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The Paladin can be an extremely powerful class when played correctly. We are a hybrid class, meaning we can perform any of the three holy trinity roles of Healing, Tanking, or DPS. Our talent trees, Holy, Protection, and Retribution, correspond to these roles, but thanks to a wide range of core skills we are not confined to playing only the role we've spent talent points on. Rather, we are a very gear dependent class, and if we're willing to spend half (or more!) of our inventory space carrying gear around we can be effective in any role on a moment's notice regardless of our spec.
An equipment managing mod is almost essential for a paladin planning to develop three full gear sets. This allows the player to save different gear sets in advance and switch between them with just one mouse click or press of a hotkey. Item Rack is one such mod, but there are many options out there so look around and see what works best for you.
For maximum effectiveness you'll want to build three different gear sets: one for Healing, one for Tanking, and one for DPS. You may want to build a fourth set for soloing that balances out aspects of all three, or sets for specific resistance gear, but this guide will focus on the three sets necessary to be prepared to take on whatever role is required of you in a group or instance setting.
This guide is designed from the perspective of a paladin who built up three different sets of gear from her very early levels, but who understands that it's not really necessary to do that much customization until the end game. After level 60 it becomes much more important to have specific, refined gear sets, but it also becomes much easier, due to wider gear options in the expansion. This guide therefore focuses on desirable gear properties from 60-70 but also mentions what will be most useful for paladins working on gear sets in their lower levels.
Healing Gear Edit
A Paladin's healing gear is all about longevity. Flash of Light is the most mana efficient heal in the game and Holy Light is very close to the most time-efficient. If you spend enough points in the Holy tree to get Illumination, all of your critical heals will further improve your efficiency, so even if you don't have a very large mana pool you'll be able to keep healing for a long time.
Level 60-70 Edit
For all healers doing expansion content, the +healing stat is the most important. Players have a lot more hitpoints and mobs correspondingly do a lot more damage, so while good mana regen will mean you can cast Flash of Light basically forever, if it's not getting a decent +healing bonus it simply won't keep up. 1000 +healing is a good target number; without any buffs this will add about 400 to your Flash of Light spells.
Once you have your +healing stat where you want it, you can focus on the things that will make your mana pool last forever. This can be accomplished either with a lot of intellect, to make your mana pool bigger, or a lot of mana per 5 seconds, which will give you mana regeneration in combat. Note that since paladins have no talents which provide mana regeneration while casting, spirit is a rather unimportant stat for us. Also consider that if you have spent points in the Illumination talent, spell crit is a very important healing stat for you. Every critical heal you get will return some mana to you, greatly increasing your staying power.
Don't be afraid to downgrade to lower armor classes if an item has very good healing stats. Being able to wear plate doesn't mean you *must* wear plate; rather, it means you have a much larger pool of items to choose from. Armor value should be weighed just like any other stat when building your gear set; and for gear specific to healing, it's on the low end of importance.
Prior to Level 60 Edit
There is almost no +healing or spell crit gear available to paladins in the pre-expansion content, so focus at early levels on getting as much intellect as you can, and as it becomes available try to work in mana/5 too. With enough mana regen and wise use of Blessing of Wisdom you'll be able to keep casting Flash of Light for a very long time. Blessing of Light, learned at level 40, further increases the effectiveness of this tactic.
Tanking Gear Edit
Please see Paladins as tanks: Gear Mechanics.
DPS Gear Edit
If you're a paladin playing a DPS role, you simply cannot get too many crits and procs. Okay, well, you *can* get so many that you pull aggro off the tank, which isn't fun, but hey, that's what Divine Shield is for. No matter what damage increasing stats you go for, you'll always want to be using a hard-hitting two-hand weapon if your role in the group is specifically dps. Don't forget to bring your one-hand weapon and shield along, though, just in case the tank goes down or you're called on to off-tank!
Level 60-70 Edit
You'll want to grab as much +AP and +crit gear as you can. Your seals use your melee crit rate, not your spell crit, so spell crit is not very exciting to you for this gear. You get two points of attack power for every point of strength, and since the other thing strength affects is your block value neither stat is more desirable than the other for dps gear. Other stats to consider stocking up on are spell damage, as all of your damage seals and judgements get a decent bonus from your spell damage, and agility, since it only takes 25 points at level 70 to get you a full percentage of crit.
Prior to level 60 Edit
Dpsing pre-60 really isn't any different; you'll still want to focus on that AP and crit. Just remember that loading up on spell damage isn't really an option, as it exists only minimally on pre-expansion gear.