Retribution Paladin PvP Guide in Battle for Azeroth (BfA 8.1)

Last updated on Dec 13, 2018 at 23:20 by Mysticall 10 comments

This guide will walk you through everything you need to know to play in a PvP environment. The guide will cover everything from talent choices, PvP talents, gameplay and rotation, and useful racial bonuses. It is most applicable to Arena content, but most talents and racial bonuses will work in Rated Battlegrounds and skirmishes.

1. Spec Overview / Place in the Current Meta for Retribution Paladins

Despite its low mobility as a melee class, Retribution is a very strong specialization. Strong burst in combination with its powerful utility make it difficult to play and master. Matched with classes with strong consistent damage, like Hunters, it can be a struggle for most classes to play against.

1.1. Strengths of Retribution Paladins

  • Strong burst damage
  • Great consistent and cleave damage
  • Multiple ways to remove crowd control for teammates and themselves

1.2. Weaknesses of Retribution Paladins

  • Limited mobility
  • Target of choice for most teams
  • Very few defensive cooldowns

2. Stat Priority for Retribution Paladins in PvP

The stat priority for Retribution Paladin in PvP is as follows:

  1. Strength;
  2. Haste;
  3. Mastery;
  4. Critical Strike;
  5. Versatility.

Strength is the best stat in all situations. Haste is the strongest secondary stat at all times due to it reducing the Global Cooldown on abilities and increasing your attack speed. Mastery increases your Holy damage and will increase your damage by a large amount.

3. Azerite Traits for Retribution Paladins

Azerite traits are unlocked in you helm, shoulders and chest. With each Azerite level in your neck, you get closer to unlocking the center trait in your gear. These traits vary from increasing damage or healing of certain abilities to helping increase your survivability. Depending on what traits you use, it can completely alter your playstyle and what talents you should be using.

3.1. Outer Ring

Below are the best Outer Ring traits.

  1. Avenger's Might Icon Avenger's Might
  2. Champion of Azeroth Icon Champion of Azeroth
  3. Laser Matrix Icon Laser Matrix
  4. Battlefield Precision Icon Battlefield Precision

The most important trait you are going to want to get in all pieces of your gear is Avenger's Might Icon Avenger's Might. This increases your burst damage significantly. The downside to this trait is that is it only active while your burst cooldown, Avenging Wrath Icon Avenging Wrath, is active. If you want more sustained damage, you should use Champion of Azeroth Icon Champion of Azeroth or Laser Matrix Icon Laser Matrix.

3.2. Middle Ring

Below are the best Middle Ring traits.

  1. Gutripper Icon Gutripper
  2. Azerite Fortification Icon Azerite Fortification
  3. Azerite Veins Icon Azerite Veins
  4. Lifespeed Icon Lifespeed

The middle and inner rings are important for additional defensives. Retribution Paladins are very weak when they are put into stuns. Traits like Azerite Veins Icon Azerite Veins and Azerite Fortification Icon Azerite Fortification increase your survivability. Gutripper Icon Gutripper and Lifespeed Icon Lifespeed traits increase your damage.

3.3. Inner Ring

Below are the best Inner Ring traits.

  1. Gallant Steed Icon Gallant Steed
  2. Resounding Protection Icon Resounding Protection
  3. Gemhide Icon Gemhide

All of these traits give you additional ways of surviving. These are all passive, but are crucial to have.

4. Gear Recommendations

4.1. General Guidelines

In general, Retribution Paladins want to get trinkets that line up well with Avenging Wrath Icon Avenging Wrath. These trinkets can have a passive or on-use effect. The stats you want to be increasing are either Strength or Versatility. The reason you want to increase Versatility is because it increases both your damage and healing. Strength is great for increasing your consistent damage output.

To be successful in 3v3 arena, you need to have at least 2 pieces of gear with the Avenger's Might Icon Avenger's Might trait. You will also want either Azerite Veins Icon Azerite Veins or Gutripper Icon Gutripper in the second tier.

Below, we list the items that have these traits.

4.1.1. Helms

4.1.2. Shoulders

4.1.3. Chest

4.2. Recommended Items

Dread Gladiator's Badge Icon Dread Gladiator's Badge is strong for the versatility and the on-use Strength effect. This will drastically increase the damage you deal while it is active and should be used while Avenging Wrath is active.

