Paladin Talent Builds (WoW)  


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Choosing a Spec

Paladins are a hybrid class. One of the banes of the hybrid class is you may, for efficiency's sake, spend some time in a build that's not where you ultimately want to be. Or you may change your mind about the role you want to fill. There are many combinations of the three talent trees especially when you factor in the goal of the paladin. Are you just starting out and want to level efficiently? Do you want to raid? As a tank? Healer? Support class? PvP?

So before asking about or deciding on a spec, you're going to want to determine where you're at and what you want to do. But note that whatever choice you make in spec, you're not stuck with it. You can always go to your trainer and re-spec your talents (Just tell him you'd like to unlearn your talents and you'll start with a blank slate). It does cost gold, and each time you re-spec that cost increases to a cap of 50 gold per re-spec. That may seem like a lot when you're just starting out (the first re-spec costs 1 gold) but at end game or even mid-game, 50 gold is easily spent to improve or change your playing experience.

Leveling Specs

There are 2 main specs that can be used for leveling, but Retribution is generally the spec of choice for fast, efficient questing. This is especially true in the early levels. What makes something a "leveling build" is a combination of the capacity for high damage as well as survivability and low down time. Retribution is the damage tree so it makes sense that it's the preferred spec, however at the higher levels, Protection can put out high damage on large numbers of mobs and has significantly greater survivability than Ret does.

However, at level 35 or so re-speccing to Protection can also be a viable alternative. Note also that leveling specs, while they can be pretty cookie cutter, aren't as nailed down as things like a Raid tanking spec. There's some flexibility here. I'll list one or two varieties but if you find yourself thinking you'll be using a different spell or skill more, then change things up.

I think it's important to note that you do not have to level as Retribution. If the play style doesn't sound fund to you but Holy does then, by all means, level as Holy. People have done it. It can be slow going at times because the damage just isn't there initially or, to be perfectly honest even late game, but as long as you're enjoying yourself it doesn't really matter.

Retribution Leveling

Retribution Leveling Levels 1-35
Level Range Talent Points Spent
10-14 Benediction 5/5
15-16 Improved Judgement 2/2
17-19 Improved Blessing of Might 3/5
20 Seal of Command 1/1
21-25 Divine Strength** 5/5
26-30 Conviction 5/5
31-33 Crusade 3/3
34 Improved Blessing Of Might 4/5
35 Sanctity Aura 1/1
** Talent is in the Holy tree

Level 1-35

This build focuses on the power, and the eficient use of that power, in the Retribution tree. Typically this early in the game, survivability is less of an issue. If you find yourself having trouble surviving then, after you pick up Divine Strength in the Holy tree you can choose to keep moving down the tree picking up Spritual Focus which will make it easier to heal yourself while enemies are hitting you.

It's possible you can continue further down the holy tree at this point, but to get the full benefits from it you're going to have to gear for some of the talents you pick up (if you don't have the Int to crit very often on your healing spells you're not really going to get the mana return benefits from it. And if you gear for Int then your damage is going to suffer).

But again, none of the leveling builds are set in stone.

At this point you can make a choice. You can continue with Retribution for leveling or you can switch to a Protection or Protection/Holy hybrid build (skip to the Leveling Prot section). For now, continuing on with Retribution:

Retribution Leveling Levels 36-60
Level Range Talent Points Spent
36-38 Two-Handed Weapon Specialization 3/3
39-40 Improved Sanctity Aura 2/2
41-45 Spiritual Focus** 5/5
46-50 Vengeance 5/5
51-53 Sanctified Judgement 3/3
54 Repentance 1/1
55-59 Fanaticism 5/5
60 Crusader Strike 1/1
*Talent is in the Holy Tree

Level 35-60

What we're going for now is, obviously, more power but we'll also dip back into the holy tree now for Spiritual Focus and then jump back to Retribution. Spiritual Focus should help with any survivability issues allowing you to heal yourself better while being hit.

