Introduction

Hey there, Skeletor here. I am a Ret Moderator/Theorycrafter/Templar in the Hammer of Wrath Paladin Discord, and you can check me out in-game under the name Ilivath. I have been raiding Mythic progression for a long time, and I have played a Retribution Paladin as my main for even longer.

Heading into Shadowlands, this guide will serve the same purpose as it did in BfA and prior expansions: providing quality and accurate information about Retribution Paladin. You will find a wealth of information and numerical data in this guide, and I recommend you go through it section by section. Pick the topics that are most relevant to you and slowly work through them.

Outside of this guide and the ones I have recommended, we have recently been subjected to a veritable onslaught of guides and videos making all sorts of unsubstantiated claims or providing misinformation, both minor and severe. These types of “guides” are a plague to the community, and it is shameful that some of them even exist. Unfortunately, much of this poorly researched and "feelycrafted" content is located on popular and easily accessible sites, giving it high visibility for newer players who, regrettably, do not know any better.

Poorly written “guides” have many negative effects on the community, and I very strongly believe that when undertaking to provide a guide or class-based information, you must hold yourself to a very high standard and provide that information responsibly. These bad “guides” split our community asunder, giving players who unwittingly follow them inaccurate ideas and notions about how the class functions. Thus, when they follow these “guides” and adapt their play-style to the information found within, they typically end up with deficient performance, or only just marginally better than what they were able to do before. Instead of realizing they have been following a source of misinformation, they feel inclined to blame the class design, resulting in disarray amongst the community and between the player base and the designers.

With the new expansion in full swing, we are seeing these problematic “guides” being churned out at alarming rates. It seemed that everyone with a YouTube channel and Beta access is making their own “Ret Changes” video. I watch every single one of these videos that is brought to my attention, and most of them are inaccurate, poorly researched, and frankly just a lazy approach to creating a community resource. These “guides” and videos are causing confusion regarding the changes we are seeing and what to expect in Shadowlands. As a result, we have misinformed players watching these videos, and without bothering to corroborate the information, take it as gospel. These players then turn to the WoW Forums - our best source of communication/feedback to the devs and designers - and complain incessantly about what they have falsely come to believe are problems or issues. This drowns out the constructive conversation that we still need to have with the class designers and devs.

Check out as many guides and videos as you wish. Ingest as much information as you can. I ask only that you fact-check what you see and hear against the reputable sources. If you find something that contradicts the data I have compiled in this guide, do some research, and ask some questions before you immediately assume it to be accurate. The minds behind the reputable sources can all be found at the Hammer of Wrath Discord, so come ask us if you are uncertain about something. Let us not muddy the waters with poorly researched misinformation to the detriment of the players and the class.

BfA to Shadowlands Transition

Once you reach Level 60 you should find Retribution plays very similar to Battle for Azeroth.

Bug Tracker

There are some bugs remaining from Alpha/Beta. Some of these might be intentional.

Shadowlands Design Philosophy

With all expansions Blizzard has a shift with design philosophy. Shadowlands is no different.

BfA brought us manufactured downtime, whitelisting, and increased auto-attack damage. Blizzard has started to pull away from manufactured downtime. Whitelisting will remain prevalent. Increased auto-attack damage never disappeared as much as passive damage sources overshadowed it in the end of BfA.

Manufactured downtime was one of the larger concerns headed into BfA and systems were slowly added to make this less of a concern. In Shadowlands we should not see a substantial increase in downtime. Hammer of Wrath and Wake of Ashes have become baseline allowing us new choices of talents.

Reactionary game play was one aspect of manufactured downtime. This led to Blizzard putting many cooldowns on the GCD. They later tried to reinforce this approach by adding secondary effects onto cooldowns to lessen the impact. For now, Blizzard is pulling back from this approach temporarily.Avenging Wrath is once again off of the GCD but lost the guaranteed crit to our first Templar's Verdict or Divine Storm which was originally introduced to compensate for the GCD. Crusade is off the GCD as well. Our reintroduced Holy Avenger is also no longer on the GCD. Blessing of Sacrifice has returned off the GCD as well.

Target caps are another design shift. Blizzard wants to have a clear difference between AoE and Cleave. Cleave is up to 5 targets and AoE is anything more than 5. Divine Storm is now limited to 5 targets. Wake of Ashes is unlimited but does reduced damage to secondary targets. This is referred to as Square Root Scaling. For more information on this refer to the Mechanics section. We still have a couple of fully uncapped options with Sanctified Wrath and Final Reckoning.

One of the selling points of Shadowlands was “The Great Unpruning”. To make my stance clear I do not consider making talents baseline and reintroducing former talents in their place unpruning. This leaves us with several abilities I feel to be useless. These include Sense Undead, Turn Evil, and Shield of the Righteous. I excluded Crusader Aura and Retribution Aura as they replaced passive abilities in which both could be active at the same time and now potentially we will have neither active.

On the other hand, Blessing of Sacrifice has made a return and it is a solid addition. Devotion Aura is available as well in content where there is not a Holy or Protection Paladin present. I would not consider Concentration Aura entirely useful or useless. It will be very niche. I was not a fan of Auras in the past and I still feel the same way. It happened to be one of the things people were overly vocal about and they ended up getting what they asked for.

