Current Retribution Paladin Role in Heroics

After a few more days of testing heroics, a bet a good amount of Retribution Paladins are starting to understand our role in 5-man heroics.  Here is one thing we know for sure: Cataclysm is no Wrath of the Lich King.  Dungeons are harder, and require a certain level of skill…and research.

The bosses on heroics are hard, and yes, even the trash is hard.  I have run probably anywhere from 10 to 15 heroics and have yet to finish one.  Bad luck?  Maybe.  Time restraints?  Maybe.  Regardless of the reason, heroics in Cataclysm are tough.

Guilds who can put together 5-mans and can communicate better than your average PUG seem to be fairing better, and many players are easily finishing some heroics…I am just not one of them at the moment.

All that said, I have been able to successfully do what is needed of me in Heroics, and if we fall short, I am comfortable knowing it usually isn’t my fault.

Paladin Creature Control (CC)

Regular occurrence (Repentance), so expect to be doing this…a ton.  Blizzard made it clear they wanted to stray away from the run in and bludgeon every mob with AoE in Cata, and they have accomplished that.  For your average 5-man heroic, not using your groups CC abilities can mean wipes.  Also to this end, Hammer of Justice is being used frequently as well, to buy a small amount of time for tanks to get aggro back, should a CC break or threat get pulled.

Some tanks are having DPS pull packs with CC, while they gather up the  untouched remaining mobs.  Learn to CC and retreat quickly behind your tank, and be ready to Hammer of Justice, or in some cases, Rebuke casters that have locked on to you and are out of the tanks range.  If a caster does keep you targeted, run back to them, Rebuke to interrupt spell casting, and retreat to the tank so hopefully they will pick up aggro.

Get Hit and Expertise Capped

Easier said than done, but getting your hit cap will help increase DPS.  Reforge mastery to hit rating on every piece possible.  I have noticed a big difference in my DPS while going for my hit cap (almost there at around 7.65%).

Hand of Salvation

This reduces our threat, and it is a good idea to get used to using it.  My tactic is to use Hand of Salvation at the beginning of every boss fight, since my burst damage is very high.  Some tanks can hold threat, and others cannot…even with a 5 second aggro head start.  I will also use HoSalv if AoE mobs start targeting me instead of the tank.  Hand of Salvation…use it.

Lay on Hands

Using Lay on Hands can make or break a run if used to save a tank from certain doom.  I have been using Lay on Hands in boss encounters when tanks are around 80 to 90% HP loss to help de-stress the healer.  If the tank is fine, then I have been using it on myself as well, because in boss encounters, healers are hard-pressed and are focusing on tanks primarily.  Anything I can do helps!

Seal of Truth vs Seal of Righteousness

I know I have covered this before, and I will say it again: Go with Seal of Truth for all 5-man scenarios, at least for the beginning parts of Cataclysm.  AoE threat is much easier to pull off the tank for a Ret Paladin, it seems. Seal of Righteousness will basically cleave thanks to Seals of Command, so it can be very hard to control at times.

Now, some of you will counter this and say you know tanks that do just fine and can use SoR normally.  If you are one of the players, awesome.  Go for it!  But my experience has taught me it is much safer (and often more DPS) to use Seal of Truth.  As a side note, the only reason I say more DPS is because trash mobs are not falling quickly enough to counter SoT use just yet.

As always Seal of Truth for all single target bosses and mobs.

AoE in Normal FCFS

We will be using Holy Wrath and Consecrate at times to fill in the gaps of our FCFS.  To this I say, use with caution.  I am using these attacks regularly, but as a word of advice, make sure you are not near any CC’d mobs.  It will break the CC and cause more stress on your tank/healer.  Small things like this add up and help make or break a raid.  It’s all a part of smart gameplay.


Make sure you are behind your target when attacking, especially if you do not know that mob’s abilities.  Even trash can pack a mighty punch in these early phases of Cataclysm (many can Cleave!), so it is best that you let the tank take the brunt of the damage.  Plus, it helps remove parries from the table, making you only worry about missing and dodges.

Don’t Expect to Be Top DPS

If you set realistic expectations, then you won’t be disappointed when you see that Mage bludgeoning your DPS by 3 or 4k.  My experience has told me that ranged DPS are outperforming melee by far.  Warlocks and Mages are usually topping me easily, with Hunters not far behind.  However, my DPS has slowly been improving, and I am cruising in at around the 7k+ mark, hitting 7.7k to 9.5k on bosses regularly.

