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 Retpaladin.com.

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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.


Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for your time and effort. For a relatively new Ret. Pally like me, your insight is invaluable in helping me learn the class. Especially with a patch when I was just getting used to what I was doing :)


Tinuviel said...

Great article - my little ret pally is 78 so this will help a lot. I notice Elitist Jerks also have a good post for ret pallies. Now I need some help on Prot spec for my off-spec. Any suggestions?

For your hunter - check out my post over on my blog Steady Shot - "Survival Hunter - Round 3 - Patch 3.1" for suggested spec and shot rotations. There is also an article up there for a BM off-spec suggestion.

You can find me at http://wowwhimsy.wordpress.com/

Happy WOWing Tinuviel

Josh said...

I live to serve.

Prot? I'll leave that to the prot experts - check out Maintankadin. I personally threw together a 0/53/18 spec for my 2nd spec. If you want anything more detailed than that, I can develop something, but
1. It won't be as detailed as this post, and
2. Honorshammer, Ferraro, or some other paladin blogger will probably beat me to it.

Thanks for the heads up about your Survival post! I'll check it out.

Alex - aka Firelight said...

I thought Blizzard were making haste and Armor Pen a lot more attractive in this patch? Buffing it?

Josh said...

They did. They just buffed them from "totally sucking" to "almost as good as crit." The buffs brought them into relevance, but they're still not favored over hit or strength.

Lochagos said...

The glyph of consecration is just about mana conservation, right? It might be time to leave it behind for the glyph of avenging wrath - it was oodles of fun in the one heroic I ran last night.

Josh said...

It's about mana conservation, damage AND rotational smoothing. Plus, if you ditch it, you'll want to add Glyph of Seal of Blood somewhere.

The one I'd replace would be Glyph of Exo, and I wouldn't want to replace that with Glyph of AW either.

Firespirit said...


Thanks for the time and effort, as usual.

I am a relatively new reader, and I love the blog.

I have over 65 days /played, and I never started reading "guides" until very recently. I have to say (whilist being as humble as I can be) that through just playing the game, I have figured out most of this stuff. My guild thought I was wacko, so I went looking for the "professionals."

Eventually I found this blog, and I now read it regularly :)

Anywho, I guess the reason I am posting, is that I still am not totally convinced that hit is so much better than strength at this point. Combined with the fact that I cannot seem to get the decent hit drops I need to be capped (I currently have 207 hit), I am going to wait to re chant/gem my gear to get the hit. I'd be sacrificing so much DPS just to go +hit.

We did Ulduar Flame Leviathan last night, I was the one flung up to destroy the turrets. I can say that I have noticed that dodges either seemed to go up, or the RNG was being unhappy with me.

In any event, I was quite literally missing under 1% of the time before patch. Lets see what happens after patch. I'll let you know!

Orgauth said...

Regarding the subject of hit-capping: Shooting for 263 is the logical thing to do, but I like my alternative better:

Shoot for 231 hit rating (7.03%, 1 point of rating extra), with Crusher/Greater Assault enchants on the gloves/boots. Then, acquire identical gloves/boots and enchant them with Precision/Icewalker, which just so happens to be 32 hit rating combined (recall that 32.86 hit rating is 1%). Use the AP gloves/boot if you have Heroic Presence (via a Draenei in your raid group) active to cover the remaining 1%, otherwise swap for the +hit enchanted gear to cover the gap.

An alternative to this method is to tailor foods (Worg Tartare vs. Dragonfin Filet - hit vs. STR) dependent on the situation, but it is a more expensive hit to your DPS (76 AP loss from enchants, vs. 101 AP loss from +40 STR food - considering talents and BoK).

Orgauth said...

Also, engineering goodies are improved now, and may be considered for PvE use.

Josh said...

Redcape and others at EJ have weighted the stats for ret, and I tend to trust them. They weight hit and strength about even. Strength is a slightly larger straight-up increase, but hit returns mana as well and lends more consistentcy in damage.

I'm not saying you should regem, I'm just saying that's how I'd gem if I were doing it over.

Anonymous said...

If I remember correctly, wasn't there another metagem that is actually better than the Relentless Earthsiege if you're a jewelcrafter and have access to prismatic gems for the socket requirement fullfilments?

Josh said...

Yes, but my guide FAQ doesn't take into account profession-only items.

Anonymous said...

Ah, I see.
And I forgot to say thanks and well done on providing yet another guide for us not-always retadins as we move into Ulduar ^^.

Firespirit said...


Just a follow up on the hit/str comment I left:

We went into Ulduar last night, and got our rear's handed to us on a silver platter. I am finally glad to be able to wipe on a raid boss, after months of naxx :)

Anywho, that is another issue all together.

I went in and used + Str food, and + Hit food. I have to agree with what you followed up with. They were about even in DPS gains.

I think I will make it a point to pick up some more hit gear, but for now, I think I am ok.

Ret's gear, I think we will find out over the next bit of content, will continue to be about balancing Hit and gains to Str.

Anonymous said...

So let's talk about Expertise and all the "misses" we can have from not being soft capped. I rarely see you talk about the dos loss from being dodged or parried. How should players address the expertise cap if their gear is lacking?

Hanover ~ Frostmane

Siha said...

Re the meta gem issue - for those of us who _are_ Jewelcrafters, what's the meta in question? :)

Also - as always, thanks for all your hard work so we don't have to!

One area where I've always had a question is: how does one balance weapon damage vs. the stat stick aspect? How much is the DPS of a weapon worth, in terms of overall contribution to character DPS, compared with the stats it has on it? Is it worth taking a weapon with significantly inferior stats (agi vs str, for instance) if it's got higher DPS? How big a boost does the DPS have to be before it's worth it? Et cetera. :)

Anonymous said...

@Swift Retribution...

Hi, the effect of "Swift Retribution" stuck up with another paladin aura?

Sorry for my english and thx.

Felkan said...

I'm leveling a ret pally to kill time between raids. What should my stat priority be while leveling?