Introduction

Hey there, Skeletor here. I am a Ret Moderator/Theroycrafter/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 Battle for Azeroth, this guide will serve the same purpose as it did in Legion: 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. If you feel this guide as a whole has too much to absorb, I recommend checking out the slightly easier to digest guides such as WowHead. If video guides are more your speed, then check out Thete on YouTube for some excellent content.

Outside of this guide and the ones I have above mentioned, 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 as a whole, 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 playstyle to the information found within, they typically end up with poor 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 playerbase and the designers.

With the new expansion looming ever closer, we are seeing these problematic “guides” being churned out at alarming rates. It seems 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 the vast majority 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 BfA. 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. The expansion is not far away, and it is crunch time for the people on Blizzard’s end to really tighten up the class and make good decisions about the changes. They need to be able to filter out all the noise.

By all means, 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 WoWHead, Thete, or 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’re uncertain about something. Let’s not muddy the waters with poorly researched misinformation to the detriment of the players and the class as a whole.

Legion to BfA Transition

We will being seeing plenty of changes headed into BfA. The most relevant are as follows:

What's new in 8.3

Bug Tracker

Holy Power Interactions = ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  • Inquisition is not increasing the damage of AutoAttacks. Fixed with 8.1.5
  • Using a spender with Empyrean Power or Divine Purpose does not cause Light's Decree to do damage. They will now triggers Light's Decree's damage as of 1/29/2019.
  • Using a spender with Fires of Justice during Crusade only grants 2 stacks instead of 3.
  • Using a spender with Fires of Justice during 'Bygone Bee' Almanac only grants a 2s buff duration increase or a 4s CD reduction instead of 3s and 6s respectively.
  • Using a spender with Divine Purpose during 'Bygone Bee' Almanac does not grant a buff duration increase or a CD reduction.
  • Divine Purpose does not chain procs properly. The Divine Purpose buff is not consumed immediately when a spender has been cast which can allow you to gain another Divine Purpose proc which is consumed once the first spender has done damage or healing. To see if this bug has affected you open one of your previous logs. Use the menu to navigate to Buffs > Events and select Divine Purpose. Anytime you see "Divine Purpose is refreshed" you missed out on a double proc or potentially higher. Fixed with 8.1.
  • Divine Purpose does not grant stacks during Crusade. No longer possible at 120.
  • Using a spender with Paladin T21 Retribution 4P Bonus during Crusade only grants 2 stacks instead of 3. No longer possible at 120.
  • Using Inquisition with Divine Purpose cases the proc to be consumed and consume HP.
  • Now only consumes Divine Purpose. Still not advisable to use Inquisition with a DP proc due to loss of damage. No longer possible at 120.
  • Using Inquisition with Paladin T21 Retribution 4P Bonus causes the buff to be consumed and not grant an appropriate duration compared to the amount of HP spent. 2 HP + Proc is giving you 30 seconds of Inquisition instead of 45. This does however work properly with Fires of Justice. Fixed.

BfA Design Philosophy

The transition from Legion to BfA is also bringing us some "new" design philosophies.

The most prevalent of the design philosophies is "manufactured downtime". Starting from the WotLK expansion, there has been a steady increase in the pace of the Retribution playstyle. In its current iteration in Legion, Retribution is a very fast-paced spec, to the point that we currently need to make a choice between using our GCDs for DPS or utility. If we wish to use some of our utility spells, it is at the cost of a GCD that could be used for DPS, as one of our core DPS abilities is surely to be off its cooldown. This playstyle can be perceived as somewhat contrary to the idea that Retribution is a ‘utility’ spec, and it seems to be a perception shared by the Blizzard design team.

As I understand it, the intention for BfA is to change Retribution so that core rotational abilities constitute less than 95% of our GCDs, by way of manufactured downtime, allowing us to make use of our utility spells. In a vacuum, those manufactured spare GCDs could be used by utility or healing abilities, but this will be pointless if the encounter design does not require the use of any of those utility or healing abilities at those moments of forced downtime. I believe it is highly unlikely that there will be a raid encounter, let alone many, that will require us to make use of our utility kit that frequently.

Further into the manufactured downtime, Blizzard is also trying to move away from “reactionary” gameplay. This has prompted changes such as putting the majority of DPS cooldowns on the GCD along with some utility, healing, and defensive spells. Blizzard wants people to slow down and really think about what their next spell choice should be rather than combining off and on GCD abilities. This also reduces the focus required to maintain your spell rotation during an encounter, allowing for more breathing room to inspect your surroundings.

Auto-Attack damage has also been massively increased. We can see upwards of ~15% of our overall DPS coming specifically from AA’s. This is an intentional change as Blizzard wants to bring auto-attack damage closer to where it has been “historically”. The last instance of having auto-attack damage at such a high level was during MoP, and that was due primarily to Guardian of the Ancient Kings accounting for half of our AA damage. If we remove the portion of AA damage provided by GoAK, then we need to go back even further to WotLK to see levels of AA damage that will be comparative to what we anticipate in BfA. It is worth noting, however, that we had plenty of baseline interaction with our AA’s during WotLK thanks mostly in part to Seal of Vengeance. In BfA, that interaction will be extremely limited in comparison, as Art of War is the only baseline ability creating any kind of AA/spell interaction. Personally, I do not see much point in having AA damage so high for its own sake. I believe it should have some sort of meaningful interaction with the rest of our kit.

