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The Best PvE Retribution Paladin Build for WoW Classic

The Best PvE Retribution Paladin Build for WoW Classic

An in-depth guide on Retribution Paladin and how to become a Top Raid DPS

Retribution Paladin PvE DPS Build
Odealo's Pocket Guide for WoW Classic


You can find all our Pocket Guides for other World of Warcraft classes right here: Best WoW Classic Builds

If you have just started leveling your Paladin, you may want to check out our Paladin leveling Guide first

  • Added Phase 2 BiS Equipment
  • Added Phase 3 BiS Equipment
  • Reviewed Talent Builds, Consumables, and Rotations


Build Overview

Retribution Paladin is one of, if not the most iconic specialization of World of Warcraft. This Holy Warrior judges his enemies in battle and burns them with holy fire if he finds them guilty (and he most often does). Moreover, he brings a wide range of support, buff, and utility spells to the table - Blessings, Auras, and Lay on Hands, to name a few.  Thanks to this, He can be a worthy addition to some Raid compositions. However, Ret lacks in the Damage department, which limits his Raid viability and forces Retribution Paladin players to put in a lot of extra effort if they want to secure themselves a spot.

Paladin is a hybrid Class, which makes him much more flexible than most other Classes. Ret works quite well as an off-Healer and can off-Tank if he swaps his Two-Hander for a 1-Handed Weapon and Shield (he does not have a Taunt, however, which can be problematic). If you want to find a permanent Raid group as a Ret, you have to be flexible and embrace the role of a support player. To be at least marginally competitive, as a PvE Retribution, you have to grab every advantage you can get - stock on Consumables, use your brain, make use of the Engineering gadgets, and support Healers when needed (in other words - make yourself as useful as possible and, in time, you will become irreplaceable).

 Pros  Cons
 Great Utility  Low DPS
 Powerful Buffs  Lack of mobility Cooldowns
 Good at off-Healing  Most Raids take just 1 Ret (if any)
 Very tanky thanks to Plate Armor and the ability to equip a Shield  Relies on Melee Swings for DPS - Paladin's Damage toolkit is very limited
 Very versatile  Competes for Gear with Warriors and, to a lesser extent, Rogues, and these two Classes are better Damage Dealers so they will often be prioritized during Loot distribution.

The Best Race Choice

Note: Here, we will point you only towards the best PvE DPS Paladin Race. If you'd like to know more about other race picks, please check our WoW Classic Beginners Guide, where we dive deep into available Paladin's race choices (all two of them).

If you want your Racials to affect your DPS, Human is the best choice. His Mace and Sword Specializations give him a considerable edge over the other available Paladin Race - Dwarf. They decrease His chance to miss an attack, reduce enemy's chance to block, parry, or dodge and, most of all, reduce Glancing Blow penalty (glancing blows deal damage reduced in proportion to the difference between Target's defense skill and Attaker's weapon skill), which is huge for Paladin's DPS in a PvE environment (Raid Bosses have 315 Defense Skill and a Player, without any modifiers, has 300 Weapon Skill which results in harsh Glancing Blow penalties).

The Best Professions Choice

There is only one profession that makes a real impact in Raids and it is Engineering (Alchemy is also a decent option, but you can buy Flasks, Elixirs, and Potions from other players, which makes it much less impactful). It gives you access to powerful explosives that increase your AoE and Single-Target DPS (and as a Paladin, you have to take every advantage you can get). On top of that, it lets you create and use Gnomish Battle Chicken Trinket that summons a Guardian Chicken that fights at your side and has a chance on hit to cast a "Battle Squawk" which boosts Melee attack speed of all Party members by 5%, making it a must-have in every competitive group. The fact that Engineering is also considered the best PvP profession is an added benefit to its power in a PvE environment.

At the start, you should pick Mining to supplement your Engineering Skill, you can always switch it to another profession of your liking later on.

Note: If you want to know more about all available professions and secondary skills, please check our detailed WoW Classic Professions Guide.

