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I moved this over here for Azzie, thank you for wrighting this up for us

Azzie said:
Alrighty, I'll start off then.

I am a level 60 human paladin, currently rank 9, knight-champion.

The three trees for a paladin are Holy, Protection, and Retribution. Normally one would think that these are trees focused on the three aspects of a paladin: Healing, Tanking, and Damage, respectively.
However, due to mechanics of mobs and the way the class is made, each tree does not truly enhance the assumed role of the tree.

After the 1.9 patch, I tried 3 specs:
25 Protection, 16 retribution, 10 holy.
My first spec I tried after 1.9. I took reckoning because it is the bane of rogues and all other classes that have rogues beside them. If you crit me 4 times, I have 5 times the damage coming in my next swing. Although powerful, not all classes are rogues...reckoning proved rather useless in almost every other fight, I didn't have enough damage to kill things quickly, and my heals were only par with spiritual focus. Additionally, my damage was uncontrollable. Whereas this is the spec closest to the most potent spec before 1.9, due to the changes in the protection and holy tree it is incredibly weak in almost every situation. Don't use this one.

31 holy, 20 protection.
making use of seal of righteousness and holy shock for controlled damage. This way you will be most mana efficient with heals, as every heal crit you pull off returns all of the mana back to you. However, this was noticeably a very, very good tanking spec. Improved Righteous fury with consecration and holy shock acts as very good aggro generation; I myself have managed to main tank several instances with these abilities.
In pvp this is probably the best group support spec. Powerful heals, mana-efficient heals, and in protection you can have improved concentration aura that makes your heals very consistent and less succeptible to interruption. Additionally, the reduced cooldown in hammer of justice and guardian's favor are great for saving that mage thats being clobbered by a rogue :)
In instances this is not only a great tanking spec but is also a good healing spec because of similar reasons why it is a good group pvp support spec.

This spec may require lots of gear with +int, because although the damage is consistent it is very mana costly. Lightforge is very balances in terms of stats, but other items that add +spell crit and mana regeneration are very good as well; there are many, so I will not list them all. For damage, a fast 2-handed weapon is best when used with seal of righteousness. For tanking and group support, you will want a shield to stay alive long enough to heal or tank. There are many good shields around; a good one drops in Dire Maul, called the Observer's shield. In tanking and healing in this case, it really doesn't matter too much what your weapon is; I was able to tank scholomance with a mining pick. Of course, dont think that you can do that against Onyxia or big bosses. In 1.10, the Deathbone (from scholomance) set is excellent for tanking.

31 Retribution, 13 holy, 7 protection.
This is what I noticed to be a great group and solo pvp spec, be it support or soloing. With an additional 5% to crit and vengeance proc, you can put out some nasty damage. I've one-shotted a few casters with this spec before. The problem is, unlike the spec above the damage is based much more on luck rather than pressing the right buttons; sometimes you get chains of procs from seal of command and crits, sometimes you get only regular autoattack swings which are, quite frankly, pathetic. But with improved judgement a releasing of seal of command is a decent way of some controlled damage. Repentance is amazing; it can act as a spell interupt, a way to catch runners, another way to do improved damage from judgement of command, and another chance to heal. Combined with hammer of justice, in Warsong Gulch or any other case where humanoids are involved you can keep 2 enemies completely out of the fight for 6 seconds, thus making this spec decent for support as well. The damage is most mana efficient of all other specs, but not so much on the heals.

In dungeons , this is where the class is rather weak. Weaker heals, less mana efficient heals, and damage that is too unreliable to tank with (since tanking usually requries a sword and shield) or too low to really be necessary at all, this spec is generally avoided by most groups.

For pvp, the primary things here are attack power, stamina, and % melee crit. The most insane, awesome, and devastating weapon that provides this is the Unstoppable Force, attainable by doing Alterac Valley battlegrounds. The rank 10 pvp armor set is very good, but most people will consider you a "retnoob", as in a paladin that does not heal. Henceforth matching some of the crit gear with the +int gear would make you rather well-balanced. Lightforge armor isn't very good here, but it's the best a paladin can usually get without the pvp set or epic gear.

I did not try this spec, but I have seen it used before. This is probably the ultimate solo pvp spec: 31 retribution, 20 protection.
This spec is most devastating if you have 4 pieces of the paladin pvp set, which requires rank 8, or Knight-Captain. This way you have a 35 second-cooldown stun for heals/judging command as well as a 20-yard disorient. Note that you do not have spiritual focus like this; healing is severely weak like this.

Some Univerals regarding the paladin:
No, paladins are not warriors. They are not meant to charge in the front lines and whack away like beserkers. At the same time, however, they are not meant to be priests either, despite what all other classes flame us about. As a result, it is difficult to really determine what the exact role of a paladin is. It really depends on your playstyle and talent point distribution; just know that all other classes would prefer it if you simply healed them, just because you can...and that means more fun for them. But, it is undisputed that paladins are the class that can last the longest in almost any situation; invulnerability shield, plate armor, resistance auras, and self-heals make them much more durable than warriors in many situations. But, unlike the warrior, the damage options for a paladin are limited to seals and judgements, which are either weak or uncontrollable. Luck can make you appear overpowered; but even so, paladin damage is still considered perhaps the weakest damage in the game.
I personally view them as the "officers"; while the enlisted soldiers are doing the dirty work, the paladin is the officer overseeing the situation; buffing, cleansing, healing and supporting areas needed. When attacked, however, they are armored and strong to defend themselves for a long period of time. When their spiritual energy (mana) is finally drained or if all the enlisted soldiers have fallen, the paladin can cast one seal and charge into the fray. This is from a pvp perspective, however.

