Ret Paladin – Gearing to Raid

Gearing your Ret Paladin to raid at level 80 can seem like a daunting task.  You gear is a mixture of blues and greens, and all those Ret Paladins running around Dalaran in their T10 is a quaint reminder of how much work lies ahead of you.  Trust me, I know the feeling.

I give out advice on a daily basis in regards to gearing up to raid as a Ret Paladin.  Every player has to start somewhere, and we  are almost always forced to stray from our original objective, because gear doesn’t seem to fall in our laps as we had hoped.

I have taken my second Paladin, whom I leveled to 80 a while ago, and started to gear her up as I would if I were beginning to raid.  She has sat too long in her leveling greens and blues, serving as an herbalist and enchanter, and functioning as a tool for my main Ret Paladin.  I have not touched upon anything further in WoW on her, basically leaving me with a blank slate.

Check my Armory for this project! -> Ret Paladin Brittany

I want to experience (again) what many of you are continuing to ask for guidance on.  Maybe this will help me gain a new perspective, and I invite you to follow this post, as I will document my journey to making my Ret Paladin ToC and ICC 10 raid-worthy.


I am all about planning and setting goals for myself.  With this Ret Paladin, I am starting from scratch.  The single epic item I have is a Titansteel Destroyer, which I actually traded a Darkmoon Nobles Card for way back when.  Everything else is blue or green in quality.

Let’s set some goals:

  • Obtain 2 T9 DONE
  • Obtain an average item level of 232 on all gear pieces DONE
  • Gem all 232 pieces and above with rare or epic quality + strength gems
  • Enchant every item with BiS enchants, excluding chest which can be +8 stats
  • Over half of final gear set must be plate DONE
  • Glyph for SoV, Cons, Judge, BoM, LoH, and Sense Undead DONE
  • 11/5/55 raiding ret spec DONE
  • Knights of Ebon Blade and Sons of Hodir to Exalted for helm and shoulder enchants, or main toon already exalted to send BoA enchants. DONE

Since 2 T9 is mandatory for raiding, at least in my opinion, that is the minimum requirement for Tier pieces.  Equipping 4 T9 would be great, but some Ret Paladins will opt for the 245 emblem helm and shoulders instead.  If I am able to grab 2 T10, that would be beyond superb, but I am not counting on obtaining 60 Emblems of Frost to purchase the shoudlers or gloves before I am through with this project.  Perhaps I will get lucky in VoA, but history leads me to believe otherwise.

BoE Gear Options

Starting out in basic gear leaves much to be desired.  I have the luxury of possessing a nice little nest egg in the form of gold, so I decided to make and purchase a few pieces before embarking on this journey.  If you have the gold to spend, you can follow a similar plan.  If not, it’s nothing to fret about. The gear will come in time, and the time spent between dungeon queues can be used to make gold to help you acquire extra gear pieces via the Auction House.  Since my main Retribution Paladin is a blacksmith with a few raid quality plans, I crafted the following items:

I spent maybe 200g or so to finish the helm, but other than that, I had all the other materials stored in my bank.  After crafting a couple pieces, I ventured to the Auction House to see what I could purchase for a reasonable amount.  I budgeted 5,000g total, because I am not about to drop 4k to 10k for a single plate DPS piece.  That’s ridiculous.  Maybe for a weapon…MAYBE.  But not armor.  I included leather gear options as well, because they provide nice DPS, and some were even BiS back in the day.  In the end, I came away with:

Thus concluded by BoE preparations.  Both the Belt of the Titans and Footpads of Silence are VERY strong gear pieces, and likely will not be replaced by 232 counterparts.  We’ll see what drops for me, but I purchased these with the intention of them lasting me a long time, possibly until raid loot is acquired, which well surpasses the time frame for this project!


I was very unsure of my DPS performance in dungeons, especially with my remaining green and blues, so I opted to try a random daily heroic.  I came out of there with a whopping 2600 DPS.  Thanks to my level 200 weapon, I was realizing I had a TON of work to do!

