Starting a paladin
So, you're thinking of playing a paladin? This page is intended to give a short overview of the class, just to get you started on the right path. If you're looking for more detailed information on the class's abilities, see the main paladin page. For more advanced topics, see paladin tactics.
Things to consider when picking a paladin:
- Do I like to be able to play any of three roles on demand (DPS, tank, and healer)?
- Do I mind being the class with the least movability in the game?
- Do I like to be able to solo effectively?
For a more general overview on starting out playing WoW, please check out the newbie guide.
The paladin is a class for those that prefer strength over speed and light over darkness. They can deal damage, protect teammates, and heal allies. They excel at self-preservation. They cannot easily hide or escape from danger, but are made to stand and survive against dangers that would kill other classes.
As one of the most versatile classes in the game, they can play all major PvE roles: tank, healer, and DPS. Their main limiting factor is that they do primarily melee (close-combat) damage, not ranged damage.
In the original World of Warcraft game, paladins were an Alliance-only class. Even in the Alliance, only dwarves and humans could be paladins. With Burning Crusade and the introduction of the Blood Elves, the Horde gained access to paladins as well. As of Cataclysm, there are five available races that can be paladins.
- 's Reputation bonus makes all Human classes worthy.
- is useful for PvP, allowing the paladin to stay within (or out of) range of their opponents.
- Sword and Mace specializations mean increased damage when using maces and swords, which are the most common paladin weapons.
- gives increased Spirit, which increases mana regeneration -- important for healers.
- Human paladins ride a special type of paladin warhorse and charger, which they share with dwarf paladins.
- is an excellent defensive spell, especially useful for tanking or PvP.
- Mace specialization means increased damage when using maces, which are one of the two most-used paladin weapons.
- Dwarf paladins ride a special type of paladin warhorse and charger, which they share with human paladins.
- gives +1% chance to hit, which is worthwhile for a DPS or tank.
- gives an extra heal with no cast time and no mana cost.
- Draenei ride two unique elekk mounts.
- silences opponents and restores mana, making it a powerful asset in both PvP and PvE, in all specs.
- In-game, Blood Elf paladins are known as Blood Knights, and ride a 'dark' version of the paladin warhorse and charger.
- stuns opponents, useful especially for PvP and tanking.
- gives a slight bonus to health, also good for PvP and tanking.
- In-game, Tauren paladins are known as Sunwalkers, and ride two unique kodo mounts.
Each paladin order has a different mount.
Overall though, particularly for casual gamers, there's really no major difference between the races aside from faction - choose the race that you want to play, whether for its looks, its voice, or because it's simply good fun!
The easiest way to progress through the early levels is to simply do any and all of the quests you can find. Not only will you breeze through the first 5 to 10 levels, but you'll get useful gear and precious money. Money is particularly important so you can purchase your spells and abilities.
You will spend levels 1 to 5 in your starting town. Make sure you get all the abilities and spells you can from your trainer. Between level 5 and 6 you'll find yourself heading off to your second town and a new trainer who can teach you various things. At the second town, repeat the process - do each and every quest you can find. It's important to keep up with your abilities and your gear. Now is also an appropriate time to start training in your chosen professions.
At level 10, you will gain your first talent point. You can now choose what specialization your paladin will be. If you are unhappy with your selection, you can reset your talents for a fee at any of your class trainers. At level 30, you will be able to buy access to another talent tree, so that you can have two ready specializations to choose from without having to reset talents.
- Holy is the specialization for those that would like to heal and help other players. It is a great leveling specialization whether questing, doing dungeons, or playing battlegrounds. At high levels it does not do much damage.
- Protection is the specialization for those that would like to protect other players and be a leader or be able to kill hard bosses and solo dungeons by yourself. It does not do much damage, but is very hard to kill. As a leveling spec it is great for doing dungeons or playing battlegrounds, but is slow to level while questing.
- Retribution is the specialization for those that want to deal damage and be holy warriors. They are easier to kill than holy or protection paladins, but deal by far the most damage, especially at higher levels. As a leveling spec it is great for questing and battlegrounds and fine for dungeons.
Armor and weapons
Paladins start in mail armor, which gives more defense than cloth or leather. At level 40 they become able to wear plate, which on average provides the strongest defense. It is recommended that you switch completely to plate armor by level 50, so that you can take advantage of the bonuses given by Plate Specialization.
