Paladin tactics

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Paladin tactics for Mists of Pandaria are presented below. Be advised that the article is significantly out of date, and that while it may contain some strategies and advice that is still relevant to the current game, much of its content may no longer be accurate.

Mists of Pandaria

General tactics

Blessings (remember to keep one up):

  • [Blessing of Kings] increases Strength, Agility and Intellect by 5%.
  • [Blessing of Might] increases Mastery.
  • Do some research on theorycrafting sites to determine which blessing is more useful for your spec or party.

Seals (remember to keep one up):

  • [Seal of Insight] increases casting speed by 10%, increases healing by 5% and causes your melee attacks to heal you and restore your mana. It's generally the best seal for Holy paladins.
  • [Seal of Righteousness] causes your melee attacks to deal an additional 6% damage as holy to all nearby enemies. It's generally the best seal for AoE against 3 or more foes.
  • [Seal of Truth] causes your melee attacks to deal an additional 12% damage as holy and apply the Censure DoT. It's generally the best seal for Protection and Retribution paladins.
  • [Seal of Justice] is exclusive to Retribution paladits. It causes your melee attacks to deal 16% additional Holy damage and reduce your targets's movement speed by 50% for 8 seconds. It's useful in PvP, and beats Seal of Truth in short fights against weak, single foes.

Cooldowns and miscellaneous abilities:

  • [Hammer of Justice] stuns the target for 6 seconds with a 1 minute cooldown.
  • [Lay on Hands] heals a target for an amount equal to your maximum health with a 10 minute cooldown. Causes a 1 minute Forbearance debuff, and can't be cast on targets with Forbearance. It should be saved for emergencies.
  • [Divine Shield] prevents all damage and spells for 8 seconds, but reduces your damage by 50% for the duration. Causes a 1 minute Forbearance debuff, and can't be cast while you have Forbearance. It should be saved for emergencies.
  • [Cleanse] removes poison and disease debuffs.
  • [Divine Protection] reduces incoming magical damagy by 40% for 10 seconds with a 1 minute cooldown.
  • Use [Rebuke] to interrupt casters.
  • Use [Turn Evil] to CC a demon or undead enemy for 40 seconds.
  • [Hand of Protection] makes an ally immute to physical attacks for 10 seconds, but prevents the ally from attacking or using physical abilities. 5 minute cooldown, causes Forbearance for 1 minute, cannot be cast on allies with Forbearance. Players can only have one Hand buff per paladin at a time.
  • [Hand of Freedom] protects the target from movement impairing effects for 6 seconds. 25 second cooldown. Players can only have one Hand buff per paladin at a time.
  • [Devotion Aura] reduces incoming damage for all party and raid members by 20% and protects them from Silence and Interrupt effects for 6 seconds. 3 minute cooldown. Save for emergencies.
  • [Hand of Salvation] reduces the target's total threat by 2% per second for 10 seconds. 2 minute cooldown. Players can only have one Hand buff per paladin at a time. Use in emergencies when a party member pulls threat of the tank.
  • [Avenging Wrath] increases your damage and healing by 20% for 20 seconds, with a 3 minute cooldown. Save for tough fights.
  • [Hand of Sacrifice] transfers 30% of incoming damage from an ally to you for the next 12 seconds, or until it's transferred damage equal to your maximum health. Players can only have one Hand buff per paladin at a time. Save for emergencies when an ally's getting low on health
  • [Blinding Light] disorients all enemise within 10 yards for 6 seconds, with a 2 minute cooldown.

Holy

Healing

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Soloing

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Protection

A tauren paladin.

Retribution

Rotational abilities:

Other abilities:

  • [Emancipate] frees you from one movement impairing effect.
  • [Guardian of Ancient Kings] summons a spirit to attack your current target for 30 seconds, with a 5 minute cooldown. Save for tough fights.


Paladin Strengths

  • Can be the tank, healer, or damage dealer, based on current spec.
  • Strong survivability against in both PvE and PvP because they can wear plate armor, self heal, and have various self protection skills.
  • Can buff themselves and others in a variety of ways.
  • Ability to cleanse most debuffs from themselves and others.

