The focus of the Holy Paladin is healing. While all Paladin's can heal to do so efficiently requires climbing the Holy tree. Unlike other healer classes Paladins rely on critical heals and talents to keep their mana pool sufficient to finish an encounter. It is not uncommon to see a Paladin healer spamming Flash of Light at low ranks to proc healing bonuses. The Holy Paladin can also deal out good damage through Seals and Judgements as they tend to significant spell damage. With changes to +Healing gear to also provide +Spell Damage the need to maintain multiple pieces of armor for each slot is reduced.
Paladin healers, or healadins, are well-known for the mana-efficiency. Illumination is the major reason for this and no good healing specs can do without it. Otherwise, the talent points of the paladin healers are not as tight as those of the paladin tanks or DPS, so you can easily find a lot of viable healing builds out there. Nevertheless, majority of the people would agree that these are the core talents of PvE healadins: Divine Intellect, Spiritual Focus, Healing Light, Improved Lay on Hands, Illumination, Holy Power, Light's Grace, Holy Guidance and Divine Illumination. Other optional but good to have talents include Improved Blessing of Wisdom, Sanctified Light and Divine Favor. So a basic healing build would look more or less like this:
The rest of the points can go to other useful talents in Holy tree, as well as Protection or Retribution trees as you see fit. It is common for healadins to pick up Blessing of Kings and/or Improved Blessing of Might for the benefit of other raid members.
In the cut-throat environment of PvP, being mana-efficient is not as important. Rather, having high survivability while providing good healing to teammates become the top priority. Being able to wear plate armor, as well as having various self-protection abilities makes paladins good candidates for PvP healers. Talents that are useful for PvP healadins include Spiritual Focus, Unyielding Faith, Pure of Heart, Holy Shock and Blessed Life. Guardian's Favor, Blessing of Kings, Improved Concentration Aura, Stoicism and Improved Hammer of Justice are some good PvP talents in Protection tree that you should also consider.
The raid environment permits little flexibility in talent specs. The primary reason behind this is the difficulty of the encounter. Just as there are gear checks in some raids there are talent checks as well. The standard raid talent build outs for the Holy Paladin come down to two choices, those heavy in Holy and those which gave up five points of Holy to pick up Improved Blessing of Might. The later choice provides more flexibility to the raid as attendance of multiple Paladin's would not be required to ensure full buff coverage. Which you choose depends on the groups and encounters you deal with on a daily basis. In both cases each goes up the Protection tree for Blessing of Kings. This allows for Protection spec'd Paladins to not have to spend the point.
Getting gear with spell critical strike rating improves this build's DPS, as it focuses on Holy Shock and Seal/Judgement of Righteousness for DPS while still being able to adequately support a team with healing and debuffing. Compared to Retribution builds, the DPS is relatively weak, though the ability to heal remains intact, even in raids and PvP encounters.
Paladins are one of the three classes in the game that can be adapted to absorb damage like a sponge and keep others from harm. They are particularly famous for the ability to tank multiple (10+) mobs at the same time. Besides, Paladins are also well known for their ability to survive with their unique combination of invulnerability, plate armor and healing spells, which makes them very good for AOE farming.
PvE Tanking Build
For those who want to tank in 5-man instances or raid, investing heavily into protection tree is advised. Since patch 2.3, there are more useful talents than the points to spend, so we see a lot of tanking builds with some minor variation here and there. However, as long as it contains the following core talents, it should be viable: Redoubt, Toughness, Improved Righteous Fury, Shield Specialization, Anticipation, Blessing of Sanctuary, Sacred Duty, One-Handed Weapon Specialization, Holy Shield, Improved Holy Shield, Ardent Defender, Combat Expertise, Avenger's Shield, Benediction, Deflection. So a basic tanking build would look something like:
- Improved Hammer of Justice is an excellent talents for PvP. However, when you are the tank in instances, you can rarely find use for Hammer of Justice. Most bosses are immune to stun. Besides, most of the time you do not want to stun the trash mobs because getting hit helps threat generation.
- Similarly, Guardian's Favor is very useful in PvP but a waste of talent points for tanks.
- Reckoning is good for leveling and AOE farming but its contribution when maintanking is minimal.
- Seal of Command is NOT a good seal for tanking because its damage is proportional to the physical damage of the weapon. However, some Alliance protection paladins may still want it because for only one talent point, it helps a lot at single target dps, which maybe needed when soloing, PvPing or off-tanking. Horde paladins can certainly skip it as Blood Elves' Seal of Blood is as good for such task, if not better.
- Divine Intellect is only as good as a space-holder for tankadins who want to go deeper into the Holy tree. The reason is tankadins normally do not have much intellect, so the benefit from Divine Intellect is negligible. The various ways to handle mana deficit situations are mentioned in Paladins as tanks#Handling Mana Deficit.
- While Improved Devotion Aura offers some extra armor that may help during leveling, raiding tankadins normally do not benefit much from it because its armor bonus does not scale with gear. By the time a tankadin is geared enough for raid, the armor bonus from this talent is already negligible.
- Divine Strength and Improved Blessing of Might are both useless for tankadins as you need holy damage to generate threat, not physical damage.
- Vindication may look wonderful at first. Unfortunately, most of the mobs (especially bosses) are immune to it.
PvP Protection Build
There is no good protection spec for PvP. The reason is most of the damage of protection paladins depends on reflective damage, which means you are not going to do much damage in PvP except against very stupid rogues, fury warriors or enhancement shamans. Also, the healing is not as good as Holy paladins. Protection paladins still have use for (multi-)tanking bosses in Alterac Valley, holding flag in Warsong Gulch or Eye of the Storm, or defending bases in Arathi Basin (until help arrives or the offenders kill you eventually).
