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Updated: October 15, 2010
This guide is a work in progress. Also some links, and items refer to the Cataclysm specific database on Wowhead and may not work right now.
Paladins have gone through significant changes with the introduction of 4.0 and Cataclysm. As such many of the fundamental mechanics that had become very familiar for the past two years have changed or disappeared entirely. This guide and the attached thread is a one stop shop for Paladins interested in tanking. The original post will be maintained and updated with information from the thread that is pertinent and valuable. If there is information you feel should be present in this guide please PM me directly or post in the thread with what you think should be added.
DISCLAIMER: We are in the early days of 4.0/Cataclysm; so much of this information will be in flux and it will take time for the community as a whole to refine the theory crafting. Additionally, upcoming patches from Blizzard will undoubtedly complicate things more. Please be mindful of this.
[TABLE]Abbreviation | Definition
AD | Ardent Defender
AP | Attack Power
BoK | Blessing of Kings
BoM | Blessing of Might
Con | Consecration
CS | Crusader Strike
DP | Divine Protection
DS | Divine Shield
GAK | Guardian of Ancient Kings
GC | Grand Crusader
HoR | Hammer of the Righteous
HoPo | Holy Power
Jud | Judgement
JotW | Judgements of the Wise
LoH | Lay on Hands
MP5 | Mana per 5 Seconds
SoI | Seal of Insight
SoT | Seal of Truth
SoR | Shield of the Righteous
SP | Spell Power
TbtL | Touched by the Light
WoG | Word of Glory
3.0 to 4.0 Changes
I will not go over every single change but here is a short list of big changes that directly affect tanking Paladins. These are important game mechanic changes that maybe unique to Paladins or apply to multiple classes; regardless you should be aware of these in order to be an effective tank. As time marches on this section will eventually disappear as everyone begins getting used to the changes.
Blizzard is now keeping players to one talnet tree until 30 talent points have been spent at which point players can branch out into other talent trees. Protection Paladins receive the following specializations:
- Avenger's Shield - Same as the talented ability in TBC/WotLK but now scales with level.
- Vengeance - Passive ability that boosts AP as you take damage.
- Touched by the Light - Passive ability the gives a fixed percentage bonus to stamina, spell hit, and SP based on Strength.
- Judgements of the Wise - Passive ability that activates with Judgement to give 30% base mana over time.
- Ardent Defender
This is no longer a passive talent. This is a major change that 3.0 Paladin Tanks will have to get used to. The death protection aspect functions mostly like before except that the benefit is only available when the talent is active. While active the talent also serves as a damage reduction ability similar to Divine Protection by reducing incoming damage by 20%.
- Holy Power
This is a new resource mechanic similar to DK runes or Rogue combo points (pick your comparison). Depending on talent build and ability usage this gauge (found under the hit point/mana bars) will fill or empty. The amount of HoPo in the gauge can boost the effects of spells and other abilities. See the rotation sub section for more information.
Blessings have been cut down even further with this expansion. There are two blessings: Kings and Might. Kings functions similarly as before though it now also increases base resistance by a percentage based on level. Might increases attack power as a percentage but it also increases MP5. Both blessings now last an hour and now it only takes a single cast to bless your entire party/raid.
- No More Defense Rating
Defense rating no longer exists as a stat. Crit immunity is now purchased through the Sanctuary talent (formerly known at Blessing of Sanctuary) in the Protection tree. All three ranks must be purchased to guarantee crit immunity.
- Block Change
Mastery effectively provides additional "block rating" for Protection Paladins. In sum more Mastery means more blocking. Block value no longer exists. For Paladins a block is a straight 30% damage reduction on the attack.
- Holy Shield/Shield of the Righteous Linked
Holy Shield is no longer an activated ability and thus no longer in the tanking rotation. The talent will provide a 15% bonus to block when Shield of the Righteous is activated. See below for more information regarding the rotation.