When starting out, don’t over-burden yourself by jumping straight into heroics.  Number one, the ToC and ICC 5-mans probably won’t be available to you anyways because of your low gear equipped.  Second, the remaining heroics only offer level 200 gear and emblems as rewards.  The only epic quality gear is from the final boss of the run.  Instead, do one daily heroic for the frost emblems, and then do normal dungeons for the first couple days to improve your gear.

ToC 5-Man NormalLoot

  • 3 bosses
  • 5 pieces of epic quality loot
  • loot is item level 200
  • fast run, especially since higher geared tanks want the trinket and are often queing for this run.

Forge of SoulsLoot

  • 2 bosses
  • 3 pieces of epic quality loot
  • loot is item level 219
  • fast run

Pit of Saron - Loot

  • 3 bosses
  • 4 pieces of epic quality loot
  • loot is item level 219

Halls of ReflectionLoot

  • 2 bosses, 1 escape
  • 4 pieces of epic quality loot
  • loot is item level 219

After a day or two of normal dungeon runs, it’s time to start tackling heroics, and saving up Emblems of Triumph for gear purchases.  My recommendation is to do the 5-mans in this order:

  1. Heroic Daily
  2. Heroic Forge of Souls
  3. Heroic Pit of Saron
  4. Heroic Halls of Reflection
  5. Heroic ToC
  6. Normal ICC 5-mans or Random Heroics.

Doing the heroics specifically will give you the best shot at gaining gear upgrades, while still earning emblems.  Don’t be afraid to roll on off-set pieces as well.  Spell power plate is hands down for Paladins only, so roll need to prevent greed and disenchant rolls from stealing your piece.

Plate vs Leather

At this point in the game, the object is to gear up, and gear up quickly.  Leather DPS gear is a great way to help a Ret Paladin accomplish this goal. We benefit greatly from certain leather pieces and their stats, so letting unwanted leather DPS gear fall to disenchanting is a complete waste!

Use leather gear to patch holes in your gear set-up until plate counterparts can be found.  I am always looking for leather and agility gear to fill in the gaps, but it is important to remember that plate items loaded with strength will almost always win out in comparison.  A couple pieces of leather gear is okay, but we rely upon attack power, and our biggest AP boosting stat is strength.

Gems and Hit Rating

I plan to gem all strength at the beginning, and I will be using Bold Bloodstones, Perfect Bold Bloodstones, and Bold Scarlet Rubies.  On gear I am uncertain on, I will be using Bloodstones without a doubt.  The idea is to conserve gold for gemming the set with rare and epic gems when it is finished and ready for raiding.

Hit will be something I am struggling to get.  The Mark of Supremacy trinket is top on my list.  I do expect a very low hit in the beginning, and only until I am nearing my final gear set will it be close to the hit cap.

Day One

Day 1 starts, and I find myself with a gear list of BoEs only.  The following list will contain empty spaces until I loot or purchase an item I consider to be an upgrade for the slot:

I ran dungeons all day, and ended up with 3 upgrades, and enough emblems to purchase my first T9. I got VERY lucky, and got enough upgrades early on (shoulders and cloak) that unlocked heroic Forge of Souls and Pit of Saron.  My first Pit of Saron yielded a huge weapon upgrade.  At the end of the day, my gear list evolved into:

Day 2

On my second day of gearing up my Ret Paladin, I hit the heroics a little harder, and weaned off the normal dungeons.  Looking at my current needs, I am still aiming for at least 4 more emblem purchases minimum.

My DPS got a HUGE boost from the Tyrannical Beheader I looted the day before.  I even slapped a Beserking enchant on it to help out.  My DPS went from an average 2500-3000 to 3000-3600.  In AoE heavy instances like Forge of Souls, I was topping 4k DPS easily.

I ran dungeons every time I was online, and even managed to sneak my way into a Vault of Archavon 25-man and 10-man.  My work only yielded me one upgrade, though I did get enough emblems for a second T9!

