Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Hanala Balena Norey!

Jengo mango jadango flango sebulba!


(No this has no real meaning. I was winding down my evening by reading random Dark Legacy comics and this one, which happens to be one of my favorites, came up. I now return you to your regularly scheduled internet browsing.)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Still Alive

Travel Log, Week 2

The Ulduar campaign is still on hold. My participation in the Argent Tournament as a Champion of Stormwind and my other commitments have monopolized my time. My hope is that I will be dispatched to the Storm Peaks as part of a supplemental brigade next month.

My hunter has achieved level 31. He's got a bear for a pet, a wolf mount, and can Feign Death. A war with the centaur awaits in Desolace. I am accepting suggestions for the bear's name.

Across the way, the blogstorm has eaten Megs. The list of prominent bloggers that have fallen to this menace is ever growing. I fear that I might be next.

A pile of to-do's awaits me, back into the abyss. Good travels, and Light be with you.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Do Not Adjust Your Monitor

... it's not that I don't want to post, or that I have nothing to post, it's just that, well, I can't. I've got a ton of "stuff" to do at work - there's a company-wide training program being launched that I'm the pointman for, and I'm participating in the first class of the training, and I've got my master's stuff on the side.

It's not you, it's me.

Plus, I haven't so much as sniffed the air in Storm Peaks this week, so I can't speak to Ulduar raiding at all. I'm hoping to fit some quality time with the Titans in in May.

On another note, the comments for my FAQ seem to have bugged out. So, I'm going to break protocol and reply here to the last few.
I figured you'd find that!

If you're getting parried, you're "doing it wrong." Get behind the boss, he can't parry you there. If you're referring to fights where positioning isn't as negotiable (Heigan, for example), then just suck it up and get parried.

Strength grants bushels more DPS gains than equal amounts of expertise. Whatever expertise you gain naturally is fine, don't enchant or gem for it. If you go over 6.5% dodge reduction naturally, actively seek to shed expertise in favor of any other DPS stat(s), you'll likely see a total damage boost.

The meta in question for JC's is the Chaotic Skyflare Diamond. 21 crit > 21 agi and the meta req doesn't matter to a JC b/c he/she has access to prismatic gems. For a non-JC, however, using an extra blue/purple/green gem to make sure you have 2 blues for the CSD req would lose more DPS than would be gained from having 21 crit instead of 21 agi.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The 3.1 Ret FAQ

The following is an update from my 3.0 FAQ. Without any ado, the 3.1 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 PvE 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.

What follows is up to date as of 4/14/09. To find out what I've changed since the original posting, please refer to the change log at the end of this post.

To jump to a specific section or question, click the appropriate link below.

I. Talents and Skills
How should I spec?
What seal should I use?
What Judgement should I use?
What's my skill rotation?
What blessings do I want?

II. Gear, Enchants, and Glyphs
What stats should I gear for?
What major glyphs should I use?
What minor glyphs should I use?
What enchants should I get?
How should I enchant my weapon?
How should I socket my gear?
Should I stack spell power/intellect?
Should I use weapon A or weapon B?

III. Miscellaneous Questions
I'm running out of mana, what should I do?
What consumables should I use for raiding?
Is sword/board retribution viable?
Are there tools out there to help me make gear choices?
How'd you get so smart, Josh?


I. Talents and Skills
Q: How should I spec?
A: For PvE, anything resembling 0/5/52 is a good start. Include all those talents and you can’t go wrong. I recommend choosing from one of the following:
I personally run with 0/17/54, since I really love Divine Sacrifice and Divine Guardian. It makes me feel hybrid-y.

Q: What seal should I use?
A: For PvE in raids, Seal of the Martyr or Seal of Blood, depending on your faction. Other seals are 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, you have two options: switch to Command (if you have it) or Righteousness and play it safe; or, alternatively, heal/bandage yourself and watch your HP like a hawk. Do whichever you feel more comfortable with. Remember, dead players do zero DPS.

