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The Light and How to Swing It: Retribution 102

Gregg Reece
March 3, 2010

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With the Light as his strength, Gregg Reece of The Light and How to Swing It faces down the demons of the Burning Legion, the undead of the Scourge, and helps with the puppet shows at the Argent Ren Faire up in Icecrown.

We're back again. I wasn't sure I'd be available to write the article this week as I've got a little paladin on the way and she's due any day now. The closest the doctor would give us was "soon." However, let's get down to business.

Last week we did a Retribution 101 article on what qualities make up a ret pally and what to expect from the spec. This week we're going to look at the basic talent spec as well as what our talents do for us. It's a fairly long post, so feel free to go grab something to drink now and then catch us after the break.

1. Typical PvE talent setup

The base talent build we're going to look at is a very retribution build of 5/5/55 which gives us six points to do with as we wish. Now, there are generally two viewpoints on what you should do with these depending on which type of utility you want to provide. If you want access to Divine Sacrifice then you'd go 5/11/55 with those six points all in protection. However, if you'd rather provide a little debuff to your target's attack power as well as have a wee bit more survivability, then you'd take Vindication as well as fill out the rest of the retribution tree with 5/5/61.

2. Talent overview
Talents in italics are optional, and you can flex your build to pick up or drop these based on utility you want to provide. If a talent is struck out, avoid it, as it provides little or no benefit to you as a damage dealer. I'll only be covering the protection and holy talents that are relevant for a ret paladin to pursue.


