Why Ret DPS Sucks at Level 80!

Why does Retribution DPS suck after Patch 4.0.3a?  Why does Blizzard hate us?  Once again, Blizz nerfs us into the ground!  When are Rets going to get some love?  Why, when we finally have decent DPS and stability, does Blizz rock the boat, and send us spiralling to the bottom of the DPS charts?  I can’t even get into a raid as Ret anymore!

These are the types of things I have been reading…here, on the WoW forums, over at Elitist Jerks…everywhere.  There are also a good amount of rational players accepting the DPS loss and just moving along, heading towards the light at the end of the tunnel that is level 85.

Guys, I am going to try to put out as many fires as I can with this one small post…

1.  Blizzard has made these changes geared towards level 85

I have said this before, and I will reiterate it here…Blizzard is still tuning our class based on level 85 stats, gear, and end-game encounters.  That is going to either skyocket our DPS, or nerf it to the point of, “WTF?”  It’s best to just chew on these changes and wait out this last week and a half, then re-discover Ret DPS at 85.  Sure, there will be kinks to work out then, but not near the roller coaster ride we have been through thus far.

2.  Level 80 Ret Paladin, you have not yet mastered the elusive Inquisition ability

Inquisition is a huge DPS boost, and everything, in my opinion, revolves around this one huge buff.  We don’t see Inquisition at level 80 because it is learned at level 81. 

If Ret Paladins at 85 are equalling the DPS of pure DPS classes, or exceeding them, then it is understandable that Blizz would want to slightly reduce our damage at level 85.  We simply are seeing more exaggerated results at level 80.

Inquisition boosts our Holy damage by 30%, lasting 4 seconds for each charge of Holy Power consumed.  The Inquiry of Faith talent allows Inquisition to be extended to a 30 second duration.

Inquisition will literally be up almost constantly during raids.  It even makes its way into our FCFS priority rotation as top priority:

  • Inquisition > HoW > Ex > TV > CS  > Judge > HW > Cons

Look at the attacks above and see how many deal Holy damage…all but TV and CS. The non-Holy damage attacks we have are our normal melee swings, Crusader Strike, and Templar’s Verdict. I am not sure on exact numbers just yet, but Inquisition may provide a rough 15% boost to our DPS when it is all said and done. 

(Thank you Kalinis for catching the errors I made here!)

That’s a nifty bump up.  Factor that into our DPS now, give yourself the Inquisition buff, and don’t you think we’d be right at where we need to be DPS-wise?  Now imagine what Inquisition would have done to our DPS pre-4.0.3a…nuts!

3.  Stats on 80 gear are not what they will be on 85 gear

Lastly, we have to realize our stats are not consistent with what they will be on level 85 gear.  Mastery will be all over the place, and while it doesn’t out-weigh crit or haste, there will be more of it to help Hand of Light proc Templar’s Verdict more often (or whatever Mastery bonus other specs get).

Heavier stats will help contribute to more DPS, as well as easier methods to reach hit, exerptise, and haste caps.


  1. kalinis says:

    I’m pretty sure CS and TV deal physical damage

  2. Milos says:

    1. It’s true. However, despite some ppl saying from beta that ret is fine in PvE at 85, ret is just average or slightly under average. However, in PvP it still sucks badly.
    2. Inquisition works nicely for PvE and gives quite a boost. On the other hand, for PvP it’s quite useless (the same as zilotry, broken mechanics plus dispellable). There are numerous posts on retpaladin and EJ explaining why.
    3. Stats on 85 are even crappier than stats on 80. Our mastery sucks and it sucks badly. You need enormous quantities of mastery on gear to make it useful and currently theory crafting (again a lot of posts at EJ) shows that it’s worth approximately 1/4 of strength at 85 (yes 4 mastery points=1 strength). Since all T11 gear contains it exclusively (no crit any more), that’s how “awesome” new gear will be for rets.

  3. Milos says:

    You are totally right. CS and TV are purely physical damage. On the other hand Inquisition doesn’t boost holly damage, but all damage except white attacks, which only excludes auto-attacks.

  4. Khor says:

    You guys are right, CS and TV ARE physical damage. Looking back, I have no idea why I thought both of them were Holy damage. I think my mind was just mushing a bunch of info together. I will fix that.

