Hey there, Skeletor here. I am a Ret Moderator/Theorycrafter/Templar in the Hammer of Wrath Paladin Discord, and you can check me out in-game under the name Ilivath. I have been raiding Mythic progression for a long time, and I have played a Retribution Paladin as my main for even longer.

Heading into Shadowlands, this guide will serve the same purpose as it did in BfA and prior expansions: providing quality and accurate information about Retribution Paladin. You will find a wealth of information and numerical data in this guide, and I recommend you go through it section by section. Pick the topics that are most relevant to you and slowly work through them.

Outside of this guide and the ones I have recommended, we have recently been subjected to a veritable onslaught of guides and videos making all sorts of unsubstantiated claims or providing misinformation, both minor and severe. These types of “guides” are a plague to the community, and it is shameful that some of them even exist. Unfortunately, much of this poorly researched and "feelycrafted" content is located on popular and easily accessible sites, giving it high visibility for newer players who, regrettably, do not know any better.

Poorly written “guides” have many negative effects on the community, and I very strongly believe that when undertaking to provide a guide or class-based information, you must hold yourself to a very high standard and provide that information responsibly. These bad “guides” split our community asunder, giving players who unwittingly follow them inaccurate ideas and notions about how the class functions. Thus, when they follow these “guides” and adapt their play-style to the information found within, they typically end up with deficient performance, or only just marginally better than what they were able to do before. Instead of realizing they have been following a source of misinformation, they feel inclined to blame the class design, resulting in disarray amongst the community and between the player base and the designers.

With the new expansion looming ever closer, we are seeing these problematic “guides” being churned out at alarming rates. It seems that everyone with a YouTube channel and Beta access is making their own “Ret Changes” video. I watch every single one of these videos that is brought to my attention, and most of them are inaccurate, poorly researched, and frankly just a lazy approach to creating a community resource. These “guides” and videos are causing confusion regarding the changes we are seeing and what to expect in Shadowlands. As a result, we have misinformed players watching these videos, and without bothering to corroborate the information, take it as gospel. These players then turn to the WoW Forums - our best source of communication/feedback to the devs and designers - and complain incessantly about what they have falsely come to believe are problems or issues. This drowns out the constructive conversation that we still need to have with the class designers and devs. The expansion is not far away, and it is crunch time for the people on Blizzard’s end to really tighten up the class and make good decisions about the changes. They need to be able to filter out all the noise.

Check out as many guides and videos as you wish. Ingest as much information as you can. I ask only that you fact-check what you see and hear against the reputable sources. If you find something that contradicts the data I have compiled in this guide, do some research, and ask some questions before you immediately assume it to be accurate. The minds behind the reputable sources can all be found at the Hammer of Wrath Discord, so come ask us if you are uncertain about something. Let us not muddy the waters with poorly researched misinformation to the detriment of the players and the class.

BfA to Shadowlands Pre-Patch Transition

Personally, I feel the pre-patch is going to be disruptive. We are losing some functionality. I am just going to list below what we will be losing, gaining, or have temporary access to during the pre-patch.

  • Execution Sentence has been redesigned. It is now on a 1 Minute cooldown and accumulates 20% of the damage you deal during the 8 second window.
  • Hammer of Wrath is now baseline. However, it is only usable during execute until we reach level 58 and unlock Rank 2 Hammer of Wrath. The damage also been buffed.
  • Empyrean Power takes the place of Hammer of Wrath. It now procs off of Crusader Strike.
  • Divine Judgment talent has been removed.
  • Divine Purpose has moved to take the place of Divine Judgment.
  • Holy Avenger takes the place of Consecration. It is OFF the GCD and triples your Holy Power generation.
  • Seraphim takes the place of Wake of Ashes. Costs 3 Holy Power and amplifies your secondary stats for 15 seconds.
  • Consecration is now baseline. It deals an extremely negligible amount of damage and does not generate Holy Power.
  • Wake of Ashes is now baseline. It now generates 3 Holy Power and deals greater damage to your primary target. This is not a nerf. The amount of damage gained is equal to the 2 Holy Power reduction. Does reduced damage to secondary targets.
  • Word of Glory is now baseline. It no longer has a cooldown and it only heals a single target.
  • Healing Hands takes the place of Word of Glory. The Lay on Hands portion is not too useful. The Word of Glory buff based on missing health makes this talent viable.
  • Sanctified Wrath takes the place of Divine Purpose. Light's Decree as a talent with uncapped AoE.
  • Inquisition has been removed.
  • Final Reckoning takes the place of Inquisition. Uncapped targetable AoE causing affected targets to take increased Holy damage from our Holy Power finishers. If we must hold onto this cooldown, we benefit from the passive effect that causes a low amount of Holy damage and increases the damage of our next Holy Power spender.
  • Avenging Wrath is OFF the GCD. We did lose the guaranteed crit to our first Templar's Verdict or Divine Storm which was originally introduced to compensate for the GCD.
  • Crusade  is OFF the GCD.
  • Greater Blessing of Kings removed.
  • Greater Blessing of Wisdom Removed.
  • Divine Storm now has a 5 target cap. Damage was also increased slightly.
  • Art of War is now based on percentage rather than RPPM. Rank 2 Art of War increases the total chance to 12% which is largely a neutral change.
  • Blessing of Sacrifice has returned OFF GCD.  Rank 2 Blessing of Sacrifice reduces the damage we take.
  • Heart of the Crusader has been removed.
  • Crusader Aura takes the place of Heart of the Crusader. Only 1 Aura can be active per Paladin.
  • Devotion Aura reduces damage taken by 3%.
  • Retribution Passive replaced with Retribution Aura. Now grants Avenging Wrath instead.
  • Concentration Aura will have niche use.
  • Sense Undead exists.
  • Turn Evil also exists.
  • Shield of the Righteous exists and requires a shield and costs 3 Holy Power.
  • Blade of Justice is now a 12 second cooldown up from 10.5 seconds.
  • Corruptions are disabled.
  • Azerite Traits remain active during the pre-patch.
  • Azerite Essences remain active during the pre-patch.
  • Visions of Perfection Minor is only a 10% reduction down from 25%.

