Updated 11/17/2009 - Rewrote parts of the first Path of th Cleric section (Holy) from 40 to 50. Also corrected an issue with the duration of blessings. Both changes prompted from excellent feedback in the comments.
Choosing the Paladin as your class shows remarkable good taste and high intelligence. As a level 80 Paladin, I'd thought I'd share some thoughts on leveling a Paladin character.
Honors, you are a rare combination of brains and good looks, what race should I make my Paladin?
Well, I'm glad you asked. Roll Horde, you're a Blood Elf. Next Question! Oh, wait, you're Alliance, excellent choice, my lad. Of the 3 Alliance races, I would say Draenei. The Draenei starting area is really cool, and tons of fun. It's also the best put together of any of the Alliance starting zones making questing and leveling much easier and frankly more fun. I'd even consider taking your Human or Dwarf over to Azuremyst Isle via the Stormwind Harbor. There is a boat in Stormwind Harbor that takes you to Darkshore, and a boat in Darkshore that takes you directly to Azuremyst Isle.
Draenei get Shadow Resistance and a free scaling Heal over Time work well with Paladins. This is especially good for healing Paladins as the Heal Over Time also gets better as you get better gear.
Humans are very nice aesthetically, and the rep bonus they get is very nice. Also Every Man For Himself is handy as Paladins lack any kind of Fear break, and Mace and Sword Specialization cover pretty much every weapon a Paladin is likely to use. Yes, we can use Axes, but I have used mostly Maces and Swords.
If I had it to do all over again, I would have probably rolled Human. Maybe its because I'm a dwarf, I don't know, I just like how Human Paladins look.
For Dwarves, Stoneform is really nice, and I dig the expertise from Mace Specialization. Find Treasure will actually help you complete a quest or two (as the quest items show up on your tracking), but some of the other dwarf racial bonuses don’t seem to help a Paladin much (can you say Gun Specialization, yes, I thought you could).
In the end, race isn't going to make or break your character.
An honest hard working guy like yourself, do you have anything to say about Professions?
Gather. Gather. Gather. Mine/Skin or Mine/Herb (annoying but doable). Once you get to level 50 or 60 and have some cash, you can start thinking about a Production profession. Any of the productions profession will serve you well. Blacksmithing (extra sockets), Jewelcrafting (make your own gems, and get better JC only gems), Alchemy (everybody needs pots, and your Flasks are more powerful), and Enchanting (and they need enchants, plus you can enchant your Rings). Engineering is nice while leveling as it gives a low level Paladin some ranged attacks, but seems pretty lackluster at max level. But if I had to do it all over again, I'd be a double gatherer all the way to 80 and beyond (Personally, I’m Jewelcrafting and Mining. Practice what I preach? No, not so much.)
Honors, my Paladin is an alt or a reroll. Should I use Heirloom items and which ones are best?
Great question. Heirloom items are pieces of gear that can be purchased via the Emblem system by Level 80 characters and sent to lower level characters, even a level 1. The stats on the item change every time you level up.
You should absolutely use Heirloom items if you can spare the Emblems/Stone Keeper Shards on your Level 80 toon.
You want to buy the Heirloom Polished Spaulders of Valor. There is also going to be a Chestpiece that will be available in a Patch 3.2. Both the Shoulders and Chest provide a stacking 10% bonus to experience from killing creatures and from quests. It can really help speed up your leveling.
After that I would buy a Bloodied Arcanite Reaper. Your weapon is probably one of the most important pieces of gear to keep current. By having an Heirloom, it will automatically stay up with your current level.
If you are leveling on a PVP server, I strongly recommend buying an Inherited Insignia of the Horde/Alliance. It is a key part of PVPing in the open world.
Zones: You are going to be in your starting area for your race. Do all your quests.
Talents: None available at this point
Combat: Seal of Righteousness, then Judge. Judge Righteousness every time the cooldown is up. Keep your Seal, Blessing, and Aura up at all times. Your Aura will be Devotion at first, but switch to Retribution when you get it. Your Blessing can stay Might throughout this level range. Purify any poison that gets put on you.
Gearing: Look for gear with Strength, Stamina, and a little Intellect wouldn't hurt. If you find a piece or two with Spell Damage, that's bonus, but those pieces are fairly rare. You'll mostly be wearing quest rewards.
