The purpose of the Field Manual to assist you in being a better Paladin tank. The goal is to provide the best and most accurate information possible so you can make the best decisions possible. In some cases theory crafting will suggest only one solution, in other cases you will have a variety of solutions, either way it is your choice to use information from this post. If you feel you have something to contribute or correct please go here.
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.
NOTE: 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
BiS | Best in Slot
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
GCD | Global Cooldown
HotR | Hammer of the Righteous
HoPo | Holy Power
HoW | Hammer of Wrath
HW | Holy Wrath
Jud | Judgement
JotW | Judgements of the Wise
LoH | Lay on Hands
MP5 | Mana per 5 Seconds
SoI | Seal of Insight
SoT | Seal of Truth
SotR | Shield of the Righteous
SP | Spell Power
TbtL | Touched by the Light
WoG | Word of Glory
This section tracks situations or details of Paladin tanking that don't neatly fit into other parts of the manual, maybe temporary, or are otherwise esoteric. Items in this section may not necessarily be substantiated with theory crafting or empirical evidence. They are observations on how theory crafting translate to in the game experience. Points expressed in this section may contradict information in the manual but do not invalidate them. A trend maybe just that, temporary and fleeting, and then goes away as conditions in game change. You could consider this as an errata to the field manual with the notable exception that it may not be permanent.
- Currently there are no new trends!
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 talent 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 (40% when Holy Shield is up, which should be most of the time).
- 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 10% bonus to blocking damage reduction 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 50%. 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 Lay on Hands (when self targeted), 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 that some builds are sensitive to glyph selections.
Here is a starter build with 10 spare talents points for level 85 characters if none of the ones below interest you.
- The Guardian (0/34/7) - 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 and Eternal Glory to take advantage of Word of Glory self-healing and refund Holy Power. The rest of the spec focuses on single target threat generation.
- The Striker (0/33/8) - This spec picks up both ranks of Hallowed Ground for more mana efficient AoE tanking while doing strong overall threat.
- The Haymaker (2/31/8) - If you need threat and need it fast this is the build for you. This sacrifices utility and survivability (WoG and GbtL bubbles) in order to generate as much threat as possible; also friendlier for AoE by picking up Hallowed Ground.
- The Wogger (0/31/10) - 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.
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!). 25% of your Strength is converted into parry rating. At level 85 176.1 parry rating equals 1% chance parry (before diminishing returns). Strength also 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; however given that the AP bonus provided by [Vengeance] is regulated by maximum health additional hit points indirectly translate to additional AP and thus threat.
Agility will lose value in that it will no longer provide armor like before. However, it will continue to provide a increased percentage chance to dodge. At level 85 every 1 point of agility will provide 0.00328% chance to dodge. It requires 304.5 agility for a full 1% increase in dodge at level 85. This chance to dodge is effected by diminishing returns.
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. See the reforging section on how to calculate your block cap.
NOTE: It is not longer necessary to hit or expertise cap. See below under reforging as to why.
Hit rating makes you more likely 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. In addition, we get 8% spell hit from [Touched by the Light], so we hit-cap spells before we hit-cap melee attacks.As such at level 85 Paladins are interested in only reaching the 8% melee hit cap. Any hit over the cap is considered wasted.
Level 85 - 8% requires 961 Hit rating / 841 for Draenei
While in Wrath, we still saw a moderate benefit from hit above the melee cap, the 8% spell hit we get from talents caps our spell hit before that point, making the benefit of hit rating over melee cap exactly zero. So like many DPS classes, hit rating below the cap will be one of our best threat stats, while anything above the cap is wasted.
Expertise is so far unchanged. The goal remains to have 26 expertise in order to push dodge off boss avoidance tables. 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 - 26 Expertise requires 781 Expertise rating / 55 Expertise requires 1652 Expertise rating
-Expertise and Hit are our best DPS stats below their respective caps (8% for hit, 26 for expertise soft cap). When gearing for DPS/threat, you should be aiming for 8% hit and around 26 expertise. From that point on, stack Strength for reliable threat.
-AP, Crit, and Agility are all second-tier threat stats. For gearing purposes, you'll probably ignore these (except maybe on an Agility weapon).
