I've talked briefly about retribution paladins in previous posts and the gist of it was that I greatly enjoyed my ret pally in Burning Crusade, after abandoning him in classic WoW with an indeterminate spec. I'll be damned if I remember what my first spec looked like. All I know is that back then I didn't quite grasp the concepts of tank-healer-dps and as a paladin I would assume all 3 roles in 5-man dungeons.
In Burning Crusade they changed retribution a lot and the spec finally became viable for PvE. That's when I specced right into retribution and leveled my paladin to 70. From what I remember, those were fun times. I really enjoyed playing him and leveling was very quick.
The Wrath of the Lich King came and paladins had a brief period when they outshone every other class by being overpowered. During those times I leveled to about 77 as paladin and then got the notion to try as protection from there on. This also coincided with some retribution nerfs during which the change which pissed me the most occured: they added a cast timer to Exorcism. I was pissed because I always used Exorcism as a ranged opener. At that point I imagined that most likely I won't be playing my paladin as retribution again.
More recently I decided to get my prot paladin the best gear money can buy so he could start tanking heroics. The problem was that there were pieces of equipment that simply couldn't be bought or crafted so I had to run heroics in order to get emblems so I could finish equipping him so he could run more heroics. I tried some regular (non-heroic) dungeons and even though with the new gear my paladin's stats were pretty good, I didn't feel confident enough to run heroics. So I got this idea of running heroics as retribution instead.
Having decided to give retribution another try, I ended up being pleasantly surprised at how ret plays. My gear was really crappy, most of it being from leveling quests. However, since the dungeon finder allowed me to run heroics, I didn't hesitate to jump right in.
For the past week or so I've been running heroics as a retribution paladin and I'm loving it. My gear has jumped from crappy to passable and my damage from an abysmal 900 dps to a more respectable 2-2.3K. All the new gear came from drops and a few dungeon quests that I completed. I enchanted some of it (my paladin is an enchanter) but haven't gemmed it because I don't have any sockets on this shiny new gear. One piece of gear that I bought with Champion's Seals was Claymore of the Prophet which is really cheap for a ilvl 200 weapon. I didn't bother buying something like Titansteel Destroyer because I figured my stint as ret would be brief.
Little did I imagine that I would enjoy it so much. Ret pallys are beasts! Last night for example I ran a heroic (one of the Utgardes, forget which) and I was top DPS at 2.3K average. I realize that I'm still doing crappy damage relative to raid geared players but still, at least now I'm pulling my weight.
What I like most about ret is The Art of War. This little baby procs off each and every melee crit (including judgements, Crusader Strike and Divine Storm) and since with my crappy gear I have about 26% unbuffed crit, you can imagine it procs a lot, meaning instant Exorcisms or a quick heal. In fact I use Flash Heal on myself quite often during fights because I take plenty of damage as melee dps. I also use it occasionally on some wounded team member if needed or if my Exorcism is on cooldown. Yeah, I miss a GCD but there's more to a paladin than just performing his primary function.
Ret is also amazing because there are no mana problems are long as you judge whenever the cooldown is up.
Here are some quick stats. I won't detail my gear because it is perpetually changing, almost on a daily basis. I also won't talk about enchants or gems because my pieces of gear are not keepers just yet.
Attack Power: 3041 with Blessing of Might.
Hit: 224 = 6.83% (used to be more before some gear changes but >6% should be enough for heroics)
Expertise rating: 3 = 0.75%. Ouch!
As you can see, my biggest problem is expertise and it is actually palpable because I've had numerous mobs dodge or parry my attacks. Now of course, I try to attack from behind so parries shouldn't be a problem but still, my expertise is terrible and needs fixing. I just don't have any gear with expertise on it and the meager amount that I have comes from my racial (humans + swords).
As I write this we are in patch 3.3.5, probably the last patch before Cataclysm. Here's what my spec looks like:
If you don't like it, I don't care. What I love about retribution is that you can easily pick all the talents you need from the ret tree, a few essential ones from the prot tree and still have spare points to put wherever you please.
Retribution in Cataclysm
From what I've seen so far, ret pallys will change a lot in Cataclysm but in a good way. There's a new thing called Holy Power that procs whenever we deal damage and then we can unleash it (currently stacks 3 times) for various effects. It sounds all good and I can't wait to try the new and improved ret paladin.
What more can I say? In patch 3.3.5, as we currently stand, retribution paladins are kick-ass. There are so many things to like about the spec: massive damage, simple priority-based rotation, a cool proc that allows you to either heal yourself or deal additional damage and in general plenty of survivability, especially when leveling.
Don't take my word for it though since I'm not such a big expert. Take one out yourself for a test drive but don't be surprised if you'll start cheating on your other characters.
Patch 1.0.5 commentary
4 years ago