Zones: You'll move from your race's starting area into a secondary area (Westfall, Loch Modan, Bloodmyst Isles, or Ghostlands). Do the quest from your trainer to learn your resurrection spell. Continue to quest through your starting area. I actually recommend staying in these secondary areas as long as you can on a PVP server. Having an extra level or two is nice when you start venturing into the contested zones which come in the next range.
Talents: Honors, you are wise beyond expectations, but I have these talent points now. What should I do with them?
Well, I'm glad you asked, me lad. I'm going to suggest you put your points in Retribution. First 5 in Benediction and then 2 into Improved Judgement and 3 into Heart of the Crusader. Putting your first 5 points in Protection for Divine Strength is also a great idea, but you want to get Seal of Command as soon as you hit 20, so I advise you stick with Ret.
Combat: Combat sequence is essentially the same. Consecrate if you are fighting more than 2 mobs, but watch your mana. Consecrate is a hungry little beast. Divine Protection (which is sort of like a Shield Wall) and heal if you get into trouble. Stun and heal works well too. You may want to buff with Blessing of Wisdom instead of Might if you run into mana issues.
Gearing: Continue looking for Strength, Stamina, and Intellect. A little Agility on your gear would be nice as well. In this range you'll run DeadMines which has a couple of decent blue drops (Cookie's mace). Hordeside, you'll be running Ragefire Chasm and Wailing Caverns. Not much of note there, except that your level 20 Paladin quests requires a run through Ragefire. You will likely find it difficult to find groups for many low level instances, just keep on trucking.
At level 15, your Glyphs open up. You will have one Major Glyph and one Minor Glyph to start out with. These can be filled with Glyphs found on your local Auction House and can be expensive for someone in this level range.
My recommendation is you put Glyph of Judgement in your Major Glyph spot and Glyph of Blessing of Might in your minor glyph spot. Judgement is a straight up DPS increase on your most used ability and Blessing of Might means you will have to renew your Blessing less often.
[After Patch 3.2 Ding 20. Go to Stormwind, walk out with your horse. Sure beats walking! ]
Zones: So you've got your Verigan's Fist (see gearing), you've got your Seal of Command (see talents), now high tail it to Duskwood and start working on the Undead in that zone. For Blood Knights, it's either Ashenvale or Tarren Mill. I always go Ashenvale/StoneTalon/Thousand Needles on my Horde characters. I hate the quests to kill humans that you get in Tarren Mill.
Stockades, Shadowfang Keep, BlackFathom Deeps, and Razorfen Kraul are all options in this range.
Talents: You've just dinged level 20, what are you going to do next?! Congratulations, you're going to Seal of Command! The next two points go into Pursuit of Justice, which you will fill out at level 22. This is actually one of the most important leveling talents because you do a ton of running around while you level. Now you dip into Protection for Divine Strength, and put 2 points in Conviction.
Combat: Combat is the same as before, except that your Seal of choice is Command. Throw an Exorcism in whenever it’s off cooldown, and Judgement of Justice on any humanoids that like to run at low health. Drop a Hammer of Justice just before you Consecrate as your enemy (mob or player) is sort stuck there eating tick after tick of Consecrate, and there is nothing they can do about it. Bwhahahahaha!
You may want to change out your Glyph of Blessing of Might for a Glyph of Sense Undead. This is a damage increase when fighting undead. Remember to have your Sense Undead on if you are going to use this Glyph.
By level 20, you've gotten all the baseline tools you need to heal, dps or tank an instance. I highly, highly recommend you try out each "job" several times in this range and the next. It will help you decide what path you which to follow later in your Paladin playing days. At this level range, you don't need points in Holy to heal okay, or points in Protection to tank okay. The dungeons are designed to be done by offspecs.
Gearing: Alliance Paladins should stop whatever they are doing and get back to the trainer and pickup the level 20 Paladin quest. Start the quest and make it your top priority to finish it. This quest will yield you your Verigan's Fist (or Blood Tempered Ramsuer for Blood Knights).
Blood Knights don't have quite the sense of urgency to finishing their quest as the reward they get from completing main Ghostlands Quest (Warblade of the Sin'dorei) is comparable to the Blood Tempereed Ramsuer. Verigan's is quite overpowered for its level. I used mine well into my 30s. Most steps are labeled as group quests, but all can be done solo save for the Deadmines and Shadowfang Keep steps. Deadmines is one of the few low level instances where you can still find groups, but Shadowfang may pose a bit of a challenge. If you are an alt with a high level main consider trading runs, or possibly paying for a run by a high level toon.