- Cooldown Shakeup
Several cooldowns have been changed and new ones have been added. AD now behaves like an activated cooldown. DP remains an activated cooldown but will only reduce damage by 20%. The new major damage reducing cooldown is now GAK; an ability with a 5 minute cooldown that will reduce damage for Protection Paladins by 60%. NOTE: Other Paladin builds use this ability as well but with different effects. Avenging Wrath is unchanged and a new damage boosting ability called Inquisition has been introduced as well.
Forbearance: Forbearance remains in the game, but now is applied to targets effected by Divine Shield and Hand of Protection only.
Remember that it is now necessary to commit to a single talent tree fully before you are able to progress in a new tree so when specing make sure to start with Protection first. NOTE: These specs assume level 80; during 4.0 prior to Cataclysm players will only be able to spend 36 talent points. Level 85 builds to come later.
Here is a default build for level 80s pre-Cataclysm if none of the ones below fancy you.
- The Guardian (0/33/3) - This spec picks up Divine Guardian which provides a straight 20% damage reduction to all party/raid members in range. It also picks up Guarded by the Light to take advantage of Word of Glory self-healing.
- The Striker (0/33/3) - This spec picks up both ranks of Hallowed Ground for more mana efficent AoE tanking.
- The Haymaker (2/31/3) - If you need threat and need it fast this is the build for you. This sacrafices utility and surviability (WoG and GbtL bubbles) in order to generate as much threat as possible; also friendlier for AoE by picking up Hallowed Ground.
- The Wogger (3/31/2) - This spec is centered around self healing through WoG and maximizing the benefits there of.
Blizzard has done another large consolidation of stats with this patch/expansion. Defense rating among other secondary stats have disappeared altogether. Dodge and Parry now scale the same. A summary of relevant stats and changes to be aware of are available below.Stat Overview
Strengths value is flux now that there is no Block Value to be generated from it, but according to Blizzard it now provides parry rating (not just for Death Knights anymore!). It remains the primary (and so far only) source of raw AP for all Paladins.
Stamina, of course, remains important in providing for a large health pool. There are no significant changes for Protection Paladins regarding this stat.
Agility will lose value in that it will no longer provide armor like before. All indications are that it will continue to provide dodge rating at the same rate as before.
Dodge rating will continue to be on equipment. So far there appears to be no significant change on how this stat and avoidance functions.
As mentioned above Parry Rating will be gained from STR as well as items. According to Blizzard parry will "provide the same avoidance as Dodge" indicating for the purposes of avoidance parry and dodge are equivalent in terms of stat values.
A word on dodge & parry...
Dodge and Parry diminishing returns are now the same thus from a pure avoidance perspective both dodge and parry are now the same; numbers regarding parry-haste however are still foggy so the amount of parry vs dodge regarding damage from boss parry-haste is still up for debate.
As usual hit rating is necessary in order to actually hit the stuff you will be tanking (no damage, no threat). The vast majority of Protection Paladin abilities are based of the melee hit table not the spell hit table. As such at level 80 Paladins are interested in only reaching the 8% cap (262 hit rating / 229 for Draenei @ 80). Any hit over the cap is considered wasted. Level 85 values coming soon.
Expertise is so far unchanged. The goal remains to have 26 expertise (214 rating @ 80) in order to push dodge off boss avoidance tables for WotLK content. Note that particular racial bonuses can reduce the required amount of expertise rating. According to Theck's numbers this is currently one of the best threat stats for Protection Paladins up to 55 expertise. Level 85 values coming soon.
Now for something different...Mastery
Mastery is a "universal" stat that depending on the player's spec provides different benefits. For Protection Paladins, Mastery provides block rating via Divine Bulwark. All indications are that this is the only means for Paladins to attain block rating/percentage (with very few exceptions). Tanking gear (to date) has only had dodge/parry for secondary stats.Reforging
Reforging & You
Now for a word or two about reforging. Reforging will allow you to shift stats around on gear to (hopefully) optimize your build by moving 40% of a secondary stat to another (even not present stat) on the same item.
