Thursday, February 18, 2010

Retpal DPS: Paint it Black, Paint it Dead

As in:





Or anti-healing.

This is all for PvE, just in case you were expecting/hoping something for PvP.

I was reading a post by DeathGoddess, on How to DPS as a Deathknight and it got me to thinking: what's the proper way for a Pally to DPS? After all, one of her posts biggest points is DON'T DIE, and even though Pallies are among the most survivable classes, we often get accused of either facerolling or being a Tard-adin (and then dying). Obviously, I am FAR from a top tier raider, so I expect others may have comments, ideas or corrections.

Fer Starters

You can go to the Elitist Jerks pages to learn all about rotations, gemming, proper enchants and all that, but what it comes down to for all their info is basically this:

-Be hit capped.
-Get as much strength as you can.
-If you can't get strength, then Attack power.
-Crit is better than haste.
-Know your attack rotation.

If you want all the gory details, go here: CLICK

Even more basically, know the basics of your character, and go with some variety of the cookie-cutter specs. EJ has a couple, as does HERE. (or if you're interested, here's mine: CLICK . As an FYI, I have a couple survival/PvP things in mine, that EJ and others may scoff at. But, since I *do* run PvP now-&-again, and I can't triple spec, there ya go - though I am STRONGLY considering putting one more point in Prot, to get Divine Sacrifice)

OK, so that's the basic basics, but ok, now what?

Generic Trash Mob fighting.

This should be easy, right? Overall, it is, BUT, if you are equally/over geared to the tank, and are "doing DPS right" (from a gem, equip, rotation point of view) it's actually kind of easy to die. 99% of the time, it comes down to getting too much aggro, which should be easy to avoid, but some really basic points can get lost on occasion. SO, to avoid this:

zero- Take note of your tank. Is he geared? Is it a Pally, Warrior, DK or Druid? Each one has a different method, so pay attention!

1 - Give the tank a couple seconds to get full control. 3 or 4 or even 5 seconds (or more for Bear tanks & DKs) isn't going to have a big effect on your numbers. (and if you are doing things correctly, your numbers shouldn't matter) and not having to worry about aggro is nice. (and not dying is even nicer)

2- ATTACK THE PROPER (marked) TARGETS!! This of course assumes there's any marking going on. I keep the tank as my focus, and have a macro to target focus, assist focus, so that I can attack the same target, even if he/she didn't mark.

3- Use a threat meter (I use Omen), or at least watch the threat indicator above your target in the stock UI. (it's not automatically on, you have to select it)

4- Make sure you are standing behind the mobs (if possible) This will mitigate some incoming damage and will prevent some of their avoidance (and increase your DPS)

5- REPENTANCE! (and let others know you have stunned one of them) Especially with tougher mobs, being able keep one out of the fight will help the tank and healer.

6- For undead dungeons, turn on "Sense Undead". (assuming you are glyphed) This will give you extra damage.

7- Holy Wrath (again in undead areas) This is an unbreakable 3 second stun AND a good amount of holy damage. USE IT!

8 - Turn Evil. This is another possible crowd control option.

If you start getting aggro:

- Make sure you are using Hand of Salvation when you can
- Slow/stop your attacks. (and face away from the mobs so you don't auto attack)
- Bring the mob(s) over to the tank so he can pick them up.
- If the "fit hits the shan" use Divine Shield.
- Wait

Alas ,we don't have any aggro "oh shit" buttons to instantly drop aggro AND still be able to fight at our max output.

The closest we have is Divine Shield that protects us from all incoming damage and drops our outgoing damage by 50%. It doesn't really drop aggro, other than reduced threat via reduced damage, but you are immune for 12 seconds. (Just make sure you bring your attackers back to the tank, and beware that if the tank hasn't managed to get aggro on them, they will resume attacking you when it wears off)

Divine Protection, on the other hand, maintains our full DPS (and threat) but drops out incoming damage by 50%. (it's nice for tanking, aka the "Pally Shield wall")

Things to keep in mind/consider: (most of these are for PuGs)

- Unless there are other Pallies in your group, use Devotion Aura (some places call for frost, fire or arcane protection, but those are case by case). If there are more Pallies, one use Devotion, another use Retribution.

