My DPS Sucks in 5-Mans!

As a Ret Paladin, one of the huge factors that lures people into the class and spec is the ‘ease’ of combat and large DPS numbers.  I myself love the damage I can dish out!  But for some people, damage doesn’t come easy, and any manner of gear adjustment only brings frustration when trying to up DPS.

I have recieved several threads, comments, and messages from players lately about DPS not being where it should be.  I think there are several misconceptions about Ret Paladins, especially when starting out as a fresh level 80.

1.  Gearing up as a Ret Paladin is easy.  Yes and no.  Yes, because we can choose from both plate and leather melee DPS gear.  No, because we still have to depend on random dungeon drops, expensive BoE gear and mats, and an abundance of plate tanks and DPS competing for the same gear.  This usually does not get done in a couple days.  And to gear up correctly, it’s going to take some gold, too.  Use the downtime inbetween queues to farm or quest for gold.

2.  Ret DPS should be high by default.  Not true in the least.  Because of our FCFS rotations, Ret Paladin gameplay relies heavily upon instinct.  Yes, it’s a faceroll DPS class, but veteran Paladins rely more on instinct than anything else.  And that skill comes with lots of practice.  Each fight is situational, and our approach can vary on many, many factors.

For instance, let’s say I am running Heroic Strat on my Ret in full T10, and I am paired with an equally geared DK, a full T9 Mage, and a T9 tank and healer.  The tank should be able to hold threat against my DPS, and the healer appears to be competent enough to heal us all should we pull threat.  Since Heroic Strat is mainly packs of mobs, I will be using mostly AoE attacks.  With the high DPS my other 2 DPSers have, I anticipate the packs going down fast.  That means I will eliminate Consecrate from my rotation because it won’t last long enough to have any real effect, not to mention drain my mana in a fast run.  So I will go in with DS > CS > Judge, trying to take advantage of my Seal of Command damage.

Now, let’s say I do the same run again with the same tank and heals, but have two brand new level 80 DPSers, a Shadow Priest and a Rogue.  Well, my rotation then includes Consecrate, because I do not anticipate much DPS support from them.  Cons > DS > CS > Judge.  Consecrate will last longer, and thus do more damage instead of a few ticks.  My DPS will also be higher, because I will spend more time on the mobs than the previous group.  Like I said, situational.

Beginning Paladins should not expect to crank out over 4k DPS.  Even half-geared in level 232 gear, 3000-3500 DPS is perfectly normal.  Setting your bar too high can lead to disappointment and frustration.

IMPORTANT! If you are at 4 T9 or under in terms of gear, then your average DPS will range anywhere from 2500-4000 DPS. Only until you get 2 T10 and 2 T9 will you see a titanic boost to your DPS.  We’re talking 4500-6500ish DPS!  If you are under 2 T10, staying in the 2.5k to 3.5k range is OKAY!

3.  Rets will do great DPS with any combination of stats.  Wrong.  While certain gear pieces will outperform others, you really want to try to stick with plate DPS gear that has strength and crit on it.  Stat priority is str > crit > haste for plate gear.  When you must fill in with leather gear, aim for these stats as well.

One of the most common mistakes I see is using PvP gear because it is a higher item level.  Sometimes this is an upgrade, and sometimes it is not.  But in most cases, that resilience on PvP gear is taking the place of two additional secondary stats, often resulting in lower DPS, despite the higher gear level.

What you need to do when trying to build Ret Paladin DPS

You know what makes a great WoW player?  Skill.  Skill at playing, skill at researching, and skill at implementing knowledge gained.  You may be a great player, but without the ability to research and apply knowledge, you are going to find yourself dragging behind other Rets, even ones less geared than you.

