Paladin tanking guide

Paladin class discussion.

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Paladin tanking guide

Post#1 » Tue Jun 24, 2008 11:09 am

Great guide on the wow class forums. It can make even the worst noob at least understand how to tank. But remember, it is only a guide, there may be innacuracies with some things and there are always situations where you need to improvise and do things on the fly, this is where the skilled succede and the rest fall behind. I agree with 99% of this, like above, there are things that are innacurate, but for the majority of the post, it is excellent.

things in Yellow are my 2 cents.

And i quote:

The game has changed in many ways since TBC and one of the most dramatic of these has been the opening up of tanking roles. Back when Onyxia was scary and people gathered around to see the guy with the epic mount, you had lots of options for DPS, healing, etc, but when you were looking for a tank you were probably looking for a warrior. That's changed: the warrior, druid, and paladin are all capable of filling a tank role, both in 5-mans and in raids.

The three tanking classes: overview

All three classes are CLOSE on overall mitigation and single target threat. Any of the three are suitable for tanking 5-mans, offtanking raids, or maintanking raids. Every boss that has been killed has been tanked successfully by warriors, druids, and paladins. The three tank classes are roughly interchangable on most content, though each go about the job in a different way, allowing different strategies and approaches. I've been stunned as I've been going through familiar content with each of the tank classes: a fight I knew inside and out seems brand new, as the approach and strategy for each class is quite different, posing different challenges and advantages. Understanding those differences will help players adjust their strategies according to the tank on hand.

Specs matter, much moreso than before. While a Resto Druid, Holy Paladin, or a Fury Warrior CAN tank in some situations, they're missing many vital tools that help them do the job. Tanking can be a rough job, especially on unfamiliar content, so having a tank that is well suited to the task at hand is important. Good tank selection will help the run progress smoothly, and also ensure that the tank doesn't get frustrated by tackling a job they're ill-suited for.

Spec and gear are particularly important for the Hybrid-class tanks. Paladins and Druids have a broader range of gearing options than Warriors, to the point that some specs may not be carrying any melee-oriented gear at all. While they may still be able to step up to the plate in a pinch, they're going to have to work much harder to maintain control over a pull. Any time an off-spec or off-gear Hybrid is willing to tank, let them know you appreciate their willingness to help out where it's needed.

While this guide is for Tanking Paladins, it's not really possible to discuss Tankadins without a look at tanking in general and where they stand in comparison to the other tanking classes. World of Warcraft is now a game built around COOPERATIVE tanking, so you're going to need at least a rough understanding of how the other two tanks function.

A brief comparison

Let's take a look at some of the key differences between the three tanking classes. While we're making these comparisons we're going to be assuming that these tanks are wearing at-level TBC gear. I'm mostly referencing 64-66 greens and blues, but will note when there is a substantial difference at a different level of gear.

Warriors will have a slight mitigation advantage over the other two tanking classes at most levels (though this evens out a bit and stays pretty close through most of the raid game). Their threat generation is innate to skills, so they don't have to spend any of their gear budget on threat. The downside to this is that gear upgrades have little impact on their threat output: it's mostly a fixed quantity (though their weapon and shield do provide some improvement). As they level they will see improved threat generation from new skills trained and better rage generation (allowing them to use their skills more often). Their single-target threat is good, though they may need lead time in some situations (the habitual "wait for sunders"). They run into some problems when trying to tank multiple targets.

Warriors have a great variety of debuffs they can apply, the best selection of "Oh NO!" panic buttons, and fantastic mobility. Overall, at most level ranges Warriors will have the best staying power of any of the tanking classes, somewhat offset by relatively limited threat generation. Thier overall staying power, situational tricks (like Spell Reflect), and great variety of panic buttons continue to serve them well.

Druids have comparable mitigation to the other two tanks by virtue of their high Dodge and high Armor values. Their large HP pools are great for absorbing large hits that can't normally be mitigated (like spell damage), and they have some unique abilities that help them deal with AoE damage. Their overall mitigation is slightly less effective than the plate-wearers over time, but not so much so as to cause problems in most situations. They have good single-target threat generation (slightly superior to warriors), and good threat generation on up to three targets.