Various professions offer various benefits for a tanking Paladin. Below is a summary of what classes provided what. In a min/maxing sense Jewelcrafting/Blacksmithing provide the largest gain in STA for raw HP with additional sockets plus jewel crafter only gems. This benefit is reduced though as all talent trees have been stripped of their percentage stat bonuses.Alchemy
The benefits to tanking are few though the crafted trinket (Lifebound Alchemist Stone) can be a boost for those looking to stack stamina. Additional benefits include a percentage bonus benefit when using potions/flasks/etc and longer durations on flask/elixir based buffs through [Mixology].
See more on Alchemy.Blacksmithing
Beyond crafting your own plate gear (which has marginal benefits) the primary purpose of this profession is to provide you with two additional gemming slots ([Socket Bracer] [Socket Gloves]) to stuff stamina gems for additional HP.
See more on Blacksmithing.Enchanting
The priamry benefit enchanting has for tanking is the +60 stamina to each of your rings for a total gain of 120 stamina.
See more on Enchanting.Engineering
Engineering has filled the role of crafting usable equipment, namely specialized helms and ranged weapons. This continues with Cataclysm. It is unclear what head slot epics will become available later on but engineering Protection Paladins can craft [Reinforced Bio-Optic Killshades] as their first epic tanking helm. Other benefits include slot specifc enchants for tanks like [Quickflip Deflection Plates] and [Grounded Plasma Shield].
See more on EngineeringHerbalism
Herbalism provides little benefit to tanking Paladins; [Lifeblood] can be used as a self heal and haste boost but is sub-optimal based on other profession bonuses.
See more on Herbalism.Inscription
Inscription will be able to create epic level relics come Cataclysm. The most interesting for tanking Paladins is Silver Inlaid Leaf. Beyond that if you have good access to herbs you can create your own glyphs.
See more on Inscription.Jewelcrafting
Jewelcrafting can provide interesting trinkets but it's primary benefit is the unique gems (Solid Chimera's Eye) only useable by jewel crafters.
See more on Jewelcrafting.Leatherworking
The primary benefit for tanking Paladins provided by leatherworking would be the fur linings for bracers. So far Blizzard has not indicated what benefits the Cataclysm level of fur lining will provided. In WotLK [Fur Lining - Stamina] is available for tanks.
See more on LeatherworkingMining
Toughness is the main benefit provided by mining. It's value is slightly diminished from WotLK since there less stamina boosting talents though a benefit remains through the Touched by the Light specialization for Protection Paladins.
See more on Mining.Skinning
Given how low critical strike rating is as a priority for tanking Paladins the [Master of Anatomy] benefit from this profession is one of the least optimal.
See more on Skinning.Tailoring
Tailoring allows for the embroidering of cloaks. None of the embroidering options are ideal for Protection Paladins so this profession is also one of the least optimal for tanks.
See more on Tailoring.
1[/HR]Glyphs, Enchants, Gems and ConsumablesGlyphs
A third tier of glyphs have been introduced with Cataclysm. We now have Prime, Major, and Minor glyphs. For detail on why you should choose specific glyphs please go here.
(Recommended) - Increase both physical and holy damage components by 10%.
(Recommended) - Seal of Truth also grants 10 Expertise while active.
- Judgement deals 10% more damage.*
(Recommended) - Increases the damage of Shield of the Righteous by 10%.*
- Increases the healing done by Word of Glory.*
* Build and preference on whether to focus more on single/AoE tanking or WoG will effect these glyph selections.
Prime glyphs have replaced the role of Major glyphs while Major glyphs have now become a middle of the road type of glyph. Being middle of the road these glyphs do not adjust abilities as drastically as prime glyphs. Below are acceptable glyphs for tanking Paladins.
- Avenger's Shield now also dazes targets.
- Increases magical damage reduction of this ability by 20% and removed the physical protection benefit.*
- Reduces mana cost of CS by 30%.
(Recommended) - Avenger's Shield hits 2 fewer targets, but for 30% more damage.
(Recommended) - This provides an AoE stun and will likely have high utility come the expansion when more dragonkin and elementals will be present in content.
* As of this publishing word is that this glyph does not remove the physical protection benefit however I've been unable to find official confirmation.
Minor glyph selection remains underwhelming. The most interesting one for Paladin tanks would be Lay on Hands for reduced LoH cooldown. The suggestions below are just that; ultimately the choice of Minor glyphs has very little impact on tanking performance.