Retribution has excelled at two-target cleave damage through the Legion expansion. However, we will be seeing a drastic reduction in this type of damage in BfA. As of right now, only three specs will be specialists in two-target cleave damage: Arms Warrior, Frost Mage, and Destruction Warlock. DoT classes will obviously still benefit from an extra target, but it will not be their primary focus. As a result of this change, we will maintain a ‘single-target’ rotation even with two targets, and only swap to an AoE/cleave focused rotation at three or more targets.(This was true as of 8.0. In 8.1+ we can now use Divine Storm on 2+ targets in certain scenarios. See the "Priority System" section of the guide.)

The final shift in design philosophy we will be seeing in BfA is a heavy use of “White Listing” in relation to abilities and items that increase DPS, wherein these abilities and items will only benefit from DPS increasing abilities/items if it is explicitly stated. This is believed to be to combat certain trinkets or items being absurdly powerful for some classes/specs in comparison to others due to interactions with their CDs or Mastery, which we have seen extensively in Legion. Fury and Arms Warrior CDs made Draught of Souls overwhelmingly powerful, and Enhancement Shaman Mastery interacted with Golganneth's Vitality creating an incredible DPS increase for this spec compared to others. These are just two examples.

In order to help preserve the overall balance of DPS across the various classes and specs, abilities (on-use or passive) and items such as trinkets that increase DPS will no longer benefit from damage increasing moves or talents unless explicitly stated. For further clarification, the Golganneth’s Vitality trinket is a good example. This trinket has a chance to proc extra nature damage on your target. The way it currently functions is that this damage proc will hit for X amount baseline, but if under the effect of AW/Crusade or any other damage increasing talents, the proc will increase accordingly. In BfA, however, due to the White Listing design, the damage proc will always be for the same amount, and not benefit from any increases.

Our damage increasing/modifying abilities that will be affected by this change are Mastery: Hand of Light, Avenging Wrath/Crusade, Inquisition, Execution Sentence and Retribution. Clicking on those links will show you which spells are White Listed for us. They only increase the damage of spells/abilities that are native to Ret Paladin and our Azerite Traits.

Core Abilities

Rotational Abilities

Abilities used to generate and spend HP to deal damage.

Offensive Cooldowns

Abilities used to increase our damage output.

  • Avenging Wrath: Our major DPS CD. Now on the GCD. Provides 20% Damage and 20% Critical Strike chance.
  • Shield of Vengeance: Offensive CD. Read below. Scales off of Max HP and not Versatility. Will explode for the amount of damage absorbed if not fully consumed. In AoE it is a "meteor" skill meaning the damage is equally split amongst all targets. Now on the GCD. NOT affected by our Mastery: Hand of Light.

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.

Cosmetic

Looks cool.

  • Contemplation: You can now Tebow in-game. Best used before new bosses or after countless wipes.

Talents

bfa-talents

Battle For Azeroth is bringing us an entirely revamped talent tree with a clear and concise design philosophy. In Legion many of the talent rows served multiple purposes. One of the biggest examples were Single Target and AoE abilities competing on the same row. The first part of this new Philosophy, and arguably the most important, is that the individual talent rows tend to serve a single purpose (e.g., Single Target, AoE, CC, Defensive and Utility). The second part is that the leftmost column will tend to be more passive or straightforward and as you progress towards the right. The talents become more active or potentially require more thought than simply pushing a button. Do not let this alarm you though. This does not mean the entire right column will provide the most DPS, nor does it imply the entire left column will be useless to someone doing high level content such as Mythic Raiding or pushing Mythic + dungeons.

Level 15

This is our ST throughput row. It does not affect our rotational speed. Every talent in this row is affected by Mastery: Hand of Light. This row is well balanced overall.

  • Zeal: This talent greatly increases our resistance to losing DPS via downtime. Zeal can stack up to 9 times and lasts for 20s. Any long transitions aside you shouldn't lose any stacks. Zeal DOES increase the proc chance of Art of War/Blade of Wrath. It is also the only talent that does not lose value in AoE.
  • Righteous Verdict: Akin to Whisper of the Nathrezim except only for Templar's Verdict. Has 0 AoE value due to only working with Templar's Verdict.
  • Execution Sentence: 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. Lines up well with Avenging Wrath/Crusade. Has no AoE value due to target's potentially dying early and not being able to dump Templar's Verdict's into the debuffed target.

Level 30

This is our ST generator row that also has an effect on the speed of our rotation. All choices also have an inherent AoE benefit. This row is well balanced overall.