Paladin Weaknesses

  • No universally useful base skill long-range attack. There are ways around this:
The talent [Improved Judgement] increases the range of [Judgment] up to 30 yards.
Reckoning a single target taunt, 30 yard range.
The talent [Avenger's Shield] has a range of 30 yards and is the preferred way of pulling mobs for Protection Paladins. It deals a fair share of damage and interrupts spell casting, affecting up to two additional nearby targets.
The talent Holy Shock is a 20 yard ranged ability with a 6 second timer and targets a single mob.
[Exorcism] can also be used as a ranged/pulling attack. Exorcism is usable against all targets, and will always critically hit when used against Undead or Demon targets. Don't forget that if you face a Warlock or Deathknight in PvP, their pets are demons or Undead. [Exorcism] can be used against hunter pets however this will not always trigger a critical hit.
[Hammer of Wrath] is also a ranged attack, though it is only usable when your opponent is at 20% health or lower.
Items: Trinkets such as [Linken's Boomerang] (a reward for quest series in Un'Goro), the engineering profession (for grenades and other ranged trinkets), by getting [Ez-Thro Dynamite] from an engineer, or items such as [Magic Candle]s. [The Decapitator] is a one-hand axe that drops off Prince Malchezaar.
  • Due to their incapability to dish out ranged damage, if a PvP enemy wants to get away the Paladin will have to do something about it before the target gets too far.
[Hammer of Justice] stuns the target for a short time (3-6 seconds, depending on rank), however, it's cooldown is also long -- one minute, untalented.
[Repentance] can also be used also, though it will be canceled when damage is dealt, and it also has a one minute cooldown.
  • A paladin's ability to stay alive is directly based on mana.
Paladins have great tools for gaining mana: [Blessing of Might], and [Seal of Wisdom].
  • The paladin is very susceptible to anything that counters spells and being killed as a result of a [Holy Light] cast being interrupted is common. Interrupting a spell cast results in a complete lockout of any cast spell for the paladin, with the exception of melee attacks obtained through talents (in addition to auto attack): [Crusader Strike], [Divine Storm], and [Hammer of the Righteous].
Switching to [Concentration Aura] reduces the spell push back received from damage by 35%. For Paladins with [Spiritual Focus] the push back is eliminated all together.

Basic Leveling/soloing Strategies

Hulstom, Servant of the Light, a draenei paladin just done with killing a flesh giant.

During the early levels, you should spec retribution for higher melee damage. Use a 2-hand weapon with good DPS, and wear mail armor (plate after level 40) with Strength and Stamina. You should also keep a shield and a fast 1-hand weapon in the bag for special situations. Be sure to get Improved Judgements at 14-5, [The Art of War] and [Judgements of the Wise] at 40-44, and [Crusader Strike] at 50. The other talents should be pretty self-explanatory (more damage is good).

Paladin soloing is dull but fairly fast. At early levels, you don't have very many buttons to press, but with a good weapon you have enough burst that things will die quickly. Pull with (at level 16 or above) Reckoning; this does a lot of damage for very little mana and is off the GCD. Judge whenever you can. That's basically it. If the mob runs, Reckoning will finish it off (since it's no longer targeting you). [Exorcism] is useful when cast while pulling but not while the mob is hitting you, since it interrupts your melee attacks. When you have Art of War, [Exorcism] becomes instant cast and should be used whenever possible. You'll finally get a short-cooldown attack at 50 with [Crusader Strike], and another at 60 with [Divine Storm].

After level 20, you can kill 3-5 mobs pretty easily by using [Consecration]. Don't bother using [Consecration] on single mobs until you get [Judgements of the Wise], since it's a big mana hog.

When fighting, always remember to keep your Aura, Blessings and Seal up all the time! You generally want [Retribution Aura], [Blessing of Might] and [Seal of Truth], but consider [Blessing of Kings] and [Devotion Aura] when soloing elites.

You have a lot of options when things get dicey. [Lay on Hands] is a full heal on a moderate timer. [Hand of Protection] and [Divine Shield] make you invulnerable long enough to heal up with [Holy Light]. If these are all on cooldown, put on [Concentration Aura] and try to get [Holy Light] off before you die. [Hammer of Justice], [Turn Evil] and [Repentance] can all help incapacitate a particularly tough foe.

Between 40 and 45 you'll get [Judgements of the Wise], giving you nigh-infinite mana.  [Glyph of Judgement] and  [Glyph of Exorcism] are both moderate DPS boosters. The minor glyphs worth using are  [Glyph of Blessing of Might], a nice time saver, and  [Glyph of Sense Undead], the only minor glyph that increases damage.

What stats affect my damage the most?

Hanthal Lightward, a blood elf paladin.

As a Retribution Paladin there are several stats that are important to your dps. These are strength/attack power (AP), hit rating 8% for PvE or 5% for PvP, and critical strike rating above 25% to keep Vengeance up. Spell damage no longer plays a major part in a Retribution Paladin's damage since patch 2.4.

