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Lightsworn: Retribution Paladin Legion talents and rotation

My son, there will come a day when you will command the Ashbringer, and with it mete out justice across this land. I have no doubt that when that day finally comes, you will bring pride to our people, and that Lordaeron will be a better place because of you.

— Alexandros Mograine

As a Paladin player steeped in Warcraft lore, I’ve wanted the Ashbringer in the game since those early rumors about Naxxramas. It’s the quintessential Paladin weapon. Forged by none other than King Magni Bronzebeard, wielded by Alexandros Mograine, then purified and wielded by Tirion Fordring himself, it shattered Frostmourne at the peak of Icecrown Citadel.

Now, Theogrun Bronzebeard, better known by the moniker Honor’s Hammer, will join the line of Mograine and Fordring and wield the Ashbringer as part of a reformed Silver Hand. These are the skills, talents, and rotation he will use to mete out justice to the Legion and all its followers.

Builders and spenders

Retribution is the only Paladin spec to keep Holy Power as its resource. While our Holy and Protection brethren are struggling to adapt to new resource systems, for good, bad or indifferent, we still have a design of builders and spenders.

Our Holy Power builders are Crusader Strike, and a new spell called Blade of Justice. This will give you two Holy Power so using it when you are sitting on four would be bad, like crossing the streams. There are many binary AOE/single target decisions with Retribution and your spenders are where they start. Templar’s Verdict is for one or two mobs, and Divine Storm is for AOE. Execution Sentence, and Justicar’s Vengeance  if you talent for them, also join the spender ranks in Legion.

Other damage-dealers

Judgment has moved from a Holy Power generator to being a debuff that increases damage from your Holy Power spenders and interacts with your Mastery. We want to aim for casting at least two spenders during the debuff window.

We get a new buff called Retribution that increases your damage by 20% for 20 seconds when one of your party members dies. We now know the purpose of every other melee DPS class in the raid in Legion.

Defensive abilities

It is often said the best defense is a good offense, but sometimes a little actual defense doesn’t hurt. We have Blessing of Protection (BoP) and our trusty bubble, Divine Shield, but neither spell has a penalty any longer. We can continue to attack while under BoP and there is no nerf to the damage you do while in the bubble. We also still have access to Lay on Hands and Flash of Light, but we won’t be using the latter near as much in combat due to the loss of Selfless Healer.

With Divine Protection also retiring for Legion, we received a new defensive spell called Shield of Vengeance which is its functional replacement. It absorbs a bunch of damage and then returns it to your attacker, fitting with the Paladin flavor.

Utility spells

Blessings got a major overhaul. We still have three Blessings (Wisdom, Might, and Kings), but now they are called Greater Blessings. They harken back to the good ole days when we cast Blessings on individual players. Each Retribution Paladin can only have three Greater Blessings out at one time. Protection and Holy Paladins no longer have the buff blessings at all. Might is a DPS buff and the damage Greater Blessing of Might does shows up as damage done by you regardless of who you put the Blessing on. This could be both a blessing (I like my puns intended!) and a curse as you’ll get free damage on the meters from the person you bless, but if that person ends up attacking the wrong mob and wiping the raid, the logs will say you done did it. Greater Blessing of Wisdom is a mana regeneration buff. We’ve gone from mana per 5 to mana per 15. Greater Blessing of Kings is now a weak absorption shield. We either had Disc Priest envy or missed Sacred Shield, I’m not sure which. When you’re out soloing and leveling, you might as well have all three up on yourself.

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Picking and switching talents

The new talent system is in. You can switch freely between Retribution, Protection, and Holy, but you can only change talents in a rested area (or via a consumable made by scribes). You can switch from Ret to Holy and back to Ret all day long out in the field, but if you want to switch Fist of Justice for Repentance, you need to be in a rested area. There is a grace period when you first zone into a dungeon where you’ll get a buff called Dungeon Preparation Aura that lets you change your talents.

One quality of life improvement you’ll notice when you queue up for a dungeon is the game will set your spec when you zone into the dungeon. You’re out in the world, a guardian of peace and justice before the dark times, swinging your Ashbringer for all its worth. Your queue pops and you’re assigned the Healer role. When you zone in, you’re automagically in Holy spec and don’t have to worry about the Blood DK running off while you’re swapping specs. I mean, he’ll still run off and pull half the instance, but at least you’ll already be in Holy spec.