Q: What Judgement should I use?
A: That depends on your group. If you're the only paladin and there are mana-using DPS in the group (hunters, mages, warlocks, enhancement shaman, shadow priests, etc), use Judgement of Wisdom. If there are holy/prot paladins in your group, have one of them cover JoWisdom and use JoLight.

If you are in a paladin-heavy group with multiple rets, the ret paladin with the highest buffed AP value should use JoLight, and the rest should judge something else.

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 skill priority system, keeping everything on cooldown as much as possible. Here's your priorities, with conditionals in parentheses:

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

Crusader Strike in 3.1 is your highest DPS and DPM move, as it is relatively inexpensive, has a short-ish cooldown, and procs both your seal and Righteous Vengeance. Use it liberally. Judgement is a big source of damage and returns mana through JotW, so keep that high in your priorities as well. For AoE situations, this priority ranking changes, the above is for single target stationary DPS. For multi-target, emphasize Divine Storm and Consecration. For movement intense fights, drop Consecration behind Exorcism.

Please note that these aren't hard and fast rules. Pick which skills you use when intelligently and don't just blindly hit whatever's higher on this list. Your goal is to use as many of these abilities as you can in the time allowed (the boss's life span).

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

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II. Gear, Enchants, and Glyphs
Q: What stats should I gear for?
A: For raiding, you want to aim to stack hit to about 263 hit rating (which will yield 8% hit, the most needed for hitting a raid-level boss) and lots of strength. Past that, stack to about 214 expertise rating (which will yield 26 skill, or 6.5% dodge reduction) and then crit, haste, and armor penetration can come as they may. In list format:

1. Hit (to 8%, or ~263 rating)
2. Strength
3. Expertise (to 6.5%, or ~214 rating before racials - get to 26 expertise skill)
4. Crit
5. Agility
6. Haste
7. Armor Penetration
8. Attack Power

Please note that while haste is still ranked fairly low, it is by no means useless. Haste, crit, and agility are about equal, crit just barely edges out haste. Don't shun the haste gear. Also, the value of Armor Penetration scales upward as you stack it - the more you've got, the better it is.

Go forth and gear up.

Q: What major glyphs should I use?
A: Glyph of Judgement, Glyph of Consecration, and Glyph of Exorcism. You can choose to use Glyph of Seal of Blood instead of Glyph of Cons or Glyph of Avenging Wrath instead of Glyph of Exorcism, but you’ll likely get more mileage out of Judge/Cons/Exo. To sum it up, my recommendation is the following:

1. Glyph of Judgement
2. Glyph of Consecration
3. Glyph of Exorcism

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 hit if available for the slot and you're not hit capped. Otherwise, enchant for AP. Want it broken down by armor slot? Here ya go -
Head: Arcanum of Torment
Shoulders: Greater Inscription of the Axe
Back: Major Agility
Chest: Powerful Stats
Wrists: Greater Assault
Hands: Precision if not hit capped, Crusher if you are
Legs: Icescale Leg Armor
Feet: Icewalker if not hit capped, Greater Assault if you are

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. Make sure you fulfill your meta requirements.
If you are naturally hit capped (~263 rating before gems): Use a Sovereign Twilight Opal to fulfill your blue requirement. Use Inscribed Monarch Topaz for your yellow requirement. Then stack Bold Scarlet Ruby at will.
If you are not hit capped (<255 rating before gems): First, use a Vivid Forest Emerald to knock out both your blue and yellow requirements and get a bit more hit. If you capped your hit with that gem, enchants, and gear, stack Bold Scarlet Ruby. If you still need more hit, use Etched Monarch Topaz or Rigid Autumn's Glow to achieve your hit cap. If at any point you achieve your hit cap and still have sockets to fill, you may now use Bold Scarlet Ruby.
The reason the number 255 is used as the reference point is that if you have any more than 255 before you start accounting for gems and socket bonuses, then you wouldn't get the full value from the 8 points of hit rating on the Vivid Forest Emerald and you'd be better off gemming strength.

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).

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III. 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

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Change Log

Edited the stat weightings and changed "the rotation" slightly. Also changed the gem recommendations to account for the new stat weightings.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


A while back I had rolled an Orcish hunter alt. I decided to play him some this weekend. Now I'm thinking about pets and talents and such.

