World of Warcraft: Dragonflight – Retribution Paladin Complete Guide

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  • Why Retribution Paladin?
  • Best Retribution Races
  • Best Talents for Retribution Paladin
  • How To Play The Rotation
  • Best Stats And Gear For Retribution Paladin

World of Warcraft: Dragonflight ushers in a huge class revamp, and its new talent trees promise an unparalleled level of customisation to your specialisation. A melee DPS spec, Retribution Paladin has always been famous throughout Warcraft lore, thanks to iconic characters such as Tirion Fordring, and has historically been a popular choice for many players thanks to great visuals and class fantasy.

This guide will provide a comprehensive overview of Retribution Paladin regarding PvE content. It will cover the reasons you may decide to play the spec, the best talent and gear builds to maximise your damage, an explanation of how to learn the rotation, and some other useful advice including macros and best consumables.

Why Retribution Paladin?

Every specialisation in World of Warcraft comes with its pros and cons, and Retribution Paladin is no different. As always, however, it is recommended to play something you enjoy, rather than something that is well-tuned at the time. You will always play better on something you click with rather than a flavour-of-the-month spec.

  • Easy to Learn: A simple and rewarding rotation feels good to get the hang of and can be learned without investing large amounts of time
  • Great Visuals: Avenging Wrath is iconic and blasting away with large bursts of Holy damage always looks amazing
  • Strong Utility: Paladin's biggest strength is the support they can bring to their groups, in the form of off-healing and strong cooldowns such as Blessing of Protection
  • Good choice for multi-speccers: Having both a Tank and Healer specialisation attached provides a good variety of play styles on one character
  • Poorly Tuned: Historically overshadowed for high-end content, and rarely required at the top end of PvE content due to lacking a unique buff
  • Low Mobility: Meaning you may struggle to avoid certain mechanics
  • Poor Defensives: Not as tanky as you might expect, relying on immunities and self-healing, rather than damage reductions to stay alive
  • One-Dimensional Talents: Lack of meaningful options, as the majority of popular Retribution builds utilise a lot of the same talents to collect throughput

Best Retribution Races

It is totally fine here to choose your race based entirely on visuals, and one that you feel embodies the character you want to play. That being said, there are some useful buffs that certain races can provide to Retribution Paladin.

Races in World of Warcraft have very little impact on your DPS output, and you shouldn't worry about choosing the 'strongest' race unless you are taking part in extremely high-end content and pushing for world ranks.

RaceRacial NameEffect
HumanThe Human SpiritGain two percent increase to all secondary stats
Lightforged DraeneiLight's JudgmentCall down a strike of Holy Energy, dealing Holy Damage to enemies in a small radius (2.5-minute cooldown)
Blood ElfArcane TorrentPurge one beneficial effect from all nearby enemies and gain one Holy Power (2-minute cooldown)
TaurenWar StompStun up to five nearby enemies (2-minute cooldown)

Best Talents for Retribution Paladin

Retribution Paladin Basic Talent Tree Concepts

While it looks complicated at first, the Dragonflight talent trees make more sense once you understand them. On the left is the class tree, which is the same for all Paladin specialisations. On the right is the Retribution tree, where you will pick up the majority of your damaging abilities and talents.

For the class tree, you have very little wiggle room, as you need to collect as much of the damage output as you can. You will be left with one or two points that you can spend in the uppermost section, and it is here where you can decide upon what utility spells you choose to take. Good options are:

  • Blessing of Freedom, a crowd control removal for you or an ally
  • Cleanse, removing Poison and Disease from you or an ally
  • Lay on Hands, a large heal for you or an ally

To progress down through the tree, you must spend an appropriate amount of points in the upper sections. This stops you from simply taking everything at the bottom, where the strongest talents are situated.

Your interrupt; Rebuke, does not need to be talented in every situation, and if you find yourself fighting a raid boss that cannot be interrupted, then you can spend that point elsewhere.

Best Retribution Paladin Single-Target Talent Build

The build relies on spending as many Templar's Verdicts as possible and forgoes buffs to Divine Storm. If you find yourself encountering additional enemies, this build will not be particularly strong in damaging them, and you may want to consider the multi-target build instead, or you could swap Expurgation out for Tempest of the Lightbringer.

  • Talent Build Code: BYEAwtJ2KpR8WbGzhz/jy2AP8AAAAAAgIAiokWSiEQSSapkkElAAAAAAAIEJJplEkAtkkEloEA

Core talents you take include:

  • Crusade, empowering your Avenging Wrath with Haste and a stacking buff
  • Seraphim, providing a secondary stat buff at the cost of Holy Power
  • Of Dusk and Dawn, providing a buff at either zero or five Holy Power
  • Art of War, your auto attacks have a chance to reset Blade of Justice
  • Ashes to Dust, giving Art of War a chance to reset Wake of Ashes instead of Blade of Justice
  • Final Reckoning, a large burst of Holy energy, that empowers your damage against enemies struck
  • Divine Toll, fire Judgments out at all nearby enemies

A particular mention needs to go to Of Dusk and Dawn, and its follow-up, Seal of Order. These talents are so powerful you will always be taking them, but they do require some management. Both buffs are very powerful, and you should be trying to maintain both of them, by building up to five Holy Power and spending to come back down to zero. It is possible to permanently keep both of these up, and it is something you should be aiming to do.