Statistics Priority

  1. Hit Chance -  Increases your chance to Hit a Target. At level 60, with a Weapon Skill of 300, you have a 5% chance to miss with an ability attack against a Target of an equal level. Against level 63 Boss, who has 315 Defense skill, you need 9% Hit Rating to never miss an ability attack. This means that getting 9% Hit Rating is paramount for a Raiding Retribution Paladin and should be your first goal when gearing up (6% if you go with the Precision Build).
  1. Strength -  Increases Damage you deal to your enemies. Paladin gains 2 Attack Power for every point of Strength. This is your main primary statistic.
  1. Agility - Increases your Critical Strike chance. 20 points of Agility increase your Critical Chance by 1% (0.05% Crit per 1 Agility). This statistic heavily synergizes with Vengeance which makes it very valuable for Rets.
  1. Critical Strike -  Gives you a chance to deal additional (critical) Damage with all your attacks. Like Agility, this stat synergizes with Vengeance which makes it as valuable.
  1. Attack Power -  Increases Damage you deal to your enemies. Stacking AP is less efficient than stacking Strength, which lowers Attack Power's priority.

Statistic Priority for a Raiding Retribution Paladin:

Hit Cap Strength  Agility = Critical Chance ⇒ Attack Power

Note1: Spell Power increases Damage of your Judgement and Consecration which makes it quite useful; it should not be valued over the above-mentioned stats, however.

Note2: Paladins use Mana, which makes Intellect somewhat useful, especially if you like off-Healing; don't stack it over offensive stats, however, as it will lower your DPS potential.


The Best Talent Builds

Proper Talent allocation is essential for maximizing Damage output. Here, we will describe the most optimal spec and lead you through the Talent Trees level-by-level to explain some choices.

There are two main PvE Talent Builds for Retribution Paladins to choose from:

  • Basic Retribution Paladin PvE DPS Build - Build suited for not-yet-geared Rets, thanks to Precision Talent from the Protection Tree, that provides 3% extra Hit Chance. There is not much wiggle room here, but you can exchange 5/5 Divine Intellect for 5/5 Spiritual Focus if you'd like to be a bit better at off-Healing in Raids.
  • Geared Retribution Paladin PvE DPS Build - Build designed for Geared (Hit-Capped) players. It forgoes Precision and Improved Devotion Aura in favor of extra utility provided by Spiritual Focus and Improved Lay on Hands. This build makes you a bit more flexible by allowing you to off-Heal more reliably and turning your Lay on Hands into a powerful defensive cooldown (it should be used to bolster Tanks when needed, just remember that it still has a VERY long Cooldown).

Basic Retribution Paladin PvE DPS Build
Talent allocation for Basic Retribution Paladin PvE DPS Build

Holy Tree:

  • 5/5 Divine Strength - Strength is Ret's primary statistic and this gives you 10% extra (and it's in the Holy Tree for some reason).
  • 5/5 Divine Intellect - 10% extra Int = more mana = better sustain. This can be exchanged for Spiritual Focus.
  • 1/1 Consecration - Paladin's signature ability. It gives you some much-needed AoE Damage potential.

Protection Tree:

  • 5/5 Improved Devotion Aura - This, unlike Redoubt, can be useful and you have to spend 5 Talent points on either of these to make your way towards Precision.
  • 3/3 Precision - Provides you with 3% extra Hit Chance, which makes achieving Cap much easier.

Retribution Tree:

  • 5/5 Improved Blessing of Might - This makes BoM, Ret's signature ability, 20% better. It is also the reason why you might find a Raid group.
  • 4/5 Benediction - Makes your Seals and Judgements 12% more mana-efficient, which is huge for your sustain.
  • 2/2 Improved Judgement - Makes your Rotation more fluid by lowering Judgement's Cooldown by 2 seconds.
  • 3/3 Improved Seal of the Crusader - These 3 points are up for debate as you will not be using Seal of the Crusader in Raids due to limited debuff slots on Bosses.
  • 5/5 Conviction.
  • 1/1 Seal of Command - Very powerful Seal and a part of your Rotation. A must-have.
  • 2/2 Pursuit of Justice - Increases your movement speed by 8%. This is mandatory as Paladins don't have any movement-related Cooldowns.
  • 3/3 Two-Handed Weapon Specialization - You will be exclusively using Two-Handers, so this is another must-have Talent.
  • 1/1 Sanctity Aura - Although there aren't many Holy Damage Dealers in Classic, this is still nice to have because it boosts your own DPS as well.
  • 5/5 Vengeance - Gives you very strong Critical Strike synergy.
  • 1/1 Repentance - Crowd Control ability that works exclusively on Humanoids. Great for PvP and solid for encounters that feature Humanoid adds.