Bug Tracker

There are so many bugs. I tested bugs that would be present during Shadowlands and not the pre-patch so there are probably more than what is listed. I am only listing Pre-Patch bugs at this time.

Shadowlands Design Philosophy

With all expansions Blizzard has a shift with design philosophy. Shadowlands is no different.

BfA brought us manufactured downtime, whitelisting, and increased auto-attack damage. Blizzard has started to pull away from manufactured downtime. Whitelisting will remain prevalent. Increased auto-attack damage never disappeared as much as passive damage sources overshadowed it in the end of BfA.

Manufactured downtime was one of the larger concerns headed into BfA and systems were slowly added to make this less of a concern. In Shadowlands we should not see a substantial increase in downtime. Hammer of Wrath and Wake of Ashes have become baseline allowing us new choices of talents.

Reactionary game play was one aspect of manufactured downtime. This led to Blizzard putting many cooldowns on the GCD. They later tried to reinforce this approach by adding secondary effects onto cooldowns to lessen the impact. For now, Blizzard is pulling back from this approach temporarily.Avenging Wrath is once again off of the GCD but lost the guaranteed crit to our first Templar's Verdict or Divine Storm which was originally introduced to compensate for the GCD. Crusade is off the GCD as well. Our reintroduced Holy Avenger is also no longer on the GCD. Blessing of Sacrifice has returned off the GCD as well.

Target caps are another design shift. Blizzard wants to have a clear difference between AoE and Cleave. Cleave is up to 5 targets and AoE is anything more than 5. Divine Storm is now limited to 5 targets. Wake of Ashes is unlimited but does reduced damage to secondary targets. This is referred to as Square Root Scaling. For more information on this refer to the Mechanics section. We still have a couple of fully uncapped options with Sanctified Wrath and Final Reckoning.

One of the selling points of Shadowlands was “The Great Unpruning”. To make my stance clear I do not consider making talents baseline and reintroducing former talents in their place unpruning. This leaves us with several abilities I feel to be useless. These include Sense Undead, Turn Evil, and Shield of the Righteous. I excluded Crusader Aura and Retribution Aura as they replaced passive abilities in which both could be active at the same time and now potentially we will have neither active.

On the other hand, Blessing of Sacrifice has made a return and it is a solid addition. Devotion Aura is available as well in content where there is not a Holy or Protection Paladin present. I would not consider Concentration Aura entirely useful or useless. It will be very niche. I was not a fan of Auras in the past and I still feel the same way. It happened to be one of the things people were overly vocal about and they ended up getting what they asked for.

Blizzard attempted to resolve secondary stats scaling greater than primary stats by making secondary stats on gear increase linearly. We knew that this would not last outside of the first Tier. Secondary stats continued to vastly out-scale primary stat. Then the Corruption system was created and further inflated the value of secondary stats. To combat this Blizzard has introduced Secondary Stat Diminishing Returns. Starting at 25% the amount of rating you gain will be reduced. This only serves to confuse players and force them to use outside tools such as Raidbots to determine upgrades. To learn more about how the diminishing returns work please refer to the Mechanics section.

