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Gearing Up the Paladin

Updated Fri, Apr 09, 2010 by Medeor



Titansteel Destroyer
Binds when picked up
Two-Hand Mace
507 - 761 Damage, Speed 3.40
(186.5 DPS)
+124 Strength
+105 Stamina
Requires Level 80
Improves hit rating by 54
Gear is what drives us.

Gear is what we seek; it’s what defines our characters (except for the gnome name Shinhumper, then it’s a name that defines the character). When a newly created Paladin heads out into the world, they will start collecting gear from the first level. The questions start forming early, “Is this good for me?” For the gear magnet Paladin that can wear everything (except plate until level 40 and then can wear it all), the decisions become much more difficult. But they don’t need to be. There aren’t that many key statistics players really need to evaluate when making decisions on which gear to wear. Don’t lose sleep over whether or not a piece of gear is an “up” (as in upgrade), we’re here to help. This is preliminary guide for new Paladins. If you have completed The Obsidian Sanctum with three drakes up, then you already know what you need. For those wanting a quick how-to manual for a new Paladin, then read on. 

Two Types of Gear

There are definitely more than two types of gear, but during the course of playing the game, you only need to worry about two. The first type of gear is “Leveling Gear” and the second is “Level Cap Gear” for the end game. Rolling through old world Azeroth and the Outlands, you should spend almost zero time evaluating leveling gear. With the speed of leveling and the abundance of gear available, the focus should be on three stats per piece of gear. Those three stats will determine if you should equip it or vendor/disenchant the gear in question. Which three stats? Glad you asked. For each of the three primary Paladin talent trees, highlighted below are three (or four) key statistics for determining gear advantages. 

Wait a minute before we get started!

Sub Level 80 Gear Stats

Before we get rolling, there is an important thing to keep in mind. While leveling, do not, I repeat, do not chase gear or gear sets. The level 60 Lightforge set was the defining gear for Paladins before The Burning Crusade, but now it is an antique that should stay in the garage. Gear below level 70 will be replaced so fast that any additional work put into getting that gear will feel like a waste (unless you are into the “immersion thing,” and then have at it). The key to keeping gear decisions simple is to focus on the important stats for the type of Paladin you decide to play. The type of Paladin is based on how talent points are spent. For this guide, it is assumed that a character is heavily weighted in one of the three trees (i.e. a Protection Paladin means the character has gone deeply if not all the way down the protection talent tree).

Another helpful hint during leveling, “Use all weapons”

This is really two helpful hints. Always use the best weapon you can get your hands on. Whether it’s a one handed axe, or two handed mace, try them all out. It may help you better understand which way you want to play your Paladin, and it will also keep your weapon skills up. Using different weapons as as you level up, you will keep your weapon skills at a respectable level. There is nothing more frustrating than seeing a sweet weapon drop and not able to use it immediately because a weapon skill is two out of three hundred.

Now on to the show.

Healers Heed These Words

The holy Paladin (sometimes called a Healadin) is gearing up for casting spells, namely healing and cleansing spells. With that in mind, the gear of choice can be any blend of cloth, leather, mail or plate. Since Healadins tend to stand back away from the action, cloth is acceptable. Holy Paladins typically carry one handed maces (maces tend to be spell power heavy), and shields which provide some armor and more importantly healing stats.

Try to stay in the heaviest armor available (stick with plate when given a choice). Once the holy Paladin starts entering Northrend (Wrath of the Lich King content), the gear choices start getting a little more difficult as spell haste, critical strike ratings, spirit and mana/5 seconds become more important. Without getting into serious theory of why each stat is better than another, following is a list of key stats for holy Paladins in their level of priority (highest first):
  • Intellect: Intellect provides a larger mana pool and critical strike rating, thus more spells and higher chance to crit with those spells. Intellect is the A-number-one stat desired by Healadins.
  • Spell Power: Spell power is an additive stat that increases the amount healed (or damaged) through a somewhat complicated formula. Let’s just say that +50 to Spell Power is better than +30 to Spell power. Intellect trumps all else, spell power is second for the holy Paladin.
  • Critical Strike Rating: The holy Paladin has a number of talents for adding to critical strike rating and spell criticals will provide bonuses (such as reducing the mana cost of the spell or subsequent spells). Critical Strike Rating is a good stat to stack and scales well up to level 80.
  • Spirit and Mana per 5 seconds: These two are not the same, but in terms of gear evaluation for Paladins, they are low on the priority list so they are essentially equal. Spirit and Mana per 5 second (mp5 as you will see it written) determines how quickly mana regenerates both in and out of combat. The higher the number, the faster mana regenerates. If all other stats are equal, go with the gear having more spirit or mp5.

