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Paladin Leveling Guide for WoW Classic (WotLK)

Paladins are the holy warriors of World of Warcraft, and in Wrath of the Lich King Classic, they are an exceptionally strong and versatile class. But before you can be the hero your raid team deserves, you have to get from level 1 to 80. Our paladin guide will help you get from zero to hero with the best talents, gear, and spells you should use for leveling in WotLK Classic.

WoW Classic WotLK Paladin Races
The races available for paladins. (Image: Blizzard via HGG / Sarah Arnold)

Best Talent Specialization & Build for Leveling a Paladin

For this guide we’ll be using the retribution talent specialization. Retribution paladins are the most efficient for dealing damage, allowing you to get through the content as quickly as possible. Protection is also a viable option, one that will allow you to pull much larger groups of enemies and take almost no damage. Holy isn’t recommended for leveling.

Unlike in retail World of Warcraft, you will need to visit your class trainer in order to learn new spells as you level up. Trainers are located in every major faction city as well as each of the starting zones. You should train at least every few levels, because new ranks and new spells can make a huge difference to your damage and efficiency.

WoW Classic Guide - Retribution Paladin Leveling Talent Tree
The retribution talent build we’ll use for this guide. (Image: Blizzard via HGG / Sarah Arnold)

Best Stats & Gear for Leveling a Paladin

As a retribution paladin, here are the stats you should look for on gear, in order of importance:

  1. Strength is your strongest stat, with each point granting two points of Attack Power. You should be able to get lots of it on your gear without having to look for it specifically.
  2. Attack Power increase the damage you do with most of your abilities and is the main secondary stat you should aim for.
  3. Critical Strike increases your damage by causing more of your abilities to critically hit.
  4. Haste speeds up your attacks, increasing the amount of damage you can do over any given window of time.
  5. Hit is much more important at level 80. You won’t see much of it as you level, but when you do, it’s good to grab.
  6. Agility is useful because it increases your Critical Strike.
  7. Stamina does nothing to boost your damage, but is important for your survivability. It should come naturally on your gear without needing to look for it.
  8. Spell Power is not completely useless for retribution paladins, but nowhere near as good as other stats.
  9. Intellect increases your maximum mana, but it’s not something you want to look for at the expense of other, better stats.

Paladins can use any type of armor, with mail being the best until plate becomes available at level 40. You should focus on the stats above rather than worrying too much about armor.

For your weapon, paladins can use both one- and two-handed axes, maces, swords, and polearms. Keep in mind that each individual weapon type has its own separate skill in WoW Classic. If you swap to a different weapon type, you may need to level its skill before you can be effective with it.

As far as choosing your weapons, go for damage rather than DPS. Retribution paladins do best with slow weapons that do big crits.

WoW Classic Leveling Guide - Human Paladin Mail Armor
Paladins can wear mail at level 1, and plate at level 40. (Image: Blizzard via HGG / Sarah Arnold)

Best Heirlooms for Retribution Paladins

Heirloom gear makes the leveling process a lot more efficient. If you have a level 80 character and are able to purchase them, you should do so. Heirlooms scale with your level so that you don’t have to keep replacing your gear as you go. Chest and shoulder pieces also provide a buff to your experience gained. Your plate heirlooms will automatically adjust to be mail at level 1, since plate doesn’t become available until level 40. So you don’t need to buy 2 separate sets of heirlooms.

These are the heirloom pieces you should look for if you are leveling a paladin:

  • Shoulder: Polished Spaulders of Valor
  • Chest: Polished Breastplate of Valor
  • Trinket: Swift Hand of Justice
  • Trinket: Discerning Eye of the Beast
  • Weapon: Bloodied Arcanite Reaper
WoW Classic Paladin Leveling Guide - Heirlooms
The best heirlooms for paladins. (Image: Blizzard via HGG / Sarah Arnold)

WotLK Leveling Guide for Retribution Paladin

Let’s get to leveling! We’ll walk you through the process step by step.

Level 1-9

Rotation: You start out with Seal of Righteousness, which you should get used to keeping up. Seals are important buffs that really boost your damage. They last for 30 minutes, so it’s easy to forget about it and not notice when it falls off. You can immediately train Devotion Aura, which you should keep activate at all times. At level 4, you get Blessing of Might, which you should also start maintaining.

