So you want to be a holy paladin

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So you want to be a holy paladin

Seasoned paladin Dan Desmond is here to answer your questions and provide you with your biweekly dose of retribution medicine. Contact him at with any questions, concerns, or suggestions!

On a clear day, just after the sun has set and there is no moon in the sky, if you are very, very lucky you can just make out the approach of Warlords of Draenor. People with expensive telescopes and bucket hats will insist that it's Mercury, but I've learned to never trust anyone wearing a safari vest.

Let's address the question that is undoubtedly burning in your mind: should I use the "boost a character to level 90" feature on a paladin? Well that's a very good question, thank you for asking it. If you don't already have a paladin at max level and want one, Warlords provides a great opportunity to hit the ground running with your new favorite class.

Personally, I'm not entirely sure what I will boost. One thing I've always wanted to try was a holy paladin, which would seem to be an easy option given that my protection offspec saw about as much use as Denver's offensive line during the Super Bowl. But just jumping into a completely new role with mostly new abilities never appealed to me, especially if that first jump happened during raid time. I like to be able to prepare for my inevitable failure so that I can write up a short list of excuses why I Beaconed a hunter pet and healed only myself for four consecutive attempts.

Scenarios like that are why I try to learn a class from the ground up. Not everyone is like this though; many people prefer to go on the internet and read about these things. Therefore, as I'm leveling I'll recount what I've learned - my triumphs, my mistakes, my body count – in the hopes that should you choose to exalt one of the Light's blessed warriors out of the dregs of the single digits to the heights of the nonagenarians, you might find the transition just a tiny bit easier.

The first hurdle

A journey of ninety levels begins with a single step, the ever-critical process of character creation. Of course, if you rolled a dwarf and end up changing your mind about your love for beards you can pay the $25 fee to change your race, or if you went Horde and all of your friends are on Alliance you can fork over another $30 for that swap.

I am a fairly frugal individual (though my Blizzard transaction history would refute that claim), so I'm going to plan a few things out when rolling this paladin. Here are a few questions I'll be asking myself:
  • Which faction will I want to play as?
  • Which racial bonuses benefit holy paladins the most?
  • What race would I not get tired of looking at (or conversely, which models look the best in holy plate)?
Seeing as most of my friends play as Alliance, the first question is a no-brainer. Of course, siding with the Alliance restricts me to choosing a human, dwarf, or draenei paladin. Let's take a look at what each race brings to the holy table: Of course, these races have other bonuses as well (most of which relate either to hit and expertise, which is going away in Warlords) but seeing as you get 15% hit to Holy Shock, Judgment, and Denounce via Holy Insight just for speccing holy, they have little relevance. If you want to offspec into retribution or protection, then you should consider including those bonuses in your analysis.

Just so I don't make anyone feel left out, let's pretend I was thinking about joining the Horde:
  • Tauren have a 5% increase to their base health via Endurance (meaning it does not scale with gear) and War Stomp, a short cast AoE stun.
  • Blood elves' only relevant racial ability is Arcane Torrent, an AoE silence that also restores 2% of your mana.
It would seem that Alliance paladins have much stronger racials than their Horde counterparts, at least from the perspective of someone whose only previous healing experience involves selfishly hoarding Selfless Healer procs to justify remaining in melee range during an AoE. The choice between Alliance races is tough, though humans with their extra spirit and get-out-of-stun-free card appear to edge out dwarves' DoT wiper, with the draenei HoT being a bit hard to quantify.

Whatever the outcome of this comparative analysis, many players make their character selection solely on this information alone. For me, a character is more than just a pile of numbers; it is a projection of self. I want my character to feel right, to look good, and to kick butt. This is a much more subjective standard, and it will be different for every person, but it's an important determination to make.

After much consideration, I'm going with a draenei this time around. Every paladin I've ever leveled (and believe me, there have been many) has been either human or blood elf, depending on the faction. And because I wouldn't be able to take myself seriously if I played as a dwarf, draenei it is. Besides, the higher poly model of the draenei is easier on the eyes than its vanilla cousins (though come Warlords this discrepancy should disappear), and if I decide that the human racials really are the bees' knees, then a quick race change will solve that problem.

One of the last steps you need to take in becoming a holy paladin is to actually spec into holy, which requires leveling to 10 without any cool holy paladin dance moves at your disposal. I wish I could say that this process is engaging, interesting, or at all fun, but I can't do that. Bite your lip and hit things until they fall over; there's a light at the end of the tunnel.

You know, I was going to weave some sort of pun into that previous sentence, but I think you've earned a reprieve.
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