  • Fires of Justice: Now provides a 15% CD reduction. This is technically a very slight nerf, but not worth fretting over. This allows for the lowest rotational downtime and has a bit of RNG flair with the HP spender reduction. Increased HP generation allows for both ST and AoE performance increases.
  • Blade of Wrath: Boosts Art of War to 4 RPPM and causes the next Blade of Justice to deal 25% increased damage. Increased HP generation allows for both ST and AoE performance increases. Can proc when Blade of Justice is off of CD.
  • Hammer of Wrath: It's back! Albeit as a talent and not baseline. Still usable during Avenging Wrath/Crusade and sub 20% execute. Useful in AoE for sniping targets at 20% or lower allowing more HP generation for both ST and AoE performance increases. Is affected by Mastery: Hand of Light.

Level 45

Straight forward Crowd Control row. Essentially identical to Legion.

Level 60

This is our AoE focused row that still provides a benefit to ST damage. Every talent in this row is affected by Mastery: Hand of Light. This row is mostly balanced.

  • Divine Judgment: You don't need to worry about delaying your Judgment for more stacks. Currently it is "weaker" in terms of pure numbers but it does have the benefit in AoE of providing the largest priority target damage. This really needs a buff to be competitive.
  • Consecration: Now generates 1HP. The CD nor duration are affected by Haste. Haste will provide you more ticks during the 6s window. The long CD and short duration is to make this ability easier to use as it will be less affected by movement. Having a target be stationary for 6s every 20s is much more reasonable than the older version that could essentially be used on CD. Roughly even with Wake of Ashes.
  • Wake of Ashes: Similar to the Artifact Trait version. Now has a 45s CD and no longer has a DoT component. Still does Radiant damage which just means Holy and Fire. You now also gain the HP from this ability even if you do not hit a target. Roughly even with Consecration.

Level 75

This is our Defensive row.

Level 90

This is our Healing/Utility row.

  • Selfless Healer: Now stacks up to 4 times and works off of our HP spenders. The Healing benefit can now also apply to you making this more of a "Selfish Healer".
  • Justicar's Vengeance: This is not meant to be a DPS increase. It costs 5HP and does less damage than Templar's Verdict. On a stunned target it will do more damage total than Templar's Verdict but it does do less damage per HP spent than Templar's Verdict. It could either be used just because you find you need the heal or if you have a Divine Purpose proc on a stunned target.
  • Word of Glory: Currently the healing provided is incredibly strong.

Level 100

This is our row themed for play style. All pose as a DPS increase in ST and AoE scenarios and have an affect on our rotation. Currently this row has balancing issues. Divine Purpose has consistently fallen behind each new tier of gear in Single Target but remains good in Mythic+. Crusade has crept back a bit with the increased item level which tends to put more emphasis on cooldown windows.

  • Divine Purpose: Now has a 15% proc chance but provides a 20% bonus to damage and healing of the HP spender. Divine Purpose and Inquisition are fairly even and you will need to sim yourself. For clarity it can indeed proc off of itself.
  • Crusade: Watered down version of Legion Crusade. It lasts 25 seconds and now only stacks 10 times down from 15 while providing the same 3% Damage and Haste modifier per stack. This is talent is very viable with Light's Decree.
  • Inquisition: Inquisition has returned! It is best served as a talent rather than baseline. It will be much easier to maintain compared to the past due to having increased HP generation and now befitting from the "Pandemic" mechanic. Pandemic allows you to refresh certain buffs and debuffs before they expire and extend the duration beyond its original value by around 30%. With Inquisition being a 45 second buff if used at 3HP we would be able to use Inquisition with 3HP again around 13 seconds and refresh the buff to a 58s duration. This allows us to very easily maintain the buff without letting it fall off or “waste” HP on a early refresh.

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.

Priority System

This is our general rotation. And yes, it is 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 and you use that ability.

  1. Inquisition when Inquisition has 5s or less remaining with 3HP OR Execution Sentence's CD is less than 10 seconds and Inquisition has 15 or less seconds remaining.
  2. Execution Sentence
  3. Templar's Verdict with 5HP.
  4. Wake of Ashes while at 0HP OR at 1HP if Blade of Justice remains on CD for greater than 1 GCDs.
  5. Blade of Justice at 3HP or less.
  6. Judgment at 4HP or less.
  7. Hammer of Wrath with 4HP or less.
  8. Consecration at 4HP or less.
  9. Crusader Strike at 2 Charges and at 4HP or less.
  10. Templar's Verdict at 4HP or less OR with a Divine Purpose proc.
  11. Crusader Strike regardless of charges at 4HP or less.
  12. Arcane Torrent at 4HP or less and everything is on CD.

Further Considerations

Openers

With a large number of viable talent builds there are a large number of possible openers. If I was 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

  • Hammer of Wrath should be your #1 priority(in scenarios that cause you not to overcap HP) after using Avenging Wrath/Crusade to ensure you can get the maximum number of uses.
  • Arcane Torrent is sadly on the GCD. You should not use it pre-pull anymore. Use it to fill gaps in your rotation.
  • Light's Judgment can be used pre-pull as it has a 3s delay.

