The Paladin, An Overview
Ready to serve, paladins can defend their allies with sword and shield, or they can wield massive two-handed weapons against their enemies, or heal them of all their wounds.
The Light grants paladins additional power against the undead and demons, ensuring that these profane beings corrupt the world no longer. Paladins are not only zealots, but also guardians of the righteous, and they bestow blessings on those the Light would shine upon. The Light radiates from paladins, and worthy allies who stand near them are emboldened by its power. (source)
Paladin Guide Contents
More Paladin Guides
For details on rotations, talents, etc. click through to the PvE/PvP guides below:
Paladins stand as one of the most iconic figures in fantasy history, having a place in nigh every world created and in all them representing a mixture of ass kicking combined with a command over the power of the light and general holy abilities to make enemies wilt before them whilst simultaneously aiding their allies. World of Warcraft is no different.
However this time around paladins have taken a somewhat unique road, what with the utilization of their own particular skills to bring utility to almost any situation whether it be PvP or PvE, all while remaining capable of becoming a frontline fighter, a tank, or damage (DPS.)
Retribution paladins, the offensive variant of the Paladin class, have become increasingly viable candidates for raiding positions as well as taking spots on arena teams where we were once seen as only healers. In fact, Paladins are now very common in high ranking arena teams and Ret Pallies are feared in the Battlegrounds.
Holy Paladins are raid, group, and PvP healers in addition to being able to provide their team with abilities that mitigate damage and otherwise offer support.
Finally the Protection Paladin takes their place alongside warriors and others as a true possibility for primary tank throughout the raiding and dungeon instances.
Which one will you be?
Patch Notes for Paladins
Battle for Azeroth? WoWhead has a detailed list of the BFA changes.
Some of the Warlords of Draenor changes are below, all of the changes are on our Paladins in Draenor post.
Various abilities have been removed completely, such as: Divine Favor,Divine Plea, and Inquisition.
Others have been restricted to one or another spec, for example:
- Avenging Wrath is no longer available to Protection Paladins. This has been changed in BFA, all specs can now use it.
- Guardian of Ancient Kings is now only available to Protection Paladins. This is still true in BFA.
Tanking changed a bit, with Vengeance being dead and being replaced by Resolve, Ripost, and Bonus Armor. In BFA only Riposte is still around.
Holy got a whole pile of tweaks, see the Holy changes here.
A few new level and a few new talents round things out a bit.
Ah yes, Garrisons. Your Garrison will be your base in Draenor and something of a quest & crafting hub, it’ll also give you a shot at better loot and other things, so building it up is a good idea. It might have some use after Draenor, esp. since it has a separate Hearthstone. There might also be some useful crafting bits.
Paladin Race Choice:
Paladins are one of the more exclusive clubs on WoW, but they have opened it up a bit over the years.
Since the Paladin is such a versatile class it’s hard to say which race is “best.” It really depends on what your game is and which role you are playing.
“Best” in PvP? According to this site, it’s Blood Elves and Humans.
Some of the races, the Allied races, introduced in Legion and Battle for Azeroth, are acquired by completing an achievement appropriate to that race, and then flying over to the embassy on Stormwind or Orgrimmar.
You can find a detailed list of all of the Paladin races on the Paladin leveling page.
Paladin Specs & Leveling
Paladin mechanics partially changed in Cataclysm. You still use mana for various things, but now have a Holy Power (HP) system in addition to mana.
HP works somewhat like the Rogue’s Combo Points in that you build up to three HP points using abilities such as Crusader Strike or Holy Shock and then use those points to power another ability, such as Word of Glory or Templar’s Verdict. The more points that you use to drive those abilities the better the effect.
This section is only a brief overview of Paladin leveling, check out our Paladin Leveling Guide for more information. If you want something that will show you the fastest way from any level to the level cap then look at Dugi’s guide.
