So we paladins are somewhat rare here in tankspot, could be that most just go to maintankadin, nonetheless new pallies which come around here should also get a guide to reference them. With cataclysm drawing near, who knows how long this guide will be useful. But when cat comes out i shall try to clean it up aswell.
The paladin is a very organized, our rotation isnt affected by procs like sword and board, so it is somewhat easier to learn and use. That being said a paladin tank fully depends on having a good rotation. This will be the source of your threat generation and your dps.
What makes the paladin different than a warrior? well we block more often, our health increase CD is passive and we kick undead ass. So lets get down to some business then.
This guide will contain the following sections:
2-Basics and Rotation
4-Talents and Builds
6-The tankadin levels
9-Weapons and their enchants
Tankadin: Protection Paladin
AoE: area of effect
AP: attack power
ArP: Armor Penetration
AV: Avengers Shield
Avoidance: Chance to miss, dodge or parry an attack.
BiS: Best in Slot
Block Cap: When any aditional block you get is pushed off the attackers table
BV: Block Value
Bubble: Divine Shield
CD: Cool down
Dot: damage over time
DS: Divine Sacrifice
DG: Divine Guardian
DP: Divine Plea
DPS: Damage per Second
DoT: Damage over time
DR: Diminishing Returns
EH: Effective Health
HoT: heals over time
HoJ: Hammer of Justice
HoR: Hand of Reckoning
HoS: Hand of Salvation
HoSac: Hand of Sacrifice
HoTR: Hammer of the Righteous
HS: Holy SHield
ICC: Icecrown Citadel Raid
HW: Holy Wrath
HoW: Hammer of Wrath
JoL: Judgement of Light
JoW: Judgement of Wisdom
LoH: Lay on Hands
Mitigation: Stats which reduce incoming damage, such as armor and shield block value.
RF: RIghteous Fury
SHoR: Shield of Righteousness
Sanct: Blessing of Sanctuary
SoV: Seal of Vengeance
SBV: Shield Block Value
Soccom: Seal of Command
ToC: Trial of the Crusader Raid
TPS: Threat per Second
Wings: Avenging Wrath
White Damage: Damage dealth on auto
2. Basics and Rotation
The paladin is a very versatile tank, whose pasive cooldown is beauty for the few times when your healers fail and AD procs. They are considered an easy tank to use, but its really the player that makes the tank good and not the class.
But lets go through a few basic tanking concepts which are of vital importance to be able to understand the rest of this guide. Firstly we must comprehend the concept of avoidance, this is the change of an attack missing, being dodged or parried. Some people erroneously include block rating here, and that is not a part of avoidance.
Block Value is the ammount of damage your shield will absorb when it blocks a hit. With relation so shield the Black Rating is the chance in which you get to block an attack. They are two similar concepts, but with different meanings and should not be confused. Also regarding shield and blocks there is the Block Cap, also known as the unhitable zone. When any extra block is pushed off the attack table, and every attack thrown your way will either miss, be dodge, parrried or blocked. This is a 102.4% of the formerly mentioned atributes, and is only achieveable for the paladin tanks with holy shield.
Before we begin talking about rotation we must discuss the seals available. As a paladin tank you will truly only be using 2 option: Soccom and SoV. SoV is the option to go with mobs that last over 35-45 secs alive (thats how long it takes to build up stacks to make SoV better than Soccom). So this will be your defacto seal.
Soccom is very nice for aoeing and cleaving mobs which dont last very much alive, or if you are lazy and dont want to switch between mobs to build up SoV stacks. You shouldnt use this on any boss, not even in heroics. Soccom the entire heroic except the boss.
Now into the topic at hand, Paladins have a couple of basic abilities which help their rotation. We have HS which gives us an extra 30% block, this will be up nearly 100% of the time unless you are tanking too many mobs. We have a great blessing which reduces the damage we take and buff strength and stamina, which is sanct. We have Avengers shield as our multi target and silencing attack (if the talent is picked which it should be). This is a beauty to position multiple casters, and makes our life amazingly simple. The judgements are an integral part, and both JoL and JoW are as good and can be used however you choose. HoTR is our final prot talent, a multi target attack based on weapon damage which gets a nice threat buff with the t10 2 piece bonus.