Geared Retribution Paladin PvE DPS Build
Talent Allocation for Geared Retribution Paladin PvE DPS Build

Holy Tree:

  • 5/5 Divine Strength. 
  • 5/5 Divine Intellect. 
  • 5/5 Spiritual Focus - Makes your Holy Light and Flash of Light 70% resistant to pushbacks. Handy when you want to off-Heal during phases that feature Raid-wide AoE Damage.
  • 1/1 Consecration
  • 2/2 Improved Lay on Hands - Your very awkward life-saver now also increases Target's Armor value from items by 30% for 2 minutes which makes it one of the stronger and more long-lasting defensive Cooldowns. Despite a 20-minute shorter Cooldown, that this Talent also provides, LoH still has a 40-minute CD which greatly limits its uses, sadly.

Retribution Tree:

  • 5/5 Improved Blessing of Might. 
  • 5/5 Benediction - You'll have 1 point left after cutting Protection Talents, putting it here makes the most sense.
  • 2/2 Improved Judgement. 
  • 3/3 Improved Seal of the Crusader. 
  • 5/5 Conviction.
  • 1/1 Seal of Command. 
  • 2/2 Pursuit of Justice. 
  • 3/3 Two-Handed Weapon Specialization. 
  • 1/1 Sanctity Aura. 
  • 5/5 Vengeance. 
  • 1/1 Repentance. 


Where to get Pre-Raid/Raid BiS Gear

To maximize your DPS, you should aim to assemble the best possible Gear. This applies to both Pre-Raid and each of the Raid Tiers/Phases. Also, remember that it is the armament that gives the highest DPS boost, so you should start by getting the best Paladin Weapon available. Below, we present you the BiS (Best-in-slot) list for all equipment slots.

Note1: The list will be updated with new items concurrently with the introduction of new Raids/Phases, so remember to visit this page after the new Raid opens for an update on what current best Paladin items in each slot are.

