Retribution is Weak, not Broken

When I create posts here on Retribution Paladins, I pay very close attention to the comments players leave.  I also spend a good deal of time reading threads on the WoW forums, and just as much time sorting through Elitist Jerks.  While the general concensus is that Retribution DPS is too low, there are a number of players saying Retribution is broken.  It’s not broken, it just is severely underperforming.

From my own personal experiences in-game, my guild is a small, causual/hardcore guild that is focusing on 10-man raids.  I have been used as a healer since launch primarily because of how strong the Paladin healer class is.  With the difficulties that Cataclysm healing is creating, we are finding far less healers available than in Wrath.  Players are opting to go into DPS or tanking roles to avoid healing woes.

Now, from my DPS numbers I can put out, I would be one of the top DPSers were I to go Retribution in raids.  But that is just for my guild only.  Were I in an elite guild, pressing content and raiding hardcore, I would not even come close to putting out the required DPS.  That is not because I am a horrible Ret, it’s because the design of Retribution equals a lower damage output than other classes.

So, how do we fix this problem?  Let’s take a quick trip back to Wrath to start…

Retribution Paladins in Wrath Look Exquisite in Hindsight

In Wrath, we complained, and we groaned and moaned as the expansion went live.  Then, around the Coliseum and ICC, Retribution Paladins started getting stronger…much stronger.  Haste started scaling extremely well, gear bonuses were titanic DPS boosters, and our rotations were simple and easy to follow.  The problem?  Retribution was too easy.  It was too easy to have little skill and still crunch out high damage totals.  The simplicity of the DPS mechanics and rotations made experienced and hardcore players yearning for more.

The big differences between Wrath and Cata?  Divine Storm was just as strong a single target attack as it was AoE.  Judgement hit for much more damage (concerning Wrath content).  Holy power was non-existent, and everything functioned off of mana…which we did run out of.

I never felt we needed a drastic change, but as they announced the differences in Retribution gameplay for Cataclysm, I embraced it with open arms.  I still love the class, but I think the real problem lies in the reliance on Holy Power and it’s regeneration.  You can tweak the damage of every spell, but with the exception of Crusader Strike, Holy Power generation is still left wanting.

Holy Power Generation

The problem with Holy Power, at least in my opinion, is that the ultimate goal is to use Templar’s Verdict as much as possible.  With the changes in 4.0.6, Divine Purpose has been redesigned to give 3 Holy power at a reduced % for DS, Exorcism, etc.  You guys know the talent.  The problem is that this is still a random chance to generate HP.  The only consistency comes from Crusader Strike, which is on a long enough cooldown that there are a good number of occurrences in a fight were we are literally waiting a second or two doing nothing but autoattacking, waiting for CS to come off cooldown.  Why are we waiting?  Because casting Holy Wrath or Consecrate resets the global cooldown, making us wait even longer for CS.  That’s a DPS loss, which really adds up over the course of a 4 to 5 minute fight.

Top top this all off, Crusader Strike isn’t scaling as well with Haste as we would like, so to get CS down to a 3-second cooldown (which would tremendously help HP generation), we’d have to get unobtainable amounts of haste.  The gear available right now just can’t handle that load.  So we are stuck.  If you get lucky and have some good RNG going your way, your DPS will soar.  If not, your DPS will look putrid.  Most of us are sitting in the middle, with just mediocre DPS…for Ret Paladins.  Even if a great Ret Paladin gets lucky with his Holy Power generation, they may put up DPS numbers that are still 3k to 5k (even as much as 7k or 8k) DPS lower than the top DPS classes for a fight.  So, even with perfect HP generation, it still would appear we are lacking.


The Divine Storm changes still irk me.  I rarely find myself using this, and even when I can, it only lasts about half the fight on packs of trash because the number of mobs gets small enough to where AoE is no longer effective.  I understand that in Wrath we were doing better AoE DPS than some of the true AoE damage classes…but don’t nerf our ability to the ground to even things out.  Give the other classes a boost, imo.