    Second, Mastery isn’t completely worthless. Yes, strength is better, but we cannot reforge that, and strength is on every one of our pieces of gear. So strength isn’t a factor.

    When you look at our gear selections now at 80, all or most of our gear is crit/haste. Past the haste cap, reforging goes directly into crit, and mastery remains untouched. There have been tests done to show that stacking mastery increases DPS, just not to the point that it does for crit and haste.

    We may find ourselves forced to reforge for mastery at some point, which will help, like it or not. For example, any gear with hit/exp/haste and crit as a combo will be reforged to mastery if all of the first three are at cap. There’s no sense in keeping the stat over-cap. And yes, those situation will happen..just like we will be reforging mastery to crit on pieces that allow us.

    If Blizz plants Mastery all over our tier gear, yes it sucks, but you have to know in the back of your head there is a reason. It may be a reason we don’t know yet, but Blizz won’t leave us completely gimped. I know everyone likes to think that way, but I don’t.

    Beta servers are for beta testing. We will see the final product at 85, at which point we can really start to hit the panic button if DPS is still gimped…but we alwasy find a way to remain competitive on the charts, so there’s no reason to fret now.

  5. Khor says:

    @ Milos – I was under the impression it was only Holy damage? Did I miss an update on that spell?

  6. Darthal says:

    People just need to hold off judgment until they reach 85, i for one am quite excited about it’s prospects.

  7. Milos says:

    Nope, my bad I thought all yellow damage. What counts is Hammer and Exo (in addition to seals, judgments and HW, and consecr with is out of rotation anyway).

  8. Khor says:

    Ah okay, that makes me feel better! I was scouring every place I could to see if I missed something 🙂

  9. Naididae says:

    The rotation presented is wrong though, it is actually

    Inq > HoW > Exo > TV > CS > Judge > HW > Consecration

    How and Exo might even change places after the 50% buff.

  10. Khor says:

    Ah I thought Exorcism had jumped ahead at 85, but I couldn’t find anywhere to confirm it! And just found it on EJ…specific t o85 it says, not at level 80. I still think Ex jumped ahead at 80, too…

  11. Naididae says:

    Definetly did, specially in ICC, I’d say exo is top priority at 80 in ICC, but for non-undead mobs, it goes before HoW

    So, for 80 it’s: HoW > Exo > TV > CS > Judge > HW > Consecration
    at 80 fighting with undead it’s Exo > HoW > TV > CS > Judge > HW > Conse

    at 85 it’s Inq > HoW > Exo > TV > CS > Judge > HW > Consecration
    and fighting undeads Exo goes before HoW

    HoW beats Exo (even though exo definetly hits harder than HoW), because HoW has such a higher crit chance (except when fighting undeads, then Exo will always crit). But maybe at 85 with Inq, the 20% damage increase to Exo from blazing light and if Exo’s glyph is confirmed as best option as it seems right now, it might be better even than HoW. But that’s a long way to worry about it.

  12. Khor says:

    Great stuff, Naididae, thank you!

  13. Naididae says:

    And about the stat priority, we should NEVER reforge FOR mastery, only AWAY from it. If you have an item with Haste and Crit and you are already haste capped, you are better off going over the haste cap (which is unatandable anyway, for most people now and for everyone at 85), instead of reforging to mastery.
    What you should do with the new pieces we’ll be getting, is reforging Mastery into anything else, except hit and expertise if those are already capped.

  14. Naididae says:

    Remember that the goal for CS cooldown now, after the new latency fix is 3s – latency, instead of the old 3s + 2x latency. So it’s A LOT of haste needed now.

  15. Milos says:

    Exo glyph has been bugged (20% only to base dmg which is less than 10% of total exo dmg) and probably will stay like this concerning how long it has been bugged.

    Haste cap is impossible to reach at 85. Impossible even with like T13 gear. It’s over 5k.
    Therefore all reforging goes from mastery into haste (after hit and exp cap).

  16. Khor says:

    Yeah, I’ve been following EJ on the haste cap at 85, which seems to be massively high compared to the 1000 or so prior to the latency fix. Waiting to get more conrete information so I can post it up on my other pages.

