Paladins are one of the most iconic classes in World of Warcraft. Because of their rich lore, most players at least have one as an alt, and many choose them as their main character because of their unique ability to fill any of the three main roles - Healing, Tanking, and DPS. Paladins also bring powerful buffs to any group, and having one in any raid is generally considered necessary. For this reason, a lot of players find themselves with a newly level 80 Paladin, but no clue how to proceed into end-game. This guide lays out Talent Specs, Gear and Stat needs, Gems, and Enchants for all three Paladin specializations as well as variations for PvE and PvP.
Paladins are very fortunate when it comes to their talents. All three talent trees are extremely focused towards their assigned purpose: Holy for healing, Protection for tanking, and Retribution for DPS. They do, however, contain balanced “top tier” talents that can appeal to all specs, and provide some customization options depending on taste and playstyle. The talent specs listed here are generally considered “best” for their named purpose, but there is a lot a player can do to alter these specs and make them more personalized.
Holy PvP - A
Holy PvP - B
PvE - Holy
Paladins, like every other class, are only limited by gear. When you first hit level 80, you’re usually wearing basic quest reward items, and perhaps a few dungeon blues. You can get a nice head start on gear by doing heroics and having items crafted, however.
Blacksmiths can provide several items for freshly 80 Holy Paladins. For armor, the Brilliant Titansteel Helm and Treads make great starting epics. For a weapon, the Titansteel Guardian ranks among the top healing weapons available pre-Naxx 25. An epic ring and neck can be crafted by a Jewelcrafter: The Titanium Spellshock Necklace and Titanium Spellshock Ring. It can be frustrating to find, and choose, the right Libram for Holy. Unfortunately there aren’t really any good options in Northrend prior to entering Heroics. The Venture Co. Libram of Mostly Holy Deeds is likely the best you’re going to be able to find prior to getting the 15 Badges of Heroism you’ll need for Libram of Renewal. You can also look for BoE blues and epics on the Auction House, like the Bone-Framed Bracers or Zom’s Crackling Bulwark which can usually be found fairly cheap.
PvE Gear - Protection
A Blacksmith is the Protection Paladin’s best friend once he hits level 80. A Blacksmith can provide two pieces of epic tanking armor (Tempered Titansteel Helmand Treads) and a tanking shield (Titansteel Shield Wall). For a main hand weapon a freshly 80 Prot Paladin should look into getting the Axe of the Sen’jin Protector (Teldrassil Protector for Alliance) from the Argent Tournament for 25 Champion’s Seals. For Librams, the Venture Co. Libram of Protection will provide better threat generation, while the Libram of Obstruction for 15 Emblems of Heroism will give better survivability. A BoE epic such as Wapach’s Spaulders of Solidarity, or the Bracers of Dalaran’s Parapets can be expensive, but incredibly helpful. You can also look to a Jewelcrafter to get the Titanium Earthguard Chain and Titanium Earthguard Ring.
PvE Gear - Retribution
Having a blacksmith craft gear for your newly 80 Ret Pally is extremely helpful. For example, the Titansteel Destroyer is a great crafted weapon, on par with many 10-man Naxxramas drops. Other epic and blue items can be crafted by blacksmiths, like the Spiked Titansteel Helm and Treads. As for Librams, you certainly shouldn’t waste a single Emblem of Heroism on the Libram of Reciprocation, as it is one of the worst in the game. The Venture Co. Libram of Retribution is a much better choice.
Recommended Heroics for Paladins
The following is a list of Heroic instances that drop epic items useful to Paladins. The epic item slot is listed in parenthesis.
The Oculus (legs)
Halls of Stone (waist)
Utgarde Keep (ring)
Culling of Stratholme (ring)
The Nexus (main hand)
The Violet Hold (legs)
The Culling of Stratholme (shield)
Drak’tharon Keep (ring)
Utgarde Pinnacle (main hand)
The Oculus (hands)
Utgarde Keep (legs)
The Nexus (belt)
Halls of Stone (wrists)
Halls of Lightning (2-hand)
PvE Gear Stats - Holy
This guide can only help you along the way to finding the right gear for your newly 80 Paladin, but eventually you’re going to need to be able to recognize upgrades on-site, without having to look up information about them. This section of the guide will help you identify and prioritize stats for the spec you are using on your Paladin.
In 3.1 Holy Paladins' favorite stat is Intellect. Intellect gives a number of things, including mana (bonus mana with Divine Intellect), Critical Strike Rating, and MP5. Since Intellect effects crit, many prefer stacking it instead of seeking out critical strike rating. With Illumination critical heals become incredibly important, and are in fact key to the Paladin staying topped off with mana. As a general rule, a Holy Paladin should seek out gear with high Spellpower, high Intellect, and take critical strike and haste ratings as a bonus. In patch 3.2, however, the Paladin changes are going to make MP5 a much more needed stat for Paladins, so keep an eye out for items with it as well.