- Monitor your own health and be ready to save yourself (via bubble or LoH, etc). Some healers (and tanks as well) feel that any trouble a RetPal gets into is their own fault. Also, depending on the gear & skill of the tank & healer, they may not even be able to help you. Bubble, LoH, potion, bandages (or Flash of Light -especially with Art of War) all are great. Run out of the fight for a few seconds if you need to.

- "popping your wings" (Avenging Wrath) is probably not really advisable, especially in tougher mobs, and even moreso with any group you're not familiar with. The forbearance you get will prevent you from bubbling or Laying on Hands, and those are your safety net if things go bad.

- Protect the healer, and if possible, other ranged/casters from loose/spawning adds & mobs. Running over and hitting Divine Storm, and running back over to the tank will get you brownie points with the healer, and is generally a nice thing to do.

- Sacred shield is (in my opinion) somewhat optional for trash. It certainly won't hurt (other than a small mana consumption) and might help if things go south a bit.

- Depending on your gear level, you may or may not want to self buff via food, potions and scrolls.

Boss Fights

All of the above apply. Watch the tank, give him time to get aggro, attack the correct target, watch aggro, etc. A couple things to add:

1 - If you use a focus, change it to the (a) healer.

2 -Unless you WAY overgear your tank, you will want to get completely buffed. The added 30 stregnth, 50 strength and 80 attack power are invaluable. Since most bosses are single target, it should be really hard to pull aggro. (again, assuming a competent, geared tank)

3 - STAND IN THE PROPER PLACE! For regular monsters, stand behind them. (for the reasons listed above) With dragons, stand next to them, just behind the front legs. This avoids the head (breath weapons) and the tail (lashing, knockbacks, etc)

4 - Keep hitting your "assist" spells as often as possible: Sacred Shield, Divine Plea, and any "on use" trinkets.

5- If it is a tougher boss that will take a while to kill, go ahead and pop your wings right off. (Avenging Wrath - "AW") The forbearance/lockout on your other Hands/Divine spells is only 30 seconds, and if a fight goes bad THAT quickly, nothing is gonna save you.

6- As the fight progresses, I would be less & less likely to cast AW. The healer(s) & tank(s) are more likley to be busy/maxxed out, and you will need to be in the "keep yourself alive" mode. By keeping yourself alive, you accomplish 2 things:

- - 1 - if you stay alive, you can keep doing DPS.
- - 2 - by surviving on your own, you remove that much more stress/etc from the tank & healer.

If all goes well, you should be alive at the end of the fight, and reasonably high on the meters.

That being said, things don't always go the way we would like...


In my most humble opinions, there are 2 types of OH SHIT moments:

1 - you're about to die, but the rest of the raid is doing "ok".
2 - the raid is about to wipe.

The actions for each will be very different.

OH SHIT! Type 1:

- 1 My first response to this is to hit [ctrl][`] which is my hot button of lay hands on myself.
- 2 Get out of the bad! (aggro dump, run out of the fire, whatever) This usually means I run like a little girl.
- Cleanse. It might not be a direct attack, or fire that is killing you. The first actions bought you time and got you clear. Now it's time to remove the DoT that is killing you. DO IT!!! DO IT NOW!!!!

The other source of this type of situation is that *somehow* we got a bunch of hungry adds chewing on our face. (SOMEBODY wasn't watching aggro, or where they were standing)

- 1 Bubble - (divine shield) this buys you time
- 2 Run - Towards the tank and hope he can pull the baddies off you
- 3 Cleanse - as you run tothe tank (just in case)
- 4 Self heal (potions, bandages, Holy Light, Flash of Light, whatever)
- 5 (assuming you survived) get back into the fight!

Nothing all that fancy.

OH SHIT! Type 2

This is usually caused by the tank tanking WAY too much damage, or because the healer is about to buy the farm. (the root cause can be something else, like a DPS pulling more adds, and overwhelming the tank, etc)

Tank is taking too much damage.