-Haste/Mastery/SP/Intellect are all weak threat stats. Don't stack any of them for threat.
Now for something different...
Mastery is a "universal" stat that depending on the player's spec provides different benefits. For now it does not suffer from diminishing returns. For Protection Paladins, Mastery provides block rating via Divine Bulwark. Currently for every point of Mastery the Paladin will receive 2.25% increased chance to block. 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 defensive stats. Paladins will want Mastery... lots of it. See below regarding reforging and Mastery.
Reforging, Combat Table Coverage & 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. What does this mean for tanking Paladins? Now that blocks are no longer a fixed amount of mitigation but instead reduced damage by a certain percentage it is in our interest to try to block as much as possible. As such we want to reach the 102.4% total avoidance threshold (also referred to as "block cap" or "complete combat table coverage") that we have aimed for in the past. This pushes regular hits off the table so that any physical hit has to come through a block. Given that tanking Paladins should be reforging for Mastery as much as possible. Note though that is it unlikely you will be able to reach the 102.4% threshold early in Cataclysm. Until post 359 item level gear and epic gems are available ratings will be too low. Regardless, you want to get as close are you possibly can to the 102.4% threshold.
Do not forget that gemming and enchanting can add to secondary stats so keep in mind your gemming and enchanting choices when reforging and vise-versa.
Combat Table Coverage & The Rule of 102.4%
Where is this 102.4% number coming from? The number represents the target for block capping and avoiding all "regular" hits...
If you are wondering where Holy Shield is remember that the talent has been changed to provide a bonus to block damage reduction instead of block chance.
When does armor come into play?
Armor plays no role in determining how a hit is resolved on the combat table. Only after a hit has be resolved on the table and if it does any physical damage then armor is applied. Armor is another form of mitigation.
Don't Go Crazy
Do not reforge into Mastery mindlessly. Going beyond the block cap/full combat table coverage is a waste. Once you hit that 102.4% threshold you have to stop. Any additional block serves absolutely no purpose. Also once your reach 102.4% be careful to balance dodge/parry correctly. Dodge and parry occur before block on the hit table so if you end up having too much dodge/parry you push more block chances off the hit table.
There are two reforging strategies: The Survivalist Strategy (The New Way) or The Threat Strategy (The Old Way). You are welcome to choose whichever way you want to go, however the current community concensus is that maximizing survival stats, in particular mastery then dodge and parry, even at the expense of hit and expertise is the way to go. This does contradict the previously established dogma of cap hit/exp as quickly as possible before progressing in other stats. This is because [Vengeance] is proving to be very powerful and makes it possible for tanks to afford several misses during the course of a fight.
The Survival Strategy (The New Way)
- If you are not at the block cap/full combat table coverage reforgeâ€”in this orderâ€”haste, crit, expertise, hit, dodge/parry into mastery. IMPORTANT: When reforging from dodge/parry make sure to reforge from the stat that has the most rating since it will be the stat suffering from the most diminishing returns.
- If you reach 102.4% coverage and have excess block reforge mastery into dodge/parry for additional avoidance instead of mitigation (as usual be aware of diminishing returns) or into hit/expertise for additional threat.
- You should never be reforging into the following stats... haste, crit.
Threat is not an issue at all, other than the first few moments of the fight. Hit/Exp isn't needed until you're at the 104.2% "cap". Use mitigation/armor/avoidance to reach that number, then any excess you can start getting hit/exp. Survive/mitigate damage first, that's priority. After a few 30k SotR, threat no longer matters.
Disclaimer: If you are suffering too much threat loss then pare back on the amount of hit/expertise you are reforging away until your gear improves.
The Threat Strategy (The Old Way)
As things stand now you should not be reforging to max hit/expertise when tanking. If you really really want to do this play Retribution.
Why am I reforging this way?
The reforging (and gearing) strategy are aimed toward maximizing mastery to maximize your block chance. This is important for Paladins because being block capped smooths out the rate of incoming damage, reduces damage spikes, and makes it easier for your healers.
I want to expand on that because not everyone was around back when healer mana was a real concern in raiding. It may not be obvious to all that even if you take more dmg overall, if the incoming dmg curve is smoother and more predictable you actually cost less mana to keep alive. Predictable curve translate to less spikes / less reactive healing and that translates to;
- Improved mana efficiency by using slower but more HPM efficient spells.
