Paladin specs for leveling
Paladin specs are the most dynamic of any class. They can fill all three primary roles in a party or raid: dps, healer and tank. No other class can do all three of these, and paladins can do then all well. For leveling, however, there are much more limited choices than there are at max level.
- Holy is the healing spec. Paladins make excellent healers, and can even survive a little bit of damage themselves.
- "Prot" is the tanking spec. This is excellent for taking lots of damage and surviving. It's also excellent for killing large groups of creatures at once (not quickly, though).
- "Ret" is the dps spec. Ret paladins can dish out large amounts of melee damage with their seal and judgement spells while taking more damage than someone like a mage could (which is why mages have to kill targets before they can reach them).
Holy is only a good leveling spec if you are going to be leveling with other players who want a healer along. It's a very weak solo spec. However, it's a very powerful healing spec, and groups are usually happy to have a "healadin" along. Thus all PVE holy specs tend to look alike. Here's one that Wowwiki suggests: Holy Paladin spec
PVP healers are always appreciated, and are a key ingredient in PVP defense. You will want to dip into Proteciton deeply enough to get Improved Concentration Aura and Stocism, but other than that it's pretty much the same as the typical Holy build.
Protection spec is typically not how you start out. At low levels Retribution and even Holy paladins are fine tanks for instances up to level 30-40ish, and the damage and healing of a protection paladin are not conducive to any other style of leveling before level 40.
At level 40, you can acquire the Holy Shield talent, and at 41 and 42 you can get two levels of Improved Holy Shield. This talent allows for the protection paladin's primary leveling tool: AoE grinding. This is a difficult, but powerful way of leveling that allows you to slowly kill large crowds of creatures all at once, gaining more experience than anyone but a Frost Mage could in the same period of time.
At level 42, you should have this spec (there isn't much room for variation): 42 AoE grinding spec.
There are lots of ways to go from there to 70, but essentially you just want to focus on the talents that make you a good tank. Any group you join will be happy to have you if you can tank well.
This build adapts the AoE grinding spec to the generic tank: tanking spec, level 70
Retribution is a solid dps spec, but it has some problems. After 2.3 (where threat mitigation was added) Retribution is more viable, but there's still a lingering perception that it's a gimp build for instances. For raiding... well, talk to your raid leaders and see what they think. Remember that no matter what you gear/dps perception is what gets you invited back.
However, retribution is the solo leveling spec if you're not AoE grinding. For doing quests and killing one or two mobs, there's no other Paladin spec.
Here's a progression of specs that you can apply as you level:
- 10-19 - This gets you more mana and faster judgements right out of the gate. You don't want to take Improved Blessing of Might unless you're willing to re-spec later on. You'll need the mana from Blessing of Wisdom anyway.
- 20-23 - This adds 2 core Ret abilities: Vindication and Seal of Command. You'll start every fight with Seal of the Crusader, judge it and then pop Seal of Command and judge that for the rest of the fight.
- 24-39 - Now, you can use Sanctity Aura instead of whatever you were using before. This is a big improvement in DPS. As soon as you can, get Vengeance which makes long chains of fights more efficient.
- 40-50 - At level 50 your fighting style changes. You almost never need to judge anymore, and can save your mana for even longer times between drinking. Crusader Strike becomes your new bread-and-butter dps, and after landing Seal of Command and popping Seal of Crusader you can just Crusader Strike until the fight is over, healing after the fight if needed.
From here, just fill in whatever talents you feel like adding. You can take Improved Sanctity Aura for more damage, Sanctified Judgment for extra mana and even go to Holy for extra strength and intelligence.
Here's some level 70 Ret builds:
- Basic Ret
- Ret with Blessing of Kings for weak off-tanking
- Prot/Ret caster tank This spec focuses on the ability to off-tank casters with a shield and one-handed weapon while doing reasonable damage.