Blizzard attempted to resolve secondary stats scaling greater than primary stats by making secondary stats on gear increase linearly. We knew that this would not last outside of the first Tier. Secondary stats continued to vastly out-scale primary stat. Then the Corruption system was created and further inflated the value of secondary stats. To combat this Blizzard has introduced Secondary Stat Diminishing Returns. Starting at 25% the amount of rating you gain will be reduced. This only serves to confuse players and force them to use outside tools such as Raidbots to determine upgrades. To learn more about how the diminishing returns work please refer to the Mechanics section.

Leveling skill modification was already present in WoW to an extent. Shadowlands aims to fill in the gaps of not receiving anything while leveling up by breaking spells into multiple parts. This is a good system for the long-term health of the game. It just has a few unfortunate drawbacks we must deal with pre-patch and leveling. During this period of time we will not be able to use Hammer of Wrath during Avenging Wrath as it not unlocked until Level 58 with Hammer of Wrath. To view a complete list please refer to the Leveling Modifiers section.

To close out with a bit of good news Titan Forging is not making a return in Shadowlands.

Core Abilities

Rotational Abilities

Abilities used to generate and spend Holy Power to deal damage.

Offensive Cooldowns

Abilities used to increase our damage output.

Defensive

Abilities used for damage reduction, damage prevention or mobility.

Utility

Abilities that can be cast on yourself or others.

Crowd Control

Standard mob control fare.

Passive

Abilities that work in the background to augment your damage and utility.

Leveling Modifiers

Our abilities can gain additional effects at various levels.

Cosmetic

Looks cool.

  • Contemplation allows you to Tebow in-game. Best used before new bosses or after countless wipes.

Useless

The "Great Unpruning" was very kind to us.

Talents

Shadowlands does not change much overall with talents. Rows 4 and 5 swapped places. New talents were added in place of ones that became baseline or were removed. The new talents and swaps have caused some of the rows to be more loosely defined rather than a specific interaction. The left most column has remained fully passive. Talent’s that potentially require more interaction are still in the middle or right column. Just because a talent is in the middle or right column does not mean it is automatically better.

Level 15

This row primarily affects ST throughput. This row suffers balance issues.

  • Zeal is a talent that helps offset downtime due to its stacking nature. Zeal does increase the proc chance of Art of War/ Blade of Wrath. This is the only talent that does not lose value in Cleave/AoE.
  • Righteous Verdict is a flat bonus to Templar's Verdict. There is no need to play around this talent making it very easy to use compared to Execution Sentence.
  • Execution Sentence is a priority target damage increase. If you have a high value target that needs to die fast (e.g., Jeffrey Epstein) this can be a strong choice. It provides more damage than Righteous Verdict but does require optimal play. Make sure your target will survive the 8 second duration before using. Currently this is underwhelming unless you 100% need the priority damage or are doing Sludgefist.

Level 25

This row affects our rotational downtime. All talents contribute towards ST and AoE damage. This row is well balanced overall.

  • Fires of Justice allows for the lowest rotational downtime. Low proc chance is very unsatisfying in practice.
  • Blade of Wrath provides a better overall feel due to the relatively high proc change.
  • Empyrean Power can be marginally better than previous talents in AoE. Low proc chance is very unsatisfying in practice.

Level 30

Crowd control row.

Level 35

This is our defensive row.

Level 40

This is a play-style defining row. This row is well balanced overall.

  • Divine Purpose provides a decrease in downtime and an additional R.N.G. element to our rotation.
  • Holy Avenger provides an additional cooldown. This does not naturally align with Avenging Wrath/Crusade. You can view this as an augment to our existing burst or as a secondary separate cooldown. Tends to be a weaker choice in pure damage but will have use if high burst or an additional cooldown is needed.
  • Seraphim is a short duration secondary stat increase. The Crit, Vers, and Mastery are additive and the Haste is multiplicative. Requires the most consideration when selected.

Level 45

This is our Utility/Healing row.

Level 50

This is a second play-style defining row. This row suffers balance issues.

  • Sanctified Wrath increases the duration of Avenging Wrath and causes us to do uncapped AoE damage when we spend Holy Power. Strong in Single Target and AoE.
  • Crusade provides a fast-paced cooldown window. Strong in Single Target but falls behind Sanctified Wrath in AoE.
  • Final Reckoning is another priority target damage increase the has an AoE component. It is a targetable uncapped AoE ability. It also causes all targets hit to take increased damage from our Holy Power spenders. If we must hold onto the cooldown, we gain a passive effect that deals low damage and increases the damage of our spenders. Is not currently competitive.

Talent Rankings

Only the Top 10 profiles are shown for each setup. Please Sim yourself to find out what is best for you. Talents are not universal.

Covenants

If this sections seems lacking it is being updated. I was a bit slow this time around and I apologize.

Kyrian

Divine Toll is the Kyrian Covenant class ability. The tooltip is very lackluster and it does double the damage of a normal Judgment. It will also generate Holy Power for each target hit. One its own Divine Toll is not very strong in Single Target scenarios but fares much better in AoE.

Summon Steward is the Kyrian Covenant Signature ability. Owlbro is a Potion Seller who wishes he even had the strongest potions. Very lackluster once per fight heal that also clears debuffs that most of which we can already clear as Ret. In terms of usefulness in a competitive environment It may as well not exist for Ret. This does nothing to bolster our weaknesses and serves more as bloat for handling issues we can already deal with.