PvE Gear Stats - Protection
Gearing a Protection Paladin is much like gearing any other tank. The first thing you need to do is get Defense capped. At level 80, the Defense cap is 540. After that point, you will be uncrittable by any Northrend boss. Hit rating and Expertise are also quite important for threat generation as a tank. As a Paladin, a lot of your heavy threat abilities are Spells, so you should focus on getting 8% Hit. After that, try to push up to 26 Expertise. Other good stats you’ll see on a lot of tanking gear are Dodge, Block, and Parry. Currently Dodge > Parry > Block, so prioritize in that way. However, it is generally accepted that higher health (stamina) and armor is better than higher avoidance, so keep that in mind when selecting upgrades.
PvE Gear Stats - Retribution
Gearing a Retribution Paladin is a lot like gearing any other heavy armor melee DPS. Strength is one of most important stats to focus on, as it effects how hard you hit, and it scales with various talents and buffs like Blessing of Kings. As a general rule, Strength is always better than Attack Power because it can scale. It is also extremely important for Retribution Paladins to have the appropriate amount of hit rating. All two-handed melee DPS classes need to have an 8% additional chance to hit in order to reach the hit cap. Additionally, 26 expertise recommended to remove the chance that a boss can dodge your rear attacks. Retribution Paladins also favor agility. While nowhere near as good as Strength, Agility provies buff-scalable critical strike chance. Keep in mind, though, that as a Ret Pally you don’t actually gain any bonus from wearing Plate other than being a little harder to kill. So, if you see an item that looks like an upgrade, take it even if it is Leather or Mail.
PvP gear can be obtained in a variety of ways, though all of them require you to actually engage in PvP. You can get Honor Points through Battlegrounds, daily quests, and Wintergrasp which can then be used to purchase PvP items. Additionally, you can obtain many these items from Wintergrasp vendors or bosses. You can also choose to do Arena, and if your team is good enough, earn some of the best PvP items in the game. For more information about getting PvP gear for your new 80, please see the PvP Gear Guide section of the article linked here.
Here is the list of recommended gems for every Paladin spec.
Protection - Assuming Hit and Expertise Capped
Retribution - Assuming Hit and Expertise capped
Blue - Sovereign Twilight Opal
Red - Bold Scarlet Ruby
Yellow - Inscribed Monarch Topaz
Enchanting - Holy
Head - Arcanum of Burning Mysteries. Sold by the Kirin Tor quartermaster. Requires Revered reputation.
Chest - Powerful Stats
Cloak - Greater Speed
Bracer - Superior Spellpower
Gloves - Exceptional Spellpower
Belt - Add a gem slot with an Eternal Belt Buckle
Legs - Sapphire Spellthread
Feet - Greater Vitality
Weapon - Mighty Spellpower
Shield - Greater Intellect
Enchanting - Protection
Head - Arcanum of the Stalwart Protector. Sold by Argent Crusade quartermaster. Requires Revered reputation.
Bracers - Major Stamina
Gloves - Armsman
Belt - Add a gem slot to your belt with an Eternal Belt Buckle.
Legs - Frosthide Leg Armor
Boots - Greater Fortitude
Enchanting - Retribution
Head - Arcanum of Torment. Sold by Knights of the Ebon Blade quartermaster. Requires Revered reputation.
Back - Major Agility
Chest - Powerful Stats
Bracers - Greater Assault
Gloves - Crusher
Belt - Add a gem slot to your belt with an Eternal Belt Buckle.
Legs - Icescale Leg Armor
Boots - Greater Assault
Weapon - Massacre
Another Perspective on End Game Paladins
For another perspective on gearing up and preparing an end game paladin, you might want to check out: World of Warcraft Guide: Preparing Your Fresh 80 Paladin For Raiding.
This post is part of the series: WoW Level 80 Raiding Guide
I dinged level 80: Now what? Preparing for raiding with various classes in World of Warcraft.
- I Dinged Level 80: Now What? Preparing for Raiding: Heroics, Enchants, and more for Mage
- I Dinged Level 80: Now What? Preparing for Raiding: Heroics, Enchants, and more for the Paladin
- I Dinged Level 80: Now What? Preparing for Raiding: Heroics, Enchants, and more for Warlock
- I Dinged Level 80: Now What? Preparing for Raiding: Heroics, Enchants, and more for the Shaman
- I Dinged Level 80: Now What? Preparing for Raiding: Heroics, Enchants, and more for the Death Knight
- I Dinged Level 80: Now What? Preparing for Raiding: Heroics, Enchants, and more for the Priest