Currently one can gain XP through grinding, questing, dungeons, PvP and any combination of the above. Want to smash your way through everything? Go Retribution. Want to do lots of dungeons with little to no wait time? Holy Healing or Protection Tanking will do just fine.
Want to level as a pure “Care Bear” Holy Pally? Questing/grinding will be painful, but do the dungeons or group (Battlegrounds) PvP and your groups will love you and you’ll level as quickly as anyone. Healers have very short wait times in dungeon finder Queues, the only problem is seeing the same dungeon a few times.
Holy Paladin Leveling
Your damage is … weak, and you’re not going to be rounding up groups of things and killing them. Not in less than a week, anyway. But you’re excellent at keeping your partner(s) intact, allowing them to lay waste to everything. Questing is likely to be a bit on the dull/tedious side, but if your partner is a damage machine then you can move quickly. Just grab a warrior or a Ret Pally or whatever and keep them healthy while they kill everything in sight.
Hop into the dungeon or battlegrounds queues, keep your group alive (and help the PvP group to win,) and you’ll level as fast as anyone.
If you’re dungeoning then you’ll be in demand all the way from level 15 to the end-game raids. Adjust your talents and gear for the best healing.
If you’re PvP leveling in the battlegrounds, which can be very fast if your side wins, then you will need to select talents and gear for more survivability.
Retribution Paladin Leveling
Retribution paladins can either be a lot of fun or really boring, it’s all in the eye of the beholder, quite honestly. They level fast enough and hit hard enough, it’s just that they have a very simple rotation.
Another thing is that retribution can be much better for questing as opposed to protection, you’re generally better capable of selectively killing quest mobs for any given objective whereas protection shines when fighting ten at the same time.
Lastly, Retribution Paladins have little to no downtime while leveling due to heavy armor, heals, and the instant heal Word of Glory.
Protection Paladin Leveling
Protection Pallies will endeavor to find an enjoyable method of combining our great AoE tanking capabilities with our stacking damage buffs, designed to slowly whittle down surrounding groups of monsters.
Retribution Aura, Avenger’s Shield, Consecration, and other abilities come together to provide us immensely effective AoE capabilities. By itself none of the above would deal more than possibly a small amount of our overall damage, however when built up in unison they easily do enough to drop large group of mobs at once.
The Holy Power mechanic just makes this better as it’s easy to gather enough Holy Power to be firing off regular (instant and mana free) Word of Glory spells. Especially at higher level rounding up large groups and burning them down is what you do best, when you’re not tanking.
Notes on the Paladin Talents
The talent builds will be on the individual Paladin pages.
You can change your specialization (spec) anytime your are out of combat. For example, do part 1 of the dungeon as Protection, the next part as retribution, and the last as Holy.
To change the actual talents you need to be in a “rested XP” ares, such as an inn or the big city.
If you are in the raid/dungeon or out on the world and need to change talents before the next fight? Buy or make (with Inscription) a stack of Tome of the Quiet Mind, which will work up to level 59. From 51 to 60 you can use a Tome of the Still Mind. That will give you one minute to switch up your talents.
Paladin Auras, Blessings, and Judgements
Paladin abilities are quite varied in their usage, being separated into numerous categories such as auras, blessings, judgements, heals, etc. All in all we have more than a few methods of buffing ourselves, injuring opposition, and aiding our teammates.
Since these abilities will change from expansion to the next expansion, they will only be lightly covered here. See the specific pages for more details. The leveling guide will have all the general abilities, plus the abilities specific to Retribution and Protection, while the holy guide will have the abilities specific to Holy.
All of these used to be talents. Now they are abilities.
Auras effect your entire group/raid, if they’re within 40 yards of you. Generally you can only have one aura up at a time. For example:
- Retribution Aura at level 38: When any party or raid member within 40 yards dies, you gain Avenging Wrath for 8 sec.
