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Nagrand/Paladin tanking

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This is an in-progress look at tanking with Paladins, as of WotLK patch 3.3.?. This is from the perspective of an Alliance 15Alliance Human. There may be a few, minor, differences in names (but not functions) for Horde players.

Abilities Edit

Protection tree abilities Edit

A Paladin tank must focus on the PProt Spec RoundIcon Protection talent tree. You’re looking for things that reduce the damage you take, and increase the threat/aggro you generate.

Many of the abilities in the Protection tree are obvious in their application, but a few may benefit from explanation:

  • [Ardent Defender]: There will be times when a fight is very close. Being able to survive being killed like this can often make the difference between beating a boss and wiping.
  • [Touched by the Light]: Since the majority of your threat comes from holy spell damage, boosting your spell power boosts your threat. [Divine Strength] from the first level of the tree goes quite nicely with this.

Retribution tree abilities Edit

The Ret Spec RoundIcon Retribution talent tree offers some very useful abilities, including a couple “must haves”:

  • [Seal of Command] can make all the difference in gaining and holding threat on a group of mobs.
  • [Pursuit of Justice], by increasing your movement speed, can give you the edge on getting to mobs in time to grab initial threat on them, or to recover aggro when they go after a team-mate. As a tank, you always want to be the first one into the fray, and this ability is your key to doing that.

Getting and holding threat Edit

Given that one of the tank’s primary tasks is keeping threat/aggro off of their team-mates, this is where the most attention needs to be put.

  • [Righteous Fury] is the starting point. It increases all of the threat you generate from holy damage by 80%. As a Paladin tank, you must always, always, always, have this on. Pay particular attention after resurrecting or switching specs (if dual-spec) as you will need to reactivate it. As an added bonus, [Improved Righteous Fury], from the Protection tree, gives you 6% damage reduction.
  • [Seal of Command], which comes from the Ret Spec RoundIcon Retribution talent tree, makes it much easier to build and hold threat against multiple mobs. Unless you are facing a single mob (such as a boss who has no adds), this is usually the better choice over [Seal of Vengeance] (or the Horde equivalent).
  • [Hand of Salvation] is useful for lowering the threat of a team-mate. Be careful to not accidently cast this on yourself. I’ve set up a macro that uses it on whoever I’ve set as my focus (which I always set to my healer at the beginning of a run):
#showtooltip Hand of Salvation
/cast [target=focus] Hand of Salvation
  • [Righteous Defense]: Pretty straight forward ability for recovering aggro if a team-mate has attracted attention from multiple mobs.

Pulling mobs Edit

Pulling a group of mobs Edit

When not being rushed by my team-mates, I like to start a pull with [Exorcism], immediately followed by [Avenger's Shield] (ideally on one of the mobs other than your first target, if there are more than 3 mobs in the group). Then, as quickly as possible (when the mobs are close at hand) [Hammer of the Righteous], and go into rotation

I may throw down [Consecration] right away if there is a cluster of more than 4 mobs to deal with.

[Holy Wrath] is great when you've got a cluster of mobs together that includes ome Undead or Demons.

Pulling a single mob Edit

Again, I like to start with [Exorcism]. Then immediately go to my rotation, keeping [Hand of Reckoning] handy in case I somehow lose aggro during the fight.

Damage avoidance and mitigation Edit

  • [Holy Shield] should always be up, given that it increases your chance to block (for mitigation) and adds holy damage (for threat).
  • [Sacred Shield]: I have a shameful admission to make. For a long time (even after I reached 80) I overlooked this ability. Now that I have noticed it, I try to keep it up on myself 100% of the time while tanking. It doesn’t do all that much damage reduction (about 600 per minute), but every bit helps and its duration means you can cast it before a fight and have it last for most fights (you will likely need to recast it at some point during a boss fight).
  • [Judgement of Light] is normally the only judgement you will use. If my health is fine and the healer isn’t being stressed, I may temporarily switch to [Judgement of Wisdom] if my mana is dropping. One of the nice things about Judgement of Light is that it can heal everybody attacking the mob and not just you.
  • [Purify]: Keep an eye on your debuffs — there’s a chance your healer may be too busy or unable to dispell them. If you have an opportunity in your rotation, throw this in to help keep the damage on you down.
  • [Divine Protection] is a much better choice than [Divine Shield] because Divine Shield basically cuts your threat output in half, endangering the rest of your party. The only time to use Divine Shield as a tank is when you are the last one left alive in your party.
  • [Lay on Hands] is the last act of desperation in a fight, such as when your healer is down or out of mana. Given the 15 minute cooldown, it’s usually best to save this for boss fights if you can.

Reducing your team-mates’ damage Edit

  • [Divine Sacrifice] makes it even easier for your healer to focus their heals on you and not have to do much, if any, heals for the rest of your party. Not as useful when your healer does more group heals (such as [Chain Heal]), but still worth keeping up.
  • [Hand of Sacrifice] is kind of an odd one, in my view. Generally this should be covered by Divine Sacrifice. If the situation gets to the point where you would need this, you are failing in your job of aggro. There are a few special exceptions where bosses have abilities that ignore your aggro to specifically target a lower threat member of your party.

Keeping up mana Edit

Paladin tanks tend to have very minimal mana, and can burn through it fairly quickly, so mana regeneration becomes critical (especially since almost all of their threat generated relies on mana-using abilities).

  • [Spiritual Attunement] from the Protection tree gives you mana whenever you are healed by another player (e.g., the healer). Since you should be being healed a lot by the healer, this can be fairly significant help.
  • [Divine Plea] is the cornerstone of Paladin Tank mana upkeep. Without this skill, we would be sunk. It is critical to max out the [Guarded by the Light] ability in the Protection talent tree so that Divine Plea is continually renewed during fights. The 15 second duration time of Divine Plea, combined with its 2 minute cooldown, is an incentive to avoid pauses between fights (as long as your party can handle it).
  • [Benediction], from the Retribution talent tree, can help a bit by lowering some of your mana costs.

Auras Edit

[Devotion Aura] is the general purpose tanking aura, but [Retribution Aura] comes in handy if you need to generate more threat.

In special circumstances, you might switch to one of the resistance auras (e.g., [Fire Resistance Aura] when fighting a fire-damage boss).

Always remember to switch your aura for the fight if you’ve been using [Crusader Aura].

Rotation Edit

You’ll find your own preference for sequence, but these are the core abilities I put in my rotation:

Other attacks I’ll throw in as useful, or in gaps in the rotation:

  • [Consecration] (mainly just with large crowds and bosses)
  • [Hammer of Justice] (with many instance mobs and bosses immune to this, I leave it out a lot)
  • [Hammer of Wrath] (only available when a mob is close to dead)
  • [Holy Wrath] (when fighting Undead or Demons)
  • [Avenger's Shield]. However, I try to use this one only sparingly given it’s cooldown. I mainly use it in long fights against a boss, or to pick up aggro on mobs that are straying.

And periodically refreshing [Sacred Shield], if the fight goes longer than a minute.

Miscellaneous Edit

See also Edit

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