Divine Storm being taken off Holy Power dependency was great, but the shared cooldown with Crusader Strike is awful imo.  I know that Blizz wants us to choose one or the other, but to me, Divine Storm would work best in its original role as a normal part of our rotations…both single target and AoE.  Maybe give it 125% weapon damage, and see if that can be the gap filler we need between Crusader Strike cooldowns where we are waiting for CS instead of popping a second filler.

Overall Damage Output

Our overall damage output is still low, even when we get great procs and HP generation, at least compared to other classes.  Part of this is attributed to how our FCFS rotation lays out, and part is just low damage output from attacks like Judgement, Holy Wrath, and Consecrate.  So how can we improve Retribution damage output?

There are a number of ways out there players are suggesting, and here’s mine: fall back a bit onto the Wrath mindset.

  1. Take Divine Storm off the shared cooldown with Crusader Strike and bump it’s damage to 125%.  Not only does this make it a more viable  AoE attack, but it can be used in normal rotations as well.  While it won’t be a top DPS attack, it gives us a viable filler while waiting for CS.
  2. Strengthen Consecrate a bit more, or reduce the cooldown to give us a minor DPS increase that has a consistent flow.  Mana usage could be lowered a bit to compensate the more frequent usage.
  3. Inquisition, Zealotry, and Avenging Wrath as separate abilities are all neat individually, but their use feels choppy.  I’m not a fan of Inquisition every 30 seconds.  Upping this to a 60 second duration would allow more focus on actual DPS than refreshing a buff.  And I know this will get me some hate mail, but finding a way to combine AW and Zealotry really simplifies some of the unnecessary complexities of our rotation.

I’m sure Blizz has their thinking caps on and is working on ways to improve our damage.  I still do not think the class is broken.  Broken is the wrong word.  We are just stuck using mechanics that are wishing and hoping on procs, as opposed to a more concrete method of dealing damage.  What do you guys think?  WHat would you do to improve our DPS?  Remember nothing we say probably gets implemented, but it would be nice to hear what you guys think would improve our gameplay, and make it a better experience.  No rights or wrongs here, so if you have criticsm of someone’s ideas, tuck them away and post constuctive comments!


  1. Christolight says:

    I am an 85 Ret/Prot and love Paladins,just quickly the above posts are great and so is the site.I too have noticed the “wait” which is very frustrating,the RNG damage dependancy is unfair,and Holy wrath/Consecration/Divine Storm are useless. :(

  2. Dawnsword says:

    I agree with most of your points, but there are two that I take issue with. First is the issue of waiting in the rotation. I honestly don’t understand the griping about the GCD gaps in our rotation, which Blizzard has said are intentional. I know that in Wrath we were hitting something every GCD, but that isn’t healthy for the class. If we are always hitting something every GCD, then there is no room for procs and other reactionary abilities. And to be honest, the gaps we have now pale in comparison to what we had to deal with before. Remember BC, when our only active abilities were Judgment and CS? Or post 1.9 Vanilla, when it was only Judgment, which was on a much longer cooldown?

    Waiting a couple of seconds isn’t a bad thing. That said, ramp up time for HP does need to be looked at somehow.

    The second thing I take issue with is putting DS back in our single-target rotation. First of all, it isn’t going to happen, as Blizzard has said explicitly that AoE attacks are not supposed to be part of single-target rotations. I wouldn’t mind a buff to make DS worth casting, or to have it generate HP, but not if it doesn’t share a cooldown with CS.

  3. Mourdechai says:

    part of the problem with having large gaps in our “rotation”(and i use the term loosely and in quotes) is how crazily irregular they are. if i had that gap occurring at the same time every time i went through my “rotation” it would be much less of an annoyance.

    The DS issue is that DS is worthless. there is almost no time that DS is worth using in practically any heroic or raid. It is only useful when there are something like 5 or more mobs. how often does that come up?

    back in BC and vanilla when we had those “issues” we were much more on par(or downright broken) with other DPS and still had a guaranteed raid spot because of(at least) auras and blessings. At this point in the game, no matter what our level of utility, we are being dropped, or forced to heal/tank, for people that give the same buffs we do who do more DPS overall on a boss.