Druids as tanks have two features of note. First, they are holding aggro by dealing substantial damage: a tanking druid is doing a great deal to help a boss die faster, and not just by holding aggro. In addition to very solid damage-dealing (even when tanking), the druid is providing some great DPS buffs to their party. The second, and truly unique, feature of druids as tanks is that when their tank target is down they still have a lot to offer the party. Unlike warriors and paladins, druids don't need to swap gear to switch from a tanking role to a melee dps role. While a gear swap would help them crank out a bit more DPS, they are still making a substantial contribution if they're in cat form wearing their tanking gear (much moreso than a Prot warrior or Prot Paladin).

Paladin mitigation is roughly comparable to warriors (they're mostly wearing the same gear), reduced by the need to allocate a few gear slots for int/spellpower/mp5 (though not many... paladin itemization is pretty complicated and beyond the scope of this general overview). They have a few "panic buttons", but these are more situational than the ones available to the warrior. The aspect of the paladin that really shines is threat management. Paladins generate threat through spell damage, much of which is applied through passive procs, DoT's, and stacking effects. The upshot of this is that Paladins will generate slightly superior single target threat to warriors, comparable threat to druids on up to three targets, but on more than three targets they are vastly superior. Their use of mana rather than rage also means they can "frontload": start a fight by throwing a lot of high-threat abilities, allowing DPS to start immediately.

Like Druids, Paladins are holding aggro by dealing large quantities of damage. Unique to the Paladin, however, is that most of this damage happens when a mob hits them. Paladins really WANT to get hit, as most of their abilities trigger on hits taken (and these abilities operate independantly of the global cooldown). On single mobs that hit very slowly, however, many of these skills take a backseat. They also have a lot of utility in a tanking role, providing a great variety of buffs, debuffs, and decursing. Their threat management options are second to none: Blessing of Salvation and Blessing of Protection are very powerful tools for reducing the threat of other players in the party.

When you've got more than one...
This won't happen often in 5-mans, and for 5-man content any of the tanking classes will be able to do the job very well.

Occasionally, though, there may be more than one possible tank within a group, and the group will have to make decisions about who will tank what. While I'll be going into greater detail on this subject later on, there are some simple things worth considering right off the bat.

First, Protection Warriors and Protection Paladins are very limited in their contributions when they are not tanking a target. The Protection warrior is geared and talented to act as a damage sponge: they can generate moderate DPS when not tanking, but nothing compared to a Druid. The Protection Paladin likely has a small mana pool and a limited amount of spellpower, and will lack real staying power in a healing role (and doesn't do a lick of damage if they're not getting hit).

When multiple targets are present and multiple tanks are available, the general rule for kill order should be Druid, Paladin, Warrior. Killing the Druid target first allows the Druid to continue contributing by doing substantial DPS, and killing the Warrior target last will insure that they have the lead time necessary to build a threat lead. In a situation such as this, if there are more than three targets, it is generally safe to give the Warrior the biggest (since their mitigation over time functions very well), the Druid the one that needs to die first (due to special abilities, etc), and the Paladin multiple tanking targets (since their threat and mitigation actually get better the more often they get hit).

Blizzard has designed the TBC raid game to actively encourage multi-class tanking strategies, even to the point of optimizing certain stages of a specific boss for a specific class (i.e. Druid tank phase 1, warrior tank phase 2, paladin tank phase 3), as well as having some bosses that strongly favor one tanking class over another. Cooperation is key, and the beginning of cooperation is understanding.
Tanking Universals
The primary aspects of tanking carry over between the classes, though how each tank manages these aspects are somewhat different. These three aspects, and the differences in how tanks manage them are:

All the damage reduction and perfect positioning in the world don't do any good if the mob isn't paying attention to you. Holding aggro on the appropriate target/s is the entry-level requirement of a tank, the aspect of the job that must be mastered before any other aspect of tanking becomes important. As outlined above, Warriors hold aggro through innate threat on skills, Druids hold aggro through high physical damage dealt with innate threat multipliers (and some innate threat on skills), and Paladins hold aggro through multiple spell damage sources and stacking threat multipliers. We'll get more in-depth on the particulars of paladin threat in a moment.

