In preparation for the updates to our guides for Mists of Pandaria Patch 5.0.4, we are releasing articles such as this one, explaining what has changed for a particular class and spec, and what the new rotation is likely to be.
Keep in mind that this is still a work in progress (both from Blizzard's side and from our own) and that this article assumes you are at least somewhat familiar with the Cataclysm version of the Retribution Paladin rotation and playstyle (such as from reading our guide).
We will first list the most important changes to the Retribution Paladin Cataclysm abilities, and then we will proceed to explaining the (likely to be) optimal rotation. Keep in mind that we do not document every single change or new ability, only those that impact the rotation.
Finally, we will give you some information about the most useful talents and glyphs you should choose.
- Boundless Conviction is a new passive ability granted to all Paladins. It increases Holy Power capacity to 5 (from 3). Abilities that cost Holy Power can still only consume a maximum of 3 Holy Power, so this change allows you to pool Holy Power and it will alter gameplay somewhat.
- Hammer of the Righteous is an AoE attack that generates a charge of Holy Power.
- Devotion Aura is a defensive raid cooldown. It is a combination of the old Divine Guardian (which was previously only available to Protection Paladins and has been removed from the game) and Aura Mastery (which was previously only available to Holy Paladins and has been removed from the game) abilities. The 20% magic damage reduction will probably be its most useful feature.
- Tier 3 talents offer you a choice between Sacred Shield and Eternal Flame (and Selfless Healer, but this is a passive talent). We discuss these talents in greater depth in the Talents section.
- Tier 5 talents offer you a choice between Holy Avenger and two passive talents, Sanctified Wrath and Divine Purpose. We discuss these talents in greater depth in the Talents section.
- Tier 6 talents offer you a choice between Holy Prism, Light's Hammer, and Execution Sentence. We discuss these talents in greater depth in the Talents section.
Changes to Existing Mechanics
- Exorcism is now instant cast, but has a 15 second cooldown.
- The Art of War now grants your autoattacks a chance to reset the cooldown on your Exorcism (it used to have a chance of making it instant cast).
- Sanctity of Battle now causes haste to reduce the global cooldown and the cooldown of Judgment, Crusader Strike, Exorcism, Hammer of Wrath, and Hammer of the Righteous.
- Judgment and Exorcism now generate 1 charge of Holy Power when used.
- Divine Storm no longer generates Holy Power, and instead costs 3 Holy Power to use.
- Inquisition now lasts 10 seconds per charge of Holy Power.
- Auras have been removed.
- Zealotry has been removed.
- Consecration has been removed.
- Holy Wrath has been removed.
Rotation and Spell UsageThe Retribution Paladin rotation remains similar to the Cataclysm version, detailed in our guide. It is likely to end up being:
- Keep up Inquisition (ideally with 3 Holy Power).
- Cast Templar's Verdict with 5 Holy Power.
- Cast Exorcism on cooldown (generates Holy Power).
- Cast Hammer of Wrath on cooldown (only available on targets below 20% health).
- Cast Crusader Strike on cooldown (generates Holy Power).
- Cast Judgment (generates Holy Power).
- Cast Templar's Verdict with 3 Holy Power.
In multiple target situations, the chief (and possibly only) differences are:
- replacing Crusader Strike with Hammer of the Righteous;
- replacing Templar's Verdict with Divine Storm (remember that Divine Storm now costs Holy Power).
TalentsTier 1 talents offer a choice between 3 means of increasing your movement speed:
- Speed of Light, an active movement speed boost that lasts for 8 seconds;
- Long Arm of the Law, a passive ability that increases your movement speed by 45% for 3 seconds each time you judge;
- Pursuit of Justice, a passive talent that increases your movement speed by 15% at all times and grants you an additional 5% for each charge of Holy Power you currently have (up to a maximum of 3).
Tier 2 talents offer a choice between 3 utility spells:
- Fist of Justice, a 6 second stun on a 30 second cooldown. This is an improved version of Hammer of Justice (an ability granted to you by default), the improvement being the increased range at which it can be cast and the lower cooldown.
- Repentance, a 1 minute long form of crowd-control that is broken by damage.
- Burden of Guilt, a passive talent that slows the target of your Judgment by 50% for 12 seconds.
Tier 3 talents offer a choice between 3 healing spells: Sacred Shield provides an absorption shield that lasts for 30 seconds and absorbs a small amount of damage every 6 seconds. Sacred Shield can only be active on one target at once. The absorption amount scales with your gear. This spell could provide you with a substantial amount of absorbed damage over the course of an entire fight.