The Best Paladin Items
Weapon (2H)
  • Pre-Raid - Arcanite Reaper (Created by Blacksmithing) / Blackbone of Shahram (Drop from General Drakkisath, Upper Blackrock Spire)
  • Phase 1 - Bonereaver's Edge (Drop from Ragnaros, Upper Molten Core) / Sulfuras, Hand of Ragnaros (Legendary Quest Chain in Molten Core + lots of expensive crafting materials and legendary item drops, Molten Core)
  • Phase 2 - Sulfuras, Hand of Ragnaros 
  • Phase 3 - Sulfuras, Hand of Ragnaros / The Untamed Blade (Drop from Razorgore the Untamed, Blackwing Lair) 
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA
Trinket 1
  • Pre-Raid - Hand of Justice (Drop from Emperor Dagran Thaurissan, Blackrock Depths)
  • Phase 1 - Hand of Justice
  • Phase 2 - Hand of Justice 
  • Phase 3 - Hand of Justice 
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA
Trinket 2
  • Pre-Raid - Blackhand's Breadth (Quest Reward from "HordeFor the Horde!" / "AllianceGeneral Drakkisath's Demise", Upper Blackrock Spire)
  • Phase 1 - Blackhand's Breadth
  • Phase 2 - Blackhand's Breadth 
  • Phase 3 - Blackhand's Breadth 
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA
  • Pre-Raid - Mark of Fordring (Quest Reward from "In Dreams", Western Plaguelands)
  • Phase 1 - Onyxia Tooth Pendant (Quest Reward from "HordeFor All To See" / "AllianceCelebrating Good Times", Onyxia's Lair)
  • Phase 2 - Onyxia Tooth Pendant 
  • Phase 3 - Onyxia Tooth Pendant 
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA
Ring 1
  • Pre-Raid - Magni's Will (Quest Reward from "AllianceThe Princess's Surprise", Blackrock Depths) / Blackstone Ring (Drop from Princess Theradras, Maraudon)
  • Phase 1 - Quick Strine Ring (Drop from Multiple Bosses, Molten Core)
  • Phase 2 - Quick Strine Ring 
  • Phase 3 -  Master Dragonslayer's Ring (Quest reward from "HordeThe Lord of Blackrock" / "AllianceThe Lord of Blackrock", Blackwing Lair) 
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA
Ring 2
  • Pre-Raid - Painweaver Band (Drop from General Drakkisath, Upper Blackrock Spire)
  • Phase 1 - Painweaver Band
  • Phase 2 - Painweaver Band 
  • Phase 3 - Circle of Applied Force (Drop from Flamegor, Blackwing Lair) 
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA
  • Pre-Raid - Lionheart Helm (Created by Blacksmithing)
  • Phase 1 - Lionheart Helm
  • Phase 2 - Lionheart Helm 
  • Phase 3 - Lionheart Helm 
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA
  • Pre-Raid -  Savage Gladiator Chain (Drop from Gorosh the Dervish, Blackrock Depths)
  • Phase 1 - Savage Gladiator Chain
  • Phase 2 - Savage Gladiator Chain 
  • Phase 3 - Savage Gladiator Chain 
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA
  • Pre-Raid - Cloudkeeper Legplates (BoE World Drop, can be bought on AH) / Devilsaur Leggings (Created by Leatherworking)
  • Phase 1 - Cloudkeeper Legplates
  • Phase 2 - Cloudkeeper Legplates 
  • Phase 3 - Legguards of the Fallen Crusader (Drop from Firemaw, Blackwing Lair) 
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA
  • Pre-Raid - Gargoyle Slashers (Drop from Kirtonos the Herald, Scholomance) / Devilsaur Gauntlets (Created by Leatherworking)
  • Phase 1 - Flameguard Gauntlets (Drop from Magmadar, Gaar, Golemagg the Incinerator, and Baron Geddon, Molten Core) 
  • Phase 2 - Flameguard Gauntlets 
  • Phase 3 - Flameguard Gauntlets 
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA
  • Pre-Raid - Bloodmail Boots (Side Bosses, Scholomance)
  • Phase 1 - Bloodmail Boots
  • Phase 2 - Bloodmail Boots 
  • Phase 3 - Chromatic Boots 9Drop from Chromaggus, Blackwing Lair) 
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA
  • Pre-Raid - Truestrike Shoulders (Drop from Pyroguard Emberseer, Upper Blackrock Spire)
  • Phase 1 - Truestrike Shoulders
  • Phase 2 - Truestrike Shoulders 
  • Phase 3 - Drake Talon Pauldrons (Drop from Ebonroc, Flamegor, and Firemaw, Blackwing Lair) 
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA
  • Pre-Raid - Battleborn Armbraces (Drop from Warchief Rend Blackhand, Upper Blackrock Spire)
  • Phase 1 - Wristguards of Stability (Drop from Flamewalker Bosses, Molten Core)
  • Phase 2 - Wristguards of Stability / Berserker Bracers (Warsong Gulch Reputation Reward - Exalted) 
  • Phase 3 - Wristguards of Stability / Berserker Bracers 
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA
  • Pre-Raid - Omokk's Girth Restrainer (Quest Reward from "AllianceMaxwell's Mission", Upper Blackrock Spire) / Brigam Girdle (Drop from General Drakkisath, Upper Blackrock Spire)
  • Phase 1 - Onslaught Girdle (Drop from Ragnaros, Molten Core)
  • Phase 2 - Onslaught Girdle 
  • Phase 3 - Onslaught Girdle 
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA
  • Pre-Raid - Cape of the Black Baron (Drop from Baron Rivendare, Stratholme)
  • Phase 1 - Cape of the Black Baron
  • Phase 2 - Cape of the Black Baron 
  • Phase 3 - Cloak of Draconic Might (Drop from Ebonroc, Flamegor, and Firemaw, Blackwing Lair) 
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA


The Best Enchants and Consumables

Proper enchants and consumables will greatly increase your Damage output. While getting enchants is a one-time-deal, farming consumables might be a real chore, but it is still worth it as numbers clearly show.