Every pull in the game has positioning considerations, from wandering mobs in the world to instance bosses. Whether it is as simple as tanking the target outside the patrol path of another mob (and thus preventing an unintentional add) or as complicated as knockback, arc damage, AoE, and environment hazards on a boss, there is always a proper place for you to stand and a proper place for the mob to stand. The positioning requirements of your group are contingent on you getting your positioning correct, and it is your responsibility to be familiar with the proper layout of the battlefield. This is but one area in which the tank must be aware of the entire fight: total-field awareness is part of the job.

Target Management
Join me for a moment in my 5-man mantra:
CC is for the weak. CC is for the weak.
In all seriousness, CC does have its place (and learning how to work around necessary CC is another learning curve). However, one of the unique personal challenges of tanking is seeing how many mobs you can manage at once. This is where Threat and Positioning begin to merge. You'll need to maneuver the targets into a position where you can maintain your threat on all of them, consider the positioning problems each mob poses, and keep track of your threat on each target to ensure that they stay locked on you. Druids have a strong multi-target melee attack and Warriors have Thunderclap, but most of their multi-target management involves rotating between targets. Paladins generate multitarget threat through reactive procs (i.e. they hit you, they take damage) and area of effect spells, but also benefit from target rotation.

There are many complicated methods and philosophies for how a tank can, and should, deal with damage. In practice these vary radically from class to class, but in principle it's the same. Damage mitigation can be broken down into two components:
Combat Table Manipulation
I'll only be covering this briefly here. A detailed explanation of the combat table is provided later in the guide, and a very in-depth description is available at
Exhaustive testing and sly confirmations from Blizzard indicate that physical combat involves a one-roll system. All the possible outcomes for an attack are arranged on a table and assigned a range value, totalling 100. A random number is generated by the game and this number is compared to the table.
Glancing Blow (only players and pets versus mobs)
Crushing Blow (mobs only)
ordinary hit

Values on the table can slide off the bottom, not the top. Additionally, certain effects may directly reduce other values (for example, Defense will reduce the range of Critical, and increase the range of Miss). This is how the mitigation numbers can be true "absolute values". If your block rate is 65% at the time of the attack, "Block" will have a value of 65% of the table. If there isn't enough room for all 65% (for example, if your Miss, Dodge, and Parry already totalled 40%), the excess Block will "fall off" the table. Note that at that point Critical, Crushing, and Ordinary Hit have already been pushed off, but we'll get to that later.

The first aspect of Tank damage management is manipulating this table into as advantageous a configuration as possible, both through gear selection prior to the fight and skill use during the fight. The options for this table manipulation vary radically between the classes.

The second aspect of Tank damage management is preparing yourself so that when a strike gets past your table manipulation it poses as little a threat to your survival as possible. This is generally done through gear selection, optimizing armor and stamina to provide you with effective reduction on damage that does connect and a large HP pool so that damage reduces your health by as small a PERCENT as possible. Viewing incoming damage in terms of percentages rather than absolute values (i.e. 25%, rather than 3000) helps you conceptualize stamina as an integrated part of your overall damage management plan.

The Paladin at a glance
Now that we've covered some of the basics on where they fit in the overall scheme of the tanking game, let's focus on the Paladin.

The Paladin was originally designed as a tank first, healer and support second. This was the case during closed beta and for the first months post-launch: Paladins were the preferred tank for 5-man groups thanks to their (at the time) superior threat generation and mitigation. Changes to class balance nudged the paladin further and further towards the back lines, excepting a few gimmick fights. That started changing in TBC beta. A number of key abilities were added to the paladin class that covered the gaps in their tank game. Most significant has been the addition of serious Paladin tanking gear. Make no mistake: at every level of itemization the paladin has gear available to put them on par with the other tanking classes. The Blizzard design team has confirmed this is not a fluke, and that Paladins are now considered a top-shelf tank class.

