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Retribution Paladin State on the Shadowlands Beta - Covenants, Concerns, Legendaries
15.08.2020 в 00:31
Feedback and Opinions on the current state of Retribution Paladin on the Shadowlands Beta, including discussion about the covenants, legendaries, concerns for the spec and more!
About the Author
Hi, I'm Bolas, I've played Ret since WotLK and am a former top 10 raider. You can find me on
or in the
Hammer of Wrath
discord if you have any questions or are interested in more information about Retribution.
What’s Old is New
Many old abilities have returned from expansions past, and some abilities that were previously talents are now baseline for all Retribution Paladins. Here's a quick summary of the new abilities Retribution will have access to in Shadowlands:
- Now generates 3 Holy Power instead of 5 and has had its base damage slightly increased, but does a lot less damage to secondary targets than it used to. Frontloading its damage into the actual spell itself rather than the extra finishers it let you cast makes it a lot easier to fit into your rotation.
was pretty much exclusively picked in its talent row for all situations, so making it a baseline ability and freeing up an extra talent row for other options makes a lot of sense.
- It's been an iconic ability for Retribution for a very long time so picking it as one of the baseline abilities to return seems like an obvious choice. Its design hasn't changed much from BfA, it's still a Holy Power generator that can either be cast as an execute or during
- Pretty much unrecognizable from the talent it was in BfA, it now generates no holy power and does very little damage at all. Unlikely to be used outside of massive pulls or when every other button you could press is on cooldown.
- No longer has a cooldown but is now a single target heal instead of the 3 target smart heal it used to be and does significantly less healing than it used to.
- Requires a shield to be equipped to cast, costs 3 Holy Power and grants Armor. None of that sounds appealing for Retribution and it's not likely to be used very often as a result.
- This is actually a really cool piece of utility since damage specializations so rarely get single target damage reduction cooldowns, and it’s great to have it as an option in our toolkit of blessings.
Auras - These are raid wide buffs with a restriction only one can be used at a time per Paladin. Multiple buffs of the same type don't stack.
- Grants a small damage reduction. Probably the most valuable aura for a raid as a whole.
- Reduces the duration of silence effects. Very few uses for most PvE content.
- Increases mounted speed. Notably also increases the speed of
- Rather than being a raidwide buff like the other auras, the Paladin using the aura gains
if an ally dies within range.
- Mostly abilities that just exist for class fantasy rather than an intended practical purpose. There could be situations
is used in Mythic+ but fear effects are generally not great forms of crowd control.
Besides these new abilities, a couple of existing abilities have received updates:
- Now capped at 5 targets but base damage has been slightly increased. This is in line with similar changes to most melee specs to have their primary AoE abilities target capped going into Shadowlands.
- now has a 12s base cooldown instead of 11s. This is not a significant change at all.
Since a number of previous talents have become baseline abilities Retribution has also gained a few new talents as options:
- Returns after a long hiatus except now with a 3 minute cooldown. This means it won't sync very well with
and will be mostly good as an option for situations where burst damage is required.
- A similar design to
except slightly more burst oriented than a flat increase. Also has an awkward cooldown to line up with the most of our abilities but syncs up nicely to get the most of out
with a different name. Unfortunately can't be picked with
since they now share a talent row.
- Another old Azerite Power that's been converted into a talent. Instead of an RPPM proc it's now a flat 15% chance on
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, which seems like a very low proc chance given that
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is one of the lowest priority abilities in our rotation.
- It seems difficult to try and snipe people to get the most out of this talent and it's going to result in some disappointment when another heal just brings them above 30% health before you manage to
With 4 previous talents becoming baseline abilities the only one that's been removed to make room for the new options is Divine Judgment, which isn't a surprise or a huge loss since it's almost never been used in its existence as a talent. The only other significant change to our talent tree is that
has been moved from the last row to the new row along with
, allowing for some new talent combinations with
similar to what
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allowed in Legion.