- Reduced need to be toped off at all times, thus lowering over-healing and letting HoTs tick for actual healing. Again, being more efficient on mana.
So even if your DTPS (dmg taken per second) is higher than the next tank, you can be easier to heal and more efficient on your healers mana.
Various professions offer various benefits for a tanking Paladin. Below is a summary of what professions provide what. The sheer value of professions is somewhat diminished from WotLK stature. Once level 85 scaling is factored in, the itemization points provided by a full maxed profession will provide roughly half the rating granted in WotLK. Still, some professions are certainly still more valuable than others. In a min/maxing sense Leatherworking/Alchemy are believed to provide the largest gain in survivability, though there are concerns Mixology will not retain its current % boost to Elixirs and LWâ€™s benefit comes largely from the absence of a straight +STA wrist enchant as competition for the profession bonus. There was no +STA wrist enchant going into WotLK either, but one was introduced within days of launch. Other than these two Professions, BS, JC, Inscription, and Enchanting are extremely closely balanced. Mining is a step behind as its +STA gain is acceptable for tanking but a dual-spec player would get minimal benefit for an off-spec. Engineering looks good for entry raiding, but the presence or absence of higher ilevel craft-able helms and buffed failure penalties for Tinkers make it difficult to properly compare.
Skinning, Herbalism, and Tailoring remain unattractive to paladin tanks.
The benefits to tanking are powerful but slightly questionable. The crafted trinket () is tremendous for early raiding as STA and Mastery are the two key stats for paladin tanks. Additional benefits include a percentage bonus benefit when using potions/flasks/etc and longer durations on flask/elixir based buffs through [Mixology]. The +STA flask appears to be under budget and progression minded tanks, barring changes, are expected to use Mastery and Armor Elixirs instead. If Mixology provides the same % boost to Elixirs as to STA Flasks, Alchemy will be an extremely powerful profession (though somewhat lacking in flexibility, as one must swap flasks/elixirs if one changes specs and wants to keep the profession bonus).
See more on Alchemy.
Beyond crafting your own plate gear (which has marginal benefits, as all interesting pieces are BoE and thus potentially purchasable) 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.
The primary benefit enchanting has for tanking is the +60 stamina to each of your rings for a total gain of 120 stamina. For those with Retribution off-specs there are the +STR/AGI ring buffs to consider as well.
See more on Enchanting.
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 as their first epic tanking helm. As the special Jewelcrafter like Cogwheel "gems" (, , ) can only be used in the crafted Engineering helms, the presence or absence of further crafted helms has a substantial impact on the professionâ€™s future value. Other benefits include slot specific enchants for tanks like [Quickflip Deflection Plates] and [Grounded Plasma Shield]. Finally, the Cardboard Assassin has utility in managing adds or boss control in certain circumstances.
See more on Engineering
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.
The main benefit of Inscription is the special shoulder enchants only available to Inscriptionists, which provide the exact same bonus options (net of the Exalted level Therazane shoulder inscriptions) as Enchanting. In addition, the player is not required to grind Therazane rep. As a further bonus, Inscriptions can craft a number of items. The most interesting for tanking Paladins are and , though the stats for the latter item are not ideal. Beyond that if you have good access to herbs you can create your own glyphs.
See more on Inscription.
Jewelcrafting can provide interesting trinkets but its primary benefit is the unique gems () only usable by jewel crafters.
See more on Jewelcrafting.
The primary benefit for tanking Paladins provided by leatherworking would be the fur linings for bracers. A +195 STA wrist enchant has been data-mined, as have various +resist wrist enchants (though the resist enchants all still have WotLK values, presumably as place holders). The current BiS defensive wrist Enchant is +50 Dodge rating. While the gap in itemization points between the two enchants is roughly what one would expect for a profession bonus, the gap between the base enchant being in the inferior Dodge vs Stamina makes this a superior option. In WotLK there was also no competing +STA wrist enchant initially, but one was added within days, dropping Leatherworking in line with the other professions. However, going into WotLK there was nothing comparable to the +Dodge rating enchant expected to be available in Cataclysm, so it is not entirely clear what will happen.