Day 3

Worked a 16 hour shift today, so all I had the energy for was to log on and do my heroic daily.  Netted 2 Emblems of Triumph and 2 Emblems of Frost.  I still need to do the raid weekly…maybe tonight or tomorrow I can jump into one.  DPS was very solid with the 2 T9 from what I noticed.  I am debating 4 T9 or 2 T9 and the 245 shoulders. Probably will go the 4 T9 route.  Cheaper in terms of emblems, so it’ll be a faster gear-up.  Plus, I will get the 4-piece bonus.

I’ve been checking the AH non-stop for Nobles cards or Darkmoon Greatness w/ strength…but I haven’t found anything I would consider a ‘steal’ yet.  If I have to go Mark of Supremacy and Mirror of Truth or Needle Encrusted Scorpion, I will.

Day 4

Worked another 12-hour shift today.  Totally exhausted when I came home, but I ran my heroic daily, heroic Pit of Saron, and heroic Forge of Souls.  Did another 3 or 4 random daily dungeons, and finished up the day with heroic ToC.

I pulled in a final total of 50 Emblems of Triumph, which I used to purchase Mark of Supremacy.  I didn’t get one other upgrade from looting bosses, except for an agility neck in ToC.

As of Day 4, my list looks like this:

NOTE – So why did I choose Mark of Supremacy instead of going straight for 4 T9?  Well, remember, everyone’s gear set-up will be different.  Some will get lucky on drops and loot, and others might as well toss their dice in the trash.

For me, my lowest trinket was a green item lvl 135or somewhere around there.  It was pitiful for end-game dungeons.  Also, my hit was at around 3.11%, so the trinket gave me a solid boost into the 7% range.  Much, much better!

Since my legs are 232 and shoulders are 219, I have other pressing needs, including rings and libram…so the 4 T9 may have to wait until I at least upgrade those two slows via emblems.

Day 5

Not every day can be spent playing WoW.  It’s unfortunate, but true.  I spent all of yesterday helping my parents move into their new house, so at around 9pm I got home and simply crashed.  Didn’t get one thing done in-game.

At the time I am writing this, it is the day after, and patch day, of all.  If Ruby Sanctum is live tonight, I’ll probably be in there, and this project may take a temporary back seat.  If not, then I’ll resume my dungeon grind tonight!

Day 6

Patch Day!  What a blessing to be able to log on at 8pm in the evening!  Hah, I’m sure tons of people were frustrated, but I’m actually okay with the extended maintenance because my gameplay was smooth and errorless when I logged on.  Three or so hours of being online, and I had zero issues.  None of my add-ons were affected, and since I use the default UI, I had no issues there either.

I ran my heroic daily (Occulus), heroic Forge of Souls, and heroic Halls of Reflection.  No Ret upgrades, and I only gathered 12 or so emblems.  So, I guess I’ll be waiting until tomorrow or Friday.

I have, however, managed to collect nearly complete tanking and healing sets.  Not planning on using them just yet, but they are there if I need them!

Day 7

Did several dungeons tonight, and got one gear upgrade…a ring.  It’s an agility ring, but it’s ilvl 232 and much better than the DPS lvl 200 PvP ring I was wearing.

I think I am done with targeting single dungeons.  I have gotten just about everything I need from the ICC and ToC 5-mans.  I still need Needle Encrusted Scorpion from FoS, but everything else I need to prepare myself for raiding is purchasable with emblems.

My gear now looks something like this!

Day 8

Today was a great day.  I am almost done gearing up!  I hit the dungeons hard, using the LFD tool and abandoning targeting single dungeons.  It worked like a charm.  In all, I racked up 5 upgrades, 3 from emblems, and 2 from looting.

I still need my T9 pants and my second trinket.  I could also use an upgrade in the cloak department, but given how little is available via 5-mans, I may sit tight with my current back.

Here is my updated gear list:

The neck is still an agility neck, but an upgrade from my previous one.  The shoulders are, of course, my T9, and replace a leather agility piece on top of that.  The ring was a no-brainer, as was the libram.