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is a combination of 4 different abilities that cycle through as you use them:
. They’re all single target buffs with a 30s duration and 30s cooldown.
will both be strong damage buffs to use on yourself or others, but if you use
on yourself you will probably end up putting
on another player because
also reduces the next Blessing’s cooldown and similarly with
since it doesn’t increase damage at all.
will be a welcome addition to our mobility options since it’s always been an area where Retribution has had difficulty.
has a bit of an odd design - it’s a
style effect you place on the ground, but it only ticks on one target and lasts very long at a 30s duration. Although the single target damage it does is very strong, the restriction that there needs to be a target within it for that long of a duration makes it a lot less enticing. It also has a weird bonus of allowing you to use
on any target while you stand in it, but you either have
’s duration to buff its ticks so you would just get to use
on cooldown anyway or you're forced to hold one of them for 30 seconds at the start of a fight to maximize
casts, neither of which sounds very fun.
however looks great, especially since it’s very rare for Paladins to get access to this style of teleport ability.
is a strong option for AoE situations but is a bit lackluster on only one target. The damage each
does is double that of a normal one, but without extra targets for more damage and to increase the Holy Power gained it’ll likely get overshadowed by other options in raids. In Mythic+ however this could definitely be a competitive option, especially as it has a relatively short cooldown.
isn’t likely to be especially useful since Paladins already have
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to remove diseases or poisons and
for bleed effects as well as plenty of self healing options, but there could be situations you need more frequent bleed dispels or a way to remove curses too.
is another weirdly designed ability, costing 1 Holy Power in comparison to every other spender costing 3. If you’re in a single target situation it gives you a free
and if you’re in an AoE situation you effectively get a free
, neither of which are especially strong bonuses to gain compared to the other covenant options. It’s hard to tell exactly what situation this was designed to be good for, but if slightly redesigned or tuned higher it could be a usable “jack of all trades and master of none” type of ability.
is another ability that’s unlikely to be especially strong since
already exists that also has a damage component without a channel required.
As always abilities can change and be tuned higher or lower, but as it stands Night Fae is looking like the best overall covenant to pick with Venthyr being ok in some single target situations and Kyrian also performing fine in AoE or Mythic+.
is likely to be the frontrunner for most powerful Retribution legendary. Paired with Night Fae’s
it can extend
’s duration by 15-20 seconds very easily or more than double the duration of
into a ranged ability which means that we can use all of our abilities apart from
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and auto attacks at a 10 yard range, allowing for a potential semi-ranged playstyle that melee specs rarely get. The extra damage from free
s isn’t bad either.
is a throwback to an old Legion artifact trait. While the extra 20% bonus damage on
is great for Mythic+, projectile-ing it is often not going to help it hit any extra enemies due to its new target cap.
is an old Azerite trait turned into a new legendary effect. It wasn’t especially strong in BfA and it likely won’t be in Shadowlands either unless it’s tuned especially high.
gives some potentially explosive openers but requires the use of most of your longer cooldown defensive and utility spells to maximize its Holy Power gain. It could be used in situations you really need high burst damage in a small window but the drawbacks it entails make it a much less enticing option.
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involves some fun gameplay of trying to gain then spend holy power rapidly to maintain its buffs rather than just keeping Holy Power generators on cooldown like normal, but it’s not tuned high enough for it to be worth the change in rotation priority at the moment.
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is basically the old 4 piece tier bonus from Antorus, except only 50% of the time. It’s not generally fun gameplay to be unable to predict when you’ll be able to cast your finishers and this is unlikely to be one of the stronger options for legendaries anyway.
is the only legendary that’s purely utility without any damage component. While it’s possible there could be situations you really want access to frequent Blessings, it’s unlikely to be worth a legendary slot over the other powerful damage options.
