Retribution Paladin PvP Abilities

by Archive // February 18, 2011

Greetings fellow Retribution Paladins!  This article will cover Retribution’s PvP abilities, offensive/defensive cool downs, and helpful macro’s to help you deploy these abilities to their potential in PvP combat.  This guide is a very basic understanding of all spells used by Retribution Paladin’s in PvP, and how and when to use them.  With that being said, lets get started with how Retribution deals damage and supports in PvP.

DPS Abilities

All abilities to be described are offensive damage dealing abilities that Retribution Paladins use to create pressure in PvP, described are their uses, what they do, and when/how to use them.

Crusader Strike

[Crusader Strike], often referred to as “CS” is your most important DPS ability strictly because it is your only source of guaranteed Holy Power Generation.  If you are specced 1/1 into [Sanctity Of Battle] your Crusader Strike’s cool down will be lowered depending on the amount of haste you have, if you choose to use a spec with 3/3 [Judgements of the Pure], this will also help to lower it’s cool down.  Crusader Strike does moderate damage and w/ talents and the glyph it has a +20% chance to crit; which isn’t too bad considering it is Retribution’s main attack.  Crusader Strike can be used on pets or totems when out of range to continue Holy Power generation throughout the fight. Crusader Strike is also your mechanic behind [Zealotry], which will be covered later in the article.

Templar’s Verdict

[Templar's Verdict] is your strongest weapon strike as Retribution, and should only be used with 3 Holy Power, otherwise it is a waste.  The only time TV should be used without 3 Holy Power is when you want to desperately stomp a Shaman’s totem when you have 1 Holy Power and CS, Judgement, and your auto-attack aren’t off cool down yet.  So very very situational use outside of 3 Holy Power, with that being stressed it is a very powerful weapon strike and should be used to create good offensive pressure when you can afford to use your Holy Power offensively.


[Inquisition] is in the DPS category because of how important it is for Retribution’s DPS.  The following spells are affected by Inquisition:  Crusader Strike, Templar’s Verdict, Judgement, Holy Wrath, Exorcism, Seal Damage, and Hammer of Wrath.  The talent [Inquiry of Faith] makes Inquisition last up to 30 seconds, and the +30% Holy Damage Increase is huge because [The Art of War] procs make your [Exorcism] deliver massive holy damage.  Inquisition is best used early to increase your overall DPS on a target, and is very nice to have up when you use [Avenging Wrath] because [Hammer of Wrath] is another large source of Retribution’s burst damage affected by Inquisition.  Inquisition is undispellable.

Hammer of Wrath

[Hammer of Wrath] is THE hardest hitting move Retribution has in it’s arsenal, and when combined with Inquisition this move can be a show stopper.  However situational HoW is, it should be your primary attack when [Avenging Wrath] is used, the range and damage on this move is amazing and its one of the ways you’ll wear down a target with Avenging Wrath up, or finish your target if they are below 20% health.  This spell counts as Ranged Physical/Holy Damage, with that being said; it is unaffected by grounding totem.


[Judgement] is one of your “filler” moves that should be used early and often in PvP as it gives you replenishment, and also proc’s [Judgements Of The Bold] to keep your mana high in combat.  When Judgement is used on target’s greater than 15 yards away, it will proc [Long Arm of the Law] to give you a small speed boost to help you stick onto targets.  Since Judgement is no longer a large portion of Ret’s DPS, it can be used to topple Shaman’s totems, or used on a Pet or different target at range to proc [Long Arm of the Law] to help you stick to targets that are just out of range.  Judgement will apply Seal of Truth’s [Censure] effect, so use with caution when trying to proc LAOTL.

Holy Wrath

[Holy Wrath] is another “filler” spell that does very moderate damage in an area of effect, the damage is split between the number of targets.  This spell’s sole purpose for Retribution DPS is it’s chance to generate Holy Power when used.  Other than that, Holy Wrath can be used to pop Rogue’s or Druid’s out of stealth if you know your going to hit them with it.  Holy Wrath does have a unique utility to it, it has the ability to stun demons and undead for 3 seconds, so use Holy Wrath when a Death Knight has used [Lichborne] to make him cringe.  When using the [Glyph of Holy Wrath] you can stun Frost Mage’s Water Elemental to buy you some time because he wont be able to use his Water Elemental’s Freeze ability to keep you rooted.  Situational as well because of the high mana cost.


[Exorcism] is listed last because of how situational it’s use is.  The only legitimate time to use Exorcism as Retribution is when you have acquired an [The Art of War] proc.  This makes your Exorcism viable for use as it doesn’t require the massive amount of mana it normally does, and makes Exorcism hit 100% harder.  Obviously Exorcism is another reason to have Inquisition up and ready so when you get an Art of War proc, you are ready to unleash it immediately.  This move is even more devastating when you are attacking a Death Knight who has popped [Lichborne], simply because the Death Knight counts as “undead” and your exorcism is guaranteed a critical hit, this also applies to Warlock pets, and Warlocks who have transformed with [Metamorphosis], as they count as “demon” during that time frame.