Leveling skill modification was already present in WoW to an extent. Shadowlands aims to fill in the gaps of not receiving anything while leveling up by breaking spells into multiple parts. This is a good system for the long-term health of the game. It just has a few unfortunate drawbacks we must deal with pre-patch and leveling. During this period of time we will not be able to use Hammer of Wrath during Avenging Wrath as it not unlocked until Level 58 with Hammer of Wrath. To view a complete list please refer to the Leveling Modifiers section.

To close out with a bit of good news Titan Forging is not making a return in Shadowlands.

Core Abilities

Rotational Abilities

Abilities used to generate and spend Holy Power to deal damage.

Offensive Cooldowns

Abilities used to increase our damage output.


Abilities used for damage reduction, damage prevention or mobility.


Abilities that can be cast on yourself or others.

Crowd Control

Standard mob control fare.


Abilities that work in the background to augment your damage and utility.

Leveling Modifiers

Our abilities can gain additional effects at various levels.


Looks cool.

  • Contemplation allows you to Tebow in-game. Best used before new bosses or after countless wipes.


The "Great Unpruning" was very kind to us.


Shadowlands does not change much overall with talents. Rows 4 and 5 swapped places. New talents were added in place of ones that became baseline or were removed. The new talents and swaps have caused some of the rows to be more loosely defined rather than a specific interaction. The left most column has remained fully passive. Talent’s that potentially require more interaction are still in the middle or right column. Just because a talent is in the middle or right column does not mean it is automatically better.

Level 15

This row primarily affects ST throughput. This row is well balanced overall.

  • Zeal is a talent that helps offset downtime due to its stacking nature. Zeal does increase the proc chance of Art of War/ Blade of Wrath. This is the only talent that does not lose value in Cleave/AoE.
  • Righteous Verdict is a flat bonus to Templar's Verdict. There is no need to play around this talent making it very easy to use compared to Execution Sentence.
  • Execution Sentence is a priority target damage increase. If you have a high value target that needs to die fast (e.g., Jeffrey Epstein) this can be a strong choice. It provides more damage than Righteous Verdict but does require optimal play. Make sure your target will survive the 8 second duration before using.

Level 25

This row affects our rotational downtime. All talents contribute towards ST and AoE damage. This row is well balanced overall.

  • Fires of Justice allows for the lowest rotational downtime. Low proc chance is very unsatisfying in practice.
  • Blade of Wrath provides a better overall feel due to the relatively high proc change.
  • Empyrean Power can be marginally better than previous talents in AoE. Low proc chance is very unsatisfying in practice.

Level 30

Crowd control row.

Level 35

This is our defensive row.

Level 40

This is a play-style defining row. This row is well balanced overall.

  • Divine Purpose provides a decrease in downtime and an additional R.N.G. element to our rotation.
  • Holy Avenger provides an additional cooldown. This does not naturally align with Avenging Wrath/Crusade. You can view this as an augment to our existing burst or as a secondary separate cooldown. Tends to be a weaker choice in pure damage but will have use if high burst or an additional cooldown is needed.
  • Seraphim is a short duration secondary stat increase. The Crit, Vers, and Mastery are additive and the Haste is multiplicative. Requires the most consideration when selected.

Level 45

This is our Utility/Healing row.

Level 50

This is a second play-style defining row. This row is well balanced overall.

  • Sanctified Wrath increases the duration of Avenging Wrath and causes us to do uncapped AoE damage when we spend Holy Power.
  • Crusade provides a fast-paced cooldown window.
  • Final Reckoning is another priority target damage increase the has an AoE component. It is a targetable uncapped AoE ability. It also causes all targets hit to take increased damage from our Holy Power spenders. If we must hold onto the cooldown, we gain a passive effect that deals low damage and increases the damage of our spenders.

Talent Rankings

Only the Top 10 profiles are shown for each setup. Please Sim yourself to find out what is best for you. Talents are not universal.

Priority System

This is our rotation. It is technically a priority system and not a rotation. You start at the top of the list and work your way down until the required criteria is met. If you see an ability that you do not have talented you skip that ability. Below you will find further considerations that you can use for more optimal play. This is especially important if you want to use Seraphim, Execution Sentence, Wake of Ashes, and Final Reckoning optimally.

When you have 2 or more targets replace Templar's Verdict with Divine Storm.

Openers, Cooldowns, and Trinket usage will be found below.

