In all the threads and posts on the paladin boards, I don't think I've ever seen a decent guide for paladins new to raiding on how to melee in raids safely and effectively. So here is my stab at it.
1. Know your responsibilities.
A paladin's responsibilities in a raid are, in order of importance:
- Keep the tanks alive
- Keep the party alive
- Judgement of Light / Wisdom
- Add extra damage
2. Know your strengths.
Every other class can only do one thing at a time. Paladins are different. Our greatest strength is that we can fulfill ALL our responsibilities at the same time. Embrace your hybrid nature. You can easily heal and cleanse while meleeing.
As well, our combat system is boring for a reason. Go into melee, judge, seal, and then concentrate on your raid.
There are significant advantages to being in the melee zone. You do not have to worry about losing Line of Sight on the tanks, or being out of range. If Judgement of Wisdom is up, your mana regeneration will be great, and you never have to worry about running out of mana.
3. Know your limitations.
Paladins are not a dps class. You will not do as much damage as a hunter or mage. Trying to compete with them on the damage meters is a fool's game. However, your damage is not insignificant. It adds up and is free. You don't need to spend mana to do damage. In my experience, fights with meleeing paladins go faster and smoother.
What this means is that you shouldn't try and increase your dps at the expense of your other priorities. Wear balanced or healing plate. For example, I have [Cloudkeeper Legplates], but I wear [Chitinous Plate Legguards] in raids (a terrible sacrifice given how ugly Chitinous is). Refrain from judging Command constantly. Personally, I often use Seal of the Crusader, as it adds a little dps but also gives more JoL/W procs.
4. Follow the rogues in.
As a general rule, if it's safe enough for the rogues to melee, it's safe enough for a paladin. If the rogues aren't going in, stay back as well.
5. Open with Judgement of Light or Wisdom.
JoL/W is awesome for the raid! If you are meleeing, make sure that they are up at all times on your target.
6. Do not expect heals.
Priests and druids have better things to do than heal paladins. Your health is YOUR responsibility. Make sure you keep yourself healed. If you take a big hit, or your health drops a bit too far, STEP BACK. Back up out of combat and only go back when you have a safe amount of health.
(Actually, as a healer, I would love it if rogues followed this advice as well. There are many times when a rogue's death could be avoided if she'd only step back for a few seconds and let me complete two or three heals.)
7. Know when NOT to melee.
If you find you are taking too much damage, or need to heal a lot, stand back. These fights are rarer than you think, though. Also watch for certain fights with Silences or Interrupts. For example, the Bat priestess in ZG has an AoE Silence effect. Do not melee if meleeing prevents you from fulfilling your other responsibilities.
8. Attack your tank's target.
If you are assigned to a tank, attack her target, opening with Judgment of Light. JoL helps heal her, and attacking her target means that you will always be in range of your tank for heals and cleanses. Let the DPS classes take care of burning down targets.
However, if your tank is not specifically off-tanking something, attack the main target specified by the raid leader.
Okay, that's my guide to paladin meleeing in raids. Any thoughts or other tips before I actually post this on the paladin boards?