My ultimate plan is to be a survivalist hunter and to have a gorilla tank pet and a cat DPS pet. The gorilla I'm thinking of speccing like so, and the cat thusly. For my personal talent spec, I was thinking something like this (switching to something like this in 3.1). I don't know much about hunters and haven't really read up too carefully, but if the gorilla can keep the attention of stuff while I pew pew from a distance with my fun survival shots, and the cat can do fun fun DPS stuff while I put arrows in things, I think this'll be a good time.

Granted, this requires me a) finding time to play the character, and b) leveling him. We'll see if I actually manage to pull this off. I have wanted a high level hunter for a while...

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Elevator Pitch

Matticus asked the internet what everybody's taglines for their blogs are.

Mine's been the same since last summer: Retribution is at hand.

It gives an inkling as to what the blog is about. Which is, ya know, retribution.

A one-line description of what the blog is supposed to be about is this:
Guidance for and anecdotes from a raiding retribution paladin.

Have I stayed true to that blog credo? I think so.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

3.1's Coming, Did You Bring Your Coat?

... 'cuz it's raining talent specs!

Are you prepared for dual-specs? Are you prepared for free respecs? I am. The patch is likely coming out this month, and I've got my specs ready to go. As always, these are my own creations based on my preferences.

Ret PvE - 0/17/54
The spec I've settled on for raiding grabs Divine Guardian/Divine Sacrifice and all the DPS talents in the ret tree. The notable omission is Seal of Command, but I've resolved to just Sacred Shield/Art of War-FoL myself and watch my health instead of wasting a talent point on a seal I hardly ever use.

Ret PvP - 0/20/51
The spec I've settled on for PvP is much like the one I want to use in PvE. It has Divine Guardian/Divine Sacrifice to protect my teammates and make my Sacred Shields stronger, and it still doesn't have Seal of Command. What it does have is Vindication, Divine Purpose, and Improved Hammer of Justice at the expense of 3% haste, 1 minute off my wings cooldown (and the armor bypass during wings), and Improved Blessing of Might. This spec might well fall flat on its face, but I'm willing to give it a shot, and as always, I'm open to counter arguments. It won't matter much for me, since I hardly ever PvP anyway. My 2nd spec for dual spec will likely be...

Prot PvE - 7/58/6 (or 0/53/18)
Since the fine devs at Blizzard decided to make Spiritual Attunement a talent that prot probably will want to invest in, most prot paladins can't do their dream spec of 0/53/18 and grab Crusade and fill out all the major talents in prot. So, I did the next best thing in my eyes. I grabbed Seals of the Pure and Reckoning. The other option is only go 1/2 into Spiritual Attunement and run with a 0/53/18 spec. This would assume that the perma-Divine Plea, 5% mana return from heals, raid/party-buffed mana/5 restoration, and possibly Blessing of Sanctuary are enough to keep prot paladin mana going.

What are you speccing at the dawning of the age of Dual Specquarius?

Time Is Money, Friend!

I want to update. I really do.

I just can't.

Right now my time is spent making money. Work is kicking my a$$ right now, and I haven't even found time to play for any extended period this week.

Anyone wanna guest post about anything ret-related? I promise imaginary cookies and my undying respect.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Sometimes You Eat the Bar...

... and sometimes you kill Kel'Thuzad in 2.5 hours with minimal wiping.

Well, it took me an hour to put the raid together, but still, 2.5 hours for a PUG to clear Naxx-25? I dare say that's a fine accomplishment.

Successful PUG'ing at it's finest. We had some messy kills, but we chain-pulled the instance and I had no issues with any boss.

Not going to be able to do another one this week because of personal commitments, but I think I've started something good for the server. Epics for PUGs - a new charity, by Cathmor.

Friday, April 3, 2009

My Favorite Dilbert Comic

I know it doesn't have the same effect without Scott Adams' art, but I thought of this Dilbert comic strip today and thought I'd share -

Man: (on the phone) Is this the "Help Desk"?