ES HoW Wake Inq

  1. Blade of Justice
  2. Judgment
  3. Crusader Strike
  4. Crusader Strike
  5. Inquisition
  6. Avenging Wrath
  7. Hammer of Wrath
  8. Blade of Justice
  9. Execution Sentence
  10. Judgment
  11. Templar's Verdict
  12. Wake of Ashes
  13. Templar's Verdict

Zeal/RV HoW Wake Inq

  1. Blade of Justice
  2. Judgment
  3. Inquisition
  4. Avenging Wrath
  5. Wake of Ashes
  6. Templar's Verdict
  7. Hammer of Wrath

ES HoW Cons Inq

  1. Blade of Justice
  2. Judgment
  3. Consecration
  4. Crusader Strike
  5. Inquisition
  6. Avenging Wrath
  7. Hammer of Wrath
  8. Blade of Justice
  9. Execution Sentence
  10. Judgment
  11. Templar's Verdict

Zeal/RV HoW Cons Inq

  1. Blade of Justice
  2. Judgment
  3. Consecration
  4. Crusader Strike
  5. Inquisition
  6. Avenging Wrath
  7. Hammer of Wrath

RV/ES HoW Wake Crusade

Just replace Execution Sentence with Templar's Verdict.

  1. Blade of Justice
  2. Judgment
  3. Crusade
  4. Templar's Verdict
  5. Wake of Ashes
  6. Templar's Verdict
  7. Hammer of Wrath
  8. Execution Sentence

Zeal/RV HoW Cons Crusade

  1. Blade of Justice
  2. Judgment
  3. Consecration
  4. Crusade
  5. Hammer of Wrath

Zeal/RV HoW Wake DP

  1. Blade of Justice
  2. Judgment
  3. Avenging Wrath
  4. Templar's Verdict
  5. Wake of Ashes
  6. Templar's Verdict
  7. Hammer of Wrath

Zeal/RV FoJ/BoJ Wake DP

  1. Blade of Justice
  2. Judgment
  3. Avenging Wrath
  4. Templar's Verdict
  5. Wake of Ashes
  6. Templar's Verdict

Cooldowns

Avenging Wrath

Coming from an expansion where we exclusively used Crusade, Avenging Wrath is a bit more lenient in terms of usage.

  • It does not matter how much HP you have when you activate Avenging Wrath.
  • As stated in Further Considerations ensure that the remaining time on Inquisition is equal or greater than the duration of Avenging Wrath
  • Make sure you can make full use of the 20s duration.

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 is very similar to Legion. The biggest change is that Wake of Ashes is now a talent so you might not always have it available for the quick HP generation. For Crusade to be worth considering you have to be able to play it near perfect.

  • Crusade gives you 1 stack by default so 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 damaging HP spender.
  • As shown in the Openers section, when Wake of Ashes is talented you will use Wake of Ashes inside Crusade. Due note however the CD of Wake of Ashes is now 45s so it will not line up with each Crusade.
  • When Wake of Ashes is not talented you will build to 4HP first then use Crusade.
  • When using Crusade later in the fight you need to ensure you have at least 4HP for maximum benefit.
  • Make sure you can make full use of the 20s duration.

As far as whether is is worth it to delay Crusade or not please refer to the last list of the Avenging Wrath section. Please note that Crusade lasts 25s and not 20s like Avenging Wrath. You will need to slightly adjust for this.

Shield of Vengeance

Shield of Vengeance may have been a quasi-Offensive/Defensive CD during Legion;However, it is my understanding in BfA that our DPS will be tuned with SoV in mind. It is one of our hardest hitting abilities. We will want to use as much of the absorb as we possibly 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.

Trinkets

It would be tiresome to list all possible trinkets here. So I will just list the general rules and mention any exceptions. On Use Trinkets are still off of the GCD. Trinkets that provide stats should not be directly macro'd with Avenging Wrath. They should be delayed and used with your first damaging ability. 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 Razdunk's Big Red Button just use it on CD. Damaging effects are no longer buffed by Avenging Wrath/Crusade or other damage increasing sources.

1M CD or Less

Trinkets that provide a flat stat rating such as Plunderbeard's Flask 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.

2M CD or Less

Trinkets that provide a flat stat rating such as First Mate's Spyglass should be exclusively used with Avenging Wrath/Crusade. This includes trinkets such as Vial of Animated Blood and Doom's Fury which fall in-between the 1M-2M CD range.

Bygone Bee' Almanac should be exclusively used with Avenging Wrath/Crusade at this time even though we can reduce the CD based on the amount of HP spent.

Merektha's Fang is a channeled ability so using any abilities or moving will cancel the cast. You can rotate your character to aim it however. This Trinket does not benefit from Avenging Wrath/Crusade so use it OUTSIDE of them.

Grong's Primal Rage is channeled and you cannot move or use other abilities during the cast. It should not be used during Avenging Wrath/Crusade.

Special Trinkets

Ashvane's Razor Coral should right at the start of the fight to start building stacks. After you use the trinket to consume the debuff remember to use Coral once again to apply the debuff after it comes off of CD. Then use it during each Avenging Wrath/Crusade. With Condensed Life Force it is a bit more complicated. You can still choose to use it as mentioned before for not much of a DPS loss. If a fight will last 6 Minutes continue to use Coral as described earlier. On a fight that lasts longer than 6 minutes make sure to use Coral at the start to get your stacks building. With your 3rd Wings you will not use Coral. You will delay it until your 4th set of wings where CLF will also be active. With Vision of Perfection Coral should be used once at the start and only used when Wings and Guardian line up. If you will not gain another use of Guardian make sure to use Coral with your last set of Wings. With all cases if the fight is going to end within 30 seconds make sure to use Coral.