    Latency fix and spell queue system seem to be working well.

  17. Hierro says:

    Hola ^^ How much is our crit cap?

  18. Jeryth says:

    In regards to the original intent of this article, I think a lot of the ranting raving and verbal/written venom a great many of the more vocal of our number (and I include myself in that list, just ask my girl friend)have been spewing would be quelled or at least lessened if we were getting more information from Blizzard as to why we’ve been hit so hard with nerfs. Even a simple “please bare with us, we feel Ret Paladin damage is to high at 85” or a “the role of Ret Paladins has been redesigned as a support class rather than pure DPS class” would at least let us feel like there is a reason behind whats been going on. Personally its the vague uncertainty that has me frustrated at .the moment. Changes and hardships are easier to deal with when you at least have an idea as to the purpose behind them.

    Just my 2 cents.

  19. jaden says:

    is Icescale Leg Armor enchant and Nerubian Leg Reinforcements do the same thing??

  20. warbyrd says:

    yes but regardless THEY CUT THE DPS. and now from 4K dps to barely 2K dps with full t10 and some epic gear from icc…. and i’m still kicked out of groups when my gearscore is 5660! a t9 crap for gearscore does 9K dps! tell me it’s just blizzard screwing me.

  21. Magicsin says:

    I’ve been doing some tweaking to my wife’s ret lately to see if she’s got a point by ranting about 😛
    I realised you rets are totally right, the DPS has been screwed up badly, and your only hope should be the new level cap. To be honest, I can’t see how a single new skill and 85 gear stats will be improving DPS THAT much… Time will tell.

    Anyway, playing as the said before pala with 230 average ilvl (4720gs), I can’t get more than 3,7k on the dummy w/o cooldowns,which is pretty tragic IMO. The alt char, a DK with 214 average ilvl (4073gs) can go up to 4,7k without breaking a sweat…

    Don’t even think comparing any ranged classes… :/

  22. Lyreth says:

    For those of us in high level gear though, I feel like I do fine dps. Not necessary to raid anymore anyway. With a little over a 6300gs/3400wh I dish out some sick crits!

  23. Naididae says:

    No, you go away from mastery as much as possible.

  24. Mersan says:

    I dont want to be sound unfair but, Mastery is not a bad stat! I reforged every crit for mastery after hit and exp capped. Got haste to drop with judgement of pure a 3.7sec swing timer to 2.65 i got insane amount of free TV procs and exorcism too. I dont think we are that bad only where nerfed before we got our most damage boosting spell. Let see it that way High mastery = Inq always there. 30% boost on seal damage (it thicks like 6-7k even nerfed when it crits on live and got not Highest gear), on exo (it was boosted). We dont even have or lvl85 summon spell! So i would dissapointed only IF on 85 full t11 geared and armed with a good 2h weapon i would be lover as a tank! Remember Agro is a factor again! First time in 2 years i can laugh at 20k burst mages causing a big vipe (AGROOOOOOO) and linking Woaaa i am soo cool… 😀 Give mastery a try plz. (Btw they can remodel retribution any time they want if we falling short!)

    Dont give up hope befor experimenting with rotations gemming and stuff. If you want to dps proly maybe you should invest effort in it too. I personaly never blindly trusted any forums about waht is should do or what not. It is worth a try to see if mastery has potential or not. Go reforge for it and try out!

  25. Sinclair says:

    I would very much disagree with you I’ve tried mastery on my 271 item level pally doing 8.3k dps after a half an hour and that was my average when I went back to leaving my crit alone and reforging any unneeded stat to haste my average was 8.8k dps, spent the same time on it and I tried other different builds such as haste w/mastery, but nothing was better than all str haste and crit. It was procing hand of light much more often so more TV and I was doing much more but they weren’t criting and my weapon speed/GCDs took a huge hit, I had gotten it to 18% mastery rating you just lose to much out of it, in a way I was doing more work for less numbers which is not very ideal. I have also spent a bit of time on the beta and had premade ret w/ 359 raid gear and tier, mastery is still not as good, you had 12% from gear alone and I doubt 4% more will help in anyway, maybe in a year or two once we are all at deathwing’s foot steps will we get enough mastery on gear to go all for it. At this point mastery is like armor pen imo.

