Gather 'round the fire everyone, Uncle Josh has something on his mind and he wants to share it with all of you.
Lots of people regard retribution as the "strongest" paladin spec for PvP. That's great, I'm happy for them. However, there are several different flavors of retribution in PvP, so just saying "PvP Ret" when asked what your spec is tells me abso-freaking-lutely nothing. Do you have Divine Strength? Improved Hammer of Justice? Eye for an Eye? Sanctified Judgement? Stoicism? You can't have 'em all, and there are distinct differences in play-style that come along with the choices you make regarding PvP talent selection.
If we think of arena PvP like a party, and your spec and gear as the outfit you wear to the party, I can put this into perspective for you.
(And before you ask, no, I know nothing about picking out clothing, I'm a hetero guy, this is not my strong suit.)
((Wow, that was a bad pun.))
Determine your moodWhen choosing your talents for PvP, you first must decide whether you're conservative or daring. Do you want to press real real hard and cause someone to panic? Or do you want to protect yourself better and exert a modicum of control over the situation? If you go for the FEAR PANIC DESTROOOOYYY route, you generally give up most of your "defensive" talents, like Improved Hammer of Justice, Stoicism, and possibly Improved Righteous Fury, in favor of grabbing Divine Strength. The boost to AP you get from 10% more strength lends itself to playing hard and fast, living on the edge, and depending on your heavy blows forcing the other team to play defensive and stay on the defensive. Ladies, this would be the fashion equivalent of wearing that low-cut top and impossibly short skirt.
On the other hand, if you choose the DON'T HURT ME! route, you need to sacrifice your wonderful strength scaling in favor of the deep-ish protection talents, but you gain stun resistance, dispel resistance, and shorter cooldown hammers. With those at your disposal, you can be more disruptive through increased control over your own character (you don't get stunned, dispelled, or dead-ed as quick!) and your enemies (2x as many Hammer of Justices means you can bash d'em gud). This is your long skirt, leaves tons to the imagination look.
Dress how you feelOk, now that you've decided whether you're a psycho-crazy berserking maniac (daring dresser) or a pick-your-spots control freak (conservative party-goer), you can refine your ret tree to match. If you went with the prot talents, you have 41 talents to use in the ret tree, and no more - you need to use them carefully. If you went with Divine Strength, you can be a little looser with your ret tree, and can spend anywhere from 41 to 56 points in the tree.
There are several talents that are must-have for PvP - Improved Judgement, Conviction, Seal of Command, Vindication, Sanctity Aura, Two-hand Spec, Vengeance, Repentance, at least 2/3 Sanctified Seals, and Crusader Strike. That doesn't add up to 41 talent points. You've still got to choose between talents like Eye for an Eye, Improved Sanctity Aura, Sanctified Judgement, Fanaticism, Crusade, and others. However, all the "other" talents carry tendencies that should be considered in light of your philosophy.
For example - Eye for an Eye is a reactionary/defensive talent. For the zerg tactics that go along with the berserker route of Divine Strength builds, it would not fit. You're looking to kill someone before Eye for an Eye really has time to be a factor - it's added extra damage to punish people when they crit you, but if you're zerging them you're trying to prevent them from casting and putting them on their face before they have time to set up that crit combo.
Improved Sanctity Aura, on the other hand, is 2% extra damage to everyone in your group, yourself included. So, when you're trying to squeeze every ounce of damage out of your team in a short period to achieve a zerg kill, Imp. Sanctity Aura might provide that extra "oomph." See where I'm going with this?
AccessorizeNow that you've got your talents all hammered out (get it? Hammer? 'Cuz we're paladi... ah forget it), you need to match your shoes to your outfit. If you're looking to achieve a zerg kill, then your gear should reflect this - mix in PvE gear. If you have access to it, armor penetration gear in addition to pure raid gear (with high strength values) will help you in your quest to pummel an opponent before they can blink.
Wearing an extremely small amount of PvP gear with a conservative approach would be counter-productive. With a 0/20/41 control build, you might have to weather a spike or two before you get your opportunity to go for a kill. You'll want to wear a good amount of PvP-oriented gear with high(er) stamina and resilience. Mixing in a piece or two of PvE gear doesn't hurt though! Even though you have to weather a few blows before you deliver your knock-out punch, when that opportunity presents itself, you want to have some strength behind it. So, an exceptional piece of armor pen gear or a belt of sheer awesome are worth using instead of the stock PvP gear. Think of it as adding some slink to your outerwear - just don't overdo it.
So, are you a flashy dresser or do you take a more conservative approach? Zerg 'em down or pick your spot? Chaos or control?