Dogbert: (on the phone, wearing a headset) No, that group got reengineered out of existence. I'm the new "no help whatsoever desk." My job is to make sure you never call again.

Man: Can you tell me how to make a pie chart?

Dogbert: Crush your computer into small chunks, add flour and bake one hour. While you're waiting, read the free novel we sent you. It's a Spanish story about a guy named "Manual." Repeat the process until you get the desired result.

Man: (sitting in front of oven, manual in hand) This lost a lot in the translation...

Ahhhh, Dogbert. Cheeky puppy.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The 3.1 FAQ - Coming "Soon"™

I'm in the process of updating, editing, and reformatting my ret FAQ for both content (to account for the myriad of changes that 3.1 is bringing) and ease of use. One thing I'm definitely doing is adding a table of contents with hyperlinks so you can jump directly to the question you want.

If anyone has suggestions as to additions, improvements, changes, or omissions for the FAQ (current version for WoW 3.0 found here), please feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me directly.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I'm A Triple Threat

In a VoA-25 PUG the other day, I was #2 on damage done and DPS. This did not impress me.

What impressed me was that I was #1 on healing, #2 on damage taken, and #1 on over-healing.

I didn't throw more than 1 Flash of Light during the fight, so I'm guessing that healing was attributed to my Judgement of Light.

I knew Archavon was easy, but I didn't think he was so easy that the healers can let JoLight outheal them.

I wonder if it's possible to kill Archavon with no heals aside from Judgement of Light, Divine Storm, Mark of Blood, and Vampiric Embrace (or is it Vampiric Touch? Whichever one is the heal-y one)...

Someone get me a well geared tank, a blood DK and a shadow priest. I have an experiment to run.

EDIT: Maybe a comp like this - Judgement of Light, Mark of Blood, Leader of the Pack, Healing Stream Totem, Vampiric thingy, Divine Storm, Sacred Shield, and Art of War'ed Flash of Light to keep the tanks up. Prot paladin main tank, feral druid switches to bear when the main tank gets picked up.

I think it's just crazy enough to work.

WoW Headhunter

Currently, my profession (in the real-world, not in Azeroth) is mainly in recruiting. Recruiters are commonly referred to as headhunters. They "hunt" for qualified individuals to add to the headcount at companies in need. When I was leading a guild, I also did my own recruiting.

That said, I think you'll know why I'm interested in the new website, WoW Headhunter. I took a quick jaunt through their account setup and guild search functions - if it can reach critical mass with enough guild seekers and guilds setting up on the site and actively using it, I think it might be a very, very useful resource.

On the guild-seeker side, it gives you a survey to determine your gamer-type, akin to a personality profiler. It separates gamers into the following categories:

  • Deliberate/Reckless
  • Competitive/Sociable
  • Serious/Fun
  • Veteran/Learner
Once you have that completed, you can search for guilds by faction or server (or both!). The search function will display how closely the guild's general vibe matches up with your profile. The guild's "personality" is aggregated from all guild member profiles in the WoW Headhunter database. Having your entire guild set up accounts on the site, list as members of your guild, and fill out the personality profile will help potential recruits find the best fit for their personal needs.

If a guild leader wants to register and tell me how it is from the recruitment side, I'd love to hear how it works. I don't want to set up a fake guild nor do I want to represent my current guild on the site, so I can't really give an impression from that angle.

The site has potential. If you're seeking a guild or seeking recruits, give it a try and give the site feedback! This might bloom into a useful recruiting tool.

The Mailbag: Gemming and Socket Bonuses

Tomas writes:

Hey Josh,

I was looking at your best in slot guide and noticed that Bold Scarlet Ruby was listed for the majority of gem slots... Problem is that many of the gem slots were Blue or Yellow... Thus you need to put something else in for the socket to work properly.

My response:
The only gem slot that requires a gem of that type be socketed in it is a meta slot. You can socket a red into a blue, a green into a red, and a purple into a yellow to no ill effect. The only thing that is effected by mismatching gem color to socket color is the acquisition of the socket bonus.