Some tips:
Engineering will work wonders for you. With Grenades combined with the 3rd spec I showed, u can practically make yourself a rogue with damage like a warrior while wearing plate armor, also capable of 12 second invulnerability and self-heals.
In the lower levels, take mining and herbalism; collecting professions. Because killing things is rather slow for a paladin, grinding probably is less effective, although skinning isn't half bad. Getting gold in the lower levels is always a priority; all other professions can be learned very easily given the right amount of gold.
To start out in the talent trees, take spiritual focus; sustained heals are very important. Then, take seal of command; this way your damage won't be too bad.
As for gear, take what you find; it's not really an issue until the mid 50's. Try to get items that add strength, stamina, and intellect. At level 25 find the paladin quest that gives you Verigan's fist; it is a very, very powerful weapon for that level.

Warning: Paladins are perhaps the most ridiculed, insulted, accused, and discriminated class in the game, simply because of the history they've had which I will not go into.
I would like to add some insight since I have been playing a paladin as my main since open beta.

I have created a character in every class. Everytime I play them, I can't help wishing they were more like a paladin. Especially when it comes to survivability while soloing. I'll live with it taking a couple seconds longer to kill a mob over high repair bills of plate and corpse running any day. I think this is where the paladin really shines. They can take a beating, heal up and take another beating long after every other class has died.

So playing around your survivability is key to being successful as you solo quests. Knowing when the appropriate time to cast Blessing of Protection over using Divine Shield. When to turn on consetration aura. How many mobs can you take on at once with the minimal down time are all keys to playing your pally and having fun doing what other classes can not.

You will find you pally extremely borring if all you do is pick a single target and auto attack. A pally shines when the odds are against them, learn to play that way. Unless you are fighting mobs 2-5 levels over your level, make it a point to engage multiple mobs. Remember, you can heal and shield. Burn them at the right time and you will find the utility and fun of being a paladin that no other class shares.

Gear is very important for a Paladin. I would recomend sticking to stamina and strength as you level. In your 40s and 50s, start making the transition to plate by focusing on int and stamina. You should also gear towards your talents. Holy would want to get +Spell Crit, +Healing, Mana Regen and +int gear. Protection should focus around +Stamina, +Int and Damage return gear. Retribution should focus on +Stamina, +Strength, +Melee Crit and +Agility.

Of course this leads to a conflict in groups and raids as you will be rolling on stuff that is typically claimed by specific classes. That is because of the lack of understanding of the Paladin class. For instance +Spell Crit is great for Holy paladins as a Critical heal is a mana free heal. More mana = More heals over time. Melee Crit works on both our swing and our seal giving us two chances to melee crit with every swing.

What is the role of a pally in a group? There is no easy answer to this. The best advice I can give you is learn how to come overcome the weaknesses of any given group with your abilities. Throughout any fight you may be helping with damage or if things go south you may be the one dishing out heals and casting a Lay of Hands or Blessing of Protection at the right moment to keep your group from wiping. Paladins are great anti wipe members of a group. Use your survivability and specials skills and any group would love to have you. Sit there on auto attack while ignoring to cast a heal when your group needs it and you will help continue the bad blood felt towards pallies in groups.

Paladin Tanks. First, can paladins tank? Yes and no. Paladins can and have tanked all 5 man instances. The problem is that it takes more coordination with a paladin as a tank. It simply takes longer for Pallies to gain and maintain agro. We do not have snap taunts unless you spec high in the holy tree. If a paladin is chosen as a main tank of a group, the rest of the group has to be aware of that fact and play around it. Pallies that have to heal themselves during a fight are not generating enough agro and wasting mana better spent on judgements/shocks/consecration to maintain agro. So do not expect a pally tank to also heal. Make sure to coordinate the target being attacked. Let the pally lay in to them first. Once there is sufficent hate, only then can the DPS classes engage. DPS classes also have to be restrained in their damage and their targets. I would recomend that a pally is not the best tank for a pickup group but only for a group that knows what they are doing and plays together.

I think Pallies make great off tanks though. Pallies are very self reliant and can offtank and heal themselves while the rest of the group focuses on the main target.

Looks like pallies are getting another look after 1.11 since blizzard nerfed the Protection tree pretty heavily. I would really like to go back to it at some point as I was working towards a build called a "Thornadin". Think a protection paladin with Holy Shield (130 per shield block), Improved Retribution Aura (30 damage returned per melee attack), Shield Spike, Consecration, Force Reactive Disk, 2x Essance of Pure Flames, 2x Naglering, Razor Gauntlets. That would be an awesome farming build. Just pull 10-15 mobs around you and watch them die. This would also be a good tanking build and a rogue/warrior killer.
Also two other things to add to the Thornadin package would be:
Oil of Immolation - Cooldown is on a different timer then normal potions

Cloak of Fire - Does excellent AoE combined with Immolation Oil, and a plus is that Alhana has the pattern.
i seriously wish i could still have reckoning and repentance in the same tree...WoW pre-1.9 with 31 prot 20 holy is amazing now that i think about it, cuz i really like repentance, but I seriously hate having to rely on seal of command.

:D :D :D :D :D I hope it really works.