Eternal Flame is a HoT that can be kept at 100% uptime. It costs Holy Power to use, and this ability replaces Word of Glory. Due to the Holy Power cost, this ability will turn out to be a DPS loss and it should not be taken.
Selfless Healer grants you a stacking buff, each time you use Judgment, which reduces the mana cost of your next Flash of Light by 35% and increases its amount of healing by 35%, but only if cast on other players than yourself. This effect stacks up to 3 times. Since it will not benefit your survival, and it is unlikely that you will need to help out on healing the raid, this talent will probably not be chosen very often. Still, it could have usefulness on certain fights.
As a default choice, we believe that Sacred Shield will be best (provided that you keep 100% uptime on it on yourself or on another raid member). In certain situations, though, the other two talents may also work.
Tier 4 talents offer a choice between 3 talents that grant you some utility:
- Hand of Purity is an active ability with a 30 second cooldown that reduces the damage the target takes from DoTs by 70% for 6 seconds. From the description, it sounds like this ability is quite strong. It remains to be seen, however, how many boss abilities are affected by this.
- Unbreakable Spirit is a passive talent that reduces the remaining cooldown of Divine Shield, Divine Protection, and Lay on Hands by 1% for each charge of Holy Power you use, up to a maximum of 50% of the cooldown's duration. The ability seems most useful in reducing the cooldown of Lay on Hands, allowing you to cast it more often, saving raid members who are dangerously low on health.
- Clemency is a passive talent that essentially grants your Hand spells two charges. This allows you to use them twice before the cooldown is triggered. This will most likely be of use in conjunction with Hand of Sacrifice.
In any case, since you are going to spend global cooldowns to cast these abilities (except Clemency, which is passive), the result will be a small DPS loss. However, the benefit to the raid is likely to be greater.
Tier 5 talents offer a choice between 3 spells that improve your DPS: Holy Avenger causes your Holy Power generating abilities to generate 3 Holy Power instead of 1 for 15 seconds, every 2 minutes. It is similar to the old Zealotry cooldown. If this talent is taken, the rotation during Holy Avenger will probably be:
- Holy Power generator (such as Crusader Strike);
- Templar's Verdict;
- Holy Power generator;
- Templar's Verdict;
- Holy Power generator;
- Templar's Verdict;
Divine Purpose gives you a chance, each time you use an ability that costs Holy Power, to have your next Holy Power-costing ability (cast within 8 seconds) cost no Holy Power and be cast as though you had 3 Holy Power. While this is also a DPS increase, we believe that its randomness factor will ultimately make it less desirable than the other two talents.
As such, we currently feel that Holy Avenger will be the best choice, but this still remains to be determined by the actual balancing of these abilities.
Tier 6 talents offer a choice between 3 hybrid DPS-healing spells: Execution Sentence is a single target DPS spell that deals damage to the target in an escalating manner (slowly at first, and then ramping up to a burst).
Light's Hammer places a hammer at a targeted ground location. The hammer deals damage to nearby enemies and heals nearby allies.
Holy Prism, when cast on an ally, heals them and deals damage to all nearby enemies. When placed on an enemy, it deals damage to that enemy and heals all nearby allies. As a Retribution Paladin, you will most likely use this on yourself or another ally, so that the spell damages nearby adds.
Which of these talents you will choose depends on whether you wish to damage a single target (Execution Sentence) or multiple enemies (Light's Hammer or Holy Prism). In the case of multiple enemies, it will also depend on how these adds enter the encounter and how they behave.
GlyphsThere are several Major Glyphs that can, in certain situations, be useful (Minor Glyphs are purely cosmetic):
- Glyph of Inquisition reduces the damage bonus of Inquisition by 15%, but increases the duration by 100%. This is obviously a DPS loss, but it will make the rotation easier to maintain for those who are less experienced with the spec.
- Glyph of Harsh Words allows your Word of Glory to be used as a damaging spell against enemies. Currently, this seems to do a decent amount of damage, making it a viable alternative to Templar's Verdict when you are out of melee range.
- Glyph of Mass Exorcism causes your Exorcism to deal 25% of its damage to nearby enemies. As a drawback, Exorcism is reduced to melee range. This glyph could prove to be a DPS increase in very specific situations (where you are in melee range for the whole fight and there are adds next to the boss).
- Glyph of Templar's Verdict has a small damage reduction effect. For 6 seconds after using Templar's Verdict, you take 10% reduced damage. This will probably be mandatory for raiders.