Dread Gladiator's Insignia Icon Dread Gladiator's Insignia has a good amount of Versatility on it and has a passive effect. This effect increases your Strength. This increases your sustained damage.

Dread Gladiator's Medallion Icon Dread Gladiator's Medallion is good because of the Strength and the on-use Versatility effect. This increases your overall damage and lines up well with Avenging Wrath Icon Avenging Wrath.

4.3. Weapon Enchant

Enchant Weapon - Quick Navigation Icon Enchant Weapon - Quick Navigation is the best weapon enchants. The Haste you gain from this enchant proc benefits you in multiple ways. Having a high amount of Haste drastically reduces your global cooldown. This will allow you to use more abilities while Avenging Wrath Icon Avenging Wrath is active. The Haste is also great for healing you or your teammates.

5. Talent Choices for Retribution Paladins

Level Choices
15 Zeal Zeal Righteous Verdict Righteous Verdict Execution Sentence Execution Sentence
30 Fires of Justice Fires of Justice Blade of Wrath Blade of Wrath Hammer of Wrath ? Hammer of Wrath
45 Fist of Justice Fist of Justice Repentance Repentance Blinding Light Blinding Light
60 Divine Judgment Divine Judgment Consecration Consecration Wake of Ashes Wake of Ashes
75 Unbreakable Spirit Unbreakable Spirit Cavalier Cavalier Eye for an Eye Eye for an Eye
90 Selfless Healer Selfless Healer Justicar's Vengeance Justicar's Vengeance Word of Glory Word of Glory
100 Divine Purpose Divine Purpose Crusade Crusade Inquisition Inquisition

While the above table provides a generally accurate overview of the viability of talents, some finer points are discussed in the sections that follow, and we recommend you read those for a deeper understanding.

5.1. Tier 1 (Level 15) Talents

Righteous Verdict Icon Righteous Verdict is the best choice in this tier. This talent helps increase both your burst and sustained damage.

5.2. Tier 2 (Level 30) Talents

Blade of Wrath Icon Blade of Wrath is the best choice in this tier. This proc is great for increasing your sustained damage. However, if you are playing against a team with multiple slows and you will not be able to autoattack often, Hammer of Wrath Icon Hammer of Wrath is the better choice. This will increase your burst damage and help kill enemies at low health.

5.3. Tier 3 (Level 45) Talents

Fist of Justice Icon Fist of Justice is the best choice in this tier. Hammer of Justice Icon Hammer of Justice is the strongest crowd control you have. This talent will help reduce its cooldown significantly.

5.4. Tier 4 (Level 60) Talents

Wake of Ashes Icon Wake of Ashes is the best choice in this tier. This talent not only provides strong cleave damage, but it also gives you 5 Holy Power. This will help with increasing your overall damage.

Important note about this talent: it stuns Demon and Undead enemies. This includes Warlock and Death Knight pets.

5.5. Tier 5 (Level 75) Talents

If you are playing against a team with one or more melee on it, Eye for an Eye Icon Eye for an Eye is the best choice in this tier. This will greatly increase your survivability against melee teams. However, if you are playing against a team with two casters, Unbreakable Spirit Icon Unbreakable Spirit is the best choice in this tier.

5.6. Tier 6 (Level 90) Talents

Word of Glory Icon Word of Glory is the best choice in this tier. With 2 charges, this heal is instant and is crucial for your team's survivability if your healer is in crowd control.

5.7. Tier 7 (Level 100) Talents

Divine Purpose Icon Divine Purpose is the best choice in this tier. Because there is a chance that your next ability that costs Holy Power will be free, this talent is crucial for Retribution Paladins. This will reduce the cooldown of Hammer of Justice Icon Hammer of Justice's cooldown when you use an ability. This also pairs well with Word of Glory Icon Word of Glory.

6. PvP Talents for Retribution Paladins

The first PvP talent tier will give you a choice between Gladiator's Medallion Icon Gladiator's Medallion, Relentless Icon Relentless, and Adaptation Icon Adaptation. Gladiator's Medallion Icon Gladiator's Medallion is the best choice in this tier. It is great for removing crowd control on you that your healer cannot dispel.

You can choose 3 of the following PvP talents. Each of them has their uses, but some are better for certain strategies than others. The top three choices are the most useful, but can be replaced with other PvP talents, depending on your team's goal.

