Hand me Downs: Paladin
Welcome to a brand new, 10 part series on how to best prepare for levelling a new character of a given class. The first one we will look at is the Paladin! This guide will cover levelling specs, heirlooms and professions. It also assumes you have access to a level 80 character and a reasonable amount of gold.
There are in fact three ways to level as a Paladin. The first is Retribution spec, and my personal favourite. This spec is the primary damage dealing talent tree for Paladins, and has much melee functionality including AoE potential, useful cool-downs, and a few emergency buttons. This spec allows you to destroy mobs with a fairly small downtime, depending on your level. It is excellent for Soloing and for DPSing in groups. If you are leveling as Retribution, you would be well advised to use a spec and glyph set up like this:
You should fill up the Retribution tree before moving on to either of the other two. Also, when purchasing Glyphs, you want to be using the Judgement Glyph as soon as the slot opens up, and Consecration Glyph next time you get a new major. The Vengeance Glyph should be saved till last, as Seal of Vengeance isn’t trained until Outlands level. When soloing, you should use Seal of Righteousness until you reach the point where you talent into Seal of Command, after which that will be your one and only seal. The extra damage increase far outweighs the benefit of health or mana returns you get from other Seals. When you train Seal of Vengeance at Outlands levels, you will use that only on fights longer than around 25 seconds (the point at which it overtakes Seal of Command for doing damage.) Even at 80, you should be using Seal of Command on dungeon and raid trash or fights with a lot of target switching, as it adds a cleave effect to your abilities and deals instant damage, rather than Vengeances long buildup time. You also should always bless yourself with Blessing of Might. Righteous fury has nothing to do with DPS, and it is highly inadvisable you leave this off, especially if you are doing dungeons with other players. It gives no benefit other than a massive increase to threat, so it’s primarily a tanking tool unless you like being splattered across the floor. Typically across leveling you should be able to take up to three enemies at a time with this spec. Your basic CLASH rotation should look something like this:
Hammer of Wrath, Judgement of Wisdom, Crusader Strike, Divine Storm, Consecration, Exorcism, Holy Wrath
I bolded Clash rotation, what this means is basically that it is better to hit a dps skill that is off cooldown, any skill from the above list, rather than wait a second for a certain skill to be ready. In the event that multiple skills are off cooldown, use the clash rotation above to prioritize what to use first; these are sorted by DPS, not Damage per Cast. If you’re interested in the why, here’s an Elitist Jerks explanation:
- Judgement of Wisdom – Hardest hitter, returns mana, can’t go wrong with this as your top priority.
- Crusader Strike – Because of the short CD and ability to proc a seal, you want to keep this on cooldown as much as possible.
- Divine Storm – A hard hitting ability that does decent single target damage, and high damage in a group of mobs.
- Hammer of Wrath – This skill only comes into play when a mob is at 20%; it then becomes high priority due to it’s extremely high crit rate and fairly short CD.
- Consecration – Consecration moves near the top of the pile only against multiple (4+) adds.
- Exorcism – It hits hard, but because of it’s somewhat long cooldown (15s) and reliance on spellhit, it isn’t great dps. Do not use this on a pull because it will not be instant cast, and will delay entering melee combat.
- Holy Wrath – Only effective against multiple (6+) demons/undead, you are better off using your free GCD casting DP or a SS on someone. This is as close to a mana dump skill as we have.
Weapon: Bloodied Arcanite Reaper Enchanted with Crusader
Shoulders: Polished Spaulders of Valor
Chest: Polished Breastplate of Valor Enchanted with Enchant Chest – Greater Stats
Trinket: Swift Hand of Justice x2
The enchants are not vital, the main part you need is the Shoulders and the Chest for the experience bonus. The other items are just for optimum speed and levelling. You want to be looking out for preferably plate Gear with the following stats on it: Strength, Crit, Attack power, Stamina or Agility.
Professions for Retribution
The main recommended profession for Retribution is Blacksmithing – you will be able to craft lots of gear for yourself to wear, all the way from 1-80, and in Northrend levels you will be able to add sockets to your gear for extra gemming, giving you more of the stats you desire. Recommended Secondary profession can be Mining to support it, or Enchanting for the extra Attack power in Northrend, but that one is more up to you.