Retribution Paladin's main seals for longer, single target fights are [Seal of Vengeance](Alliance) and [Seal of Corruption](Horde).

Since patch 3.0.2, strength and attack power became the most important stats for Protection Paladins dps.

There is one basic stat for Holy Paladins dps: Spell Power. DPS Holy Paladins, or shockadins (not recommended for leveling) also benefit from critical strike rating and intellect.

Spell damage coefficients and ability crit types are listed here.

All paladins benefit from spell power; however, only Holy Paladins should wear gear specifically with spell power on it. Protection and Retribution both possess talents (deep in each respective tree) to obtain a significant amount of spell power through a percentage of a baseline stat - Attack Power (and as a result, Strength) for Retribution, Strength for Protection.

Weapon Choice

Trogun Smith, a human paladin.

Retribution utilizes two handed weapons with [Seal of Vengeance], [Seal of Command] or [Seal of Corruption]. These seals combined with a two handed weapon yield the highest DPS. Typically, a weapon with higher melee damage is preferred in weapons with near-identical weapon dps.

Protection utilizes one handed weapons with [Seal of Corruption] or [Seal of Vengeance] while tanking, only using [Seal of Righteousness] if they are Seal Twisting in order to push out a bit extra threat. Tanking with Seal of Corruption/Vengeance also has the added benefit of having the damage over time component being applied to every target [Hammer of the Righteous] strikes, allowing the paladin to build stacks of the dot on up to 2 additional targets. If solo'ing or dps'ing as Protection, the paladin most often should use Retribution gear while continuing to wield a one-hander and a shield, as Hammer of the Righteous does not work with a two-hander and you cannot use [Shield of Righteousness] without a shield.

Holy utilizes one handed weapons with [Seal of Righteousness], [Seal of Wisdom], [Seal of Light], or Seal of Vengeance/Corruption. Attack speed of the weapon does not affect the overall damage as most damage caused will be caused by using [Holy Shock] offensively, as well as Judgements and [Consecration]. In addition, the holy damage of Seal of Righteousness for each swing is inversely proportional to the attack speed. However, a faster weapon does give more proc when using Seal/Judgement of Wisdom/Light. Holy Paladins may also use Shield of Righteousness in their solo'ing/dps rotation when in melee range.

Basic Partying Strategies

Partying Help
Tactics

Partying
Instancing

Group Roles

Tank
Healer
Damage

Functions

Leader
Crowd control
Main assist
Puller
Rezzer
Scout

Related

Aggro
Hybrid classes
Meeting Stone
Pickup group
Wipe

As a hybrid class you can have three roles in a party: dps, tank, or healer. Which one you play at any given time will depend on your talent spec, the gear you bring with you, and the composition of the rest of the party. Make sure you (and others) are aware of your role from the outset to avoid problems later.

See Paladin instance grouping guide for further tips. For details of different roles of paladins in group, please refer to Paladins as healers, Paladins as tanks, and Paladins as DPS.

Strategies in Details

Auras

Always make sure you activate an aura appropriate to your situation. Change as the situation calls for because it's instant and costs no mana.

[Devotion Aura]
Early on this is all you have. Mostly useful in groups after other auras become available.
[Retribution Aura]
While soloing this will be the primary aura to maintain, it works especially well on fast hitting mobs.
Available at 16th level.
[Concentration Aura]
Switch to this aura when you need to heal. This is especially important if you do not have the talent [Spiritual Focus]. Combine it with the talent and there will be very few effects that will interrupt your healing.
Available at 22nd level.
[Resistance Aura]
Provides additional magical resistance to all party and raid members within 40 yards. Good for boss fights that use a lot of shadow attacks on the party or raid. E.g., The Black Knight (tactics)

It should be emphasized that Resistance Aura is very helpful for harder boss fights. For example, going off of the Resistance table on this site, a level 80 paladin using a resistance aura will block about 23.5% of spell damage inflicted of that magic type for a level 83 boss. If a boss hits the entire raid for 5000 damage to each person, that's 125000 damage in a 25-man. If the aura is used, that number can be brought down to 95625 damage. You would be mitigating about 29375 damage.

Blessings

Maxum Ironbrew, a dwarf paladin.

Make sure you always have a blessing active. As of Patch 4.0 all blessings have had their timers increased to 60 minutes and now buffs the entire party or raid. Remember that it is an instant cast, so even if you're in combat you can go ahead and bless yourself or others as necessary.

