Friday, January 29, 2010

Prot on Prot Hate

Today my buddy Rhidach was talking about the abuse being thrown Paladins way both in game on the Forums. It’s even infiltrated once great sites like Tankspot. It has made meaningful discussion nearly impossible on the Official Forum, not that it was an easy task even before this. Anything from Paladins is immediately troll fodder.

I don't know what it is about these two classes; we're like a couple of brothers. There never seems to be as much emotion when a Warrior talks about a Druid, or a Deathknight, as when he is discussing the Paladin. Maybe it's because we share gear, I don't know. The people behind those Warriors and Paladins, especially those players who choose to go deep Prot, are more alike than they realize. The only dynamic I've seen close to this is Warlocks and Mages. Those guys fight like cats and dogs as well.

My personal favorite is the Warrior who has a Level 80 Paladin, DK and/or Druid as well and claims he’s unbiased in regards to class because he plays all three. I have an 80 Druid and Warrior. I play all three. Having a Level 80 Warrior helps me understand some of their issues better, but in no way does it make me class neutral.

Warrior Tanks have issues. They have underused utility, and their DPS is lower than other tanks when tanking. They also have some 'quality of life' issues like Heroic Strike and the way Rage works. But on the core issues of Tank Survivability and Threat Generation, Warriors still have parity with all other tanks.

The DPS while tanking issue didn’t exist prior to 3.3. I can’t recall a Tanking guide every talking about the need to do as much DPS as possible. In fact, I remember one guide for Fury Warriors going Tank that specifically told them to ignore their DPS. What mattered was threat, and that was correct.

What has really highlighted the DPS issue is Festergut, who is a DPS race and has been something of a roadblock for some guilds. At a certain level, the difference between guilds comes down more to quality of the players of their DPS players. Guilds with better DPS players will clear more content faster. Some guilds, which are just on the edge of having the DPS to down Festergut, are frustrated and their Warrior Tanks are worried that they might be holding them back. Some went so far as to make a case that the DPS difference was the difference between a wipe and a kill. It's never a good feeling to think that because you want to play your favorite class in your desired role, that you might be holding back the efforts of 9 or 24 other people.

However, the Devs didn't buy it. Yes, Tank DPS was relevant, they said, but it wasn' t the difference between a kill and wipe. The Devs felt that raid could get more Raid DPS by the improvement of their DPS Class, rather than more DPS from the Tank. When their concerns fell on seemingly deaf ears, many Warriors got very upset. Their anger was directed mainly at Paladins.

Warriors have raised the concern they will be benched due to their low DPS. Yet, the Developers have not seen this mass migration away from Warriors happening. Even when Warriors hammered on Paladins and Druids supposed huge advantage in EH, Guilds didn’t change. Why would they change now, when they haven’t changed in the past?

Warriors make the valid argument that it is balance issue when the raid has to work harder because they have a Warrior tank versus a Paladin or Druid. Paladins have faced what Warriors are going through before. We required external cooldowns for things like Sarth3D, Vezzax, and Firefighter where Warriors did not. Back then Warriors told us it wasn’t a big issue because you don't solo the raid boss. It was the powers of the entire raid that are brought to bear against the Boss. That’s what matters. Now suddenly, that argument doesn’t hold water anymore. It’s funny how that has changed.

By Tankspot’s own data, it’s Druids who have the lead on DPS in every fight analyzed. Druids also have more EH than Paladins, yet it is the Paladin who the Warriors attack again and again. (DKs are difficult to parse because their specs can be both Tank and DPS.) Is it really just because we share gear, or is there more to it?

How quickly they forget their past dominance. They were the go to Tank for 4 years. Encounter design was used to prop them up and make sure they stayed in the premier position. They were even exempted for the Hybrid tax. Of course, past dominance must feel like something of a hollow victory for them.

Now, they just can’t stand the idea of Paladins being on top for even 4 weeks. And let’s not forget Warriors are receiving a buff to their main attack next patch to help their DPS. I don’t know Warriors well enough to comment on how much this will help.I hope it helps their DPS issue, while not unbalancing single target TPS.

I'm not against Warriors getting buffs they need, especially to an area I don't consider core to the Tanks job. It is also completely irrelevant to the Devs what I think. They aren't asking me for my opinion on Tank balance issues, and they don't need my permission to buff or nerf a class as they see fit.

I just get the impression that some of these guys won't be happy until we're back in the tBC model of Warriors being the best tank, and by a good margin. If that is what they ultimately want, I think they are going to continue to be frustrated.

Now I’m going to conclude this piece with a controversial conspiracy theory. Like most conspiracy theories there's not a shred of truth to it, but it's interesting to think about nonetheless.

The rational among you may wish to stop reading at this point.

First off a little history lesson:

About halfway through Wrath, the Dev Team told us that during Burning Crusade they were making sure Warriors were the best tank. From Ghostcrawler himself we have we made no attempt to balance the tank classes” and “When there were situations that other classes started to outstrip warriors, we took steps to make sure the warriors still came out on top”

Of course, this isn’t what the Dev Team was communicating during Burning Crusade as Paladins fought for acceptance as Tanks. What they told the community during that time was "we don't want to (or want the players to) find some rigid hierarchy by which classes are measured in their tanking potential to the third decimal point"

I'm not sure how you could call one class being on top anything but a 'rigid hierarchy', but I digress.

I remember that post well because it gave hope and encouragement to a lot of struggling Paladin tanks, and it gave Blizzard another 3 to 6 months of subscriptions from those Paladin tanks as they waited to be 'fixed', a fix that wouldn’t truly come until the next Expansion, Wrath.

Now what does that have to do with the current issues with Warriors?

One of the design points of Wrath was 4 viable tank classes. How can you tell if that’s been achieved? Certainly design goals met would be a big part of the annual review for your design team. Perhaps some middle manager set a goal for tank representation across the classes. Whether or not the Dev Team hit the benchmark would impact their annual review. Somewhere along the way Blizzard started to ‘check their work’ by looking at representation of Tank classes for Raids and hard modes. What they found was that overwhelmingly people were still using Warriors. Ghostcrawler himself stated the number of Paladins Tanks testing ICC on the PTR was 'imperceptibly low'.

How in the world do you get the community to diversify its choice of Tanks?You have to prove to the community they are really strong tanks. You have to put them on top.

Of course, you can’t tell the community that’s what you are doing. You have to continue paying lip service to balance much as they did in Burning Crusade.

Am I crazy? Off my rocker? That’s entirely possible. No, check that, it's probable!

But I tell you what. If somewhere halfway through Cataclysm, once it’s doesn’t matter anymore, they ‘come clean’ like they did about Burning Crusade in Wrath, remember this post!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

PS: The New Protection T10 Gloves and Chest

Today, I've got a new article up on Paladin Schmaladin analyzing the changes to the Paladin Tank T10 Gloves and Chest. These changes will go Live in the next Minor Patch. Enjoy!

Here's a quick summary:

The net difference is this. The iLevel difference of the Emblem gear is just too much to overcome.

