Monday, August 31, 2009

Tankadin 101

(This information is still largely accurate to patch 3.3.5)

This is my guide to Paladin Tanking. It's written on an entry 101 kind of level. If you are new to Paladin tanking, this guide was written for you. For you grizzled veterans, look it over and see if you agree with my advice to our young Padawans. Feel free to email me, or drop me a comment if you feel like something in this article is inaccurate or simply bad advice.

If you find this article eerily similar to the Protection Paladin entry on, that would be because I wrote the article at Raider101.

Protection paladins are powerful tanks. They excel at every facet of tanking. At the moment, Paladins have very high threat generation. Paladins can tank every boss in the game and fulfill any tanking role. In addition, they bring powerful group buffs like Blessings, Hands and Auras.

Talent Builds

Standard:∞You This build has 3 'flavor' points in the lower part of the Prot tree. You can put these three points into Reckoning (for threat), Divine Sacrifice/Improved Hammer of Justice (for a shorter cooldown on your stun, and a bit of utility), or Divine Sacrifice/Divine Guardian (for utility).

Divine Sacrifice/Divine Guardian is best for Paladins who find themselves primarily in offtanking roles or those who do not run with a Holy Paladin. There is one 'wasted' point in the Ret tree, which is currently shown as the second point of Improved Judgement. You need this point to get enough points to go further down the tree. If you are following the 969 rotation (discussed below) to the letter the 2/2 in Improved Judgements is (strictly speaking) sub-optimal as it reduces the CD on Judgements to 8 seconds which is not evenly divisible by the 1.5 second GCD, whereas going 1/2 in Improved Judgements makes the CD 9 seconds which does mesh with the GCD. However, 2/2 Improved Judgment is nice to have in soloing/daily quest situations, so that's why I put the point there.

There is fierce debate among experienced Protection Paladins over Pursuit of Justice (PoJ). Some feel you can get by okay with just a Tuskar's Vitality enchant, which gives you some run speed, but less than PoJ. Others swear by PoJ. I've recently changed to the pro-PoJ camp, however; if you decide to not take PoJ, put those 2 points into Conviction.

Primary Seal: Seal of Vengeance if Alliance; Seal of Corruption if Horde

Primary Judgement: Judgement of Wisdom if you need mana or Judgement of Light if you don't. Judgements were normalized in Patch 3.2 so they have the same effect regardless of which Paladin judges them. Your key debuff "Judgements of the Just" is its own debuff now and can no longer be removed from the Boss by another Paladin judging the wrong thing.

Primary Aura: Devotion Aura

Keep Righteous Fury and your assigned blessing active at all times. For Progression Tanking, the Blessings you want (in order of preference) are Blessing of Kings, Blessing Sanctuary, Blessing of Might, Blessing of Wisdom. For 5 mans, you will want Sanctuary.

Threat Rotation

A Protection Paladin uses a "969" rotation. She alternates between abilities with an 8-9 second cooldown (Holy Shield, Judgement of Wisdom∞) and abilities with a 6 second cooldown (Shield of Righteousness, Hammer of the Righteous).

Here is a sample rotation. It looks long, but watch for the "96969" rhythm:

Seal of Vengeance (Actually prepped before)
Avenger's Shield
Divine Plea
Shield of Righteousness (6)
Hammer of the Righteous(6)
Holy Shield(9)
Shield of Righteousness (6)
Hammer of the Righteous(6)
Shield of Righteousness (6)
Holy Shield(9)
Hammer of the Righteous(6)

Other important abilities:
Hand of Reckoning - Single target taunt
Righteous Defense - Backup taunt, multi-target
Hand of Salvation - Cast this on any DPS who is at 90%+ threat

Key Cooldowns
Divine Protection - Akin to a Warrior's Shield Wall, it's your major active Cooldown. Your 4pc T9 lowers it's cooldown to just 90 seconds.
Ardent Defender - Passive, but a major 'cooldown' for Protection Paladins.
Divine Plea - This should be on cooldown at all times.
Lay on Hands - It's long cooldown means you have to careful when you use it, but the ability to refill your entire life bar will get out of trouble.
Avenging Wrath - Use this when your raid is under the effects of Bloodlust/Heroism or anytime you need a threat boost. Note that using this will prevent you from using Divine Protection for 30 seconds.