Buffs aside, your auto attack will be your only option for dealing damage for the first few levels. Then at level 4 you get Judgment of Light, which gives you one button to push every 10 seconds. Exciting!

Utility: As a paladin, one of your greatest strengths is your array of utility spells. Early on, start looking for situations where you can use each spell as you acquire it. Use your Hammer of Justice to stun enemies, and your Holy Light to heal yourself. Use Divine Protection or Hand of Protection if you start taking a lot of damage.

Knowing how and when to use these spells will make the leveling process go a lot more smoothly and prepare you well for endgame content.

WoW Classic Human Paladin Auto Attack
Sit back, relax, and let auto attack do its thing. (Image: Blizzard via HGG / Sarah Arnold)

Level 10-19

Talents: You get your first talent point at level 10. Here are the recommended talents for this level range:

  • Level 10-14: Benediction (5/5)
  • Level 15-16: Improved Judgments (2/2)
  • Level 17-19: Heart of the Crusader (3/3)

Glyphs: At level 15 you will be able to use your first glyphs. Glyph of Judgment and Glyph of Blessing of Might are excellent choices to pick up.

Rotation: At level 12, you should start using Judgment of Wisdom instead of Judgment of Light. At level 16 you can swap Devotion Aura for Retribution Aura. Otherwise, you’re still just going to be mostly just auto attacking.

WoW Classic Paladin Leveling Hogger
Hogger, the greatest of all Warcraft foes. (Image: Blizzard via HGG / Sarah Arnold)

Level 20-29

Mount: You can get your first mount at level 20. Even better: as a paladin, you get it from your class trainer at a very low cost. The basic ground mount has a speed of 60%. You should pick it up as soon as you can – it makes everything a lot faster and easier.

Talents:

  • Level 20: Seal of Command (1/1)
  • Level 21-22: Pursuit of Justice (2/2)
  • Level 23-24: Conviction (2/5)
  • Level 25-27: Crusade (3/3)
  • Level 28-29: Conviction (4/5)

Glyphs: You won’t unlock any new glyphs until level 30.

Rotation: You should now start using Seal of Command instead of Seal of Righteousness. You also get a couple of new options for buttons to push. Unfortunately, Exorcism isn’t really worth using at this point, and Consecration is only worthwhile if you are fighting more than one enemy.

WoW Classic Blood Elf Paladin Mount
Paladins get unique, cheap mounts. (Image: Blizzard via HGG / Sarah Arnold)

Level 30-39

Talents:

  • Level 30: Sanctified Retribution (1/1)
  • Level 31-33: Two-Handed Weapon Specialization (3/3)
  • Level 34: Conviction (5/5)
  • Level 35-37: Sanctity of Battle (3/3)
  • Level 38-39: Vengeance (2/3)

Glyphs: At level 30 you can use a second major glyph. Glyph of Seal of Command is a good option.

Rotation: You’re still mostly just auto attacking between Judgment of Wisdom casts, and using Consecration if you are pulling more than one enemy at a time. Hopefully, you’re still maintaining all three of your buffs as well!

WoW Classic Guide - Paladin Leveling Trainer
Don’t forget to visit your trainer often. (Image: Blizzard via HGG / Sarah Arnold)

Level 40-49

Mount: At level 40, you can upgrade your summoned mount to an epic ground mount with a speed of 100%. It only costs you two gold, where most classes must pay 60.

Plate Armor: At level 40, you can begin using plate armor, which offers more protection than mail. It’s not urgent that you upgrade all of your mail gear right away. Continue to focus on getting the best stats. Plate just gives you more options going forward.

Talents:

  1. Level 40-42: Judgments of the Wise (3/3)
  2. Level 43-44: The Art of War (2/2)
  3. Level 45: Vengeance (3/3)
  4. Level 46: Repentance (1/1)
  5. Level 47-49: Fanaticism (3/3)

Glyphs: You won’t unlock any new glyph slots in this level range.

Rotation: At level 44, you’ll get Hammer of Wrath, your finishing move. Along with the Art of War talent finally making Exorcism useful, you actually have a rotation now!