In addition to the little survivability boost, there are some hefty damage options in the lower section of the tree that we've picked up. Picking up Sanctified Judgements should help with some mana issues that are probably cropping up as well. Note that until you get Fanatacism, you will have no inherent threat reduction. If you're grouping with another paladin and having problems staying under the threat cap, have them give you Salv, you can buff yourself with the good stuff.

A note about Pursuit of Justice. This can be a nice talent to pick up for the run speed boost as well as the spell damage mitigation. But it's a matter of personal preference. It is nice for PvP, having the boost to speed. But if you're ok with running at normal speed and just PvEing it's really not that great. An annoying part of it is that, unlike a Hunter's Aspect of the Cheetah, you can't turn it off. So if you frequently group with friends, running or mounted , you end up having to stop every so often and wait or annoy the crap out of them but occasionally running laps around them. Of course, that may be seen as a benefit of it. It's up to you.

Gearing for Retribution leveling

Protection (or Holy/Protection) Leveling

As previously mentioned, it's not nearly as efficient to start off right away in Prot at level 10. It's certainly possible, people have done it. But it's far from ideal. And if you've played another faster leveling class like... all of them that aren't Resto/Holy specced, it's going to feel painfully slow.

Also if you think you want to level as Prot because starting off as Ret will make you not know how remember that until level 35 or so, with some small exceptions, the talents just aren't going to effect things that much. As long as you have a (level-appropriate) sword and board and tanking set handy, and you pay attention, you can easily tank any instance up to level 35 without being Protection specced and then switch over when you start getting more things to support your spec.

For those interested in a Holy/Prot spec, the 1-35 talents are going to be the same as the straight protection talents. There's a reason for this. While paladins can fulfill any role, they are inherently better at healing than they are at tanking, particularly at earlier levels. In other words, you need more talents to be able to tank effectively than you need to heal effectively. So if you're going to hybrid prot/holy route because you want to be able to effectively tank or heal any instance, you want to pick up the key tanking skills first.

Protection or Hybrid Leveling Levels 1-35
Level Range Talent Points Spent
10-14 Redoubt 5/5
15-19 Toughness 5/5
20-22 Improved Righteous Fury 3/3
23-25 Shield Specialization 3/3
26-30 Anticipation 5/5
31-35 Reckoning 5/5

Level 1-35 (or starting level 35 build)

That said, the folks that want to re-spec Prot at 35 need to know whet they should put points into so I'm just going to start there. I'll put the levels in that are probably a good progression but note that I'm focusing on a level 35 build here, not the actual ideal progression.

Yes, there is a reason why we didn't immediately pick up Blessing of Kings (BoK). It's a nice talent though some Prot builds don't even have it. But that's not why we didn't pick it up just now. BoK is a percentage-based blessing, which is great. It scales well. However at level 35, unless you're twinked, it's really just not worth the point yet. When you and your party gets to higher levels, we'll cylce back and pick it up (if desired).

Protection Leveling 36-60
Level Range Talent Points Spent
36 Blessing of Sanctuary 1/1
37-41 One-Handed Weapon Specialization 5/5
42 Holy Shield 1/1
43-44 Improved Holy Shield 2/2
45-49 Benediction** 5/5
50-51 Improved Judgement** 2/2
52 Blessing of Kings 1/1
53-56 Combat Expertise 4/5
57 Avenger's Shield 1/1
58-59 Spell Warding 2/2
60 Combat Expertise 5/5
Talent is in the Retribution tree

Protection Leveling Level 36-40

In this level range you start picking up some talents that give a serious boost to threat generation while tanking and reflective damage for efficient solo AoE grinding. The biggest of these is Holy Shield and Improved Holy Shield. Not only does this help with mitigation, the reflective damage of the shield and the threat boost given to it is part of what allows Paladins to AoE tank with such ease.

A note about Hold Shield in solo play. Used often, it can be a bit of a mana drain without much benefit. Often players will only use Holy Shield in solo play when Redoubt procs. What this does is increases the chance that attacks will be blocked (due to the block chance increase of both) and Holy Shield charges will be used. If you find yourself frequently low on mana during solo play and you're using Holy Shield quite a bit without using many of the charges, it may be useful to try this method.

