WotLK Classic Paladin Leveling Guide

wotlk classic paladin leveling guide

Welcome to our WotLK Classic leveling guide for Paladins! Righteous and steadfast, Paladins are known for using their devotion to the light to repel any evil they encounter in their travels. They can do this in a number of ways, allowing them to serve as a healer, tank, or a damage-dealer. Armed with plenty of useful tools, buffs, and abilities, a Paladin is a welcome class in any content.

Paladins in WotLK Classic are fantastic no matter what role they choose, being one of the best at all of the roles they have available. With the new changes and additions, Paladins in WotLK Classic are not only incredibly easy and fast to level, but they are also very fun as well. Paladins are easily able to deal with large packs of enemies and solo a lot of group quests.

Most Paladins will choose to level as Retribution, especially with the new abilities available in WotLK, but some still prefer leveling as Protection, focusing on killing massive packs of enemies rather than chaining enemy to enemy. Both playstyles work very well, but most will still choose Retribution for its ease and speed of it. Because it is generally seen as the superior leveling spec in WotLK Classic, this guide will be focused on Retribution Paladins, but a lot of the tips can be applied to Holy and Protection equally.

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!


  • Fantastic survivability and utility
  • Able to adapt to any situation or groups needs, especially with Dual Specialization
  • Capable of soloing the vast majority of quests
  • Rotation doesn’t require much planning and is hard to mess up
  • Situational abilities reward attentive players


  • Lots of abilities come later, making the earlier levels fairly dull
  • Early Blessings only last for 10-minutes, meaning you need to refresh them often
  • Lots of situational abilities can be overwhelming
  • Fights don’t vary a lot, you will mostly be doing the same thing for every fight

General Leveling Tips

Pay attention to spells as you get them, something that may sound useless at the time most likely has a niche use that can save you. Something like Judgement of Justice may seem mediocre, but can be incredible for leveling. “Preventing them from fleeing” means that humanoid enemies won’t run away from you at low health. Enemies that run away can easily chain more enemies and put you in a very bad position.

Resistance Auras like Frost Resistance Aura might not seem important, but they don’t cost mana to change between and can drastically reduce the damage enemy casters do to you, leading to less risk and less downtime between kills. Play around with every new spell you get, and try to understand it so you can incorporate it into your toolkit effectively!

As a Retribution Paladin, most of your damage is based on your weapon, not your spell ranks or spell power. This means that upgrading your weapon will be the best increase in your leveling speed and a lot of the time a detour into a dungeon or a different zone to get a better weapon early can be worth it. Spells like Crusader Strike deal damage based on “weapon damage”. Because of this, you want a slower weapon that deals higher damage. Something like Rockslicer is going to be better than Taskmaster’s Axe even though it has lower DPS, simply because every individual hit will deal more damage.

Paladins are able to use Cloth, Leather, Mail, and after level 40, Plate Armor. This is a key part of survivability as a leveling Paladin and you will often need to choose between higher damage Leather options and higher survivability Mail or Plate options. This is always going to end up being a personal choice, only you know how your leveling feels, so only you can decide if you need more survivability or if you’re comfortable enough to get damage instead. In general, you will always want to avoid wearing Cloth gear, as it does not provide the stats you need.

While leveling you will learn Judgement of Light, Judgement of Wisdom, and Judgement of Justice — These 3 abilities are a key part of your toolkit while leveling and a big part of your damage. All three deal the same amount of damage and apply effects based on your active Seals like Seal of Righteousness or Seal of Command, but have a unique debuff based on which one you choose.

Judgement of Light gives every attack against that enemy a chance to heal you for 2% of your maximum health, this is the first Judgement you will learn, but will rarely be used once you have access to the others. Judgement of Justice prevents a target from fleeing while active. This is a very situational ability that can be used to great effect in tight spaces like caves or ships. Judgement of Wisdom gives every attack against that enemy a chance to restore 2% of your base mana. This Judgement will be your most used, helping you leave every fight with high mana. As a Paladin you will always want to keep your Mana up, everything you do will require it.

As you level you will unlock more Seals. These are 30-minute buffs that empower your melee strikes and your Judgement spells. A level 1 Paladin starts with Seal of Righteousness, adding Holy Damage to every melee swing and dealing Holy Damage to a single target when used with a Judgement. At level 20 Retribution Talents can put a talent point into Seal of Command. This ability makes every melee swing deal additional damage to up to 3-targets, effectively making every swing you do an area-of-effect attack! Judging with Seal of Command deals a large amount of Holy damage to a single target.

Seal of Command will be your go-to Seal for the rest of your leveling and is incredibly strong, but the other Seals you learn do all have their own uses though and it can be very good to familiarize yourself with them!

As a mana class, you always want to carry level-appropriate water with you. You never want to be stuck waiting around for your mana to regenerate, time spent waiting around is time wasted! You won’t need to carry a ton, but at least a stack or two should always fit into your bags.