Protection Preference

A note on Block Value:
Shields have a block value which depicts how much damage the shield will absorb, or you know, block. Block value has two benefits for Paladins. It not only reduces damage taken, it actually builds threat when the talent, "Holy Shield" is active because it causes damage to the attacked. While not as good as avoiding damage entirely, the Paladin does receive some benefit from being hit.
Protection Paladins are the tanking arm of the Paladin arsenal. The tank’s job is to wade into the fray and draw the attention of the foes by building threat (or agro). Paladin tanks generate threat typically by using specific spells that amplify holy threat, thus ensuring the bad guys won’t run at the healers with their game faces on.

The protection Paladin will be garbed in plate, all lesser armor need not apply. If the tankadin (as they are often referred) is going to lead with his/her face, then it better be protected! The protection Paladin carries a shield and one handed weapon. In contrast to the holy Paladin, intellect takes a back seat for Tankadins and strength, agility, stamina and defense come to the forefront. Here’s why:
  • Strength: Strength provides attack power which helps drive threat, but more importantly to the protection Paladin, strength adds to block value. Block value is the amount of damage absorbed before weapons hit armor.
  • Agility: Even though block values are nice, it’s better not to get hit if it can be helped. Agility provides more of a chance to dodge an attack, a higher chance to crit with weapons, and armor. Each point of agility is worth 2 armor so agility helps to avoid hits as well as cushion the blow when the foes strike home.
  • Stamina: Stamina is the spice of life or at least the provider of hit points. Each point of stamina is worth 10 hit points, so it is common to see stamina enchants and other bonuses specific for stamina on a protection Paladin. With protection talents, every ten points in stamina also increases spell power by 1 which aids in threat generation.
  • Defense: We’ve already discussed block value and dodge chances with agility, but the key protection indicator is how much defense a tank is able to provide. When two tanks walk into the bathroom, they always sneak a peek to see what the other’s defense rating is, it’s a measure of tankhood/manhood. As characters level up, more points in defense are needed to achieve the same end result. If that is confusing, it should be. The calculus required to understand some of the number crunching is truly painful. It all boils down to the number 540. At level 80, end-game bosses can’t crit a protection Paladin with a 540 defense rating. That is nice because a crit of 15,000 to 20,000 damage could sting. This also means that players below level 70 should ignore defense rating and just focus on the stats above for leveling purposes. Once level 80 is achieved, defense is key. 

The Retribution Reference

The retribution Paladin has finally become a force with which to be reckoned. The typical weapon of the retribution Paladin is a two handed sword, axe or mace. The bigger and badder the weapon, the better! Armor values and spell ratings are out the window, for the retribution Paladin it’s all about bringing the pain.

Sharing some of the same stat bonus desires as the tankadin, the retribution Paladin (Retadin) wants strength, agility and attack power. Beyond the three key stats, Retadins will want to seek out hit rating, expertise and crit chance. Even though Paladins want intellect due to damage from spells, the damage components of the Retadin are centered on strength as the key ingredient. The optimal stats include:
  • Strength: As discussed above, strength provides attack power, and with talents each point in strength can yield 2.3 attach power as opposed to the standard 2. Always add strength as a Retadin, you can never have enough, end of discussion.
  • Agility: Critical strikes are part of the bread and butter of the Retadins attacks. Agility adds to crit chance and scales well with buffs as opposed to plain old “bonus to crit.” Bonus to crit is easier to find and can be increased with enchants so if agility is difficult to come by, add “chance to crit” where applicable.
  • Attack power: Of the basic stats to keep in mind for Retadins, attack power will be found early and often on all kinds of weapons. Strength provides attack power, but many weapons and armor pieces will have an added attack power stat. As a stat, it’s not as good as strength and does not benefit from buffs, but it still improves the amount of damage dealt.
 
What does it all mean?

This guide is a starting point, not an end-game min/max guide for theory-crafters. The goal is to provide the primary stats new Paladins should evaluate when leveling up and starting to assemble sets for dungeon running. Opening up a character sheet will provide a myriad of stats and some are very important, others not – all depending on how the Paladin is built and played. By using the key stats highlighted above, Paladins of every flavor can determine if a new weapon or piece of gear is an upgrade. Above all else, have fun and experiment with different combinations and see what works best for you.

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