  26. Koneko says:

    I’m biting my time till the ability to get to 85 but it still hurts much to see a Prot Pally do 4-5k more then all the ret pallies in our raiding groups…..makes you kinda feel useless

  27. Bruceleroi says:


    I totally agree that at higher gear levels the dps is very competitive with other classes. The raiders in my guild are all mostly 277 ilvl with a few 264 pieces here and there. Im at 6220gs and im usually between the 6-9 slot on the charts. I thinks thats pretty good seeing as how we have a mage and 2 locks always at the top (even beating a dk and another ret with Shadowmourne). We consistently beat out rouges, hunters, priests, and shaman by far.


    I completely understand about the prot pallys pulling sick dps. A few weeks ago on Saurfang, a prot pulled 9.5k while the lowly hunters (dont even get me started on hunters. I feel they are even worse off then rets atm) were beneath him.

  28. Lyreth says:


    Yeah, I hear that. Our mages and locks have sick damage output right now. We were finishing off some random achievements people needed for their drakes and when we were doing Neck Deep LK dropped so fast we didn’t have to kill any spirits at all.(Of course we have 5 shadowmournes in the guild.) 🙂 I’m usually between 6-10 myself depending on how lazy I get in a fight.. So boring after a year of doing it that I don’t really care!! 😛

  29. lordmogg says:

    I have always been sold on the idea of Mastery. Mine is near enough 18%. Before the latest patch I was hitting 9k easily and if on ICC or VOA it was much higher. Almost double. Now of course as with everyone else it has gone way down. Probably halved if im honest. It seems that with the extra patches and the impending Cata Haste will now be a top priority to help combat latency. I already have much more lag then before the last patch.

    The wind has gone out of my sails a bit and im just biding my time until Cata.

    IMO they will tweak our Rets at least 3 more times before they have it near acceptable for all. I have spent so much gold and time tweaking and changing and re gemming and reforging my toon that its just pointless. Im just doing my dailies and random heroics building up my cash and Justice points.

    True we only have 4 days left but there you go 😉

    For now I suggest gathering yourselves and just quietly work your way up to 85. Then we can get serious again 😉

  30. Creamyo says:

    I was doing 4k~ on the dummy, I was going going to cry.
    But yeah probably going to go holy in cata, cause it’s just so easy running and spamming holy light 😀

  31. Kellendros says:

    you forget to mention on the main post that censure and seal of truth are also holy dmg and a big part of our dmg. (not as big as before but still very considerable!)

  32. Eebs says:

    It’s stupid to thank that 5 levels will make it all better.Never has this been the case. Everytime bliz says that they’re thinking about end game with the changes they make, the promised balance takes over a half dozen patches to work well. In my book ret’s been killed by bliz’s fixing it to be less faceroll, which in bliz’s eyes seems to be forced reliance on rng. Holy power was the dumbest idea they’ve come up with. yes it works, and yes it’s playable, however that doesn’t mean it’s good, or fun. Imo holy power should behave like a shadow priests shadow orbs. I hate that everything we do now revolves around building up Hp for our big templar’s verdict nuke. bliz seems to be fixated with giving each class one nuke and emphasising it’s nukeness with class mechanics. Even the sound of it grates on my nerves. I’ve respec’d both my horde and alliance paladin out of ret, opting for a pve and pvp prot spec.
    What’s even more rediculous is what they’ve done to paladin’s iconic abilities, such as holyshield and seal of command. Idk i gave it a month with hopes of seeing an improvement. i don’t think it’s any fair to ask players to play a broken class to 85 with the promise that it’ll all work out when they get there. Imo balance the class early and there’s less work to do on it end game. Anyway i’m going to go play my druid a bit b4 cata hits.

  33. Invictadeus says:

    Ret is not fixed still and is at the bottom of the dps world of log charts in pve and is horrible in pvp. Ret has been nerfed to the ground. It’s a very sad day. Ret needs a complete overhaul. Unfortunately doesn’t look like its going to be enough whatever blizzard does. Wrath was the good times, Cata is going to be the tough times. 🙁

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