Retribution is looking better with great burst, decent consistency especially in raids and Retribution Paladin’s mythic plus performance is amazing!
Ret has surprisingly many talents that are viable. With that in mind, the best options for the most amount of damage are not straightforward. And you will need to either sim or test them in game. This goes the same for everything in this guide gears, legendaries and whatnot. Obviously it wouldn’t be much of a guide if we just told you to sim everything you want so we will go over some of the best performance with some insights which will get you on the train quick and easy.
Right now, Execution Sentence is the best single target option you can choose from if you are going Kyrian as a covenant. It requires a few other talent choices later on that synergizes with it. This talent gathers 20% of the damage you do while it’s charging up plus a flat amount on top of it all and smashes your target really really hard. This is best used on bosses and raids and although it is purely single target, we recommend you use this in dungeons as well. This means you will have incredible priority damage on bosses.
Alternatively if your goal is more overall AOE damage, pick Zeal in dungeons. This will be more overall damage. Although this does not directly do AOE damage, it’s the only talent on the road that does not make you suffer DPS by attacking a second target. While the other two will lock you onto one and only one target.
Although less single target damage, Righteous Verdict is not too far behind Execution Sentence and a lot easier to use and can sim better for you with non-Kyrian covenant. You don’t actually need to change anything in your rotation and will perform to its max as long as you only attack the same target for the entire fight. We recommend Execution Sentence, although harder to use properly if learned, priority burst damage is always preferred in pushing content. This is because you do not always have 100% uptime on a target and for the window in which you do, you want to make it count. This will essentially work in a one minute burst DPS build that makes Ret not only useful but more engaging to play without having to wait for wings every time.
We recommend you take Blade of Wrath in raids for optimal single target damage. It increases the proc chance of Art of War that gives you a reset on your Blade of Justice and essentially eliminates downtime. A note towards Zeal and Blade of Wrath combo, this can potentially give you the most amount of resets hence the least amount of downtime.
Empyrean Power is the AOE equivalent, it gives you a free divine storm proc every now and then. It does decent in single target but not where you would want this to begin with. Works really well in dungeons.
Fires of Justice is not a bad talent but has a low proc chance and ends up feeling clunkier than the other two, if eliminating downtime is your goal. Not to mention, personally, as I attempt to master the spec I find myself ignoring Crusader’s Strike often enough for a better ability to use. So it’s not something I would recommend you use. That does not mean I am right, but even simming shows Blade of Wrath doing more overall single target damage.
For crowd control focus, again not a straightforward play style, you have to go with what will work best for you based on your play style and group composition. Fist of Justice is a simple option that gives you more Hammers of Justice, which is a very strong single target stun. Alternatively, Blinding Light gives you an AOE interrupt that can be used in multiple ways. Blinding Lights works best in dungeons and in raids.
Onto survivability, Cavalier adds an extra charge of Divine Steed which can be good if you need more bursts of speed to deal with mechanics or keep them up on the boss. Since boss fights might see you need this more than anything else. If tankiness is your issue or you need extra uses of Divine Shield, Unbreakable Spirit is your option. Not only does it give you a potential extra use of bubble but if you use Shield of Vengeance offensively, it’s the only option here that increases your damage as well, however slightly that is. Eye for an Eye has uses in PVP mostly since you should never take that much physical damage in raids or dungeons for this to be necessary.
We do not recommend taking Holy Avenger since it does not sync with your burst damage profile and play style. And to use properly will require more knowledge and specific situations that can cause you to lose out on DPS that you could easily gain through Divine Purpose. This is the simple yet still exciting option to use. It gives you a free holy power spender with an RNG proc. It is out of your control but if you track it properly and not waste it, overall the feel of the rotation will be pretty good.
For more control and proper burst windows, Seraphim is the way to go. It works better with Execution Sentence and is the best simming option on the row (for me at least).
Killing Hands makes your Words of Glory matter despite forcing you to spend holy power on them. You don’t really want to spend globals on heels to begin with but if you have to, might as well make it count. The alternative is Selfless Healer which can make Flash of Lights instant if stacked all the way up to 4. This saves you from having to spend holy power but also means you can only officially cast it at 4 stacks. Meaning if you need to save a group member now then you might end up using a Word of Glory anyway.