Blessings are another aspect of the paladin class, allowing you to give teammates and fellow raid members a large overtime increase to damage, mana regeneration, and so on. They only affect one part or raid member at a time. For example:
- Blessing of Protection, which lasts for 10 seconds, and makes the target immune to physical and harmful effects.
Before 4.0 Judgements were another key to effectively fighting, leveling, defeating bosses, boosting raid DPS and health, and finally renewing your own mana pool to maintain unstoppable killing. Almost every judgment had some use at some point.
These days? It mainly drops the hammer on your target’s head, but there is some additional utility. For example
- Judgment, a general Paladin ability, drops the hammer and generates one Holy Power for Prot and Ret. It also causes those specs to do more damage with their next Holy Power ability.
- Judgement of Light, a talent for Holy (25) and Prot (45), causes the next 25 successful attacks against a target to heal the attacker for a bit each time.
In the battlegrounds, prior to Cataclysm, anyway, one of the most feared opponents is the well played Retribution Paladin. A combination of high survivability and great burst damage put them at the top of the “we want you on our team” classes.
In Warlords they’re not quite as overpowered as that time, but they still do very well for themselves. Also, even Protection can get into the game as their PvP damage and damage taken has been increased.
Holy Paladins can also do very well if the BG group is organized enough to let them heal effectively (hard to do when everyone is running amok and out for himself.) In the 3 and 5 person arena brackets, and Rated BGs, Holy Paladins are doing very well. The key, of course, is teamwork.
The Numbers: Gear, Stats, Etc.
Stats change over time. Hit, Expertise, Resilience, PvP Power, and Reforging are all dead. (May they rest in pieces.) In BFA everyone gets Versatility, but no other “new stats” have survived.
Gear, gems, enchants, potions, repairs, toys, and various other things can be expensive. If you have the cash, then great! Otherwise check out our gold guide.
The different specs will value the various stats in very different ways, so look to the individual spec pages for more info on how the various stats apply to that spec. This section will give them an overview.
The exact value of your stats depends on your gear, your level, and the various buffs provided by your group and the debuffs on the opposition. More specific details (and rotations and talents) are provided on the build pages: Protection spec, retribution spec, holy spec.
Basically all that means is that one stat usually won’t be wildly better than the other. You won’t break your character if you have a bit too much of A and a bit less of B.
- Strength– This is the most important stat for Protection and Retribution Paladins. It remains the primary (and so far only) source of raw AP (Attack Power.)
- For Retribution Str is far and away the most important stat
- Str is important for Protection, but Stamina is also important. Maybe more so.
- Intelligence– This is the most important stat for Holy Paladins. It adds more mana, mana-regen, and spellpower and can be enhanced via gear, gems, and enchants.
- Retribution and Protection have little need for brains.
- Stamina – Tauren Pallies will have an slight edge here.
- Tanking and PvP obviously require a lot more than otherwise.
- Holy, outside of PvP, needs no additional Stam.
- Agility is worthless to any flavor of Paladin.
- Dodge Rating – Very important for tanks, not so much for others.
- Parry Rating – Parry Rating will be gained from STR as well as items. According to Blizzard parry “provides the same avoidance as Dodge.”
- Block Rating: for Protection. Reduces damage of enemy attacks.
- Protection: Very important as it goes directly to your blocking and attack power.
- Holy: Increases your heals.
- Retribution: increases your Holy Damage.
- Haste– decreases cooldown times, decreases the time between DoT ticks and might add an addition tick at high ratings.
- Crit is loved by all.
Gems and Enchants
There are more details on the build pages: The exact value of your stats depends on your gear, your level, and the various buffs provided by your group and the debuffs on the opposition. More specific details are provided on the build pages: Protection, Retribution PvP or DPS , Holy healing or PvP.
Currently, as of BFA and Shadowlands:
- Sockets are few and far between and there are no Meta sockets.
- Gems are “Prismatic,” so fit any gem slot.
- How much value each gem provides depends of the current stat and level squishes.