Utility Abilities

In this section will be discussed the many support options Retribution Paladin’s have when their teammates are in trouble, along with these descriptions are their uses, along with a few tricks as well.

Hand of Freedom

[Hand of Freedom] is one of the most versatile support cool downs you have as it allows your target to move freely without movement impairment.  This is mainly used to get away from melee, or to assist in getting behind Line-of-sight from casters.  Hand of Freedom is best used on a teammate unless you desperately need it because of mana issues, or your short of global cool downs.  This is because Retribution Paladin’s can use [Cleanse] to remove movement impairing effects off of themselves only, so there isn’t much need often to use Hand of Freedom on yourself.  The only problem with Hand of Freedom is that it can be offensively dispelled very easily because of the small buff protection Ret’s have.  Hand of freedom can be cast on teammates when you are Cyclone’d, Sapped, and Gouged.  It can be cast upon yourself when you are stunned, but this is best used toward the end of the stun in order to save yourself a global cool down for when you come out of the stun.

Hand of Protection

[Hand of Protection], often called “BOP” because of it’s former name; prevents physical damage from harming your target for 10 seconds.  Hand of protection is best used on a teammate, because more often than not you will be saving [Divine Shield] for yourself instead.  Hand of Protection removes any physical effects or debuffs on the target, except for Rogue’s [Vendetta] ability.  With that being said, other than the typical use of protection from physical damage, Hand of Protection can be used to remove [Blind] or [Sap] from a target if the physical protection is not needed.  Hand of Protection will also remove physical stuns from the target, and can be used on teammates when a Warrior uses [Intimidating Shout] to fear you away from the fight.  Hand of Protection can be used on an enemy Holy Paladin whom is Mind Controlled BUT will not prevent them from using Divine Shield even though it they will have Forbearance.  : /

Hand of Sacrifice

[Hand Of Sacrifice] is your preventative option for Crowd Control on yourself.  So if you time your Hand of Sacrifice correctly on a teammate that is taking damage, the damage transferred will break you from some forms of Crowd Control.  CC’s that are directly effected include, but aren’t limited to:  Polymorph, Blind, Sap, Gouge, Repentance, and Seduce.  Hand of Sacrifice’s damage transfer will also break Fear effects, but your teammate has to be taking massive amounts of damage for it to break your Fear.  There is no special condition to use HoSac, it must be used BEFORE you are CC’d, or if your teammate is taking massive damage.


[Cleanse] is a bit nerfed for Ret Paladin’s come cataclysm.  With the Magical dispel aspect being removed, it is fairly weak in terms of use on teammates.  However, when specced 1/2 into [Acts of Sacrifice] your Cleanse spell will now remove 1 movement impairing effect when cast upon yourself.  This makes Ret’s Cleanse viable to be used when you need to keep onto someone, and can help you save Hand of Freedom for when you need it the most.

Turn Evil

[Turn Evil] is a unique spell that will fear a Undead or Demon enemy.  This can be used to fear Warlock’s pets away to prevent Spell Lock, or to fear Death Knight’s Gargoyle or Ghoul Pets.  This spell can also be used to fear Death Knight’s who are too careless to /cancelaura their Lichborne ability, and buy you precious time against them.  Turn Evil is best used in conjunction with [Glyph of Turn Evil], because casting anything as Retribution often times very dangerous because of spell interrupts.

Hand of Reckoning

[Hand Of Reckoning]‘s PvP use to keep yourself or an enemy in combat against Rogue teams, or to keep healers from drinking during long Arena matches.  The mana cost is low and should be used only for those purposes.  You can also try to use it to taunt Pet’s away from your teammates, but this is unlikely against good players as they will often have their pets on “passive.”

Hammer of Justice

[Hammer of Justice] is your number one spell you will score a kill from against most teams.  HoJ is one of the longest stuns in the game, but has a fairly long cool down, and can also be dispelled by healers or Shadow Priests.  HoJ can also be used as a crowd control method when your team has run out of CC options and you need something to keep the enemy from playing for another 6 seconds.  Since HoJ is magic, it cannot be used while silenced, and its duration is reduced by Mage’s Mage Armor, and is immuned by Death Knights with Anti Magic Shell, and Icebound Fortitude.  HoJ can also be absorbed by Shaman’s Grounding Totem, and reflected by Warrior’s Spell Reflection as well, so its best to pay attention to all of these factors when you are about to use HoJ.


