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The Light and How to Swing It: Ret talents in Cataclysm

Gregg Reece

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 soon, an entire flight of black dragons. Please send screenshots as well as any comments to my email at

Yes, yes. I know the last time I wrote about retribution talents that Blizzard came out the next day saying that it was scrapping essentially everything in those versions of the trees. Since then, all three trees have undergone massive (and I'm not exaggerating here) overhauls. However, things have started to stabilize and while these talents may not be final, the tree is a lot closer than any of the previous revisions to what we'll see when the expansion hits.

Spec freebies

Templar's Verdict
This is going to be your signature ability, next to Crusader Strike. It scales off of your earned holy power and gets more efficient the more power it gets. However, as you can only have three maximum, it doesn't take much to hit your best damage potential. Get used to this ability, as you'll be using it a lot.

Sheath of Light A nice freebie, as you'll be able to watch your gear scale appropriately as you level up instead of getting a series of talents at level 51 to balance out your coefficients properly.

Two-Handed Weapon Specialization A nice gimme to boost the damage with your chosen weapon type. This gives new players the hint that they should be using a nice, big two-hander instead of a sword and board.

Judgements of the Wise
It's not quite the same as the version on live. The replenishment part has been separated out into a tier 3 talent called Communion. Also, this version returns more mana per judgement than its predecessor, helping to keep you topped off.

Tier 1

Eye for an Eye
(2 talent points) This old standby received a revamp. Instead of being based off only critical damage, it is now based off of a chance against all damage. This means a wider variety of uses than just arenas and battlegrounds. It could be used by tanks for extra threat or for a little extra DPS in boss fights heavy with AoE.

Rule of Law
(3 talent points) Crusader Strike is going to be a lot more important, as it is our primary way of earning holy power. This is also a nice talent for any holy paladins looking to grab something in the retribution tree. All in all, you will likely see a lot of end-game paladins grabbing this talent.

Crusade (3 talent points) There's a little something in here for everyone. Getting our two most-used abilities for retribution (and two of our earliest abilities) boosted by 30 percent isn't something to sneeze at. The bonuses to Holy Shock and Hammer of the Righteous are sure to lure some of our non-retribution siblings to sub-spec.

Tier 2

Improved Judgements
(3 talent points) While it doesn't have the lowered Judgement cooldown like live, it does upgrade your damage by 5 percent per point.

Conviction (3 talent points) This is actually the old Vengeance talent renamed. Blizzard had to do this, because the new tanking threat mechanic that it gave to all four tanking classes is called Vengeance. So, Conviction is Vengeance because they couldn't name it Vengeance and the old Conviction is gone. Clear as mud.

Pursuit of Justice (2 talent points) This kept its old speed bonus but lost the disarm effect. A handy talent, as being able to get to the thing you're trying to kill makes for higher DPS overall. Or better to get out of the fire you're standing in so you don't die. A dead paladin does no DPS.

Tier 3

(1 talent point) This is where your Replenishment comes from. We now get Judgements of the Wise free as part of the spec, except without the old Replenishment buff as mentioned above. As such, this isn't necessarily a needed talent for you, but it would be good for someone in the party, raid or team to have it available.

Sanctity of Battle (2 talent points) Interesting talent, as it gives us spell hit. Yes, I said spell hit. I know what you're thinking. We're a melee spec, not a caster spec. It's true, kind of. The problem is that we've got several abilities that are technically spells and not melee attacks, with Exorcism being the primary one. So combined with your normal hit stat, this should make it so that Exorcism and Holy Wrath will keep up with everything else.

Divine Storm (1 talent point) This ability has been moved into easier reach in the tree, but it has also been redesigned to work with the new holy power system. Instead of being an ability that you hit for both single- and multi-target, it has been redesigned into something that you'll only want for larger groups.

Improved Crusader Strike (2 talent points) While it doesn't look like much, this is actually one of those talents that makes your rotations possible. Putting in those two points will reduce the Crusader Strike cooldown by a second and thereby let you hit it every other attack for holy power generation.

Tier 4

(1 talent point) Tada, we now have our own spell interrupt like Kick, Pummel, Mind Freeze and Skull Bash. It's a single point and could save the day if used properly.

The Art of War (2 talent points) The damage component for Judgement, CS, and DS has been removed. Flash of Light has been completely removed, as we have access to Word of Glory in the event we need an instant heal. And it has been unbound from critical strikes completely. Instead, you have a 15 percent chance of making Exorcism instant with two talent points invested. Take it; you'll need it for your rotations.

Seals of Command (1 talent point) Seal of Command itself is gone. In its place is the ability to essentially clone the seal's pseudo-cleave component into Seal of Righteousness. Otherwise, it boosts your swing damage on all seals by a portion of your weapon damage.

Divine Purpose (2 talent points) This has nothing to do with the talent of the same name on the live servers. You know how rogues and cats have talents that give them a combo point back after using a finisher? Same type of thing. Whenever you use any of your main three holy power releases (Word of Glory and Zealotry excluded), you have a chance to generate one holy power. This is one of those procs that will partially separate the better players from the face-rollers.

Tier 5
Selfless Healer (2 talent points) This is one of those nice utility talents. It does nothing for your DPS. It actually does nothing for you personally, but it puts more oomph behind holy power that you use to heal friends with Word of Glory. You'll probably see more of this in arena teams or rated battlegrounds than in PvE.

Repentance (1 talent point) No real changes here. We still have a nice ranged Sap that everyone forgets we can use.

Sanctified Wrath (2 talent points) I really like this talent. If you played in early Wrath when we had baseline, instant-cast Exorcism, it was handy on certain fights where you couldn't go up and beat on the boss in certain phases. Heigan the Unclean comes to mind. Well, we're not getting that back, but this helps simulate it. In addition to the cooldown reduction of Avenging Wrath and the crit increase of Hammer of Wrath, it lets you use Hammer of Wrath as if your opponent were near death any time you've popped those glowing wings. So someone running away in a battleground and you can't catch up? Pop your wings and start chucking hammers. Onyxia flying around in phase 2 and all the whelps are dead? Hammer time. All in all, a really fun talent.

Swift Retribution (1 talent point) This is a combination of Sanctified Retribution and Swift Retribution. Your auras now increase melee attack speed (and ranged attack speed for hunters) by 20 percent. It isn't a haste buff, but a melee attack speed buff. Yes, there is a difference. On top of that, it boosts everyone's damage by 3 percent.

Tier 6

Inquiry of Faith
(3 talent points) Simply a boost to your Seal of Truth (aka: Seal of Vengeance/Corruption) DoT damage.

Acts of Sacrifice (2 talent points) Reduces the cost and cooldown of both Hand of Freedom and Hand of Salvation.

Tier 7
Zealotry (1 talent point) Our 31-point talent is a nice little DPS cooldown. When activated, it boosts your Crusader Strike holy power from one point per cast to three points per cast, thus maxing out your holy power bar with every strike. That means for 15 seconds, your rotation will pretty much consist of Crusader Strike followed by Templar's Verdict or Divine Storm, over and over. You could also do CS followed by Word of Glory if you're desperately trying not to die.

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?

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