[Blessing of Might]
This will increase your Attack Power by 10% and MP5 by a number based on your level.
[Blessing of Kings]
Increases all your base stats (except Spirit) by 5%, as well as increasing resistances to magic by a number based on your level. This blessing is important in situations where higher health is needed, such as tanking or PvP. It also increases your DPS by providing extra strength, although the improvement is not as big as Blessing of Might. In addition, it also increases your mana pool, although the improvement is most noticeable as Holy. This does not stack with [Mark of the Wild].

Seals & Judgements

Seals are self-buffs which boost the Paladin's power temporarily. Effectively, they add a weapon proc to their melee strikes. Additionally, Paladins can judge these seals upon an enemy which deals damage and provides a judgement effect for 20 seconds. The judgement effect can benefit the paladin as well as others who are hitting the mobs, and only one judgement effect per paladin can exist on a target. For more detailed information see Paladin#Seals.

Seals

Zaistor the Vigilant, another draenei paladin.
[Seal of Righteousness]
By itself it provides X amount of additional Holy damage per hit based on weapon speed.
When judged it causes instant holy damage to the target based on Attack Power and Spell Power.
It is the initial seal for protection paladin tanks, however is replaced after obtaining [Seal of Corruption] or [Seal of Vengeance].
Your first seal.
[Seal of Command]
Redesigned for patch 3.2.2
All melee attacks will deal X to Y additional Holy damage.
When judged does X to Y Holy damage.
When used with attacks or abilities that strike a single target, this additional Holy damage will strike up to 2 additional targets.
It is the preferred PvP seal for Retribution.
Available through a talent in the Retribution tree beginning at level 20.
[Seal of Justice]
By itself it provides a chance of stunning the target. This can only occur three times in a row on a target, as both mobs and players subject it to diminishing returns.
When judged, causes some holy damage based on Spell Power and Attack Power.
Available at level 22.
[Seal of Light]
By itself it provides a chance of returning X health per hit.
 [Glyph of Seal of Light] adds 5% healing to all your spells while Seal of Light is active.
When judged, causes some holy damage based on Spell Power and Attack Power.
Available at level 30.
Mardun Valorhearth, another dwarf paladin.
[Seal of Wisdom]
By itself it provides a chance of returning a percentage of total mana per hit.
 [Glyph of Seal of Wisdom] reduces mana cost of all healing spells while Seal of Wisdom is active.
When judged, causes some holy damage based on Spell Power and Attack Power.
Available at level 38.
[Seal of Vengeance] (Alliance) and [Seal of Corruption] (Horde)
Redesigned for patch 3.2
Attacks apply Holy Vengeance (Alliance) (Blood Corruption (Horde)), which deals X additional Holy damage over 15 sec.
Blood Corruption and Holy Vengeance can stack up to 5 times. Once stacked to 5 times, each of the Paladins attacks also deals 33% weapon damage as additional Holy damage.
Judging this will deal X Holy damage to an enemy, increased by 10% for each application of Holy Vengeance or Blood Corruption on the target.
Seal of Vengeance is available to all alliance paladins at level 64.
Seal of Corruption is available to all horde paladins at level 66.
This is the primary tanking seal and primary DPS seal for bosses or long fights.
[Seal of Blood] (Horde) and [Seal of the Martyr] (Alliance)

Note* As of Patch 3.2, Seal of Blood has been removed.

By itself it deals additional Holy damage equal to 28% of the damage of the attack on every hit but also backfire 10% of the damage to the paladin.
When judged does X to Y damage but also backfire 33% of the damage to the paladin.
Its overall damage is better than Seal of Command. It is the primary seal for retribution paladins, except during situations that the backfire damage would be dangerous.
Seal of Blood is available to all horde paladins at level 64.
Seal of Martyr is available to all alliance paladins at level 66.

Judgement

[Judgment] causes holy damage and cannot be cast without a seal.

PvP

Holy paladins are good healers in PvP because of their good survivability and various abilities to help other group members. Retribution paladins also perform very well in PvP because of their high burst damage and survivability.

On the other hand, there is no good protection spec for PvP. The reason is most of the damage of protection paladins depends on reflective damage, which means you are not going to do much damage in PvP except against very stupid rogues, fury warriors or enhancement shamans. Also, the healing is not as good as Holy paladins. Protection paladins still have use for (multi-)tanking bosses in Alterac Valley, holding flag in Warsong Gulch or Eye of the Storm, or defending bases in Arathi Basin (until help arrives or the offenders kill you eventually).