Choosing a Paladin Race

You have decided to level a Paladin, more specifically, a Retribution Paladin.  Otherwise, why would you be here!  Rest assured you are about to start one of the most fun classes in World of Warcraft.  Yet, one of the trickiest choices you are going to make is the race of your Paladin.

Paladins have the ability to perform all three roles in World of Warcraft: DPS, tanking, and healing.  Retribution is, of course, my favorite to play.  It is a high damage class, especially when leveling, with low downtime and high survivability.

Before we get into details on the Paladin races, let’s briefly discuss what factors can play roles in choosing a race.

  • Passive Racial Traits
  • Cosmetic Appearance
  • Player to Character Connection

Passive Racial Traits

Passive Racial Traits are special abilities and buffs automatically given to a World of Warcraft race from level 1 on.  Dwarves, for instance, have the racial ability to find treasure, marking chests and other loot-able objects on the minimap.

Some racial traits are extremely powerful, and others just barely scratch the surface of lackluster potential.  Player preference weighs heavily here, and whatever passive traits are most desirable to you, should be a strong consideration for the Paladin character you choose.

Cosmetic Appearance

Don’t laugh, for many players, this is actually a very strong determining factor on what race they ultimately choose.  If you don’t like the way your character looks, it may be very easy to become unattached to playing it.

For the Paladin classes, I love playing Humans and Dwarves.  Just can’t play Draenei and Blood Elves because I’m simply not drawn to their appearances.

Player to Character Connection

Again, no laughing, but many players become attached to their toons.  Whether it is some resemblance of themselves, or all the hard work and time invested in playing their toon, players can become fiercely loyal to a particular race or character.

My Paladin Class Rankings

1. Human

  • Increased stealth detection
  • Spirit increased by 3%
  • Reputation gains increased by 10%
  • Expertise for Swords, Maces, 2H Swords, and 2H Maces increased by 3
  • Every Man for Himself (ability) – Removes all movement impairing effects

By far the best racial traits out there.  Just about everything can be utilized by a Ret Paladin.  For me, the reputation gain of 10% is huge, and Every Man for Himself is something I am always using.  The Sword and Mace buff isn’t too shabby either!

2.  Dwarf

  • Stoneform (ability) – Removes all poison, disease, and bleed effects.  Increases armor by 10% for 8 seconds.
  • Crit chance with guns increased by 1%
  • Reduced chance to be hit by Frost spells by 2%
  • Find Treasure – Locate loot-able items via the minimap.

Dwarves narrowly edge out Blood Elves, because I find that Stoneform has more utility overall than Arcane Torrent.  Every other ability here makes almost no impact on Paladin gameplay.

Do you know why I love the Dwarf race?  Because they are short.  Yep, that’s right…that’s why my favorite race is the Gnome.  I love my short classes.  Don’t ask me why, it’s just a more enjoyable play experience.  Strange how little things like that make a huge difference, hmmm?

3.  Blood Elf

  • Enchanting skill increased by 10
  • Arcane Torrent (ability) – Silence all enemies within 8 yards for 2 seconds, restores 6% of mana.  Mob spellcasting interrupted for 3 seconds.
  • Reduced chance to be hit by spells by 2%

Arcane Torrent is more valuable to us for its mana replenishment as opposed to the silence effect.  Reduction in chance to be hit by spells is nice, but in end game content, it’s rarely needed.

However, if Horde is your hearts desire, then this is the only Paladin class available currently.  Tauren will gain access to the Paladin class in Cataclysm.

4.  Draenei

  • Jewelcrafting skill increased by 5
  • Gift of the Naaru (ability) – Heal over time based on caster’s attack or spell power
  • +1% hit with spells and attacks
  • Reduced chance to be hit by Shadow spells by 2%

Gift of the Naaru is a nice touch, and the 1% hit is nice, but these are relatively lackluster racial traits when compared to the other 3 classes.

So there you have it, my rankings of Paladin races.  Do you have a different order?  I’d love to hear some counterarguments!  Just because I choose one way, does not make it the only way.  Determiningyour likes, preferences, and wants out of a Paladin can mean the difference between a level 80 Ret, and a level 34 forgotten Paladin, destined for deletion.


  1. Draenei Ret Pally says:

    I have a young Draenei ret pally (L15) that I’m having a blast with (also have 61 hunter and 67 rogue, both NE). The GotN has helped more than a few times, and I’m finding I can relatively easily best bad guys 3 levels above (having the fire buffs during the fire celebration certainly helps) and like you said, the extra 1% helps. Also, the Isles (Azuremyst, Bloodmyst) are beautiful 1-20 areas if you’re tired of Stormwind (I have a couple of Horde toons that are under 10; their starting areas are okay I guess, just not as picturesque as the Isles).

    Anyway, I’m using the tips from your guides, and so far they have been extremely helpful, so thank you for that!

  2. Khor says:

    Great to hear you’re having fun on your Ret! It’s by far the most fun leveling experience I have had for sure in WoW 🙂

  3. Draenei Ret Pally says:

    Update on my Draenei Ret Pally…

    L37 now, with some gear bought (from AH) with bank toon, some found on mobs. Southshore, btw, was incredible XP and pretty much nonstop combat. I’ve already completed all but the chef quest (won’t do it) and the Yeti (don’t want to mess w/getting an AGI/STAM cloak) quest.

    Gift of the Naaru is fantastic (and necessary for survival) when fighting large groups (6-7 mobs) or single same-level elites/multiple lower elites.

    I can only imagine what I could do with Heirloom gear (I have no L80 toons).

    I found my mana replenishment to be outstanding once I added my Glyph of Seal of Command.

    Should hit 40 and epic mounts tonight…and that’s after I get home from work LOL

    Thanks again for the tips. I’m following your talent tree guide to the letter and the results have been completely positive!

  4. Gailand says:

    Thanks for all the great advise. I am a Lv 54 Retro Pally now and am DPSing in the mid 300’s. I have been doing all orange and red quests since Lv45 and am very happy with my Pally.

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