Final Reckoning is new in Shadowlands and works especially well with Execution Sentence. Its effect is a big uncapped AOE that debuffs target to take extra holy damage from your finishers. And with Execution Sentence, it buffs the damage it stores and releases at the same time making it incredible for single target damage overall and burst as well. This paired with Execution Sentence is the bread and butter build for Kyrians. Mostly because Divine Toll is also a one minute cooldown that boosts your mastery levels further fueling the one minute burst damage profile to be even more efficient.
You can replace Final Reckoning with Sanctified Wrath for a different type of damage profile. This will likely see you change your first role talent from Execution Sentence as well. You will have more consistent damage overall and work better if you don’t play Kyrian or simply want a simpler build to follow.
Lastly, specifically for Venthyr, Crusade seems to perform the best here in raids. You get a lot more haste which works towards giving you faster Hammers of Wrath, working with Ashen Hollow and the Mad Paragon legendary.
STATS and CONSUMABLES
There are misconceptions about Retribution’s stat priority. All stats are good and you don’t want to corner yourself into something set in stone. The only real answer for anyone looking to understand the best gear to equip is to sim once again. So a generic priority to look for if you are playing Kyrian sims strength at the top, probably strengths for all covenants. Strength sims at least three times as much as any other secondary stat in any scenario at least for me. So it’s safe to assume you won the highest eye level item first, Mastery and Versa are next on the list very close to each other with Crit and Haste at the bottom. Each covenant could sim differently but since the build I will be rocking is one of the most popular and best performing ones and the one we will be recommending, this priority is the only one we could offer- again as a suggestion.
To be fair, by the time you loot two items of the same eye level supposing that those would be the highest level you can equip, you will be pretty far into the game. Where either simming should be second nature to you or you might already be able to tell what works better for you in raids and dungeons. It’s basically what the game has come to over the years. If you don’t care about doing the most amount of damage, you can just follow a rough priority and you will lose at most a few percentages of overall DPS.
Similar to the stats, the entire consumable section is advised to be approached with the sim if you want to be the best and have the best consumables equipped or enchanted. With that out of the way though you can opt for simple revelation in raids for the most optimal single target damage increase. Or lightless force inconsistent AOE fights usually in mythic dungeons. Or an all-rounder can be Celestial Guidance with a strength proc that translates into both AOE and single target damage boosts. Eternal Skirmish on your chest which sims the most single target damage for me at least. While Eternal Stats does better in AOE. Always add a Heavy Desolate Armor Kit on your chest as well when pushing tough content. For a plate user, Ret is surprisingly squishy. Eternal Strength for the gloves is next on your list with our recommendation of Fortified Avoidance for your cloak for AOE damage reduction which Nathria and prideful keys have a lot of. Feel free to change it if you prefer leech or more stamina instead.
If you play the one minute burst build you can go for Master Jewel Cluster and Tenet of Mastery for your gems and ring enchants respectively. These are easily interchangeable and if you are not sure which ones are best and you cannot sim yourself, just choose the ones of which you have the least of. Potion of Spectral Strength is one of the best performing potions and the one we will be recommending you go for. Similarly the Spectral Flask of Power is the flask of choice, the only one with damage increased buff. For your weapon, you will use a Shaded Sharpening Stone or Shaded Weightstone, depending on your weapon type.
As for the best food, the Feast of Gluttonous Hedonism will be the best choice. Or if it is cheaper go with Iridescent Ravioli with Apple Sauce or any secondary stat equivalent.
For better or worse, there is no one universal answer to Ret when it comes to gearing and aiming for the right stats that lifts some gear restrictions however which can make it easier for you to start off your Ret’s journey.
SOULBINDS and CONDUITS
Play whatever you want in terms of covenants. For the best of the best, unquestionably it will be Kyrian and also the one we will be recommending. By opting to go with Pelagos as your soulbind, you gain access to Combat Meditation. It is a mastery factory activated with Divine Toll. This last one is a one minute cooldown ability that shoots out judgements at up to five different targets. Each also generates its holy power. Having this on a one minute recharge makes it align with all of your DPS cooldowns. And when going for Execution Sentence, Final Reckoning will justify the build and give you quick and massive burst windows. As for your Pelagos soulbind tree, go with the route that gives you double potency conduits opting for finesse or endurance.
The best potency conduits to get are Virtuous Command, Templar’s Vindication and Ringing Clarity if you are playing Kyrian. All of them have single target implications and the only AOE focus one is incredibly weak. For AOE you want single target conduits that do not lose out when more targets are present like expurgation which works better with more crit at which point you will be swapping out Templar’s Vindication.