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 of our secondary stats are very close in value and generally speaking ILVL upgrades will be better. AS always follow the above advice.

Haste

Below you will find the commonly accepted Haste break points. These are not "caps". I am also not advising that you should should be at one of the listed values below. These are just the mathematical points where new stuff happens. It is important to note these numbers do not account for latency and human reaction time. In realistic scenarios you would need a bit more Haste to achieve the following results.

Number of GCDs Available:

  • 9: 12.53% or 5.17% with Inquisition.
  • 10: 25% or 16.82% with Inquisition.
  • 11: 37.51% or 28.51% with Inquisition.
  • 12: 50% or 40.19% with Inquisition.
  • Righteous Verdict

Number of GCDs Available:

Number of GCDs Available:

  • 14: 5.05% or 0% with Inquisition.
  • 15: 12.53% or 5.17% with Inquisition.
  • 16: 20% or 12.15% with Inquisition.
  • 17: 27.56% or 19.2% with Inquisition.
  • 18: 35.02% or 26.19% with Inquisition.
  • 19: 42.59% or 33.26% with Inquisition.
  • 20: 50% or 40.19% with Inquisition.
  • Hammer of Wrath

Number of Hammer of Wrath Casts during Avenging Wrath assuming Hammer of Wrath is used on CD:

Number of GCDs Available:

  • 18: 5.05% or 0% with Inquisition.
  • 19: 14% or 6.54% with Inquisition.
  • 20: 20% or 12.15% with Inquisition.
  • 21: 26% or 17.76% with Inquisition.
  • 22: 32% or 23.36% with Inquisition.
  • 23: 38% or 28.97% with Inquisition.
  • 24: 44% or 34.58% with Inquisition.
  • 25: 50% or 40.19% with Inquisition.
  • Hammer of Wrath with Light's Decree

Number of Hammer of Wrath Casts during Avenging Wrath with Light's Decree assuming Hammer of Wrath is used on CD:

Number of Hits:

  • 8: 16.67% or 9.04% with Inquisition.
  • 9: 33.33% or 24.61% with Inquisition.
  • 10: 50% or 40.19% with Inquisition.

Gear

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

Azerite

Azerite Trait overview and ratings below. Please note that the lack of comments on some traits is me deciding there was nothing special worth mentioning outside of the tooltip. This does not mean that a trait is bad because it lacks commentary. Please refer to the ratings charts below for a better idea of the power of these abilities.

Tier 3 DPS

Avenger's Might

Rezan's Fury

Ruinous Bolt

Swirling Sands

Thunderous Blast

Tidal Surge

Tradewinds

Blightborne Infusion

Blood Rite

Incite the Pack

Meticulous Scheming

Heart of Darkness: Only available from Ny'alotha, the Waking City. You need to have 25 Corruption AFTER your resistances are applied.

Arcane Heart: Only available from Azshara's Eternal Palace.

Undulating Tides: Only available from Azshara's Eternal Palace. Make sure to track how much you get locked out.

Loyal to the End: Only available from Azshara's Eternal Palace. Everyone gets a Ret buff now.

Bonded Souls: Only available from Battle of Dazar'alor.

Seductive Power: Only available from Battle of Dazar'alor. Make sure to move towards Bwonsamdi.

Treacherous Covenant: Only available from Battle of Dazar'alor. Will sim high by default as the Sims assume 100% uptime. There is not an option yet to adjust this. Also note that this trait will cause you to take additional damage in low health scenarios and may not be desirable depending on the fight.

Shadow of Elune: Alliance Darkshore Warfront Trait.

Ancients' Bulwark: Alliance Darkshore Warfront Trait. Sims assume full uptime so this trait will be a lot lower in real gameplay and is not recommended.

Apothecary's Concoctions: Horde Darkshore Warfront Trait.

Endless Hunger: Horde Darkshore Warfront Trait.

Light's Decree: Duration increase does not stack.

Empyrean Power: T10 says "Hello". Only the damage stacks making this a poor trait to stack.

Expurgation: Affected by Inquisition, Avenging Wrath/Crusade, Execution Sentence and Mastery. The ticks from this ability can also crit.

Indomitable Justice: Indirectly benefits from damage increases such Inquisition, Avenging Wrath/Crusade, Execution Sentence, Mastery and Versatility by increasing the damage of Judgment. The effectiveness in the real world can vary due to the potential of not always being at max HP.

Relentless Inquisitor: Only the amount of Haste gained increases with more traits. The duration or stacks gained are not affected. Dropping your stacks due to time between pulls in M+ will heavily devalue this trait. Dropping you stacks 1 or 2 times in a raid encounter is not a very large loss. If you're dropping stacks 3 or more times you would want a different trait instead.

Laser Matrix: Only available from Uldir. The effect works in all zone. However, inside Uldir it will enable Reorigination Array for further benefit.

