(Please note, this post is outdated. I'll be doing an updated version when I get closer to level 80)
As I mentioned in a previous post, I am going to be respcing again.
I feel like I have a pretty good handle on how I want to spec my Paladin now and I'd thought I'd share my thoughts.
Remember, I am a Protection Paladin who spends the majority of my playtime in T4 and T5 raids. Decisions I make regarding my spec reflect that.
First off are the essential, spec defining talents. These are a must have and non negotiable.
They are Improved Righteous Fury, Holy Shield and Improved Holy Shield. I just can't call myself a Tankadin without those.
Next up we have the really powerful talents. These are also must haves, but if someone made a really strong case to me, I'd consider it, but it would really take a good argument.
First up, you have the two Stamina talents. We lack base stamina compared to Warriors, so we need to get the talents to bring us up to their levels. These two are Sacred Duty, and Combat Expertise. The Expertise you get on Combat Expertise in addition to the stamina is like cherry frosting on your chocolate cake.
Next I want to talk about the silent sentinel of your Talent Tree, Ardent Defender. You will never see this thing at work, but it will save your life. But how often are you under 35% health, and can you survive that? I run around 19-20k life buffed in a Raid which means AD kicks in at 6650 health. I don’t find myself that low often, but when I do the extra mitigation can save my life. I could take an 8k normal hit and live. If it averts even one death, it’s worth it.
Next in my mind are the tank talents. Shield Specialization, Toughness, Anticipation, and Deflection from the Ret tree. Depending on where you at and what your tanking these 3 move around in order of importance.
If Resist fights are not in your future and you have over 490 Defense from gear, you could consider putting less points in Anticipation. For me tanking Hydross every week in Frost Resist gear, Anticipation is really key talent.
Armor (from Toughness) is probably the stat I most undervalued as a new player. It’s basically what separates you from a Mage in the squishiness department.
Shield Spec is another talent that sometimes gets undervalued. If you get hit 100 times in a fight 10 Block Value is better than 50 stamina. Think about that.
Until you get to late Teir 5 or early Teir 6, you are going to need the points in Deflection to reach Uncrushable. Even after that, I like the Pure Avoidance you get from Parry, so I’ll likely keep it. Like Anticipation, this will depend on your gear.
You could probably cherry pick a point or two from here without it being too noticable, but I take all 4 to the max.
Then you have a couple of talents that are prerequisites. You can't have one of the key talents you need unless you take them. The first of these is Blessing of Sanctuary. It is required in order to get Holy Shield. The only time I actually use Blessing of Sanctuary is if we have 6 Paladins in our Raid (it has happened a couple of times). Don’t' give this to DPS or Healers as it will cause them to generate threat when they are hit and that is generally a bad thing.
Another of these is Redoubt, which is required to get Shield Specialization. I love Shield Specialization and feel its worth the 8 points you end up spending on it because Redoubt is about useless. Once you reach Uncrushable, the extra Block Rating that Redoubt gives you falls off the table and does nothing for you. Also as you gear up and being to reach 50% Avoidance (Dodge, Parry, Miss from Defense), it procs less and less.
The last prerequisite is Benediction from the Ret Tree. While not a true prerequisite in that it is not tied to Deflection, you have to take something at tier 1 Ret. Benediction is a much stronger choice over Improved Might.
Then you have your Threat talents. The value of Precision depends on what you are tanking. Starting with Karazhan and certainly anything above, you will see an increase in threat by having Precision. Remember too that your Taunt works off of melee hit, and RESIST after you taunt is the last thing you want to see. In some situations (I’m looking at YOU, Bear Boss) it can wipe your raid. That is generally considered a Bad Thing.
One Hand Specialization is a really strong Threat talent. Remember is ALL your damage when you have a 1 hand weapon equipped (that is ALL the time if your Prot). It’s a straight 5% increase to threat.
Then you have what I call the Final 5. The last 5 points in Prot are pretty close as to what you want to go with.
My personal choice is Kings, Spell Warding and Improved Judgment.
So let me talk about the ones I don't take first. Pursuit of Justice I can get "close enough" from a Boar's Speed boot enchant.
After 2.3 came out, I wanted to play around with some of the new talents Paladins had been given, specifically, the new Improved Judgement of the Crusader, which gives everyone in the raid 3% more crit that they can't see because it increases the Mob chance to be Crit rather than their chance to crit. They can't open their character sheet and see that when I debuff the Boss they go from 21% crit to 24% crit, and they certainly can't see whether their own Crit rating or the % I added caused them to crit. I did some testing and it was inconclusive if this talent was really helping, so I’m not taking it for now. I put my findings on Maintankadin, perhaps I will get some help there.
Reckoning: This is the one where I wish I had even a single talent point left over. It’s a decent threat boost and wonderful while soloing or AoE tanking. It suffers from being a proc that can only occur on damage taken so as you start to gear up and reach over 50% avoidance it will proc less and less. If you decided to take Reck, I certainly wouldn’t argue it. Once I’m in level up mode again, I’ll have Reck in my build.
I took Kings because it is a very nice buff, and there are times (especially in 5 or 10 man content) where you will be the only Paladin. In a single Blessing you get more Dodge, Hit Points, and Mana. Plus, as a Paladin other players expect you to have it. I’d rather just have it than explain that it is actually a talent and not a base spell.
Improved Judgment is another Threat talent. Faster cooldown means more Judgments which of course if more threat. Some Paladins find that it really messes up their threat rotation. They don’t Judge as fast as the cooldown would allow so as not to get caught in a Global Cooldown when they need to refresh Holy Shield. I personally have not found it to be an issue with the way I play my Paladin, and I find it very useful for situations where you breaking CC’s one by one. Maybe I’m just impatient or I’ve had the talent too long but 9 or 10 seconds on Judgment feels like a lifetime to me.
Finally, we have Spell Warding. I know 4% does not seem like a lot, but as Tanks, we want to reduce incoming damage everyway we can. Probably a flavor choice and a case could be made for several other talents.
The three talents remaining are all PVP centric and really have no place in a PVE Tank build. You might be able to make a case for Improved Hammer of Justice for stopping runners are shutting down a trash mob for a couple of seconds, but I think it is really meant for PVP or Seal of Command Ret Paladins.
Stoicism percentage chance is too low to be counted on. When I’m tanking, I don’t want to be thinking “Man, I hope this procs or that procs”. I want skills and abilities I can control completely. It would really only be reliable when you have stuns being spammed on you (like in PVP).
Improved Concentration Aura is interesting in that silences are generally a pain for Tankadins to deal with so anything to reduce their duration is a good thing, but you will likely want Devotion Aura or Retribution Aura up anytime you are tanking. Again, this is a PVP talent, especially attractive to our Holy spec brethren.
So here is my “final” spec.