(Recommended) - Reduces LoH cooldown by 2 minutes.
- Reduces the mana cost of BoM by 50%.
- Reduces the mana cost of BoK by 50%.
Many enchants have been changed/removed to reflect the new stat system that has been implemented. Below are suggested enchants for tanking Paladins.
Finger - (Enchanters Only)
Gems have gone under a significant revamp much like enchants. Gems with specific stats that have been removed the game have also been removed. Some stats have also changed colors. As such the 3.0 to 4.0 transition will be a bit painful for some as they must re-gem in order to make current gear sets work until Cataclysm. Once people begin transitioning into Cata this problem should subside.
Below are preferred gems for Protection Paladins. As before the most widely accepted gemming strategy is to maximize stamina and gem other colors as necessary to activate the Meta gem.
[Austere Shadowspirit Diamond] - +81 Stamina and 2% increased armor from items (Requires 2 Yellow gems)
[Eternal Shadowspirit Diamond] - +81 Stamina and +5% shield block value (Requires 3 Blue gems)
There has not been much theory crafting on determing which meta provides the greatest overall benefit. Based on previous theorycrafting the Austere Shadowspirit Diamond would be favored; however given new block mechanics Paladins may find the Eternal Shadowspirit better in that it will even out damage spikes better. More theorycrafting to come regarding this.
[Solid Chimera's Eye] - +101 Stamina (Jewelcrafters Only)
[Rigid Chimera's Eye] - +67 Hit Rating (Jewelcrafters Only)
[Precise Chimera's Eye] - +67 Expertise Rating (Jewelcrafters Only)
Blizzard has yet to provide information on Cataclysm regular epic gems; more on this later.
[Sovereign Demonseye] - +20 Strength and +30 Stamina (Counts as Red or Blue gem)
[Regal Dream Emerald] - +20 Dodge Rating and +30 Stamina (Counts as Blue or Yellow gem)
[Defender's Demoneye] - +20 Parry Rating and +30 Stamina (Counts as Red or Blue gem)
A food and other self applied buffs are necessary to be effective. The following are appropriate foods, potions, elixirs, flasks, and scrolls to use while tanking.
Several abilities got renamed or moved, but should be familiar to many veteran Paladin tanks. There is also Holy Power which now needs to be contended with.Seals
Seal of Insight - Formerly known as Seal of Light. Continues to function as before; healing the Paladin for each swing and judgment. Usually you will not use these seal, though it can be handy in case you must tank a low damage mob when a healer isn't available.
Seal of Righteousness - Seal that does straight holy damage for each swing and judgment. This Seal is not optimal for tanks and should be avoided.
Seal of Truth - What was once known as Seal of Vengeance is now known as this. The ability is essentially the same as before and also remains the principle tanking Seal. Remember to pick up the associated glyph for 10 Expertise.Key Abilities
Avenging Wrath - The effects of this ability have not changed much from before though it no longer causes another abilities to be locked out or put on temporary cooldown. AW can be activated and other abilities like DS or DP can be activated immediately as well.
Crusader Strike - Crusader Strike is now a baseline skill and grants a charge of Holy Power. NOTE: CS shares a cooldown with HoR.
Devotion Aura - There are very few exception when a Protection Paladin would not be using this aura while tanking. The aura confers the benefit of providing additional armor to the Paladin and all party/raid members affected by the aura.
Hammer of the Righteous - Much like the old version this is an AoE attack but not limited by the number of targets. The hammer will hit a primary target hard and then anything else within 8 yards of your target a somewhat less powerful holy attack. NOTE: HoR shares a cooldown with CS.
Hand of Reckoning - Hand of Reckoning has lost its damage component so it is no longer viable as a single target pull. It now, for all intents and purposes, works the same as the Warrior's taunt.
Hand of Protection - Hand of Protection allows you to target yourself or party/raid member to protect them from physical attacks only for 10 seconds. If you cast this on yourself you will also be locked out of using Divine Shield for 2 minutes.