Archive of the Titans: Only available from Uldir. The effect works in all zone. However, inside Uldir it will enable Reorigination Array for further benefit.

Champion of Azeroth: Only available as Quest gear or from Champions of Azeroth reputation.

Dagger in the Back: More incentive to always be behind the target for maximum effectiveness.

Filthy Transfusion: To be clear this is NOT an AoE. It is a DoT.

Unstable Catalyst: Can lose value if you're not able to consistently stand in the circle.

Secrets of the Deep: Make sure to collect the orbs.

Retaliatory Fury/Last Gift: PvP Trait. Reduced effectiveness in PvE.

Combined Might/Stronger Together: PvP Trait. Reduced effectiveness in PvE.

Glory in Battle/Liberator's Might: PvP Trait. Reduced effectiveness in PvE.

Collective Will/Stand As One: PvP Trait. Reduced effectiveness in PvE.

Sylvanas' Resolve/Anduin's Dedication: PvP Trait. Reduced effectiveness in PvE.

Battlefield Focus/Battlefield Precision: PvP Trait. Reduced effectiveness in PvE. Provides very small personal damage boost as other allies attacking a target can also consume the stacks.

Fight or Flight: PvP Trait. Sims do not currently model you dropping below 35% HP.

Tier 2 DPS

Azerite Globules

Blood Siphon

Earthlink

Elemental Whirl

Gutripper

Heed My Call

Lifespeed

On My Way

Unstable Flames

Overwhelming Power: Will have reduced effectiveness while taking damage.

Tier 2 Utility

Tier 2 traits are still strongly connected to either DPS, Tanking or Healing specs. As far as wanting to take a T2 Utility trait over a DPS trait will have to be personal preference. I would advise not taking one unless it somehow becomes mandatory to survive a certain encounter or scenario which seems unlikely.

Azerite Veins: The only trait I feel is worth mentioning at this time. It has decent strength but it is removed upon reaching full HP.

Tier 1 Utility

I can't tell you which Utility trait is best. All I can do is offer my observations to help you decide on what may be useful in your situation.

Gallant Steed: It is important to note that the Speed stat suffers from Diminishing Returns. The 1st trait will give you a speed-boost but subsequent traits will not increase your Speed very much. Divine Steed is also considered a mount so you do not benefit from the Speed increase until Divine Steed runs out leaving you with 2s off the buff left.

Stalwart Protector: This would be heavily encounter specific if it ever has a use.

Azerite Fortification: Has some value.

Bulwark of the Masses: Decently effective in M+ and potentially Add heavy encounters.

Gemhide: Provides solid Physical and AoE damage reduction.

Impassive Visage: Potentially could have value.

Longstrider: Provides a minor movement speed benefit.

Resounding Protection: Mini Prydaz. Can have some value.

Self Reliance: Very weak at this time. Benefit is mostly in Solo play.

Vampiric Speed: May have potential in AoE scenarios in group play. Probably better suited for solo play.

Azerite Ratings

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. In general PvP Azerite Traits have reduced effectiveness in PvE. I am unaware if the same is true for PvE traits in PvP. The chart will account for reduced PvE effectiveness in most cases. To find the best possible Azerite gear use this nifty Azerite Power Finder. Select Paladin and in the top left check the box named "Select Multiple" and choose what traits you're looking for. Simulation profiles are available here for ST and here for Hectic Add Cleave. Please note that all my SimC profiles use "profilesets". These will not run from the SimC GUI. They can either be used from Raidbots or the SimC command line if you're familiar.

If you would like to see an overview of how different Azerite Gear performs please  as well as how Azerite Traits perform under different talent combinations and scenarios visit the Ret Paladin Azerite Gear Ranking. This page is separate as to not add too much clutter to the guide.

  • Dagger in the Back includes both in front of the target and behind. In most situations you will be behind your target but I included the front as well so you could see how much it drops if you in front a majority of the time.
  • Heart of Darkness is only available from Ny'alotha, the Waking City. You need to have 25 Corruption AFTER your resistances are applied.

Azerite Essence

Below you can find usage notes and a ranking of Azerite Essences in ST and AoE. I am currently deciding on how I want to handle combinations. For now if you really no not want to sim yourself you can mix and match from the chart to pick a combination. It generally lines up.

Blood of the Enemy: Execution Sentence and Wake of Ashes are strong picks. In your opener use this right before Execution Sentence when used. With Crusade wait until 10 stacks and use it before your first HP spender. Otherwise use with first HP spender or Wake of Ashes inside Avenging Wrath.

Memory of Lucid Dreams: Yes, this will cause Wake of Ashes to generate 10HP while we can only have 5. It is not a big deal and you should not delay your Wake. Use it during Avenging Wrath with 3HP or less. With Crusade use it at 10 stacks with 3HP or less. It is ok to waste 1HP with Blade of Justice as it will generate 4 during the active. The Minor Power alternates between refunding 1 and 2HP. If you use Inquisition at 1 or 2HP it will always refund 1HP. Do not try to use this to your advantage. There is no advantage. Divine Purpose and Empyrean Power do not cause any refund.