Here's the short version:
Paladins have comparable mitigation to the other tanking classes, with a slight disadvantage when taking slow hits and a substantial advantage when taking fast hits.
Paladin threat is DPS-based, and in a tanking role is roughly comparable to an equivalently geared mage. Their damage also scales up as they take hits.
Paladin mana is constantly replenished while tanking thanks to mana returned from heals recieved (a class ability).
Paladin damage and threat are subject to no form of mitigation short of Silence or Magic-Immune. Armor, Resistance, and to a lesser extent Dodge, Parry, and Block have little to no impact on threat building.
Many of a Paladin's threat generating abilities are fire-and-forget or passive: they build threat on anything hitting them, targetted or not.
-High DPS and Threat when tanking, both highly scalable with gear
-Mitigation, Single target, and multitarget threat get better the more often they're hit.
-Several taunt-like effects that work on taunt-immune mobs
-Great utility options while tanking
-Ranged options: taunt, some taunt-like abilities, and Avenger's Shield operate from range. A Paladin rarely has to run during a fight.

-Overspecialized: the tanking paladin cannot perform any role other than tanking without a full gear swap. The limited mana pool on their tanking gear has them OOM very quickly as a healer, and their DPS is almost entirely based on taking hits. A Tankadin, in tank gear, contributes much less when not tanking than a Feral Druid, and substantially less than a Protection Warrior. They can change gear between fights to act as a support healer.
-Mitigation and threat generation are less effective on single targets that hit extremely slowly.
-Limited Mobility: The Paladin is the only tank class that does not have a charge-like ability. When a Paladin has to get close, they have to walk.
-Extremely gear dependant: Paladins have to gear carefully to balance threat, mitigation, and staying power.

-Paladins have the most complex cooldown management of the tank classes. Most of their abilities are tied to the global cooldown and have different cooldown durations: managing these cooldowns so that they never coincide (so you can always hit every ability as soon as it's available) is vital to success.
-Paladins must manage spell durations mid-combat. Most Paladin spells are short-term self-buffs or DoT's. Keeping track of these durations and refreshing them mid-combat while performing other tanking tasks can be quite demanding. this is probly second most important thing to a paladin tank, gear being the first hurdle of success.

Playstyle suggestions
The Paladin is the ultimate in micromanagement tanking. It's more like playing an extremely fast-paced realtime strategy game than an action game. You never reach a point where you're spamming a certain skill cycle: you're always adjusting timing, utility functions, managing cooldowns and spell durations, and your effectiveness as a tank is directly related to how efficiently you can do these things.

The Slightly longer version

The Paladin has several key features that operate very differently than the other two tanks.

The Paladin uses mana where the other tanks use rage. While this originally prevented them from being viable tanks for long fights, mana regen from healing recieved (via Spiritual Attunement) makes this no longer an issue. Tanking Paladins affectionately refer to their "Blue Rage bar", as SA replenishes their mana supply so long as they are getting heals. The remaining functional differences are twofold: first, a paladin has a much larger (and scalable) functional resource pool (i.e. 100 rage is worth X seconds of ability use, 4000 mana will be more time of ability use than X), offset by a greater need for efficient spending. Second, they start a fight at full resource, making heavy frontloading possible.

The Paladin generates threat through Holy spell damage (with threat multipliers). Their overall threat model is more like a Druid than a warrior: high damage with bonus threat for damage dealt. They differ from Druids in that their damage source is unaffected by any mitigation mode in the game. Holy Damage has no resistance value: the spell damage can "miss", resulting in a full resist, but partial resist or school-specific resists don't apply. Since the damage is magical, rather than physical, the armor of the mob has no impact on the threat generated by the paladin. While some of the threat is generated from holy damage procs on successful weapon swings, a lot of Paladin threat is coming from reactive procs (i.e. damage when hit) and AoE DoT, so even outright mob avoidance has only a moderate effect on threat generation. This spell-based threat mechanic does make the paladin less effective on mobs that silence (see below) and are magic immune (though resistances aren't a factor).

The Paladin generates threat through multiple sources that are active simultaneously, most of which are fire-and-forget. At any point in a fight a Paladin will probably be building threat from seals on weapon swings, hits taken, area of effect damage, hits blocked (at all times), bonus damage on hits blocked (when Holy Shield is active). These multiple damage sources all scale with gear and add up FAST. In any multi-mob encounter the Paladins screen will be covered with a constant stream of numbers.

Since much of the damage and threat of the Paladin is passive or nontargetted, there is no real limit to the number of mobs a Paladin can hold. The threat built on non-targetted mobs is substantial: instance nonelites will usually kill themselves from reactive damage long before DPS gets to them on the target list, and elites will still be substantially weakened. Paladins rarely require crowd control: the only limit to the number of mobs they can tank is the amount of damage the healers can stay on top of.

