Whether you're retribution, protection, holy, or something in-between -- whether you swing a two-hander, tank all the mobs, or heal your party -- there's one thing that all paladins have to do in groups, and that's bless people.
Blessings are a five-minute buff that you can cast on a single target at early levels. After about level 50, you begin getting Greater Blessings, which you can use to cast a 15-minute blessing on all members of one class in your party or raid group.
An important thing to remember about blessings is that they're not only the most often-requested buffs, but significantly shorter than most other major buffs. A lot of paladins would like blessings to last for half an hour or an hour, to keep them from spending half the instance buffing and rebuffing. My guild's pallies just posted a thread on the forums advising people to stop asking them for blessings immediately after trash pulls. Since for many bosses the guild leader has to explain the strat, or the healers have to get their healing assignments, or a priest has to put his kid to bed, or a hunter will mysteriously disconnect, the paladins have gotten sick of wasting their blessings while the raid's standing around and have chosen to Bless right before the tank runs in.
The Greater Blessing system is also flawed because it only allows you to cast Greater Blessings on an entire class, instead of individuals. Let's say you're doing Gruul, and you've got three paladins and three druids. Two of the druids are resto and one is offtanking for the Hurtful Strikes. The two healing druids would do best with Salvation/Kings/Wisdom, while the tanking druid is probably going to need Kings/Might/Light. So the tank druid will have to click off his greater Salv and Wisdom and ask a paladin to cast individual Might and LIght on him. And again five minutes later.
On this note, a good addon for raiding pallies is PallyPower. It provides a really convenient way for one paladin to set up all the blessings for the raid, and has nice timers so you know when the buffs are about to run out. (I mean, aside from all the "1 minute on wisdom!" whispers you're getting.)
Even though most pallies have a handle on what blessings are useful for which fights, it's still good to know what the blessings do and which ones are best for your class. No, sorry, "the buff that looks like a fist" and "the helmet buff" are not adequate descriptions, and if you click off salv because "I can manage my own aggro", the raid leader is going to skin you alive. So, for the benefit of new paladins and non-pallies alike, here's a quick guide to blessings, in the order in which they are learned.
Name: Blessing of Might.
Icon: A gauntleted fist punching the air.
Effect: Increases attack power by 225 at max rank and 264 with a talent in the Retribution tree.
Good for: Rogues, hunters, feral druids, DPS warriors, tanks of all sorts, enhancement shamans, ret pallies. Basically, if you're swinging something at the boss, you can use Might, although it's best used on rogues and warriors.
Bad for: Clothies, elemental shamans, resto shamans, holy pallies, melee who can't control their aggro.
Name: Blessing of Protection.
Icon: A crown with a circle around it.
Effect: Protects the targeted party member from all physical attacks for 10 seconds, but makes them unable to attack or use physical abilities. Note: this can only be used for party members.
Good for: Anyone who pulls aggro at an inappropriate time, casters in PVP who are being attacked by melee, casters who are AOEing.
Bad for: Tanks, unless you really enjoy paying for everyone's repair bills. Do NOT put your keybinding for Blessing of Protection next to your keybinding for Lay On Hands! Also not great for melee in PVP situations, since it prevents them from attacking and leaves them open to magic, but fun to use if they've been complaining about you not healing them.
Name: Blessing of Wisdom.
Icon: It looks kind of like a cross, but with a diamond for the bottom tip of the cross.
Effect: Increases mana regeneration by 41 every 5 seconds at max rank, or 48/49 every 5 with talents in the Holy tree.
Good for: Anyone with mana, particularly healers, for whom it should be the blessing of choice if there's only one pally in the raid or group.
Bad for: Anyone without mana.
Name: Blessing of Freedom
Icon: A sword over a red, glowing seal.
Effect: Makes the target immune to movement-impairing effects for ten seconds.
Good for: Defeating crowd control in PVP and running away. Particularly useful when used on the Warsong Gulch flag runner!
Bad for: Most PVE situations, since it's useful only intermittently, costs a lot of mana and wipes out all the other blessings on the target.
Name: Blessing of Kings
Icon: A plate helmet.
Effect: Increases all base stats by 10 percent.
