Paladin Class Overview

Last updated on May 07, 2024 at 00:00 by Sellin

Sworn protectors of the light and champions of justice Paladin is one of the strongest classes in all of World of Warcraft. As one of the two classes that are able to Tank, DPS and Heal Paladin is able to contribute to groups in all kinds of different ways and are highly competitive in all three roles. Paladin regardless of specialization provides some of the strongest buffs in the game in the form of Blessings and Hands. Regardless of the role you choose to play Paladins are a staple of any group.


Introduction to Paladin

Paladin Class Crest Cataclysm Guide PaladinPaladin is a melee oriented class that is one of two classes able to Tank, DPS and Heal. Paladin's primary resource is Mana, though in Cataclysm a new resource has been added: Holy Power. While all three Paladin specializations use Mana, you will only really be concerned with maintaining your Mana as Holy. However, all three specializations will be heavily utilizing Holy Power. This is a resource that is generated by abilities like Holy Shock Icon Holy Shock and Crusader Strike Icon Crusader Strike. Holy Power allows you to use powerful abilities like Word of Glory Icon Word of Glory, Templar's Verdict Icon Templar's Verdict and Shield of the Righteous Icon Shield of the Righteous.


Paladin Specializations

Paladin Paladin is able to choose from three specializations: Holy, Protection, and Retribution.

  • Protection Protection — Protection is the tanking specialization for Paladin. Protection Paladin remains one of the sturdiest tanks in the game with the ability to generate incredible AoE threat and mitigate massive amounts of incoming damage. Protection Paladin also provides some of the most powerful debuffs and raid cooldowns in the game in the form of talents such as Vindication Icon Vindication and Judgements of the Just Icon Judgements of the Just and abilities like Divine Guardian Icon Divine Guardian.
  • Holy Holy — Holy is the healing specialization for Paladin. Holy Paladin is still the strongest healing specialization, even when considering the changes made to Beacon of Light Icon Beacon of Light. Holy Paladin has received some major changes in Cataclysm that make your healing toolkit much more diverse and addressed many of the weaknesses found in it, namely the heavy reliance on casting by greatly buffing Holy Shock Icon Holy Shock and adding abilities like Light of Dawn Icon Light of Dawn and Word of Glory Icon Word of Glory. Holy Paladin was also given an incredibly powerful multi-target heal in the form of Holy Radiance Icon Holy Radiance.
  • Retribution Retribution — Retribution is the DPS specialization for Paladin. Retribution is one of the strongest melee DPS in the game and provides the incredibly important 3% increased damage buff to all party/raid members in the form of Communion Icon Communion alongside a considerable amount of Mana regeneration with Replenishment Icon Replenishment. Retribution scales well with gear as we progress through the phases of Cataclysm, meaning this spec is likely to only get stronger.

What Specialization Should I Play?

Each PaladinPaladin specialization fills a different role so it really depends on what role you are interested in playing. Protection Paladin is one of the most consistently durable classes and if played correctly provides very little variance in survivability from attempt to attempt. Holy Paladin is the king of single target healing being able to keep allies alive through massive amounts of incoming damage. Retribution is consistently one of strongest Melee DPS in the game and will always have a spot in a group thanks to the incredibly powerful buffs they bring on top of their competitive DPS.



ProtectionProtection is as mentioned the Tanking specialization for Paladin. Protection is the sturdiest of all tanking specializations and provides the least variance from attempt to attempt. The playstyle for Protection is also highly interactive and will constantly challenge you with maximizing your uptime to generate as much Holy Power as possible should you be using it to deal damage with Shield of the Righteous Icon Shield of the Righteous or healing yourself or an ally with Word of Glory Icon Word of Glory. Protection also brings the incredibly important Vindication Icon Vindication buff which reduces physical damage dealt by the target by 10% and Judgements of the Just Icon Judgements of the Just which reduces the targets Attack Speed by 20%. Protection is also the only Paladin specialization with access to Divine Guardian Icon Divine Guardian which is still widely regarded as one of the strongest raid cooldowns in the game.



HolyHoly is the Healing specialization for Paladin. Holy remains the strongest single target Healer in the game and in Cataclysm was given several new tools that help with several of the shortcomings found in previous expansions. While Beacon of Light Icon Beacon of Light was changed substantially reworks to Holy Shock Icon Holy Shock and the addition of Holy Power add a whole new way to play the specialization. While still focusing on casting strong single target heals Paladin also is now able to effectively AoE heal with abilities like Holy Radiance Icon Holy Radiance. The addition of Holy Power is the single largest change however enabling you to use the new instant cast abilities Word of Glory Icon Word of Glory and Light of Dawn Icon Light of Dawn which further bolster your arsenal of healing related tools. While Holy Paladin did lose access to Divine Guardian Icon Divine Guardian the addition of Resistance Aura Icon Resistance Aura has made Aura Mastery Icon Aura Mastery a much more impactful damage reduction cooldown.