The weapons and type of armor that work best depend on what talent specialization you choose:
- Holy: Armor and weapons should have intellect, not strength. One-handed weapon and shield.
- Protection: Armor and weapons should have strength, not intellect. One-handed weapon and shield. At higher levels, items with parry and dodge are better than haste and expertise.
- Retribution: Armor and weapons should have strength, not intellect. Two-handed weapon. At higher levels, items with haste and expertise are better than parry and dodge.
- Main article: Paladin quests
Paladin quests are solely available to paladins. Quests start at level 20 and 50, in addition to the level 60 raid set quests.
On soloing and grouping
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During the early levels, you should spec retribution for higher melee damage. Use a 2-hand weapon with good DPS, and wear mail armor (plate after level 40) with Strength and Stamina. You should also keep a shield and a fast 1-hand weapon in the bag for special situations. Be sure to get at 10-11, at 29-33, and at 39. The other talents should be pretty self-explanatory (more damage is good).
Paladin soloing is dull but fairly fast. At early levels, you don't have very many buttons to press, but with a good weapon you have enough burst that things will die quickly. Judge whenever you can, and use whenever it is off of cooldown. That's basically it. is useful when cast while pulling but not while the mob is hitting you, since it interrupts your melee attacks. When you have , becomes instant cast and should be used whenever possible.
You have a lot of options when things get dicey. is a full heal on a moderate timer. and make you invulnerable long enough to heal up with . If these are all on cooldown, put on and try to get off before you die. , , and can all help incapacitate a particularly dangerous mob.
When you're level 31 or higher, you can eventually change to Holy DPS (Spellcaster DPS). You'll be highly focused on single-target dps. Before you start, make sure you've either or . Use as main skill, and use whenever possible. Keep up if possible (83+). Do not mind ; use it on exceptionally large packs, but not on smaller packs since it costs a lot of mana. Use to improve casting mechanics, or to increase survivability.
As a paladin you can play any of three roles (described in greater details in the paladin tactics section). Paladins can melee DPS, spellcaster DPS, tank, or , but which of these roles you are strongest at is based on your talent spec and the gear you bring with you. It is important to know what your role is before getting into combat and acting accordingly to prevent unnecessary party deaths and disasters.
As melee DPS, you'll use a a slow, hard-hitting two-hand weapon and points in the retribution talent tree. On multiple mobs, keep up and use . If you're really taking a beating, you can swap in a shield in combat to increase your survivability, or use your or skill to remove aggro from yourself and back out of melee to heal. Always be prepared to help off-heal if it becomes necessary or to cleanse debuffs off of party members. A DPS paladin can also be very useful for helping the tank get aggro off of a healer, since the paladin can taunt the mobs at range using and allow the tank to take them off of him without having to run across the room. At higher levels, use on single mobs that live longer than 20 seconds (bosses), on single mobs that don't live long, and on multiple targets.
As spellcaster dps, you'll be a stationary spellcaster with points in the holy talent tree. You're highly focused on single-target dps. Before you start, make sure you've either or and that you've . Use as main skill, and use whenever possible. Keep up if possible (83+). As Holy DPS, you've by far the most powerful healing abilities for a spellcaster. Aid the healer whenever required, but try to stick to your original role. Do not forget to , since it will also cleanse magic effects as Holy paladin. Some players find a nice finisher on bosses, but this is not essential.
As a tank, you bring the benefit of being able to hold aggro very well on multiple mobs and you can front load a lot of aggro quickly, allowing DPS to get into the fight early. As a paladin you must rely on your spell damage output to hold aggro. Use and do as much holy damage as you can. Try to start with if you have it, and if you don't. can be very effective against multiple mobs, since you'll passively generate threat on each one every time it hits you. Consecration is also a great way to build aggro. Keep up the buffs on your teammates - it will help the entire group in the long run.
As a healer, remember to heal the tank. Since your mana pool will be small at lower levels, use instead of whenever possible, since it's far more efficient. Only use if the tank's health is dropping too fast for Flash to keep up. Make certain you continue to keep everyone buffed to the best of your ability. Keep up to help the tank out, unless you need an elemental resistance aura or for your own heals. If you're low on mana after a fight and need to drink, tell people! Overeager tanks may charge on ahead if you don't ask for time. Be sure to have a stack of water ready before going into a dungeon, though a mage can give you free drinks if you're grouped with one.