Or you could find a high level Paladin who might be willing to aid you with these quests. I've helped quite a few Paladins get their Fist in my playing days, but back when I was leveling, I teamed up with another Paladin. We were both about level 24 and able to duo the Shadowfang Keep part of the quest. Save your long cooldowns like Lay on Hands for when you reach the courtyard. Once you get your Fist,I recommend putting a Firey enchant on it. You will have this weapon for a while and Firey is a good bang for buck type of enchant.
Since you have Divine Strength, Strength is better point for point than Attack Power.
I should also mention Corpsemaker, which is a two handed axe that drops from Overlord Ramtusk in Razorfen Kraul. It is a really nice weapon, arguably better than either quest reward, but it's a drop. There is no guarantee that it will drop for you, and it's in an instance that is somewhat out of the way for Alliance toons. I see far more groups for RFK on my Horde toons than I do with my Alliance ones.
[Before Patch 3.2 Ding 30. Go to Stormwind, walk out with Mount. Sure beats walking!]
Zones: Start yourself with the quests in eastern Thousand Needles around the Mirage Raceway, then move in Stranglethorn Vale. On a PVP server, you are pretty much permaPVP flagged from here on out.
Now that you can transfer from PVE to PVP, you may think about leveling on a PVE server then transferring to a PVP server. However, I would caution against it. You learn many tricks leveling up on a PVP server that you will need even at max level like how to rez to avoid getting corpse camped, and how to be on guard at all times. You can also make friends while you are leveling up, that you may still group with at max level.
Yes, you will get ganked in Stranglethron. You'll get ganked in nearly any zone you level in on a PVP server. It happens. If you have a high level main, park them in the zone and get a little revenge. Also try to travel in groups. That will help against equal level characters. The level 80s who just want to one shot you, well nothing much to be done about it. If that's how they want to spend their playtime, that's their option. I've never found it very fun, myself.
The new Quest Hub of Mudsprocket in Dustwallow Marsh is an excellent way to make your way through this range. Ganking still happens but it seems like there is less of it because the area is not well known (at least not yet). In addition, it is new content. I'm leveling a new character (not a Paladin) just so I can experience the new stories and quests.
In this range you should spend some time in the Scarlet Monastery. There is a mail set that drops in there. Don't go out of your way to collect the whole set, you'll level out of it quickly enough, but if you find a piece or two, pick it up. Herod has his shoulders and there is a nice Axe that drops from him that I finally replaced my Verigan's Fist with. (Note, my Fist still rests proudly in my bank. If we ever get player housing, its going right over the mantle) Remind any warrior that wants Herod's axe that they can get an even better one from their Warrior only quest.
Talents: You want to go ahead and finish out Conviction, then pick up Crusade. Next up is Two handed Weapon Specialization and Sanctified Retribution.
Combat: Combat remains pretty much the same. Since you picked up Crusade, try to fight mobs that it has an extra bonus against (Humans, Demons, Undead, and Elementals).
Gearing: Continue to look for gear with Stamina, Intellect, and Strength. For weapons, you want the highest possible top end damage. DPS is nice but look for the damage range and find the one with the biggest top end number. If you think you might like to go sword and board in next level range look for some pieces with defense.
At Level 30, your second major Glyph slot will open up. My recommendation here is Glyph of Exorcism. It’s another straight damage increase.
You're halfway there. Awesome.
[Patch 3.2 Back to Stormwind. Trade in your old and busted Pony for your new HOTNESS, The Charger. Back in the day, you had to do this very long and involved quest chain, at Level 60 no less, to get this beautiful ride, but now it's as simple as a training it. Kids don't know how good they have it these days. Why I had to walk 2 miles in the snow, uphill both ways to get my Charger!]
You can wear plate now, but mail will be okay for a couple of levels. Start picking up Plate where you can.
Zones: You will be in Stranglethorn Vale, Hinterlands, Tanaris, and Feralas.
Getting groups will continue to be a challenge, but there are some great instances in this range.
Run Razorfen Downs. I know it’s a little out of the way for Alliance players, but it’s got some really nice drops. You can pickup a Carapace of Tuten'kash and an Ice Metal Barbute.