  4. Mourdechai says:


    You should still be using holy wrath and consecrate to fill some of the gaps in your DPS rotation. DS is totally worthless though.

  5. Mungus says:

    First, thanks for the best retri site I’ve seen. Hugely useful.

    Second, regarding Zealotry and Avenging Wrath – I’ve seen mention elsewhere of the need to use them separately – but why? Up until now I’ve had a macro which casts both bound to a key, and just hit the key a couple times to run both – is there anything to be gained by running them separately in sequence? And if so – which first? Or is that situational?

    On the subject of class usefulness, my feeling is that one of the biggest things we’ve got going for us atm is the ability to self heal with WoG (unfortunate acronym!) and still do useful damage, taking some of the load off the healers. I can see Blizz reducing the holy power drain for this.

  6. Mourdechai says:

    It’s because of how zealotry changes the “rotation” than anything else. like, with zealotry, you use crusader strikes followed by templar’s verdicts until the cooldown runs out. using anything else is really just a loss of DPS.

    as far as using one first over the other? it’s generally easier to get avenging wrath up while ramping up charges of holy power to use zealotry. by the time avenging wrath is over you should definitely have enough Holy Power to use zealotry immediately following.

  7. novio says:

    Hello peeps,

    My ret is the 1st and most loved character I have, and to be honest, I dont think things are as bad as people think. Ultimately its the way this class has to played now rather than nerfing and broken bits.
    I’ve hit 85 and have just upgraded gear to about 333 running only a few heroics so far, but this is what I’ve noticed so far…..

    1. We used to be quite hard core pre cata with aoe. Now, we absolutely suck, I agree, but no-one really cared about trash dps anyways so I dont let DS bother me as a result.

    2. Having mentioned the above, we are still quite potent at boss fights, particularly when little movement is required. I find myself gunning top dps spots with mages only and no other class. in heroics with my cirrent 333 gear, I’m peaking at about 12k-13k dps while most in my pugs are doing between 8 and 10k.

    I am by no means a super arrogant imba player, I’m just noticing that our dps does count when it is needed most. I gladly take mastery over haste any day. Sure, we do get those odd moments when we do have to wait within the rotation, but there are equally, if not more occasions where proc bombardments occur. And when that happens, watch you dps skyrocket.
    Naturally, one should leave all cd’s refreshed for the boss fight. start the fight, build up your 3 HP and let everything else rip, leaving your guardian for last, only after your zealotry is up.

    Thats the way I play, and I find it works every time. Usually I’m doing the same dps a tank would on trash, but again, it doesnt bother me much.

    Simple fixes to our class would be adding more damage to DS and fixing a somewhat buggy guardian ( perhaps even drop his CD a touch ). other than that, I think these change is quite wicked.

  8. Jeff says:

    Hey guys, love this site as it’s still my main source for all things pally lol. I was just trying to et a grasp on my dps and was wondering what the average Ret is Doin in 5 mans. I’m at a 343 ilvl and do anywhere from 8 or 9 to 11k dps. The 8 or 9 is if there’s ALOT of running. My trash mob dps is crap as we have no real aoe it seems lol

  9. jeff says:

    hit 14k last night, new high for my pally :)

  10. Sarvan says:

    I run 349 gear and my 5 man dungeon dps is usually in the 9K range (with Flask of Titanic Strength, BoK and SoT). On bosses without running around it can spike up in the 10K or 11K range and it has spiked up to 14K once. On trash I’m all over the place between 5K and 8K usually. On test dummies I can hit in the 9K consistently and with Avenging Wrath I can get up in the 10K range, maybe low 11K, again on the dummies.

    My struggles come with running around or drawing aggro and having to back off.

  11. Nickk says:

    Im running 377 ilevel (equipped no pvp items) and I am maxing around 25k as lowest. we ARE broken.


  1. [...] post-Cataclysm have been broken. Well maybe not completely broken [source], but certainly significant changes have been made to the class to make it as desirable as an STD. [...]

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