The T10 Helm/Shoulder with Cataclysmic Chestguard /Guantlets of the Kraken/Pillars of Might is going to be the way to build your progression MT set for the 10 man Raider crowd.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Once Bitten Twice Shy

Monday night we assembled the crew and headed for the Blood wing of Ice Crown Citadel. We had made some really good progress at learning the Blood Princes on Thursday and we felt like we had a shot at them.
I didn't put two and two together until we were running Heroic Old Kingdom for the daily but the vampire boss in hOK is none other than Prince Taldaram. He even conjures a Flame Sphere just like he does in the Raid fight.
When you make the Three Princes pull, Prince Valanar yells something along the lines ‘that Naxxanar was merely a setback’. Really, they used that line again. I chuckled. That sounded familiar, so I decided to see what he was talking about. Naxxanar is the big Scourge fortress in Borean Tundra where both Horde and Alliance have a long quest chain that culminates in Valanar's death. So two of these guys we've killed before, what of the third? Keleseth turns out to be first Boss in Utgarde Keep. He's the guy who puts someone in an Ice Tomb. He also is a quest giver in the DK starting zone. So we've seen all 3 of these Bosses as we leveled up. That's pretty cool, but I didn't realize it until now.
Our plan for the Princes was to put me on Valanar, Boston (Blood DK) on Taldaram, and Jagdelf (Survivalist Hunter) on Keleseth. Jagdelf was the 3rd different ranged tank we had used. Our first night we used Neo (Desto Lock) but he wasn't available Monday. Then we used Lakini (Boomkin) but we needed him to grow some roots and do his best tree imitation for us.
One would think a new person in this pivotal role would cause extra wipes for our group, but one would be wrong. Each guy has stepped up to the challenge and attacked it. Serpent Sting did the job keeping aggro on the Dark Nuclei. The Keleseth tank needs 4 Dark Nuclei on him to survive the Empowered Shadow Bolts that he throws out. Jag did a fantastic job.
Our group handled Empowered Vortexes from Valanar very well, and melee did a great job running with Empowered Flame Spheres from Taldaram. Donkatonk (Arcane Mage) is the other guy really on the spot in this fight. His job is to keep the Beach Balls from hitting the ground. They are really called Kinetic Spheres but I like to think of them as Beach Balls. You have to keep them bouncing.
We were handling everything they could throw at us, and then all three dropped. We even got the Orb Whisperer achievement. We excitedly passed out the loot (some DPS plate for Blueshield the Fury Warrior and Healing Robe.) After that was over we started looking for how to get to the Queen's room. On the way someone in the raid realized said ‘did we just one shot that?' Indeed, we had.
We went around to the ramp on the right and made the first pull which looked like a standard 3 pack we had fought before the Princes. Only about 7 to 9 mobs came. It was probably only 7 but it felt like 9. Whatever confidence we had gained over one-shotting Princes was quickly dealt with by the Lich King's forces.
After we rezzed and ran back, we tried the left ramp. That went much better. The trash mobs have this annoying Polymorph:Spider spell. When I got 'spidered' my mobs would run off and try to introduce themselves to Jag. My favorite trash is the Liches. They have an ability called ‘Lich Slap’ which knocks you across the room. Don’t have your back to another group or mobs or she’ll Lich Slap you into them. Put your back to a wall when you tank her.
We finally cleared the trash and were facing down Blood Queen Lanathel.
Boston had me on the Boss and the two us sharing Blood Mirror. He then set up the 'bite' order. In the fight, one of your players gets 'bitten'. They get a massive buff to their DPS. Then after minute they have to bite someone. This continues until everyone is bitten. If there is no one to bite or you don't bite someone in time, you'll be mind controlled for the rest of the fight. Blueshield was kind enough to demonstrate this for us when his bite target died to Fatal Attraction.
Ah, Fatal Attraction. Fatal Attraction is when two players get linked. They have to run to each other and blow up. It took a couple of attempts to figure out Bites and Fatal Attraction without losing people.
Blood Queen also has an air phase where she flies up in the air and starts raining down shadow bombs on everyone. As a Paladin tank, I found this a good time to heal myself and take some pressure off the healers. The Boss is hovering in the air and everyone is spread out taking damage. It would also have been a great time to pop Divine Guardian if I had had a brain in my head to remember it.
Lanathel hits harder than just about any Boss I've seen so far in ICC. My health hasn't yoyoed like that since Heroic ToC. Part of it could be how hard she hits, but some of it, I'm sure, is the stress our healers are under. Damage, both raid and tank is intense. Looking back at my damage in TankTotals it was about 70% Physical and 30% Shadow. So I went with double Stam trinkets.
We had a choice to make at this point. Continue burning attempts on Blood Queen or go to Putricide. We decided to stick with Blood Queen. We would have had to clear Putricide's trash, and we felt like even though Blood Queen was a tough fight, the mechanics were more manageable than Putricide.
We spent the rest of the night working on her. We got through multiple air phases. Our best attempt was about 39% followed by several attempts where we didn't even get her sub 80%. Like the Princes, there is a lot to learn. I have every confidence that we'll get her in time.

Monday, January 25, 2010

AE and the Paladin, the Nerfbat cometh?

GC has been posting on the forums, mostly about the needed buff to Protection Warriors sustained damage, but he's also touched on the AE aspect of tanking. Let's break down what the Crab has communicated.

"There are differences in how tanks generate AE threat, and therefore damage. Warriors are jealous of the DK and especially paladin persistent area-based damage, and the others are jealous of the warrior's burst AE threat on incoming adds. Druids are jealous of anyone with more than one button. :("

Let me stop right here and comment. Other tanks really seem to overestimate Consecrate. The spell isn't the be all and end all of AE Tanking that other tanks think it is. It is actually a fairly weak spell and won't hold aggro against other tanks AE. Because it ticks like a DoT, Thunderclap and Shockwave can pull off it due to their ‘snap’ aggro nature. I’ve personally seen Blood Boil, and DnD pull off of Consecrate. Although talking with my Blood DK co-Tank, we both seem to think the other one has the leg up on threat during an AE pull. I haven’t tanked enough with a Druid to see how it interacts with Swipe.

But comparing Consecrate alone to the AE toolkit of other tanks isn’t really fair. Tanks blame Consecrate, but its really the entire AE toolset of Paladins that they envy.

Paladins have an amazing array of AE tools of which Consecrate is only a part. Think about it. Nearly every spell in our rotation has some sort of AE component. Hammer of the Righteous, Seal of Command (Cleave), Seal of Vengeance/Corruption (when combined with Hammer of Righteous), Holy Shield and Holy Wrath all have an AE. When the whole arsenal is brought to bear, Paladins can produce excellent AE threat and damage.

"So, yes, one way of handling this is to give every tank a burst AE attack like Thunderclap, a sustained AE attack like Consecrate, and a mass taunt like Challenging Shout just for good measure. That's the kind of thing we are really reluctant to do though because it just works against the justification for having 4 tanking classes when they all perform the same way including using the same kind of tools. Now, on the other hand no tank should be horribly gimped in any of those situations, and except for rare exceptions they really aren't. We're mostly talking quality of life issues here. "

I'd love to have something like Challenging Shout. I’d love a snap AE aggro tool like Thunderclap, although in IceCrown, Holy Wrath does a very nice job of creating that snap AE aggro.