In Marauadon, there is a very nice Paladin Shield off the goblin boss. He also drops a nice sword (Inventors Focal Sword), especially if you are Holy. Landslide drops a mace called The Fist of Stone which is great for grinding, and tanking. It has a chance on hit that returns mana and procs fairly often. There is a quest out in Desolace that takes you into the pre-instance part of Maraudon that nets you a pretty nice trinket called Mark of the Chosen. I know it only says a 2% chance, but I found it was up very often.
In Zul'Farrak, Antu'zul drops Sang'thraze the Deflector (very, very rare drop), and Chief Ukorz Sandscalp drops Big Pad Pauldrons.
You will also have a chance to do Uldaman in this range which was one of my favorite instances leveling up, especially for Dwarves!
At Level 40, the option to Dual Spec opens up to you. Since Paladins have access to all three roles, you have to choose two because you can only have two specs. I actually recommend that you don’t take dual spec until you mid 60s, or possibly even mid 70s. Hopefully, you’ve got a feel for all three paths before you decide which two you will go with.
The Path of the Crusader (Retribution) is generally considered the best and fastest leveler, but the Path of the Templar (Protection) is very strong as well. I don’t recommend leveling as Path of the Cleric (Holy) but it can work and some people do enjoy the playstyle.
Most people will pick Crusader as one spec and then either Templar or Cleric for their second. This gives them the option to Tank/DPS or Heal/DPS. Some are even crazy enough to try a Tank/Heal combination and never have trouble finding a group that could use them.
So let's talk about your choices, lad.
Path of the Crusader
This is an extension of what you've been doing. Your main role focus is on damage and taking down mobs while adding great utility to a group through your Auras, Blessings, and other buffs.
Talents: You can stick with Ret and 2 hander. Pickup Vengeance, Sanctity of Battle, Judgement of the Wise and Art of War.
Combat: This can be very fast. You will generally kill most mobs in 3 to 4 moves. Try to fight caster mobs when you can, as their low armor allows you to tear through them quickly. Keep an eye on your Buffs. As soon as you see Art of War proc, go ahead and drop an instant Exorcism. Only if you are a little low on hit points use Flash of Light. With Judgment of the Wise, you should be Judging Light instead of Wisdom and finishing fights at 75% health and mana or better.
Gearing: Keep looking for slow two handers with high top end damage. There is a nice one that drops in Uldaman, and the Auction House will sometimes have an Executioner's Cleaver. Nice weapon. Firey remains a good choice for a cheap enchants. Continue looking for Strength, Attack Power, Critical Strike Rating, and Stamina on your gear.
Path of the Templar
This is a full on switch from Retribution to Protection. This is the path of the Tank, the one who sacrifices himself and his gear to save his friends.
Talents: Respec!! Your talents change to Divine Strength, Anticipation, Improved Righteous Fury, Toughness, Improved Devotion Aura, Blessing of Sanctuary, 3 points in Reckoning, Sacred Duty and 1 handed weapon specialization. Then from 40 to 50, we finish grab Holy Shield, 1 point in Spiritual Attunement, Ardent Defender, Redoubt, 2 in Combat Expertise and Avenger's Shield.
Combat: For combat, you want to look to AoE grind. Make sure you have Blessing of Sanctuary on, Retribution Aura on, and Righteous Fury on (for the 6% damage reduction). Pull at least two or three mobs (preferable melee types if you can). Fire your Avenger's Shield at the caster types to silence them and get them to come to melee range.
Seal Righteousness and Judge Light. Judge every time the cooldown is up. Reckoning will proc often as well giving you 2x the Judgement of Light procs and 2x the Seal of Righteousness procs. Blessing of Sanctuary will keep your mana up. Consecrate on cooldown if you can spare the mana. Start slow with only 2 or 3 of your same level. When you get comfortable you can work your way up to larger and larger packs. Every time you get an add its like "oh, yeah!". If you get into trouble, use your Panic buttons: Divine Protection, Divine Shield, Lay On Hands, Ardent Defender, Health Potions, etc.
Your dps is proportional with the number of mobs hitting you. Basically if you are only fighting one mob, you aren't doing much DPS, but 3 or 4, now you are talking. Watch out for slow hitters too, you want mobs that hit fairly often. Big mobs like Giants tend to hit hard and slow, Cats tend to hit fast and weak. You want to fight fast and weak moreso than hard and slow. Your tanking will be better than it was before, so get out there and lay down the aggro.