Key Stats

Stats are listed in order of importance. All these stats are useful, but look for gear with more stats from the top of the list.

Defense Rating - minimum of 540 Defense (689 Defense Rating)
Dodge Rating
Parry Rating
Block Value
Hit Rating
Attack Power
Block Rating

You must have at least 540 Defense if you want to tank raids. If you have less, bosses can critically hit you for double damage. You will die a horrible death and your raid will wipe. Likewise you must have at least 535 Defense for Heroics. Having more than these minimums is not a problem. On the contrary, Defense is one of the best ways to improve your avoidance (chance for the Boss to miss you).

With Diminishing Returns added to Block Value in Patch 3.2, Block Value will fluctuate in it's importance as a stat.

  • If your raid-buffed BV is <> BV > Hit > Expertise > AP
  • If your raid-buffed BV is > 2500 but <> Expertise > AP, with BV rapidly declining in value
  • If your raid-buffed BV is > 2950 then Hit > STR > Expertise > AP, and BV is worthless for threat

Recommended Glyphs

Glyph of Divine Plea
Glyph of Righteous Defense
Glyph of Seal of VengeanceOr Glyph of Hammer of the Righteous

Glyph of Hammer of the Righteous will be better if you run mostly Heroics, but Seal of Vengeance is better for Raids. Once you have over 25 Expertise Skill, the value of the Seal of Vengeance glyph goes down slightly.

Glyph of Sense Undead
Glyph of Lay on Hands
Glyph of Blessign of Kings

Recommended Enchants

Enchants are listed from best and most expensive to least expensive. If you have a crafting profession, you may have access to crafter-only enchants which are better than these recommendations.

Head: Arcanum of the Stalwart Protector
Shoulders: Greater Inscription of the Pinnacle or Lesser Inscription of the Pinnacle
Chest: Greater Defense
Cloak: Titanweave
Bracers: Major Stamina
Hands: Armsman
Belt: Eternal Belt Buckle
Legs: Frosthide Leg Armor or Jormungar Leg Armor
Feet: Tuskar's Vitality or Greater Fortitude
Weapon: Blood Draining for survival, or Accuracy for threat
Shield: Defense

Recommended Gems
Meta: Austere Earthsiege Diamond or Eternal Earthsiege Diamond
Red: Shifting
Yellow: Enduring or Thick Only use Thick if that's the only way for you to maintain the Defense minimum.
Blue: Solid
Prismatic: SolidIf you are a Jewelcrafter, Solid Dragonseyes should still be placed in Red slots if the bonus is less than 9 stamina.

Recommended Consumables
Flask: Flask of Stoneblood
Food: Dragonfin Fillet

Additional Tips

  • Make sure the mobs you are tanking are in front of you. That way you can block and parry their attacks.
  • Practice your rotation on Target Dummies until it becomes ingrained. You will have much more to pay attention when progression tanking than just your action bar.

Sources and Other Resources
Maintankadin - Go there, find the Basic Training section and read all the stickies. Then close your browser. Open it up again, go back to Maintankadin, back to the Basic Training section and read all the stickies again. Then go tank something. When you are done, go back and read all the stickies again.


apokteino said...

Very nice beginner's guide. I've been meaning to get around to tanking for some time; now maybe I will. Also, did want to mention PoJ is 15% speed increase while Tuskarr's is only 8%- if people were curious as to the actual percentages.

*A list of addons you use while tanking would be useful. I'm sure I can list a couple you use- Omen, Grid, PowerAura. I know some tanks also have a addon that makes marking much easier, but I can't think of the name for it. Not being demanding... just curious what you use. =D Overall great guide, though!

tego said...

just personal preference, but i would consider opening with Holy Shield instead of judgment for the 9 second, figuring that getting a couple stacks of SoV running will make the judge hit harder (more opening threat) or opening with SoR and then judge. (the actual way i tend to open up on a pull) so that the SoR can apply the vengeance debuf, if this has been debated @ EJ and I am missing something then ignore me also for close non AOE pulls i tend to work DP into the first 969 full rotation in place of consecrate (since in my experience the mob is on me before i can get DP off) This is running with about 5k mana, which i find is enough to get me through 2 or more full rotations.