See more on Leatherworking
[Toughness] is the main benefit provided by mining. The +STA gained is comparable to the benefit of the other "good" tanking professions, but it provides little benefit to dps/healing off-specs. Mining is also the support profession for Blacksmithing, Engineering, and Jewelcrafting.
See more on Mining.
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 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.
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%. (NOTE: As of Nov. 23, 2010 this Glyph is presumed to have been fixed though it does not appear in the patch notes.)
(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.*
- Increases the effect of healing spells by 5% when the seal is active.
* 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.
(Recommended) - Reduces LoH cooldown by 3 minutes.
* This glyph properly removed the physical damage portion from Divine Protection however it is bugged and also reduces the protection of Guardian of the Ancient King.
Minor glyph selection remains underwhelming; ultimately the choice of Minor glyphs has very little impact on tanking performance.
- Reduces the mana cost of BoM by 50%.
- Reduces the mana cost of BoK by 50%.
- Reduces the mana cost of SoT 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; choices might depend on your build. Do keep in mind your enchanting choices relative to your gemming in gearing choices when reforging later.
[TABLE]Slot | Enchant
Head | [Arcanum of the Earthen Ring]
Shoulders | [Greater Inscription of Unbreakable Quartz]
Back | [Enchant Cloak - Protection]
Chest | [Enchant Chest - Greater Stamina]
Wrist | [Enchant Bracer - Dodge], [Enchant Bracer - Greater Expertise]
Hands | [Enchant Gloves - Mighty Strength], [Enchant Gloves - Greater Expertise], [Enchant Gloves - Greater Mastery]
Finger | [Enchant Ring - Greater Stamina] (Enchanters Only)
Legs | [Charscale Leg Armor]
Feet | [Enchant Boots - Earthen Vitality], [Enchant Boots - Mastery]
Weapon | [Enchant Weapon - Windwalk]
Shield | [Enchant Shield - Blocking], [Enchant Shield - Protection]
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. Two gem strategies are to gem only stamina after activating the Meta and to gem mastery to in order to reach the block cap. Consider your taking style and raid progression when gemming.
- +81 Stamina and 2% increased armor from items (Requires 2 Yellow gems)
- +81 Stamina and +1% shield block value (Requires 3 Blue gems)
If you are wondering which meta to choose see below...
At 35% total avoidance and 50% block, the block meta and armor meta are roughly equal.
At lower avoidance/block, the armor meta is up to 25% more effective than the block meta.
- +101 Stamina (Jewelcrafters Only)
- +67 Mastery Rating (Jewelcrafters Only)
- +67 Hit Rating (Jewelcrafters Only)
- +67 Expertise Rating (Jewelcrafters Only)
Blizzard has yet to provide information on Cataclysm regular epic gems; more on this later.
- +60 Stamina (Counts as a Blue gem)
- +40 Mastery (Counts as a Yellow gem)
Combination w/ Stamina
- +20 Mastery Rating and +30 Stamina (Counts as a Yellow or Blue gem)
- +20 Strength and +30 Stamina (Counts as a Red or Blue gem)
- +20 Dodge Rating and +30 Stamina (Counts as a Blue or Yellow gem)
- +20 Parry Rating and +30 Stamina (Counts as a Red or Blue gem)
- +20 Expertise Rating and +30 Stamina (Counts as a Red or Blue gem)
- +20 Parry Rating and +20 Mastery Rating (Counts as a Red or Yellow 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.
The new "fish feast" of Cataclysm is .
Threat food obviously helps with threat. If you are well geared and not hurting for hit or expertise Beer-Based Crocolisk will be your go to food.
- +90 Strength / +90 Stamina
- +90 Expertise rating / +90 Stamina
- +90 Hit rating / +90 Stamina
Avoidance food will help you close the gap if you have not quite block capped yet or desire a bit more dodge/parry.
- +90 Mastery rating / +90 Stamina
- +90 Dodge rating / +90 Stamina
- +90 Parry rating / +90 Stamina
Beyond the usual health and mana potions which you should have on you at all times is the only other potion interesting to tanks but is not critical.