Let’s look at the basics:

  • Gems – Gem correctly.  You want all strength in almost every scenario.  At 2 T9 and above, yellow slots with a strength socket bonus get +str/+crit gems.  That is the only deviation while you are hit capped.  At early gear levels, gemming for hit is okay, but you absolutely should be replacing those gems the minute you reach hit cap with gear.
  • Enchants – Make sure all your gear is enchanted with the correct enchants.  A little research can tell you exactly what you will need.
  • Spec – There are only 2 main specs people are using for Retribution.  Eithier 11/5/55 or 5/11/55.  Either variation works, though 11/5/55 is more commonly used for Divine Intellect and Aura Mastery.  This is probably the better spec for most beginning Rets, as well as the commom Ret Paladin raider.
  • Glyphs – Glyph correctly.  There are 6 exact glyphs to use, and there really isn’t any possible argument otherwise.  The only exception is Exorcism when you are expertise capped, which replaces Glyph of Seal of Vengeance.
  • FCFS rotations – FCFS is divided into three categories, with each having their own priority FCFS:  Under 2 T9, 2 T9 and above (but lower than 2 T10), and 2 T9 and 2 T10 and above.  Learn the rotations for the level of gear you are on.

Read more from me on:

Tier Gear

If you want to do decent DPS, you need your Tier gear.  T9 is the easiest to get, via Emblems of Triumph.  T10 comes via Frost emblems, and will take you a little longer to get.  You should get Tier pieces in this order:

  • 2 T9
  • 4 T9
  • 2 T10 (with 2 T9)
  • 4 T10

Rule of thumb is to not break 2 T9 and 2 T10 until you get 4 T10, because the T9 2-piece bonus is a good chunk of DPS, only replaced by the 4 T10 bonus.


Until ICC weapons, your best bet is to shoot for the Tyrannical Beheader from heroic Pit of Saron.  This is the best weapon you will get outside of raiding.  Well, Quel-delar is better from the Battered Hilt drop, but it’s also still around 10k gold.  Until you can get the Tyrannical Beheader, Edge of Ruin from Heroic ToC 5-man is a decent option.  We Rets live and breathe by our weapons, so make this a priority.


The woe of all melee DPS it would seem.  There are 2 types of trinkets for Rets.  Those we can use, and those we can’t.  The list is unfortunately small, and getting really solid trinkets can prove quite difficult outside of raiding.  To add to the difficulty, trinkets can really give a strong boost to DPS, making poor choices detrimental.

Trinkets you can aim for outside of raiding are:

  • Mirror of Truth (40 Emblems of Heroism)
  • Mark of Supremacy (50 Emblems of Triumph)
  • Needle Encrsuted Scorpion (Heroic Forge of Souls)
  • Darkmoon Card: Greatness (Strength version, Nobles Darkmoon Deck or BoE)
  • Herkuml’s War Token (should only be taken after at least 2 T10, 50 Emblems of Frost)

Mark of Supremacy is the awesome/awful trinket we get stuck with.  For beginning Ret Paladins, this gives us an immediate boost to reach the hit cap.  But as we gain gear, replacing this becomes difficult as out hit rating piles on.  The easiest choice is to shoot for Mirror of Truth and Needle Encrusted Scorpion.

The best trinket option for beginning Rets is obviously DMCG, but it’s going to run you 3k to 4k gold.


Well, this is unfortunate.  If you have the right gear, the right spec, correct glyphs, gems, and enchants, then it has to do either with your gameplay or latency.  Latency can be a very nasty hinderance to any WoW player, so if you are laggy or choppy, set those settings to low, and see if that helps smooth out combat.

The last, unfortunate thing is poor DPS due to player performance.  This is where you need an experienced Paladin to take the time to run some dungeons or raids with you to analyze your combat.  Using recount and add-ons like WMO or WoL can really help show where your deficiencies are.  Recount is a must in my book.

Help on Forums

On my forums here, I really try to provide a protective environment for people to post for help on.  No flaming or trolling.  No insulting or belittling.  Just straight up, friendly help.  In addition to myself, several Rets have been posting advice as well, offering sound guidance for improving DPS and damage output.  Special shoutout to Suliso for his continuous contributions over the last few months!

If you are just absolutely stuck and can’t figure things out, come give us a visit and see if we can’t help you out!  But let me say one final thing…no matter what advice we give, true skill and performance comes from you and your ability to research and learn everything about Ret DPS.  With this knowledge, you can drastically change your gameplay and really c crunch out some high numbers.  Practice, practice, practice, and put all that knowledge into your WoW gaming efforts.

Hope this helps you guys, and as always, feel free to comment below!