Gearing: Look for gear with Strength, Stamina, Defense, Block Value, Parry, Block, and Dodge, and a high dps 1 handed weapon. Speed is really not all that important, solid white dps is. Something like Hanzo's Sword or the Doomforge Straightedge is recommended. The Heirloom Battleworn Thrash Blade is an excellent choice as well if you have a Level 80 who can buy it.Also, I strongly recommend you put a Shield Spike on your main shield as soon as you can. Mithril Shield spikes are fairly cheap. A Shield Spike can be very helpful with threat in this range and it gets you into the mindset of Block = Threat which will serve you well especially with Holy Shield. I will mention this final path here, but in my opinion it's in the next range that this path becomes more workable.
Path of the Cleric
This is the path of the Priest in Plate, the Healer, and the clue that holds every group together. He champions his friends, not by taking the blows, but by curing them, enabling his allies to defeat foes that they never could without his blessing. This Path is not as strong soloing as Ret or even Protection, but it is a very strong in groups.
I’m first going to talk about talents you want if you are really going to try to solo as Holy, then I’ll mention talents to take if Holy is a second dual spec.
Talents (Solo): If you are going to solo as a Crusader (Retribution), but instance as a Cleric (Holy), you will look at talents differently. Soloing as Holy starts with Seals of the Pure, then picks up Divine Intellect, 4/5 Spiritual Focus, Improved Blessing of Wisdom, Healing Light, Sanctified Light, Aura Mastery, Illumination, Divine Favor, and start working on Improved Concentration Aura. As soon as you hit 40, you want Holy Shock. From 40 to 50, you want to finish Improved Concentration, Holy Power, and start working on Holy Guidance.
Talents (Grouping): If your Cleric is only for grouping, start with Spiritual Focus. Then pickup Divine Intellect, Illumination, 2 points only in Healing Light, Improved Blessing of Wisdom, Divine Favor, Sanctified Light, Aura Mastery, Holy Power, and Holy Shock. From 40 to 50, you will want Light’s Grace, Improved Lay On Hands, and Holy Guidance.
Combat: Use Blessing of Wisdom for your blessing. Open the pull with a Holy Shock and nail them with Judgement of Wisdom. Get into melee range and start whacking away. Use a sword and board for melee types and bust out your two-hander for the clothies. Your lifeline is no longer the green one, but the blue. As long as you have mana, you are nigh unkillable.
Gearing: You want to look for gear with Intellect, Stamina, Spell Power, and Mana per 5 seconds, Spell Crit Rating. This is why I say that this path doesn’t really open up to you just yet. This gear basically doesn’t exist in this range if you insist on plate. If you are willing to go with Mail, Leather or even Cloth then you can find those stats, but you will not be as durable when out soloing and getting beat on by mobs. You also have the option of using the Heirloom items like Polished Lightforge Spaulders, Discerning Eye of the Beast, Repurposed Lava Dredger (ah good memories!) and Devout Aurastone Hammer.
You’re in the home stretch now, but this can also be a rough stretch. Hang in there because Outland is just around the corner.
Zones: Western Plaguelands, Eastern Plaguelands, Un’goro, Winterspring, Silithus. I strongly recommend you spend some time at Sorrow Hill in Western Plaguelands during the early part of this range. Black Rock Mountain (BRD, LBRS, UBRS), Scholomance, and Strathholme open up to you in this range. There are some good drops for all paths from these instances. Earthslag Shoulders, Spiderfang Carapace, Foreman's Head Protector, Entrenching Boots all come from BRD. Plate of the Shaman King drops in LBRS.
Combat: Combat for all Paths stays pretty much the same as in previous ranges. You pickup some new ranks of what should by now be familiar tools. You start to pickup your Greater Blessings in this range. These are 30 minutes rather than 15 minutes. They require a relatively cheap reagent called Symbol of Kings. They stack to 100. Always have 1-2 stacks on you at all times.
Gear: Look for BoE pieces of Lightforge armor and the Aegis of Stormwind on the AH.
At Level 50, your second minor Glyph will open up. Crusaders (Ret) should look at Glyph of Blessing of Might. Clerics (Holy) will be looking at Glyph of Blessing of Wisdom. Templars (Protection) will want Glyph of Lay On Hands.
Talents: Respec! Sorry. Divine Strength was a big help in getting here, but we once again need all our points in Ret in order to pick up Crusader Strike. An instant attack on a short cooldown is more damage than the extra strength from Divine Strength. We'll pick up Divine Strength again, but not until we get to the top of the Ret tree.