Use Hammer of Justice and Repentance liberally, these are great tools to reduce the damage you take or to help you if you are ever overwhelmed. They also give you enough time to heal yourself back to full health without any pushback.

Blessing of Wisdom may seem appealing, but Blessing of Might will increase the speed you kill enemies, meaning you have to use less mana overall. Always keep Blessing of Might active!

Stat Priority

  1. Strength – This is always going to be your favorite stat. Each point of Strength gives you 2 attack power.
  2. Attack Power – Increases your damage dealt with most of your abilities, and increases your Spell Power through Sheath of Light.
  3. Critical Strike Rating – Increases your chance to deal critical damage. This is a fantastic boost because every crit with a slow weapon will do massive damage.
  4. Haste Rating – Increases the speed of all your attacks, allowing you to do more damage faster!
  5. Hit Rating – Increases your chance to hit with all attacks. This is a great extra stat, but while leveling you will rarely find enough of it to make it worthwhile.
  6. Agility – Increases your critical strike chance by a small amount.
  7. Stamina – Increases your maximum health! This is a fantastic stat that is already on most gear, so it is usually not something you aim at, instead something that comes naturally.
  8. Spell Power – As a Retribution Paladin we want to get most of our Spell Power from Attack Power and Sheath of Light, so gearing for Spell Power is usually a waste.
  9. Intellect – Increases your maximum mana and critical chance with heals. This isn’t something we should ever need to worry about, but of course it doesn’t hurt.
  10. Spirit – Increases your out-of-combat mana regeneration, which is almost entirely wasted. This stat is effectively useless as a Retribution Paladin.


Your rotation as a Retribution Paladin will often simply be “press whatever is ready”, but when multiple options are available you should definitely prioritize some over others!

Before any pull, make sure you have a Seal, a Blessing, and an Aura active. For the vast majority of fights, this will be Seal of Command, Blessing of Might, and Retribution Aura, but make sure to adjust as situations call for it! Until you get Seal of Command and Retribution Aura you will want to use Seal of Righteousness and Devotion instead.

  1. Apply Judgement of Wisdom (Unlocked at level 12) if the buff is missing
  2. Cast Hammer of Wrath if the target is below 20% health (Unlocked at level 44)
  3. Cast Divine Storm (Unlocked at level 60)
  4. Cast Crusader Strike (Unlocked at level 50)
  5. Cast Holy Wrath (Unlocked at level 50) if you are fighting Undead or Demons
  6. Cast Consecration if you are fighting 2 or more enemies (Unlocked at level 20)
  7. Cast a Judgement
  8. Cast Exorcism (Unlocked at level 20) if you have The Art of War (Unlocked at level 41) up and are close to full health

Talent Path

retribution leveling order wotlk classic 1
Talent Calculator Order

The Retribution tree has a lot of talents that are very important to grab as soon as they are available. So many in fact that sometimes you will have to choose between two very good talents, delaying great talents for a few levels because even better talents became available at the same time.

These are the key points in the talent tree:

When we are done in the Retribution tree, we move over to the Protection tree. This tree is mainly a supplement but it gives us a lot of survivability with talents like Imp Righteous Fury and Guardians Favor.


Glyphs aren’t always going to be the easiest to get a hold of while leveling, but if you happen to swing by an auction house you might find some cheap and useful glyphs to use.

Here are some of the Major Glyphs worth considering:

  • Glyph of Judgement – Judgements deal 10% more damage. This is a simple and easy 10% damage increase on one of our best damaging spells.
  • Glyph of Consecration – Increases the duration and cooldown of your Consecration by 2-seconds. This is a great way to save a little bit of mana if you are AoEing, but can be a bit of a bother if you have to move and leave your Consecration behind.
  • Glyph of Exorcism – Increases the damage of Exorcism by 20%. Exorcism is a major DPS spell for us, but while leveling we will, unfortunately, be using The Art of War on instant cast Flash of Light instead, making this significantly less valuable.
  • Glyph of Holy Wrath – Reduces the cooldown of Holy Wrath by 15-seconds. Holy Wrath is a fantastic spell that you want to use as often as possible when fighting Demons or Undeads, but the majority of combat won’t be against Undead or Demons.
  • Glyph of Seal of Command – You gain 8% of your base mana whenever you use a Judgement with Seal of Command active. This is some extra free mana if other glyphs are expensive.

