Lightsworn: Talents and glyphs for Retribution Paladin PVP
The lull between expansions, or sometimes even content patches, is always a good time to break the monotony by trying something new. In the past I’ve done things like challenge modes, leveling alts, and achievement hunting, but there’s one thing I’ve avoided for a long time. Actually, it’s not the only thing I’ve avoided — despite how many times I’ve tried to get into pet battles I just can’t do it. I’m sorry Anna.
Other than pet battles, the content that I’ve been hesitant to touch with a ten-foot pole is — you guessed it — PVP. Long ago, before item scaling was a thing, I’d occasionally pop into a random battleground with my heroic raid gear, nuzzle up to a healer, and proceed to smash my keyboard at every red target I could find. Apparently that wasn’t “balanced” or “fair” so Blizzard made a number of changes, limiting how effective my gear was at both smiting foes and blocking blows. I was back at square one, barely more dangerous than a fresh max level Ret Paladin. My ego couldn’t take the embarrassment, and I left PVP behind.
And then came Hellfire Citadel, news of Legion, and the depressing realization that it would be at least a year before any new content was tossed my way. So one night I tabbed over to the PVP pane and queued into a random battleground, figuring I had nothing to lose. To my surprise, I actually enjoyed myself! The limited item scaling, in addition to the removal of any PVP-specific stats like PVP Power or Resilience, eased my entry into this new and exciting game mode.
When diving in I looked to perhaps the most famous of Ret PVP Paladins, Vanguards. His stickied post on the official forums is a great resource for any Ret Paladins looking to get started quickly. Let’s quickly rehash some of his recommendations, and I’ll attempt to explain why other talents don’t quite measure up.
Level 15 Long Arm of the Law. The quick, on-demand sprint with Judgment is great for chasing an opponent down. Speed of Light, while faster, is on too long a cooldown to be dependable. Pursuit of Justice is very weak because we rarely pool Holy Power, and the speed increases and decreases make it far too variable.
Level 30 Fist of Justice. Halving the cooldown and doubling the range on our 6 second stun allows for so much more crowd control and interrupting ability that it’s almost an auto-pick. Repentance is considerably weaker than Sap, which it attempts to mimic, because it’s a magical effect that can be dispelled — though it might have some niche uses in specific compositions. Blinding Light, with its 2 minute cooldown and short effect duration, isn’t something I’d recommend for beginners and isn’t a talent I intend on taking until I feel very comfortable without Fist of Justice.
Level 45 Selfless Healer. Being able to heal your allies for a significant amount, for free, is one of the things that makes Ret great. When we’re not popping all of our cooldowns trying to burst someone down, we’re keeping ourselves and our teams alive with our support abilities. Sacred Shield is a remote option, though certainly not as handy as free heals. Eternal Flame, as in both PVE and PVP, is an undesirable; while we do use Word of Glory much more in PVP, limiting our healing or mitigation toolkit by forgoing the other two talents for a dispellable HOT is like playing with your hands tied behind your back.
Level 60 Unbreakable Spirit. For a beginner heading into random battlegrounds or arena skirmishes, increasing the availability of your defensive cooldowns is wonderful. No matter how shiny your plate armor is, getting focused in PVP will hurt a lot. Clemency is another very valid option if you are playing with friends or some level of group coordination. I would not, however, jump into the random queue with Clemency expecting it to swing the course of a battle. Hand of Purity is very specific in its use and is not generally taken unless you (somehow) know you’re facing hordes of Shadow Priests and Warlocks.
Level 75 Holy Avenger. When it comes to reliable burst, you can’t really beat this talent. Sync it up with Avenging Wrath for devastating damage! Sanctified Wrath extends your burst window — which certainly has value, but it’s debatable if 10 more seconds of Avenging Wrath is worth losing 18 seconds of Holy Avenger. Divine Purpose has the potential to dwarf the burst damage of either previous talent; unfortunately, it also has the potential to be dwarfed by either as well. In random PVP this might be alright, but as you drift into competitive play the more reliable you can make your output, the better.
Level 90 Execution Sentence. If you’re looking to burn down a target as quickly as possible, popping your cooldowns and then hitting Execution Sentence to start the pain train is a good way to go about it. Holy Prism, surprisingly, is not a terrible option if you’re playing more toward the support end of the spectrum. Light’s Hammer, while sometimes useful for flushing out stealthed characters, is far too easy to sidestep and avoid.
Level 100 Final Verdict. Like Execution Sentence, in a scenario where you’re focusing on killing one target as quickly as possible, Final Verdict will serve you well. Empowered Seals could be great with enough micromanagement, as the sprint on Judgment of Justice increases your mobility while Righteousness and Truth will increase your damage — however, I’d hardly recommend a beginner pick this up. I’ve been getting my toes wet in PVP for a while now and I’d rather play another class than try to keep all of those buffs up in an environment so punishing on your attention span. Seraphim takes a hard hit in PVP with the reduced effectiveness of both Crit and Multistrike, taking an otherwise mouth-watering burst cooldown and deflating it.
For the fresh-faced beginner jumping into his or her first battleground, I would recommend the glyphs for Templar’s Verdict, Burden of Guilt, and Word of Glory. The path of the Ret Paladin in PVP starts with learning how to keep yourself alive, eventually leading to keeping your friends alive later on. The damage reduction you gain from using Templar’s Verdict and Exorcism will help you worry a touch less about your own health as you pressure your target. The slow that Burden of Guilt adds to Judgment is great for catching slippery foes, especially when combined with Seal of Justice to limit their movement speed. And because you’ll undoubtedly be spending some Holy Power on heals for yourself, getting a damage buff each time you cast Word of Glory is certainly appreciated!
As you grow more comfortable and experienced, other glyph choices may appeal to you:
- Double Jeopardy, used correctly, adds some nice burst damage to your intended target. Do note that this glyph is exclusive with Burden of Guilt, though.
- Hand of Freedom is great for cutting a crowd control chain short, especially useful in arenas.
The remaining glyphs available to you are much less effective in PVP combat, especially my favorite PVE glyph, Mass Exorcism.
Now that you have your talents and glyphs in order, you’re ready to join the unwashed masses of the random queue! But what do you do when you get in there? We’ll take a look at that next time!
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