Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Wrath 3.0 Level 80 Pre-Raid Ret FAQ

I'm not kidding when I say there are people out there who still don't quite understand what the flux they're doing when it comes to retribution. So, here's a ret primer in FAQ format. Feel free to submit additional commonly asked questions in the comments, I'll add them and the answers as I deem fit.

Also, the title of this impossibly long, so in the future I'm referring to it as my "3.0 Ret FAQ." Hope none of you mind.

Talents and Skills
Q: How should I spec?
A: For PvE, 0/10/61. For PvP, 0/20/51 or something like that. See my level 80 spec guide for more "advanced" options. Take note - I'm not a PvP expert, so the PvP suggestion is my admittedly novice opinion.

Q: What seal should I use?
A: For PvE in raids, Seal of the Martyr or Seal of Blood, depending on your faction. Seal of Command is reserved for times when the kickback damage would kill you. For Burning Crusade veterans, an example would be Prince Malchezaar in Karazhan. For Wrath newbies, if you see your HP dropping dangerously low more than once or twice in an encounter, switch to Command and play it safe. Dead players do zero DPS.

For PvE solo or PvP, Seal of Command is your choice.

Q: What's my skill rotation?
A: Retribution doesn't have a set rotation like a rogue or a mage might. Retribution normal functioning is more akin to a shadow priest's priority skill system, keeping everything on cooldown as much as possible. Here's your priorities, with conditionals in parentheses:

Judgement > (Hammer of Wrath) > Crusader Strike > Divine Storm > Consecration > (Exorcism) > (Holy Wrath)

Hammer of Wrath is the most DPS after Judgement, hit it as soon as it comes up and keep doing so whenever possible, providing it doesn't interfere with Judgement. Judgement is a ton of damage and returns mana, keeping your resources flowing. Crusader Strike is more damage for less mana than Divine Storm, hence why it is ahead of Divine Storm. For AoE situations, this priority ranking changes, the above is for single target DPS. For multi-target, emphasize Divine Storm and Consecration.

Q: What blessings do I want?
A: Might > Kings > Wisdom > Sanctuary

Gear, Enchants, and Glyphs
Q: How should I gear?
A: Strength first and foremost. Strength increases all of your DPS abilities and scales the best out of all stats for ret paladins. Stack as much as you can. For raiding, you want to aim to stack hit as well, to about 262 rating (which will yield 8% hit, the most needed for hitting a raid-level boss), and expertise to 26 skill to eliminate dodges. Past that, crit is great, and then haste and armor penetration can come as they may. In list format:

  1. Strength
  2. Hit (to 8%, or ~262 rating)
  3. Expertise (to 6.5%, or ~214 rating before racials - get to 26 expertise skill)
  4. Crit (or equal amounts of Agility)
  5. Haste
  6. Armor Penetration
Go forth and gear up.

Q: What major glyphs should I use?
A: Glyph of Judgement and Glyph of Consecration for sure. For the 3rd major glyph spot, take your pick of Glyph of Avenging Wrath, Glyph of Hammer of Wrath, and Glyph of Crusader Strike. For further discussion on glyphs, see my post on examining retribution glyph options.

Q: What minor glyphs should I use?
A: As long as you include Glyph of Sense Undead as one of them, it doesn't matter. I recommend using Glyph of Lay on Hands in one of your other minor slots.

Q: What enchants should I get?
A: Enchant for AP. Certain enchants, like Icewalker to boots, are exceptions, but for the most part, spring for AP. AP to bracers and gloves, Arcanum of Torment, Icescale Leg Armor, etc.

Q: What about my weapon, how should I enchant that?
A: If you've got the cash, Berserking. If not, Massacre or Greater Savagery, depending on how much you're looking to spend.