Paladins can frontload a LOT of threat. At level 70 (in decent pre-raid gear) Avenger's Shield (the primary pulling ability) will generate 2-5k threat on the three targets it hits, followed by 1-2k threat from Judgement of Righteousness. While applying 3,000 to 7,000 threat on the first DPS target before it gets into melee range is remarkable, consider the real trump card on Paladin threat generation: Avenging Wrath ups all damage dealt (and thus all threat) by 30% for 20 seconds, once every 3 minutes.

Paladins are somewhat limited in their "Oh No!" buttons. While Righteous Defense *does* function through a Divine Shield (i.e. the paladin can bubble, then taunt, and the mob will come back and smack at them to no effect), the timing on this is very tricky and only works on mobs that can be taunted. Ardent Defender (always active) drastically reduces all damage recieved if the Paladin is below 35% health, a very poor man's Shield Wall: an attack that takes them below 35% may be followed up an attack that flat out kills them, even with the damage reduction.

A Tankadin who is not tanking is more or less dead in the water. Paladin tanks have very small mana pools: 5-6k at 70 pre-raid, at best. They rely on mana regained from Spiritual Attunement so that they can focus their gear on mitigation, and as such don't have much staying power when they aren't a primary healing target. They miss most of the mana efficiency options from the Holy tree so their healing is limited. Their best DPS options require taking hits to function, so their damage is laughable (substantially less than a Protection warrior) when they're not tanking. With a gear swap they can be a support healer (as well as handle buffing and decursing), but they are limited when it comes to changing roles mid-combat.

The single greatest challenge a Paladin will face is their own versatility. A Paladin has more manual control over their pacing during a fight than other tanks, making efficiency very important. They have more things to keep track of, so a lot of multitasking is required (even on single-mob fights). They have a wide range of options that may be required at various stages in the fight, and it's up to the Paladin to determine when to emphasize threat, mitigation, or efficiency.

General systems
The rule of the Paladin is 1-per: 1 seal at a time, 1 judgement per target (per paladin), 1 blessing per target (per paladin).

The On-hit rule:
Effects that proc when you take a hit only take effect if you actually TAKE the hit, that is, recieve damage. Attacks that miss, are dodged, parried, or have their damage reduced to 0 by blocks or other damage reduction effects will NOT proc On-hit effects. Abilities this includes are Retribution Aura, Redoubt, and Reckoning. These effects negatively scale with avoidance gear (since you'll be taking less hits and proccing less often), but occur more often in large fights (like tanking 6-8 mobs at once).

Paladin holy damage generates 1.6 threat per point, 1.9 post talents.

Judgement operates independantly of the Global Cooldown.

Global Cooldown
With the exception of Judgement, all Paladin spells and skills use the Global Cooldown. Given that most of the spells used for tanking are instants, the Paladin has no method of "soaking" the downtime between GCD's: this built in pause is a true pause. The Paladin offsets this with the duration of all their GCD-consuming effects: most Paladin tank spells are something you can activate then simply allow it to work for a few seconds. The moderate cooldowns on most of these spells means the Paladin will rarely have to choose between more than 2 or 3 abilities on any given Global Cooldown. A Paladin will have to choose carefully to optimize their efficiency.

The Cooldowns for the primary tanking spells can be staggered in such a way that they will only rarely overlap. Your initial series of casts throughout a fight will determine how frequently this overlap will occur: if you start out with a string that brings an early overlap, you will have to deal with those overlaps frequently. If you start out with effective staggering, you will only have to maintain it. The one curveball you will have to deal with is long cooldown skills, like HoJ, or long fights where reapplying BoSa is necessary. There are a few tricks that help in this process:

-use Consecrate before Holy Shield any time you'll be using both. The 2 second gap between their CD's means that if you reverse this, they'll overlap on the next CD.
-The time when both HS and Consecrate are on Cooldown is when you Judge. While Judgement itself does not invoke GCD, the seal you'll be refreshing will.
-Special or situational abilities like HoJ, AS, or refreshing BoSa should also be fit into this window, but be aware of how this may effect the timing of other skills.
-Keep an eye on your cooldowns. If you aren't using a mod that displays the cooldowns on the buttons themselves, get one.
-Keep an eye on your spell durations. Turning on "Aura Fade" for scrolling combat text will give you a visual cue when seals and blessings fade, but you need to be thinking ahead so you can fit refreshed buffing into your skill rotation.