RetributionRetribution is the DPS specialization for Paladin. Retribution is still one of the strongest Melee DPS in the game in regard to their sheer damage output but more importantly they provide two of the most highlight sought-after buffs in the game in the 3% bonus damage to all party/raid members with Communion Icon Communion and a considerable amount of mana regeneration for your group in the form of Replenishment Icon Replenishment. The DPS rotation for Retribution acts much more as a list of priorities than a true DPS rotation so you will always have a good idea of what your next ability should be. The addition of Holy Power has also added a new way spice up the traditional Retribution experience by adding a new buff to maintain in the form of Inquisition Icon Inquisition and a new way to deal damage with your Templar's Verdict Icon Templar's Verdict ability.


How Viable is Paladin in Cataclysm?

Paladin Class Art PaladinPaladin is extremely viable and highly sought-after as all three specializations; You will rarely if ever see a raid without at least two Paladins. Even in ten man content you are likely to see multiple Paladins due to the strength of the buffs and utility they provide in the form of Blessings, Hands, and spec-specific buffs. Protection Paladin remains one of the most highly sought-after tanks due to their stability and ability to mitigate incoming damage from the entire raid with Divine Guardian Icon Divine Guardian. Holy is a staple in every raid, both ten or twenty five man, largely because of their incredible single target healing which largely trivializes tank healing for the rest of the group. Abilities like Beacon of Light Icon Beacon of Light are just too powerful and will almost guarantee a spot in raids for a Holy Paladin. Retribution is one of the most durable melee damage dealers. On top of dealing highly competitive DPS they are one of the most self-sufficient DPS in the game. While groups spots are limited in a 10-man, Retribution Paladin is a popular way to supply many of the needed buffs. Because of this, finding a group, regardless of the size, as a Retribution Paladin should be little to no problem. Though each Paladin specialization fills a different role, they are all extremely competitive among the other classes that fill the same role and viability is far from an issue.


Races For Paladin

PaladinPaladin is unfortunately quite limited in regards to what Race can be selected, but below we have highlighted the races available and how to best make an informed decision as to what the benefits are for each race for your Paladin. As Horde you are able to choose from Blood Elf and Tauren. As Alliance you are able to choose from Dwarf, Human and Draenei.


Horde Races

  • Tauren Tauren is widely regarded as the best race for Protection due to its Endurance Icon Endurance racial, which increases your base health by 5%. War Stomp Icon War Stomp is another great tool that stuns up to five enemies for two seconds. Tauren are also slightly more resistant to Nature damage. Specifically for Retribution, Tauren may be the ideal choise as they start with more Strength.
  • Blood Elf Blood Elf will be our default choice as Holy as Arcane Torrent Icon Arcane Torrent returns a small amount of Mana.

Alliance Races

  • Human Human is your default choice as both Holy and Retribution. The Human Spirit Icon The Human Spirit increases your Spirit by 3% greatly increasing your Mana regeneration. Sword Specialization Icon Sword Specialization increases your Expertise when using a Sword, and the majority of weapons you will be using through Cataclysm as Retribution are swords. Human comes with the ability to instantly remove all crowd controlling abilities in the form of Will to Survive Icon Will to Survive which can be extremely powerful in very specific encounters.
  • Dwarf Dwarves are considered to be the best race for tanking as Alliance due to their Stoneform Icon Stoneform racial. Stoneform is another Tank cooldown that reduces incoming damage by 10% for 8 seconds and removes all Poison, Disease and Bleed effects. Dwarf also gains expertise when using a Mace thanks to Mace Specialization Icon Mace Specialization.
  • Draenei Draenei is a great choice for both tanking or DPSing due to their ability to self heal with Gift of the Naaru Icon Gift of the Naaru, healing the target for 20% of their total health over 15 seconds. Draenei passively have an extra 1% chance to hit thanks to their Heroic Presence Icon Heroic Presence racial.

Gearing and Stats

PaladinPaladin can wear all armor types but you should only be wearing Plate. Plate Specialization Icon Plate Specialization greatly outweighs any possible benefit you may find by wearing a non-plate piece due to the emphasis put on Primary stats in Cataclysm.

PaladinPaladin is able to equip one and two-handed Swords, one and two-handed Maces, One and two-handed Axes, Shields, and Polearms. The Weapon you use will depend on the specialization you are playing, but generally speaking the type of weapon you use is irrelevant as long as it is offering you the most of your desired stats.

As ProtectionProtection you will be using a one-handed Strength weapon and a shield. The focus is primarily on stats that maximize your personal survivability. Threat is largely solved by multipliers found on abilities like Righteous Fury Icon Righteous Fury and Vengeance Icon Vengeance. Your stat priority as a Protection Paladin should be as follows: Stamina, > Mastery > Dodge > Parry >. Any Hit/Expertise Rating you find on gear is beneficial, but should not be your focus.

As HolyHoly you will be using a one-handed Intellect weapon and a shield. Your stat priority as a Holy Paladin should be as follows: Intellect > Spirit > Haste Rating > Critical Strike Rating > Mastery Rating

As RetributionRetribution you will be using a two-handed weapon. Your stat priority as an Retribution Paladin should be as follows: Strength > Hit Rating (to cap 8%) > Expertise Rating (to cap (26) > Mastery Rating > Critical Strike Rating > Haste Rating.


Paladin Addons and Macros

Addons and Macros can greatly improve your quality of life in Azeroth and Northrend. Listed below are some of our recommendations on Addons and Macros to help get the most out of your time playing the game.



  • 07 May 2024: Page added.
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