As usual there are a variety of elixirs to choose from. Like food mix/match as appropriate for your current build and needs. Below is a list of the most likely that you'll need. Remember that you can have only 1 of each type of elixir (Battle and Guardian) at any given time.
- +900 Armor (Guardian Elixir)
- +225 Mastery rating (Battle Elixir)
- +225 Expertise rating (Battle Elixir)
- +225 Hit rating (Battle Elixir)
Flasks are generally preferred over Elixirs in raid environments. One flask also counts as a Battle and Guardian Elixir. Below are recommended flasks.
- +300 Stamina
- +300 Strength
Given current flask selections Steelskin will almost always be the best one for tanking Paladins. Titanic strength is an option for threat, but if you are using a flask to generate threat then it is likely you have gear or rotation issues not strength issues.
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.
[Seal of Insight] - Formerly known as Seal of Light. Continues to function as before; healing the Paladin for each swing as well as restoring a small amount of mana. Judgements on this seal will do damage and will restore 15% of base mana. 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 judgement. 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.
[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. The cooldown of this ability is reduced to 2 minutes when talented into all ranks of [Shield of the Templar].
[Crusader Strike] - Crusader Strike is now a baseline skill and grants a charge of Holy Power. NOTE: CS shares a cooldown with HotR.
[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: HotR 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. This ability can no longer miss regardless of how good/bad your hit rating is.
[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. This ability will cause for Forbearance for 1 minute.
[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 tool tip that this ability makes you a better tank.
[Shield of the Righteous] - Our principle single target attack. This and its 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.
[Inquisition] - Similar to Avenging Wrath in that it boosts damage output for a specified duration (increased depending on your amount of Holy Power). Though this ability only boosts holy damage.
[Ardent Defender] - AD has gone through significant changes with 4.0; the most notable being that the ability is no longer passive. In order to benefit from the death saving effect the ability has to be manually activated. When activated the ability provides a 10 second buff window. During that window AD behaves like before; if a Paladin is struck by an attack that would kill them they are instead healed for 15% of max health. Another major difference is that the ability will no longer passively reduce damage when falling below a particular health percentage. During the 10 second window when the ability is activated Paladins will also benefit from a fixed 20% reduction to all incoming damage.
[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 Guardian] - If you pick up this talent you receive a new cooldown that now reduces damage by 20% to all members of your party/raid within 100 yards for 6 seconds; you do not benefit from the damage reduction of this ability.
[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 toward the next party/raid members on the threat table. In most cases tanks will not use this ability. This ability also causes Forbearance.
[Guardian of Ancient Kings] - This is now the major cooldown for tanking Paladins. GAK will reduce damage to the tanking Paladin by 50% through the Ancient Guardian ability for a yet unspecified duration. Cooldown on this ability is 5 minutes; or 3 minutes if speced into all ranks of [Shield of the Templar].
[Lay on Hands] - LoH remains an important cooldown for tanking Paladins. Casting it will heal the target equal to the maximum health of the casting Paladin. It is off the global cooldown, cannot crit heal, is not effected by many healing boosting effects, and will cause Forbearance for 1 minute on whomever it's cast.
[Rebuke] - Now a baseline ability, this allows you to interrupt spellcasting. While this is a dedicated interrupt for all Paladins it is not a reliable interrupt for Protection Paladins. Rebuke is much like a standard attack and requires hit rating in order to improve chances for a successful interrupt. Since Protection Paladins are not stacking hit for threat they cannot reliably interrupt and realisticlly can't replace DPS for this job.
[Hammer of Justice] - A dedicated stunning ability with a 1 minute cooldown. Since 4.0.6 this ability will no longer interrupt mobs that are stun immune when taking the the [Vindication] talent. Dedicated interrupting is now done through Rebuke.
[Avenger's Shield] - In reality this is much more of a DPS ability than an interrupting ability. The interrupt/silencing on targets hit by the shield is intended to assist Paladins during the pull portion of tanking. Given that it is part of the tanking rotation it will continue to interrupt and silence but timing can be difficult to use the ability as a dedicated interrupt. Keep in mind that some mobs are immune to the silencing effect.
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/talents 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)
[Divine Plea] (3 Holy Power)
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 judgement increased to 30 yards is now a viable single target pull. Like before Avengers Shield remains an excellent multi-target pull or single target pull if you have .
