Paladin Leveling Guide

Paladin Leveling Guide
  • Author: Luxrah
  • Date: May 17, 2024
  • Updated: May 18, 2024
  • Expansion: Cataclysm

Paladins are a highly flexible class, with each of their talent trees devoted to a different role. Retribution has traditionally been the leveling specialization for Paladins, offering the most straightforward damage for getting through enemies quickly. But Protection is also an option for those who want to round up lots of enemies and whittle them down all at once, even allowing you to solo many dungeons along the way.

In this guide, we’ll go over helpful tips, where to spend your talent points, what to look for when gearing, effective use of your abilities, and other general advice to make the leveling process as smooth and easy as possible!

Pros

  • High survivability with plate armor, healing, and defensive cooldowns
  • Strong AoE damage
  • Useful buffs and utility
  • Exceptional single-target damage as Retribution
  • Easy to find dungeon groups as Protection

Cons

  • Awkward when fighting small groups of enemies (2-3)
  • No sprint or stealth to help you get around more efficiently

General Leveling Tips

The best approach to leveling will vary based on which specialization you choose. Retribution Paladins will do fine questing in the open world where their stronger single-target damage will help them complete quests efficiently. Protection Paladins are better utilized in dungeons where they can easily find a spot as a tank and there are plenty of enemies for them to round up and AoE down.

Stat Priority

Retribution

  • Strength
  • Mastery
  • Critical Strike
  • Haste

Protection

  • Stamina
  • Mastery
  • Armor
  • Strength

Rotation

Retribution

You’ll want to use Seal of Righteousness until you get Seal of Truth at level 44. Some of the abilities listed below will be learned at higher levels, and you can simply leave them out until you acquire them.

  1. Cast Crusader Strike on cooldown if you have less than 3 Holy Power.
    • Cast Divine Storm instead if you are fighting 4 or more enemies.
  2. Cast Inquisition if you have 3 Holy Power and its buff is not active.
  3. Cast Templar’s Verdict if you have 3 Holy Power or if Divine Purpose procs.
  4. Cast Exorcism if The Art of War procs.
  5. Cast Hammer of Wrath on cooldown if an enemy is below 20% health.
  6. Cast Judgement on cooldown.
  7. Cast Holy Wrath on cooldown.
  8. Cast Consecration on cooldown if you are fighting 3 or more enemies.
  9. Cast Divine Plea on cooldown to keep your mana up.

Protection

You’ll want to use Seal of Righteousness until you get Seal of Truth at level 44. Some of the abilities listed below will be learned at higher levels, and you can simply leave them out until you acquire them.

  1. Cast Hammer of the Righteous on cooldown if you have less than 3 Holy Power.
  2. Cast Judgement on cooldown to maintain Judgements of the Wise.
  3. Cast Hammer of Wrath on cooldown if an enemy is below 20% health.
  4. Cast Shield of the Righteous if you have 3 Holy power.
  5. Cast Avenger’s Shield if you are fighting more than one enemy.
  6. Cast Consecration on cooldown if you are fighting 3 or more enemies.
  7. Cast Holy Wrath on cooldown.
  8. Cast Divine Plea on cooldown to keep your mana up.

Talents

Retribution

cataclysm retribution paladin leveling build
cataclysm retribution paladin leveling build order

This build is close to our endgame Retribution Paladin talent build, but we’ve taken Eye for an Eye and Repentance, which are both particularly useful in solo play.

Protection

cataclysm protection paladin leveling build
cataclysm protection paladin leveling build order

Again we have a loadout that’s very close to our endgame Protection Paladin talent build, but we’ve taken Eye for an Eye to boost our retributive damage for large pulls.

Glyphs

Prime

Retribution

Protection

Major

Minor

Equipment

Paladins are able to use Polearms as well as One- and Two-handed Axes, Maces, and Swords. Retribution Paladins will want to choose a Two-Handed weapon with the best stats. Protection Paladins will want to choose a One-Handed weapon that they can equip along with a Shield.

Weapon upgrades will often be the biggest damage increase while leveling. Weapons are your primary source of Attack Power, and will be a big boost every time you upgrade.

Paladins can use Cloth, Leather, or Mail armor, and learn Plate at level 40. At level 50 they gain Plate Specialization, and from that point on you’ll want to wear exclusively Plate in order to benefit from the buff to your primary stat. If you’re using Heirlooms, they will automatically convert from Mail to Plate at level 40.

Professions

Your professions won’t really affect the leveling process much, but if you want some useful passive bonuses, you can go with gathering professions like Skinning or Mining. These will be easy to keep up with while leveling and also offer the best gold-making potential. You can also opt to start working on any crafting professions that you want to use at endgame.

Useful Macros

There aren’t many super important macros for leveling, but there are some that are nice to have.

Startattack Macro

It is optimal to have the /startattack command on all of your abilities as a melee character. Doing so allows your character to begin auto-attacking your target right away, even if you aren’t currently in range to attack them, that ability is on cooldown, etc.

#showtooltip
/startattack
/cast Hammer of the Righteous

Divine Shield Cancel Macro

There are occasions where as a Protection Paladin you’d like to use Divine Shield in order to quickly remove a harmful spell from yourself. However, while you’re invulnerable, any targets previously attacking you will temporarily switch their attention to the next highest threat target that they can attack — which will very likely be a DPS or healer.

In those situations, you need a macro like this one. It uses your bubble but then cancels it right away if you press the macro twice, so the boss won’t have time to attack someone else.

#showtooltip
/cast Divine Shield
/cancelaura Divine Shield

 

About the Author

Luxrah

I've been playing World of Warcraft on and off since vanilla, usually as a healer or caster and often as a guild leader. I play both retail and classic. I also love RPGs, sandboxes, and sims.
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