Generally you will be gemming for your primary stat (Strength or Intelligence) and then the best of the rest, depending on available slots.
Top level Enchants are somewhat restricted. For eample, in BFA they were weapons and rings only. None are available for other items. Crafted “enchants” are available for shoulders (Inscription) and Legs (Leatherworking.)
Leveling gems and enchants? Stick to the cheap stuff. You’ll be out of that gear soon enough. If you have lots of gold then feel free to buy the best gems & enchants available, especially if you’re seriously doing PvP or some kind of competitive lower level dungeons.
Top level enchants, in Battle for Azeroth, can be applied to your level 1 heirloom gear. So can the two crafter enchants, but they require a level 32 character to “Install” them. Then your level 1 can use them
Note that the Shadowlands enchants require your character to be at least level 50.
Tradeskill wise many paladins choose to take up either Blacksmithing or Engineering combined with Mining, I suggest never attempting to combine Blacksmithing and Engineering onto a single character unless you have massive amounts of gold to burn through.
Mining will provide raw materials for either profession and greatly reduce your costs. Still, you might want to consider waiting on the crafting skills until you have a nice gold stash and/or are max level. Also note that while leveling Mining provides nice XP (as does Herbalism.)
Blacksmithing provides us similar benefits as to a Warrior, weapons mostly, but there are some good armor sets and some other useful items.
Engineering, on the other hand, has some very nice tanking gear for paladins and lots of cool gadgets. Some of the backfires will generate threat, which is great if you’re Protection, not so hot otherwise.
- Cooking – great for the food buffs.
- Any two of the gathering skills (mining, skinning, or herbalsim) either to fuel another profession or to make gold.
- Leveling up? Get Herbalism and Mining for the XP.
Tradeskills for the min-max crowd
In Warlords of Draenor and all later expansions all of the profession bonuses/perks have been removed. No more extra gems slots from your Blacksmithing.
- Alchemy allows you to create various potions, flasks, and elixirs.
- Blacksmithing, as noted above, is good for the gear, including your starting raid/PvP gear
- Enchanters can now enchant rings and neck items.
- Engineers get some nice toys, including a “sprint” device: Nitro Boosts.
- Herbalism‘s For the gold, or for Inscription or Alchemy, plus while harvesting M of P herbs you can occasionally find yummy Life Spirits and Water Spirits. In Draenor you can find Primal Spirits
- Leatherworkers have nothing for you.
- Inscription has shoulder enchants and the ability to create various other items and glyphs.
- Jewelcrafting makes ring, neck items, gems, and gemmed mounts.
- Mining is for the gold or Blacksmithing
- Skinning is for the gold or Leatherworking.
- Tailors have nothing for Paladins, unless you really want that flying carpet.
Leveling Your Paladin Faster
As you know there are thousands of quests in WoW (and a few zillion monsters) that await your wrath. It’s keeping track of all those quests and their details (maybe looking them up on some website) that can become a drag.
The in-game quest helper is a big help, but even that doesn’t show you the most efficient path to take, especially when you might be dungeoning or PvPing in between quests.
The question of Where to go and What to do never arises since we’ve been using Dugi’s Guide. Dugi’s almost automates the whole leveling process for your Pally (or any class that you’re playing.) Not by playing the game for you, but by keeping track of everything, including all the info you need to complete each quest, and by automatically updating as you go.
It even updates if you gain levels PvPing or dungeoning. Enter the guide at any level, PvP for a few levels, do some dungeons, come back and Dugi’s will detect your new level, update appropriately, and clean up your old quests.
Pick your starting point (whatever your level) and the guide automatically updates and advances as you complete quests, tracks your objectives, automatically sets a waypoint arrow, and includes the important quest info. You will never again wonder where to go or what to do, even if you’re brand new to WoW or decked head to toe in Heirlooms.
Dugi’s is always updated for the latest patches and expansions. Grab yours here, now and cruise to the level cap faster than ever before.