[Repentance] is your main crowd control ability as Retribution.  Repentance shares a diminishing return with, Sap, Gouge, Hex, and Polymorph, making it sub-par when compared to those abilities.  Repentance is broken by damage and also counts as a magical spell, and can be defensively dispelled by the enemy team, or immuned by Shaman’s Grounding Totem.  If you play with a teammate that has one of the CC abilities listed above, then Repentance is best used to prep your kill target, rather than used as a crowd control method.  In a future patch Repentance will not break from [Seal of Truth]‘s [Censure] effect.


[Rebuke] is the Paladin’s spell interrupt.  Only usable from melee range, Rebuke can make casters think twice about casting spells when you are on top of them.  Rebuke can be used when silenced, and costs a fairly low amount of mana compared to other spells.

Divine Plea

[Divine Plea]…not much to say here really, use this when you need mana and can afford not to heal, try to avoid using when you are getting spam dispelled by the enemy team.

Offensive Cool Downs

Avenging Wrath

[Avenging Wrath] is your most important offensive cool down.  Using AW as Ret allows the use of Hammer of Wrath during the 20 second time frame.  When combined with other offensive cool downs, using Avenging Wrath in times of burst is always a good idea unless you are being spam dispelled.  It is best used with Zealotry and Inquisition to use it toward its highest potential.  It is also a good idea to have a:  /cancelaura Avenging Wrath .. macro because of Mage’s dire love to spell steal.


[Zealotry] can be used offensive or defensively, but is listed as offensive because you can use its Holy Power generating effect on Crusader Strike to pop Inquisition, and to Templar’s Verdict.  Defensively, Zealotry can be used to [Word of Glory] yourself or a teammate when extra healing is needed and casting is not an option.  Undispellable.  Zealotry is off the global cool down.

Guardian of Ancient Kings

[Guardian of Ancient Kings], when it is working properly, is one hell of an offensive boost!  Though seldomly this spell works properly, when it does, each attack from the Guardian will give you an 1% increase in Strength, stacking 20 times.  The Guardian itself hits pretty hard, but being unable to control it is the biggest problem.  More often than not when you pop this ability it will shoot away from your current target and start whacking a healer…so best used at the moment to make swaps from a DPS target, to a healer target in Arena.

Defensive Cool Downs

Divine Shield

[Divine Shield] is THE Paladin Defensive Cool Down, Divine Shield removes all effects on yourself and makes you immune to damage for 8 seconds.  The only exception to this being Rogue’s Vendetta ability.  Divine Shield can be removed by Priests with [Mass Dispel] and by Warriors with [Shattering Throw].  Divine Shield is often used to break crowd control effects when you are NOT being focused, but could easily lead to you being swapped to by the enemy team once they see you are vulnerable.  You cannot use Divine Shield whilst Cyclone’d by Druids.  More often than not, Divine Shield is used as an “OH SHI-” move since the cool down is so long.

Divine Protection

[Divine Protection] is one of the few defensive options Ret’s have besides Divine Shield.  Divine Protection is NOT affected by the global cool down.  The 20% protection from all damage is nice, but I find myself craving the extra magical protection with [Glyph of Divine Protection].  However, using the glyph will leave you very vulnerable to MM/BM Hunters, Sub/Combat Rogues, and Warriors.  Divine Protection has a fairly short cool down so best to be used early to prevent yourself from being gibbed.

Holy Radiance

[Holy Radiance] is almost worthless for Retribution.  With its high mana cost, and low healing amount this should be used as a last resort when tanking damage and should only be used when mana is extremely high.

Sacred Shield

[Sacred Shield] is the best improvement Retribution has from patch 4.06.  Sacred Shield is more than a lifesaver, it’s your best utility by far as it prevents you from being gibbed from high burst teams.  Sacred Shield currently absorbs around 30k damage with good gear.  The best part about Sacred Shield is that it is passive, so there is no need to worry about it, but when it has procced you should consider pumping one or two [Word of Glory] into yourself as you are taking 20% additional healing during the duration.  Undispellable.

Lay on Hands

[Lay on Hands] is a Battleground only spell that can instantly replenish a teammates or your own health bar.  LoH gives the Forbearance debuff.  Not much else to say really, amazing for clutch situations when an Flag Carrier or healer is about to die in Rated Battlegrounds.  LoH is off the global cool down.

Misc. Abilities: Auras, Seals, Healing

There really isn’t a whole lot to say about which Seal or Aura you should be using but here’s some quick guidance as far as what to use when.


Whenever you are mounted in Rated Battlegrounds or before an Arena Match, you should be using [Crusader Aura].  If you are up against at least 1 melee on the other team, you should be using [Retribution Aura].  If you are fighting an MM hunter you should be using [Devotion Aura].  And if you are fighting against caster cleave, you should be using [Concentration Aura], as [Resistance Aura] is almost worthless due to caster’s using Spell Penetration to negate the magic resistance.


