Paladins are the holy warriors of Azeroth. As such they can tank and heal and when they have nothing better to do. A player can have his paladin serve as a damage per second character. Before a player can do that, it is helpful for the player to know about the branches of the paladin talent tree. The 3 branches of the paladin talent tree are protection, retribution, and holy.
While the names of 2 branches of the paladin talent tree are shared with other classes, the talents are specific to paladin abilities. The protection tree lets a paladin specialize in tanking, the retribution tree allows the talent to specialize in a DPS role, and the holy branch lets a paladin character fill the role of healer.
The Protection Branch
The protection branch of the paladin talent tree serves the same purpose in the paladin tree as it does with the warriors. Because paladin abilities use mana rather than rage, a paladin must know how to manage his mana.
The key difference between mana and rage is that mana depletes as it is used while builds back up over time. Rage accrues only when a warrior fights. The difference between a paladin tanking and a warrior tanking is not great in most grouping situations. The protection branch of the talent tree is equally as important to players as the holy one, but for a different reason.
The Retribution Branch
A paladin who chooses to specialize in the retribution branch can fill the role of a DPS character well, although some players look down on paladins who specialize in the retribution branch of the talent tree. This will likely be corrected in subsequent patches because the problem is seen as a balance issue. This is considered to be the best branch for leveling for a player who wants to solo.
The Holy Branch
The Holy branch of the paladin talent tree, like the priest branch, lets paladins be healers. There is some duplication between the priest and paladin branches of their respective talent trees because paladins receive many of the same spells that priests do.
This branch lets paladins and their priestly counterparts fill the role of healer. Paladins start with more hit points and less mana, and a larger weapon selection while priests start with more mana, fewer hit points, and a limited selection cash. Being a healer that can wear plate armor in the World of Warcraft end game has huge advantages and the holy branch of the paladin.
Wrapping it Up
Paladins are capable of filling all of the vital group roles in World of Warcraft, but picking a branch of the talent tree to specialize in will give the player of a character an idea of what his role in a group should be. The player can further increase his desirability to a group by learning to fulfill all roles should one particular role be needed.