Time for new paladin thread!
So paladin roles in WoW have changed a fair bit in the Burning Crusade, with all three specs, Retribution, Protection, and Holy all viable raid specs.
Rest of OP shamelessly stolen from previous one.
What the fuck is a Paladin?
Paladins are either defenders of the Holy Light or reformed Naaru kidnappers.
Paladins are a class that is in relatively high demand in the current state of things. With their talents geared towards Holy, they are powerful single-target healers, with good mana efficiency and relatively good longevity (depending on the nature of the fight).
With their talents geared towards Protection, they are outstanding tanks, equal to warriors in almost every way, and also having the added ability to AOE tank effortlessly. However, because of the previous warrior-dominated tanking scene, it is very difficult to be accepted as an equal to a warrior tank as a paladin in many guilds and raids.
Geared towards Retribution, they are capable melee damage-dealers, with a great deal of utility that they bring to the group in additon to their damage, such as the ability to keep up multiple paladin Judgements on the target, an extra paladin blessing (a lifesaver in 5mans when running without a paladin tank or healer, Blessing of Salvation is greatly missed when one is used to it), and the ability to protect others in a pinch with a Blessing of Protection.
Four races can be Paladins:
*Requires the Burning Crusade Expansion
While you should pick the race with animations and voices you like, players who like to pick their race on their racial ability should consider the following. Human paladins get a nice bonus to Expertise when wielding Swords or Maces, which are the weapons that paladin tanks always wield, and the weapons that Retribution paladins sometimes wield. Means little as Holy. Draenei get a nice +hit aura for their party members, which is nice for any paladin, especially Retribution. Extra party utility to complement their already considerable arsenal of it is welcome indeed. Gift of the Naaru scales with +healing, and so is a very powerful spell for Holy paladins, as it gives them a much needed heal over time spell. Finally, Dwarves get Stoneform, which basically acts a second Divine Shield for magical debuffs.
If you are Horde, Blood Elf is your only option. Mana Tap and Arcane Torrent are pretty nice racials, though. As Retribution or Protection, you typically have a very small mana pool, a full stack of Mana Tap can often restore 10% of your mana. As Holy, it is less useful, but Arcane Torrent is a great PvP skill.
Holy: Once the only tree paladins would ever be interested in, it is nevertheless still a huge component of all paladins, particularly those that raid or PvP. Not as strong as once it was, paladin healers are still masters of powerful, single-target heals, mana efficiency combined with sheer output of healing, and utility in the form of Greater Blessings.
Protection (aka Prot): This is our tanking tree, dedicated to increasing our threat generation as well as our damage mitigation. Paladin tanking is right in its prime right now, with a few things here and there that could be improved, but mostly we are in very good shape, equal MTs for warriors, with the only main reason to use a warrior over a paladin being that a warrior specced for tanking can't do much else other than tank whereas a paladin can handle gimmicks of encounters such as AOE elements.
Retribution (aka Ret): Retribution is still a very much underused tree, but is definitely on the way up, with most raids trying to find room for at least one Retribution paladin, due to their ability to keep up multiple judgements at once from many different paladins, and of course bringing an extra blessing, limiting the need for extra paladin healers (of which too many can be limiting).
(thanks to Little Jim)
(thanks to Sabremau)
These aren't perfect, but simply exist to give you an idea of specs solely focused on PvE.
PvP Specs: thanks to Little Jim
olol tank pvp. seriously if you're PvPing as protection you're probably just losing your way to points to get gear so you really don't need an optimal spec. You won't be doing much in BGs, although to be fair, you goddam won't be DYING while doing nothing.