Consecration is our aoe dot. It is not the threat machine many believe it to be and it drains a lot of mana.
The paladins rotation will consist of these spells and attacks.They all are a part of the well known 9-6-9 rotation. As its name says, in order to keep threat and dps optimum you must start with a 9 sec CD followed by a 6. This means you start your rotation with an ability like Holy Shield, followed by a 6 second cooldown like HoTR and then another 9 second ability like the Judgement.
This rotation is not affected by procs, as formerly stated. So you can execute 9-6-9 interrupting it only to cast the ocational AV or Holy Wrath if you are in ICC. I wont go into much detail as its hard to go wrong if executed with the paremeters right, but there is one 9-6-9 which is considered a bit better. This version of the rotation is the one which places HoTR as your first 6 second cooldown, instead of SHoR.
HS - HoTR - Judgement - SHoR - Consecration
This is considered marginally better because HoTR builds up stacks of SoV up quicker thus helping threat. Paladins get a lot of damage and threat from the DoT effect that Sela of Vengeance has. This is why building the stacks of this particular seal quicker is better.
3. The caps
There are several caps, and one minimum which you should keep in mind if you are choosing to tank as a paladin. This will change if you are a draeni, but ill give the overview for all us non dreani.
Most of these caps are used for threat situations, but also for mitigation and surviveablity. The reason for this statement are found just bellow.
This is not a cap but a minimum, and its being removed in cataclysm. So when cata comes out ignore this "cap".
Defense "Cap": 540
This is what you need to make sure raid boses are not able to critical strike your tankadin. It is 535 if you are tanking heroics. However the more defense the better as it contributes to dodge, parry and block.
b. Hit Rating
Hit rating is a threat attribute which will decrease the frequency with which your attacks will miss. However this can contribute to your raids success due to helping you taunts land, as it also helps spell to not miss. If you taunts are missing and you have 35 hit rating this is most likely the reason. The optimum hit rating is the soft cap at 240, after which the extra hit contributes very little. This is because the maximum chance to miss at full weapon skill vs a lvl 80 mob is 5% for meele one handed weapons, this means that all we need to not miss attacks is that 5%. Raid boses are lvl 83 however, which means they require an extra 3% to not miss on, making the total 8%. However you wont go into 8% really, as the mathlab analisis has shown, after 240 hit rating (around 7.75%) the extra contribution of hit is pretty slim. Your threat is not gaining much and you are almost at the point where your attacks cannot miss.
If you are a veteran and want some evidence of what im saying you can feel free to browse this last two graph of TPS analisis from maintankadin:
However this is not needed, there are many tankadins who went through ToC and TGoC with 0 hit rating. I would not advice that to be honest, this is a decent stat to get if it doesnt trade off EH. And i personally dont like to have my taunts miss or have vindication fade from my target due to a miss. In all honesty with the current ICC gear, you shouldnt have too much trouble reaching the hit rating soft cap.
Hit Cap: 240
This is another threat stat, but this one will be even more important. Expertise is what will help you get vindication up to around over 90% if you do your rotation well and reach the soft cap which is 26. Vindication is a talent which reduces the targets attack power significantly and thus reduces the damage he will deal on you or your Off Tank, and if will reduce the times a target parries your attacks, which will help you take less damage as the attack speed of your enemy anywhere from 0-40%.
Expertise will reduce the targets chance to dodge or parry your attacks. If you reach the expertise soft cap, this means that your target will not be able to dodge you. The hard cap is 56 expertise when the target can not parry your attacks. This hard cap is more theoretical and will really not be achieved in the current gear.
Expertise Cap: 26
After 26 expertise the marginal expertise gain drops significantly, which means you gain very little threat and dps from here after. My advice would be to aim for 26 and no more.
With the glyph of seal of vengeance this shouldnt really be very hard to reach, as this glyph will give you an extra 10 expertise when ever SoV is being used.
