|Quests • Spells • Abilities • Talents • Trainers • Macros • Forum|
See also: Paladin Talent Builds
Paladins are a hybrid class. This means that you have choices on the roles that you fill. Some of those choices are viable, but when looking toward an end-game paladin build - with some situational exceptions - it's worthwhile to remember the adage: Jack of all trades, master of none. In other words, at end game you're going to have to choose a direction. You simply are.
Also, like all of the other hybrid classes you're probably going to have to resign yourself to respeccing unless you want your leveling to take far longer than necessary and really not gain you any value. You should definitely play your class how you like to, but know that sometimes things can be downright painful and with a hybrid class, until Outland, with the right gear, you really can fill any role. So there's no reason to make your solo play unnecessarily difficult on yourself, just carry or have gear for each role. How you play solo is no ones business.
That said, typically, at least until level 35, retribution is the leveling tree. At that point you can choose to stay retribution (Ret) or opt to completely respec to Protection (Prot). While people have leveled as Holy, it's not the ideal path and will not be covered here.
This page will enumerate the available talents in each tier of the tree. Note that Blizzard tweaks talents frequently. This page can give you some idea of what talents are worthwhile but the last word should be the Paladin forums. Compose a build using Wowhead. When you've completed your build make sure to click "Link to this Build" in the upper left and then post that to the paladin forums here to get the most up to date feedback on viability and utility. Be sure to state what it is that you're hoping to accomplish with your character.
The holy tree is the healing tree for paladins. The main focus of the talents is efficiency - getting as much healing done quickly with as little mana expended. Paladins don't have the wide range of healing options that a priest has, but what makes the paladin shine is low-threat heals that are extremely efficient.
See Paladin Holy for a more detailed discussion of available Holy Talents
The protection tree is the survivability tree for paladins. For this reason it's obviously the tanking tree, but even those primarily specced in Retribution or Holy will sometimes pick up talents in here for added durability.
See Paladin Protection for a more detailed discussion of available Protection talents
The retribution tree is the damage tree. Primarily used as the leveling spec, recent changes have made it more viable for end-game.
See Paladin Retribution for a more detailed discussion of available Retribution talents
Playstyle and goals are highly individual. Within each of the above mentioned trees there are enough talents to cover a range of these. Some common goals are:
Leveling - When leveling, typically the highest damage spec is the best one. This is true for paladins as well. Retribution is the clear leveling tree for paladins. Holy and Protection are going to level significantly slower. However, at level 35 Protection becomes a viable leveling spec with the ability to pick up Reckoning. But the playstyle between that and Ret is very different. Ret will still be able to burn down single targets faster and have less trouble with casters. Protection, however, will be able to take on multiple (and ew're not talking 2 or 3. More like 6-10.) non-caster mobs with relative ease. This is what's known as Paladin AoE grinding. It all comes down to playstyle.
It's important to note that in Azeroth, up until about level 40 or 45 (a skilled player can push this limit) any spec can fill any role in an instance, provided they have a set of gear to support it. Often leveling paladins who are interested in running instances will have multiple sets of gear: A soloing set, a tanking set and a healing set.
Instances - All specs can do well in instances, but more often than not people are going to be looking to fill healer and tank spots. As mentioned above, early in the game you can fill any role, but it's obviously going to be easier if you're specced for it. It's possible, up until about level 65, to have a hybrid Holy/Protection build allowing you to either tank or heal any instance with ease (and again, with the right gear).
Raiding - Technically all three builds are viable for raiding. However, a Holy Paladin is probably going to be most desired, followed by Protection, followed by Ret.
PvP - This is the one activity that cannot be performed well by all three specs. Holy is fantastic in PvP and Ret can do some serious damage as well as provide some utillity. Protection spec, with the exception of tanking some of the NPCs in AV, is worse than useless in PvP. The mitigation isn't going to do much good, the threat talents are pointless and the damage is laughable. If you want to do PvP as protection for rewards then it's probably going to work out best if you assemble a healing set and heal.