Here are some of the Minor Glyphs worth considering:

Noteable Abilities To Train

Class Quests

  • Redemption – At level 12 you will get a quest from your local Paladin trainer, sending you around the zone helping those in need and ending in you learning to resurrect friendly targets. This is skippable, but I very much recommend getting this ability as soon as it’s available, just in case you ever do need it.
  • Blood-Tempered Ranseur is received from a chain of quests starting with The Second Trial. This quest is exclusive to Blood Elves and will have you fighting various Paladin masters in Silvermoon City, and eventually will send you around Azeroth to do dungeons such as Blackfathom Deeps, Shadowfang Keep, and Ragefire Chasm. This quest is a lot of fun and a great experience for newer players, but the reward is lackluster and not much better than Sin’dorei Warblade, which you will likely already have by the time you get this quest.
  • Verigan’s Fist is very similar to the quest chain above, exclusive to Alliance Paladins. This chain starts with Tome of Valor given to you by your local Paladin trainer and will have you running through Loch Modan, Westfall, and dungeons such as Blackfathom Deeps, Shadowfang Keep, and The Deadmines. This quest is again very much worth doing for fun and the experience, but the hammer given by the end isn’t fantastic, especially when the dungeons you have to do to get it already offer weapons such as Arced War Axe and Strike of the Hydra.
  • At level 50 all classes receive a quest taking them to the Sunken Temple. For Alliance Paladins this offers a choice of Lightforged Blade, Chivalrous Signet, or Sanctified Orb. For Blood Elf Paladins this instead gives Scourgebane.


Paladins are able to use Axes, Swords, Maces, and Polearms. You should always try to use whichever weapon is the best for you, but swapping weapon types will typically require you to level the appropriate weapon skill as well.

You should always prioritize the damage of your weapon, not the DPS. Slower weapons at the same level will almost always have higher damage to make up for their slow speed and attacks. Abilities like Crusader Strike are instant and deal damage based on weapon damage. Something like Corpsemaker is perfect for a leveling Paladin, being incredibly slow and having a lot of Strength. Something like Angerforge’s Battle Axe may seem great at a glance, the 2.60 attack speed massively reduces the damage per swing, especially compared to something like Flame Wrath from the same dungeon.

Weapon upgrades will be the biggest damage increase while leveling. Most of your damaging spells only have a single rank and scale with gear instead of spell ranks.

Paladins are able to use all armor types and ideally will always want to wear Plate after level 40 and Mail before level 40, but sometimes Leather items will provide better stats at the cost of survivability. While leveling you won’t always be able to wear optimal gear, so make do with what you have.


Professions can be hard to keep up while you level, but in Wrath of the Lich King, they give a lot of benefits. Something like Blacksmithing is very difficult to keep up while you level, but gathering Professions like Mining and Herbalism are incredibly easy to keep up as you go, and even if you don’t want to craft things yourself, you can sell the materials on the auction house to supplement other aspects of leveling.

While every profession gives some kind of stat boost, most of them give them towards max skill. Gathering professions instead give skills early that constantly scale as you level.

  • Mining gives Toughness, a passive boost to your Stamina, starting with 3 Stamina at 75 Mining, and ending at 60 Stamina at 450 Mining.
  • Skinning gives Master of Anatomy, a passive boost to your Critical Strike Rating, starting with 3 Critical Strike Rating at 75 Skinning, and ending at 40 Critical Strike Rating at 450 Skinning.
  • Herbalism gives Lifeblood, an instant cast heal-over-time on a 3-minute cooldown. This scales with both Herbalism and your maximum health.

If you instead want to craft things while you level, Alchemy and Engineering are fantastic alternatives.

  • Engineering allows you to craft grenades and bombs alongside a bunch of fun or niche utility items such as target dummies and fireworks.
  • Alchemy allows you to craft your own potions, flasks, and elixirs which can all be invaluable for improving your leveling experience and speed.

Useful Macros

There aren’t many useful macros while leveling, but one important one that I recommend always having is a cancelaura macro to remove Hand of Protection and Divine Shield. These both impact your ability to deal damage, so if you no longer need their effects there is no reason to keep them active longer than needed!

/cancelaura Divine Shield
/cancelaura Hand of Protection


About the Author


I love MMOs of all shades, especially the nitty gritty numbers parts of them. You might recognize me from the Shadow Priest discord, otherwise I play a little bit of everything, especially games with support roles available.
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He really is tho
He really is tho
1 year ago


3 days ago

no mention of hand of reckoning usage while leveling tells me this guide hasn’t been made by a paladin main (which is fine since overall the guide is very useful) if playing full attack power retri pala starting with hand of reckoning and then exorcism and judgement you can 2-3 shot mobs and speed run stuff especially when they start critting hard

1 year ago

You say that paladin’s can equip axe’s, but unless I’m mistaken I swear we can’t even LEARN to ability to use axe’s.

Reply to  perroalto
1 year ago

alright I should’ve looked this up first, I just realized that we CAN learn axe’s in Ironforge hahaha, love the guide so far btw.

Reply to  perroalto
10 months ago

Yes, Paladins have always been able to use axes. Perhaps you were thinking of Rogues, since they were unable to use axes in both Vanilla and TBC.

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