Some runs may find you on top of the charts, but usually we will be middle of the pack or bottom DPS.  Don’t let it get you down too much…just roll on and keep plugging a way.  We felt like this at the beginning of Wrath as well, and we flew up the charts as the expansion moved along.  No reason to think Blizzard hates us…we will see DPS improvements soon enough!

Smart Gameplay

Other than the things mentioned above, it’s all about smart gameplay and doing your research on bosses.  hre are my quick tips, should the above information render TLDR!

  • Use CC, and learn to pull with CC
  • Use Hand of Salvation often
  • Seal of Truth wins over Seal of Righteousness for AoE (for now) and single target
  • Use AoE carefully, don’t break CC
  • Positioning is key, stay behind targets
  • Realistic DPS expectations…ranged will thump us in DPS charts.
  • Play smart, and don’t be too eager or aggressive.  Sloppy play will lead to wipes, and there are plenty of those to go around!

Smart Gameplay Tips from Other Ret Paladins


In the Smart Gameplay I would also list…

  • Use Holy Radiance to help the healer on big pulls or bosses with AoE.
  • If you see the tank dying and the healer without mana, cast a Lay on Hands on the tank.
  • And another one… if you fail to loose threat after using Hands of Salvation, use:
    – Divine Shield (on bosses).
    – Wait till your life drains to 20% (or so) and then cast Lay on Hands on yourself (on pulls or when the only one alive is you).


  1. kenpo1 says:

    Thanks for the advice. I will try to use it wisely. I have not tried heroics yet because i am lvl 84 but even the normal 5 mans are hard the first time you go. But i think the same advice applies.

  2. Lykaon says:

    Don’t forget Repentance! It’s a relatively reliable form of CC now if you use correctly and your tank works with you to pull the mobs back. I hadn’t used Repentance for years, but now it’s becoming invaluable.

  3. Zim says:

    In the Smart Gameplay I would also list…
    · Use Holy Radiance to help the healer on big pulls or bosses with AoE.
    · If you see the tank dying and the healer without mana, cast a Lay on Hands on the tank.

    And another one… if you fail to loose threat after using Hands of Salvation, use:
    · Divine Shield (on bosses).
    · Wait till your life drains to 20% (or so) and then cast Lay on Hands on yourself (on pulls or when the only one alive is you).

    New expansion, new way to play 🙂
    Zim (EU-Sanguino)

  4. Khor says:

    Zim, I was in the middle of editing my post to add Lay on Hands when I saw your comment, thank you! I’ll just make a subject called ZIM!

  5. Zepherous [Darkspear] says:

    Aye, Holy Radiance is important. If the healer is not good enough im using Zealotry + Word of Glory as well. Every single skill is very important. Im casting rebuke almost every 15-20 secs. Sometimes it will work for bosses as well (2nd boss in Blackrock).

    Ive done more than 5 heroics till this time and im still learning how to use every skill properly. Sometimes youll have to taunt and run away as well. But basically help-healer/tank role is more important than DPS atm for us.

    Another thing: with Guardian + other buffs paladins can be best single target dps`ers on the bosses atm.

  6. Slackergrim says:

    Another 3 things we should remember:

    – Don’t forget out Hand of Sacrifice, especially during tank heavy/raid light times. While not as great as LoH since it doesn’t heal, it also doesn’t have a 7 min CD. It can reduce damage on the tank enough for the healer to keep up. Remember, you being at full health means nothing if the tank dies to the boss.

    -Speaking of reduced Damage, Divine Protection. It’s been reduced to 10% but now only has a minute CD and doesn’t cause Forbearance. Any time AoE damage is about to happen, use it.

    -As a great man once said, you can’t do DPS if your dead. We can heal ourselves. It’s easy to forget this when we are in our battle frenzy, but using Holy Light after a kill, or Word of Glory and Divine Light when either the damage isn’t a serious or LoH is on CD. As Khor said earlier, every little bit helps. Especially now when healers going OOM is a common threat.

    Happy raiding


  7. neo says:

    cant write how many times ive LoH tank when healer is oom, also pop holy radiance during aoe to help out, heroics are hard, problem is people doing heroics just cause they can que doesnt mean they are ready gear wise, alos the wrath baby attitude were if you wipe once you bad mouth everyone and leave, i did a heroic BRD took like 2 hours wiped many times but didnt matter because everyone had a relax attitude and kept trying no raging no blaming just thinking of a better strat, sure enough we finished it and it felt good. on topic my dps is anywher on mobs from last 5k, to top on some boss 11-12k greatly depends on fight and if everything falls to crap

  8. I find myself using Word of Glory many times in encounters… especially in Tol Bard raid. Word of Glory is a life saver and sometimes we may have to give up our dps or holy power to heal ourselves to help the healers.