3 options:

1 - Taunt (Hand of reckoning) and Bubble - (if possible) Some bosses aren't tauntable. If you are doing this MAKE SURE you have aggro before bubbling. If you have time, casting Righteous Fury and consecration pre-bubble would also be nice, and will buy the tank more time.

2 - (and the lesser option, since you or someone else will probably die) Cast Hand of Protection on the tank. The reason this one is a lesser option is that (I believe) this will give the tank zero threat, and the boss will go after # 2 on the threat meters. (usually a DPS, but possibly a healer) A dead DPS is often survivable, so that is preferable to a dead tank. But still, far from optimal.

3 - A third option, but one that isn't currently open to me, is to cast Hand of Sacrifice and then bubble. This causes 30% of all damage being done to the party to be re-directed to you, but with your bubble, it gets absorbed. The best part of this is that it has zero effect on the current threat/aggro tables, and things continue as before. The bad news is that 1) you have to talent for it (I haven't) and 2) ONLY 30% of the damage gets mitigated and ONLY up to YOUR total health. Depending on how bad things are going, that may not be enough mitigation per second OR enough TOTAL mitigation. Again, I don't currently have this talented (I am strongly considering re-speccing to get it) so I have no experience with it.

Healer is taking (too much) damage

This is why I try to always remember to set the healer as my focus during boss fights.

1 - Target the healer (and/or assist them)
2 - Taunt. Use Hand of Reckoning if only 1 mob, or Righteous Defense if more.
3 - Run towards them
4 - Hit Divine Storm
5 - Consecrate

By this time you should have complete aggro.

6 - Bubble with Divine Protection (Not Shield, unless you are about to die or are taking MASSIVE damage from the mobs)
7 - Pull the mobs over to the tank
8 - Hope the tank pulls them off you.

(OK, there's a 3rd "OH SHIT!" moment, and that's just before EVERYONE is about to die. Use Hand of Sacrifice if you feel it's beneficial, or dont)

OK, so that ended up being WAY longer than I hoped, but I think it covers what I think is important for being a decent RetPal.


  1. I was kinda hopin you would go into a Rotation. Currently my rotation starts off nice and neat how a rotation is supposta be, Then it turns into wack-a-mole with things that are cooled down. But it turns out ok cuz my DPS is pretty good.

  2. Hey Slik,

    This was pretty helpful for me as a lvl 74 ret pally. Something I often struggle with is tunnel vision and just focusing on the boss or trash mobs and then realizing the healer/caster is taking damage that I could have tried to prevent. I remember reading one of your older posts about everything a ret pally can do to help the group/raid and I think it can get overwhelming at times.

    Maybe for a future post for newcomers approaching the end game would be one about trickier bosses. For example, the end boss of Nexus with the DOT if you don't keep moving. I only figured that out after the 4th time through, haha.

    Thanks for your posts, keep up the good work!


  3. @ amoro - the annoying thing about retpals is that there isn't a fixed rotation. "FCFS" - "first come first serve" is the rule. And yeah, it ends up being a whack a mole. If you get a chance (and a re a bit bored) read about rotation here: Section #3 is about rotation.

    I'll try to get a post up this weekend describing what I do with more specifics.

    @Brom - Glad to help, and thanks!

    Tunnel vision is STILL my biggest problem. Wither because I'm so stressed, or because it's a cakewalk, and I don't pay attention.

    One thing to do to help is to pull back your camera, so you get a braoder picture. The problem here is that it's hard to really be able to pay close attention to who is tho, and small specific things. It's a bit of a trade off, but it CAN help.

    I will give the heroics a try, from a "guide" type position, though I'm really not that well versed. (though I NEED to learn them if I ever want to tank!)

    When I can, I search youtube for good walkthroughs. For the Heroics, Cityhunter505 has some good (but a bit old) walkthroughs:

    Tankspot has some good videos as well.

    I will occasionally *read* a strategy, but video usually works better for me. (actually reading first THEN watching the vid, and the RE-reading the strat works best for) but that can become a TON of work, especially with a dozen+ heroics, each with 3-5 bosses.