Soulbinds

Pelagos is the 1st Kyrian Soulbind. Overall, he is the best Soulbind in Single Target and AoE at this time.

You first trait is Combat Meditation which causes Divine Toll to give you a temporary Mastery buff that can be extended by picking up the blue balls(F) that spawn.

There are no other notable DPS nor Utility traits and your 2nd Potency Conduit slot is unlocked at Renown 21.

Kleia is the 2nd Kyrian Soulbind and is unlocked at Renown 5 after completing the 3rd Chapter of your Covenant Campaign.

Pointed Courage is the only notable DPS trait but it would require you to forego a Potency Conduit to access it. This Trait is worse than our current Single Target Conduits choices, but is better than our AoE Conduit choices.

There are no other notable DPS nor Utility traits and your 2nd Potency Conduit slot is unlocked at Renown 28.

Forgelite Prime Mikanikos is the 3rd Kyrian Soulbind and is unlocked at Renown 22 after completing the final Chapter of your Covenant Campaign.

Bron's Call to Action is your first trait and will spawn Bron after 90 attacks against your target. He has an Auto-Attack that is based on Attack Power and a Beam attack that is based on Spell Power. As a Hybrid we benefit from this. However, it is still an underwhelming trait and is very frustrating to watch combat end right as Bron spawns or was about to spawn.

There are no other notable DPS nor Utility traits and your 2nd Potency Conduit slot is unlocked at Renown 29.

Necrolord

Vanquisher's Hammer is the Necrolord Covenant class ability. It has the shortest cooldown of any Covenant ability which can make it a more desirable choice for people that want faster paced gameplay.

Fleshcraft is the Necrolord Covenant Signature ability. A defensive ability sounds great until you have to deal with the 4 second channel time. Channeling it near a corpse will increase the size of the absorb.

Soulbinds

Plague Deviser Marileth is the 1st Necrolord Soulbind. He has n notable DPS nor Utility traits and his second Potency Conduit slot is unlocked at Renown 21.

Emeni is the 2nd Necrolord Soulbind and is unlocked at Renown 5 after completing the 3rd Chapter of your Covenant Campaign.

Lead by Example is your first trait which causes Vanquisher's Hammer grant you and nearby allies a temporary Primary stat buff. It is a good trait in Single Target and AoE.

There are no other notable DPS nor Utility traits and your 2nd Potency Conduit slot is unlocked at Renown 28.

Bonesmith Heirmir is the 3rd Necrolord Soulbind and is unlocked at Renown 22 after completing the final Chapter of your Covenant Campaign. Overall, he is the best Soulbind in Single Target and AoE at this time.

Forgeborne Reveries is your first trait which increases your Primary stat for each Enchant on your armor, up to 3 enchants. Upon death, you can continue to DPS for another 10 seconds but at 50% reduced damage.

Heirmir's Arsenal: Marrowed Gemstone is a notable DPS trait in AoE scenarios. It takes the place of a Potency Conduit but is strong enough in AoE to be worthwhile.

There are no other notable DPS nor Utility traits and your 2nd Potency Conduit slot is unlocked at Renown 29.

Venthyr

Ashen Hallow is the Venthyr Covenant class ability. It is a very large 30 second ground-targetted AoE with a 4 Minute cooldown that hast a cast time. The duration and cooldown can potentially make this more complicated to use. Ashen Hallow will not break Crowd Control and it will not pull patrolling mobs.

Door of Shadows is the Venthyr Covenant Signature ability. It is a desirable choice due to our existing lack of mobility. It does have a short cast time but it is manageable.

Soulbinds

Nadjia the Mistblade is the first Venthyr Soulbind. Overall, she is the best Soulbind tied with Theotar in Single Target and AoE at this time. I would personally recommend her over Theotar.

Thrill Seeker is your first trait which grants you a temporary Haste buff after generating enough stacks either passively or by killing mobs. It is a good trait in ST and AoE.

Dauntless Duelist is another DPS trait that might seem good at first glance. However, it takes the place of a Potency Conduit and our conduits are better than a 3% Single Target DPS increase.

Exacting Preparation also takes the place of a Potency Conduit and is weaker than our conduits.

There are no other notable DPS nor Utility traits and your 2nd Potency Conduit slot is unlocked at Renown 25.

Theotar the Mad Duke is the second Venthyr Soulbind and is unlocked at Renown 5 after completing the 3rd Chapter of your Covenant Campaign. Overall, he is the best Soulbind tied with Nadjia in Single Target and AoE at this time. I would personally recommend Nadjia over Theotar.

Soothing Shade is  your first trait which as a chance to summon Tubbins and Gubbins to hold a parasol that will give you a temporary Mastery buff while you stand in the shaded area. They do not follow you unfortunately so you can lose value due to movement. It is still a good trait overall.

Leisurely Gait gives you a second charge of Door of Shadows at the cost of an increased cooldown.

Wasteland Propriety causes your Ashen Hallow casts to grants a 40 second Versatility buff to you and up to 4 nearby allies at a reduced percentage. This amounts to slightly less DPS than a Potency Conduit which this takes the place of. If you account for buffing your allies this is far superior in group content.

Refined Palate is a R.N.G. potion duration modifier that is not good. This takes the place of a Potency Conduit as well.

There are no other notable DPS nor Utility traits and your 2nd Potency Conduit slot is unlocked at Renown 28.

