A Complete World of Warcraft Retribution Paladin Guide: The Introduction

A Complete World of Warcraft Retribution Paladin Guide: The Introduction
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Introduction - Retribution Paladin Guide

Ah, so you want to be a Retribution Paladin in World of Warcraft – or you already are one, but you’d like to learn more about how to play your character. You’ve come to the right place, because this is indeed a Retribution Paladin guide.

In this guide we’re going to cover a lot of things. We’re going to look at the abilities that are most important to Retribution Paladins, we’ll discuss the best gear, and we’ll learn the best builds. Before we do any of that, however, let’s talk about the basics.

A Brief Summary of Retribution Paladins

The official description of the Paladin is as follows:

“Guardians of the Holy Light, paladins bolster their allies with holy auras and blessing to protect their friends from harm and enhance their powers. Wearing heavy armor, they can withstand terrible blows in the thickest battles while healing their wounded allies and resurrecting the slain. In combat, they can wield massive two-handed weapons, stun their foes, destroy undead and demons, and judge their enemies with holy vengeance. Paladins are a defensive class designed to outlast their opponents.”

This all sounds really great. There is just one problem – most of it doesn’t apply to a Retribution Paladin.

As a Retribution Paladin you will be losing most of your ability to effectively tank. In exchange, you will be gaining significant offensive power. This is not to say that you can’t tank at all, but you shouldn’t really be queuing for dungeons as a tank if you chose to be a Retribution Paladin.

Your role is instead to do as much damage as possible to enemies. Retribution Paladins are particularly effective as a single-target DPS (damage per second) class. Your abilities will take large chunks of life from the health bars of opponents.

Retribution Paladins shouldn’t forget their healing abilities, however. Although not specialized in healing, Retribution Paladins can keep a group alive in emergencies. You’ll need to learn to keep an eye on the health of your allies so you can jump in with an emergency Lay on Hands or Flash of Light if the tank is about the die or the healer begins to take damage.

The Holy Power Mechanic

Retribution Paladin Guide

All Paladins have a resource called Holy Power. Holy Power is represented by the gray runic bar below your mana bar. As you use certain abilities the Holy Power bar will begin to glow. It can hold a value between 0 and 3. The higher the value, the more effective your Templar’s Verdict and Word of Glory powers will be.

Holy Power is generated by using Crusader Strike. It can also be generated by using other abilities if you have certain talents selected.

Learning to manage Holy Power is important to your life as a Retribution Paladin. Although you can use Templar’s Verdict for damage whenever you have Holy Power available, it is only truly devastating when you have three Holy Power available. This means that Retribution Paladins need a little time to “charge up” – they become more effective the longer they fight.

Your Role in Groups

As a DPS class your role in groups is to do as much damage as possible. For some players this may be counter-intuitive. Retribution Paladins sometimes want to be tanks or healers as well. As I said earlier, these are roles that you can fill – but only if a “real” tank or healer is not available.

Because you are a DPS class, you will need to be worried about threat generation. If you generate too much threat because of the damage you’re doing you’ll peel opponents off the tank. You can take hits as a Retribution Paladin, but your tank is there for a reason. He will be able to absorb far more damage than you. If you are taking threat too frequently, back off – your healers will thank you.


These are the basics of playing a Retribution Paladin, but this is obviously far from the whole story. In the following sections of the complete Retribution Paladin guide we’re going to take a look at talent specs, the ability rotations you should be using, and the gear you should be buying.

This post is part of the series: The Complete Retribution Paladin Guide

Looking to play a Retribution Paladin in World of Warcraft? You’ll find everything you need to know here.

  1. The Complete Retribution Paladin Guide Part 1: The Basics
  2. The Complete Retribution Paladin Guide Part 2: The Best and Worst Talents
  3. The Complete Retribution Paladin Guide Part 3: Abilities and Rotations
  4. The Complete Retribution Paladin Guide Part 4: Gear