Good for: Everyone, if you've got it -- it requires 11 points in the Protection tree.
Bad for: No one, really. Maybe your enemies?
Name: Blessing of Salvation.
Icon: Two praying hands.
Effect: Decreases all threat done by the targeted party member by 30 percent.
Good for: DPS of all sorts, particularly mages and warlocks, and it is often their buff if there's only one pally in the group. Many DPSers don't understand the importance of Salvation, thinking that it doesn't increase their DPS like Might or Wisdom. But it actually does by letting them do a lot more damage before pulling aggro from the tank. If they're not worried about pulling aggro from the tank ... you have bigger problems, one way or another. Salv is also good for healers, although it generally comes second to Wisdom or Kings on boss fights.
Bad for: The tank. Also useless for ranged DPS and healers on fights where they cannot possibly pull aggro, such as Ragnaros.
Name: Blessing of Sanctuary
Icon: A shield on a blue background.
Effect: Reduces damage dealt from all sources by 80, and causes 46 Holy damage when the target blocks an attack.
Good for: You, if you're tanking or prot grinding -- which if you go 21 points into prot to get this, you're probably doing at some point. Can also be used on the main tank if there are a lot of pallies in the raid, and not bad for pallies in PVP who are getting beat on by rogues. With Holy Shield up, you can get the rogue to damage himself fairly badly before he realizes that you're prot.
Bad for: Not exactly "bad" for anyone, but not very useful compared to most other buffs.
Name: Blessing of Light
Icon: The same symbol as Wisdom, but yellow and glowing instead of blue.
Effect: Increases the effect of Holy Light spells on the player by up to 580 and Flash of Light by up to 185.
Good for: The tank, or anyone who's got a pally healing them fairly consistently.
Bad for: Like Sanct, not "bad" for everyone, but not the most useful for a lot of classes, particularly healers.
Name: Blessing of Sacrifice
Icon: The same icon as First Aid.
Effect: Lasts thirty seconds and transfers 105 damage taken by the recipient per hit to the paladin.
Good for: This strange little blessing is mostly used in PVP and Arenas, so that the other side can't sheep or sap the paladin while attacking his or her allies. It can also work for other party members if a paladin is tanking, and is a great way to keep tanks alive on Maiden of Virtue in Karazhan.
Bad for: If the paladin's healing in PVE, don't use this blessing except for fights like Maiden, or if you think you can handle using it as a sneaky way to regain mana through Spiritual Attunement.
Now, most experienced pallies know what their blessings can do and when to cast them. So the only thing that really remains to be debated is which buffs take priority for which classes. Devon, a paladin on my server who I talked to for this article, said if there's only one paladin, he gives warriors Kings, rogues and hunters Might, warlocks and mages Salvation, and priests, paladins, druids and shamans Wisdom. Rogues and hunters can possibly be given Might over Salv because they have total aggro drops, while warlocks and mages do high burst DPS and can't remove all their aggro.
Nikolaus, who did a wonderful paladin guide on the forums, spells out his personal blessing order:
- Druid: Wisdom > Salvation > Kings > Light > Sanctuary > Might
- Hunters: Salvation > Kings > Wisdom > Light > Sanctuary > Might
- Mage: Salvation > Kings > Wisdom > Light > Sanctuary > Might
- Paladin: Kings > Wisdom > Salvation > Light > Sanctuary > Might
- Priest: Wisdom > Salvation > Kings > Light > Sanctuary > Might
- Rogue: Salvation > Kings > Might > Light > Sanctuary > Wisdom
- Warlock: Salvation > Kings > Wisdom > Light > Sanctuary > Might
- Warrior: Kings > Might > Light > Sanctuary > Salvation > Wisdom
This guide was written before Horde pallies, so healing shamans would probably go the same as druids. This guide also assumes that all druids, pallies and priests are healing and all warriors are tanking, which isn't the case these days. DPS warriors probably need Salvation, tanking druids should be treated like warriors, and DPSing hybrids should probably get individual 5-minute blessings depending on their situation.
Paladins, do you have any tips about blessings for both other paladins and your group members?
Thanks to Zimmie of Magtheridon, Devon of Magtheridon, Nikolaus on the forums, WoWWiki and Wowhead.