Note that in anything below a level 80 heroic you do not need to specced for healing or tanking to perform those roles. You do, however, need appropriate gear. That means a one-handed weapon and shield and plate/mail armor (ideally with lots of Stamina and Defense Rating) for tanking, and gear with Spell Power and Intellect on it for healing. To tank as retribution, keep Righteous Fury on, pull with Hand of Reckoning and use and Consecrate to keep your threat up. To heal, take advantage of , and consider healing at close range in order to get mana back with .
The paladin can benefit directly and indirectly from many of the professions available.
- This combo affords the paladin an easy way to upgrade arms and armor if they are unlucky with drops. However, nearly all useful blacksmithing gear is bind on equip gear available at the auction house, and the profession can be quite expensive to level.
- Two gathering skills (one of which requires the mini-map to find resource nodes) can provide a strong income. Many players begin their careers as dual gatherers, changing to a crafting profession in later levels as they become more established.
- Since you can heal yourself with spells, even in combat, Alchemy is somewhat less useful to paladins than to non-healing classes. One benefit of Alchemy is mana potions: without mana a paladin is in trouble, so these potions are vital in case of emergencies. In addition, a health potion can be downed quickly to bring back your health when making a quick escape. Be aware that potions can be found as drops from mobs and purchased at the auction house, but purchasing them will cost more than making your own.
- Tied to a money-making gathering skill, this would allow you to enchant your weapons in the way you want, when you want. Overall however, it may just be easier to find an enchanter and pay them to do the work for you. Although it is nearly impossible to make money enchanting until you near maximum skill, you can make a decent sum disenchanting unneeded soul-bound quest rewards, since the value of the materials you'll make by disenchanting them is usually greater than the money gotten by vendoring them.
- Engineering can be a great profession pair for paladins for one reason - it's one of the few ways for a paladin to get a ranged attack (see ranged options in paladin overview. Dynamite and bombs allow the paladin to have at least one (albeit minor) ranged attack that they can use. While difficult to see at lower levels, the disadvantage of not having a ranged attack becomes glaringly apparent when trying to pull enemies (particularly from camps) at higher levels. If you plan on taking your paladin far, Engineering also has some plate pieces for the 60+ levels.
- This combo is a viable option for just about any class. Rings and necklaces are an advantage at very early levels in the game, and Jewelcrafters can create gems to add significant bonuses to their armor.
In the end, do what you want. Many of the combinations help a certain style of play and selecting a combination based on your play style will just enhance your enjoyment of the game. Remember that you can later change professions if need be. Start your professions early: they are usually inexpensive, and starting early helps ensure that anything a Paladin can create with his/her skills is applicable to the character's level.
If you're choosing professions with an eye toward end-game viability:
- For tanking, Blacksmithing, Leatherworking, Enchanting and Mining will all give you about 60 bonus stamina. Engineering gives bonus armor, and is comparable to the others. Inscribing is weaker because the inscriber-only bonus boosts defense rating, which is usually less desirable than straight stamina. Tailoring, Herbalism and Skinning are worthless.
- For healing, all the crafting professions are about equal, Skinning is marginally valuable, and Herbalism and Mining are worthless.
- For DPS, Jewelcrafting and Blacksmithing are the clear winners because they can give bonus strength, your best stat. The other crafting professions give bonus attack power or haste, which are not quite as good on a per-point basis. Skinning is marginal and the other gathering professions are worthless.
Cooking and First Aid are of less use to paladins than most melee classes, since paladins can heal themselves. Many cooked foods do, however, provide buffs, which are especially useful at higher levels. In addition, cooked foods typically sell for more than their components, providing a useful source of extra money after normal hunting. First Aid can be useful for healing when you are trying to conserve mana (or are simply out of it), although it does heals for a small percentage at higher levels. Fishing is useful to raise your cooking skill and provide buff food. Archaeology provides a few rare good pieces of BoA armor a paladin can wear.
Paladins are able to capably fill almost all positions in end-game content. They make excellent dungeon and raid healers and tanks (using the Holy and Protection talent specializations, respectively), and are also good at DPS as Retribution. In PvP, Holy can heal teammates, Protection can guard bases and flags, and Retribution can tear down opponents.