General Draven is the third Venthyr Soulbind and is unlocked at Renown 22 after completing the final Chapter of your Covenant Campaign.

Enduring Gloom causes your Door of Shadows to grant a moderate absorb.

Move As One lets you leech of of nearby allies using movement speed buffs.

Built for War grants you a stacking Primary stat buff as long as you remain above 50% health. Even at 100% uptime it is weaker than our Potency Conduit choices which this takes the place of.

There are no other notable DPS nor Utility traits and your 2nd Potency Conduit slot is unlocked at Renown 29.

Night Fae

Blessing of the Seasons is the Night Fae Covenant class ability. It cycles between the 4 Seasons, Blessing of Summer, Blessing of Autumn, Blessing of Winter, and Blessing of Spring.

Blessing of Summer is always first. If you are on a different Season before starting a Raid Encounter it will revert to Summer. This allows you to pre-cast Summer and follow up with Summer again after the cooldown is complete. Some classes will benefit more from Summer than us and that list will be determined later. Warcraftlogs will assign the damage of Summer to the Paladin that cast it. Summer scales directly off of damage done so it is not modified by any class specific modifiers and it is also unable to Crit.

Blessing of Autumn is second. Autumn will cause the cooldowns of any Class abilities to recover 30% faster. This also applies directly to Autumn itself. While active, every regular second that passes is actually a 1.3 seconds of cooldown reduction.

Blessing of Winter is third. Winter provides a negligible amount of damage and utility. It has an internal cooldown of 0.5 seconds. We gain slightly more damage if this is used on another class. The damage will be attributed to the Paladin who cast Winter.

Blessing of Spring is fourth. It will increase healing done by the target and healing received by the target. This can be beneficial for Blood DK's with their high self healing as an example.

Soulshape is the Night Fae Covenant Signature ability. Soulshape is fantastic for mobility which is an area that we are clearly lacking in. It provides a 50% movement speed increase and the ability to blink 15 yards every 4 seconds for a total of 3 times. It allows you to cover a lot of ground quickly. There are also a variety of different skins providing excellent customization.

Soulbinds

Niya is the first Night Fae Soulbind. Overall, she is the best Soulbind in Single Target at this time.

Grove Invigoration is your first trait which causes your attacks to have a chance to grant you a stack of Redirected Anima and casting Blessing of the Seasons to generate 6 stacks which gives you a temporary Mastery buff. You can build stacks while the buff is active to grant more Mastery but it will not increase the duration. If you have stacks before you cast Blessing of the Seasons, Blessing of the Seasons will add 6 additional stacks and refresh the duration to 30 seconds. This is a very strong trait.

Niya's Tools: Poison causes your successful interrupts to apply a DoT. If you successfully interrupt while the DoT is active it will do increased damage.

Niya's Tools: Burrs causes your attacks to have a chance to drop a trap that if the enemy moves over, will apply a DoT. It takes the place of a Potency Conduit. It can potentially be better in Single Target. In AoE it tends to pull slightly ahead. I would recommend just using Korayn as your AoE Soulbind however.

There are no other notable DPS nor Utility traits and your 2nd Potency Conduit slot is unlocked at Renown 25.

Dreamweaver is the second Night Fae Soulbind and is unlocked at Renown 5 after completing the 3rd Chapter of your Covenant Campaign. She grants you access to 2 Potency Conduits at Renown 13 which can make her the strongest Soulbind early in progress until you have Renown 25.

Podtender is your first trait that will turn you into a seed pod if you take fatal damage. If you do not take much damage as a seed pod you will be revived after 10 seconds. This has a 10 Minute cooldown. This can be a good utility trait.

Social Butterfly proves a small temporary Versatility buff when you are nearby 2 allies. This will jump back and forth between your allies and yourself. This takes the place of a Potency Conduit and is generally worse in both Single Target and AoE.

Field of Blossoms causes your Blessing of the Seasons casts to grant a temporary Haste buff for 7.5 seconds. This is a decent trait.

There are no other notable DPS nor Utility traits and your 2nd Potency Conduit slot is unlocked at Renown 13. As mentioned above, this can potentially be beneficial during progression.

Korayn is the third Night Fae Soulbind and is unlocked at Renown 22 after completing the final Chapter of your Covenant Campaign. Overall, she is the best Soulbind in AoE at this time.

Wild Hunt Tactics is your first trait and it increases your damage by 10% to enemies that are above 75% health. It also increases your movement speed by 15% for 5 seconds when attacking an enemy above 75% health. On paper it is a strong trait. Its real world value might be lower. On most fights the first 25% of a Boss' health pool is not where damage is needed the most.

First Strike increases your Critical Strike chance by 25% for 5 seconds when you damage and enemy before they damage you. This is a strong trait in AoE when the mobs that come out do not live a long time. If you have infrequent add(s) or add(s) that have a long lifespan this trait will lose value. It will generally perform well across most Mythic+ content but will vary in Raids encounter by encounter. This takes the place of a Potency Conduit and is potentially worth using.

There are no other notable DPS nor Utility traits and your 2nd Potency Conduit slot is unlocked at Renown 28.

Conduits

Conduits comes in Potency, Endurance, and Finesse varieties.

Potency

Potency Conduits all increase damage.

