Cover art of Retribution Paladin
HC Guides

Retribution Paladin

    Hardcore viability

    Retribution Paladins are a great choice for players attempting the Hardcore leveling challenge in World of Warcraft Classic. With their high survivability, massive burst damage, and variety of supportive abilities, they are capable of handling many different challenges solo.

    Retribution Paladins deal damage primarily through melee attacks, adding additional damage and utility with Seal and Judgement abilities. They also have defensive abilities, such as Divine Shield and Blessing of Sanctuary, which can be used to protect themselves and others from harm. In terms of survivability, they can heal themselves and others, reducing the risk of death. Retribution Paladins are highly effective in both solo and group play, making them a strong choice for players looking to take on the Hardcore leveling challenge.


    Level 1-4

    Maintain Seal of Righteousness and Blessing of Might, apply Devotion Aura. watch netflix.

    Level 4-11

    Do NOT train Seal of Righteousness Rank 2 until level 11, it isn’t worth the mana increase until then.

    Spam Judgment on CD until level 11. The pre-10 mana regen is OP.

    Level 12-20

    Train SoR ranks until 20. You can ignore it from now on unless you find a Fast BoE Blue.

    Start being more mindful of your Judgment spam as it can OOM you quickly. I rarely use it more than once or twice a fight depending on my level / the mobs level.

    Use Retribution Aura from now on. Concentration can be a handy pickup to prevent spellcasting knockback if you remember to switch to it in sticky situations.

    If you need Blessing of Wisdom,, you’re judging too much. Keep using BoM.

    Level 21-44

    You typically should only use Seal of Command now if you’re following standard weapon progression. Explained further in the SoC talent section below.

    Exorcism / Holy Wrath are fine to use on Undead sparingly. Just mind your mana.

    Use Seal of the Crusader on elites.

    Level 45-60

    Start using Seal of the Crusader on every mob.

    You can usually start spamming Judgment again due to our bigger mana pool at these levels.

    Hammer of Wrath should only be used on runners that may pull more mobs. The cast time and mana cost are both pepega.


    There are two talent tree routes I would consider ideal for the average Hardcore Paladin. “New to Hardcore” and “Experienced”.

    I would only use the Experienced build after you’ve reached level 60 at least once on Hardcore, as it skips out on critical survivability talents in exchange for more damage

    New to Hardcore

    New to Retribution Paladin Talents

    Divine Intellect

    Allows you to get 1-2 more heals off depending on your level, whereas Divine Strength rarely adds enough damage to kill a mob in one less swing, making its bonuses rather useless. It only provides value in dungeons or level 44+.

    Spiritual Focus

    Ridiculous talent for anyone inexperienced in Hardcore. If you’re in a sticky situation you can just plant your feet and get a heal off without issue, whereas any other healer would experience spell pushback. Once you know the “scary” areas to avoid however, this talent does lose value.


    Only worthwhile if you plan on tanking dungeons. It costs a lot of mana that should be reserved for judgment or making sure you have enough saved to heal in a pinch. It’s a very small dps increase and not worth the mana in hardcore.


    Allows you to get off one more Judgement before you go oom typically, whereas Improved BOM suffers from the same issue as Divine Strength, you don’t get enough value out of it until level 44+, unless you’re duoing with another melee dps class.


    5% Chance to avoid damage entirely and gives you parry haste. Parry Haste is a mechanic where when you do a parry, your attack swing timer gets sped up by 40%. When you are using a big, slow, two hander, this is a huge dps increase. Improved Judgment is actually a noob trap, in that it typically makes you OOM yourself due to the reduced CD making you miss out on a mana regen tic.

    Seal of Command

    Typically a better seal to use. A rough rule is any weapon that is 3.5 or slower, use SoC. If a weapon is 3.4 or faster, use SoR. However, getting an “at level” weapon upgrade usually means it’s worth using SoC until the weapon would be “green” to the mobs, if that makes sense. For example, Verigan’s Fist is roughly a level “27” weapon, using Combatant Claymore as a baseline. That means, even though it is fast, due to the insane damage increase over other weapons you would have at that level, it is worth using SoC until roughly level 30, which would make Verigan’s “green” to the mobs, at which point I’d go back to using SoR.

    Pursuit of Justice

    Movement speed is busted. Nearly half of your leveling time is based on traveling, which speeds up leveling a lot. Additionally, this allows you to outrun most mobs in the game. If you get in a bad situation, you can just straight up run away in most cases.


    Raw crit is nice, every other option sucks. Not much more to say.

    Improved Retribution Aura

    Actually a massive dps increase. Using level 40~ statweights as an example, your Retribution Aura hits for around 20. With this talent, it does 30. Each time a mob hits you. Let’s compare that to Sanctity Aura which does +10% holy damage. Seal of Command typically hits for 250~ around this level, and procs every 3 swings on average. So every 10 seconds or so, our SoC does an extra 25 damage. Judgment gets used once in this time and does around 170, so we’ll say 20 and be generous. An extra 45 damage. So if the mob hits us even twice, Retri Aura is more damage.


    The only other DPS increase in the tree.


    Handy CC, especially if you’re new to Hardcore. You can skip this however if you are in a duo/trio and plan on AoEing a lot.


    Seriously one of the strongest point for point talents in the game. If you aren’t already, start carrying around a shield and swap to it anytime you need to run or when fighting elites. Swapping to a shield vs an Elite anytime you get redoubt procs reduces damage taken by so much.