  1. Final Reckoning with at least 3HP, and if if Avenging Wrath/Crusade are active OR remain on cooldown for greater than 10 seconds.
  2. Seraphim if Avenging Wrath/Crusade are active OR remain on cooldown for greater than 25 seconds.
  3. Execution Sentence if Avenging Wrath/Crusade are active OR remain on cooldown for greater than 10 seconds.
  4. Templar's Verdict with 5HP.
  5. Wake of Ashes at 0HP OR at 2HP or less if Blade of Justice remains on CD for greater than 2 GCDs.
  6. Blade of Justice at 3HP or less.
  7. Hammer of Wrath at 4HP or less.
  8. Judgment at 4HP or less and the Judgment debuff is not up.
  9. Templar's Verdict if Avenging Wrath/Crusade are active, target is below 20% health, or with a Divine Purpose proc. Divine Storm with Empyrean Power proc.
  10. Crusader Strike at 2 Charges and at 4HP or less.
  11. Templar's Verdict at 4HP or less.
  12. Crusader Strike regardless of charges at 4HP or less.
  13. Consecration if all HP builders are on CD for greater than or equal to 1 GCD.

Further Considerations


With a large number of viable talent builds there are a large number of possible openers. If I were to add every single one this page would quickly become a mess. Instead I will show you a few examples and give you some general tips to make sure your opener is correct.

General Tips

Execution Sentence/Seraphim/Final Reckoning

Replace Hammer of Wrath with Crusader Strike during pre-patch.

  1. Blade of Justice
  2. Judgment
  3. Crusader Strike
  4. Avenging Wrath + Hammer of Wrath
  5. Seraphim
  6. Shield of Vengeance
  7. Crusader Strike
  8. Final Reckoning
  9. Execution Sentence
  10. Blessing of Sacrifice on Tank. This is off GCD so use it any point after or with Execution Sentence.
  11. Wake of Ashes
  12. Templar's Verdict

Execution Sentence/Seraphim/Crusade

Without Hammer of Wrath there will be downtime. Pray for procs.

  1. Blade of Justice
  2. Judgment
  3. Crusader Strike
  4. Crusader Strike
  5. Crusade + Templar's Verdict
  6. Crusader Strike
  7. Templar's Verdict
  8. Blade of Justice
  9. Judgment
  10. Crusader Strike
  11. Seraphim
  12. Shield of Vengeance
  13. Crusader Strike
  14. Blade of Justice
  15. Execution Sentence
  16. Blessing of Sacrifice on Tank. This is off GCD so use it any point after or with Execution Sentence.
  17. Wake of Ashes
  18. Templar's Verdict

Execution Sentence/Holy Avenger/Final Reckoning

Replace Hammer of Wrath with Crusader Strike during pre-patch.

  1. Judgment
  2. Shield of Vengeance
  3. Avenging Wrath + Holy Avenger + Blade of Justice
  4. Final Reckoning
  5. Execution Sentence
  6. Blessing of Sacrifice on Tank. This is off GCD so use it any point after or with Execution Sentence.
  7. Wake of Ashes
  8. Templar's Verdict
  9. Hammer of Wrath
  10. Templar's Verdict
  11. Judgment
  12. Templar's Verdict

Execution Sentence/Holy Avenger/Crusade

Is this the real opener? Not using Execution Sentence at 10 stacks? Not using Holy Avenger at 10 stacks either? Yes. It is real. If you think I am wrong feel free to do the opener your own way. I tested the various combinations factoring in Crusade stacks and it did not make a discernible difference. Replace Hammer of Wrath with Crusader Strike during pre-patch.

  1. Shield of Vengeance
  2. Crusade +Holy Avenger + Blade of Justice
  3. Templar's Verdict
  4. Hammer of Wrath
  5. Execution Sentence
  6. Blessing of Sacrifice on Tank. This is off GCD so use it any point after or with Execution Sentence.
  7. Wake of Ashes
  8. Templar's Verdict
  9. Judgment
  10. Templar's Verdict


Avenging Wrath

Avenging Wrath should cast when you can make full use of the duration and have at least 3HP.

One of the more common concerns is whether or not you should delay Avenging Wrath. Unfortunately, I am not able to give you a simple "Yes" or "No" answer. However, I can provide you with the knowledge you need to make this decision for yourself.

  • If there is an intermission phase that will not allow you to fully benefit you should delay your usage.
  • Delaying Avenging Wrath to sync up with Bloodlust depends on the length of the fight. With a 2M CD you can expect to use it at roughly 0:00, 2:00, 4:00, 6:00 and so on. So, you want to ensure that if you delay Avenging Wrath, you will not lose a potential use of Avenging Wrath. Examples below.
  • Fight Length 4:30. Given that Avenging Wrath is a 2M CD with a 20s duration, we would not want to delay Avenging Wrath more than 10s total to ensure we benefit from 3 uses.
  • Fight Length 3:30. Given that Avenging Wrath is a 2M CD with a 20s duration, we could delay our 2nd Avenging Wrath up to 1:10 to make full use of 2 uses.