Aside from Mages, Paladins have the highest potential for AOE grinding, combining their incredible survivability against melee attacks with talent procs that occur when they are the victim of enemy attacks. This build is mainly viable against melee targets, preferably those that do not run or use magic/ranged attacks. To make this spec viable, Holy Shield and Improved Holy Shield must be obtained. A shield spike, and any other item that causes damage when struck or extra weapon swings, is very useful as well. Paladins specced this way can singlehandedly take out 5-6 mobs (easily up to 10+ at level 70 with good gear) or 2-3 elites of equal level, and often ended up with full health and mana, due to Seal/Judgement of Light/Wisdom. Only 33 points are spent here for the "core" AOE grinding talents. You can add the remaining points to whatever you like.
Leveling as Protection
It is not advised to start a Paladin off in the Protection tree. However, once the Paladin can cast and judge the Seal of Light at level 30, it is truly possible to level as a Protection paladin by AOE grinding and enjoy it.
Before level 30, put all the points in Retribution tree. Once you are ready for leveling by AOE grinding at level 30 to 40, respec at any class trainer and put all your point into Protection:
At level 30: 5/5 Redoubt, 3/3 Precision, 2/5 Toughness, 3/3 Improved Righteous Fury, 3/3 Shield Specialization, 4/5 Anticipation, 1/1 Blessing of Sanctuary
Level 31-35: 5/5 Reckoning
Level 36-37: 2/2 Sacred Duty
Level 38: 3/5 Toughness
Level 39: 5/5 Anticipation
Level 40: 1/1 Holy Shield
Level 41-42: 2/2 Improved Holy Shield
As you may see, this comes up to the core AOE farming talent. You can spend the remaining talent points as you like.
Retribution Paladins are excellent offenders in PvP, as well as very good DPS in PvE since the major retribution buffing in patch 2.3.0. The instrinsic high survivability of paladins coupled with the potential of high burst damage provided by the Retribution tree make them capable of disposing almost any classes one on one and valuable both in dealing and absorbing damage in group PvP. In PvE, besides the high damage output, they also provide various useful utilities to their party members.
PvE Retribution Build
For those who want to play as damage dealers in instances/raids, the top priorties are doing high substantial damage output and controlling threat. Talents that can provide benefits to other party members are also very helpful in raid progression, so should be emphasized as well. The core talents that helps to ensure high and continuous damage output include Benediction, Improved Judgement, Conviction, Crusade, Two-Handed Weapon Specialization, Vengeance, Sanctified Judgement, Sanctified Seals, Fanaticism, Crusader Strike and Divine Strength. Fanaticism is also the one and only one threat controlling talent that enable the retribution paladin to get past the threat-limited dps threshold in the past. Improved Seal of the Crusader and Improved Sanctity Aura provide solid increase for retribution paladins as well as other party members' damage output and therefore are usually maxed as well. Seal of Command is a must for Alliance paladins as it is the standard seal they would use most of the time. For Horde players, some would skip it because Blood Elves' Seal of Blood is at least as good, or even better. The basic PvE retribution paladin build would look like:
Many retribution paladins would spend eight of the remaining points into the Protection tree to get 3/3 Precision. Precision lowers the amount of hit rating needed from 142 to 95 to hit a level 73 boss 100% of the time. After that it is really up to you.
- Vindication may look wonderful at first. Unfortunately, most of the mobs (especially bosses) are immune to it. However, if you want to get it for PvP purpose, feel free to go ahead!
- While Improved Blessing of Might may have some value during leveling or when the gear is not very good yet, it is generally not worth spending five talent points to max it for a raiding retribution paladin. If you are the only paladin in the raid, Blessing of Salvation provides better improvement in DPS. Even if you get Salvation from someone else and can cast Might on yourself, 5/5 Improved Blessing of Might only provide you 44 more attack power than the regular version. Get it only if you are always the one assigned to give Might and there are always like three or more people benefit from it.
PvP Retribution Build
While most of the core talents of a PvE Retribution Build is still useful in PvP, PvP retribution paladins need several more talents to enhance their survivability from enemy players and help to defeat them. These include Vindication, Repentance and Pursuit of Justice in the Retribution tree. (Although PvE retribution paladins normally also have Repentance, it is only needed for them to get Fanaticism. However, it is a MUST for PvP retribution paladins by itself, no matter your are going to get Fanaticism or not.) There are several other useful PvP talents in Protection tree including Guardian's Favor, Blessing of Kings, Stoicism and Improved Hammer of Justice, so it is not infrequent to see PvP retribution paladins spending up to 20 points in Protection tree.
Leveling as Retribution
Retribution is the recommended leveling spec before level 30, and is still very good for leveling purpose after that. When leveling as Retribution, using a two-hand weapon and dealing with one mob a time is recommended. Below is one of the possible orders of spending talent points:
Level 10-14: 5/5 Improved Blessing of Might
Level 15-16: 2/2 Improved Judgement
Level 17-19: 3/5 Benediction
Level 20: 1/1 Seal of Command
Level 21-25: 5/5 Conviction
Level 26-27: 2/2 Improved Retribution Aura
Level 28-29: 5/5 Benediction
Level 30-32: 3/3 Two-Handed Weapon Specialization
Level 33-35: 3/3 Crusade
Level 36-40: 5/5 Vengeance
Level 41: 1/1 Repentance
Level 42-44: 3/3 Sanctified Judgement
Level 45-49: 5/5 Fanaticism
Level 50: 1/1 Crusader Strike
After Crusader Strike is obtained at level 50, you should be able to soloing efficiently however you spend the rest of the points. You may also consider respeccing to other more typical builds when you start joining instance group or battleground regularly.
- Paladin build samples: Contains WoWWiki users submitted complete paladin builds