Best Retribution Paladin Multiple-Target Talent Build

As mentioned above, Retribution suffers from being locked into most of its choices, and you will not have much room to play around, especially in the Spec tree. However, for Mythic Plus content, the open world, and raid fights with multiple enemies, this multi-target build will do just fine.


Key talent additions you will see here are:

  • Radiant Decree, replacing Wake of Ashes with a three Holy Power spending version on a low cooldown
  • Tempest of the Lightbringer, projecting your Divine Storm forwards
  • Sanctification, giving Consecration a chance to grant Holy Power

These talents will serve to empower your AoE damage, and you should find yourself using Divine Storm over Templars Verdict much more frequently. Radiant Decree hits very hard and should be used on cooldown while making use of your Empyrean Legacy procs to fire off free Divine Storms should not be overlooked.

How To Play The Rotation

The Basics

As a DPS spec, Ret relies on dishing out as much damage as possible, especially during your cooldowns such as Avenging Wrath. Its rotation focuses on one basic principle:

  • Generate and spend Holy Power, without wasting any

Your primary resource, Holy Power, works similarly to combo points, stacking to five, and being spent in groups of three. Your high damage abilities will cost Holy Power, so you want to try and be building as much of it as possible. It will not go over five, meaning you can waste Holy Power if you continue to build without spending.

Therefore, you need to master the skill of counting up to and down from five and make sure you avoid over-capping. It sounds easy, but during an encounter, with multiple mechanics happening and other cooldowns to manage, being comfortable with the core rotation is essential.

Your very basic rotation guide looks like this.

  1. Build Holy Power through your Crusader Strike, Judgment, Blade of Justice, Hammer of Wrath, and possibly your Wake of Ashes
  2. Avoid over-capping Holy Power by spending it with Templar's Verdict, Divine Storm and Radiant Decree
  3. Keep Consecration and Exorcism on cooldown, especially if there are multiple enemies around you

Now although this seems quite simple, the way you execute these rules will be heavily affected by extra abilities, the number of enemies, and talent selections. However, these will always remain your core principles of playing Ret to its maximum potential.

If there is one enemy present, spend Holy Power with Templar's Verdict, and if there are two, and you are not required to focus one down quickly, then use Divine Storm instead. These are your primary damage sources, and essentially the goal is to use as many of these spenders as possible during a fight.

Abilities that generate more Holy Power have a higher priority than those with lower generation, e.g. Blade of Justice is more important to use than Crusader Strike, unless you are going to overcap on your Holy Power.

Other Retribution Abilities

Avenging Wrath/Crusade is your major DPS cooldown. It provides you with extra damage for a limited amount of time, and you should be using it during periods when you won't have to be moving away from your target. Abilities with long cooldowns, such as Wake of Ashes and Execution Sentence, should normally be saved to line up this window, and any damaging trinkets should be synced up utilising a macro. It is vitally important to output as much damage as you can during this period, as it is where you are at your strongest.

When running Crusade, it is important to spend Holy Power abilities as quickly as possible, in order to build up your stacks.

Medium-length cooldowns such as Final Reckoning and Divine Toll should be combined, as they will synergise well and provide you with high burst damage. Ret excels when using all of its cooldowns together, so try to practice firing them one after another, before continuing with your basic rotation.

Retribution Paladin Macros

One of your most important macros is combining your trinket uses with your Avenging Wrath cooldown. This can be done by referencing the slot the trinket is currently equipped, either slot 13 or 14.

  • #showtooltip /cast Avenging Wrath /use 13

A useful macro for an aimed ability such as Final Reckoning is to allow it to cast at your cursor, rather than clicking and aiming the ground targeting effect.

  • #showtooltip /cast [@cursor] Final Reckoning

Another useful macro can be to cancel certain buffs. Blessing of Protection will make you fully immune to Physical Damage, but there may be times when you need to be hit by something and instead of right-clicking the buff, you can simply use this macro in place of the spell, and recast it to cancel the buff.

  • #showtooltip /cast Blessing of Protection /cancelaura Blessing of Protection

If you need to interrupt an enemy at a set time, having them as your focus will allow you to use this macro for an easy interrupt, rather than retargeting during the fight.