Expurgation causes Blade of Justice critical strikes to deal a percentage of the damage every 2 seconds for 6 seconds. Due to the nature of Crit it is not a very reliable trait even if it appears to be comparable to other choices. Expurgation will not Crit itself. It drops from Ventunax in Spires of Ascension.

Templar's Vindication is a consistent Single Target damage increase due to how often we cast Templar's Verdict. It drops from Xav the Unfallen in Theater of Pain.

Truth's Wake causes target hit by Wake of Ashes to suffer a percentage of damage every 1 second for 6 seconds. It drops from Globgrog in Plaguefall, and is also available from PvP Conquest Vendors.

Virtuous Command is a very consistent conduit that provides a buff from Judgment that causes our Templar's Verdict, Blade of Justice, Crusader Strike, and Auto Attacks to deal additional damage as Holy Damage. This does not scale with secondary effects as it deals a percentage of damage.

Ringing Clarity is a heavily RNG based ability until it becomes reliable at higher ranks that are not obtainable in Season 1 of Shadowlands. It will cause your Divine Toll to fire 3 additional Judgment's that will each generate Holy Power. The Judgment does not stack so that benefit is lot. It will drop from any Shadowlands World Boss.

Righteous Might is a flat damage modifier for Vanquisher's Hammer. It is very lackluster at this time. It will drop from any Shadowlands World Boss.

Hallowed Discernment causes Ashen Hallow to heal the lowest Health ally and damage the lowest Health enemy for a reduced percentage. This works in Single Target and does not provide an AoE benefit. It will drop from any Shadowlands World Boss.

The Long Summer increases the duration of Blessing of Summer. It is not good and needs a rework. It will drop from any Shadowlands World Boss.

Endurance

Endurance Conduits impact healing and absorbs.

Divine Call reduces the remaining cooldown of Divine Shield by an insignificant amount. It drops from General Kaal in Castle Nathria.

Golden Path provides a small heal from Consecration. It drops from Lady Inerva Darkvein in Castle Nathria.

Shielding Words causes Word of Glory to provide an absorb for a percentage of the amount healed. Pairs well with Healing Hands. It drops from Kael'thas Sunstrider in Castle Nathria.

Finesse

Finesse conduits impact mobility and character control effects.

Echoing Blessings causes Blessing of Freedom to increase the targets movement speed and causes Blessing of Sacrifice to provide a damage reduction. This is an incredibly powerful Raiding Conduit. It drops from Castellan Niklaus in Castle Nathria, and is also available from PvP Conquest Vendors.

Light's Barding increases the duration of Divine Steed and is a very  solid mobility choice. It drops from Sire Denathrius in Castle Nathria.

Pure Concentration is a highly situational Conduit that will be very beneficial when needed. The drop location is currently unknown.

Wrench Evil has no value in PvE. It drops from Kul'tharok in Theater of Pain.

Covenant Rankings

The best piece of advice I can offer you is to play whatever Covenant you want. Do not focus so hard on rankings. There are various situations in which they can all be better or worse than each other. For Retribution they are all relatively close enough that as long as you're not pushing Top 50 World you can play what you find the most fun.

The Covenant system is not designed to have a single correct answer. Do not try to fight the system. The system will win.

Click on the name of the Soulbind to view the selected Tree that includes Conduits. It is best to open them in a new tab. I have included the top 2 simming Soulbinds for each Covenant.

  • Niya will perform better than what you will sim. In this Chart I have updated Grove Invigoration and it will take time for SimC/Raidbots to account for this change.  Grove Invigoration is now significantly better versus the Beta. It will now give you 6 stacks when you activate a Season and you can build additional stacks while it is active. You can also build stacks while it is on cooldown and casting a season will refresh the duration and add 6 additional stacks to what you currently have.

Conduit Rankings

Conduits currently are capped at Rank 7 so Season 1 of Shadowlands. Some ranks are not shown below as they're hilariously undertuned. As always, you should Sim your own character.

Priority System

This is our rotation. It is technically a priority system and not a rotation. You start at the top of the list and work your way down until the required criteria is met. If you see an ability that you do not have talented you skip that ability. Below you will find further considerations that you can use for more optimal play. This is especially important if you want to use Seraphim, Execution Sentence, Wake of Ashes, and Final Reckoning optimally.

When you have 2 or more targets replace Templar's Verdict with Divine Storm.

Openers, Cooldowns, and Trinket usage will be found below.

  1. Final Reckoning with at least 3HP, and if if Avenging Wrath/Crusade are active OR remain on cooldown for greater than 10 seconds.
  2. Seraphim if Avenging Wrath/Crusade are active OR remain on cooldown for greater than 25 seconds.
  3. Execution Sentence if Avenging Wrath/Crusade are active OR remain on cooldown for greater than 10 seconds.
  4. Templar's Verdict with 5HP.
  5. Wake of Ashes at 0HP OR at 2HP or less if Blade of Justice remains on CD for greater than 2 GCDs.
  6. Blade of Justice at 3HP or less.
  7. Hammer of Wrath at 4HP or less.
  8. Judgment at 4HP or less and the Judgment debuff is not up.
  9. Templar's Verdict if Avenging Wrath/Crusade are active, target is below 20% health, or with a Divine Purpose proc. Divine Storm with Empyrean Power proc.
  10. Crusader Strike at 2 Charges and at 4HP or less.
  11. Templar's Verdict at 4HP or less.
  12. Crusader Strike regardless of charges at 4HP or less.
  13. Consecration if all HP builders are on CD for greater than or equal to 1 GCD.