Blessing of Sanctuary Icon Blessing of Sanctuary removes all stun, silence, fear, and horror effects from you target. It also reduces the duration of these effects for 5 seconds. This gives you extra utility when playing against teams with several of these effects.

Lawbringer Icon Lawbringer makes Judgment Icon Judgment now apply Lawbringer Icon Lawbringer to its initial target. Enemies hit by Law Bringer will lose up to 5% of their health. This talent is great versus teams that will be stacked often. Your cleave damage increases drastically versus these teams.

Jurisdiction Icon Jurisdiction increases the range of your Hammer of Justice Icon Hammer of Justice. This talent is crucial to help your team setup crowd control on the enemy healer.

Vengeance Aura Icon Vengeance Aura makes it so that whenever you or your partners get put into crowd control, your Holy Damage and critical strike increases. This is great versus druids with Cyclone Icon Cyclone or Mages with Polymorph Icon Polymorph. You can replace Blessing of Sanctuary Icon Blessing of Sanctuary with this PvP talent, as long as the enemy team does not have much crowd control.

7. Racial Bonuses for Retribution Paladins

Racial bonuses can provide interesting PvP benefits. Here are the best races to choose for each faction.

7.1. Horde

The Blood Elf purge (Arcane Torrent Icon Arcane Torrent) is the strongest racial for a Retribution Paladin. This gives you the ability to dispel important buffs like Blessing of Protection Icon Blessing of Protection or Enveloping Mist Icon Enveloping Mist.

7.2. Alliance

The Human racial bonus (Every Man for Himself Icon Every Man for Himself) is a great way to get out of stuns.

8. Playstyle for Retribution Paladins

Retribution Paladins have two main roles in PvP: use your strong single-target damage to force cooldowns and use your utility to help you or your teammates survive until you can use your burst cooldowns again. With tools such as Blessing of Freedom Icon Blessing of Freedom, Blessing of Protection Icon Blessing of Protection and Blessing of Sanctuary Icon Blessing of Sanctuary, it makes your team very hard for the enemy team to kill. It is important to rotate cooldowns properly and know when it is a good idea to use Blessing of Sanctuary Icon Blessing of Sanctuary to break crowd control or when to use Blessing of Protection Icon Blessing of Protection on you or a teammate that is being focused. You also have Flash of Light Icon Flash of Light that comes in handy when the enemy has no kicks or is not focusing you.

8.1. Before Gates Open

Know exactly who you will use Hammer of Justice Icon Hammer of Justice on. Most of the time, you will be using it on the enemy healer and trying to kill a DPS.

You should also use your Greater Blessing of Kings Icon Greater Blessing of Kings and Greater Blessing of Wisdom Icon Greater Blessing of Wisdom on you or your teammates. Use Greater Blessing of Kings Icon Greater Blessing of Kings on your teammate that will be getting focused and use Greater Blessing of Wisdom Icon Greater Blessing of Wisdom on your healer.

8.2. The Opener

The opener refers to your team's opening crowd control chain and damage done as soon as you get out of the gates. The main goal in the opener is to force your enemies to use their cooldowns. If the enemy healer uses their trinket in the opener, they are in trouble. Retribution Paladins have Hammer of Justice Icon Hammer of Justice that should be used on enemy healers, depending on your team's strategy.

This is the rotation you should use on your target at the beginning of the game.

  1. Use Judgment Icon Judgment to generate Holy Power and to apply the Judgment and Lawbringer Icon Lawbringer debuffs.
  2. Use Hand of Hindrance Icon Hand of Hindrance to keep your main target slowed.
  3. Use Crusader Strike Icon Crusader Strike to generate Holy Power.
  4. Use Blade of Justice Icon Blade of Justice to generate Holy Power.
    • This ability has a 12-yard range and is useful if you cannot reach your target.
  5. While the Judgment Icon Judgment debuff is active, use Templar's Verdict Icon Templar's Verdict when you have 3 Holy Power.
  6. Use Divine Storm Icon Divine Storm if the enemy team is stacked.
  7. If you are talented into it, use Hammer of Wrath Icon Hammer of Wrath if the enemy is blow 20% health.
  8. Use Hammer of Justice Icon Hammer of Justice on the enemy healer.
  9. Use your burst rotation.
  10. After your burst, perform your sustained damage rotation until your burst cooldowns are available.

8.2.1. Burst Damage

When you have the enemy healer in crowd control and you are trying to kill an enemy, you use your burst damage.

