Cataclysm Class Changes: Paladin

As Blizzard promised, the Cataclysm Class Preview for Paladins has arrived a little earlier than anticipated, but a little later than all of the other classes. The new high level spells have a little bit for all Paladins, be they Holy, Protection, or Retribution.

At level 81, Paladins will get Blinding Shield, which acts as both an AoE damage dealer and an AoE crowd control spell. As it requires a shield and will be talentable to instant cast in the Protection tree, the spell should be useful to Holy and Prot Paladins, but Ret can always slap on a shield to get one off in a pinch.

Healing Hands is a new AoE healing spell for Paladins to utilize, which will radiate heals from the Paladin when activated. Lasting 6 seconds on a 15 second cooldown, it should provide a very welcomed gift to Holy Paladins who are currently lacking any significant AoE healing. A Ret or Prot Pally might even be able to throw on Healing Hands to help with particularly heavy AoE damage.

The final new spell Paladins will train up is Guardian of Ancient Kings (can’t wait to hear people scream “Popping GAK!”), a temporary guardian type pet for Paladins that will be another cooldown that depends on the spec of the character. Holy will get a guardian that heals, Prot’s will absorb damage, and Ret’s guardian will deal damage. Another nice bit of flavor for those blessed by the Light.

Paladins have a lot of other changes to look forward to in the next expansion including the combining of Blessing of Might and Blessing of Wisdom and the addition of both Crusader Strike and Holy Shock as trainable spells.

Check out all of the changes after the break!

In World of Warcraft: Cataclysm we’ll be making several changes to class talents and abilities across the board. While this list only outlines some of our plans for the paladin class, we want to give you a look at the new high-level abilities and an overview of how the new Mastery system will work with each talent spec.

New Paladin Spells

Blinding Shield (level 81): Causes damage and blinds all nearby targets. This effect might end up only damaging those facing the paladin’s shield, in a manner similar to Eadric the Pure’s ability Radiance in Trial of the Champion. The Holy tree will have a talent to increase the damage and critical strike chance, while the Protection tree will have a talent to make this spell instant cast. 2-second base cast time. Requires a shield.

Healing Hands (level 83): Healing Hands is a new healing spell. The paladin radiates heals from him or herself, almost like a Healing Stream Totem. It has a short range, but a long enough duration that the paladin can cast other heals while Healing Hands remains active. 15-second cooldown. 6-second duration.

Guardian of Ancient Kings (level 85): Summons a temporary guardian that looks like a winged creature of light armed with a sword. The visual is similar to that of the Resurrection spell used by the paladin in Warcraft III. The guardian has a different effect depending on the talent spec of the paladin. For Holy paladins, the guardian heals the most wounded ally in the area. For Protection paladins, the guardian absorbs some incoming damage. For Retribution paladins, it damages an enemy, similar to the death knight Gargoyle or the Nibelung staff. 3-minute cooldown. 30-second duration (this might vary depending on which guardian appears).

Next you will find a list of some of the paladin spell and ability changes, followed by our intentions for improving each talent tree for the release of Cataclysm. There will be further changes, but those revealed below should offer some insight into our goals.

Changes to Abilities and Mechanics

  • Crusader Strike will be a core ability for all paladins, gained at level 1. We think the paladin leveling experience is hurt by not having an instant attack. Retribution will be getting a new talent in its place that either modifies Crusader Strike or replaces it completely.
  • Cleanse is being rebalanced to work with the new dispel system. It will dispel defensive magic (debuffs on friendly targets), diseases, and poisons.
  • Blessing of Might will provide the benefit of Wisdom as well. If you have two paladins in your group, one will do Kings on everyone and the other will do Might on everyone. There should be much less need, and ideally no need, to provide specific buffs to specific classes.
  • Holy Shock will be a core healing spell available to all paladins.

New Talents and Talent Changes

  • We want to ease off the defensive capabilities of Retribution and Holy paladins slightly. We think the powerful paladin defenses have been one of the things holding Retribution paladins back, especially in Arenas. One change we’re considering is lowering Divine Shield’s duration by a couple of seconds. Having said that, Retribution does pretty well in Battlegrounds, and Battlegrounds will be a much bigger focus in Cataclysm since they can provide the best PvP rewards. Furthermore, the healing environment of Cataclysm is going to be different such that a paladin may not be able to fully heal themselves during the duration of Divine Shield to begin with, so this may not be a problem.
  • We feel Retribution paladins need one more mechanic which involves some risk of the player pushing the wrong button, making the rotation a bit less forgiving. In addition, we want to add to this spec more PvP utility. Right now the successes of the Retribution paladin in PvP seem to be reduced to either doing decent burst damage, or just being good at staying alive.
  • We want to increase the duration of Sacred Shield to 30 minutes and keep the limit to one target. The intention is that the paladin can use it on their main healing target. That said, we would like to improve the Holy paladin toolbox and niche so that they don’t feel quite like the obvious choice for tank healing while perceived as a weak group healer.
  • We want to add to the Holy tree a nice big heal to correspond with Greater Heal. Flash of Light remains a fast heal, but will be more expensive to justify the cast speed. Holy Light will be the go-to heal that has average efficiency and throughput. Beacon of Light needs to be changed so that its benefit is letting the paladin heal two targets at once, not letting the paladin get two heals for the mana cost of one. It’s intended to save GCDs and targeting time, not mana.
  • Holy paladins will use spirit as their mana regeneration stat.
  • Protection paladins need a different rotation between single-target and multi-target tanking. Likewise, we’re looking to add the necessity to use an additional cooldown in each rotation.
  • Holy Shield will no longer have charges. It will be designed to improve block chance while active, and will continue to provide a small amount of damage and threat.

Mastery Passive Talent Tree Bonuses

Critical Healing Effect

Damage Reduction
Block Amount

Melee Damage
Melee Critical Damage
Holy Damage

Meditation: This is the spirit-to-mana conversion that the priest, druid, and shaman healers also share.

Vengeance: This is the damage-received-to-attack-power conversion that all tanks share.

Critical Healing Effect: When the paladin gets a crit on a heal, it will heal for more.

Block Amount: We want to keep the kit of the paladin as a tank who blocks a lot. So by contrast, the warrior tank will sometimes get critical blocks, but the paladin will absorb more damage with normal blocks.

Holy Damage: Any attack that does Holy damage will have its damage increased.

This concludes this Cataclysm preview for the paladin class. The development of these changes will continue to evolve in the coming months. Please be sure to provide any feedback and thoughts you might have on what was covered here.


  1. This sounds absolutely awesome!! More mitigation for us pallytanks, more dmg for the rets and even more healy goodness for the healadins (plus a bit more flexibility!).

    Seriously though, I’m glad they’re making us as tanks, focus more on damage mitigation versus warriors and their crit blocks. And of course, we’ll still have to put up with the QQ about how we’re op, etc., ad nausem.

    To that effect, I prefer blizz would put in a L1 spell that shuts all QQers up. /wishful thinking lol

  2. hey guys so far its looking pretty awesome but i just want to know when there gonna release the paladin talent tree so im ready for tanking and pvp in cataclysm so if anyone can tell witch date it falls on that would be awesome

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