adds holy damage to Templar's Verdict, Crusader Strike, and Divine Storm and that holy damage scales with Inquisition. A hefty chunk of mastery will do more for your DPS than any other stat, including the cooldown reduction on CS from haste.
Gemming as a retribution paladin could not be easier. Strength is so far superior to every other stat available that there are very few situations in which you do not want to gem strength. Your meta gem should be a Reverberating Shadowspirit Diamond, and you should have a Bold Inferno Ruby in every other gem slot unless the piece of gear has two gem slots with a +20 strength socket bonus, or three gem slots with a +30 strength socket bonus. In that case, you want to strength hybrid gems, such as a Skillful Ember Topaz or an Inscribed Ember Topaz. In the current tier of content, you'll be gemming pure strength in the vast majority of situations.
Just like gemming, reforging your retribution paladin is extremely easy. The first question you should ask yourself is "Do I have enough hit and expertise?" If the answer to either of those questions is no, start reforging your worst stat (according to the stat weights above) into either hit or expertise, whichever you need. If you are both hit and expertise capped, reforge the stat at the bottom of the stat weight totem pole into one closer to the top. Does an item have mastery and haste on it as its secondary stats? Turn half of the haste into crit.
Do note that once you're over the hit and expertise caps, those stats drop to the bottom of the stat hierarchy. They have a clear point of no longer supplying any mentionable benefit. If you end up with extra hit and you have an item with hit and haste on it, you would want to reforge the hit into something else, not the haste.
Enchantments are a bit more involved than either gems in that you can't simply say "strength or bust." Not every slot has an available strength option, or it would be the winner by a very significant margin. Let's break it down.
- Head Arcanum of the Dragonmaw / Arcanum of the Wildhammer
- Shoulder Greater Inscription of Jagged Stone
- Chest Enchant Chest - Peerless Stats or Enchant Chest - Mighty Stats. Peerless Stats is clearly the superior or the two, but Maelstrom Crystals are extremely expensive in the current tier of content. Unless you're in the most hardcore of hardcore raids, your raid leader isn't going to give you grief for the 5 stat loss. In future raid tiers, Maelstrom Crystals are likely to be more plentiful as an entire tier of epics becomes outdated. When that time comes, Peerless Stats will always be the way to go
- Cloak Enchant Cloak - Greater Critical Strike or Enchant Cloak - Critical Strike as a non-Maelstrom Crystal alternative
- Bracers Enchant Bracer - Major Strength or Enchant Bracer - Critical Strike as a non-Maelstrom Crystal alternative
- Gloves Enchant Gloves - Mighty Strength or Enchant Gloves - Exceptional Strength as a non-Maelstrom Crystal alternative
- Belt Ebonsteel Belt Buckle with a Bold Inferno Ruby socketed
- Legs Dragonscale Leg Armor
- Feet Enchant Boots - Mastery or Enchant Boots - Precision. This is one of the only situations where you would try to pick up hit rating from sources other than base gear or reforging. Both enchants are +50 to their respective stat, so their equivalency is the same as if you were reforging.
- Weapon Enchant Weapon - Landslide or Enchant Weapon - Avalanche. Landslide is far superior to any other weapon enchant for retribution paladins, but it's another case of Maelstrom Crystal madness. A strong epic weapon is worth spending the money to enchant with Landslide, but until you get your hands on one, settle for Avalanche. Nobody will fault you.
In addition to the customization that everybody can do to get the most out of their paladin, many trade skills have some sort of customization they can do as well. We won't worry about the baseline bonuses that gatherers acquire, only what crafters can add to their gear to improve upon it.
- Blacksmithing Socket Bracers and Socket Gloves with Bold Inferno Rubies in each
- Enchanting Enchant Ring - Strength
- Engineering Tazik Shocker or Synapse Springs. Some engineers aren't fond of the Synapse Springs because it locks out your on-use trinkets for 15 seconds, but I personally prefer them over the Tazik Shocker quite a bit.
- Inscription Lionsmane Inscription beats out any other available shoulder enchant.
- Jewelcrafting You are allowed to socket up to three Chimera's Eye gems. You want three Bold Chimera's Eyes socketed at all times.
- Leatherworking Draconic Embossment will overwrite other bracer enchants, but it is better than any other available option.
- Tailoring Swordguard Embroidery will overwrite other cloak enchants, but it is better than any other available option.
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