The Crucible of the Flame: It is best used as a filler above Crusader Strike in priority.

Essence of the Focusing Iris: It has a cast timer, and after the cast time it has a channel time. The Minor Power is essentially 100% uptime barring any mechanics. Use it outside of Avenging Wrath/Crusade. Should be saved for multiple targets.

The Unbound Force: Use this at the of the fight before Avenging Wrath/Crusade. Later uses should be done while the Minor Effect is active.

Vision of Perfection: Light's Decree will deal damage but does not modify the duration in any way. Avenger's Might is active and the duration will refresh if you have procs while already inside Wings. With Avenging Wrath it will trigger the first TV/DS guaranteed crit. If it procs while Wings is already active it will now trigger again as of 7/18/2019 with an undocumented hotfix. This is now modeled in SimC as of 8/01/2019. With Crusade you start at 1 stack.

Condensed Life Force: With Rank 3 you always want to use it right before Avenging Wrath/Crusade. You should delay it for wings if the fight will last less than 6 Minutes. If the fight lasts longer than 6 minutes and wings is on CD for more than 45 seconds and Guardian is available it should be used. With Vision of Perfection you should delay Guardian as it will closely line up with every other use of Wings. Nerfed in 8.3.

Worldvein Resonance: Now has a proper Major power. Should be used right before you activate Avenging Wrath/Crusade. Currently in Beta in SimC and assumes 3 other people are using the Minor.

Purification Protocol: Use on CD. Save for multiple targets. Good on Aberrations which a few bosses are in Ny'alotha, The Waking City.

Conflict and Strife: The Minor is strong as long as you do not keep dropping stacks.

Breath of the Dying: Strong overall and very strong in execute. It is best used as a filler above Crusader Strike in priority. It is worth to delay usage if you will be able to hit a target above 80%, below 20%, or kill a target for the reduced cooldown. The Corruption Resistance is a good benefit but unique between the new essences. Currently implemented in SimC in a Beta state.

Spark of Inspiration: The Major use will depend on your Raid group and what you're trying to achieve. The Minor can have some use. Currently the Major is not implemented in SimC and the Minor is. You will need to sim yourself for the minor but it is very unlikely it will be used.

The Formless Void: The Major use will depend on what you're copying. The Minor can have some use if your raid has staggered essence usage. Minor implemented in SimC. Chart assumes 90% uptime.

Trinkets

Initial Trinket ratings. This will be updated constantly with SimC updates and BfA updates. check back often. Important notes below as well. Vision of Perfection\Breath of the Dying\Conflict and Strife\Worldvein Resonance are being used as Major/Minor/Minor/Minor.

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. Simulation profiles are available here for ST and here for Hectic Add Cleave. Please note that all my SimC profiles use "profilesets". These will not run from the SimC GUI. They can either be used from Raidbots or the SimC command line if you're familiar.

Corruption

Please read Corruption System Overview for a complete overview of the corruption system. Your guild will most likely have guidelines on how much Corruption you're allowed to have as the negatives can be very burdensome.

Positive Corruption

Avoidant: only provides Avoidance. No DPS benefit.

Expedient: increases Haste gained only from raw ratings. Will not increase percentage increases such as Crusade. Having multiple traits is additive and not multiplicative. Value is heavily tied to gear and traits. You really need to sim yourself.

Masterful: increases Mastery gained only from raw ratings. Will not increase percentage increases. Having multiple traits is additive and not multiplicative. Value is heavily tied to gear and traits. You really need to sim yourself.

Severe: increases Critical Strike gained only from raw ratings. Will not increase percentage increases such as Avenging Wrath. Having multiple traits is additive and not multiplicative. Value is heavily tied to gear and traits. You really need to sim yourself.

Versatile: increases Versatility gained only from raw ratings. Will not increase percentage increases such as Avenging Wrath. Having multiple traits is additive and not multiplicative. Value is heavily tied to gear and traits. You really need to sim yourself.

Siphoner: only provides Leech. No DPS benefit.

Strikethrough: Critical Strike damage and healing increase. Having multiple traits is additive and not multiplicative.

Glimpse of Clarity: straight forward cooldown reduction.

Racing Pulse: short-lived Haste proc.

Deadly Momentum: stacking Critical Strike rating.

Surging Vitality: Versatility proc on damage taken. Chart assumes damage taken every 1 second. Even with the frequency set to every 15 seconds it retains its value and would be right behind Racing Pulse.

Honed Mind: straight forward Mastery proc.

Echoing Void: it can either build stacks or spend stacks. It will not do both at the same time. Splits damage in AoE.

Infinite Stars: Starfall for everyone. But actually good.

Ineffable Truth: increased cooldown recover rate. Efficient in AoE mainly.

Twilight Devastation: big beam does damage. Can proc out of melee range and do nothing.

Twisted Appendage: OwO What's This?

Void Ritual: straight for secondary stat increase. Increased chance with nearby players is not currently in SimC only the base effect.

Gushing Wound: standard bleed effect.

Obsidian Skin: Only available on Sk'shuul Vaz. Implemented in SimC as Beta.

Negative Corruption

Grasping Tendrils: first negative Corruption. Completely countered with Blessing of Freedom.