Q: How should I socket my gear?
A: Meta = Relentless Earthsiege Diamond. Past that, fulfill the meta requirements with orange/purple gems that contain strength, and then stack strength. If you don't have a bunch of bold red gems, you did it wrong. As of the latest version of this FAQ, the best gems you can use are the above meta, one Sovereign Twilight Opal for the blue requirement, one Inscribed Monarch Topaz for the yellow requirement, and as many Bold Scarlet Ruby as money can buy.
If you have an Enchanted Tear, you may use the RED, Tear, and socket Bold Scarlet Ruby in the rest of your slots.
*Please note* - the meta gem recommendation above does not apply to Jewelcrafters. Their prismatic gems allow them to use a different meta to greater effect. For further discussion, see my post on meta gems.

Q: Should I stack spell power/intellect/(insert caster stat here)?
A: No. Stick to the melee DPS plate. On occasion, you can branch out into the hunter mail or the rogue leather. Don't you dare put on that elemental shaman mail. I will find you and beat the sense back into you.

Q: Should I use weapon A or weapon B?
A: Whichever one has the higher DPS, unless there is a huge difference in damage range. If the DPS is the same, pick the one with the higher top damage. For example, The Jawbone has the same DPS and a higher top damage than Death's Bite, therefore pick The Jawbone if you're choosing between the two (discounting their other stats).

Miscellaneous Questions
Q: I'm running out of mana, what should I do?
A: First step is make sure you're using Divine Plea on every cooldown. Second step is to ensure that your Judgements are not missing by having a good amount of +hit. Third step is use a mana potion. Fourth step is to cut back on Consecration if you're spamming it. Past that, if you're still running low on mana, you're doing something wrong. Parse your damage on an encounter with Recount (I recommend Patchwerk in Naxx as a good test subject), screenshot the skill split, and seek professional help.

Q: What consumables should I use for raiding?
A: Dragonfin Filet, Flask of Endless Rage. Runic Mana Potion if you are worried about mana, Potion of Speed if you are not.

Q: Is sword/board retribution viable?
A: Not if you want to keep up with the rogues. Get a two-hander and smash something with it.

Q: Are there tools out there to help me make gear choices?
A: There sure are. Rawr and Redcape's Ret DPS Spreadsheet are here to help. You can find both in the EJ Wrath Ret Thread.

Q: How'd you get so smart, Josh?
A: By frequenting forums and think-tanks like Elitist Jerks, Maintankadin, and

Change log:

  • Edited the section on skill rotation, moving Consecration up in the cycle.
  • Updated the gearing section to reflect the correct and most up-to-date information regarding the hit and expertise caps.
  • Added Greater Savagery to the gearing section as a budget enchant recommendation.
  • Added additional commentary on meta gems and general gemming to the gearing section.


  • Edited the gear section, changing the recommendations for enchants from strength to AP (since there are no WotLK strength enchants - thanks Fedaykin98 for the heads-up!).


  • Edited the glyphs section, swapping the prioritization of Glyph of Consecration with Glyph of Crusader Strike. Major glyphs for ret should be Glyph of Judgement, Glyph of Consecration, and then either Glyph of Hammer of Wrath, Glyph of Crusader Strike, or Glyph of Avenging Wrath.


  • Edited the gems section to account for the inclusion of Inscribed Monarch Topaz and Sovereign Twilight Opal in the game.


  • Edited the weapon enchant section to account for the update to Berserking (now 5% armor reduction instead of 25%).
  • Added Enchanted Tear to the gems section.
  • Added additional clarification for glyphs.
  • Added additional clarification for weapon choices.


  • Clarified language regarding Hammer of Wrath prioritization.
  • Made changes to the gem section to account for Enchanted Tear's prismatic nature.


kudia said...

Nice post overall. Covers alot of stuff the new PVE rets will need to know.

If you have questions about PVP ret, let me know. Thats pretty much all I do.

Ratshag said...

Very helpful. Thankee.

Doop said...

i am of the opinion that you should max out sanctified seals for your pvp spec or you might get your seals dispelled. lol

Morendin said...