Concerns & Observations
The target cap on
without any real compensation in other areas is a worrying change for us. Retribution was a spec that could do a lot of on demand AoE burst with
, but has lost basically any capability to keep up with uncapped classes past 5 targets.
now does significantly less damage to secondary targets than your primary target and
currently does a lot less AoE damage than
did when you were able to stack multiple traits. Even within our target cap the fact that you have to give up Holy Power generation talents to take a more anemic version of
and give up
- traits that really previously carried our AoE in BfA - means that our cleave damage is a lot less powerful than it used to be.
Retribution’s damage is usually very centered around its cooldowns. Effects that reduce
’s cooldown like
, extend its duration like
or even grant multiple charges like the old Tier 18 set bonus are almost always the most powerful options, at least until they get nerfed. While this style of gameplay is basically part of the spec’s identity at this point, it means that whenever new systems are introduced the most powerful option to pick is inevitably the one that synergizes the best with
. For Shadowlands, at the moment this is likely to be a combination of Night Fae’s
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to get over 50% uptime on
over the course of a fight. Although it’s fun to have your major cooldown up for a full minute I’d like to see some more diversity in options for less burst oriented builds, like
trait stacking during BfA.
Removal of Greater Blessings
Two noteworthy absences in Shadowlands are Greater Blessing of Wisdom and Greater Blessing of Kings. While Greater Blessing of Kings was such a small absorb that its removal will barely ever be felt, Greater Blessing of Wisdom was a unique piece of utility that fit Retribution’s class fantasy and had value on a lot of raid encounters to help keep healer’s mana topped up over long fights. There's not a clear reason that they were removed since they were far from overpowered and Rets weren't brought to progression exclusively for Wisdom.
Losing Abilities to Unpruning
Despite it seeming like there's been a lot of abilities gained through the addition of many abilities as baseline to all Paladins, Retribution has actually lost a lot during this process.
has fallen from a talent on the verge of competing with
to a button that should almost never be pressed.
has gone from a way to top your entire Mythic+ group when your healer was struggling to doing less than a
and to only one target. We've lost both Heart of the Crusader and the previous Retribution passive and instead have to pick between them and
as they've both become Auras instead. Incidentally, this is also an indirect nerf to
since it's now a 200% speed increase instead of 220% unless you also already have
active. Although it's understandable why these changes were made it definitely does not end up with only positive outcomes for the spec, and it's reasonable to ask if this unpruning was worth what was lost as a result.
There's still quite a few talents that see very little use in any PvE content, for example
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. Most of these have existed at least since Legion and still see almost no use even though other similarly unused talents like Holy Wrath or Divine Judgment have been replaced with better options. Although some of them may have uses in PvP, it would be better to see them turned into PvP talents rather than using valuable space on the normal talent tree if they are important.
When using multiple talents in the rightmost column there ends up being some very awkward openers that require many GCDs worth of buffing before you can start doing your normal damage rotation, specifically the combination of
. This was already a slight problem in BfA but the addition of
just magnifies the potential of having an opener where it feels awful to use all your Holy Power to maintain your buffs and then have to wait on your generators to come back off cooldown rather than just use them to do damage.
being one of the most powerful immunities in the game, Ret has very little defensive capability outside of that.
is designed more like a damage ability than a defensive one, absorbing only 30% of your maximum health and also being on the GCD meaning it's more difficult to be able to react to situations where you're taking a lot of damage at once. The fact that it also does a large amount of damage means that you're incentivized to use it as close to on cooldown as possible and to just pop it by intentionally taking damage rather than saving it for situations where you might need a defensive ability.
still does physical rather than holy damage. The biggest downside of this is that it doesn't scale with
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as a result, which in turn diminishes the value of effects like
Night Fae's Potency Conduit
was recently changed from increasing the duration of
. When it affected
you would end up putting the next Blessing in the sequence
on another player anyway since its cooldown would be reduced faster than
's buff would run out, so there was no extra management required to get the most out of the conduit. With it now affecting
you either have to delay casting
(and probably delay casting
too as a result) or put one of
on another player in order for the conduit to actually do anything.