    Only remaining dps increase option.

    Guardian’s Favor

    Personal preference, you can literally take any other talent if you wanted, none are great at this point.



    Engineering is the best profession for safety. You have no way to safely split pull without grenades, and grenades can act as an extra interrupt. Additionally bubble already lasts nearly as long as leash timers, if you somehow need extra time, Target Dummy gives it to you easily.


    The one upside to Alchemy defensively is Swiftness Pots, however even if you get a swiftness potion recipe, it is “too much”. You will never be in a situation where you’d need that much of an out compared to Dummy/Grenade Stun + Bubble. Alchemy is the best profession for challenge runs due to the extra stats.

    No profession at all is best for speed leveling. Getting Engineering to 85 for Dummys then ignoring it is a viable middle ground.


    Strength >> Agi > Int >> Spirit > Armor > Stam

    This is probably a hot take, but Stamina is a crutch in Hardcore, especially on paladin. There are very few mobs in the game that can outright out 1v1 you, even without using heals. And the ones that can, healing lets you tip the scales in your favor again.

    Stat Weight
    1 Stamina 10 Health
    1 Intellect 15 Mana
    More int = more heals. +Healing is not worth using pre 60
    1 Strength 2 Attack Power
    Typical rule of thumb: 1 Str is worth 3 Agi
    25 Armor 1 Stam worth of Effective HP
    Leather with 40 armor and 3 stam is more effective HP than Mail with75 armor with 1 stam.

    Other considerations

    Agi = Crit/Dodge (ratio scales depending on level) Spirit = More mana regen per tic (scales on level)

    Considering that 7 stam = 70 health and 7 int = 105 mana, although using Holy Light (Rank 3), which heals for 170 at the cost of 105 mana, gives you effectivly 100 more HP.

    14 Attack Power = 1 Weapon DPS. This means a weapon with 32.5 DPS and 7 strength is actually a 33.5 DPS weapon.

    Weapon progression

    Here is a list of weapons you can aim to achieve while you level:

    1. BiS World Drop: Cracked Sledge - A weapon to befit a king. Should be legendary.
    2. Level 4: Wooden Mallet - Sold by Weapon Merchants in starting areas. (Recommended)
    3. Level 10: Coldridge Hammer - Vagash Quest in Dun Morogh. (Recommended)
    4. Level 14: Heavy Spiked Mace - Weapon Vendors (Recommended)
    5. Level 18-22: Taskmaster’s Axe - Deadmines drop
    6. Level 18-22: Smite’s Mighty Hammer - Deadmines drop. If there’s a warrior/druid in the group, give it to them. We will get Verigans very soon.
    7. Level 19: Executioner’s Sword - Weapon Vendors. Only buy if you were unlucky in Deadmines.
    8. Level 21: Dacian Falx - Weapon Vendors. Only buy if you couldn’t find an Executioner’s Sword.
    9. Level 20-30: Verigan’s Fist - One of the most rewarding weapons to get in Hardcore. Can be obtained as early as 20. Recommend at least level 24. (Recommended)
    10. Level 26: Merciless Axe - Only worth if you can’t do Verigans or Archeus.
    11. Level 28: Archeus - Fence kite Mor'ladim to get this weapon early. (Recommended)
    12. Level 29: Corpsemaker - RFK drop.
    13. Level 32: Thermaplugg’s Left Arm - Gnomer Drop.
    14. Level 36-42: Rock Pulverizer - Murdaloc Quest, can be done as early as 36 if you’re hurting for weapons. (Recommended)
    15. Level 40-44: Bonebiter - Scarlet Monastery quest. Please get this weapon :) (Recommended)
    16. Level 50-55: Beastslayer - Un’goro Quest (Recommended)

    Advanced tips

    Potions and Heals reset your swing timer. Try to get a swing off before doing either if possible.

    Mind the “5 Second Rule” for mana regen, you don’t start regaining mana until you haven’t been casting for 5 seconds. So judgment once or twice then let your mana tic back up!

    Always try to have enough mana stored for a holy light.

    Aggressive bubbling is how you die :)

    Use bandages while bubbled to continue regenerating mana

    Seal Twisting isn’t really worth the mana while leveling.

    Keep a shield on your person with a weapon swap macro, switch to it versus elites or when running from mobs to get a huge damage reduction.

    It’s okay to not use Judgment on cooldown, it uses up a lot of mana. I rarely use it more than twice a fight to make sure I have enough mana to heal myself in case things go wrong.

    It’s only worth getting every 2nd or 3rd rank of Seal of Command. It’s a higher mana cost only to increase the judgment damage minimally. Use the higher rank when HoJ is off cd

    Hardcore Paladin Leveling Guide

    Looking for a step-by-step leveling guide that is tailored for the Hardcore Paladin leveling experience?

    Click below to visit RestedXP and download their awesome add-on to start receiving in-game directions. The guide is free for the first 20 levels, so give it a try!

    Important Macros

    1-Button Judgement/Seal

    /cast Judgement /stopcasting /cast Seal of Command

    /cast Judgement /stopcasting /cast Seal of Righteousness

    Weapon Swap Macro

    /equip [noequipped:shields] One Hander Name; Two Handed Weapon Name /equip [noequipped:shields] Shield Name

    Bubble Cancel

    This is helpful if you’re in an immunity and want to be able to attack quicker

    /cancelaura Divine Shield