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.
Our new queue is ShoR>CS>J>AS>HW. Feel free to slip Cons in above HW if the boss is stationary and mana isn't an issue.
This is equivalent to the following (dubbed "939") rotation: CS-J-CS-X-CS-ShoR, where X is filled with AS if it's available, or HW otherwise.
Priority Queue vs. Rotation
To avoid the inevitable confusion that might occur from the explanations below let's take a moment to discuss the differences between a priority queue and a rotation. A priority queue simply establishes a hierarchy to help you decide which abilities off cooldown you should activate next; for example if a priority queue is structured as C>A>B what that means is if all those abilities are available you activate C and then on the next GCD if C is still on cooldown you activate A and so on. The rotations below are built on top of this queue priority system. The sequences you will see are pre-mapped out results of the priority queue. Some sequences will have gaps where depending on the tanking situation there are sub-queues that you will need to reference to figure out which ability to activate next. Lastly, there are several different queues and rotations to consider depending on your build and tanking situation.
Below are the priority queues for single and AoE tanking.
The ability priority for single target tanking is as follows:
Shield of the Righteous / Word of Glory > Crusader's Strike > Judgement > Hammer of Wrath (when active) > Avenger's Shield > Consecration > Holy Wrath
NOTE: SotR / Shield of the Righteous will not activate until you have at least one charge of Holy Power.
Area of Effect (AoE)
For AoE tanking the following priorities are used:
Hammer of the Righteous > Consecration > Holy Wrath > Avenger's Shield > Shield of the Righteous / Word of Glory > Judgement
For AoE tanking the priority queue is not as critical as it is for single target tanking; it is critical however that an ability is activated every GCD.
Modeling a Rotation
Even though abilities are activated based on a priority queue there are a few rotations that can be modeled. These rotations cannot be mapped out into macros quite as easily as the former 9/6 rotation but they have more defined patterns that are easier to follow.
The 939 Rotation
This is the basic rotation that can work in any situation but is designed for single target tanking.
CS > http://elitistjerks....n/mathtex.cgi?x > CS > http://elitistjerks....n/mathtex.cgi?x > CS > http://elitistjerks....n/mathtex.cgi?x
http://elitistjerks....n/mathtex.cgi?x - This is a variable ability following the priority mentioned above. When http://elitistjerks....n/mathtex.cgi?x appears you activate the next available ability on the priority queue that is not already part of the rotation. Generally if you follow this rotation the priority queue for http://elitistjerks....n/mathtex.cgi?x is as follows: Shield of the Righteous/Word of Glory (activate at 3 Holy Power) > Judgement > Hammer of Wrath (when target is below 20%) > Avenger's Shield > Consecration > Holy Wrath.
You should notice immediately that what is happening is that CS/HotR is separated by an ability in the priority queue and after the next GCD CS/HotR is activated again. This back and forth continues until you have 3 Holy Power generated at which point the next ability to activate after the GCD is SotR (or WoG if you are doing that build). Also, the rotation is "fast" enough that you have enough time to use any Sacred Duty procs by the time you activate SotR. Since 4.0.6 Paladins DO NOT generate Holy Power when they miss with CS/HotR so you may need to cast CS/HotR more than 3 times before having the 3 Holy Power necessary to activate SotR.
The 939 Rotation (AoE variation)
This is the 939 rotation again but with CS swapped for HotR and the sequence adjusted for the AoE priorities. Your mileage will vary though since AoE threat generate priorities can vary depending in talent build and glyph selection. Without exception though you want to be using HotR here instead of CS, glyphed or not.
HotR > http://elitistjerks....n/mathtex.cgi?x > HotR > http://elitistjerks....n/mathtex.cgi?x > HotR > http://elitistjerks....n/mathtex.cgi?x
http://elitistjerks....n/mathtex.cgi?x = Shield of the Righteous/Word of Glory (activate at 3 Holy Power) > Consecration > Holy Wrath > Avenger's Shield > Judgement
The ISH9 Rotation
This is based on the 939 rotation but with a twist. This rotation folds in Inquisition as the 3 Holy Power finishing move in place of SotR every other time. Before starting the rotation make sure to activate Divine Plea to get 3 instant Holy Power.
