Updated Wed, Nov 19, 2008 by Messiah
In this third article covering the new Wrath of the Lich King Paladin Talent trees we review the last of them, the Retribution tree. This tree is for Paladins that want to cause damage and smite their foes. It is the traditional leveling tree, and then near max level players tend to become either healers or tanks. It used to be fairly week, but has shown some growth with recent patches and looks to be getting even better in the expansion.
This is based off of the talents as of Beta 3.0.1 and are in no way finalized. Keep this in mind as many things will change before Blizzard releases the game.
The retribution tree has traditionally been pretty weak, other than at leveling. With no more raid group benefit than a holy or protection Paladin had, lower DPS than other DPS classes, and a tendency to pull aggro they have mainly been shunned by raiders. Blizzard has been listening and slowly buffing them though, and this new talent tree shows even more improvement. They now have several nice group and raid buffs, improved damage and utility. These changes will improve them even further as a leveling build and may even allow them to be more than an oddity in raid groups in the future.
Tier one only has one change, in that Improved Blessing of Might now provides a 50% bonus to your blessing instead of just 20%. This means a instead of the base 220 attack power with the rank 8 version (level 70) or the old talent boosted 264, it now would provide 330 attack power. It's a definite boost, but even at level 70 currently, 70 AP isn't that big of a deal. In the end I'm still not sure it competes with the reduced mana cost given by Benediction, but at least it is better than it was.
There are no changes to the second tier talents.
Two minor changes are found in the third tier, both Vindication and Pursuit of Justice drop to 2 points instead of 3. Despite only costing 2 talent points Vindication gets a buff as it drops the targets attributes by up to 20% instead of the old 15%. Pursuit of Justice keeps the same speed increase but only provides a 2% reduction to the chance to be hit by spells instead of the old 3%.
I liked Vindications debuff previously but could never find the points for it. With the additional buff, and lower cost, my bet is that it will make it in to many more Retribution builds now. The same applies with Pursuit of Justice, many Paladins took it for the increased movement rate, while others where forces to skip it due to points cost, this may allow more to grab it.
Improved Blessing of Wisdom and Improved Concentration Aura are now found in this tier, other than their change of location though there are no changes to the talents themselves.
Tier five changes due to losing Sanctity Aura and Improved Sanctity Aura. In there place is Sanctified Retribution and Sheath of Light.
Sanctified Retribution increases the damage done by all targets that are affected by your Retribution aura by up to 2%. This is a nice bonus for raiding Paladins as it will provide a boost in damage from everyone in your party. Placed in a DPS group in a raid you provide a minor damage upgrade for the group, however it would be nice if the boost was a bit bigger. Maybe even having the talent as a 5 point talent and scale up to 5%. It does provide another reason to bring a Retribution Paladin though, which is very good.
Sheath of Light has two very good effects, the first is an increase to your spell power equal to up to 30% of your attack power. The second is up to a HoT that heals for up to 60% of the amount healed over 12 seconds placed on any target that you critically heal. Current Karazhan, PvP and Badge geared Retribution Paladins hover around 2000 attack power, this means up to 600 more spell power, this is huge! It makes itemization for the class much easier, and allows them to still fulfil some other roles (emergency off healing, casting, etc) when in Retribution gear.
The second effect further helps this backup role, by applying a HoT as an after effect from critical heals. I can easily see many Holy Paladins skipping the top tier talents in the Holy tree to grab this ability. Current end game Paladins can through 10,000 point heals out if they crit. This would mean a 6000 point HoT over 12 seconds afterwards. That is HUGE! As much as I like this ability, I kind of expect it to get nerfed before release, so am not holding my breath on it remaining as is.
In tier six Sanctified Judgment is replaced with the Judgments of the Wise talent. This talent restores mana to 3 party or raid members equal to, up to 60% of the damage caused by your judgments. Who this mana is returned to really effects how useful it is. So far there is no targeting information, however anyone getting back mana is a nice group and raid benefit to provide.
Yet again, this is another new and good reason for raids to consider Retribution Paladins for a spot.
Tier 7 remains unchanged.
Tier eight gains the Sanctified Wrath, which has a number of effects. First it increases the critical strike chance of your Hammer of Wrath by up to 50%, secondly it reduces the cooldown of your Avenging Wrath by up to 60 seconds, and lastly while a target is affected by Avenging Wrath 50% of all damage caused ignores damage reduction effects.
Could they have fit more into the effect? Wow, it's a lot to go through. Overall though it equates to a big buff, especially the last part. Bypassing damage reduction effects is huge anytime, through this into the mix in PvP and Retribution Paladins may earn a few spots on arena teams.
Tier nine now has three talents, the two new ones are Swift Retribution and The Art of War.
The first of the new talents is Swift Retribution and it boosts melee, casting and attack speeds of players affected by your retribution aura by up to 3%. Yet another buff to players in your group. With this and your earlier talent you will be buffing players with a 2% damage increase and a 3% speed increase. Combined this boosts your groups DPS by 5.6% which is a very nice buff. Anyone this deep into Retribution should really consider this and Sanctified Retribution as must have talents.
In a current end game DPS raid group of 4 other 1000dps players, this would provide an extra 280dps from the group as a whole. That's quite a bit for the few talent points that you need to spend.
The Art of War makes your Crusader Strike provide up to a 15% chance that your next judgment will do double damage. Since you will be using crusader strike in your normal rotation and judging in between this is almost a no choice talent. You should have it to increase your damage. 15% is fairly big chance to get a double damage hit. In PvP this burst damage will be a big thing. The only issue is that it is not controllable, it could proc when you least need it.
Being a new tier there is a new talent here called Righteous Vengeance. It provides up to a 15% boost to all critical strike damage. This adds up to quite a bit as Retribution Paladins currently hover around a 25-30% critical strike chance. This would mean that each of those hits cause an additional 15% damage.
This is big boost to the spec, and obviously deserves its place near the top end of the talent tree. This simple talent will end up boosting your total damage output by someplace between 3 and 4 percent at the end game.
The new final tier talent for Retribution Paladins is called Divine Storm.
Diving Storm is a new instance cast attack that strike up to 4 enemies within 8 yards for holy damage, and heals up to 3 party or raid members for 20% of the damage caused. This provides Retribution Paladins a nice AOE melee attack, and it is on a fairly short cooldown (10 seconds). This gives them something to hit multiple MOBS with when fighting in large groups.
It also is yet another nice group buff and one that will again help earn them raid spots.
The changes to the Retribution tree are fairly big. They focus on doing additional damage and affecting the group or raid. This is that players have been asking for out of the class for a while. The group/raid buffs have the potential to be pretty good, since they increase damage, attack speed, return mana and health.
The old days of being excluded from raiding as a Ret-noob may at last be coming to an end.