  1. Make sure your target has the Judgment Icon Judgment and Lawbringer Icon Lawbringer debuffs.
  2. Use Avenging Wrath Icon Avenging Wrath.
  3. If you have no Holy Power, use Wake of Ashes Icon Wake of Ashes to generate 5 Holy Power.
  4. Use Templar's Verdict Icon Templar's Verdict.
  5. Use Hammer of Wrath Icon Hammer of Wrath if you have the talent.
  6. Use Blade of Justice Icon Blade of Justice.
  7. Use Crusader Strike Icon Crusader Strike to generate Holy Power.
  8. Use Templar's Verdict Icon Templar's Verdict.
  9. For the remainder of your burst, you should be using Judgment Icon Judgment, Blade of Justice Icon Blade of Justice and Crusader Strike Icon Crusader Strike to generate Holy Power. Use Templar's Verdict Icon Templar's Verdict as soon as you get to 3 Holy Power and use Blade of Wrath Icon Blade of Wrath procs immediately. Use Divine Storm Icon Divine Storm if the enemy team is stacked. Use Hammer of Wrath Icon Hammer of Wrath as soon as it is off cooldown.

8.2.2. Sustained damage

Sustained damage is damage you do when your burst cooldowns are not available.

  1. Use Judgment Icon Judgment to generate Holy Power and to apply the Judgment debuff. This will cause your target to take 25% more damage from your next Holy Power spender.
  2. Use Hand of Hindrance Icon Hand of Hindrance to keep your main target slowed.
  3. Use Crusader Strike Icon Crusader Strike if your target is in melee range and to generate Holy Power.
  4. Use Blade of Justice Icon Blade of Justice to generate Holy Power.
    • This ability has a 12-yard range and is useful if you cannot reach your target.
  5. Use Templar's Verdict Icon Templar's Verdict at 3 Holy Power.
  6. If you get a Divine Purpose Icon Divine Purpose proc, use it on Templar's Verdict Icon Templar's Verdict.
  7. If you are talented into it, use Hammer of Wrath Icon Hammer of Wrath if the enemy is blow 20% health.
  8. Use Hammer of Justice Icon Hammer of Justice on the enemy healer.
  9. Use Wake of Ashes Icon Wake of Ashes if the enemy team is stacked and to generate 5 Holy Power.
  10. Use Divine Storm Icon Divine Storm if the enemy team is stacked.

8.3. Defensive Techniques

Divine Shield Icon Divine Shield is your main defensive ability. This makes you immune to everything for 8 seconds. This should be used as a last resort when your healer cannot keep you alive.

Shield of Vengeance Icon Shield of Vengeance is strong if you can use it before an enemy uses a stun, but can be just as effective if you do not. Use this as your first defensive against caster teams that are focusing you, because Blessing of Protection Icon Blessing of Protection will not help you much.

Blessing of Protection Icon Blessing of Protection is your secondary defensive ability. This is a powerful ability that can be used on either you or your teammates. This makes the player immune to all physical damage. It is powerful against melee teams, but makes you very weak to teams with casters.

Blessing of Freedom Icon Blessing of Freedom can also be used defensively. It can be used on you or a teammates. If your teammates are being focused and they need a way to get away from the enemies, use this on them.

Blessing of Sanctuary Icon Blessing of Sanctuary should be used on a teammate that is in crowd control and does not have or wants to use trinket.

Word of Glory Icon Word of Glory has 2 charges and is an instant heal that costs 3 Holy Power. This should be used whenever one of your teammates is struggling to stay alive and your healer needs help.

9. Best Team Compositions for Retribution Paladins

Now that you have the correct talents and understand your damage rotation, it is time to step into the Arena with your team. Retribution Paladins have the ability to play aggressively with their offensive cooldowns or use their utility to play defensively with their Blessing of Freedom Icon Blessing of Freedoms or Blessing of Protection Icon Blessing of Protection.

9.1. 2v2 Arena

In 2v2 Arena you will be focusing on cleave damage. Retribution Paladins have multiple defensives that allow them to survive high dampening situations. For example, Divine Shield Icon Divine Shield will always make you immune to all damage, even in long matches with high dampening. The same goes for Blessing of Protection Icon Blessing of Protection that makes you immune to all physical damage. You also have Hammer of Justice Icon Hammer of Justice which helps with setting up crowd control on enemy healers.

