Updated Mon, Sep 03, 2012 by Messiah
It’s very important for any class to set the right foot forward when they begin the game. All race and class combinations within World of Warcraft are viable but many are not for everyone. It’s up to you to pick the right combination of both Race and Class to make the perfect character both visually and play wise.
The first thing to do is consider, is the Paladin class right for you? There is a lot of great things about the Paladin class, and unlike most other classes the Paladin class really does have something for everyone. To get a better idea of what the Paladin class stands for, we’ve compiled a list that describes what the Paladin class is. Essentially though, unless you are looking for a ranged damage dealer, the Paladin can be for you. If you’re not sure, then try one out! The low levels don’t showcase everything about a class, but it’s a good way to get a basic idea of how a class will work.
So in summary, the Paladin class is a mixed class that is generally a support class. They can heal, tank and DPS but need to specialize to do so well. This combination though makes them an exceptionally versatile and survivable class. It is not uncommon to see a Paladin fighting a MOB several levels higher than themselves and defeating. Sure it takes a while with their low DPS (unless they are retribution spec'ed), but they can and will survive.
There really is no perfect race combination for a Paladin. so it's up to you what you choose to play. If you play for the Alliance you have several choices as you can be a Dwarf, Human, or Draenai. If you choose to play for the Horde your only choice up until patch 4.0 was being a Blood Elf. Now however you can also choose to play as a Tauren. If you do not like the look of your character you are not likely to enjoy playing it so pick whichever race you like. There are however benefits for selecting certain races depending on your play style.
If you are still unsure of what race to pick then check out our detailed list of races right here. In this list you’ll be able to see the various abilities each race has along with how they look.
While professions will not make or break any character there are some nice benefits to many of the professions that make them attractive to a Paladin. Some of the ones to consider are as follows.
Which profession you take is ultimately up to you. You should pick one that you enjoy and that works well with the talent build you choose. Which one is the absolute best changes from patch to patch, so don't get to worried if they change a bit over time.
Mana is the magical energy that you have to draw on to cast your spells and use your abilities and special attacks. Depending on which spec you choose to be mana will be more or less important. While all types of Paladins use mana Retribution and Protection Paladins generate it back very quickly and have small mana pools. Holy Paladins have large mana pools but do not regenerate it in the same way.
The amount of mana you have is determined by your level and your spec as of patch 5.0.4. At level 85 you will have 20,000 mana as either Protection or Retribution and 100,000 mana as Holy. At level 90 this becomes 60,000 and 300,000 respectively. The speed at which you regenerate mana is determined by the amount of spirit that you have. Intelligence is still an important stat even though after patch 5.0.4 it no longer affects you mana pool. Intelligence still affects your spell power, meaning the more intelligence you have the bigger your spells will hit or heal for.
If you run out of mana in a fight you will only be able to use your regular attacks. You need to learn to manage your mana to always ensure you have some left. If you run short in a fight you are very likely to die.
No matter which talent build you are, spells have a cast time and a mana cost. The cast time for many of a Paladins spells are instant, meaning as soon as you use the spell they are cast. There are other spells though, such as your healing spells, that have a longer cast time in which you must remain stationary while casting the spell. Mana cost for spells in generally a percentage of your base mana pool. One important thing to note about mana cost is that you do not pay the mana cost until the spell completes casting, so if you are casting a big heal on someone and they get healed from someone else, you can simply move to cancel your cast and never have to pay the mana cost since the spell did not complete.
You can find a guide to managing your mana pool post patch 5.0.4 here: Understanding Mana Pools and Mana Efficiency in Mists of Pandaria.
Paladins have spells that are called "seals" that grant them bonuses in combat. The bonuses can be anything from additional damage to mana regeneration, with many other abilities in between. A Paladin can only have 1 seal active at a time. While active that seal provides its benefit to the Paladin.
In addition to the basic benefit a seal provides it also allows you to use Judgements which provide additional benifits.
Blessings are character buffs that paladins can give to themselves or other players. The blessings apply very beneficial bonuses such as enhanced mana regeneration, enhanced attack power and many more. Any given player (including the Paladin) can only be under the effect of one blessing per Paladin. You can be under the effect of multiple paladin blessings though, just each one must be a different blessing and from a different Paladin.
Being a hybrid class Paladins rely on many statistics, the primary ones depend on what talent build you are working towards. If you are tanking then you are looking for Stamina and Strength. If you are going Retribution (DPS) then you need to focus on Strength. If you are healing then your primary stats will be Intellect and possibly Spirit, however many holy Paladins skip spirit unless it comes by default with gear and instead go for Critical hit so that they generate more mana return.
Strength - Increases your Attack Power thereby increasing your damage. Strength also increases the damage that you can block with your shield.
Stamina - Increases your health points. This is critical for tanking Paladins since you will take a beating.
Intellect - Increases your spell power making your spells more powerful.
Spirit - Spirit raises your mana regeneration rate. While it is noticeable at higher levels of spirit, it takes a significant number of points in this to regain mana quickly enough that you will not want to stop and drink to gain it back.
Agility - Agility increases the following: attack power with ranged weapons, armour, critical hit chance and your chance to dodge attacks. The ranged weapon bonus is meaningless to Paladins as we can not use ranged weapons. The armour bonus is also relatively small for Paladins since we can use plate armour. The main reason to boost agility is for the critical hit %.
Hit - Hit is critical for Retribution Paladins, and important for Protection Paladins. The melee hit cap at level 90 is 7.5%.
Expertise - This stat is another critical one for Retribution Paladins and important for Protection Paladins. You need 6.5% to reach the soft expertise cap or 14% to reach the hard expertise cap. The soft cap prevents your attacks from being dodged, while the hard cap prevents them from being parried as well. Retribution Paladins only need to aim for the soft cap since they should be attacking enemies from behind, where they can not be dodged anyway. Protection Paladins should aim to reach the hard cap since they will be attacking from the front.
Spell Power - Spell power affects all Paladin abilities, however it is only highly critical for Holy Paladins. It greatly affects the amount their healing spells heal a target for.
Critical Hit - This is important for both Retribution and Holy Paladins. For Retribution Paladins it increases their melee damage output. For Holy Paladins the increase in the amount healed is nice but not as important as the the mana that is returned when you cast a critical heal.
Mastery - Mastery increases your characters mastery ability which depends on what talent tree you specialized in. For Holy it increases the amount of damage your absorbtion shiled takes, for Protection it increases your block chance and increases some other defensive abilities, and for Retribution it increases the damage than several of your key abilities cause.
Holy Power is a new resource type added to Paladins in patch 4.0 for Cataclysm's release. It is very much like a Rogues combo point system. Using different abilities generates HP points which stack up to three points and then stick around until used. The points can be used to power other abilities, and the more points you currently have the more powerful the ability becomes. Once an ability that requires HP is used, all HP points are reset to zero.