Crusade usage follows all the same guidelines as Avenging Wrath. There are additional considerations due to the stacking nature.

  • Crusade gives you 1 stack by default. You need to use 3 HP spenders to build your 10 stacks. This should be done as quickly as possible so make sure to prioritize your HP spenders regardless of your HP until you reach 10 stacks.
  • Your first ability after Crusade will always either be Hammer of Wrath or a Templar's Verdict/Divine Storm.

Holy Avenger

Holy Avenger does not naturally line up with our other offensive cooldowns. The goal with Holy Avenger is to get as many uses as possible. It will be used in your opener with your first Avenging Wrath/Crusade. It is safe to delay usage of Holy Avenger to line up with Avenging Wrath/Crusade as long as you would not miss out on an extra cast of Holy Avenger such as a 5 Minute fight. Using Holy Avenger and Avenging Wrath/Crusade will not cause higher overall DPS but will provide more burst DPS in that window. It is safe to use them separately.

Shield of Vengeance

We will want to use as much of the absorb as we can for maximum damage. Realistically we can expect this to amount to 3-4% of our overall damage. This does mean that Unbreakable Spirit has the potential to be a DPS increase if we can get an extra use on a given fight.

The damage from Shield of Vengeance does count towards Execution Sentence. For maximum benefit Seraphim should be used before Shield of Vengeance for the Vers. Blessing of Sacrifice can be cast on a tank to ensure Shield of Vengeance is fully absorbed.


It would be tiresome to list all trinkets here. So I will just list the general rules and mention any exceptions. On Use Trinkets are still off the GCD. Trinkets that provide stats should not be directly macro'd with Avenging Wrath. They should be delayed and used with your first damaging ability. When using Crusade they should either be used at 10 stacks of Crusade or when the buff duration of the trinket matches the remaining duration of Crusade.

If the Trinket does damage such as Razdunk's Big Red Button just use it on CD. Damaging effects are not buffed by Avenging Wrath/Crusade or other damage increasing sources.

1M CD or Less

Trinkets that provide a flat stat rating such as Plunderbeard's Flask can be used 1 time in Avenging Wrath/Crusade and 1 time before Avenging Wrath/Crusade comes off of CD. Simply put it will line up with every other Avenging Wrath/Crusade. Make sure the outside Avenging Wrath/Crusade use lines up with Final Reckoning and/or Execution Sentence

2M CD or Less

Trinkets that provide a flat stat rating such as First Mate's Spyglass should be exclusively used with Avenging Wrath/Crusade. This includes trinkets such as Vial of Animated Blood and Doom's Fury which fall in-between the 1M-2M CD range.

'Bygone Bee' Almanac should be exclusively used with Avenging Wrath/Crusade at this time even though we can reduce the CD based on the amount of HP spent.

Merektha's Fang is a channeled ability so using any abilities or moving will cancel the cast. You can rotate your character to aim it, however. This Trinket does not benefit from Avenging Wrath/Crusade so use it OUTSIDE of them.

Grong's Primal Rage is channeled and you cannot move or use other abilities during the cast. It should not be used during Avenging Wrath/Crusade.

Special Trinkets

Ashvane's Razor Coral should right at the start of the fight to start building stacks. After you use the trinket to consume the debuff remember to use Coral once again to apply the debuff after it comes off CD. Then use it during each Avenging Wrath/Crusade. With all cases if the fight is going to end within 30 seconds make sure to use Coral.


Arcane Torrent should be used when all of your HP builders are on CD and you do not have enough HP to spend.

Light's Judgment can either be used on CD or saved for AoE.

Fireblood should be used during Avenging Wrath or Crusade at 10 stacks.

Azerite Essences

Blood of the Enemy should always be used before Final Reckoning. If Execution Sentence  is talented,  Blood of the Enemy should be used when the Execution Sentence debuff has than 5 seconds remaining to potentially get the 25% increased Crit damage..

Worldvein Resonance should always be used before Final Reckoning and Execution Sentence.

Memory of Lucid Dreams is best used during Avenging Wrath/Crusade. Absolutely do not use this while Holy Avenger is active.

The Crucible of Flame is best used as a filler above Crusader Strike in priority.

Essence of the Focusing Iris is best used outside of Avenging Wrath/Crusade or delaying for multiple targets.

The Unbound Force should be used on pull before Avenging Wrath/Crusade. Later usage should only be when the Minor effect is active.