Inquisition > CS > http://elitistjerks....n/mathtex.cgi?x > CS > Judgement > CS > Shield of the Righteous > CS > http://elitistjerks....n/mathtex.cgi?x > CS > Judgement > CS
http://elitistjerks....n/mathtex.cgi?x = Avenger's Shield > Consecration > Holy Wrath
You start out with Inquisition and then move into a pattern similar to 939. At the next 3 Holy Power you activate SotR and then continue the alternation between Inquisition and SotR at 3 Holy Power. Judgement is set as the second filler to get multiple chances at Sacred Duty procs. This rotation is ideal if you are low on hit and expertise.
It's not yet clear whether this is really worth doing - it's only about a 1-2% increase over the "easy" 939, and forces you to be very specific with your fillers. In addition, the advantage only exists at low hit and expertise values; at 8% hit and 26 expertise 939 pulls ahead again.
Some Thoughts on Queues and Rotations
What is very clear is that there are many more things to track during the rotation than before. You need be aware of Scared Duty and Grand Crusader procs as those are important for optimal threat generation. You need to be mindful of your current Holy Power so you do not waste a GCD or two before activating SotR/WoG; it's very suboptimal to use any other abilities while having max Holy Power. This is the new normal for Paladins that are tanking. You will likely have to make adjustments to your UI and/or play style in order to better track everything that is going on. You can no longer simply relying on alternating 9/6 macros and be largely passive.
Macros are intended to make your life easier. Below are a few macros for your benefit. Please send me any macros you think maybe useful for tanking Paladins.
Quick De-buff Clearing Macro
This macro activates Divine Shield and then immediately cancels the effect. This will force almost all de-buffs and other negative effects to be removed from you and simultaneously cancel the shield so you do not lose threat for more than a moment.
#showtooltip /cast Divine Shield /cancelaura Divine Shield
Righteous Defense Macro
Just hover over a Party / Raid member and taunt from them.
#showtooltip Righteous Defense /cast [target=mouseover,help,nodead][help,nodead][target=targettarget,help,nodead]Righteous Defense
#showtooltip Cleanse /cast [target=mouseover,exists,help] Cleanse; [target=target,help] Cleanse; [target=targettarget,exists,help] Cleanse; [target=player] Cleanse; Cleanse;
Hand of Protection Macro
#showtooltip Hand of Protection /cast [target=mouseover,exists,help] Hand of Protection; [target=target,help] Hand of Protection; [target=targettarget,exists,help] Hand of Protection; [target=player] Hand of Protection; Hand of Protection;
Divine Plea Macro
#showtooltip /cast Divine Plea /cancelaura Divine Plea
Use for a quick 3 Holy Power before a Shield of the Righteous, Word of Glory, or Inquisition. The /cancelaura is to remove the buff effect so there is no penalty on WoG healing.
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.
Whitetooth for the always useful and important combat values.
Additional thanks to Capstone, ruinok, Nich, frmorrison, Darthpred, Zaroua, BoJlk, Iol, Caldar, Wrathblood
Credit to posters in this thread for their thorough work and theory crafting; they have been cited above at relevant points.
February 9, 2011 - Updated rotation mechanics for 4.0.6.
February 7, 2011 - Updated for 4.0.6 compliance (interrupts, spell changes, and CD changes).
February 2, 2011 - Reforging Revisions.
January 13, 2011 - Clarification of 102.4% rule with graph and other minor changes.
January 3, 2011 - Addition of a few gems to gems section.
January 1, 2011 - Addition of Trends in Paladin Tanking, Reforging changes, other misc changes.
December 13, 2010 - Addition of disclaimer.
December 10, 2010 - Updates to rotation information.
December 7, 2010 - Thread relaunched for Cataclysm, gem and other profession information updated.
December 2, 2010 - Profession information expanded, corrected, and updated.
November 29, 2010 - Initial updates for Cataclysm compliance including talent builds, consumables, gems, and rating caps.
November 23, 2010 - Updated for 4.0.3a compliance (mostly ability changes/links to WoW Head beta database converted to WoW Head main database).
November 17, 2010 - Updated for 4.0.3 compliance (trivial changes).
October 14, 2010 - Thread launched.