    This may be a little off topic in regards to this blog, but when is the best time to pop Guardian of the Ancient Kings?

  9. Zim says:

    wow Khor, I’am really impressed! Thanks! ^^ BTW, my english is really bad, feel free to change/rewrite the coment.

    @Taddeous: It’s better to use it in a boss encounter, +20% str is a good boost to our dps. You can use it in large pulls too (after the 30sec the guardian dissapears and you autocast an AoE) but only if a boss encounter is not planned to occur in the next 5 mins.

    Zim 🙂

  10. Boogieknight says:

    I’ve seen mention of Word of Glory, and I have to agree that it helps out A LOT. I threw my extra talent point into the talent that allows casting WoG with no HP cost 15% of the time. It kicks in more than you think. I’ve also seen a lot of comments online that groups are taking heroics by going in with Tank, 2xheals and 2xDPS so utilizing healing helps out a lot.

    Also, a note on Holy Radiance: stack it with Avenging Wrath when you can. I use it to help alleviate some of the strain on the healer in my group (Resto Druid) and it seems to heal ~700-850 per tick. Avenging Wrath increases healing done and I see a lot more 1k+ ticks on everyone. Stack the two in a macro and just keep launching hammers like you normally do. We’re still learning in my group, but these are just the small things I’m seeing. As our survivability improves (tank and heals get better stats/gear) I’m getting to where I don’t need to assist with heals as much and my DPS is getting back in line with what it should be.

  11. Shogan says:

    I have said this on the forums and I will say it again here, that given the current state of play in Cata heroics I feel that as Ret we are better off speccing for a more survivability for the moment.

    As such I have changed my talents so that I am now specced into Divinity, Eternal Glory and Selfless Healer. I know what my DPS can do and where I stand on the damage meters, my preference is to be able to do more effective off healing.

    Good news of sorts because Mastery actually proves to be more useful this way. The more that Hand of Light procs the more we can heal the tank and other party members, this gives us a 12% increase (with 3HP) for 10 seconds to our DPS in return. It goes some way to compensate for not using TV but if HoL procs more often then the use of WoG on someone else is negated to a greater degree.

    Added to that the 30% chance that the 3HP will not be used, via Eternal Glory, we still have that 3HP to use for TV/Inquisition with the added bonus of a 12% buff to our DPS.
    With Divinity thrown into the mix, incoming and outgoing heals are increased by 6%, so throughout the run that does make a big difference. Remember that the less pressure the healer is under the better their mana conservation and the groups overall survivability will be.

    Once gear and other player’s stats allow for a change this is probably the more effective route. When that happens I will return to a truer DPS spec.

    Side note: Set the tank as your focus target and use a focus/target macro or even grid in combination with Clique. I use both because if I have to throw out a heal to a non focused target it is far easier. I would also recommend the later for our other raid utilities, all my ‘Hands’ are bound this way.

  12. Sath says:

    Personally the “F” key is my best friend…target tanks target, then when the tank needs a little extra heal hit F WoG him then F back to boss….simple but effecitve.

  13. tornbeard says:

    very good artical this was what i was begining to think too
    with that being said this isn’t what i signed up for with a melee dps class and since the nerf i got my pally to 85 but he’s been sitting idle since then except for mining and blacksmithing maybe sometime down the line i’ll get back to him and adjust my play style for now i’m working on getting my tank gear it’s a shame i passed over a lot of good tank pieces for dps back when i had hope that blizzard would see that ret is broken seems to me the palladin developement team
    cares little for what we the players who love this class have to say
    imiss playing my pally he was my main and used to be a reliable dps monster

  14. Zero says:

    I couldn’t have said that better myself. However, I might add the fact that our DPS suffers further with how much fatal attack dodging they added for Cataclysm heroic boss encounters. I lose a good 1k of DPS at times just keeping myself alive by dodging to stay alive and this adds up. Meanwhile our ranged friends can stay safely at a distance and keep pouring on the pain nearly effortlessly.

  15. Willexan says:

    It’s called crowd control not creature control..

  16. Willexan says:

    with average ilvl 342 still with 2 greens on me i do around 12k dps in randoms and 15k on boss.. don’t get why u are only doing only 10k max

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