EDIT 8/26

I have 2 Ret Paladins.  My main is ICC geared with 4 T10.  My alt Paladin is 4 T9 with pretty decent gear pre-raid.  I ran a daily heroic with my alt Ret Paladin and this is the recount information.  (Here is her ARMORY) I was tops with 4200+ DPS.  Now keep in mind, this is all fairly solid pre-raid gear.  Included is also each attack and the percentage of damage and total damage done.  Like I mentioned above, a Ret Paladin has to go on instinct.  In 5-mans, I know AoE is important, so you see Divine Storm and Consecrate as the top damaging attacks.  Seal of Command is the heart of my performance.  If you don’t have recount, get it.  When analyzing how you are doing in DPS, take note of the specifics.  If you are asking for help on the forums, a screenshot like this always helps!


  1. Colin says:

    One other thing: Your raid DPS will almost always be higher not only because you’ll have more time to attack the mobs (which means a lot if you’re using snowball items), but because you will have a full array of buffs rather than a random assortment from only 5 classes.

    I never have Recount on in 5-man instances. I don’t care about my DPS there since things die too quickly and I’m usually busy watching for appropriate situations to use my Hand spells so that I can identify similar situations and react more quickly with those spells in an encounter that actually matters.

    Speaking of which, you really ought to have a guide for the Hand spells, since I rarely see Paladins using them. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve saved some dumb random DPS guy with Hand of Protection after he aggroed a boss due to an inability to watch a threat meter.

  2. Boumxyz says:


    here’s my link to armory… Could you comment my gear please ?


  3. Farxx says:

    Thank god I’m not the only person with 2 ret paladins :p

  4. Khronoz says:

    What’s better for me bryntoll or hc citadel enforcers claymore here’s my armory

  5. Boumxyz says:

    @Zim thanks. I forgot to mention I only fight 82 Bosses (heroics). I don’t raid.

  6. Spispop says:

    Hey all,

    I need help plan and simple. Im having some low DPS and while I am aware that my rotation might be an issue, Im thinking my gemming may be in the problem area too. I’ve linked my armory below, any help or tips would be greatly appreciated. Got into playing not too long ago, so Im still learning the ropes!

  7. Boumxyz says:



    If I were you, I’d move those 2 points in Toughness somewhere else. Sanctified Retribution should help you squeeze 3 % on your dmg for 1 talent point which isn’t too shabby. And I would take out the 2 points in divinity which is pointless. Check spec on this site for talents. minor glyph of sense undead (and use sense undead) in instances. It gives you a free 1 % dmg on undeads.


    Too much hit rating yike 597 ! 263 = raid cap, 198 = heroics cap

    And regem. Gems should always have strenght on it. Enchant your legs (icescale leg armor)

    Use the before 2t9 rotation since you don’t even have 2t10 or 2t9 armor pieces.

    You should try to get 2t10 and 2t9 armor pieces at least…

  8. Josh says:

    Hey Khor, my problem is… low DPS i hate to be the millionth person to ask you to critique my gear and see if there is something wrong there but, I believe that may be the only option. I’ve tried and your rotation but i’ve had mixed results from 3.2k dps on a single boss, to 1.9k dps on mobs (while using the correct seal) for both rotations.

  9. Khor says:

    Hey Josh, be glad to help. Gonna point you to my forums. Post up there and we’ll get into it!

  10. Lyreth says:


    First of all, what are you even saying? I barely understand an entire sentence of what you posted. Also, as far as 5 man dungeons go Seal of Command is undoubtedly your number one choice. Paired with blessing of might(improved might spec), or blessing of kings. If you are running out of mana you are doing something very wrong and need to rethink your strategy all together. I do a solid 9k dps in 5 mans and I’m AM(11/5/55) spec using SoC + BoK. I have never and will never use BoW on myself unless I was spec girlie holy paladin. It all does depend on the gear, and I myself am sitting in almost full best in slot gear.


    Your guide is very solid, and anyone deviating from the information provided here is making a big mistake. Keep it up brother, love the site.

  11. Babs says:

    Thanks so much for the info! It’s my first toon and I had no idea hit rating was so important. I thought I just sucked, but within 3 days of reading this (and implementing it) I went from number 4 in 5 mans to number 6 in a 25!

  12. Khor says:

    Glad it helped Babs!

Speak Your Mind