Nota Bene: Since SHoR was moved into meele, expertise became an even better stat for us paladins, so always aim for and try to stay at the expertise soft cap which is already stated.
4. Talents and Builds
This will be a long section in which i will go through all the protection tree talents and up to 20 points in the retribution tree, as those are the option a modern day tankadin faces. Very few will pick any talents in the holy tree and if they do its only 5 points to get Seals of the Pure.
So lets start off.
a. Retribution Talents
Early talent that paladins like warrior get from a non protection tree that helps avoidance. This is a 5% extra parry, and hence without a doubt will be maxed out.
This talent reduces the mana cost of your instant cast skills. But to be honest your blue rage will hardly ever be low in a raid, and pretty much only happens when you overgear heroics. This can fixed by adding some pvp gear to remain above the crit window of the boss and add some extra damage. So dont take this at all.
This talent is required to get at least 1 point. This reduces the CD of your judgement by 1 second per talent invested.
Heart of the Crusader
An extra 3% crit chance when your judgements are on a target. You will max this out because its worth it and it opens the next ret tier.
This doesnt help you becuase you will use sanct not might and its not your role. I would skip this completely.
Reduces the attacked enemies attack power. This is a must have for every tankadin who intends to raid the latest content.
Persuit of Justice
This talent is great for mobility and will help you position yourself a lot better. Remember us paladins donít have a charge ability, which means this movement speed buff is all the better. I would advise you to max it out.
Seal of Command
This is your AoE or seal of cleave made to destroy trash. It is completely optional as it will see very little action outside of heroics, but is nice to have just in case you need it.
In case you didnít get Soccom, that one talent point can be placed here. Extra critical strike change isnít bad. Donít place too many points here as crusade is a lot better overall.
3% damage increase, 6% increase in ICC. This is a good threat talent and should be maxed out.
Sanctity of Battle
1% crit and increase damage in exorcism and crusader strike. Well we canít use crusader strike and exorcism is hardly ever used. Skip this.
Eye for an Eye
Returns 15% of the critical strike damage done to you. But youre a tankadin, which means you are at the defense minimum, which means no critical strikes so an already bad talent becomes worthless.
b. Protection Talents
15% increase in strength? Yes plz. Max this talent out.
An extra 5% heals. Chances are that in the current content you are being overhealed so the extra 5% is pretty useless. Maybe for a heroic LK 25, and then itís just a maybe.
This is a 30% reduction in stun duration, and therefore a PvP talent. This guide is focused on PvE and tankadin are crap at PvP anyway so skip this.
2 min reduction on hand of protection, again this talent isnít even used in PvP builds, so stay away from it.
An extra 5% dodge is a beauty. Make sure you max this talent out, you would be crazy not to do it.
This is a situational talent, which can help in situations where the raid is taking some damage. For example during the bonestorms of Marrowgar and air phases of BQ. Id say itís worth it.
Improved Righteous Fury
6% damage reduction from all sources, again this is a no brainer. Max it out.
10% increase in armor from a single talent. Another talent which you will max out without thinking about it twice.
Improved Devotion Aura
50% armor increase on devotion aura and 6% increase in heals. This is a good talent which most paladin tanks will max out. I donít see any reason or superior talent to avoid that choice.
You get a 20% damage reduction for your whole raid while Divine Sacrifice is up. If you spent a point in DS, spend 2 more here.
Improved Hammer of Justice
More of a PvP talent here, because the CD reduction on HoJ will really help you and your raid very little. Maybe controlling some blood beasts and Faction Champs, but not much else.
10% chance to get an extra weapon swing. This is just a horrible talent. Donít ever get it.
Blessing of Sanctuary
If you want to be a paladin tank, you are getting this talent, simple as that. Not only is it the best blessing but it unlocks holy shield.
One handed Weapon Specialization
10% increased damage while you have a 1h weapon equipped.
The recently nerfed stamina buff that paladins get. We tanks love stamina so be sure to pick this up.