Pickup all the talents you previously had (expect for Divine Strength). Then with the points from Divine Strength, pick up Repentance, and Fanaticsim, then put your level 50 talent point into Crusader Strike. Then you pickup Sheath of Light, Vindication, and Righteous Vengeance.
Gearing: Same stats as before (Crit, stamina, Attack Power, Strength and Agility). Green "Of the Beast" may be on the AH. Since you dropped Divine Strength, 1 Strength is worth 2 Attack Power, so a piece with 20 Strength is the same as 40 Attack Power.
Talents: Finish Combat Expertise and pickup Touched By the Light and Guarded by the Light. Then pick up Judgements of the Just.
Combat: Combat favors battling multiple mobs. When Redoubt procs (and with multiple beasties hitting on you it will be up often) activate Holy Shield.
Gearing: The AH may yield up "Of The Knight" "Of The Champion" and "Of The Crusade" in addition to the Imperial Armor set. This set is usually levelup fodder for Blacksmiths and you can get it cheap. Also, if you can get a group for Scholo there is a set of armor called Deathbone that is the first piece of true Prot Pally gear you’ll likely find.
There are BoE pieces of Valor on the AH. If you intend on rolling on BoP Valor pieces that drop in the 58-60 dungeons, inform the Warrior in the party prior to the run. He may not feel exactly comfortable with the idea. Force of Will is a fantastic trinket that drops in BRD.
There is a long quest chain in EPL that yields a nice chest piece (Ornate Adamantite Breastplate) and provides a very nice bit of lore for a major questline/plotline in Wrath of the Lich King. The chain starts from Tirion Fordring in the western part of Eastern Plaguelands.
Talents (Solo): In this range, we are going to finish up Holy Guidance. Then pick up Judgments of the Pure, and Divine Illunimation.
Talents (Group): If Holy is your secondary spec, then you’ll be picking up Judgments of the Pure and Divine Illumination, and Infusion of Light.
Gearing: spell power, spell crit, some mana per 5, intellect and stamina. You actually start seeing a bit of gear in this range that has those on plate. Green "Of the Physician", "Of the Elder", "Of the Invoker", and "Of Healing" gear may show up on your auction house. Don't be afraid of wearing Shaman spellpower Mail or Druid spellpower Leather, or even Priest cloth at this stage.
In a group, if you have a good tank, you shouldn't be getting hit. As always, be considerate of those classes as they are more limited in the gear they can wear.
Zones: Hellfire Peninsula, Zangarmarsh, Terrorkar Forest, Blade’s Edge Mountains, Shadowmoon Valley, Netherstorm
[Prior to Patch 3.2 - Ding 61! Back to Stormwind. Trade in your old and busted Pony for your new HOTNESS, The Charger. Back in the day, you had to do this very long and involved quest chain to get this beautiful ride, but now it's as simple as a training it.]
[After Patch 3.2] - Ding 60, and you can fly, you can fly, you can fly! Head over to your factions main town in Hellfire Peninsula and lay down a good chunk of gold to get your flyer. It will make questing much easier and faster. Plus, it's a nice get away vehicle on a PVP server.
Talents: For talents, pickup Sanctified Wrath and get that point into Divine Storm. Then it's back to Protection to pickup Divine Strength. Then back to Ret for Improved Blessing of Might. Then start working on Seals of the Pure which will take you to 73.
Combat: At 70, you'll get Avenger's Wrath. It's a nice damage boost on a long cooldown. Use it when you need a nice burst. In your mid 60s you will also get a new spell, Seal of Vengenace if you are Alliance and Seal of Corruption for Horde. Afer 3.2, Vengeance should become your new default Seal, although you may still want to use Command in PVP. Prior to 3.2, you will want to use Seal of Blood/Seal of the Marytr.
Gearing: Melee Crit and AP, Strength, Stamina. You will find drops and quest rewards more in abundance here than in any other range. PVP gear also has a specific Ret set. If you see Scaled in the name, it's meant for Ret (Crusader's Scaled Chestpiece). Once you ding 70, you can buy a blue set from the various Faction vendors that will help you out as you move to Northrend.
Talents: Now you get Shield of the Templar. Then pickup Hammer of Righteousness. Put 5 points in Deflection and 1 (and only one) point in Improved Judgement. 2 in Heart of the Crusader will take you to Level 70.