On the topic of using
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on other players, there's been a lot of concern in the Retribution community that they'll be forced to choose Night Fae and use their covenant ability to buff other players in the raid instead of themselves. The potential to combine
as mentioned earlier will likely mean that Retribution would be one of the better choices to give that cooldown reduction to anyway, but
could very easily be worth more damage to use on another player and this will make a lot of players feel forced to use it in ways that they don't want to.
The Other Potency Conduits
The rest of the Potency conduits we've seen for the spec are either pretty uninteresting flat damage buffs like
or random damage procs like
. Although the intention seems for them to be similar to the relic system from Legion, the best one to pick is almost never going to change on a character by character basis like they used to. They're also currently tuned really low both in proc chance and the amount of damage they proc for as well.
More Mobility Options
is a Finesse conduit that's flown under the radar but provides both mobility and a damage reduction for targets of your Blessings, including yourself. These bonuses will apply as soon as the Blessing ends including if it's manually cancelled which means you don't need to time them 8 or 12 seconds in advance. Retribution has historically struggled a lot with mobility so any extra options to help alleviate that weakness, like another conduit
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, are always very much appreciated.
also both help in this area, especially since Night Fae and Venthyr are both looking like strong options for single target damage at the moment anyway.
Future Legendary Combinations
It seems likely that at some point in the expansion we'll be able to equip two of the new legendary effects at once. While this isn't an immediate concern, the combination of
will be incredibly strong, allowing for almost permanent
uptime. This should probably be addressed sooner rather than later since it will almost certainly require a nerf if they both go live as they are.
It is still beta, but there’s unfortunately still a number of weird interactions and bugs affecting the spec, a lot of which are not obvious whether they’re intended or not.
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currently resets to Summer when you enter raid combat, but it doesn’t remove previous season buffs meaning that on pull you can cast Autumn, then Summer, then Autumn again without having to rotate through the less beneficial seasons first. Effects that grant free Holy Power spenders like
don’t increase stacks of
like they used to, and after casting
if your next
consumes the buff. This isn’t an extensive list, but it’s a lot to fix or get clarification that it’s an intended interaction before the expansion launches.
Despite gaining a lot of new abilities the basics of Retribution’s gameplay aren’t changing a whole lot going into Shadowlands, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing - the spec had a pretty good flow and was already one of the more popular damage specs in the game. The biggest gripe I have as far as the gameplay is concerned is that the rotation now feels really cluttered with the addition of so many old talents as baseline abilities. Even the addition of 2 or 3 extra abilities that need cooldowns tracked really makes juggling the rotation a lot less enjoyable, not to mention the possibility of using up to 5 different Holy Power spenders via talents like
especially is not a fun addition to the spec, since it now generates no Holy Power and does so little damage that it basically feels like a dead button rather than an important Paladin ability. Abilities like this, along with
and the Aura changes seem like changes that have been made in order to fulfill the promise to unprune and make each specialization have more abilities in common as a class, but instead end up heavily nerfing abilities we already had or giving us abilities that are largely useless in order to preserve their function for the other specs.
However, the spec still remains fun to play and it seems like there will be powerful options for us in Shadowlands for both covenants and legendaries. Although Retribution hasn't been a top tier flavor of the month spec in the last few years - and this doesn't seem that likely to change at least in the immediate future - it looks to remain about as strong as it's been the last couple of expansions, as a viable option to choose for any kind of content.
Previous Feedback Articles
These are all the spec feedback articles that we have done through the Shadowlands Alpha and Beta. Some of these are older than others, so please make sure to check the date. We'll be doing a second round of these articles once we're closer to the end of Beta.
Blood Death Knight
Frost Death Knight
Unholy Death Knight
Havoc Demon Hunter
Vengeance Demon Hunter
Beast Mastery Hunter
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