20% damage reduction when under 35% health and attacks which would kill you return 30% of your total health. The passive cooldown with a damage reduction. You are getting this talent and maximizing it.
A 30% increase in block in a near permanent situation, and some minor threat when you block. This is overall a good talent for just one point.
You gain 10% mana from the amount you were healed for. This is not bad, but chances are you only need 1 point here to raid and do heroics unless you over gear the content and end up taking almost no damage. Itís still not worth getting 2 points here IMO.
Increased stamina, expertise and critical strike rating, you would be insane to not pick this up.
30% increase block value and the chance to increase block rating by 30%. The proc part sucks, but the 30% increase in block value helps mitigation. I would pick this talent up.
Block Value is the total damage your shield will absorb, block rating is how often you will block incoming attacks.
Guarded by the Light
6% spell damage reduction and more importantly 100% chance to refresh divine plea while attacking. This means that is you take the glyph its an extra 3% damage reduction. So yea max this talent out.
Our ranged silencing attack (for this to be true you need to pick up a talent mentioned bellow) which hits 3 targets and let you position casters in a great way. Why wouldnít you pick this up?
Touched by the light
Increases spell power by 60% of your strength. Seeing as how this is a big threat boost you are going to maximize this talent too.
Shield of the Templar
3% damage reduction and allows your AV to silence enemies. This is a very good talent so spend 3 points here.
Judgements of the Just
20% reduction in meele attack speed. This makes it a nice talent to help reduce incoming damage, so its points well spent.
Hammer of the Righteous
4 times your main hand damage on 3 targets. There is no need to say more, there is a beauty of a talent so pick it up.
Overall as you can see many talents of the protection tree are a must have, and discussion usually rallies around DS, DG, redoubt and spiritual attunement. These talents are usually determined by personal choice. DS and DG are helpful for the raid, spiritual attunement only helps you and redoubt is an undervalued talent.
So the best acepted paladin builds revolve around the balanced 53/18. 53 points in the protection tree and 18 in the retribution tree. Note that you can remove 5 points from the Ret tree and get seals of the pure on the holy tree, but it is generally not worth it and very few paladins do it now a days.
The first build you see in the pictures revolves around getting DS, DG and 2 points in spiritual attunement and improved hammer of justice. This is a nice build if you insist on having improved hammer of justice and decide 5% mana regained from heals isnt enough. You do lose 30% BV though.
The second build i dont like. The 2 points some people like to place in divinity are wasted. Yet you have improved HoJ and you get 2 points in spiritual attunement.
The third build is the one i use, and the one which is best balanced for a raiding paladin. You get DS, DG to help out with raid wide damage, you get 30% increased BV for some mitigation but only point in spiritual attunement.
Plz do note that the ret side hardly ever chances except for the point in Soccom being switched to conviction.
In the glyph section there are several good choices, but there are many glyphs which are almost 100% useless in every way possible. As such you should choose the glyphs which will help you the most. This is all in the major glyph section, the minor glyphs are not that very useful. I am going to expand on the glyphs which could work or are meant for a protection paladin, so i wont mention beacon of light, flash of light ...
Glyph of Avenger's Shield This makes AV hit 1 target for 100% extra damage. I personally like to silence multiple targets, so i dont get this glyph.
Glyph of Consecration This increases the CD and duration of Consecration by 2 secs, and thus screws with our 969, so i wouldn't pick this up.
Glyph of Divine Plea Ive mentioned this glyph before. While divine plea is up, which is 100% of the time you are attacking your target, you get a 3% damage reduction from all sources. This is a very good glyph which wont get replaced any time soon.
Glyph of Hammer of the Righteous This glyph makes your HoTR hit one additional target. It seems like its a great source of threat and dps, but its only use is for trash. In a raiding scenario this is not a strong glyph. But if you want to show off in heroics pick this up with the 2 piece t10 bonus.
Glyph of Judgement This is a very valid threat glyph. An extra 10% damage from your judgements is welcome if you do not need a third defensive glyph.