But GC is right here. If you give everyone the exact same toolkit there really isn't much point to having different classes. The important distinction is that one Tank isn’t horribly gimped, and GC concludes that they really aren't.

"Long-term, the paladin manner of generating AE damage and threat is probably too good, especially given how simple it is. "

WARNING!!! WILL ROBINSON!! WARNING!!

Bells, whistles and alarms should go off in the head of every Paladin who reads this. If GC thinks our AE threat is too good, it's probably in line for a nerf. Hopefully, the 'long-term' he's talking about here is Cataclysm. /cross fingers

I hope the Development team keeps in mind that Paladin tanks can use Holy Wrath on virtually everything in IceCrown right now, but the spell has an 'Undead only' restriction which makes it useless most of the time. Also like Consecrate, Holy Wrath is a hungry little bugger. Holy wrath uses 20% base mana and consecration uses 22% base mana.

"To be honest, we have very mixed feelings on the whole AE tanking game. We brought the druid and warrior more in line with the paladin for fear of recreating the Shattered Halls / Mount Hyjal experience, where other tanks just weren't competitive."

Let's not forget that during the days that Mount Hyjal and Shattered Halls were relevant content, Warriors were far and away the best tank, and this was by design. "... in classic and BC because warriors were designed to be the best tank. When there were situations that other classes started to outstrip warriors, we took steps to make sure the warriors still came out on top."

Mount Hyjal was how a lot of Paladin Tanks got their Tanking spots. It's how I got my shot at T6 content. Paladins had to fight tooth and nail for their spots because we had such an uphill climb against preconceived notions from Vanilla that Paladins were healers only and the massive benefit you got from having a Warrior tank.

We touted our AE threat generation because it was really the only advantage we had. Our slogans back then were things like ‘When in doubt, round ‘em up and Consecrate’, ‘Who needs CC?’ and ‘CC stands for Constant Consecration’

We carved a niche out for ourselves as ‘the AE tank’. Warriors were better on single targets. Warriors took less damage, and got Uncrushable at the touch of a button. Warriors had better cooldowns. Shoot, Paladins didn’t HAVE a cooldown in those days.

But nobody could hold a pack of a dozen Ghouls off a Seed of Corruption spamming Warlock like a Paladin. And once enough high ilevel Badge gear was available that Paladins could meet the Effective Health minimums for a fight, we started getting some shots at bosses as well. Raid leaders started to think, 'gee, if the Paladin can hold threat so well on the trash, he can let our DPS go all out on the Boss as well'.

We even came up with gimmicks like using a Paladin Tank healing a Warlock to control Morogrim Tidewalker's murlocs or using our mana based resource system to limit damage done by Reliquary of Souls in Phase 3.

But mostly Paladins were relegated to offtanking, adds and farm kills.

"What that has led to of course is the AE tank + AE style of damage for almost every pull. You need the tools to be able to tank legitimate adds fights (imagine lots of incoming mobs), but does that mean every pull needs to devolve into that? We'd like to see less AE overall, so buffing everyone's AE tools isn't going to be tops on our agenda. That does however mean that we really can't afford to have a "best AE tank", and while things are more fair there than they were in BC, they aren't fair enough."

‘aren’t fair enough’ is further indication that Paladins are in line for nerfs. I don’t like being nerfed, no one really does. I can only hope that they are thinking Cataclysm at this point and not a minor patch in the IceCrown cycle. GC’s modus operandi is to talk about the nerf for a while before revealing what the actual nerf is. This is his way of softening the blow so to speak.

As I pointed out above Paladins needed the 'best AE tank' during tBC. But today, Paladins are competitive tanks in every way. We simply don't need 'best AE tank' as our niche anymore. We can get our tanking spots based solely upon our ability as Tanks. Raid Leaders pick those tanks that “are available, confident, prepared, and understand what they're doing and know their weaknesses." - Ciderhelm, founder of Tankspot

But as far as the design challenge of not having every pull devolve into an AE situation, Rohan over at Blessing of Kings has some great ideas. I'll defer to his wisdom on this one.

Personally, I enjoyed the Crowd Control of tBC era heroics, but I wonder if players will be willing to go back to 45 minute to hour long heroic runs when sub 30 minutes have become the norm in Wrath.

Ultimately my fear is that the Developers will miss the mark and overnerf Paladin AE especially given the limited amount of PTR testing any minor patch receives. But until we have something concrete from the Dev team, I'm forced to take a wait and see approach.

I do wonder if a making it harder for Paladins to hold AoE will cause Paladin tanks to queue up less often as a Tank in LFD. Paladin Tanks are by most accounts one of the most popular tanks to see in LFD. If less queue up as Tanks it would make the queue problem even worse than it is today.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Gearing Up Your Fresh Level 80 Resto Druid


And Tivonicus the Druid becomes 80 number 4.

That gives me a Level 80 of every Tanking class save the Death Knight, although my Warrior has been retired for a while. I don't plan on making the Druid a Tank as I prefer Resto on him. His second spec will be Feral or Boomkin. It's Feral right now because that made it easier for leveling and soloing. I'll probably keep him Feral for farming Leather.

My first order of business after training his Level 80 spells was to fix his Glyphs. All through leveling I had been using a Glyph of Healing Touch, but now that I could train Nourish, I switched over to Glyphs of Nourish, Swiftmend, and Rapid Rejuvenation. My minors will be Unburdened Rebirth, Glyph of the Wild and ?

I knew my Druid wasn't ready for Heroics right away, but I wanted him to get there as quick as I could. But I didn't want to be carried either by guildies or strangers in LFD. Of course, you can't buy full T9 the moment you ding. So I had to do the best I could with what I had. Healers and Tanks are more on the spot than DPS in a 5 man. There won't be another Healer around to make up for my deficiencies.

I had a plan in mind which I executed that involved my whole team. From doing the Daily Random Normal while Leveling, Tiv had 30 Emblems of Triumph on him when he dinged. Step 1 was to purchase an Idol of Flaring Growth.

Honorshammer pitched in since he had picked up a couple of BoE blues from heroics. Immediately after dinging the Druid had a Ymirjar Physician's Robe, Runecasters Mantle and Awakened Handguards.

A guild mate crafted Faces of Doom to go with the Screw Sprung Fixer Upper that I got from the Champion of Anguish questline.

Jyger sent over some leather for Tiv to use to craft some Overcast Bracers.

Now it was time for my Banker alt to get into the act. He hit up the Auction House and picked up a Reanimator's Cloak and Dragon Prow Amulet plus all the mats I'd need for enchanting. He picked up some raw gems which were then sent over to Honorshammer, cut and sent to Tivonicus.

By the time it was all said and done Tiv was sitting at 1145 spell power, 14kmana, and 600 spirit.

The plan now is to run Normal Trial of the Champion, and the easier Heroics to start getting some better gear. I hope to move up to running Normal Forge of Souls, Pit of Saron, and Halls of Reflection. Then I can start running the daily random Heroic. That's the biggest reason I pushed this guy to 80. The other being that I really enjoyed the Resto Druid healing style.

I need him running the daily random as soon as I can so he can be a second toon to grab Emblems of Frost to buy Primordial Saronite for Honorshammer's crafting needs.