Whenever you want to deal maximum damage to a target, you should be using [Seal of Truth],  Seal of Truth’s Censure stacks can be applied with Judgement, CS, TV, Exorcism, and Hammer of Wrath.  Whenever you are suffering massive damage, or you are low on mana, you should be using [Seal of Insight] to help you stay sturdy and to regenerate lost mana quickly.  If you are DPSing targets that are hard to stick on, you should be using [Seal Of Justice] because of its effect to limit maximum run speed.  This is especially useful against, Druids, Shaman, and Rogues to prevent them from escaping OR to help you kite.  I do not recommend you use [Seal of Righteousness] in PvP because you might as well be using Seal of Justice in it’s place.

Healing Spells

As Retribution, you will be doing a fair amount of healing in Arena and Rated Battlegrounds, but you won’t be casting very many healing spells.  Instead, most of your healing will come from [Word of Glory] when you have 3 Holy Power and you need to keep yourself or a teammate alive.  When specced 2/2 into [Selfless Healer] you can deliver a 40k+ heal with a 3 Holy Power Word of Glory to a friendly target, and in return you will receive a 12% damage boost for 10 seconds.  This has saved me countless Arena matches where my teammate should have died.  As far as casting healing spells, [Divine Light], [Flash of Light], and [Holy Light] should only be used when there is NO risk of being interrupted as you are losing precious DPS up-time by casting.

Helpful Macros

Now that I’ve gone over Retribution’s many abilities and utilities, lets apply some of them into useful macros so they can be deployed in PvP effectively.

Hand of —- Macros

Here are some examples of how to use your hand spells in macros.  One example shows a direct team member cast, and another for a mouseover macro.  One easy way to use the mouseover macro is to bind it do something easy to reach so that it wont affect your ability to control your camera movement with your mouse.  For example, I have my mouseover Hand of Freedom bound to “c”.  *When casting a mouseover macro on someone, use your Party Frame and try to NEVER use the actual character, this can lead to some devastating mistakes if you aren’t 100% on point.*

/cast [target=NAMEGOESHERE] hand of sacrifice

/cast [target=mouseover] hand of sacrifice

The same macro could be used for your other Hand spells, Word of Glory, and Cleanse.  Just replace “hand of sacrifice” with the name of what spell you would like to be cast.

Turn Evil Macro

/cast [target=mouseover, exists] turn evil; turn evil

This simple macro allows you to cast Turn Evil on an enemy target you have your mouse over, this is nice because you can spam it until you have the target you want to Fear away.  You can also mouseover your Gladius or Arena Frames and spam it to catch Death Knights whom have used Lichborne.  This is bound as “Mouse Wheel Down” for me.

Offensive Cool Down Macro

#showtooltip avenging wrath
/cast zealotry
/cast avenging wrath
/use Impatience of Youth

This macro uses all of your offensive cool downs at once, along with your trinket you have equipped, just replace “Impatience of Youth” with your trinket and you’re all set.  I would Recommend having Zealotry bound to another key so you may pop it without using Avenging Wrath if you don’t need to quite yet.

Startattack Macros

/cast crusader strike

Use this macro for every DPS ability on your bar, this makes sure you always using your autoattack when you are spamming abilities that might not be off cool down yet.

Rebuke, HoJ, Repentance

/cast [modifier:shift, target=focus] rebuke; rebuke

/cast [nomodifier:alt][target=focus, exist] hammer of justice

/cast [target=focus, exists] Repentance; Repentance

These 3 macros are my personal bread and butter.  The first one is my modifier [Rebuke] macro, pressing this macro will Rebuke your current target, but when holding shift, it will Rebuke your focus target.  Good for when you have the enemy team clumped together in close quarters and need to stop your focus target from casting.  The same can be said for the second macro, my focus Hammer of Justice.  A little different in format, but it works just the same as my Rebuke macro, except the modifier is “alt” instead of “shift”.  Now the third macro is different from them all, my [Repentance] macro works off of my focus target directly.  If I have a focus target, it will Repentance that, if I do not have a focus target, it will Repentance my current target.  You can alter these macro’s to what you deem personally comfortable for PvP.


/cast [target=mouseover, exists] judgement; judgement

Allows you to judgement your mouseover target, good for getting totems or to get [Long Arm of the Law] on a ranged target when you’re trying to stick onto another.  If you have no mouseover target, it will cast Judgement on your current target.

  • 0
    31 months ago
    Great guide man
  • 0
    44 months ago
    Nice Guide. I was hoping somebody would rep up RetPaladins. Hope you could do the same for talent/builds and gearing. Keep it up
  • 2
    45 months ago
    Great guide bro!
  • 0
    45 months ago
    i dont play ret but very nice looks like you worked hard ....keep it up :)
  • 0
    45 months ago
    nice i liked the 2 videos
    for seal swappinng between truth and justice i use a /castsequence truth, justice macro its realy good because it swaps between the 2 with 1 button
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