The Light and How to Swing It: Ret rotation and cooldowns in 4.0.1

Gregg Reece
G. Reece|10.13.10

Sponsored Links

The Light and How to Swing It: Ret rotation and cooldowns in 4.0.1

Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Light and How to Swing It for holy, protection and retribution paladins. Please send screenshots as well as any comments to my email at

A couple of weeks back, I covered the basics of things that changed for retribution paladins. At the time, I was putting off any information about rotations, because our class has drastically changed and I wasn't sure if there were any more changes coming down along the lines. Now, 4.0.1 is here and locked in.

I'll be honest. Some of you might not like the direction the class has taken. I do ask you all to at least give it a try for a week before getting upset. A lot of classes have been revamped and I expect a lot of class-swapping before the expansion. However, those of you who are looking at these changes and drooling should find much more depth to the class.

Rotational inertia

We now actually have something that resembles a rotation with a priority system attached, as opposed to a cooldown-based, first-come-first-serve system with a priority system attached. That doesn't mean we're stuck with 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2 and repeat. We've been given tools via both abilities and procs to change things up.

First, I'm going to take you through the long version of the rotation. This is what you'll be doing if the random number generator on the server absolutely despises you.

The long rotation
  1. Crusader Strike
  2. fillers
  3. Crusader Strike
  4. fillers
  5. Crusader Strike
  6. finisher
Crusader Strike is your only guaranteed holy power generator, so you'll want to hit it on cooldown as long as you're not already maxed out at 3 holy power. There are other ways to obtain holy power, but this is the only one you're absolutely certain is going to do it.

Fillers pretty much come down to what's available at that moment with a priority system. If you have no haste to work with Sanctity of Battle, then you'll have global cooldowns with of space to fill. If you have a lot of haste, you'll start needing less to fill that gap.

As far as the priority of those fillers: Judgement, followed by any Art of War procs for Exorcism (the cool sword-looking things in the above graphic on the sides shows you when it procs [edit: Yes, I know it's Ashbringer, but I decided to simplify when describing it. It's not the end of the world ... well, it is, but unrelated to me not mentioning Ashbringer by name.]), Hammer of Wrath, Holy Wrath (providing you're not standing next to a crowd-controlled target) and finally Consecration (although you'll likely not have the mana for it often, as its cost has gone up greatly).

Finishers will be the new ability Templar's Verdict for single targets and Divine Storm for three or more targets. Templar's Verdict is a damage-dealer that scales up higher and more efficiently the more holy power you have invested into it. Divine Storm has been changed to work off holy power and is now one of your finishers. Much like Templar's Verdict, it gets more efficient the more holy power is used with it.

You will always, and I do mean always, want to use these two abilities with the full 3 holy power. If you're not using 3 holy power with them, then you're wasting both the holy power you used as well as the global cooldown it took to press the button. I know that's rather harsh, but that's the truth of the matter. You also have the secondary problem that if you don't use a finisher as the next ability after you've hit 3 holy power, you're potentially wasting holy power due to Divine Purpose procs or even just hitting Crusader Strike an extra and unneeded time.

There are actually two other finishers we could talk about. Both of them are new. The problem is that you can't get one of them until level 81, and the other is a heal and not a damage-dealer. I'm talking about Inquisition and Word of Glory, respectively. Inquisition provides a 30 percent buff to all holy damage while it's active and will be something you'll be weaving into your rotations at level 85 to maximize your damage. The part of it that scales with holy power is its duration, which means using more holy power means less time spent refreshing it.

On the other hand, Word of Glory has replaced the instant Flash of Light we formerly received from The Art of War. This is a linearly scaling heal. This means that if its base healing is 1,000 and you have 2 holy power when you use it, then you are healed for 2,000 hit points. This isn't something you're going to be hitting if you're trying to maximize your DPS, but if you're about to die, then blowing a couple of holy power on staying alive isn't a bad idea.

I did say above that this is the "long rotation," and there's a reason for that. With Divine Purpose, you can grab extra holy power along the way from your filler abilities and hit 3 holy power. This adds a little more skill in watching for the ability to hit your finishers early.

Also, you have Hand of Light mastery bonus for retribution. When it procs (that's the cool bird thing at the top of the header graphic), you'll have 3 free holy power to spend unrelated to your holy power bar. While none of the level 80 armor comes with mastery as a stat, you can visit one of the new arcane reforgers in major cities to have them replace some of the stats you have in abundance with this new stat.

Between Art of War, Divine Purpose and Hand of Light, your rotation will be focused around making sure you take advantage of procs and watching your holy power to make sure you aren't wasting it.


We're used to pretty much just having one DPS cooldown to hit. We have, however, been upgraded to a total of two with the addition of our tree-topper of Zealotry.

What, you may ask, does that do? Well, let me tell you. Normally, when you hit Crusader Strike, you'll get 1 holy power. That's boring. Hit Zealotry, and your Crusader Strike provides 3 holy power per hit for the next 20 seconds. This means that you'll be able to alternate between Crusader Strike and Templar's Verdict or Divine Storm. Actually, if you're in a bind, you can hit Word of Glory to heal yourself or your tank in a really tight situation where a healer has gone down.

We've still got Avenging Wrath, and it has been our bread and butter since The Burning Crusade was cutting-edge content. Well, it still does the same things it always has, but with an added twist. The talent Sanctified Wrath lets you use Hammer of Wrath while completely disregarding its restriction on your opponent's health. So if you're in a fight with mechanics like Heigan the Unclean (yeah, it's a couple tiers ago, but it's a good example) in which you have to run around a lot while not being close to the boss, then you can hit Avenging Wrath and shoot hammers across the room while running back and forth.

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. With Cataclysm soon heating things up, will you be ready?
All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Popular on Engadget