Now I am officially done with leveling any more alts until Cataclysm. Once Cataclysm hits I want to level up a Goblin. I'm leaning towards Shaman, but might do a Priest.

Friday, January 22, 2010

My PuGs Tale

After the Raid I grabbed my baby Druid who had just hit 79 the night before. I've got him in IceCrown getting rep with Ebon Blade and Argent Crusade so I can wear their tabards in dungeons. My usual plan with him is to que up as Heals/DPS and start flying out towards wherever I'm questing. Usually by the time I land I've got a group. So far, every time it's been as heals.

I saw the loading screen come up to Halls of Lightning. I knew when I got closer to 80 I'd start seeing the 'hard' heroics like Halls of Lightning, Occulus, Utgarde Pinnacle, and Culling. I took a deep breath and prepared myself.

First warning sign was a DK tank. I've had good and bad tanks of every class, but the bad ones were overwhelming DKs. Of course, we hadn't spawned into Halls fully when he tells us to take it easy on him because his was his first time tanking. Oh joy! He proceeds to tell us he picked a particular Frost build, and no I don't remember which one. I don't know jack about Death Knight tanks (except that Boston is very very good), so I don't know why he was bothering to tell us what build he picked. He had almost 30k health in Frost Presence, so I figured we at least had a shot.

The rest of the group was a 78 Boomkin, 79 Frost Mage, and a 79 Ret Paladin. Oh, and me, the Tree!

The Death Knight does something I had never seen before in a Random. He throws up a ready check. We all click it and he starts pulling the mobs. I noticed he was pretty easy to keep up and the lack of damage on the Ret Paladin told me he was keeping aggro well. I was pleasantly surprised.

We approached the first boss. He pats around and empowers the Iron Dwarves around him. The DK pulls too early and gets a trash pack along with the boss, all of the mobs empowered. I loaded him up with everything I had, swiftmended a couple of times and threw Wild Growth on the party. It was crazy, but we got him down with no one dying. It sure got the adrenaline pumping. He apologized for the pull. No one seemed upset and compliments were made both on his tanking and my healing.

At this point in the run there had been more converstaion between us than in my last 5 randoms combined.

We continued to work through the instance. I noticed the Mage was wearing Hand of A'dal. A Level 79 with Hand of A'dal? So I asked him. He was a mage in tBC but switched for Wrath and was now leveling his old toon again. That got us talking a bit about tBC which was cool. The DK was a 'child of Wrath' and didn't really know what we were talking about.

We cleared up to Loken and the Boomkin asked if we were going to eat the Nova or run out. This is on normal with a 'normal' group. We aren't a bunch of 232 geared players frolicking through a heroic for 2 Emblems. The DK thought we could pull off the strat of eating the Nova, then unexpectedly, he turned the decision to me. Basically he said whatever the healer thought was best was what he would do. I agreed to try to eat it.

I could see Loken's cast animation so I made sure that everyone had a Rejuv on them and cast Wild Growth right before the Nova went off. We got him down in two Novas.

Everyone got the feel that we had a really good group and we queued up for another Random. This time it was Pinnacle.

We cleared the first and second boss without a problem. Then we got to Skaldi. The DK missed him jumping down and he promptly one shot me. I typed for the Moonkin to heal and get me Battle Rezed once he had it stabilized. He immediately dropped form, got the DK back up and gave me a Battle Rez. I threw a couple of HoTs on myself and noticed he had already Innervated me. We got the fight back under control and killed him, then rezzed the dead and moved on.

In the final room before King Ymiron the DK got feared into a second group. It was a little crazy but we got through it. He started doubting his tanking ability. We wouldn't hear of it. Everyone assured him he was doing great.

We killed Yrimon and turned in our quests.

This had to be the single best PuG I've ever run with. I know some blogs have been calling out ninjas and bad players, telling horror stories of the bad experiences in LFD. I'd like to take a different tack.

So to: Valthrug of Sentinels, Galathir of Deathwing, Tandivya, and Pilara of Icecrown, thank you for a wonderful group and a couple of great runs. These guys come highly recommended, and I hope to see them in the LFD again.

I thought you were supposed to be able to friend people from another server to increase the chance of grouping with them, but every time I tried, I got a 'Player could not be found' error.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Swing Man

After the raid, Boston talked to me about filling in for Lakini as a swing man and being the 3rd healer. Blueshield is our DPS Warrior, I think he’s Fury this week but he changes specs often. On nights that Lakini wasn’t available, Blue would switch to Tank and I would heal on fights that needed 3 healers. It was made clear to me that the decision was mine alone. But as we saw on Tuesday night, the lack of a third healer makes it really tough to kill certain Bosses.
I’m actually sort of excited about doing this. I’ve got tanking on my Paladin down pat. I could do 969 with my eyes closed. I know exactly what to do in every situation a Tank faces. I know how to gear for threat, avoidance, and effective health. I know how to balance the three in a set.
Healing is a new challenge. I’m learning about completely different stats, and seeing fights from a completely different perspective. It’s new and I’m both nervous and excited about it. I'm still primarily a Tank for our group and it doesn’t sound like I’ll be needed often. Basically I'll only be healing when Lakini can’t make it to fill in the role, and the fight needs 3 healers. So right now we're only talking about Blood Princes and Festergut.
I’ve got some gear, mostly spell power plate and mail that was headed for sharding. In my Holy gear, I’ve got about 30k mana, and around 2.2k spell power. The ‘shared’ slots like Neck, Back, Rings, and Trinkets are really weak.
I do have concerns about doing this.
The main concern is that I haven’t healed on my Paladin for the entirety of the expansion. Well, I healed a couple of Heroics when I was bored tanking them. The Tanks barely needed any heals. I have picked up healing on my Druid alt and I’m really enjoying it. He should hit 80 sometime this week. So I have a basic concept of how to be a healer, but I really don’t know how to play a Holy Paladin. There is no muscle memory, no innate sense of what button to push when things go squirrely. I’m going to make mistakes. I'm going to get Tanks killed.
I’ve read some guides online, but most seem to just go over what the different spells do. There isn’t a lot of what I would call a game plan.
So this is what I’ve come up with. Beacon Tank, Sacred Shield tank, Flash of Light tank to get HoT going. Then it gets a little fuzzy, but it's basically heal everyone tanking damage as needed.
We’re going to wipe, and it’s going to be my fault. Man, I don’t want to let my teammates down.
It doesn’t really matter to me anymore if I Main Tank, Off tank, or heal for a boss fight. Well that isn't entirely true. There is one fight were it actually does matter to me. That fight is Arthas. I want to tank that guy something fierce.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Three Princes