Soloing as Retribution

When it comes to choosing your Retribution talents, you’ve got several choices that buff your ability to do AOE DPS like Divine Hammer and Consecration. For soloing and questing, the problem will be surviving a pull long enough to AOE it down. Losing Selfless Healer hurts quite a bit. If you start to get low, you have to stop DPS and heal up. If you can level with a pocket Tankadin or other tank, the AOE build might make more sense. My choices reflect the typical leveling scenario with short fights against one to three targets.

Level 15 Final Verdict: While questing, mobs don’t live long enough to get the full value of Execution Sentence so we go with Final Verdict over the AOE talent, Consecration.

Level 30 The Fires of Justice: We are like a steam fired engine and the Fires of Justice stoke us. More Crusader Strikes means more Holy Power to use on our finishers and then, as a bonus, we get to discount those finishers from time to time. It’s a nice talent for leveling and can make up for the some of the Haste we lose as we level.

Level 45 Fist of Justice: Stunned mobs do no damage and it sets up some nice synergy with Justicar’s Vengeance. Repentance or Blinding Light work better when you are in a group.

Level 60 Virtue’s Blade: Mobs will die too fast for the DOT on Blade of Wrath to be useful, and Divine Hammer is an AOE skill.

Level 75 Justicar’s Vengeance (JV): We use Fist of Justice on cool down and get some huge burst and a beefy self heal from Justicar’s Vengeance. Keep in mind that JV costs 5 Holy Power instead of Templar’s Verdict’s 3.

Level 90 Divine Steed: There are two major components to leveling: killing stuff and traveling. Divine Steed helps with the later. There are many places on the Broken Isles where you are heading into caves and other indoor areas. Divine Steed helps you get around and get back outside faster.

  • August 3rd update! The developers released a hotfix for Paladins. Divine Steed is now baseline and the Level 90 talent has been replaced with a new talent called Cavalier. Cavalier grants two charges to Divine Steed. This should help increase Paladin mobility, and I would take Cavalier over the other options on that row. Seal of Light still feels clunky to use.

Level 100 Divine Purpose: Holy Wrath is for your AOE build and Crusade is for longer fights. I anticipate Crusade will be the go to choice for raids, but Divine Purpose is tailor made for the shorter fights you get while leveling. If you took Justicar’s Vengeance, then JV is what you should use your Divine Purpose procs on.

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Picking your Artifact traits

One you get Ashbringer, you’ll start pouring Artifact Power into it and unlocking traits. It works like a tech tree from other games. You will eventually get all the traits, but not right away. Dumping all my Artifact power into one weapon, I had less than half of the traits unlocked by the time I hit 110 on Beta but your mileage may vary.

Blade of Light is the obligatory first trait. The line to Ashes to Ashes doesn’t look that exciting so instead we head down toward the other two Gold traits picking up Deliver the Justice and Sharpened Edge. The next pick is dictated by our choice of Gold trait. If we are going after Divine Tempest, we head for Wrath of the Ashbringer. If we want Echo of the Highlord, we go for the Deflection. I’m going after Echo of the Highlord first.

When you get relics, treat them like weapon drops and go with the highest iLevel relics you have available to you. If you have two of similar iLevel pick the one that gives you a DPS enhancing trait over something like Protector of the Ashen Blade or Deflection.

The new Retribution rotation

Now that Judgement is a debuff that causes your spenders to do more damage for 8 seconds, your rotation is built around the concept of the Judgement window. You build up Holy Power with builders, use Judgment to open the window and then fire off as many spenders as you can within the window.

For builders, you want to use this priority:

  • Crusader Strike with two charges
  • Blade of Justice, if less than 4 Holy Power
  • Crusader Strike with one charge

Fire off your Judgment with 3 or 4 Holy power, opening the Judgement window. Then you’re like a college freshmen with their first credit card: spend, spend, spend, and spend some more. Once you’re outside of the Judgment window, go back to your builders. It’s okay to use spenders outside of the Judgment window, but you have to consider how fast you can get your Holy Power back up for spenders once Judgment is off of cooldown. It can feel a little clunky at first, and more so if you have lower Haste values. It should, knock on a Resto Druid, get better as we level and get more Haste.


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That should cover the basics to get you going. The Legion is fast approaching and I will be honored to stand up next to you and defend our home once again.

For Azeorth!

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