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The Light and How to Swing It: Basic retribution paladin macros

Alex Ziebart

Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Light and How to Swing It for holy, protection and retribution paladins. This week, Justicar Alex Ziebart tackles macros for retribution paladins. Questions? Comments? Feel free to email the author.

Retribution is a spec that has a lot to gain from intelligent use of macros. We have so many abilities that share cooldowns that there's no reason not to consolidate them. As hybrids, we have an enormous spread of abilities that we may not use often, but when we do need to use them, we need to use them at a moment's notice. And properly.

This article will cover basic retribution macros -- mouseover macros, focus macros, modifier macros, and that sort of thing. Macros hold an incredible amount of potential for customization, so it would be next to impossible to list everything a paladin might potentially use. Once you know the basics of how these macros are built, you can do whatever you please with them. Onward!


If you don't use modifier macros, your retribution action bars are probably a real mess, modified UI or not. You probably have completely different hotkeys for both Crusader Strike and Divine Storm. The same likely applies to Templar's Verdict, Inquisition and Word of Glory. It doesn't have to be that way. You can very easily consolidate them into a much cleaner setup.

/cast [nomodifier] Crusader Strike; [modifier:ctrl] Divine Storm
If that syntax doesn't make any sense to you, here's an explanation: If you put that macro on your 2 key, when you just hit the 2 key all by itself, you will Crusader Strike. If you hold down the Ctrl key and hit your 2 key, you will Divine Storm instead. You could extend the macro by adding Exorcism into it, but I like to keep that button seperate. Why? I don't really know! I just like it that way. Deal with it.

You can use Ctrl, Alt or Shift as modifier keys. I personally go with Ctrl (or Shift) because I have extremely large hands. To hit Alt, I would need to move my entire hand over and out of the way, and that's not going to help my combat performance at all. An example of a modifier macro where I include Shift would be:
/cast [nomodifier] Templar's Verdict; [modifier:ctrl] Inquisition; [modifier:shift] Word of Glory
Need to refresh Inquisition? Hold down Ctrl. Need to rip off a quick heal? Hold Shift. Don't need to worry about that and just want to DPS the day away? No problem. Don't hit any modifiers.

With those two macros alone, you've reduced five (and potentially six) hotkeys down to just two. There are other possibilities for this as well. Exorcism, Judgement and Hammer of Wrath? Hand of Sacrifice, Hand of Salvation and Hand of Freedom? Blessing of Might and Blessing of Kings? Holy Wrath and Consecration?

Note: If you use Ctrl as your modifier, you may need to unbind some keybinds in the default UI. Ctrl+# is reserved for pet abilities that hunters or warlocks may need. Paladins don't need them! Unbind at will.

Target of target

As someone filling a DPS role, you're going to be targeting the bad guys a vast majority of your time in combat. That's just what you do. The problem is that retribution has a lot of buffs you cast on your friends that need to be used at a moment's notice. You don't have time to hunt and peck on your raid frames to find the person you need to cast Hand of Protection on when they pull aggro. Target of target macros will fix that.
/cast [target=targettarget] Hand of Protection
That macro will cast Hand of Protection on your target's target. So if you're targeting a dragon and the dragon is targeting your warlock friend, you'll cast Hand of Protection on the warlock without needing to de-target the dragon.

If you want to build something more complex, you certainly can.
/cast [modifier:ctrl,target=player] Hand of Protection; [target=targettarget] Hand of Protection
That macro will cast Hand of Protection on you if you're holding down Ctrl when you hit the hotkey. If you're not using any modifiers, it will cast the spell on your target's target.


Focus macros are some of the most basic macros a player will pick up, but if you're a career PvE retribution paladin, you probably never actually had a real need for one until Cataclysm. We had no interrupt, and we were never considered reliable crowd control. If you're a PvP player, you always had a use for focus macros, but PvE players probably didn't. In Cataclysm, we're called on both to interrupt and to crowd control. Not only will you be called on to do it, those jobs are extremely important. There are a number of raid encounters that ask for numerous interrupters doing their jobs flawlessly, or you've guaranteed a wipe. In Wrath of the Lich King, such encounters might require two players to interrupt in a 25-man raid. In Cataclysm, you're looking at anywhere from two to six. These focus macros are more important than they've ever been.
/cast [target=focus, exists] Rebuke; Rebuke
If you've set a focus target (with /focus, which you can also macro), this macro will prioritize casting Rebuke on that target. You can DPS a different mob and still interrupt what you're supposed to be interrupting. Do note that you still need to be in range with your focus for this to work. Macros can't beak the rules of the game for you.

You can replace Rebuke with Repentance, and now you have a reliable crowd control macro, too.


As a PvE retribution paladin, I don't use mouseover macros that often. However, I use them constantly when I'm playing holy, and I would probably use them a lot if I did much PvP. Even if you end up not using many of them as PvE ret, they're a good thing to learn.
/cast [target=mouseover] Cleanse; Cleanse
This macro will cleanse whoever your mouse is hovering over. This works with the base UI's raid frames and works with most UI mods as well. If you don't have anybody moused-over, it will cleanse you if you have auto self-cast enabled in the base UI. You can swap Cleanse out for any number of spells -- Hand of Freedom, Word of Glory, and so on.

Everything I've listed here is only the tip of the iceberg of what you can do with macros. Once you've learned how to make them, you can customize them to your heart's content and easily do all sorts of things that you might have thought were extremely difficult to pull off in combat previously. Readers, if you have any other macros you use regularly, you should share them in the comments below!
The Light and How to Swing It teaches you the ins and outs of retribution paladins: the changes introduced by patch 4.0.6, how to gem, enchant and reforge your ret, and more. We even have something for holy and protection paladins, too.

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