  • #showtooltip /cast [@focus,harm,nodead] [ ] Rebuke

As Paladin is such a strong utility class, there may be times you need to cast a certain helpful ability on an ally. Instead of targeting their player frame, you can instead use this macro in place of the spell, e.g. for Blessing of Freedom

  • /cast [@NAMEOFPLAYER] Blessing of Freedom

Best Stats And Gear For Retribution Paladin

While the majority of your best-in-slot gear will be found from either Mythic Plus Dungeons or the Vault of the Incarnates Raid, it can be helpful to prioritise certain pieces in order to maximise your character's power going into this endgame content.

Normal, Heroic, and Mythic dungeons will be able to provide the bulk of your gear, but you can also pick up some nice pieces from early Renown levels or from crafting. Here are the following recommendations for your Best in Slot Pre Raid gear.

SlotGear NameSourceBoss
HeadEarthshaker's Steel VisorHalls of InfusionKhajin the Unyielding
NeckUkhel Ancestry BeadsThe Nokhud OffensiveTeera
ShouldersNokhud Traditionalist's PauldronsThe Nokhud OffensiveBalakar Khan
BackCloak of Lost DevotionThe Azure VaultAzureblade
ChestCuirass of Irreparable MadnessThe Azure VaultUmbrelskul
WristsReinforced Fisherman's VambracesIskaara TuskarrRenown Level 14
HandsRelic Handler's GauntletsDragonscale ExpeditionRenown Level 12
WaistIllusion Breaker's WaistguardThe Azure VaultTelash Greywing
LegsDrake Hunter's GreavesThe Nokhud OffensiveGranyth
FeetOhn'ahran Plainswalker BootsMaruuk CentaurRenown Level 11
RingEternal Sentry's RingUldamanSentinal Talondras
RingUnstable Arcane LoopThe Azure VaultLeymor
TrinketBlazebinder's HoofRuby Life PoolsKokia Blazehoof
TrinketIdol of Trampling HoovesThe Nokhud OffensiveTeera
WeaponSargha's SmasherNeltharusWarlord Sargha

Equipping yourself in full item level 384 epic gear from Blacksmithing will undoubtedly be the best option for pure damage, but at the start of the expansion, these pieces will be very expensive and difficult to acquire in a timely manner. By all means, try to get as many as you can, but this section focuses on more easily obtainable gear.

If you can only choose one crafted item, then try to buy/craft an epic Two-Handed weapon, as weapons provide the biggest damage increase of any gear slot

Stat Priority

Alongside your primary stat; Strength, there are four secondary stats available.

  • Critical Strike, which increases the chance for extra effective attacks and heals
  • Haste, which increases your attack speed and decreases certain cooldowns
  • Mastery, which increases all Holy Damage done
  • Versatility, which increases damage and healing alongside reducing damage taken

As far as a general priority goes, you should be adhering to the following order:

  • Strength > Haste > Mastery ~= Critical Strike ~= Versatility

It is heavily recommended you learn to sim your character, using either Simulationcraft or Raidbots. These tools will be able to give you a very precise breakdown of all your gear and stats and allow you to develop a better understanding of your performance.

This is a VERY loose priority, as due to stat breakpoints their relative values will fluctuate. For all-around gameplay, however, Haste is a great stat for Ret, as it speeds up the spec and lowers the cooldown of your generating abilities such as Crusader Strike. Strength will always be your best stat, due to it empowering all of your abilities.

You should try to focus on equipping the highest item level gear in most of your slots, except Necks, Rings, and Trinkets. Here it is wiser to focus on acquiring your best stats, or the highest-performing Trinkets.

Gems, Enchants And Consumables

For customising your gear, there is nearly always the best option, and following on from the previous section on stat priority, you will normally want to increase your Strength followed by Haste. Buffing your bear with these add-ons and using the proper consumables has a gigantic impact on your damage, and they should not be overlooked if you are concerned about maximising your character's output.

Your best gems will be:

  • One Fierce Illuminated Diamond (Strength and Haste)
  • Multiple Keen Ysermerald (Haste and Mastery)

A new mechanic to Dragonflight, you need to remember to try and use the highest quality gems you can find, as this will increase their power.

Your best enchants are:

Gear SlotEnchant Name
WeaponFrozen Devotion
NeckTiered Medallion Setting
CloakWrit of Avoidance
ChestWaking Stats
WristsDevotion of Avoidance
LegsFierce Armor Kit
BootsPlainsrunner's Breeze
RingsDevotion of Haste

Your list of consumables is as follows:

  • Phial: Phial of Static Empowerment
  • Potion: Elemental Potion of Ultimate Power
  • Health Potion: Refreshing Healing Potion
  • Food: Hoard of Draconic Delicacies / Fated Fortune Cookie
  • Weapon Buff: Primal Whetstone / Primal Weightstone (depending on your weapon type)

The same as with gems, try to acquire the highest quality consumables you can, and remember to stock up before taking on any end-game content!

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