Condensed Life-Force should be used right before Avenging Wrath/Crusade. Should be delayed for Avenging Wrath/Crusade unless it will cause you to lose out on an extra cast.

Purification Protocol is best used on cooldown or delaying usage for multiple targets.

Breath of the Dying is best used as a filler above Crusader Strike in priority. It is worth delaying usage if you will be able to hit a target above 80%, below 20%, or kill a target for the reduced cooldown.


You should continue to have the same mindset as in Legion. All our secondary stats are remarkably close in value and ILVL upgrades will be better. As always follow the above advice.


No. Just stop. There are not Haste breakpoints. Sim yo self.


Use this link to Radibots Droptimizer to look at potential upgrades.


Azerite Trait overview and ratings below. Please note that the lack of comments on some traits is me deciding there was nothing special worth mentioning outside of the tooltip. This does not mean that a trait is bad because it lacks commentary. Please refer to the ratings charts below for a better idea of the power of these abilities.

Tier 3 DPS

Avenger's Might

Rezan's Fury

Ruinous Bolt

Swirling Sands

Thunderous Blast

Tidal Surge


Blightborne Infusion

Blood Rite

Incite the Pack

Meticulous Scheming

Heart of Darkness: Only available from Ny'alotha, the Waking City.

Arcane Heart: Only available from Azshara's Eternal Palace.

Undulating Tides: Only available from Azshara's Eternal Palace. Make sure to track how much you get locked out.

Loyal to the End: Only available from Azshara's Eternal Palace. Everyone gets a Ret buff now.

Bonded Souls: Only available from Battle of Dazar'alor.

Seductive Power: Only available from Battle of Dazar'alor. Make sure to move towards Bwonsamdi.

Treacherous Covenant: Only available from Battle of Dazar'alor. Will sim high by default as the Sims assume 100% uptime. There is not an option yet to adjust this. Also note that this trait will cause you to take additional damage in low health scenarios and may not be desirable depending on the fight.

Shadow of Elune: Alliance Darkshore Warfront Trait.

Ancients' Bulwark: Alliance Darkshore Warfront Trait. Sims assume full uptime so this trait will be a lot lower in real gameplay and is not recommended.

Apothecary's Concoctions: Horde Darkshore Warfront Trait.

Endless Hunger: Horde Darkshore Warfront Trait.

Light's Decree: Duration increase does not stack.

Empyrean Power: T10 says "Hello". Only the damage stacks making this a poor trait to stack.

Expurgation: Affected by Inquisition, Avenging Wrath/Crusade, Execution Sentence and Mastery. The ticks from this ability can also crit.

Indomitable Justice: Indirectly benefits from damage increases such Inquisition, Avenging Wrath/Crusade, Execution Sentence, Mastery and Versatility by increasing the damage of Judgment. The effectiveness in the real world can vary due to the potential of not always being at max HP.

Relentless Inquisitor: Only the amount of Haste gained increases with more traits. The duration or stacks gained are not affected. Dropping your stacks due to time between pulls in M+ will heavily devalue this trait. Dropping you stacks 1 or 2 times in a raid encounter is not a very large loss. If you're dropping stacks 3 or more times you would want a different trait instead.

Laser Matrix: Only available from Uldir. The effect works in all zone. However, inside Uldir it will enable Reorigination Array for further benefit.

Archive of the Titans: Only available from Uldir. The effect works in all zone. However, inside Uldir it will enable Reorigination Array for further benefit.

Champion of Azeroth: Only available as Quest gear or from Champions of Azeroth reputation.

Dagger in the Back: More incentive to always be behind the target for maximum effectiveness.

Filthy Transfusion: To be clear this is NOT an AoE. It is a DoT.

Unstable Catalyst: Can lose value if you're not able to consistently stand in the circle.

Secrets of the Deep: Make sure to collect the orbs.

Retaliatory Fury/Last Gift: PvP Trait. Reduced effectiveness in PvE.

Combined Might/Stronger Together: PvP Trait. Reduced effectiveness in PvE.

Glory in Battle/Liberator's Might: PvP Trait. Reduced effectiveness in PvE.

Collective Will/Stand As One: PvP Trait. Reduced effectiveness in PvE.

Sylvanas' Resolve/Anduin's Dedication: PvP Trait. Reduced effectiveness in PvE.

Battlefield Focus/Battlefield Precision: PvP Trait. Reduced effectiveness in PvE. Provides very small personal damage boost as other allies attacking a target can also consume the stacks.

Fight or Flight: PvP Trait. Sims do not currently model you dropping below 35% HP.

Tier 2 DPS

Azerite Globules

Blood Siphon


Elemental Whirl


Heed My Call


On My Way

Unstable Flames

Overwhelming Power: Will have reduced effectiveness while taking damage.

