Unpopular opinion -- Paladins most naturally itemize for int/spellpower, not str/physical


From deep Holy, to deep Prot, to deep Ret builds – and even hybrid builds… I’m becoming convinced that Paladins should itemize and spec for +int and +SP as soon as the gear becomes available/popular in progressive itemization (phases 2, 3+).

Its interesting to find vanilla and private videos alike where Paladins of all specs end up using items like TEP, ZHC, Judgement set, Avenger set, and “on-hits” over strength bonuses.

The core premise is that Paladins either heal more, do more damage, have higher threat, have higher burst damage, and have higher sustain if they stack stats and abilities with spell power/int in arguably every role (save Ret raid PvE? unsure…), than we would with attack power/strength.

[An added value of +int/SP for Paladins is the nature of being a hybrid – it also helps our mana pool and +healing ability in all specs.]

There are a few pally abilities that are counter intuitive, in that they are significantly boosted by int/sp stat sources rather than physical sources – SoC, JoC (hybrid), SoR, JoR (hybrid) in particular. For example, highest SoC and SoR procs often come from sp and slow top end weapon stats.

This one is obvious, deep Shock builds, hybrid Holy Reck builds, and hybrid builds that utilize Imp SoR/JoR go +int/SP. Shoutout to consecration hybrid builds as well. Shockadins speak for themselves here.

Controversial – Its clear that +int/SP boosts your holy damage from all sources, which includes Holy Shield, SoR reck bombs (1h & 2H), Consecration, and even our holy thorns abilities damage/threat. The biggest surprise in this tree for me is the viability of even 2H +sp Reck builds – its well known that SoR reck bombs are likely to dump all 5 SoR stacks in classic – and private servers have shown how op this is when mixed with things like lifesteal, frost oil, shadow oil, weapon procs, etc. And for Reck + SoC builds, JoC is a huge part of this style’s sustained damage.

Controversial – Int and +SP seems as valuable as Agility for deep ret Vengeance builds (with strength being lower). Any Ret will argue for small white crits and big yellow hits/crits over big whites when it comes to assessing the value of Strength in small grouped play. I recall near vanilla’s end, most PvP Rets would adhere to the ZHC+SoC meta, flexing in and out of Sanctity aura when Vengeance is up, etc. Also recall that intellect increases spell crit (which i believe only applies for SoC, but still)

Of this topic I’m least confident in the application of Ret raid PvE – I’d be very surprised to learn that Strength is indeed as inefficient as I suspect… but for 90% of other Pally builds im starting to view BWL and later Paladins as being similar to Shamans – watch out for magic damage

What do you guys think?

–edit: Interesting shoutout to stacking strength for block value in deep Protection builds tho.


Good write up, and I totally agree. But I don’t think this is an unpopular opinion. I think most people who have played and/or understand the paladin class know that int/sp is king.

(Theloras) #3

Both Seal and Judgement of Command are based off of Melee Crit not Spell crit which means that INT does not boost their crit % but does offer the Paladin the ability to cast them more often obviously due to having more Mana.

And STR provides direct boost to both white auto-attacks and Seal of Command procs since it is based off of weapon damage directly.

That being said…




+Spell damage SoR RECK with Corrupted Ashbringer or Neretzek is simply delicious


(Feuerhuf) #4

As Theloras says, S/JoC is based on melee crit. IIRC, SoC deals a percentage of weapon damage, meaning that it benefits most from STR/AP, whereas JoC deals a percentage of SP? Talents are available to boost both (e.g., Divine Strength VS Improved Seal of the Crusader and Sanctity Aura), and of course Vengeance provides a bonus to both physical and holy damage.

My sense is that for deep Retribution, it is better to focus on melee stats (I’m sure that theory crafting has worked out exactly where it stops becoming profitable), but given the talents above, it seems that Blizzard intended Retribution – and indeed, paladins as a whole – to play out as a melee/spell-power hybrid. I mean, just look at the stats for T1 and T2. And, as others have pointed out, not ignoring INT means that the paladin has more mana to, you know…do stuff.


Love the old school theory crafting in these threads. :slight_smile:

(Berrik) #6

Since a bunch of paladin theory crafters are going to see this I figure I’ll post it here. It’s kind of relevant.

I just read a post saying eye for an eye scales with 100% spell power, is that accurate?

If you have 200 from gear, and roughly 150 from judgement of the crusader would that add 350 damage on top of all returned damage? Could eye for an eye also crit and scale with vengeance and sanctity aura?

If a hunter Crits you with an arcane shot for 250 damage does your eye for an eye suddenly hit back for 425?



(Aryxymaraki) #8

I do not recall this being the case in Vanilla. My recollection is that it did not scale with spellpower at all.

(Private servers have a LOT of incorrect coefficients. That being said, I don’t know for sure that it doesn’t, I just don’t remember it working that way.)

(Theloras) #9

Eye for an Eye does not actually scale with spell dmg - that was an erroneous listing from back in Vanilla paladin blog - vanilla era videos show that it doesn’t scale with spell dmg BUT it does with Sanctity Aura + Vengeance and can also crit

As seen here where the Shaman crits Thakshar and his E4E crits him back for 947 Holy dmg:


I have played paladin quite a bit and been interested in spellpower hybrid type playstyle for a while for them but it also got me wondering how well a spellpower/AP enhancement shaman could work if at all. I have never played one at high level.

(Kreivos) #11

All I know is that a couple paladins I knew wore cloth robes as part of their main gear.

(Aryxymaraki) #12

Enhancement has no spellpower coefficient on their primary melee attacks. It would require you to trade Windfury Weapon for Flametongue Weapon.

That being said, Flametongue Weapon with a slow weapon does have a pretty good spellpower coefficient. Having more powerful shocks is never a bad thing. Searing Totem’s spellpower coefficient is pretty awful, though.

There wasn’t a lot of specific detailed research done on it at the time in Vanilla. The general consensus was that it was playable but suboptimal. I’d be interested to see newer data (from Classic, that is, when it’s available; private servers have so many flawed spellpower coefficients that I don’t think private server data is relevant) and see if that was correct or not.