So last night we gathered up the crew and headed into ICC. We grabbed a Hunter who I think normally runs with Perp's group. The two raid groups seem to be very good about sharing members between them. Most everyone in the two raid groups have multiple 80s at this point. I’m about to ding on my fourth Level 80 toon, and I level slower than virtually anyone else in our guild.
We cleared the lower spire pretty easily. Those fights are down pat by now. Our swing man, Lakini (Boomkin/RestoD), couldn't make it. He's our DPS/3rd healer when needed. He predicted that since he couldn't make it we'd finally see some drops he could use. First boss we get Leather Spell Power boots. It's like the Boss knew. It reminds me of the one night I missed Ulduar and we borrowed Grimadin (Prot Paladin) from the other group. Of course that's the night Flame Leviathan's bracers drop. It was the only time we'd see them drop.
We decided to go give a look at the new wing. Much like Naxxrammus, you can do the wings in any order, so we skipped Plague and went over to Blood. I've now figured out that Ice Crown Citadel is built around the Death Knight trees. Death Knights have a Blood tree, Frost tree and Unholy (Plague) tree. The Plagueworks is the Unholy/Plague wing. The Crimson Halls is the Blood wing and the Frostwing Halls is the Frost wing.
We had some fun with the trash. They put a nasty bleed on the tank and we would periodically get something called Blood Sap which would basically stun us. They also threw us all over the place with some sort of Mark McGwire charge. It was like a knockback on steroids. But we managed to clear the trash without wiping. Not bad considering we didn't have a clue what they did. I loved how the team looked at the mob names, and models to try to guess at their abilities.
As we approached the Blood Princes Council fight I kept thinking of the song "Two Princes" by Spin Doctors (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d43U0OeWg3Q)
One, two, princes kneel before you
(that's what I said, now)
Princes, princes who adore you
(just go ahead, now)
You can thank me later when that song is stuck in your head. Does their lead singer remind anyone else of Shaggy from Scooby-Doo?
Only there were three Princes instead of two. The Princes are Taldaram, Valanar and Keleseth.
This is another 'Council' type fight like Illidari Council in Black Temple, Hex Lord Malacrass in Zul'Aman or High King Maulgar in Gruul’s Lair. I know those are all Burning Crusade fights but I can't think of a 'Council' type fight in Wrath before this one.
We only knew the abilities from MMO champion and we weren't really sure what abilities were 25 man, 10 man, or Hard Mode.
Our first attempt, Boston (Blood DK) grabbed Keleseth and I tried to tank Taldaram and Valanar. This was a bad idea. Taldaram was meleeing me for 20k and Valanar for 10k. I went squish, …like grape.
So we changed things up. Keleseth was 'tanked' by Neo (Destro Lock). Boston took Taldaram and I had Valanar. First pull I pulled Keleseth off of Neo when my Avenger's Shield hit him. One of the challenges of Council type fights is always the pull. So next pull, we had Neo pull and Boston and I taunted our respective targets. Neo was getting rocked pretty hard, as were both Boston and I.
We were trying to two heal it, but the damage, both raid and three tanks was too severe.
This is the first time in ICC that I've felt like the Tanks were the failure point. I checked TankTotals (great addon, btw) and I saw that 100% of the damage I was taking was Physical. It was all melee hits. I started looking longingly at all the +armor gear I've previously been sort of lukewarm about. The Glyph of Indomitability started looking much prettier than the Onyxia trinket I was sporting. I was going with an Avoidance/Stam combo with Onyxia and the Key. It looks like full on traditional EH gear will be the way to go for Blood Council.
Blackhaus (Disc/Holy) is our healing lead and makes the call on how many healers we need and what the assignments are. He felt like we would need 3 healers for Blood Princes. Our normal 3rd, Lakini, wasn't available so we tabled our attempts on Blood Princes. The thinking was that by today, and certainly by Thursday, Maintankadin, Tankspot, stratfu and other sites would have more information on fight and we'd be better prepared.
The lack of a 3rd healer also meant that Festergut was a no go, so we cleared over to Rotface and one shot the big ugly. It's amazing to me how this fight went from 'how in the world are we ever going to beat this' to 'meh, one shot'. Boston does such a fantastic job kiting Oozes. I have no idea how a Druid/Warrior tank does that job. DKs must have a good set of tools as do Paladins with Avenger's Shield and Judgment.
I managed to pick up the Tanking bracers off Saurfang since Boston already had them.
We're going to try to go back on Thursday if we get enough people on to try it.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tank as you Level Up, Part II, 40 to the Cap

10/15/2010 - Patch 4.0.1 has hit the Live servers. This guide is now outdated. I will not have time to continue to update it.