For example, I have a Bold Scarlet Ruby in my Spiked Titansteel Helm. The ruby is a red gem, but the socket color is blue. I still get the 16 strength bonus from the gem. However, if I were to socket, say, a Sovereign Twilight Opal (purple gem, counts for both red and blue) into that socket instead, I would gain 8 strength and 12 stamina from the gem AND 8 crit rating from the socket bonus.

I assure you, you can put a red gem into a yellow or blue socket and still benefit from that gem's effects.

Tomas' rebuttal:
Thanks for the reply, I was probably a bit unclear. What I meant was that if you put a Bold Scarlet Ruby into a non-red slot you're not going to get the socket bonus, missing out on the free stats even though the gem itself will work properly.

So what you're saying is that a paladin should forgo the socket bonus and always gem STR? Looking at your example of the Spiked Titansteel helm; is loosing 12 stamina AND 8 Crit worth the extra 8AP? In essence you're saying STR is so good you should gem STR exclusively regardless of slot color and missing slot bonuses?

My riposte:
8 strength is not 8 AP.

First, 1 point of strength is 2 points of AP.

Secondly, Divine Strength and Blessing of Kings combine to make 1 point of strength worth more than just 2 AP. 1 point of strength, after Divine Strength, is 1.15. Then after BoKings it's 1.265. So that 1 point of strength after talents and buffs is actually 2.53 AP.

So, what I'm saying is that the 20.24 AP you'll get from those extra 8 points of strength outweighs 8 crit rating and 12 stamina. You get enough stamina on your gear to survive any raid splash damage you'll encounter, so the 12 stam from another purple gem is moot, it doesn't do anything for you. The 8 crit rating pales in comparison to the 20 AP you could get instead.
Hopefully that clears up any questions regarding the current state of ret gemming. Most people are hard-pressed to find a socket bonus worth gemming for, since it'll have to be worth more to a ret paladin's DPS than 20.24 AP, which is the amount that can be expected 8 strength will add to a ret paladin's AP pool in a raid by using a Bold Scarlet Ruby instead of an Inscribed Monarch Topaz or Sovereign Twilight Opal.

Let's look at a comprehensive example. Using the Spiked Titansteel Helm, adding a Bold Scarlet Ruby would give us 40.48 AP and would not activate the socket bonus. Adding a Sovereign Twilight Opal would give us 20.24 AP and 13.2 stamina (modified by Blessing of Kings as well) and would activate the socket bonus, giving us a "free" 8 crit rating. So, the options here are:
  • 40.48 AP
  • 20.24 AP, 8 crit, and 13.2 stamina
Stamina isn't a DPS stat, so we ignore it for our purposes in this exercise. So, you're comparing +20.24 AP to +8 crit rating. The differential is heavily in the AP's favor.

"But Josh, you used a biased example! Purple gems are inferior for DPS stats because of the stamina!"

Fine, let's pretend our Spiked Titansteel Helm were the same except the socket is yellow instead of blue. So, we'll compare an Inscribed Monarch Topaz to the Bold Scarlet Ruby. The options:
  • 40.48 AP
  • 20.24 AP and 16 crit (8 from the gem, 8 from the socket bonus)
+20.24 AP for the ruby, +16 crit for the topaz. I'm still going with the ruby, since a point of AP is worth more to a ret paladin than a point of crit you're getting more AP bang for your buck. For me to consider gemming anything other than pure strength aside from meta gem activation, I need to get a return from the socket bonus that is flat-out greater than something like 16 AP better than 80% of the AP I would gain otherwise. It'll have to be one whopping socket bonus - 8 rating of any secondary stat or 6 of any primary stat is the highest socket bonus I've seen on gear to date.
EDITS: Thank you to Zebra for the clarifications in comments, the above passage has been edited in accordance with his notes.

Of course, this could all change in 3.1. Depending on how things shake out with the mana situation and the redistribution of ret damage sources, I might be recommending Etched Monarch Topaz, Accurate Monarch Topaz, or, hell, maybe even Rigid Autumn's Glow in a few weeks. As for right now, though, strength is the way to go.

Thanks for the question, Tomas!