Further Considerations

Openers

With a large number of viable talent builds there are a large number of possible openers. If I were to add every single one this page would quickly become a mess. Instead I will show you a few examples and give you some general tips to make sure your opener is correct.

General Tips

Execution Sentence/Seraphim/Final Reckoning

  1. Blade of Justice
  2. Judgment
  3. Crusader Strike
  4. Avenging Wrath + Hammer of Wrath
  5. Seraphim
  6. Shield of Vengeance
  7. Crusader Strike
  8. Final Reckoning
  9. Execution Sentence
  10. Blessing of Sacrifice on Tank. This is off GCD so use it any point after or with Execution Sentence.
  11. Wake of Ashes
  12. Templar's Verdict

Execution Sentence/Seraphim/Crusade

  1. Blade of Justice
  2. Judgment
  3. Crusader Strike
  4. Crusade + Hammer of Wrath
  5. Templar's Verdict
  6. Crusader Strike
  7. Templar's Verdict
  8. Crusader Strike
  9. Blade of Justice
  10. Hammer of Wrath
  11. Seraphim
  12. Judgment
  13. Shield of Vengeance
  14. Execution Sentence
  15. Blessing of Sacrifice on Tank. This is off GCD so use it any point after or with Execution Sentence.
  16. Wake of Ashes
  17. Hammer of Wrath
  18. Templar's Verdict

Execution Sentence/Holy Avenger/Final Reckoning

Judgment

  1. Shield of Vengeance
  2. Avenging Wrath + Holy Avenger + Blade of Justice
  3. Final Reckoning
  4. Execution Sentence
  5. Blessing of Sacrifice on Tank. This is off GCD so use it any point after or with Execution Sentence.
  6. Wake of Ashes
  7. Templar's Verdict
  8. Hammer of Wrath
  9. Templar's Verdict
  10. Judgment
  11. Templar's Verdict

Execution Sentence/Holy Avenger/Crusade

Is this the real opener? Not using Execution Sentence at 10 stacks? Not using Holy Avenger at 10 stacks either? Yes. It is real. If you think I am wrong feel free to do the opener your own way. I tested the various combinations factoring in Crusade stacks and it did not make a discernible difference.

  1. Shield of Vengeance
  2. Crusade +Holy Avenger + Blade of Justice
  3. Templar's Verdict
  4. Hammer of Wrath
  5. Execution Sentence
  6. Blessing of Sacrifice on Tank. This is off GCD so use it any point after or with Execution Sentence.
  7. Wake of Ashes
  8. Templar's Verdict
  9. Judgment
  10. Templar's Verdict

Covenant Abilities

Divine Toll should be used on cooldown. It can be delayed up to 30 seconds if adds are incoming. Make sure the Judgment debuff is not already active. When using Execution Sentence Divine Toll should be cast after. Divine Toll will generate Holy Power for each target hit so ideally you should have 2 Holy Power or less when used in AoE or with Ringing Clarity.

Vanquisher's Hammer should be used on cooldown. When using Execution Sentence and/or Final Reckoning it will line up every time.

Ashen Hallow should always be used right before Avenging Wrath/Crusade.

Blessing of the Seasons should be used at 1 second on your pull timer and then used on cooldown.

Cooldowns

Avenging Wrath

Avenging Wrath should cast when you can make full use of the duration and have at least 3HP.

One of the more common concerns is whether or not you should delay Avenging Wrath. Unfortunately, I am not able to give you a simple "Yes" or "No" answer. However, I can provide you with the knowledge you need to make this decision for yourself.

  • If there is an intermission phase that will not allow you to fully benefit you should delay your usage.
  • Delaying Avenging Wrath to sync up with Bloodlust depends on the length of the fight. With a 2M CD you can expect to use it at roughly 0:00, 2:00, 4:00, 6:00 and so on. So, you want to ensure that if you delay Avenging Wrath, you will not lose a potential use of Avenging Wrath. Examples below.
  • Fight Length 4:30. Given that Avenging Wrath is a 2M CD with a 20s duration, we would not want to delay Avenging Wrath more than 10s total to ensure we benefit from 3 uses.
  • Fight Length 3:30. Given that Avenging Wrath is a 2M CD with a 20s duration, we could delay our 2nd Avenging Wrath up to 1:10 to make full use of 2 uses.

Crusade

Crusade usage follows all the same guidelines as Avenging Wrath. There are additional considerations due to the stacking nature.

  • Crusade gives you 1 stack by default. You need to use 3 HP spenders to build your 10 stacks. This should be done as quickly as possible so make sure to prioritize your HP spenders regardless of your HP until you reach 10 stacks.
  • Your first ability after Crusade will always either be Hammer of Wrath or a Templar's Verdict/Divine Storm.

Holy Avenger

Holy Avenger does not naturally line up with our other offensive cooldowns. The goal with Holy Avenger is to get as many uses as possible. It will be used in your opener with your first Avenging Wrath/Crusade. It is safe to delay usage of Holy Avenger to line up with Avenging Wrath/Crusade as long as you would not miss out on an extra cast of Holy Avenger such as a 5 Minute fight. Using Holy Avenger and Avenging Wrath/Crusade will not cause higher overall DPS but will provide more burst DPS in that window. It is safe to use them separately.