Combat: Combat doesn't change a whole bunch. Your new spell, Seal of Vengence (Alliance) Seal of Corruption (Horde) will replace Seal of Righteousness for soloing. Hammer of the Righteous everytime it's off cooldown. You will get a 'Vengeance stack' on all 3/4 mobs it hits. Vengeance puts a Damage over Time debuff on your target that stacks up to 5 times. The more stacks, the more it ticks for. Once it’s up to 5 stacks, you’ll start doing extra damage from your swings. Continue to work on your tanking skills, as the opportunity presents itself.
Gearing: Tank quest rewards remain fairly rare. Continue to look for Strength, and Stamina. "Of the Soldier" and "Of the Knight" greens are good choices. There is a quest in Nagrand to kill one of the big elites there that yeilds a pretty nice 1 handed weapon, the Crystaline Kopesh.
Talents: Here’s where the Solo as Holy and the Group as Holy really start to diverge. For soloing you are picking up talents to help your damage, while grouping works on healing and utility.
Talents (Solo): Start here with Enlightened Judgments, and Infusion of Light. That will take you until Level 62. Then head over to Ret and grab Benediction, and Heart of the Crusader.
Talents (Group): First up here is Enlightened Judgments which will open up Beacon of Light. Now you head over to Protection and grab Divinity. Your next move is to get Stoicism and Guardian’s Favor. Those are really marginal talents, but you need to get deeper in Protection. This will technically take you to Level 71.
Combat: Combat remains pretty much the same. You have Avengers Wrath for some additional damage. Use the range from Enlightened Judgements and think of yourself as a sort of Mage in Plate. Get really well practiced at healing your groups. You will have no trouble finding groups and will even get random tells to heal whatever instance you may want to see.
Gearing: Don't bother with spirit, the 5-second casting rule makes it completely useless for paladins (we don't have a spirit talent like priests do). You best stat to stack is Intellect. It gives you more regen through replenishment and gives you more crit to trigger Illumination. Also focus on stacking spell power and Spell Crit with some mana/5.
Zones: Howling Fjord, Borean Tundra, The DragonBlight, Zul'Drak, Grizzly Hills, Sholazar Basin, The Storm Peaks, Icecrown Glacier.
You will hit 80 long before you complete all the zones. Start in either Borean Tundra or Howling Fjord. Once you complete one zone you can move into Dragonblight. Dragonblight has some really good quest chains and gets you started on your Wyrmrest Accord Reputation. Also, if you Howling Fjord, do yourself a favor and at least do the quests in Coldarra in Borean Tundra. That will yeild yet more Wyrmrest Accord Reputation and give you the flight points for Nexus and later on Oculus and Eye of Eternity.
You can start the Argent Tournament as early as 78, and it has some nice gear rewards. Put some time in Storm Peaks so you get acquainted with Sons of Hodir.
You get two new spells in the 70 to 80 range, Divine Plea and Shield of Righteousness.
Divine Plea is good for all 3 paths. All 3 need mana to fuel what they do, and Divine Plea is a great way to fill up the tank.
Shield of Righteousness will mainly be used by Protection Paladins on the Templar's Path, though Holy Paladins may use it as well while soloing. Ret Paladins have little use for the skill. This is basically a Shield Slam for Paladins and works well with high strength, crit and block value.
Your third minor opens up at 70, and your third major opens up at 80.
For Crusaders (Ret), Glyph of Seal of Command, Glyph of Exorcism, and Glyph of Judgement are your majors with Glyph of Blessing of Might, Glyph of Sense Undead and Glyph of Blessing of Kings as your minors.
For Templar's (Protection) your major Glyphs are going to be Glyph of Divine Plea, Glyph of Righteous Defense and Glyph of Judgment. For minors, we’ll use Glyph of Sense Undead, Glyph of Lay on Hands and Glyph of Blessing of Kings.
For Clerics (Holy) it’s Glyph of Holy Light, Glyph of Seal of Light, and Glyph of Beacon of Light in the major slots. Your minor slots will be filled with Glyph of Lay On Hands, Glyph of the Wise, and Glyph of Blessing of Kings.
Talents: Put 5 into Divinity in the Protection tree, and put your last two points into Divine Purpose.
Combat: By now you know the drill. Hit, and hit hard. Most of your enenmies will die in 2 or 3 attacks. Keep an eye on your health and make good decisions on how to use your Art of War procs.