For finesse, two that stand out are Echoing Blessings for additional damage reduction and move speed added to the targets of your blessings. While Light’s Barding increases the duration of the divine steed adding a boom to your mobility if ever so slightly.
While the endurance conduits are a bit underwhelming with Divine Call lowering the cooldown of Divine Shield. Golden Path gives you some healing while inside consecration which you normally cast when in downtime. Or Shielding Words if you are intent on being a hybrid member of your group and helping out lower geared allies with heals every now and again.
GEAR and LEGENDARIES
If you are going with our recommended one minute build by far the best trinket to get is the Sinful Gladiator’s Badge of Ferocity. It is a one minute on-use trinket with a strength buff and if you PVP enough to get it at a high eye level you might as well pick up the Sinful Gladiator’s Insignia of Alacrity.
As for PVE trinkets to farm, Phial of Putrefaction and Stone Legion Heraldry are good options. And with the last one, it works better the more people in your group have it. And quite a few specs want this in the current meta. Other than this it is mainly down to what stat procs you get or what you are willing to sim.
With 9.0.5, the best simming single target legendary is Final Verdict. It is an incredibly fun legendary that boosts your Templar’s Verdict damage and gives it a 10 yard range for all those movement fights where you have to chase your target. Also the free Hammer of Wrath is not bad and adds an extra holy power generator. If you still have a high eye level Magistrate’s Judgement, then using it is still competitive in raids. Overall its performance is still high and very close to Final Verdict. If you play Venthyr, Mad Paragon will be your raid legendary. As for mythic plus options, Tempest of the Lightbringer will perform the best. When using it try to keep in mind that the wave darts forward making sure you hit every target possible.
Other than this, when playing and building Ret either single target or AOE, make the choice based on what play style you prefer. Ret strength is specializing in burst windows which can be short and high octane but last a little bit longer. Any answer is the correct answer as long as it is the one you need and can pull off.
When playing Kyrian with the Execution Sentence built, you open with Blade of Justice Judgement and Crusader Strike. Pop Seraphim, use Crusader Strike of Blade of Justice if you’ve got the proc. Pop Wings and use your Hammer of Wrath. Final Reckoning then Execution Sentence, use Divine Toll then Templar’s verdict, Wake of Ashes and another Templar’s Verdict. The idea here is to build to 5 holy power in the most efficient way possible. Then use Seraphim then build to 5 again with Wings, moving into Final Reckoning and then Execution Sentence. Since Wings are not on the global cooldown, you can think of Wings as an instant Hammer of Wrath and can fill in for one of the holy powers you are missing while working towards your second set of 5 holy power for the setup.
After Execution Sentence, you want to fit in Divine Toll, Wake of Ashes and two Templar’s Verdict at the very least. Depending on your haste levels, you can be greedy and squeeze in a Judgement for the extra holy damage on your Templar’s. If you would not sacrifice a Finisher before Execution Sentence would have the chance to land of course. This is a big niche though and not something I would recommend since I am still trying to optimize it. And wasting a Finisher to land outside Execution Sentence will make you lose out on a lot of damage.
If there is one guiding principle when it comes to the rotation, regardless of what builds or covenant you have, is that your focus should be on the attempts to build as much holy power without wasting it before spending it on a Finisher. Do not spend it as soon as you have three holy power if you have generators waiting to be used. With the exception of Execution Sentence which is a timed window and you use Finishers as soon as they are available.
In terms of priority, when it comes to generators, Hammer of Wrath is always number one followed by Blade of Justice and Judgement with Crusader Strike as the lowest priority. Try if possible to always have a Judgement buff as Finisher for the extra damage. If nothing else is available, cast Consecration. This is a simpler look at the priority for generators. And as long as you can cast them as close to one cooldown as possible you will be good. Since the rotation has RNG baked into your generators and potential Finishers with Divine Purpose, you will need to adapt and learn to optimize holy power economy so that one you don’t waste it and two you don’t create downtime by mishandling your generators.
If you play like this for about 50 seconds at which point you start the Execution Sentence rotation just like in the opener. And you weave in this setup every minute. For this you want to always save Seraphim and Wake of Ashes who have 15 seconds less recharge time than the rest of your set up. This is a brief demonstration of the rotation to start off if you play Kyrian.
09:57 Stats & Consumables
13:53 Soulbinds & Conduits
15:58 Gear & Legendaries