However, the one tricky decision I had was replacing my boots.  My previous leather boots were very good, but the hit rating on them placed me over the cap.  I had rolled need on the Grinning Skull Boots for just this situation, and when equipped, brought me from around 10.5% hit  to 8.5% hit.  Much more efficient usage there.  I am still keeping the leather boots, just in case I may need them later on for another gear configuration!

The next goal is to continue hoping for Needle Encrusted Scorpion (it’s dropped 2x for me overall on this project, and I lost both rolls), and saving up 50 more Emblems of Triumph for my T9 pants. After that, I’m pretty much done and ready to raid!

NOTE: I raked in about 70+ emblems today, and had about 20 or so already from yesterday.  Spent 30 on T9 shoulders, 35 on the 245 ring, and 25 on the libram.

I could have gone on and finished my T9 by just buying the shoulders and legs, but since my current legs are decent at lvl 232 and leather DPS, I went ahead and upgraded my very poor quality ring and libram!

Day 9

Evilish, thank you so much for the cloak suggestion!  I faced Ahune one time, and the cloak dropped.  I won the roll, so now I have an awesome 232 cloak!  This option won’t be available for ever (when the summer even ends), so grabbing it now is a good idea!  If any Ret Paladin can’t grab it, continue on the dark path of scavenging for a decent DPS cloak!

Needle Encrusted Scorpion refused to drop today, so I have around 29 badges saved up, and only 21 more to go for my T9 legs.  At that point, I either need to choose between Darkmoon Card Greatness, Darkmoon Card Death, Mirror of Truth, or just grinding my teeth and pugging Forge of Souls everyday until NES drops.

My lack of patience is notorious, so chances are I could be dropping some gold when this is all set and done.

Day 10

Worked all day, but I did do my normal runs when I got home.  At 43 Emblems of Triumph.  Just 7 away from my T9 legs.  Should wrap this project up tomorrow!

Day 11

Well, got my T9, and I went ahead and bought my Darkmoon Card Greatness. If I am recommending this trinket to you guys, I should be willing to cough up the gold as well! I didn’t buy the card, because it was 4200g. I bought the Nobles Deck at 3200g and will turn it in next Darkmoon Fair! I am ready to raid ToC and ICC.

Gems are all Bold Scarlet Rubies, and enchants are almost all BiS (except for chest).

Here is my final gear list!


  1. Noobish Pally says:

    Wow Khor,
    You rock as usual! What a great section, thanks!

  2. Xp-mental Pally says:

    I have been using this site as my guide for the past month. My first time playing a pally and am close to 80 (7 days played time). Not getting the awesome leveling rate as Khor, but assume it is because of my noobness. Still, this was much faster than levelling my first toon.

    I have been planning the next steps after hitting level 80 and assume I should be pugging dungeons as DPS. Is there ever pressure for ret Pallys to tank? Should I be collecting gear as tank just in case? Any advice would be appreciated.

    Thanks for putting together such a great site Khor!

  3. Khor says:

    Hey XP! Very glad you found your way here! Fun leveling a Ret, isn’t it? I would definitely collect tank gear as you go. We are needed for our off-specs sometimes as often as our Ret main spec. Plus, tanking is the best way to get your heroic dailies done quickly :)

  4. Evilish says:

    Hi Khor ! Thank you so much for this great site ! What a nice reference for ret pallys !

    I’m trying to do like you by doing dungeons but as dps it takes 25 minutes when queuing using the dungeon finder tool. I could do it as tank but i would be difficult to justify the need for dps gear that way.

    Anyways, if you want a nice cloak you can do it these days. Since june 21st to july 5th it’s the Midsummer Fire festival and you can queue for The Frost Lord Ahune. It takes about 5-10 mins to do and it drops 4 different ilvl 232 cloaks. The beauty of this is that you can do it over and over until you get lucky and get “The Frost Lord’s Battle Shroud”

    It’s a really nice upgrade !