Here is a list of the best team compositions for 2v2:

  • Retribution Paladin + Restoration Shaman
  • Retribution Paladin + Restoration Druid
  • Retribution Paladin + Mistweaver Monk
  • Retribution Paladin + Discipline Priest

9.2. 3v3 Arena

Your role in 3v3 is similar to 2v2 Arena. You will likely be focusing on on maximizing your cleave damage and dealing devastating damage to teams that are stacked often. When your team has damage, you will want to use Hammer of Justice Icon Hammer of Justice on the enemy healer and use your burst rotation. Use your Blessing of Freedom Icon Blessing of Freedom on you or your teammate if you are struggling to connect to your target.Teams can easily kill you in one stun if you are playing too aggressively.

Here is a list of the best team compositions for 3v3:

  • Cupid (Retribution Paladin + Marksmanship Hunter + Discipline Priest)
  • Vanguards (Retribution Paladin + Frost Death Knight + Mistweaver Monk/ Restoration Druid/Restoration Shaman)
  • Retribution Paladin + Havoc Demon Hunter + Mistweaver Monk/Restoration Druid
  • Retribution Paladin + Destruction Warlock + Holy Paladin/Restoration Druid)

10. Useful Macros for Retribution Paladins

Macros are crucial to be successful in PvP. They allow players to use abilities on enemies without having to target them. This helps increase overall damage/healing and general awareness in the arena. Here are a few macros that all Retribution Paladins can benefit from.

10.1. Hammer of Justice 123 Macro

  • #showtooltip Hammer of Justice
  • /cast [target=arena1] Hammer of Justice

Using this macro will use Hammer of Justice Icon Hammer of Justice on arena enemy 1. This makes it easier to crowd control an enemy while still damaging the enemy team. If you want macros for the second and third enemies, simply change the arena1 to arena2 or arena3.

10.2. Freedom Party Macro

  • #showtooltip Blessing of Freedom
  • /cast [target=party1] Blessing of Freedom

Using this macro will use Blessing of Freedom Icon Blessing of Freedom on party player 1. This makes it easier to freedom a teammate while still damaging the enemy team. If you want a macro to freedom the second party member, change the party1 to party2.

10.3. Sanctuary Party Macro

  • #showtooltip Blessing of Sanctuary
  • /cast [target=party1] Blessing of Sanctuary

Using this macro will use Blessing of Sanctuary Icon Blessing of Sanctuary on party player 1. This makes it easier to dispel crowd control that is on a teammate while still damaging the enemy team. If you want a macro to dispel the second party member, change the party1 to party2.

11. Changelog

  • 13 Dec. 2018: Updated Azerite traits section.
  • 12 Dec. 2018: No major changes needed for Patch 8.1.
  • 09 Nov. 2018: Added Gear Recommendations section.
  • 08 Oct. 2018: Added talent table.
  • 02 Oct. 2018: Removed PvP Gear and War Mode sections.
  • 25 Sep. 2018: Added Stat Priority section.
    • Added Azerite Traits section.
  • 21 Sep. 2018: Updated guide for Patch 8.0.1.
    • Updated Introduction and spec overview.
    • Updated tier 1, 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7 talent sections.
    • Added PvP (War Mode) talents and gear sections for the new BfA system.
    • Updated Racial Bonuses section.
    • Updated Burst Damage and Sustained Damage sections.
    • Updated Defensive section.
    • Removed Gear section.
    • Removed Artifact Traits and Relics sections.
  • 16 May 2018: Added an Arena Compositions section.
  • 16 Apr. 2018: Made several updates to the guide and its structure.
    • Added sections for Macros, Strengths, and Weaknesses.
    • Moved Gear, Artifact Traits, and Relics sections to the end, since they are not that important.
  • 24 Dec. 2017: No major changes needed for Patch 7.3.2.
  • 29 Sep. 2017: Updated talent description for tier 6 honor talents and updated burst and sustained damage rotations.
  • 20 Sep. 2017: Checked guide for Patch 7.3 (not many changes were needed)
    • Removed Artifact Trait descriptions.
    • Updated recommended tier 3 honor talents.
  • 25 Jun. 2017: Updated best horde racial to no longer incorrectly recommend being an Orc (which Paladins cannot be).
  • 15 May 2017: Guide added.
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