Glyph of Righteous Defense The equivalent of the glyph of taunt. You get an extra 8% for your 2 taunts, which are hand of reckoning and righteous defense, to not miss. Its a good glyph if you feel your hit is too low.
Glyph of Salvation This is another very good option for a glyph spot. This one in particular gives you a third CD by reducing damage by 20% when you cast HoS on yourself. This is a CD which must be well managed for it also reduces your threat by 20%.
Glyph of Seal of Command An 8% extra mana everytime you use a judgement while using Soccom. Mana shouldnt really be a problem, and this seal wont see much action in raids so i do not advise you to get this seal.
Glyph of Seal of Vengeance This glyph gives you 10 expertise (not expertise rating but 10 out of the 26 expertise that you need for the softcap) while using SoV. This is a very good glyph so unless you are swimming in expertise try to get this seal.
Glyph of Shield of Righteousness A glyph which reduces the mana cost of SHoR by 80%. But once again mana shouldnt be a problem and there are better glyphs you can use.
Glyph of Spiritual Attunement Another glyph to increase your mana. This time its a 2% for spiritual attunement. The same reasoning as before applies here.
Overall i would say there are 5 possible glyphs you can use. Glyph of SoV, Glyph of Divine Plea, Glyph of Righteous Defense, Glyph of Judgment and Glyph of HoS.
The Minor glyphs are pretty much standart, you are stuck with 3 useful glyphs and 3 which you shouldnt pick.
Glyph of Sense Undead for an extra 1% damage in ICC.
Glyph of Lay on Hands for when i choose to solo heroics and BC raids.
Glyph of Blessing of Kings becuase i usually end up giving kings to everyone in the raid
Glyph of Blessing of Might is more of a ret glyph, dont pick this up
Glyph of Blessing of Wisdom isnt very useful, dont pick this up
Glyph of the Wise isnt going to be picked up becuase you will almost never use seal of wisdom
6. The tankadin levels
Here i am going to give credit to Digren from maintakadin who created the 4 main levels that a paladin tank can have. You will find out that most of us are in levels 3 and 4 at the moment, and many tanks who have wealthy alts can pretty much skip lvl 1 by default. Nonetheless i will still include lvl1 as it is a helpful section to the new tankadins.
So thus begins the quote
These 4 different levels of the tankadin will here after determine the different choices in gemming and enchants which each paladin tank will have. For the advise to be the most suitable, find your tankadin level and follow the advice which is specific for your level.Quote:
1. New 80. A new level 80 tank is wearing or buys a new set of crafted Tempered Saronite armor or equivalent. He or she has lots of defense, but lacks in health (at least according to most PuG leaders) and is 15-25% away from the block cap. Total avoidance is relatively low. Whether this person is being geared up by a guild or working solo, he or she wants to run heroic instances for emblems and run dailies for cash, using that cash to buy iLvl 226 BoE epics (and a few iLvl 200 epics for slots like shield).
2. Average iLvl 227. The availability of higher-iLvl gear from instance-acquired emblems means that iLvl-213 / Naxx / T7 gear just isn't necessary when gearing up. With the exception of perhaps a shield or weapon, equivalent or better gear can be found via emblems or the auction house. Thus, a level two player with gear around average iLvl 227 actually has pieces that range from iLvl 200 (for shield and weapon) for 245 (for shoulders).
3. Progressing ICC Normal 25 / Normal 10 / Hard 10. A level three paladin starts with Ulduar-or-better gear (average iLvl 220-230) and is raiding with a guild that wants to progress through T9 and T10 normal mode content.
4. ICC Hard / End Game. The end-game progression raider is trying to maximize health.
You cant expect a fresh 80 to have the same strategy as a tank aiming for ICC 25 heroic, or even at the Lich King 25 heroic. Nonetheless as i stated earlier you can pretty much skip the lvl 1 easilly enough in the current content. BS epics which are from ulduar are very cheap, BoE from nax ranged around some 400-800g and with the 245 emblem of triumph helm and shoulders so easy to obtain its simple.