    Hope it helps for some of you !

    Thanks and keep up the excellent work ;)

  5. Khor says:

    Excellent Evilish! Thanks for the tip!

  6. Haven says:

    Hiyas Khor,

    I really love this great Ret. daily journal guide. It has helped me so much in prepping up. I respecced from Holy ( since I was “benched” for both Prot and Holy spec)to Retribution to have a better chance of gaining confidence, emblems and knowing my dungeons.

    Since I cannot find a guild that run dungeons or a solid 5 man group and has progressed futher in to the content to the point where I cannot catch-up.

    Keep up the awesome work! =)

  7. Khor says:

    Thanks Haven! The project has been pretty fun. And I haven’t even mentioned how I have gained all my gold back and then some!

    Inbetween dungeon queues (which are 10 to 20 minutes) I am herbing Storm Peaks. I have made almost 8,000g thanks to the high demand for Lichbloom, Frost Lotus, and Eternal Life.

    It’s been productive on 2 fronts!

  8. Khavar says:

    Awesome work bud. I’ve been following the guides and your getting ready to raid progress and am just in awe, you’ve been a great help. I have a quick question in regards to you’re final gear that you’ve attained. What are the final stats and are you have you capped all the required stats?

    Thanks a bunch, I look forward to what may come next.

  9. Khor says:

    Hey Khavar, thanks for reminding me! I forgot to attach my 80 stats screenshot! I inserted it with the final day of the project! I am hit capped, and I have 29 expertise WITH the SoV glyph. Thanks for the heads up!

  10. Wtfhealme says:

    Hi Kkor Just dinged to 80 today, woohooo :D this guide has helped me so far tbh, i have the shoulders and the furious pvp legs, i ran my first heroic and got the collosal skull-cad cleaver. i also have ahune’s battle shroud, can you suggest anyways which i could get more gear fast? btw, no point with boe for me because i cant afford it and i often find that i replace them after like a day xD thanks khor

  11. Sistrcristyn says:

    Just wanted to say hi. Very nice leveling. I’ve been 80 since December and have now only gotten into ICC, but my first trip in I got the Claymore from Marrowgar and the helm from LD. So its coming lol. I only have 60+ frost, so I am debating on what to do with them. I am leaning towards the trinket tho. A quick question tho. Are agility-based weapons an option? I’d love to roll with a polearm, but there are none with a strength bonus. One of your other posts mentioned how the Agility Ashen Verdict ring was a better option over the Strength version, so that is why i am slightly confused lol

    Great job.. frequent visitor!

  12. Khor says:

    Hey Sistr! For your Frost emblems, you definitely want to grab your 2 piece T10 first, gloves and shoulder probably (because they are the cheapest). After 2 T10, then you can start debating the trinket vs 4 T10! Agility based weapons ARE an option, but strength versions are almost always better. Slow weapon speed and high top end damage are your key determining factors here. For instance, a 251 agility weapon will hit harder than a 232 strength weapon. In this instance, choose agility. If you have a 251 strength weapon and 251 agility weapon, then chances are good you will be going with the strength version.

    Some agility pieces scale better than strength, and the ashen verdict ring is one of those, but only at the exalted level. stay with strength through revered, then switch to agility at exalted.

    hope this helps!

  13. Khor says:

    Best way to get gear fast is to run your 5-man. Unfortunately, if running as Ret, this is longer queue times. I passed the time by herbing Storm Peaks, which more than paid for my original gear bought.

    If I had to suggest one BoE piece to buy, it would be the Darkmoon Greatness card, because it is still very viable in ICC, and good Ret DPS trinkets are hard to come by. Chances are it wouldn’t be replaced anytime soon, anyways!

  14. Sistrcristyn says:

    Thanks for the reply :) Yea, I kinda figured that.. just have a thing for polearms lol As for the emblems, thanks again. Started running the hec outta VoA.. actually got the Holy gloves last week, a lil disappointed, but what can ya do lol.