Benediction should also help with mana efficiency and that, along with Improved Judgement will allow more frequent judgements and re-sealing without eating too far into your mana pool.

Protection or Hybrid Leveling Levels 36-64
Level Range Talent Points Spent
36 Blessing of Sanctuary 1/1
37-39 One-Handed Weapon Specialization 3/5
40 Holy Shield 1/1
41-45 Divine Intellect 5/5
46-50 Spiritual Focus 5/5
51-53 Healing Light 3/3
54-55 Improved Seal of Righteousness 2/5
55-60 Illumination 5/5
61 Divine Favor 1/1
Protection/Hybrid Leveling 36-65

The reason why this build goes to 65 instead of 60 like the others is because that's going to be just about the highest level that it's truly viable. You could continue past it, but tanking instances with this build could become a challenge, if not for you than for your healer. I've left the last few points open, however. If you find yourself struggling with staying alive then picking up Sacred Duty for the stamina buff and/or Spell warding for the spell damage mitigation may help. If you find you're healing more than tanking then Sanctified Light is probably a good pick-up.

As mentioned above, the reason for the progression given is that, in most cases, you'll always be able to heal better than tank. Moving down the protection tree to pick up Holy Shield gets you deep enough in the tree to pick up some essential tanking tools allowing you to more easily tank instances as other classes start getting into their heavy DPS talents.

Picking up Illumination and Divine Favor will help with the mana efficiency of your heals.

End-Game Tanking Spec

Tanking Spec
Talent Points Spent
Redoubt 5/5
Toughness 5/5
Improved Righteous Fury 3/3
Shield Specialization 3/3
Anticipation 5/5
Blessing of Sanctuary 1/1
Spell Warding 2/2
Precision* 1/3
Spell Warding 2/2
One-Handed Weapon Specialization 5/5
Sacred Duty 2/2
Holy Shield 1/1
Improved Holy Shield 2/2
Combat Expertise 5/5
Benediction** 5/5
Improved Judgement** 2/2
Deflection** 5/5
* Note this talent is in the Retribution tree
** Note This point is a filler point to advance
There's not a whole lot of wiggle room at this point on the end-game tanking spec. For the most part it's going to have the talents listed on the right. That leaves a whopping 9 points open to put wherever you like. A couple of talents to avoid, however:

  • Vindication - Since bosses are immune to these effects it's largely a waste of points
  • Divine Intellect - Your gear isn't going to have a whole lot of int on it until you start getting the higher tier sets anyway, for oe thing. And 10% of 0 is still zero. Also, your mana pool doesn't have to be necessarily deep as you ge mana back when healers heal you. If you're over-geared for an instance you may have some trouble but rather than spend 5 points to try to help with that, it's probably a better option to switch into a holy set or simply remove some gear (pantsless tanking) to increase the amount of damage you're taking, thereby increasing the heals you get and the mana you get back.

Gearing for Tanking

Don't be fooled by the first Outland Dungeon set. Most of those stats aren't going to help you get to where you need to be to begin raiding. For raiding you need to be at the very least uncritable, and optimally uncrushable. The best place to find detailed information about the latter would be to refer to A Paladin Tank's Guide to Uncrushability.

I'll just give a brief overview of what you're looking for here:

Typically a paladin tank gears very similarly to a warrior when they're just starting out end game. Stats to have relate to Avoidance (+ Defense Rating, Dodge, and to a lesser degree Parry) and mitigation (+Block rating, note that Block Value does paladins very little good). These are the stats that you're looking for on the gear iteself though many will have additional stats on them. It's generally less useful to get something that has only +defense rating on it as you really do need more than that.

The general rule is that tanking stats come from the gear itself, spell damage comes from the weapon and you gem for stamina. Beyond that please refer to the guide.

World of Warcraft

This page last modified 2008-07-14 17:44:50.