Eye of Corruption: second effect that spawns a void zone. Size and damage grow based on Corruption.

Grand Delusions: third effect that spawns a Thing from Beyond add to pursue you. Hammer of Justice can stun it for nearly the entire duration. It is affected by most if not all forms of Crowd Control.

Cascading Disaster: fourth effect when getting hit by The Thing from Beyond causes Grasping Tendrils and Eye of Corruption to spawn on you. This should never happen with Hammer of Justice.

Inevitable Doom: fifth and final effect that causes increased damage taken and reduced healing received. This is for deep farm memes only.

Corruption Efficiency Rankings

These charts demonstrates how efficient each Corruption is based on its damage compared to its cost. Do not add up the bars. Each bar is its own individual value. This means that based on the Corruption Effect Efficiency chart Infinite Stars T1 and Gushing Wound are the most efficient Corruption at this time. I also want to stress just because something is the most efficient, does not mean it is the most beneficial to your character.

Gems

Sim. Yo. Self. Only 1 Leviathan's Eye of Strength/Kraken's Eye of Strength can be used and it is potentially worth using.

Leviathan's Eye of Strength

Quick Sand Spinel

Deadly Lava Lazuli

Masterful Sea Currant

Versatile Dark Opal

Kraken's Eye of Strength

Deadly Amberblaze

Quick Owlseye

Masterful Tidal Amethyst

Versatile Royal Quartz

Enchants

Weapon

You will need to sim yourself as this can vary heavily based on Azerite, Azerite Essence and Talents.

Enchant Weapon - Force Multiplier

Gale-Force Striking

Torrent of Elements

Quick Navigation

Deadly Navigation

Masterful Navigation

Versatile Navigation

Weapon Enchant Rankings

Simulation profile is available here. Please note that all my SimC profiles use "profilesets". These will not run from the SimC GUI. They can either be used from Raidbots or the SimC command line if you're familiar.

Ring

Sim yo self.

Enchant Ring - Accord of Haste

Enchant Ring - Accord of Critical Strike

Enchant Ring - Accord of Mastery

Enchant Ring - Accord of Versatility

Pact of Haste

Pact of Critical Strike

Pact of Mastery

Pact of Versatility

Consumables

General

Greater Flask of the Undertow

Flask of the Undertow

Lightning-Forged Augment Rune

Battle-Scarred Augment Rune

Food

You will need to sim yourself as this can vary heavily based on Azerite, Azerite Essence and Talents.

Famine Evaluator And Snack Table

Baked Port Tato

Mech-Dowel's "Big Mech"

Abyssal-Fried Rissole

Bil'Tong

Bountiful Captain's Feast

Boralus Blood Sausage

Swamp Fish 'n Chips

Honey-Glazed Haunches

Sailor's Pie

Spiced Snapper

Food Rankings

Simulation profile is available here. Please note that all my SimC profiles use "profilesets". These will not run from the SimC GUI. They can either be used from Raidbots or the SimC command line if you're familiar.

Potions

Potion of Focused Resolve and Potion of Unbridled Fury are both really good in ST and AoE. Potion of Empowered Proximity can be good in AoE. Please see notes below.

Superior Battle Potion of Strength

Potion of Focused Resolve: Stacks up to 20 times. Will proc from every attack. Any AoE even from Light's Decree will reset your stacks. Pure ST use only.

Potion of Unbridled Fury

Potion of Empowered Proximity: This potion dynamically updates as more mobs come in or die. You need to maintain at least 4 targets for the entire duration for it to be the best option. The target cap is 5 targets. It is hard to use effectively.

Battle Potion of Strength

Potion of Bursting Blood

Potion Rankings

Simulation profiles are available here for ST and here for Hectic Add Cleave. Please note that all my SimC profiles use "profilesets". These will not run from the SimC GUI. They can either be used from Raidbots or the SimC command line if you're familiar.

Races

Zandalari

Regeneratin'

Pterrordax Swoop

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

Blood Elf

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

Arcane Acuity: 1% increased critical strike chance.

Draenei

Heroic Presence: 78 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

Every Man for Himself: 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 a flat amount and additional Strength for each poison, disease, curse, magic and bleed effect removed. You only get a Str buff for each type removed. If you remove 3 poisons you will only get 200 additional Strength. If you remove 1 poison, 1 curse and 1 disease you would get 600 additional Strength.

Racial Rankings

Simulation profile is available here. Please note that all my SimC profiles use "profilesets". These will not run from the SimC GUI. They can either be used from Raidbots or the SimC command line if you're familiar.

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’ve excluded pretty much 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.

#showtooltip
/castsequence reset=20 Avenging Wrath, 13

2. '''Wake/Cons Macro'': Single button for either Wake of Ashes or Consecration .

#showtooltip
/cast [talent:4/2] Consecration
/cast [talent:4/3] Wake of Ashes

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.

WoWHead Ret Paladin Guide: Maintained by Rebdull in the Hammer of Wrath Discord.

Thete Gaming: Retribution video guides and other assorted videos. Maintained by Thete in the Hammer of Wrath Discord.

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.

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

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 database