Sadly, scrolls got a swift kick in the jewels with 3.0.3:

you can only have one total scroll applied

I recall testing and finding after the pre-WotLK patch that scrolls now get removed(and of course no longer stack with) any buff that provides that stat: IE, SoE totem= no str/agi scrolls, devo aura= no prot scrolls.

I'll confirm when I get home from work

Josh said...

2/3 Sanctified Seals + 3/3 Stoicism = 96% resistance to dispel on seals. It's not only virtually undispel-able, it also keeps it on the list of stuff that Purge and Dispel Magic can target. If you go 3/3 Sanctified Seals, you get 100% resistance, and then Purge will ignore it. With the setup I suggested, Purge will likely get a "resist" message. It's a tricky way of protecting your other buffs.

Please do, and let me know! I hadn't noticed that scrolls don't stack with certain buffs - if that's so, I need to do a quick edit to this post.

Morendin said...

for soloing, I recommend int scrolls unless your gear is truly terrible, in T6, I was still absolutely destroying pulls of 1-3 nonelites with SoM+JoL, but feedback+mob damage went from "use your AoW procs, nub" to casting a single HL after multipulls, and the int scales your mana supply very well in that environment(many short fights, frequently OoC running to next mob), because Replen+Plea are a larger factor when not continuously attacking.

also, your stat priority while soloing changes, because with short fights(assuming you have a functional set of gear), increasing your attacks by 100 damage apiece tends to just increase your overkill by 100 rather than killing the mob 1 attack sooner*

Instead, your priority is:
raw weapon DPS
Expertise to cap
Hit to cap

INT to taste(this is soloing, so absolute DPS is less important than minimizing downtime and not driving yourself insane managing mana)

haste and arpen are so bad in this VERY limited situation that they have virtually zero value

/end offtopic rant

Morendin said...

I remember thinking devo aura was eating my prot scroll and Nun's SoE totem ate my agi scroll, but that was testing on or right after Felmyst on our first raid night right after the patch, and I don't think I noticed the scrolls eating each I'm hoping I was just in a hurry.

I'm REALLY hoping I was just in a hurry, actually, I have something like 100 agi/str/prot scrolls rotting on an alt ><

Josh said...

Thanks for the insight, Morendin. You're probably right that changing the stat priority for solo'ing would be wise, but leveling/solo'ing is not really what most people care to optimize for. Grinding is easy enough, performing well in a group is the tough part. This FAQ's main priority is to get people educated enough to do well in a group/raid setting.

Solo'ing is so easy that people have leveled up naked. I'm not really too worried about people getting their solo'ing gear in order.

Morendin said...

It mattered for me after Moshne started dropping hints last wednesday(when I was 73) that we were short tanks and it would be nice not to bench 8+ people because we only had enough 80 tanks for one 10man :D

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure I agree with the priority set for raiding on stats. The following are the reasons. Your system works perfect if Hit is already capped, because strength doesn't add damage if your missing your target. As far as raw DPS increase Hit affects it best until capped.

Also due to the nature of vengeance it is a priority to have active at all times. The only way to accomplish this is with a decent amount of crit. I would suggest at minimum 20% for constant uptime on vengeance. As much as crit should not be prioritized over strenth it almost has to be when crit is below 15-20%. It's worth notning that this is not likely to happen, even at 80. The reason I give those numbers though is because at 15-20% crit you should float at or above 30% in raid which should get you your constant uptime on vengeance.

Josh said...

Even if hit isn't capped, you will get more damage out of a quantity of strength than you will from the same itemization allocation of hit in the current 3.0 environment. That is why it is ranked ahead of hit. I personally recommend capping hit ASAP for the boost in mana - missing with Judgement can put a big dent in mana flow.

I have absolutely no worries about Vengeance up-time. Between base crit, Conviction, Sanctified Seals, and Heart of the Crusader, you have about 16% crit with no gear on against a judged target. Wearing quest gear, you should at least be in the low 20's, even if it doesn't show on the character sheet (b/c Heart of the Crusader doesn't change your character sheet crit rating). So, in short, don't worry about Vengeance up-time, and I contend that crit is ranked correctly.

