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The Light and How to Swing It: I leveled a Holy Paladin


As Elizabeth mentioned last week, leveling builds for a paladin are... shall we say limited? You can spec Holy and struggle with solo-play or farming; you can spec Retribution and get laughed out of instances; or you can spec Protection and spend your time convincing your fellow players that yes, you do wear plate and you can take a few hits. So with such appealing options, which spec do you chose? We know that Elizabeth picked Protection, for all its AOE goodness. But for my part, I picked Holy.

Why, you ask, would anyone choose to level up as a Holy-spec Paladin? Doesn't it gimp you beyond belief for soloing? I've asked myself these questions more than once, but I'll try to explain just why I've stuck with it through the levels.

So why level a Holy Paladin? For my part, I enjoy healing. It's the role I like to play in an instance, and a Holy spec means that when I do hit up instances with my Paladin, I can give them the best healing I've got to offer. However, as most of you probably realize, most leveling up in the game takes place out of instances. So what, you ask, is there to do the rest of the time?

Paladins are known as extremely survivable -- neigh impossible to kill. And while Protection Paladins focus on becoming more durable, better tanks and Retribution Paladins focus on improving their damage output, I'd argue that Holy Paladins focus on the core concept of being unkillable.

Sure... my killing speed isn't all that. But I can outlast nearly any attacker. I can easily heal myself in combat (Spiritual Focus' 70% chance not to be interrupted by taking damage makes a huge difference), my heals hit harder (with Healing Light), my mana pool lasts longer (Illumination, even nerfed, does wonders, especially combined with Divine Favor and Holy Power), and if I ever do run out of mana -- I've got 20 minutes' less cooldown for Lay on Hands. Want to kill me? Go ahead and try -- I'll continue to whittle you down when you're well out of mana. At the same time, my Holy damage is improved with Improved Seal of Righteousness (not an excellent talent, but a good choice for leveling up if you're putting the points in Holy anyway, at least until you get Seal of Vengeance or Seal of Blood at level 64) and I get a (squee!) ranged attack with Holy Shock (great for pulling and finishing off runners).

So, how does a Holy Paladin fight?

  1. Be sure you're buffed up with Blessing of Wisdom (killing things with this build counts more on your mana pool than your attack power) and the aura of your preference. (I like Retribution Aura, but you may also appreciate Devotion Aura's enhanced survivability.)
  2. Pull with Holy Shock.
  3. Judge Crusader, bring up Righteousness and Judge whenever the cooldown is up.
  4. Patience, young grasshopper! Until you get to higher levels to snag talents like Holy Guidance and manage to stack some nice spell damage gear, your damage isn't going to be stellar, which means this is going to be slow.
  5. If you find yourself low on mana, bring up Seal of Wisdom and Judge.
  6. Heal thyself with Holy Light whenever you get to about half health.
  7. If you somehow run yourself out of mana and health, Lay on Hands!
  8. If it runs, toss out another Holy Shock (the cooldown should be up by then, and it's usually enough to finish off runners).
With this sort of build, it doesn't much matter whether you use a 2-handed weapon or a 1-handed weapon and a shield. You can do a less effective version of Protection Paladin's AOE grinding with a good shield, a shield spike, Retribution Aura, and Consecration, but it's probably not going to amaze you. On the other hand, since you don't have any talents that only work with you have a shield, so you a nice 2-hander will suit you just fine! (And since Seal of Righteousness will do more damage for you with a 2-hander, it's all good.)

Is this the most efficient Paladin leveling build? No way! But I certainly enjoy my ability to heal others and keep myself alive against impossible odds. So what do I have to say for myself, and my ridiculously inefficient build? I'm having fun -- and at some point perhaps the build will become level-appropriate.

And don't worry -- next week you'll be back with WoW Insider's paladin experts at large, Elizabeth Wachowski and Robin Torres!

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