Tier 1 Utility

I can't tell you which Utility trait is best. All I can do is offer my observations to help you decide on what may be useful in your situation.

Gallant Steed: It is important to note that the Speed stat suffers from Diminishing Returns. The 1st trait will give you a speed-boost but subsequent traits will not increase your Speed very much. Divine Steed is also considered a mount so you do not benefit from the Speed increase until Divine Steed runs out leaving you with 2s off the buff left.

Stalwart Protector: This would be heavily encounter specific if it ever has a use.

Azerite Fortification: Has some value.

Bulwark of the Masses: Decently effective in M+ and potentially Add heavy encounters.

Gemhide: Provides solid Physical and AoE damage reduction.

Impassive Visage: Potentially could have value.

Longstrider: Provides a minor movement speed benefit.

Resounding Protection: Mini Prydaz. Can have some value.

Self Reliance: Very weak at this time. Benefit is mostly in Solo play.

Vampiric Speed: May have potential in AoE scenarios in group play. Probably better suited for solo play.

Azerite Ratings

These charts are interactive. You can mouseover the names on the left for WoWHead Tooltips, the bars for DPS Gain and Total DPS, and you can use the legend on the right hand side to disable specific options. In general PvP Azerite Traits have reduced effectiveness in PvE.  The chart will account for reduced PvE effectiveness in most cases.

If you would like to see an overview of how different Azerite Gear performs please  as well as how Azerite Traits perform under different talent combinations and scenarios visit the Ret Paladin Azerite Gear Ranking. This page is separate as to not add too much clutter to the guide.

  • Dagger in the Back includes both in front of the target and behind. In most situations you will be behind your target but I included the front as well so you could see how much it drops if you in front a majority of the time.

Azerite Essence

Below you can find a ranking of Azerite Essences in ST and AoE. You should really just use Raidbots to decide what you should use. Usage can be found in the Priority System section of the guide.

Blood of the Enemy

Memory of Lucid Dreams: Divine Purpose and Empyrean Power do not cause any refund.

The Crucible of the Flame

Essence of the Focusing Iris: The Minor Power is essentially 100% uptime barring any mechanics.

The Unbound Force

Vision of Perfection: Light's Decree will deal damage but does not modify the duration in any way. Avenger's Might is active and the duration will refresh if you have proced while already inside Wings. With Crusade you start at 1 stack.

Condensed Life Force

Worldvein Resonance: SimC and assumes 3 other people are using the Minor.

Purification Protocol: Good on Aberrations which a few bosses are in Ny'alotha, The Waking City.

Conflict and Strife: The Minor is strong if you do not keep dropping stacks.

Breath of the Dying

Spark of Inspiration is not useful.

The Formless Void has a high uptime and can proc off of Vision of Perfection.

Azerite Essence Ratings

Do not use The Crucible of Flame Major. The value is all in the Minor effect. Breath of the Dying is in the same situation. Though the Major can have use if you get resets.


Initial Trinket ratings. This will be updated constantly with SimC updates.

Trinket Rankings

These charts are interactive. You can mouseover the names on the left for WoWHead Tooltips, the bars for DPS Gain and Total DPS, and you can use the legend on the right hand side to disable specific options.



Sim. Yo. Self. Only 1 Leviathan's Eye of Strength/Kraken's Eye of Strength can be used and it is potentially worth using.

Leviathan's Eye of Strength

Quick Sand Spinel

Deadly Lava Lazuli

Masterful Sea Currant

Versatile Dark Opal

Kraken's Eye of Strength

Deadly Amberblaze

Quick Owlseye

Masterful Tidal Amethyst

Versatile Royal Quartz



Sim. Yo. Self.

Enchant Weapon - Force Multiplier

Gale-Force Striking

Torrent of Elements

Quick Navigation

Deadly Navigation

Masterful Navigation

Versatile Navigation

Weapon Enchant Rankings


Sim yo self.

Enchant Ring - Accord of Haste

Enchant Ring - Accord of Critical Strike

Enchant Ring - Accord of Mastery

Enchant Ring - Accord of Versatility

Pact of Haste

Pact of Critical Strike

Pact of Mastery

Pact of Versatility



Greater Flask of the Undertow

Flask of the Undertow

Lightning-Forged Augment Rune

Battle-Scarred Augment Rune


Sim. Yo. Self.

Famine Evaluator And Snack Table

Baked Port Tato

Mech-Dowel's "Big Mech"

Abyssal-Fried Rissole


Bountiful Captain's Feast

Boralus Blood Sausage

Swamp Fish 'n Chips

Honey-Glazed Haunches

Sailor's Pie

Spiced Snapper

Food Rankings


Potion of Unbridled Fury is very strong in every scenario.