  15. Wtfhealme says:

    Okay Thanks for the advice, yeh, running 5 mans does take a while tbh, i havent got tank gear/ dual spec talents because i have never needed really. but i will continue to run the 5 mans and heroics to get gear. thanks

  16. Evilish says:

    Nice job Khor !

    I’m going for almost the same setup as you are and i’m wondering how much dps you pull. On multiple targets with Seal of Command and on a single target with seal of vengeance ?


  17. Khor says:

    Overall I am pulling anywhere from 3500-4500 DPS. On AoE packs I get around 4000-5500 DPS, and often times more. On single targets, which are basically bosses only, I hit anywhere from 3500 to 4800 DPS. The single target DPS gets a boost from Avenging Wrath, so a more reasonable guess would be 3500-4300 DPS on bosses without.

  18. Wtfhealme says:

    Ive been 80 for 4 days now khor, im full epic item level 232 on all peices i have 4349 GS BUT i cant get any epic trinkets or rings, its the only thing thats stopping me from doing raids because everyone is like wtf, nice trinkets. i dont have the money to blow on darkmoon greatness trinkets. WHAT SHOULD I DO?? :’( also my dps is lacking behind greatly, i try using these rotations but it doesnt raise for me. please could you check out my armory page :D thanks khor you koogin legend

  19. Sistrcristyn says:


    I was also having the same problem and ending up grinding out Wintergrasp and picked up 2 battlemaster trinkets. 1 for Haste and 1 for attack power. You can also grind out dungeons and get enough Triumph for the Mark of Supremacy (I only got this as my ICC drops lowered my Hit rating under the cap) Just some options.. good luck!

    Alliance, Twisting Nether

  20. Khor says:

    For trinkets, your best bet is Needle Encrusted Scorpion from heroic Forge of Souls and Mark of Supremacy with Emblems of Triumph.

    For rings, go with the 245 Emblem of Triumph Strength ring. The other slot can either be the 245 EMblem of Triumph agility ring, or the 232 rings from Heroic Pit of Saron (agility) or Heroic Halls of Reflection (strength)

  21. Wtfhealme says:

    okat thanks for the advice guys :) ill try and get them :D

  22. Asterian says:

    Congratulation on this website. I’m a prot pally with 5.7k GS tanking ICC and got an ich to start a RET offspec. You’re site is the must for that. Thank you very much for being so inspiring and clear on your information. Keep it up for now. Keep it up for cataclysm. Thanks a lot!

  23. Blair says:

    Awesome article! What gem is in your tyrannical beheader? I just picked this up in PoS last night, but since it’s a yellow socket I wasn’t sure which gem that is. Thanks :)

  24. Agonus says:

    Hey, Khor,

    I’ve been frequenting your sight for helpful information before I hit 80. I recently acquired the battered hilt and was wanting your input on the Sword a ret paladin would naturally select upon completing the quest chain, Quel’Dalar, Might of the Faithful. I have been only recently running raids in Vault of Archavon and Trial of the Crusader. Haven’t been to ICC yet. (Waiting for the clash between my schedule and that of my guild’s raids to go away.) I’ve been reading your info on the fights in ICC as well as loot dropped. The claymore dropped by Marrowgar shows a small difference in base weapon damage, when compared to MotF, but has a socket with a strength bonus. Which would be more beneficial? Thanks for your input, and keep up the good work.

  25. Bhut says:


    Excellent site only just found it.

    I’m currently lvling a ret pally and she’s at 70 just enter northrend.

    In the blog you mention that you had all most collected a Tank and healer sets while collecting you DPS set. Any chance of dropping what those sets contain please.

    Plus one other question, for quicker dungeon queues and if people let you roll on DPS gear – Tank or Healer?

    Again excellent site loads of info.



  26. Khor says:

    @ Bhut – In regards to the Tank vs Heals option, tank seems to integrate more smoothly with rolling on DPS gear.

    In regards to the gear I picked up, there is no real set I had, it’s just if I saw a defense or healy piece, I rolled need if no one else needed.


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