The Best Enchants
Weapon (2H) Enchant Weapon - Crusader (Chance to gain +125 Strength for 15 sec.)
Head Lesser Arcanum of Voracity (+8 Strength, available from Libram of Voracity Quest in Burning Steppes)
Chest Enchant Chest - Greater Stats (+4 to all stats)
Legs Lesser Arcanum of Voracity (+8 Strength, available from Libram of Voracity Quest in Burning Steppes)
Hands Enchant Gloves - Greater Strength (+ 7 Strength)
Feet Enchant Boots - Greater Agility (+7 Agility)
Shoulders Chromatic Mantle of the Dawn (+5 to all Resistances)
Wrists Enchant Bracer - Superior Strength (+9 Strength)
Back Enchant Cloak - Lesser Agility (+3 Agility)

The Best Consumables
Flask of Supreme Power
Flask of Supreme Power
+150 Spell Power for 2 hours; effect persists through death. Created by Alchemy. The recipe can be dropped from Ras Frostwhisper, Scholomance. 
Blessed Sunfruit
Blessed Sunfruit
+15 Strength for 10 minutes. Available from the Argent Dawn quartermaster after reaching Revered reputation.
+25 Strength for 60 minutes. Reward from the Rage of Ages repeatable Quest in the Blasted Lands.
Wizard Oil
Wizard Oil
+24 Spell Damage. Created by Enchanting. This is applied to a Weapon.
Elixir of the Mongoose
Elixir of the Mongoose
+25 Agility and +2% Critical Strike Chance for 60 minutes. It can be bought on AH or directly from an Alchemist.
Greater Arcane Elixir
Greater Arcane Elixir
+35 Spell Damage for 1 hour. Created by Alchemy. The recipe can be dropped from Fireguard Destroyers in Blackrock Depths and Scareshield Raiders in Blackrock Spire.
Juju Power
Juju Power
+30 Strength for 30 minutes. Reward from a reputable Quest available from NPC Witch Doctor Mau'ari, Everlook, Winterspring.
Juju Might
Juju Might
+40 Attack Power for 10 minutes. Reward from a reputable Quest available from NPC Witch Doctor Mau'ari, Everlook, Winterspring.
Winterfall Firewater
Winterfall Firewater
+35 Attack Power for 20 minutes. Drop from Winterfall Furbolgs in Winterpring (this is an alternative for JuJu Might, as the effects don't stack).
Major Mana Potion
Major Mana Potion
Restores 1350 to 2250 Mana. Created by Alchemy. Recipe drops from various high-level mobs, elites, and Bosses.
Demonic Rune
Demonic Rune
Restores 1356 mana at the cost of 862 life. Drop from Demons in Azshara, Felwood, and Blasted Lands (Satyrs and Fel Guards).



In Classic, Retribution Paladin's Rotation revolves around maintaining Seal of Command, using Judgement as often as possible, and taking advantage of Vengeance procs by casting Consecration. The only tricky part here is the Mana management - if you tend to run out of mana before a fight ends, downrank your abilities (both Consecration and Judgement can be downranked to conserve mana).

Please use the following Priority List for sustained Single-Target Damage output:

  1. Maintain Seal of Command at all times 
Seal of Command
  1. Cast Judgement on Cooldown
  1. Cast Consecration when Vengeance is up
Vengeance ⇒ Consecration
  1. Cast Hammer of Wrath on Cooldown if Target is below 20% Health
Hammer of Wrath


Tips and Tricks for aspiring Retribution Paladin Raiders

  1. If you want to deal more Damage and stand out from your Raid competition, Stack Consumables. Spending some additional Gold or a few extra hours grinding might secure you a spot in a Raid, as Raid leaders prefer dedicated and well-prepared players.
  1. Coordinate Blessings with other Paladins. This is a basic thing, but Raid leaders often leave this to Paladins present in Raids. Taking care of Blessings' distribution will definitely improve your position in a group.
  1. Observe and react. If you spot that Healers can't keep up with incoming Damage, start off-Healing. By doing this, you will prevent a wipe or at least save someone from dying.
  1. Divine intervention can be very useful. Use it on a Healer after a Wipe call so that the Healer can start resurrecting people. This will allow your group to save a lot of time.
  1. Always try to improve. Get an addon that tracks your performance and try to optimize your equipment and rotation.



This Guide should help you to prepare yourself for that legendary Vanilla  Raiding Experience and allow you to progress through Raid Tiers efficiently and with a good amount of fun.

We hope that you have found this guide useful and informative.  If we have missed a piece of information that is important to you, please let us know! 

Please do note that this is an early version of our guide, and we will be happy to receive constructive criticism, that will help us improve it, so leave your suggestions in the comments section below.


Pictures used in this article are the intellectual property of Blizzard Entertainment Inc.