Superior Battle Potion of Strength

Potion of Focused Resolve: Stacks up to 20 times. Will proc from every attack. Any AoE even from Light's Decree will reset your stacks. Pure ST use only.

Potion of Unbridled Fury

Potion of Empowered Proximity: This potion dynamically updates as more mobs come in or die. You need to maintain at least 4 targets for the entire duration for it to be the best option. The target cap is 5 targets. It is hard to use effectively.

Battle Potion of Strength

Potion of Bursting Blood

Potion Rankings




Pterrordax Swoop

Embrace of the Loa: You get a choice of 1 of the below Loa's. This can be changed once every 5 days.

Blood Elf

Arcane Torrent: AoE purge. Grants 1HP on use. 2M CD.

Arcane Acuity: 1% increased critical strike chance.


Heroic Presence: 8 Strength.

Lightforged Draenei

Light's Judgment: Call down a strike of Holy energy, dealing Holy damage to enemies within 5 yards after 3 sec. NOT affected by our Mastery: Hand of Light.


Might of the Mountain: 2% bonus Critical Strike damage.


The Human Spirit: 2% additional secondary stat gain

Will to Survive: Stun removal


Brawn: 2% bonus Critical Strike damage.

Dark Iron Dwarf

Dungeon Delver: 4% increased movement speed indoors.

Forged in Flames: 1% physical damage reduction.

Fireblood: Increases Strength by 63 and an additional 21 Strength for each Poison, Disease, Curse, Magic, and Bleed effect removed. You only get a Str buff for each type removed. If you remove 3 Poisons you will only get 21 additional Strength. If you remove 1 Poison, 1 Curse and 1 Disease you would get 63 additional Strength.

Racial Rankings



There are several useful addons to assist with your gameplay as a Ret Paladin.

  • WeakAuras 2: Most versatile addon in WoW. For the inept such as myself there is a wonderful site called WAGO with a number of community made WA’s. More in the Additional Resources section.
  • Hekili: Priority assistant addon akin to CLCRet. Allows you to customize the displays as well priority list used.


There are not as many needed macros as there used to be. I have excluded all mouseover, focus target and what other macros as you can just Google them. 13 is the first trinket slot and 14 is the second trinket slot. Adjust accordingly.

1. '''Burst Cast Sequence''':Used for Avenging Wrath/Crusade and On Use trinkets. First press is Avenging Wrath/Crusade and second press is trinket. After 20 seconds the macro will reset back to the first line which is Avenging Wrath/Crusade. Add additional abilities by separating with a comma.

/castsequence reset=20 Avenging Wrath, 13

2. Final Reckoning is a targetable ability and it is recommended to make a macro for it. You can either have it cast at your mouse cursor with "@cursor" or at your feet with "@player". It is not possible to do a "@target" macro.

/cast [@cursor] Final Reckoning

3. Holy Avenger/Seraphim

/cast [talent:5/2] Holy Avenger
/cast [talent:5/3] Seraphim

Additional Resources

My YouTube: I HAVE BEEN UNBANNED FINALLY! An online database to share WeakAuras, ElvUI profiles and potentially other sharable World of Warcraft addon elements.

SimulationCraft: Invaluable resource for testing various fight, gearing and talent scenarios. Please visit the Hammer of Wrath Discord for a detailed usage guide.

Raidbots: SimulationCraft on training wheels.


I wish to acknowledge the following individuals and groups who have worked very hard in the Paladin community to make these resources available. This list is not in any order. I know I’m probably forgetting somebody. If you think you should be here PM me in Discord.

I wish to acknowledge the following individuals and groups who have worked extremely hard in the Paladin community to make these resources available. This list is not in any order. I know I am forgetting somebody. If you think you should be here PM me in Discord.

Hammer of Wrath Paladin Discord- Self Explanatory

HulaHoops- Proofreader and the best Hammer of Wrath Mod. Send her cat pictures.

Mbdtf- Hammer of Wrath Admin.

Rebdull- Former Wowhead Guide Maintainer

Bolas- New Wowhead Guide Maintainer. Helped verify and contribute bugs during Shadowlands Beta.

Mserrano- Retribution SimC Coder and dirty Warlock.

Melekus- Retribution SimC Coder

Anthony Moffitt- O.G.

Solsacra- Legendary theorycrafter. Tolerates my stupid questions.


Giuseppe Arcimboldo- GOAT.

Hekili- Creator of Hekili the priority helper addon.

WeakAuras- Best Addon ever created. Online WeakAura database