This continues my post from Monday. This edition is a little lighter on gear. Keep in mind your key stats Stamina, Strength, Defense, Agility, Hit, Parry, and Dodge and you’ll do fine.
The 40s: Pass the Plate
You can wear Plate now. Don't break the bank getting a full Plate set, but see about putting one together quickly. The additional armor is noticeable.
Spec
There's two ways you can do your spec in the 40s. You can continue to keep Seal of Command, and continue building up the Prot tree, or you can you can consider respecing into a full Protection build. By Level 50, you'll have some great tools from a Protection build. It'll come down to how well you can hold aggro on the multiple mob pulls and how your mana is doing. I’m going to suggest you switch at this point to a full on Protection build at 40.
A Protection build will offer mana regeneration from Blessing of Sanctuary and Spiritual Attunement. Blessing of Sanctuary regenerates mana based on your character dodging, parrying and blocking while Spiritual Attunement regenerates mana based on the amount you get healed for, ignoring overhealing. It's important that you are the one being hit and either avoiding (dodge/parry) or taking the damage. If you aren't getting hit, you'll have mana issues, plain and simple; much like a Warrior who isn't hit is going to have Rage issues.
Most of the Level 80 guides you see will recommend only 1 point in Spiritual Attunement, but for leveling I recommend 2 points. Mobs and Bosses at the level cap hit much harder than the ones you face leveling so you can use the extra regen.
A full Protection build also offers the option to pick up Ardent Defender, which is one of the Protection Paladin’s major cooldowns. It's a Guardian Spirit type effect that will prevent you from dying once every two minutes and restore some health.
The Build I would use in this bracket would be: Divine Strength, Anticipation, Improved Righteous Fury, 4 in Toughness, Improved Devotion Aura, Blessing of Sanctuary, 4 Reckoning, Sacred Duty, One Handed Weapon specialization, Spiritual Attunement, Holy Shield, Ardent Defender, 2 in Redoubt, and 2 in Combat Expertise.
Rotation
If you go to a full out Protection build, your Seal will change from Command to Righteousness, and your Blessing from Might to Sanctuary. You will still be using Devotion Aura. The rest of the rotation stays the same. Don't forget Righteous Fury!
Buff yourself with Holy Shield and pull with Hand of Reckoning and run into the middle of the group of mobs or up to the boss. Drop Consecration, and then Judgment of Wisdom. Rotate Consecration and Judgement. Keep in mind that Consecration is a hungry little bugger so be judicious with its use and watch your mana. Refresh Holy Shield as soon as it is off cooldown. Practice maintaining the buff at near 100% uptime. Its duration is longer than its cooldown, so this shouldn't be a problem. Use your taunts liberally if you see one of the mobs even think about another player. The 'Changed Target' text over the mobs head is a big clue you need to start tabbing around and find the mob that's targeting someone other than your plate covered rear.
At Level 46, you'll train Hand of Sacrifice. This is an under rated tool in your kit. You place this short duration buff on one of your party members who has aggro and some of the damage will transferred to you. This does two really good things for you. One, it'll reduce the damage your compadre is taking and two, it'll do some damage to you, which your healer will heal and give you mana back. Once HoSac is off, taunt off the DPS.
Instances
The 40s have some of my favorite instances like Zul'Farrak and Uldaman. I have a special place in my heart for Uldaman. It really starts to setup some of the later instances you do like Halls of Stone and ultimately Ulduar. Maraudon is your 'Garmin' instance in this range; hope that someone in the party is familiar with the place. I got a bad taste in my mouth for place after farming it for a solid month for Nature Resist gear I needed for An'Quiraq. Razorfen Downs is probably the first instance you'll run where you'll see plate dropping.
Gear
The 50s: Captain America
Before I get into the nitty gritty of the 50s, I need to talk about Death Knights. Late in your 50s you’ll start seeing Death Knights show up as DPS in your groups. Death Knights come out of their starting area with a fantastic set of gear. Some Death Knights will choose to employ Heirloom items on top of this set. Some of them will be able to put out considerable DPS and you might have a problem holding threat against them. Most of these guys will still be learning the ins and outs of their toons, but if they’ve gotten a good hold on it, they will do very solid DPS. Use all the tools you have at your disposal for holding threat like Hand of Protection and Hand of Salvation, but understand that ultimately it’s the responsibility of the DPS to do less threat than you, or man up (well, Blood Elves can’t really man up, but you know what I mean) and tank themselves.
You are going to face a similar situation when you hit the level cap as you will suddenly be in groups of fully epic geared players who do more DPS than 3 players could back when Wrath was launched and we were all running around in Blues.
Spec
If you didn't go to a full on Prot spec in your 40s, do so now. At level 50, you'll train Avenger's Shield. AS will become your main pulling tool. Suddenly, you've got solid threat on 3 mobs. You'll need some time to learn how it bounces between mobs. Try to aim for mobs with a mana bar, those will be casters you can silence (once you have Shield of the Templar). If you are worried about it bouncing into an adjacent group, then aim for the middle of the group. In a 4 mob pull, watch carefully to see which one didn’t get hit with Avenger's Shield and nail that guy with a Judgment as you pick it up. The more time you have to practice with your Shield Throw, the better. In addition, by this point in the leveling game, your party is going to expect a Prot tank. Those Arms Warriors and Ret Paladins who were passable in the early brackets just won't cut it anymore.
The Build I would use in this bracket would be: Divine Strength, Anticipation, Improved Righteous Fury, 4 in Toughness, Improved Devotion Aura, Blessing of Sanctuary, 4 Reckoning, Sacred Duty, One Handed Weapon specialization, Spiritual Attunement, Holy Shield, Ardent Defender, 2 in Redoubt, Combat Expertise, Avenger’s
Shield, Touched By the Light, Shield of the Templar, Judgments of the Just
Rotation
Level 50 you get to train Holy Wrath. It’s an AoE spell, but only hits Undead. If you are doing any instance with Undead in it (Dead Strath and Scholo) you an incorporate it into your rotation.
Pre pull buffs: Devotion Aura, Seal of Righteousness, Blessing of Sanctuary, and Righteous Fury. Get in the habit of checking your four main buffs before each pull. Devotion Aura and Righteous Fury don't have a timer, but your Blessing and Seal can fall off. The first thing you'll notice if you let your Blessing fall off is a lack of mana. If your Seal falls off, you won't be able to judge.
Buff yourself with Holy Shield and pull with Avenger's Shield. Find the mob your shield didn't hit (if the pull is 4 mobs, your shield is only going to get three) and drop a Judgement on it. Drop Consecration once the mobs are around you. Rotate Holy Shield, Consecration and Judgement. You can work in Avenger’s Shield to your rotation, but keep an eye on the health of the mobs. You want AS to be off cooldown for your next pull. Keep in mind that along with Consecration, AS is also a hungry little bugger so be judicious with its use and watch your mana. Refresh Holy Shield as soon as it’s off cooldown. Hand of Reckoning goes to being just a Taunt now; don't be afraid to use it liberally if you see one of the mobs even think about another player. The 'Changed Target' text over the mobs head is a big clue you need to start tabbing around and find the mob that's targeting someone other than your plate covered rear.