Gearing: There's a decent set of BoE Blacksmith gear you can get made, but for the most part quest rewards will do you fine. There's a group quest in Zul'Drak called the Ampitheatre of Anquish that yeilds up one of the better 2 handers you'll see before 80.
Talents: Finish off Heart of the Crusader. You need to open up the next tier in the Ret tree. 2/2 Improved Judgment won’t help you. You literally can’t use an 8 second Judgment cooldown due to your 1.5 second Global Cooldown. Even though it’s only marginally useful put 1 point in Benediction. Pick up Vindication in anticipation of Patch 3.2, and 3 points into Conviction. Finish off your build with 3 points in Crusade.
Combat: You'll get into a nice rotation with Hammer of Righteous, Judgment, and Shield of the Righteous. Use Holy Shield only sparingly. Consecrate is still a hungery little spell. Watch your Divine Plea timer as you are nearing the end of combat. Try to get into combat again before Divine Plea falls off.
Gearing: There's a nice Blacksmith BoE Set called the Cobalt Set that you can get made, and later on a Saronite Set, and finally a Titansteel Set. They get progressively more expensive. Saronite and Titansteel even include a Shield. There's a group quest in Zul'Drak called Ragemane's Flipper that yeilds up pretty much the only Tank weapon you will see before 80.
Talents (Solo): Now we pick up Improved Judgments. Unlike our Templar (Protection) brothers, we don’t have any Global Cooldown conflicts so we fill it out. Next up is 5 points in Conviction, and finish up with 3 in Crusade.
Talents (Group): You will now put one point in Divine Sacrifice. You need to put more points in Protection to get further in the tree. Nothing is partically exciting, but take 4 points in Toughness. You heal in Plate, but Toughness makes it easier to take Mail, Leather or even Cloth and still get good survivability. Then you grab 2 in Divine Guardian, and Improved Devotion Aura.
Combat: Weave Shield of Righteousness between your other attacks, but continue doing what you've been doing to get to this point.
Gear: Quest rewards are adequate for the most part. There's an Ornamented Saronite set and an Ornamented Titansteel set you can get as you progressed towards 80.
Get ready for that final DING!!
Let me be the first to congratulate you. You are now a Level 80 Paladin.
Rise, Sir Knight. Go forth and conquer Heroics, Raids, and PVP!
Thank you for reading this guide. I hope you find the Paladin class as enjoyable and exciting as I have. I actually have 3 Paladins I maintain to keep this guide going. One is my main at max level. The other is around the mid 40s and the last one is in his 20s.
Updated 8/1/2009 - Removed Dignified Headmaster's Charge from the Cleric's path as it is a staff and well, we can't use them.
Updated 7/25/2009 - Fixed an error in talent point allocation for the Templar Path in the Level 50-58 range.
Updated 7/15/2009 - Made updates to the guide which should bring it up to 3.2.Updated 1/21/2009 - Now that I'm level 80 I've started working on the 70-80 section of the guide.
Updated 11/12/2008: Yeah!! Finally updated to 3.0.3! Let me know if you see anything that is inaccurate or really bad advice especially when I start talking about Holy.
Updated 10/31/2008: Continued being Patch 3.0 edits. Ret and Prot are pretty much done, just to need to finish up Holy. The Guide does stop at Level 70. I will continue to update it for level 80 as soon as I get there, lol.
Updated 10/20/2008: Continued being Patch 3.0 edits. As I got into the 40-50 range, I start to break the Paladin down into different paths. I've got the Crusader (Ret) path updated, but not the Holy or Protection. Please be patient, this should all be updated this week.
Updated 10/15/2008: Continued being Patch 3.0 edits.
Updated 10/13/2008: Clarified Verigan's Fist in the 20-30 Range
Updated 5/3/2008: Changed Sanctified Crusader to Sanctified Seals
Updated 4/18/2008: Expanded on Combat in the 20-30 level range to emphasize using Hammer of Justice (stun) with Judgement of Command
Updated 4/8/2008: Changed Path of the Steadfast Aura after an alert read pointed out a typo (was Sanctity, should have been Retribution)
Update 1/15: Added an alternative low level Seal rotation from Krasagrado of Warsong
Update 1/2/2008: Added some comments about the importance of a Shield Spike for Protection Builds.
Update 12/14/2007: Blizzard has made some major improvements to leveling with Patch 2.3. I have some modifications to my guide to reflect those changes, but they are very minor.