Shield of Vengeance

We will want to use as much of the absorb as we can for maximum damage. Realistically we can expect this to amount to 3-4% of our overall damage. This does mean that Unbreakable Spirit has the potential to be a DPS increase if we can get an extra use on a given fight.

The damage from Shield of Vengeance does count towards Execution Sentence. For maximum benefit Seraphim should be used before Shield of Vengeance for the Vers. Blessing of Sacrifice can be cast on a tank to ensure Shield of Vengeance is fully absorbed.

Trinkets

It would be tiresome to list all trinkets here. So I will just list the general rules and mention any exceptions. Trinkets that provide stats can be directly macro'd with Avenging Wrath, but I strongly advise a Cast Sequence Macro or a separate keybind. When using Crusade they should either be used at 10 stacks of Crusade or when the buff duration of the trinket matches the remaining duration of Crusade.

If the Trinket does damage such as Dreadfire Vessel just use it on CD. Damaging effects are not buffed by Avenging Wrath/Crusade or other damage increasing sources.

1M CD or Less

Trinkets that provide a flat stat rating such as Sinful Gladiator's Badge of Ferocity can be used 1 time in Avenging Wrath/Crusade and 1 time before Avenging Wrath/Crusade comes off of CD. Simply put it will line up with every other Avenging Wrath/Crusade. Make sure the outside Avenging Wrath/Crusade use lines up with Final Reckoning and/or Execution Sentence

2M CD or Less

Trinkets that provide a flat stat rating such as Overwhelming Power Crystal should be exclusively used with Avenging Wrath/Crusade.

Special Trinkets

Reserved for future nightmare inducing Trinkets.

Racials

Arcane Torrent should be used when all of your HP builders are on CD and you do not have enough HP to spend.

Light's Judgment can either be used on CD or saved for AoE.

Fireblood should be used during Avenging Wrath or Crusade at 10 stacks.

Stats

You should continue to have the same mindset as in Legion. All our secondary stats are remarkably close in value and Item Level upgrades will be better. As always follow the above advice.

Haste

No. Just stop. There are not Haste breakpoints. Sim yo self.

Gear

Use this link to Radibots Droptimizer to look at potential upgrades.

Legendaries

If this sections seems lacking it is being updated. I was a bit slow this time around and I apologize.

Legendaries are back in a much improved form. The RNG has been removed and they now have specific drop locations. There are many Utility/Defensive legendaries and I am only going to cover DPS legendaries at this time.

The base you apply a legendary to are created by various Professions. You will need to buy a base off of the Auction House if you do not make your own or have an appropriate profession.

You should not stress over what slot to craft your Legendary on. You can just pick your lowest Item Level piece or pick a piece with a high Secondary stat budget such as a Chest.

Judgment of the Arbiter is an all Class legendary that is available from Revered Avowed Reputation. The Arc can potentially make this legendary better than what is shown below but will not be our best choice.

Echo of Eonar is an all Class legendary that is available from Revered Wild Hunt Reputation. It will summon a familiar that will increase your damage and up to 3 allies. This can potentially sim better than what is shown below if multiple people of the same Role wear this legendary.

The Mad Paragon is currently our strongest Single Target legendary. It causes Hammer of Wrath to deal additional damage and each cast will increase the remaining duration of Avenging Wrath/Crusade by 1 second. On average you will gain a few additional seconds of Wings which is our highest damaging period. The increased Hammer of Wrath damage is also highly desirable on fights where Execution range is important. It is availble from your first Great Vault opening.

The Magistrate's Judgment provides a chance for Judgment to reduce the cost of your next Holy Power spender by 1.

Of Dusk and Dawn

Final Verdict

Relentless Inquisitor

Tempest of the Lightbringer

Vanguard's Momentum

Legendary Rankings

Below you will find Legendary rankings for both Single Target and AoE.

  • Expect frequent updates for potential bug fixes and tuning.
  • Tempest of the Lightbringer will be better than what is shown in the AoE chart below.

Trinkets

Initial Trinket ratings. This will be updated constantly with SimC updates and buffs/nerfs.

Trinket Rankings

These charts are interactive. You can mouseover the names on the left for WoWHead Tooltips, the bars for DPS Gain and Total DPS, and you can use the legend on the right hand side to disable specific options.

Gems

Gems

Sim. Yo. Self.

Quick Jewel Cluster

Deadly Jewel Cluster

Versatile Jewel Cluster

Masterful Jewel Cluster

Enchants

Weapon

Sim. Yo. Self.

Enchant Weapon - Sinful Revelation

Enchant Weapon - Celestial Guidance

Enchant Weapon - Lightless Force

Weapon Enchant Rankings

Ring

Sim yo self.

Enchant Ring - Tenet of Haste

Enchant Ring - Tenet of Critical Strike

Enchant Ring - Tenet of Versatility

Enchant Ring - Tenet of Mastery

Chest

Enchant Chest - Eternal Stats

Enchant Chest - Eternal Skirmish

Enchant Chest - Sacred Stats

Cloak

Enchant Cloak - Fortified Speed

Enchant Cloak - Fortified Leech

Gloves

Enchant Gloves - Eternal Strength

Enchant Gloves - Strength of Soul

Consumables

General

Spectral Flask of Power

Veiled Augment Rune

Shadowcore Oil - When you use Oil you cannot also use a Sharpening Stone. Oil and Stones can sim very close together. Oil will also buff the effects of the new potions. Currently the new potions are not our best choice but if they overtake the Strength potion Oil will be better.