  • Seals of the Pure - This ups the damage of your two baseline damage seals, but doesn't do anything for your Seal of Command. It's still pretty good as any boost to Seal of Corruption/Vengeance is a good boost.
  • Divine Intellect - Yeah, you could reach it if you wanted to, but don't. We're fine with mana.
  • Divine Strength - This is a great talent as it allows us to grab even more power from strength. Absolutely must have talent.
  • Divinity - The talent really doesn't do much for us. It's only really an option if we're trying to reach for Divine Sacrifice for utility.
  • Anticipation - Okay, I guess you could nab this for PvP, however we're mainly talking about PvE here and there's no use in it. You're better off with Divinity if you're just using it as a stepping stone to other talents.
  • Stoicism - Less time stunned or feared can be helpful to up your DPS in dungeons sometimes, but this is mainly a PvP talent. The dispel protection especially helpful in PvP if you're using Seal of Vengeance/Corruption.
  • Guardian's Favor - This provides some decent utility, but would be better for PvP. It's an okay choice for a stepping stone talent.
  • Divine Sacrifice - Nicknamed the 'Raid Wall,' but has lately been reduced to just the 'Party Wall' if you don't have talents in Divine Guardian. It will redirect 30% of damage dealt to your party at you for up to 200% of your total health. Combined with Divine Shield, this is a really handy ability for reducing AoE damage in certain boss fights. However, please keep in mind that it can kill you if you're not careful.
  • Benediction - Being as all of the spells we're going to use in combat are instant cast, this will reduce your mana spent by up to 10%. Also, the other talent on this tier to get into the retribution tree is for parry and we don't parry.
  • Deflection - Adds up to 5% parry. We don't need parry. Leave it alone.
  • Improved Judgements - This reduces your judgement cooldown by 2 seconds. This means you get to cast it 20% more often. A definite must have.
  • Heart of the Crusader - This is a nice little debuff you get to put on the bad guys by just doing what you were going to do anyways. Your judgements make it easier for everyone critically strike the target by 3%. Handy.
  • Improved Blessing of Might - While this is an optional buff, I did include it in the base build. This is because it's our blessing of choice. However, if you raid with a holy paladin who has picked it up or another retribution paladin, you might see if you can convince one of them to pick it up so you can put talent points elsewhere.
  • Vindictation - Yet another debuff we get to apply with no work at all. All you have to do is hit the bad guy and they'll start doing less damage. Both tanks and healers like it when you do this. If you've got a warrior or bear in your regular group, then you might not have to worry about this as their Demoralizing Shout/Roar does the same thing and it doesn't stack.
  • Conviction - A flat boost of 5% to critical strike. Plus, this opens up the ability to nab the talent Vengeance later.
  • Seal of Command - This has changed a lot over the years. Currently, it is a sort of cleave type attack that will strike your current target as well as two additional targets. The only downside is that it only works with single-target attacks. However, it is a great leveling seal and does well against groups of mobs at high level.
  • Pursuit of Justice - As a melee class, we're often stuck in the middle of things. This means from time to time we've got to move in order to keep doing damage or prevent things doing damage to us. The 15% move speed doesn't look like much, but you can definitely notice when you don't have it. Also, it reduces the amount of time you're disarmed by various effects which means more time you can kill things.
  • Eye for an Eye - This causes 10% of the damage against you to return to the person who dealt it. The problem is that in dungeons and raids, you shouldn't be attacked and most of the stuff that hits you shouldn't crit. However, for PvP, this is a great skill to have.
  • Sanctity of Battle - Another flat crit increase. This one is 3% crit along with Exorcism and Crusader Strike being buffed up by 15%. You can't say no to free damage buffs.
  • Crusade - This bumps up all of your damage by 3% and does even more damage against some of your usual bad guys by another 3%. Humanoids, demons, undead, and elementals beware!
  • Two-Handed Weapon Specialization - Allows you to hit harder with two-handers. As it's a damage buff talent, it's not one you want to pass up.
  • Sanctified Retribution - This allows anyone under the effects of any of your auras to deal 3% more damage. Yes, that even includes Crusader Aura. Oh, it also increases the damage dealt by Retribution Aura by 50%. However, that first part is the important part. Also, this means you can swap your aura to fit the fight. If you're against a big fire lord, then you can swap over to Fire Resistance Aura and everyone will still get the same 3% damage increase.
  • Vengeance - Increases physical and holy damage by 3% every time you crit and stacks up to 3 times. This means that once you get it up and running, it's a 9% damage increase in just about everything you do. The buff lasts for 30 seconds and refreshes every time you crit. So, make sure you drop a judgement or Hand of Reckoning on any rats, beetles, or squirrels you pass in order to keep it up and running.
  • Divine Purpose - This is a utility talent as it adds the ability for your Hand of Freedom spell to remove stuns from people. It also lowers the chance you're going to be hit by ranged attacks by 4%. Good in PvP as well as lowering extra damage taken in some dungeon fights.
  • The Art of War - Another flat damage increase for some of your abilities. Also, when your melee attack crit, Exorcism and Flash of Light become instant casts. However, once you cast one, the buff goes away. If you're waiting on other cooldowns (including Exorcism) and your health is low, hit yourself with a Flash of Light. The healers will appreciate it.
  • Repentance - It's called 'ranged Sap' by some. It puts your PvE target out of commission for 60 seconds and your PvP target out for 6 seconds. Grabbing this also allows you to pick up the talent Fanaticism later on.
  • Judgements of the Wise - This is where we get our mana back from. With full points, it will cause you to gain the Replenishment buff every time you drop a judgement. In addition, you immediately gain back 25% of your base mana (and for us that means all of our mana).
  • Fanaticism - Here's our threat maintenance talent. With three points, it reduces our threat by 30% (unless we have Righteous Fury up). And, as a damage dealer, having threat is bad. In addition, any judgements that can crit, will do so about 18% more.
  • Sanctified Wrath - The main thing you want this talent for is the cooldown reduction of Avenging Wrath. This will allow more uptime of the skill and also allow you to use it in more places without worrying you'll need it later. You'll also be able to ignore half of any damage shields (like Power Word: Shield) but not things that completely reduce damage (like Divine Shield).
  • Swift Retribution - It's a free 3% haste buff for anyone under the effects of one of your auras. Yes, even Crusader Aura.
  • Crusader Strike - Finally, a combat skill. This is going to be one of your bread and butter skills. If you don't take it, I'll be very sad and so will the rest of your raid. Besides, you'll get really bored if you don't have it.
  • Sheath of Light - This talent converts 30% of your attack power to spell power. Being as most of your damage abilities scale off of spellpower as well as attack power, this lets us double-dip into the same stat for our damage. It also adds a little healing bonus in the event you have to hit Holy Light three times before running out of mana. The healing bonus on crit should also apply to Lay on Hands in the event a tank (or sleeping dragon) needs a little health boost.
  • Righteous Vengeance - This is a nice little damage of time debuff that occurs whenever one of your main three attacks deal a crit. It deals and additional 30% of that damage as a damage over time effect. Also, if you happen to deal another crit before it's done, it adds the new damage to the old damage and refreshes the DoT effect.
  • Divine Storm - This is an AoE attack that is centered on you and hits four targets around you. Also, some of the damage dealt is converted into extra health for your party/raid members nearby. The extra health isn't all that much, but it's a neat little bonus to the skill.

The Light and How to Swing It tries to help Paladins cope with the dark times coming in Cataclysm. See the upcoming Paladin changes the expansion will bring. Wrath is coming to a close and the final showdown with the Lich King is here. Are you ready for the assault on Icecrown Citadel?

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