Instances
The 50s have some great instances. Sunken Temple and BRD are both 'Garmin' instances. Both are sprawling, long, confusing mazes. But I have really good memories from doing my Onyxia attunement there. The parade in Stormwind to confront Lady Prestor is one of those 'moments' in WoW I'll never forget.
I have fond memories of Scholomance which at one time dropped the only Protection Paladin gear in the game, called the Deathbone Guardian set. Strath, both living and dead is great, and you can see what it looks like now before you go back in time and see it in Culling of Stratholme. I never ran Dire Maul much. It was a long trip for Alliance back in my leveling days. My only time in there was working on my Charger quest (at level 60).
Gear
The 60s: Hammer Time!
Spec
The Build I would use in this bracket would be: Divine Strength, Anticipation, Improved Righteous Fury, Toughness, Improved Devotion Aura, Blessing of Sanctuary, Reckoning, Sacred Duty, One Handed Weapon specialization, Spiritual Attunement, Holy Shield, Ardent Defender, Redoubt, Combat Expertise, Avenger’s Shield, Touched By the Light, Shield of the Templar, Judgments of the Just, Hammer of the Righteous, Deflection, 1 in Guarded By the Light (you want 3/3 Guarded by the Light by 71).
Rotation
Two major changes to the rotation, one right at 60 and the other at 64. At Level 60, you'll get your first '6', Hammer of the Righteous. You will weave this in among your '9s': Holy Shield, Consecration, and Judgment. After 64 you will have Seal of Vengeance (Corruption for Horde). This Seal applies a Holy Damage over Time (DoT) debuff to the mob you are tanking. Hammer of the Righteous spreads this debuff to up to the 3 mobs.
Pre pull buffs: Devotion Aura, Seal of Vengeance/Corruption (after 64), Blessing of Sanctuary, and Righteous Fury. Get in the habit of checking your four main buffs before each pull. Devotion Aura and Righteous Fury don't have a timer, but your Blessing and Seal can fall off. The first thing you'll notice if you let your Blessing fall off is a lack of mana. If your Seal falls off, you won't be able to judge.
Buff yourself with Holy Shield and pull with Avenger's Shield. Find the mob your shield didn't hit (if the pull is 4 mobs, your shield is only going to get three) and drop a Judgement on it, then immediately Hammer of the Righteous. This will spread a Vengeance DoT to three mobs. Drop Consecration once the mobs are around you. Rotate Holy Shield, Hammer of the Righteous, Consecration and Judgement. Practice weaving your '6', Hammer of the Righteous, in-between your '9's. Eventually you'll have another '6' and you'll be into that 96969 rotation.
Keep in mind that Consecration is still a hungry little bugger so be judicious with its use and watch your mana. Refresh Holy Shield as soon as it’s off cooldown. Don't be afraid to taunt liberally if you see one of the mobs even think about another player. The 'Changed Target' text over the mobs head is a big clue you need to start tabbing around and find the mob that's targeting someone other than your plate covered rear.
Instances
The 60s will take you through Outland. The instances tend to be a little shorter. There are great instances throughout the level bracket, and there really isn't a 'Garmin' instance. Most are well laid out and finding your way around shouldn't be too much of an issue. The Dark Portal aka Black Morass is a good test for any tank and will prepare you for later instances that bring you combat in waves. Don't be afraid to use Crowd Control, especially on the Casters. Ramparts and Slave Pens remain favorites. Mana Tombs is not a lot of fun for a mana based tank. It’s kind of a “I don't think they had Wookies in mind when they designed this” thing. Escape from Durnholde is fun and packed with Lore. Be careful of the last boss, he'll purge your Righteous Fury. Mechanar is probably my favorite instance of the bracket.
Gear
The 70s: The Ice Tank
Spec
The Build I would use in this bracket would be: Divine Strength, Anticipation, Improved Righteous Fury, Toughness, Improved Devotion Aura, Blessing of Sanctuary, Reckoning, Sacred Duty, One Handed Weapon Specialization, Spiritual Attunement, Holy Shield, Ardent Defender, Redoubt, Combat Expertise, Avenger’s Shield, Touched By the Light, Shield of the Templar, Judgments of the Just, Hammer of the Righteous, Deflection, Guarded by the Light Improved Judgments, Heart of the Crusader, Seal of Command, Vindication, Pursuit of Justice
Rotation
Divine Plea is a great spell for Paladin tanks. Once you train DP at 71, you've got your full array of mana regen abilities. Your quest to learn to use those abilities well can begin in earnest. I'm decked out in very good 10man raid gear (232 and 251s mostly) and I don't have mana issues running random heroics.
At 75, you become an official Protection Paladin with the addition of Shield of Righteousness. This is the final '6' to complete your 96969 rotation.
Pre pull buffs: Devotion Aura, Seal of Vengeance/Corruption, Blessing of Sanctuary, Righteous Fury. Get in the habit of checking your four main buffs before each pull. Devotion Aura and Righteous Fury don't have a timer, but your Blessing and Seal can fall off. The first thing you'll notice if you let your Blessing fall off is a lack of mana. If your Seal falls off, you won't be able to judge.
Buff yourself with Holy Shield and pull with Avenger's Shield. Find the mob your shield didn't it (if the pull is 4 mobs, your shield is only going to get three) and drop a Judgement on it, then immediately Hammer of the Righteous. This will spread a Vengeance DoT to three mobs. Consecration immediately and then Shield of Righteousness. By now your Holy Shield is coming off cooldown, so refresh it and Hammer of the Righteous again. Then drop another Judgment, and Shield of Righteousness. By now your Holy Shield is coming off cooldown... Rinse and repeat. Don't be afraid to taunt liberally if you see one of the mobs even think about another player. The 'Changed Target' text over the mobs head is a big clue you need to start tabbing around and find the mob that's targeting someone other than your plate covered rear.
Instances
The instances improved nicely between Vanilla (up to 60) and Burning Crusade (60-70). They take another step up in quality with Wrath (70-80). Old Kingdom is a 'Garmin' instance. I didn't run this one enough leveling up and I still get lost in there at Level 80. Most of the other dungeons are pretty straightforward. There are some short cuts in Gundrak, but you'll learn those as you run them. Occulus is one you'll have to learn. Moving in 3 dimension and controlling Drakes takes some getting used to. As the Tank, take the Red Drake. When Eregos (end boss) spawns adds (whelps) target the whleps with your main attacks. That will at least get you started. The instances don't change much when you run them on Heroic so the better you get to know them now, the better off you'll be at level cap. Also work on building a DPS set. You might have to start Heroics as Ret. Groups are much more forgiving of low DPS from fresh 80s than they are of 20k HP tanks.
Gear