The second way to level is Protection spec. This spec is the primary Tanking talent tree for Paladins, and has the strongest AoE of the 4 tank capable classes. They can hold threat in most situations and have vast powers for soloing content, given their talents allow them to heal for a lot, block most melee hits and every two minutes can soak a killing blow and automatically heal to 30% health. This spec allows you to grind large numbers of mobs, the amount is greater the higher level you are and the lower level your targets. If you are leveling as Protection, you would be well advised to use a spec and glyph set up like this:
You should fill up the Protection tree before moving on to put talents in Retribution (which are nonetheless vital, one for setting your rotation up properly and the rest for competative threat generation). Also, when purchasing Glyphs, you want to be using the Judgement Glyph as soon as the slot opens up, and the other two won’t come into play till much later, as Seal of Vengeance isn’t trained until Outlands level and Divine plea in Northrend. When soloing, you should use Seal of Righteousness, or if you are encountering Mana problems, Seal of Wisdom. When you train Seal of Vengeance at Outlands levels, that will be your Primary seal for the rest of your time as a Protection Paladin: unlike Retribution, you do fast weapon swings, applying the buff very fast, and your abilities spread the stacking Vengeance debuff on to most nearby targets, making for good AoE threat. You also should always bless yourself with Blessing of Sanctuary, when it becomes avaliable; before that, use whatever you need, Kings if you find yourself dying a lot, or Might if you’re having threat issues. Righteous Fury should be on at all times – you will get talents that mean you have a Damage reduction whilst it’s on and it’s your primary way of generating enough threat to tank. Typically across leveling you should be able to take large numbers of enemies on at a time, with medium amounts of downtime. Until you reach level 75, you won’t have the perfect rotation to tank with. Before that point, you need to use Judgements on single target and Consecration on multi target. When you do get that high, your rotation will be the following:
6 Second Cooldowns: Shield of Righteousness, Hammer of the Righteous
9 Second Cooldowns: Holy Shield, Judgement of Wisdom, Consecration
If this is all getting a bit too confusing for you, watch and learn this youtube video:
Weapon: Venerable Mass of McGowan Enchanted with Fiery Blaze Enchantment(Reward from a Badlands quest, easy for an 80 to go and fetch, check the link for more details)
Shoulders: Polished Spaulders of Valor
Chest: Polished Breastplate of Valor Enchanted with Enchant Chest – Major Health
Trinket: Swift Hand of Justice x2
The enchants are not vital, the main part you need is the Shoulders and the Chest for the experience bonus. The other items are just for optimum speed and levelling. Sadly for Protection and Holy, there is no such thing as an heirloom shield. You want to look out for Plate only gear that is high in Stamina, block, dodge, parry or defence.
Professions for Protection
The main recommended profession for Protection is Blacksmithing – you will be able to craft lots of gear for yourself to wear, all the way from 1-80, and in Northrend levels you will be able to add sockets to your gear for extra gemming, giving you more of the stats you desire. Recommended Secondary profession is Mining, as you will be able to support Blacksmithing and benefit greatly from the Stamina bonus.
The third way to level is Holy spec. This spec is the primary Healing talent tree for Paladins, and out of the 5 healing trees (or 4 healing classes) has the biggest potential for single target/dual target healing. The tree makes use of massive mana pools to do repeat casts of the highly efficient Flash of Light, and later on the massively healing Holy Light. This trees weaknesses lie in poor mobility and vulnerability to silences and things that lengthen the time of your casts. If you are levelling as Holy, it would be vastly recommended you either make a lot of use of the random dungeon system to level, or obtain a Retribution offspec at 40, because doing quests in a Holy spec is slow and difficult. You would be well advised to use a spec and glyph set up like this:
You should fill up the Holy tree first, then move on to the 5 increased healing points in protection, then the efficiency points in Retribution. The Holy Paladin levelling spec is the only one of the three trees that will need a vast reworking for level 80 raiding, depending on what you raiding team is lacking (you can dip points into improved blessings of wisdom and might, group damage reducing cooldowns, extra crit for the group, and so on.) You should always use Seal of Wisdom to keep your mana up. A healing function unique to Holy Paladins is that they can judge and then melee targets to restore their massive mana pools – I recommend this at any safe point available. Deeper into the Holy tree you increase the range of your Judgements by 40 yards, making it even easier to maintain the buff and mana return you get from it. You can bless yourself with Wisdom if you’re suffering from Mana issues, or more preferably Kings for the Intellect buff. Righteous fury has nothing to do with Healing either, and you will draw massive amounts of aggro in low level instances with it on. I doubt any of my readership would do this whilst leveling, but I have seen both Holy and Ret Paladins running around with RF on in a dungeon. Your spell usage should be like this:
Judgement at least once a minute for Mana and later on uptime of ‘Judgements of the Pure’ Buff
Beacon on the Main tank, heal everyone else
Flash of Light for fast, effective heals on the group or tank
Holy light for healing large amounts of tank damage
Holy shock for immediate healing on whoever – can also proc a free instant FoL so worth doing
Weapon: Devout Aurastone Hammer Enchanted with Enchant Weapon – Spellpower
Shoulders: Mystical Pauldrons of Elements
Chest: Mystical Vest of Elements Enchanted with Enchant Chest – Major Mana
Trinket: Discerning Eye of the Beast x2
The enchants are not vital, the main part you need is the Shoulders and the Chest for the experience bonus. The other items are just for optimum speed and levelling. I might also add to this section that there are no decent plate healing heirlooms, other than some PVP shoulders, and the mail set is point for point far better than sticking with the plate. Sadly for Protection and Holy, there is no such thing as an heirloom shield. You want to look out for gear, preferably mail or plate, that has Intellect, Spell power, haste, Mp5 or crit.
Professions for Holy
There are no perfect Professions for Holy. Blacksmithing does not cater well to Holy Paladins, having few gearsets with spellpower. Leatherworking suffers from some of the same, and downgrading all the way to cloth is not recommended. The best combination you can do (as of Wrath, although in the future they may implement more crafted gear across the board) is Jewelcrafting for the extra intellect gems at 80, and Enchanting for the bonus spell power on rings.
So there you have it! I hope this guide is highly useful to you. The future ones won’t be so in-depth, as Paladins are Hybrids each tree needs a very different explanation. Watch this space for the next class to be covered, and happy levelling!