I was sitting here looking over the topics we have covered and it occurred to me that I had not yet reviewed anything concerning gear. Being a holy Paladin really opens up a wide array of gear with the goal being plate gear with the four pillars of statistics on them. Sounds pretty simple, but you will find out that it is a lot more complicated than that. So let us break it down into sections to look over:
Level 1 - 39
Alright, so these are the baby steps of your Paladin life. The early stages is pretty much how I will refer to these, as we are learning all about our abilities and how to apply them. During this stage of our life as a Paladin we are going to be wearing mail armor. So get use to being in direct competition with the Shaman class on instance runs, which if you have been reading my blog for a while you will recall that I did a series on the classes I do like to run with and was nice enough to attach my reasoning behind these thoughts. Anyway, back on topic. So as you are leveling early, I would recommend that you acquire only mail armor as you will be doing many quests on your own and the boosted armor numbers are going to be important. We also want to get in the habit early on of learning to look for the proper stats.
Level 40 - 58
So now you are 40 and can get your hands on some plate gear. Plate gear provides the best protection for any healing class and allows us a lot more flexibility in what we do as healers compared to our colleagues. So is plate gear important during this range of levels. I still say yes here. Our goal is to now switch from looking for good mail gear and acquire solid plate gear with the statistics we have deemed important. Will we find a lot of it? Not so much, unless you happen to belong to a guild or solid group of friends who will be willing to run you through the original content. I would recommend avoiding spending time on running these instances as once you begin on the BC content, it would seem rather pointless as the stats are dwarfed by green drops and quest rewards.
Level 59 - 70
So you have learned how to heal by now, at least we all hope so. Now what do you do? Continue to look for the best plate gear you can get. At this point if you are not wearing plate you may be lacking in skills. I do not mean this to sound poor or reflect badly on you as a person, but you should have honed your skills and made it a habit of knowing what stats you need and selecting the proper gear. In BC, Blizzard made a push to make playing Paladins popular and there is an overabundance of gear specifically designed for Paladins of all specs. I would also recommend to spend time running through the end-game content of BC and acquiring as much of this gear as possible since it will carry you well into the 70s.
Level 71 - 80
This is it, the spell power should be swelling within you. Your mana regeneration should allow you to cast endless Flash of Light spells and your intellect should be off the charts at this point, at least for BC content. If you have not made it to this point, the next ten levels are going to be very difficult for you. Make sure and take the time to acquire solid gear from the BC content as Blizzard left out the plate spell power gear and focused on Warriors and Death Knights. Please do not get me wrong, there is solid gear there for Paladins, but we must be very careful not to move our balance off for what our role is. I have read of several Paladins who abandoned the protection and holy trees to go retribution for the purposes of leveling. While that is a good idea for leveling purposes it will not help you learn how to heal at all. A lot of the decent plate gear with spell power will come from instances. If on the other hand you raced to get to WotLK content, then there may be some decent upgrades for you.
Another option for gearing yourself is by selecting gear other than plate. I have frowned on this type of equipping up until this point solely because I wanted you to be making a habit of looking for gear with the best stats. At this point if you have not learned this, your character is probably already out of alignment or you are thinking of switching specs. At any rate, feel free to select some (notice the use of the word some and not of all) gear that is not plate gear. There are some very viable leather and mail gear which can be used for Paladins. Just be careful to not go overboard with this as the ability to wear plate is one of the advantages that we have over other classes.
The Take Away
Alright, so there you have it. A simple basic guide of what kind of gear you want and when you want it. If you apply this to the basics we have already covered you will be well on your way to being able to be a solid holy Paladin. Perhaps you disagree and feel like there is a better way to do some of this. Please feel free to try it. They joy of WoW is that there are multiple ways to do things and there is no one guaranteed method. While some strategies have proven successful feel free to try different things. An example from my own leveling was that people said you could heal Kara without having MP5 gear (basically meaning not using my arena and battleground gear). I took it as a personal offense and ran as the main healer through Kara successfully clearing it on my first run. I wish it would have been with the guild, but I wanted to prove that it was doable and a PUG was the perfect setting for such an attempt. Did I stick with that mentality? Hell no! MP5 is extremely important, but at the time that I played our guild was not as serious and there was a lot of time where I was leveling alone, so to me battleground and then eventually arena was a better goal and something that was more attainable. In retrospect, when my wife started to play, I had her run through the proper progression of dungeons and raids to gear the way that I outlined here because I realized the important of these stats and wanted to save her the misery of having to be perfect with her casting. It is nice to have that little added bonus of MP5. At any rate, that is just an example to say that there are multiple ways to do things which will get you to your goals. The point is to have fun and enjoy the game. I just want to offer some advice to Paladins who may have some questions or are not sure if being holy is the talent build for them.