Shaded Sharpening Stone/Shaded Weightstone

Heavy Desolate Armor Kit

Tome of the Still Mind/Codex of the Still Mind

Food

Sim. Yo. Self.

Feast of Gluttonous Hedonism

Surprisingly Palatable Feast

Spinefin Souffle and Fries

Tenebrous Crown Roast Aspic

Iridescent Ravioli with Apple Sauce

Steak a la Mode

Smothered Shank

Potions

Potion of Spectral Strength

Potion of Deathly Fixation

Potion of Empowered Exorcisms

Potion of Phantom Fire

Consumable Rankings

Below is a Consumable ranking. You should generally sim yourself as always. This does show the strengths of individual consumables which people might appreciate.

Races

Zandalari

Regeneratin'

Pterrordax Swoop

Embrace of the Loa: You get a choice of 1 of the below Loa's. This can be changed once every 5 days.

Blood Elf

Arcane Torrent: AoE purge. Grants 1HP on use. 2M CD.

Arcane Acuity: 1% increased critical strike chance.

Draenei

Heroic Presence: 24 Strength.

Lightforged Draenei

Light's Judgment: Call down a strike of Holy energy, dealing Holy damage to enemies within 5 yards after 3 sec. NOT affected by our Mastery: Hand of Light.

Dwarf

Might of the Mountain: 2% bonus Critical Strike damage.

Human

The Human Spirit: 2% additional secondary stat gain

Will to Survive: Stun removal

Tauren

Brawn: 2% bonus Critical Strike damage.

Dark Iron Dwarf

Dungeon Delver: 4% increased movement speed indoors.

Forged in Flames: 1% physical damage reduction.

Fireblood: Increases Strength by 183 and an additional 61 Strength for each Poison, Disease, Curse, Magic, and Bleed effect removed. You only get a Strength buff for each type removed. If you remove 3 Poisons you will only get 61 additional Strength. If you remove 1 Poison, 1 Curse and 1 Disease you would get 183 additional Strength.

Racial Rankings

Addons/Macros

Addons

There are several useful addons to assist with your gameplay as a Ret Paladin.

  • WeakAuras 2: Most versatile addon in WoW. For the inept such as myself there is a wonderful site called WAGO with a number of community made WA’s. More in the Additional Resources section.
  • Hekili: Priority assistant addon akin to CLCRet. Allows you to customize the displays as well priority list used.

Macros

There are not as many needed macros as there used to be. I have excluded all mouseover, focus target and what other macros as you can just Google them. 13 is the first trinket slot and 14 is the second trinket slot. Adjust accordingly.

1. '''Burst Cast Sequence''':Used for Avenging Wrath/Crusade and On Use trinkets. First press is Avenging Wrath/Crusade and second press is trinket. After 20 seconds the macro will reset back to the first line which is Avenging Wrath/Crusade. Add additional abilities by separating with a comma.

#showtooltip
/castsequence reset=20 Avenging Wrath, 13

2. Final Reckoning is a targetable ability and it is recommended to make a macro for it. You can either have it cast at your mouse cursor with "@cursor" or at your feet with "@player". It is not possible to do a "@target" macro.

#showtooltip
/cast [@cursor] Final Reckoning

3. Holy Avenger/Seraphim

#showtooltip
/cast [talent:5/2] Holy Avenger
/cast [talent:5/3] Seraphim

Additional Resources

My YouTube: I HAVE BEEN UNBANNED FINALLY!

WAGO.io: An online database to share WeakAuras, ElvUI profiles and potentially other sharable World of Warcraft addon elements.

SimulationCraft: Invaluable resource for testing various fight, gearing and talent scenarios. Please visit the Hammer of Wrath Discord for a detailed usage guide.

Raidbots: SimulationCraft on training wheels.

Acknowledgements

I wish to acknowledge the following individuals and groups who have worked very hard in the Paladin community to make these resources available. This list is not in any order. I know I’m probably forgetting somebody. If you think you should be here PM me in Discord.

I wish to acknowledge the following individuals and groups who have worked extremely hard in the Paladin community to make these resources available. This list is not in any order. I know I am forgetting somebody. If you think you should be here PM me in Discord.

Hammer of Wrath Paladin Discord- Self Explanatory

HulaHoops- Proofreader and the best Hammer of Wrath Mod. Send her cat pictures.

Mbdtf- Hammer of Wrath Admin.

Rebdull- Former Wowhead Guide Maintainer

Bolas- New Wowhead Guide Maintainer. Helped verify and contribute bugs during Shadowlands Beta.

Mserrano- Retribution SimC Coder and dirty Warlock.

Melekus- Retribution SimC Coder

Anthony Moffitt- O.G.

Solsacra- Legendary theorycrafter. Tolerates my stupid questions.

Kiadorn- WE WILL RETAKE LORDAERON

Giuseppe Arcimboldo- GOAT.

Hekili- Creator of Hekili the priority helper addon.

WeakAuras- Best Addon ever created.

WAGO.io- Online WeakAura databasehttps://www.wowhead.com/soulbind-calc/night-fae/dreamweaver/paladin