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How to Spec your World of Warcraft Protection Paladin to best level in Cataclysm is an oft asked question with the recent release of the new expansion. The cookie cutter Protection Paladin spec has we had all grown to love has been changed by Cataclysm. The best spec to level your new WoW Protection Paladin relies on a few new abilities. These abilities revolve around building and using Holy Power. Fear not though, the changes have made the Protection Paladin one of the most fun classes to level and toughest to kill.
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BUILDING HOLY POWER
BUILDING HOLY POWER
The Paladin now relies on Holy Power. You begin being able to generate Holy Power at level 9. You can build up to three charges through three different methods, and then have two basic skills through which you can release this power. Building Holy Power is accomplished through Crusader Strike, Hammer of the Righteous, or Divine Plea. You can monitor your Holy Power charges on the new bar below your characters health and mana.
Crusader Strike, is our basic attack which we receive at level 1. It strikes one target and every time you successfully hit with this attack you build one charge of Holy Power.
Hammer of the Righteous, is also an attack that build Holy Power. This is our Area of Effect (AoE) attack and is specific to the Protection skill tree, learned at level 29. This attack hits all targets within 8 yards and builds one charge of Holy Power every time it is used.
Divine Plea is the last method by which a Protection Paladin can build Holy Power. Divine Plea is learned at your trainer at level 44 and is a mana regeneration tool. By specializing into Shield of the Templar at level 59 you gain the ability to instantly build 1 charge of Holy Power. Each point you spend in this skill increases the charges of Holy Power. So at level 63 you can instantly generate 3 Holy Power by using Divine Plea.
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USING HOLY POWER
Now that you know how to generate Holy Power, what do you do with it? As a Cataclysm Protection Paladin you have to outlets for this power. The first being a heal, Word of Glory, and the second being a highly damaging attack, Shield of the Righteous.
Word of Glory is learned at your trainer at level 9, though you need to reach level 10 to be able to generate Holy Power and begin using it. This heal scales with each charge of Holy Power, becoming more powerful as the number of charges increase. This heal can be used on you or another. Around level 53 you will want to have 2 points placed into the specialization Guarded by the Light. This skill will cause any over healing from Word of Glory to create an absorption shield, similar to a Preist’s Power Word: Shield skill, equal to the amount of the over heal. Specialize into any skill in the Protection tree that will benefit Word of Glory. This ability to simultaneously fight and heal makes the Paladin a tanking juggernaut.
Shield of the Righteous is a heavy damage, single target attack. This is best used during boss fights in PvE or as a finishing move in PvP fights. This attack increases in damage the more Holy Power charges you have to use. Our main buffing to this talent is Sacred Duty, which you can specialize in as early as levels 59 and 61. Once you have Sacred Duty your Judgements will give you a 50% chance to make Shield of the Righteous a guaranteed critical strike. Now to discuss the best spec for a Protection Paladin as you level.
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The following is the best spec for your Protection Paladin. It maximizes your survivability while questing and dungeon crawling. It centers around buffing your Word of Glory abilities. Allowing you maximum self heal abilities in combat, with over heals creating a damage shield. You can start selecting your talents at level 10.
- 10-11 Eternal Glory
- 13-17 Divinity
- 19-23 Toughness
- 25-27 Judgements of the Just
- 29 Hammer of the Righteous
- 31-35 Sanctuary
- 37 Hallowed Ground
- 39 Shield of the Righteous
- 41-43 Grand Crusader
- 45-47 Reckoning
- 49 Holy Shield
- 51-53 Guarded by the Light
- 55 Vindication
- 57 Wrath of the Lightbringer (1/2)
- 59-63 Shield of the Templar
- 65-67 Sacred Duty
- 69 Wrath of the Lightbringer (2/2)
- 71 Ardent Defender
- 73-77 Crusade
- 79-81 Improved Judgement (or Eye for an Eye)
- 82-84 Rule of Law
- 85 Pursuit of Justice
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Blessing of Kings - This should always be your first choice for self/party buff.
Blessing of Might - Use instead of Kings if you have another Paladin or a Druid in your party.
Seal of Insight - This is your questing/dungeon trash seal. It generates health and mana.
Seal of Truth - You seal for dungeon bosses. Will stack 5 times and greatly increase you damage.
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Many of you will remember the old 969 rotation for maximized threat generation through a multitude of timed abilities. Things have become a bit simpler. We will now be using a Holy Power generator, either Crusader Strike (CS) or Hammer of the Righteous (HotR) followed by a filler. Once we reach three Holy Power we'll use it and then repeat the process. While you are leveling it will look something like this:
Pull with Avenger's Shield
CS > Judgement > CS > Avenger's Shield (if off cooldown) or Holy Wrath or Consecration > CS > Word of Glory (if you are low on health or healer is low on mana), if not then Shield of the Righteous
If you are fighting a more than one mob use HotR in place of CS in the above rotation.
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The Glyph system has been changed in Cataclysm. You now have three glyph choices: Prime, Major and Minor. You can select one of each at levels 25, 50 and 75 for a total of nine glyphs. For leveling we want to ensure your survivability through self healing and mana conservation. These glyphs selected will help you do both. Once you reach 85 you will change your glyphs for raiding. With that said, while leveling your glyphs will be:
- Prime - Word of Glory
- Major - Lay on Hands
- Minor - Blessing of Kings
- Prime - Seal of Insight
- Major - Holy Wrath
- Minor - Insight
- Prime - Hammer of the Righteous
- Major - Ascetic Crusader
- Minor - Blessing of Might
- Level 25
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We gain stats through leveling and through our gear. These are the important stats for a Protection Paladin.
- Stamina - Your primary stat which increases you health and therefore your survivability.
- Strength - Secondary only to Stamina while leveling. Adds to our threat generation.
- Dodge, Parry, Hit, Expertise - You won't start running into these until higher levels. All good additions to gear that already has the first two stats.
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You have a few requirements when obtaining your gear. Every Paladin requires armor, a weapon and a shield. You will obtain through quests, dungeon rewards and drops.
- Armor - You'll be wearing Mail until level 50. After 50 wear only Plate.
- Weapon - A good, slow one hander: Sword, Axe or Hammer.
- Shield - Equip with a shield spike if you can grab a stack at a fair price.
- Don't buy gear from the Auction House. Between quest rewards and dungeon drop/rewards you will have all that you need. Honestly as fast as leveling is now in World of Warcraft you'll be burning through equipment.
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The basics here should make leveling your Protection Paladin an enjoyable experience. While many of the basics of leveling a Protection Paladin have stayed the same, Cataclysm brought significant changes. Integrate the old with the new to make your World of Warcraft Paladin one of the most well rounded and toughest tanks in the game.