Anonymous said...

Josh, is the RED meta gem really still best? I am at work and do not want to look up what the skyflare diamond is called, but it used to be +spellcrit +3% increase spellcrit dmg. Now with the unifying crit, isn't this a better option providing more crit than its equivalent in agil?

Suicidal Zebra said...

[Chaotic Skyflare Diamond]?

Good Question. On the face of it you should very much be looking to grab CSD over RED.

The only issue I can think of is if you have only one Blue Socket you want to activate over all of your items (pretty unlikely given at least one will be on your Tier set). In this situation you have two options:

1) CSD - 2 Blue Gems required. Socket with 2*(+10 Str/+15 Sta)


2) RED - 1 Yellow 1 Blue. Socket with (+10 Str/+10 Crit Rating) and (+10 Str/+15 Sta).

The equation boils down to 27 Crit Rating vs 23.1 (kings) Agility +10 Crit Rating. In such a scenario RED is better, but at all other times CSD is better.

So, to sum up: If you need only 1 (or fewer) Blues for your gear's socket bonus's RED is better. In all other cases (that I can think of) CSD is better.

Vndead said...

I want to comment on the ret rotation, mostly ... for PVP.

#1, hammer > everything else assuming you are not running mob to mob. otherwise, just don't use hammer at all, not worth it on little mobs since a judgement will take care of it and get mana back. So yes, if you move from mob to mob, judge is higher priority.

hammer is giving me around 3-4k per hit and that is almost 100% of the time finishing off the opponent.

A crit Judgement giving me max around less than 2k. That will not finish off the opponent and good chance that he'll do something to recover the health above 20% or shield up/vanish..or whatever. So under 20% = hammer first.

#2, starting rotation with CS because its CD is lower and you get back mana from Judgement so CS>judgement in the first iteration.

So after the first iteration, use whichever is off CD as:
judgement with stun>(hammer)>judgement>CS>DS

#3, crit in PVP will be the top priority. We don't have that much time in PVP since we are ALWAYS chasing other people (yes, even warrior wanna get out of our range) and we need more burst to win as a ret. I usually aim for at least 35% crit then start adding str/ap.

Pike said...

This post makes me wish I had a high level ret paladin. Very informative and well written. I will send any questioning paladins I see your way =)

Anonymous said...

Hrm, where to start?
First off, the best libram in the game curently procs off DS, I would prioritize it above CS.
For major glyphs, judgment is required, crusader strike is a very minimum improvement to mana efficiency, consecrate is vastly superior, for the 3rds slot, command for pvp, avenging for pve.
For meta gems, the 21 crit gem is better, you need 1 additional blue gem however if you have a piece of armor that gives a dps boost and requires a blue socket you will lose 8 str, 21 agi and gain 6 "insert dps stat" 12 stam and 21 crit, may be worth it based on your max life / sockets in your gear.
Armor pen. is terrible as it does not boost any of our magic damage, agility is better :P

Josh said...

The Venture Co. libram procs off DS, yes, but you're still going to get more damage if you prioritize CS.
Glyphs is a "season to taste" scenario, the Crusader Strike glyph is seen by many to be great. You provide nothing to the contrary - give me numbers.
Meta gems - I worked all this out in another post, give it a read. I stand by my Relentless Earthsiege statement.
Yes armor pen is probably the worst physical DPS stat for a ret paladin right now, but that's why it's at the bottom. You mention agility - it's right next to crit on my list.

Spankandgank said...

Thanks man, this has really helped me out alot, short, quick and simple ;-)

Life saver, time to ridicule some bitches in PVE!

Chris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Doesnt DS proc your seal? So wouldnt DS do more damage then CS because of that?

Kwin said...

Very nice site. New 80 Ret. pally who came over from the Hunter side.
Information is easy to understand and very helpful.