Therigwin said...

Excellent Starter's Guide.

Though I am wondering if down the road some of the gem choices may change (like with red slots, put strength since they are changing Touched by the Light to be based on Strength instead of stamina)

But it definitely has me thinking I need to regem a bit.

What do you think of this gem for tanking -
Effulgent Skyflare Diamond
Since we really don't have a built in magic damage reducer, I always went with this one.

@apokteino - For mods, I have quite a few that I list on my blog that I use. I am always revamping my UI and trying new stuff.

kyrilean said...

Nice. I'll check this out this week. Haven't been too happy with the Ret changes so was thinking of changing my offspec to Prot anyway. :)

Honors Code said...

If you had a spare helm, I would definately put an Effulgent Skyflare Diamond for magic heavy fights.

I don't open with Holy Shield because those first few seconds of the fight are when you are most likely to loose aggro and as much as I dodge and parry, Holy Shield might not get one charge used.

Anonymous said...

Very helpful guide. One thing I did notice was a small comment you made about keeping Divine Plea on cooldown. Sometimes, as tankadins, we tend to gloss over things we take for granted and understand like second nature.

With Guarded by the Light keeping your Divine Plea active for the majority of the fight, if not all of it, a new player may be confused as to why he needs to keep it on cooldown when the buff should have a 100% uptime anyway. Simply put, there is no reason to keep it on cooldown if you already have the buff.

Also, Agi/Stam gems are a viable choice for Red slots too.

Honors Code said...

My thinking was a new Paladin tank is getting used to watching a ton of different things. It's easier at that stage to say "Keep Divine Plea on cooldown" instead of saying "Check your buff bar about every 12 seconds for Divine Plea, if you don't see it up there, cast Divine Plea."

With the caveat "keep it on cooldown" they will be casting it often and if it falls off, they will get it back up as soon as they can.

In the post I recommend Agi/Stam gems for Reds (Shifting). But it's also a great place to use your Prismatics IF you are a JC.

Tego said...

Second question,

What about opening with a 6 second cool down instead of a 9? SoR for example. Does judgment(without many stacks of SoV) hit for more threat than SoR, and could this be offset by a harder judgment hit one GCD later (with the additional stack of Sov)?

Love the blog


Anonymous said...

Thanks Mr Hammer, I need this. As a holy paladin, can I say that improved Sacred Shield is actually more important if you have a holy paladin in the raid. This is because the Flash of Light HoT will occur if the target has a Sacred Shield from anyone. So a shield kept up on each tank means I can have a rolling HoT on each tank. Question as to why I use AGL gems and STR food and not STR gems and AGL food? Would also like to see an add on section, and am curious as to whether you have found an add on to raid announce the Ardent Defender proc.

BigFire said...

Ever since they upped the damaged down by Hand of Reckoning, I've been using it as a pulling device. Not recommended to everyone, but that's just how I roll.

Honors Code said...

Addon/UI post in the works. My UI/Addons were kind of borked by the latest patch, so I'm working through them again.

tups said...

On the divine plea aspect, I chain pull to make sure it is up all the time or kill a critter. Of course, only chain pull if your gear and/or your healer can handle the damage. I always take care that it doesnt fall off. In instances that I do know that it will fall off (hello VH) before the CD is refreshed, I just make sure I budget it and take a quick drink as needed. Or be a jerk to your healer and have an unequip/re-equip macro to bump down your health and get some mana transfer (it is YOUR mana, your healer is just carrying it for you ;)).

Capn Skillet said...

Just to add, this is my rotation on multiple mob pulls.

Avenger's Shield
Drop Consecrate (back up a couple steps)
Holy Shield (as mobs approach)
Hammer of the Righteous (hitting all 3 or 4)
Shield of Righteousness

Then fall into the pattern. Consecrate is not always necessary, especially with a 4 target HotR. The initial consecrate drop is to prevent losing aggro on mobs for when the group does aoe on trash. Usually that and HotR are plenty of threat to never lose aggro.

rogue leveling guide said...

Wow thanks for this guide, very comprehensive! bookmarked. :)

I suck as a tank.. time to stop reading more guides and actually get some experience!