  1. Pull with Judgment of Wisdom and use it on cooldown.
  2. Use Hammer of Wrath on cooldown if your target is below 20% health.
  3. Use Consecration if you are fighting more than one enemy.
  4. Use Exorcism any time The Art of War procs.
  5. Auto attack until something comes off of cooldown.
WoW Classic Paladin Crowd Control
Don’t forget to use your crowd control abilities if you get into trouble. (Image: Blizzard via HGG / Sarah Arnold)

Level 50-57

Talents:

  • Level 50: Crusader Strike (1/1)
  • Level 51-53: Sheath of Light (3/3)
  • level 54-56: Swift Retribution (3/3)
  • Level 57: Righteous Vengeance (1/3)

Glyphs: At level 50 you can use a second minor glyph. Glyph of Sense Undead gives you a small damage boost, you just have to make sure that you keep Sense Undead active.

Rotation: Retribution gets a lot stronger in this range with the Sheath of Light talent. You also get to add Crusader Strike and Holy Wrath to your growing rotation:

  1. Pull with Judgment of Wisdom and use it on cooldown.
  2. Use Hammer of Wrath on cooldown if your target is below 20% health.
  3. Use Crusader Strike on cooldown.
  4. Use Holy Wrath if your enemy is either undead or demon.
  5. Use Consecration if you are fighting more than one enemy.
  6. Use Exorcism any time The Art of War procs.
  7. Auto attack until something comes off of cooldown.

Librams: In this level range you may be able to finally find a libram to equip. None of them are particularly amazing at this level, but it’s something to keep an eye out for.

WoW Classic Paladin Uther Tomb
The Plaguelands are a great place to level, and you can visit Uther’s tomb. (Image: Blizzard via HGG / Sarah Arnold)

Level 58-67

Zones: Head to Outland as soon as you reach level 58. The quest rewards are much better.

Mount: You can purchase your first flying mount at level 60. A basic flying mount has a flying speed of 150% and a ground speed of 60%. Unlike your ground mounts, you will need to buy your flying mounts like any other class. The Flying trainers are located in Hellfire Peninsula and Shadowmoon Valley and the training and mount will cost 300 gold total.

Talents:

  • Level 58-59: Righteous Vengeance (3/3)
  • Level 60: Divine Storm (1/1)
  • Level 61-62: Sanctified Wrath (2/2)
  • Level 63- 67: Divine Strength (5/5)

Glyphs: You won’t get any new glyph slots until level 70.

Rotation: You can now add the final ability to your rotation, Divine Storm. It should come third in your lineup, taking priority over everything except Judgment of Wisdom and Hammer of Wrath (even for a single target).

WoW Classic Hellfire Demons
Hellfire Peninsula is a great place to use Holy Wrath. (Image: Blizzard via HGG / Sarah Arnold)

Level 68-80

Zones: Head to Northrend as soon as you reach level 68. The quest rewards are much better and you can start working on the reputations you will need at level 80.

Mount: You can upgrade your flying mount at level 70 if you choose. An epic flying mount has a flying speed of 280% and a ground speed of 100%, and costs 5100 gold. But you will not be able to use it in Northrend until you train Cold Weather Flying.

This can be done at level 77 for 1000 gold, or if you already have a level 80 character, you can purchase a Tome of Cold Weather Flight for your paladin to use as early as level 68. Northrend flying trainers are located in Dalaran, Storm Peaks, and Sholazar Basin.

Talents:

  • Level 68-69: Improved Blessing of Might (2/2)
  • Level 70-71: Guardian’s Favor (2/2)
  • Level 72-76: Divinity (5/5)
  • Level 77-79: Improved Righteous Fury (3/3)
  • Level 80: Improved Hammer of Justice (1/2)

Glyphs: At level 70, you can use a third minor glyph. You won’t get the third major glyph slot until level 80.

Rotation: Keep doing what you’ve been doing. Before you know it, you’ll be done!

Congratulations on level 80!

WoW Classic Paladin Flying Dalaran
Welcome to the end game! (Image: Blizzard via HGG / Sarah Arnold)

Join the High Ground!

Thanks for reading! Hopefully this guide has helped you with leveling your paladin through WotLK Classic! If you have any questions, leave a comment below, and be sure to subscribe to High Ground for more useful guides!

Happy gaming!

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