Before we start the gems discussion we should note one simple concept which affects the gem choices we paladins want. This is that paladins have a better agility/dodge conversion than a warrior does, 0.66, which means that agility is a much better atribute for us to have. Still it is better for a druid tank, but the paladins will want agility in their gems aswell.
You might think, why not gem for dodge? Well dodge has steeper diminishing returns, and agility also gives a small contribution to critical strike rating and a minuscle contribution to armor.
Lvl 1 Tankadin
The lvl1 tankadin is pretty much swimming in defense, but has low avoidance and overall stamina. The gemming strategy for this type of tanks will therefore not include any Enduring Eye of Zul (10 defense and 15 stamina) as defense is already abundant. So you will find that lvl 1 tankadins should match any sockets offering +6 stamina with one red and one blue, or +9 stamina and above involving yellows.
This is because of their low avoidance, so some extra dodge and stamina are welcome. The raw benefit is just gemming for stamina isnt that big, seeing as how their health pools will still be low.
The gems you are going to want are Solid Majestic Zircon (+30 stamina), Shifting DreadStone (+15 stamina and +10 agility) and the yellow socket can be matched with a Vivid Eye of Zul (+10hit and 15 stamina).
Lvl 2 Tankadin
This is the point in which paladin tanks will suffer to get into raids, unless the already have an established guild gearing them up. People are too used to 48k unbuffed HP tanks. Which means that when you arrive in your 36k you will treated badly. Stats wise it is good for this tank to pick up +9 bonus of either red or yellow gems. So since you are not yet at ICC level, picking up the bonus would be a good idea. Nonetheless i will advice you not to if you plan to do ToC 10 or 25 man, as most people only noticed how much HP their tank has. So pick up only +12 bonus, if there are non pick up a +9 with a red gem and go stamina in the rest.
Once again if you have a guild with intelligent members pick up the bonuses formerly stated and maximize your potential.
Recomended gems are: Enduring Eye of Zul, Shifting DreadStone and of course Majestic Zircon.
Lvl 3 Tankadin
Here we have the bulk of tanks, progressing through ICC 10, 25 and 10 man heroic. Up until the 10% bonus the concensus was to ignore every socket bonus (since avoidance is already high) and focus on gemming pure stamina. This was done to address fights like sindragosa, the LK, festergut...
Nonetheless we now have a 20% buff, which means that tank death is hardly ever the cause of wipes in a raid. A tank in 264 and some 251 gear, can easilly be around some 66k HP buffed and some 34k armor. The huge stamina buff has now made it perfect viable to match all the +9 socket bonus to optimize your gear. Some people think only noobs match sockets, but that is not really the case. It is simpler to just throw a +30 stamina on every socket, than to analyze if the the loss of 3 stamina is worth gaining 10 agility.
Nota Bene: The ruby sanctum is coming soon, and it will not have the lenient buff thats ICC currently has. So it proves to not be as easy as Onyxia, you might want to consider only taking the +12 socket bonus just in case you need the extra stamina for the Ruby Sanctum.
Recomended gems are: Enduring Eye of Zul, Shifting DreadStone and of course Majestic Zircon. The eye of zul is recomended because many pieces like the t10 chest and the pillars of might dont have defense rating on them, so tankadins in lvl3 risk going under 540 defense.
Lvl 4 Tankadin
Here the tanks are taking no chances. This is the most difficult level of content available at the moment, so chances are you will aim for pure stamina with just one socket bonus to activate the meta gem on your helm. There is not much more to say, the highest level of raiding rewards stamina.
Recomended gems are: Shifting DreadStone and of course Majestic Zircon.
Overall you should not gem for parry, dodge nor expertise really. The parry DR is even faster to reach than the Dodge DR, and with glyph of seal of vengeance you shouldnt need to gem for expertise. Some gems which are also viable are the strength and stamina dreadstone (Sovereign DreadStone) in case you want to gem for some extra threat.
Also some tankadins which are in a guild which hasnt progressed above lvl 3 already outgear all the content they are exposed to, so they chose to fill their red gems with a Bold Cardinal Ruby (+20 strength), i wouldnt advise this unless you really outgear everything.