Righteous Defense - This ability is unchanged and remains the Protection Paladin's "indirect" taunt. Use it on a party/raid member to direct up to 3 enemies to attack you instead.
Righteous Fury - This ability remains almost the same as before by greatly increasing your threat generated, however now the ability boosts all threat generated not just holy damage. Also Blizzard has been nice enough to remind Paladins in the tooltip that this ability makes you a better tank.
Shield of the Righteous - Our principle single target attack. This and it's associated glyph are must haves for Paladin tanking. This ability is powered using HoPo and as such will not activate unless you have at least 1 HoPo charged on your gauge.
Word of Glory - WoG should be treated as a utility ability. Since it only uses HoPo for its effect it's very friendly for Protection Paladins low on mana. Additionally the base spec (via Guarded by the Light) also provides the additional benefit of converting any over healing into a temporary bubble and activates Holy Shield.
Divine Protection - DP is no longer as strong as before; the upside is that it no longer causes Forbearance. It is also a short cooldown (1 minute) and relatively cheap. This should be used to manage damage in non-emergency situations.
Divine Shield - This ability is available to all Paladins but should be used carefully by tanks since it effectively removes you from combat and thus the threat table temporarily. Enemies on you will immediately go towards the next party/raid members on the threat table. In most cases tanks will not use this ability.
Guardian of Ancient Kings - This is now the major cooldown for tanking Paladins. GAK will reduce damage to the tanking Paladin by 60% through the Ancient Guardian ability for a yet unspecified duration. Cooldown on this ability is 5 minutes; or 2 minutes if speced into [Shield of the Templar].
1[/HR]Mechanics & RotationHoly Power
The introduction of Holy Power changes rotation dynamics for Protection Paladins. Much like combo points for Rogues this new resource scales up abilities effects depending on how full the gauge is. When an ability that uses HoPo is activated the gauge is emptied and depending on the amount displayed the ability receives a boost (usually more damage or more healing).
The following abilities relevant to Protection Paladins use Holy Power...
Shield of the Righteous
Word of Glory
The following abilities relevant to Protection Paladins generate Holy Power...
Hammer of the Righteous
Pursuit of Justice (If talented, HoPo gains are incidental)The Pull
Pulling has not changed much. Hand of Reckoning has lost its damage component so it's not such a clever single target pull as it used to be. However, if you have speced into it Judgment increased to 30 yards is now a viable single target pull. Like before Avengers Shield remains an excellent multi-target pull.The Rotation
Whatever you knew about the Paladin tanking rotation needs to now be tossed out the window. The previous 9/6 rotation that proved to be highly reliable is no longer possible. The rotation is also heavily effected by HoPo (as described above) so the order of abilities matter in order maximize the usage of HoPo. Because of this protection now uses a priority/clash resolution system like many other classes.
The ability priority for single target tanking is as follows:
Shield of the Righteous > Crusader Strike > Judgement > Avenger's Shield* > Consecration > Holy Wrath
For area tanking the following priorities are used (this is a proposed rotation for now):
Hammer of the Righteous > Avenger's Shield* > Judgement > Consecration > Holy Wrath
* This is assumed AS has been glyphed for single target. For the AoE rotation the assumption is AS is unglyphed.
I of course did not get all this myself. Below is some source material I used as well as other resources that maybe prove valuable for the advancing tank.
- Maintankadin • View topic - Theck's MATLAB thread - Cataclysm/4.x
- Maintankadin • View topic - 4.0 Talent Spec & Glyph Guide
- MMO-Champion - Paladin Cataclysm
- Paladin - Class - World of Warcraft
Thanks to Darkside, from whom I stole this post's format.
Theck for initial rotation development, glyphs, and other theory crafting related to hit/expertise and other stat values.
Additional thanks to Capstone, ruinok, Nich, frmorrison, Darthpred, Zaroua
Credit to posters in this thread for their thorough work and theory crafting; they have been cited above at relevant points.
October 14, 2010 - Thread Launched
When I try the rotation "Shield of the Righteous > Crusader Strike > Judgement > Avenger's Shield* > Consecration > Holy Wrath" I cannot get SoR to go unless I first do CS. Why is that?