Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Talent Specialization for 3.1

It looks like the changes part of the current PTR is passed, so it’s probably safe to start thinking about your specs. This is my favorite time to be working on specs because the ‘cookie cutter’ builds aren’t really defined yet. It’s a great time to start experimenting and trying to find what works for you.

This patch will introduce dual specs and most of you are probably planning on having them.

2nd Spec: Holy or Retribution?

My plan is to go Protection (main) and Retribution (secondary). Fights in Ulduar will vary the number of tanks needed. Some fights don’t even require a tank (Flame Leviathan). There are single tank fights like Hodir, and fights that need two tanks like Auriaya. Some fights may call for as many as 3 tanks such as Ignis, Freya, and Iron Council. I’m sure there will be a way to do those 3 tank fights with just two tanks in a 10 man. Well, there better be.

My raid leader does a fantastic job of rotating tanks through so each tank gets a chance to experience tanking the boss, as well as the frantic job that the offtanks have to do each fight. It makes all our tanks better. There is no traditional “Main Tank”. A little bit of a tangent, but I think this strategy was key in Heroes Inc’s first 25 man kill of Thaddius. When the current Main Tank died, one of the other tanks picked him up flawlessly and we were able to get the kill.

There will be times when you won’t be needed to tank that particular fight. Without Dual Specs, your choices are to add some DPS as Prot, doing ½ to a 1/3 of what a natural DPS does, or throw some heals and add to the overhealing. In my mind, and this was applicable all through Burning Crusade as well as Lich King, extra healing is only sometimes useful, extra DPS is always helpful.

Everyone is getting a talent point reset in Patch 3.1 and the Paladin trees have been shaken up a bit. When I’m building a new spec, I generally start with the talents I just can’t live without and see what else I can get once I have those squared away.

Tanking Builds: Define the Core
I start with the Protection tree. At Tier 1, you have Divine Strength and Divinity, a new 5 point talent taking the place of Blessing of Kings. Divinity increases healing done to you and by you by 5%. Interesting, but I’ll take Divine Strength as the stronger of the two choices.

That gets us to Tier 2 where I’ll grab Anticipation. I see Guardian’s Favor and Stoicism as more PVP talents. Give me the Dodge. Tier 3, I’m picking up Improved Righteous Fury and Toughness. I can’t honestly call myself a tank without having those in my build.

Now come our first decision point. We are 18 points in Prot. We have to put in 2 more points to get to the next Tier. Our choices are Improved Devotion Aura, Divine Sacrifice, or Improved Hammer of Justice. I went with Improved Devotion Aura, more for the added Armor than the additional healing which will likely be provided by a Resto Druid aura anyhow.

Blessing of Sanctuary is a core tanking talent so we grab that. We now have 22 points in the tree and lack 3 points to move to the next tier. We have still have Improved Hammer of Justice, and Divine Sacrifice in play, and now we also have the option of Reckoning and Divine Guardian. I would love for Reckoning to be a stronger choice, but it’s simply lackluster. I’m sometimes the only Paladin in our 10 man raids, and even in 25 mans, the Holy Paladin may get assigned to another tank, and I’ll have to maintain my own Sacred Shield. So for me, I’ll take Divine Guardian, which means I have to take Divine Sacrifice as its prerequisite.

That opens up the next Tier where I pick up Sacred Duty and One Handed Weapon Specialization. On the next Tier, Holy Shield is a must, as is Ardent Defender. I know Ardent Defender is often debated in its usefulness, but until I see definitive proof to the contrary, I’ll continue to take it and at least think it’s saving me quite often.

I’m going to take both points in Spiritual Attunement to start. It may be shown later on that we don’t need both points and that we can get by with just one point.

From here on down, I just take every talent available. I don’t see many as optional to my build. The only one that may be optional is Redoubt. As Boss damage scales up, Block Value looses more and more value. Whenever I make talent choices, they are always made with Bosses in mind. If I can tank a boss, I can handle anything else just fine.

That puts me as 54 points in Protection. My next priority is grabbing Deflection from Tier 1 Retribution and 1 point in Improved Judgment to keep my 969 rotation going.

5 Options to Finish Up

I’ve got 11 points left. My current build has 5/5 in Seals of the Pure, so I’ll go ahead and keep that. I believe the theorycrafters have shown those points to be superior threat generation to either Conviction or Reckoning.

One option would be to go deeper into Holy. I could take full Divine Intellect (raises your Intellect by 10%) and then take Improved Lay On Hands. This would reduce the cooldown of Lay On Hands to 16 minutes and give me a pretty big Armor boost of almost 13k in my current gear. If I chose to use the new Glyph of Lay On Hands, that would make my Lay On Hands cooldown just 11 minutes, basically half of what it is now.

I would need to take 1 point out of Protection, probably from Spiritual Attunement.

Would the additional mana gained from Divine Intellect create enough additional mana through Divine Plea to offset taking only 1 point in Spiritual Attunement? I don’t know.

Improved Lay On Hands Build

Another option would be to pick up Aura Mastery. This would give me a 2 minute cooldown that would basically double the amount of armor I get from Devotion Aura. Alternatively, I could switch to Concentration Aura if I knew a Fear was coming. For a heavy elemental fight like Hodir, I could double the effectiveness of my Resist aura for 10 seconds.

Aura Mastery Build

I could give up 2 points in Redoubt and get both Aura Mastery and Improved Lay On Hands. As hits get bigger and bigger, Block Value looses more and more value.

Aura Mastery and Lay On Hands Build (If you pinned me down, I’d probably say I’m leaning towards this build as my first one when 3.1 goes live)
Going deeper into Retribution is also an option. The debates over Pursuit of Justice on the Maintankadin forums can reach near religious fervor. Since we don’t have a Ret Paladin in our 10 mans, I could pick up Heart of the Crusader (3% raidwide crit), and finish off Improved Judgement. That would open up Pursuit of Justice.

Pursuit of Justice Build

We can’t do this all day. (Bonus points if you get the reference and remember here at Honorscode it’s all made up and the points don’t matter. That’s right it’s like Spirit to a Paladin!)

This final builds eschews Holy completely, instead going even deeper in Ret for Crusade. Would this build produce more threat than a Seals of the Pure build? I tend to think so. This build uses the experimental ½ in Spiritual Attunement.

Crusade Build
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