Monday, January 18, 2010

Tank as you Level Up, Part 1 Sub 40

10/15/2010 - Patch 4.0.1 has hit the Live servers. This guide is now outdated. I will not have time to continue to update it.

With the advent of the Looking for Dungeon tool, Tanks are in demand through all level ranges. This is great news for Paladins, Warriors, Druids and Death Knights leveling up as they find the near instant queues that we see at level 80.
Tanking a sub Level 80 dungeon in greens and blues is very different from tanking at the level cap in full epic gear. But each time you run, you'll have the opportunity to gain valuable experience, and I'm not just talking about the points you need to level up.
You will have a different experience every time you queue. You'll see various Group makeups. You'll experience bad pulls, aggro issues from dps not attacking the right target to your Ret Paladin using Hand of Reckoning to 'dps'. You'll see healers who are learning their toons as well and have gaps with no or low heals. You'll see dps learning how to play and fights go longer due to slow dps. You'll see it all and the best part is, each time you'll have a chance to learn the appropriate responses that will come naturally once you hit the level cap. You'll have that innate sense and muscle memory. You fingers will know where to go without you ever really consciously thinking about it. You'll have a huge advantage over other toons that choose to wait until closer to the level cap to start their tanking careers.
Most of the theorycraft and guides you'll find online are all about tanking at the level cap and most of the advanced theorycraft is aimed at Hard Mode 25 man. What I'd like to do is to address how to Tank as you level up. In each range, we’ll talk about the nitty gritty. How to spec, what rotation to use, what to expect from the instances you’ll run, and gear to look for.
When start to talk about gear, don't stress over the caps we talk about for max level toons. You likely won't be Crit Immune, but the dungeons you are tanking are designed with that in mind. Don't worry about Expertise, or Hit. If you have some on your gear, great, but don't be overly concerned with capping them. The main stats you are looking for are: Stamina, Strength, Defense, Agility, Dodge, Parry, and Block. I’ll highlight some useful items, but the gear lists aren’t intended to be all inclusive. If you come across an item that you feel really needs to be on the list, leave it in the comments.
I recommend you get yourself a good threat meter like Omen. The Blizzard default UI will show you your threat, but the Tank needs to be aware of the threat of all his party mates as well. One of the best things to do as you learn to tank is enable Target of Target. You need to see who the mob you are attacking is targeting. Hopefully, it’ll be you.
You will see I recommend a Retribution spec early on. If you are under level 40, You won't have the option for dual spec yet, and the Ret build is great for soloing. You use a big ole two hander for solo work and strap on a sword and board for Tanking. Your shield in and of itself will be a welcome site to the party, and your healer. The sub 40 range is dominated by Ret Paladins and Arms Warriors swinging their 2 handers trying to tank.
Mana is going to be your boon and your bane until you get some regeneration tools. You start with your bar full so you can go all out from the beginning of the pull but you've got none of your regeneration abilities or talents yet except Judgement of Wisdom. Once it's gone, it's gone. Mana management is a key ability for you to learn to become an effective Paladin tank. Sub 40 Tanking with Seal of Command, with the Seal of Command Glyph really helps you in the mana department.
If you prefer the Prot route early on, Rhidach, who is an excellent Paladin blogger in his own right, has taken the tack of going Prot from the first point, you can see his guide here: http://rhida.ch/2010/01/15/tankadin-leveling-1-50-the-early-years/
Level 15 is where the Dungeon Finder starts, but I recommend you wait until you've trained your Level 16 spells to start queuing as a Tank. Level 16 is about the lowest level you would want to begin your Tanking career.
Level 16 is when you train Righteous Fury, the Paladins aggro stance. Before you get Righteous Fury your ability to hold aggro is completely dependent on your ability to out DPS the rest of your party. With Righteous Fury, you should have an easier time holding aggro. At this point you've already got the first '9' of your 969 rotation, Judgment. Level 16 is also where you'll see Hand of Reckoning, which is a taunt. However, it also does damage, and it's on a shorter cooldown than Judgment so it's great for building threat or holding a second mob in a multiple mob pull. It's your only ranged ability so make it your primary pull.
You've also got Righteous Defense which you can use for a taunt. It's your only multiple target skill at this point and can be really helpful if an AoEing Mage pulls the mobs you are trying to tank for him.
Hand of Protection is an aggro management tool that many tanking Paladins don't use enough, even at the level cap. I generally prefer to use this on a melee DPS who has been pulling aggro. It keeps them alive and gives them a couple of seconds to chill out. Think of it as "time out" for Rogues.
You've trained your two big active cooldown abilities, Divine Protection and Lay on Hands. Both abilities give you the Forebearance debuff which will prevent you from using the other. You will have to evaluate each situation to determine which one is better, but it's generally going to be Divine Protection.
Level 16-19: The Rookie
Spec:
I actually recommend you take a Retribution spec. Most Level 80 Protection Paladins are 0/53/18, so just think of it as building the Ret part first. The first five points in Ret are actually really good for tanking by increasing your parry.
5 points in Deflection, 2 points in Improved Judgement, 3 points in Heart of the Crusader.
Rotation:
Start with your pre pull buffs: Devotion Aura, Blessing of Wisdom, Seal of Righteousness and Righteous Fury. If you are having threat problems in an instance, Righteous Fury is the FIRST thing you check. Make sure it's up anytime you are tanking.
Pull with Hand of Reckoning and run into the middle of the group of mobs or up to the boss. Use Judgment of Wisdom, and Hand of Reckoning on cooldown. If you see one of the mobs run off, target it and hit Righteous Defense.
Instances: Ragefire Chasm, Wailing Caverns, The Deadmines, Shadowfang Keep. Wailing Caverns is what I call a Garmin' instance. (FTC Disclaimer: We have no material relationship with Garmin.) You'll need a GPS to get around. There's usually one or two in every level range. It's best to hope that someone in the party is familiar with the place. I still get lost in there. Deadmines is probably my favorite instance in this range. The Lore, the fights, and a pirate ship in a hidden cove, what's not to love!
Gear:
This section will include some of the gear you should look for in this range. Remember that the main stats you’ll find on gear at this level are Stamina, Strength, Agility and Hit. Be aware that all those stats will be attractive to DPS as well.
The 20s: Consecrating the Tank
At Level 20, you'll train Sense Undead. You can use the Sense Undead glyph to give you more threat against Undead mobs. Most instances have some undead mobs in them, but it may be more convenient to stick with Glyph of Blessing of Might for you minor and wait on Glyph of Sense Undead until you open your second minor Glyph.
Spec:
5 points in Deflection, 2 points in Improved Judgement, 3 points in Heart of the Crusader, Seal of Command, Vindication, Pursuit of Justice (affects mount speed as well), 3 points in Crusade, 3 points in Divine Strength. The advantage of Seal of Command is that it hits multiple mobs every time you swing. This is why you would prefer a fast one hander, unfortunately, most weapons in this range are slow. Think of it as Seal of Cleave. You can also should use the Seal of Command Glyph which will give you mana every time you judge. That glyph can make low level tanking much easier on your mana pool.
Rotation:
Start with your pre pull buffs: Devotion Aura, Blessing of Kings, Seal of Command, and Righteous Fury. Pull with Hand of Reckoning and run into the middle of the group of mobs or up to the boss. Drop Consecration, and then Judgment of Wisdom. Rotate Consecration and Judgement. Keep in mind that Consecration is a hungry little bugger so be judicious with its use and watch your mana. Throw a Hand of Reckoning if you see one of the DPS on the wrong target. This will happen approximately every time you run an instance. If you see one of the mobs run off, target it and hit Righteous Defense. At level 26, you'll pick up Hand of Salvation which you want to put on a DPS anytime they get over 90% threat. You did get Omen so you can see when the DPS is over 90% of your threat, right?
Instances:
Wailing Caverns, The Deadmines, Shadowfang Keep, Blackfathom Depths, Stormwind Stockade, and Razorfen Kraul. Wailing Caverns and Blackfathom Depths are your 'Garmin' instances. I hope someone in your party knows their way around. I STILL get lost in Wailing Caverns.
There are going to be times when you want to replace Judgement of Wisdom with Judgement of Justice. Judgment of Justice can be a lifesaver and a party saver in some of these instances, especially Stormwind Stockcades. The humanoid mobs love to run off when they get low and bring back more of their 'buddies' for you to play with. You can prevent them from fleeing by putting Judgment of Justice on them. Remember that your Seal and your Judgement are not linked so you can run Seal of Righteousness and still put Judgement of Justice up on the mobs.
Gear
This section will include some of the gear you should look for in this range. Remember that the main stats you’ll find on gear at this level are Stamina, Strength, Agility and Hit. Be aware that all those stats will be attractive to DPS as well.
There are two really good rewards from the Razorfen Kraul Quest – Crone of the Kraul(H) / Vengeful Fate(A). You’ve got a Belt and a Shield. Take the Belt and get the Shield from Commander Springvale in Shadowfang Keep.
The 30s: The Scarlet Tank
Spec:
5 points in Deflection, 2 points in Improved Judgement, 3 points in Heart of the Crusader, Seal of Command, Vindication, Pursuit of Justice, 3 points in Crusade, 5 points in Divine Strength, 5 points in Anticipation, 3 points in Improved Righteous Fury. You'll finally pickup Improved Righteous Fury which gives you an important damage reduction.
Rotation:
Nothing changes in your rotation from the 20-30 range. In the event you skipped down to this area directly, I'll repost it.
Get in the habit of checking your four main buffs before each pull. Devotion Aura and Righteous Fury don't have a timer, but your Blessing and Seal can fall off. If your Seal falls off, you won't be able to judge.
Start with your pre pull buffs: Devotion Aura, Blessing of Kings, Seal of Command, and Righteous Fury. Pull with Hand of Reckoning and run into the middle of the group of mobs or up to the boss. Drop Consecration, and then Judgment of Wisdom. Rotate Consecration and Judgement. Keep in mind that Consecration is a hungry little bugger so be judicious with its use and watch your mana. Throw a Hand of Reckoning if you see one of the DPS on the wrong target. This will happen approximately every time you run an instance. If you see one of the mobs run off, target it and hit Righteous Defense.
Instances:
The instances in this bracket are Gnomergan, Razorfen Kraul, and most of Scarlet Monestary. You'll probably want to be close to 40 before you try Cathedral. Again, there are lots of Humaniod mobs who love to run away. Judgement of Justice is a great help, but you may need Judgment of wisdom to keep your mana up. Gnomergan is another 'Garmin' instance where it really helps to have someone in your party who knows there way around. All the Scarlet instances are fantastic, great Lore and fights. Blades of Light!!!
Gear:
You’ll see your first pieces of Defense gear in this range. But you’ll still be primarily looking at Strength, Stamina and Agility.