Putting it together: A typical pull
1. Prep Seal of Righteousness
2. Avenger's Shield, break line of sight/ have other players counter if the pull involves casters.
2a. If CC is necessary (and it usually won't be), apply it after the AS pull.
3. Judgement of Righteousness on the first kill target.
4. Consecrate, Holy Shield, up a Seal, in this order (to insure timers are appropriately staggered).
4a. If more threat is needed, Seal of Righteousness
4b. For more threat on a longer fight, Seal of the Crusader (Judged immediately, then up another seal).
4c. If more mitigation is needed, Seal of Light (Judged immediately, then up another seal).
4d. If the mobs are runners, Seal of Justice (judged, up another).
4e. If it's going to be a long fight, Seal of Wisdom (Judged, up another).
5. Keep Consecrate and Holy Shield up, rotating seals and Judgements as necessary. Try to maintain active judgements on as many targets as possible, rotating weapon swings between judged targets to maintain them.
6. Throughout the fight try to move your targets a little bit as they die. It can be difficult to loot 12 corpses stacked directly on top of each other.
this is a decent guide to a fight, however, id suggest looking at the one in yellow further down the page.

**-{ General Spells and Abilities }-**
The magic word for a Paladin tank is OPTIONS. You have a lot of them from base class abilities and talent-granted spells. We'll get to Seals, Blessings, Auras, and abilities from talents shortly, but first lets take a look at some more general abilities.

Spiritual Attunement
This is part 1 of "Why Paladins can tank now".
You don't have a mana bar. You have a blue rage bar (that starts full instead of empty), and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Spiritual attunement will provide you with plenty of staying power as a tank: until you hit 70, 8% of all healing you recieve will apply to your mana as well, and at 70 it moves to 10%. This may not sound like a lot, but in most tanking scenarios where staying power is very important (i.e. boss fights), you will be recieving a LOT of healing (think 6-7 digits). That's a lot of mana, and should be more than enough to keep you cranking out threat.

Righteous Defense
This is part 2.
You have a taunt. At first glance it may seem a bit odd: it's player targetted, effects multiple mobs, and operates from range. The first thing to do when you get this ability is to macro it (macro below). It will now function more or less like a default taunt, with a few noteworthy exceptions. First, if that player pulls aggro on multiple targets (up to 3), they'll all come to you. Second, it operates from range. I can't stress how awesome that is. A Paladin does not, and should not, move to pickup a target: they can taunt from range, and have some handy abilities to build threat while the target is walking back to them.
/cast Righteous Defense
/target last target

Consecration is a terrific threat source when dealing with multiple targets: toss it down and let the holy damage tick away at your enemies. It's effective for adding another source of threat on a single target as well, but be aware that it's a mana hog. The relatively high mana cost is offset by its fantastic scalability: consecrate recieves a full 96% of your +dam/heal, though divided evenly between the ticks.
Consecration is excellent in 5 mans. However it can get you in trouble in raid situations. But by the time you are in the back end of kara, your spelldmg and tps should be suffecient enough to hold threat without consecrate if there is CC around. Altho, consecrate will up your TPS by a minimum of 200 so dont be afraid to use it if you can get in a good position.

Avenging Wrath
Obtained at 70, AW is a powerful threat tool. It increases all damage dealt (from all sources, including reactive damage procs) by 30% for 20 seconds. With a 3 minute cooldown it's usable once per trash pull and a few times per boss fight.

I didn’t appreciate how powerful a tank tool this was until I went back to playing my warrior for a week. Cleanse is awesome. You’re going to get hit with poisons, diseases, but mostly a lot of pain-in-the-butt magic effects. There are some magic effects that will ruin your day, and if you were a warrior or druid you’d have to wait until one of your healers had time to deal with it. As a Paladin, click, it’s gone. The power this gives you becomes most evident in fights where those magic effects get frequently reapplied. If you’re on the ball, it’s like they’re not even there. Note that many DoT’s are magic effects, as are many boss-specific effects. Be sure to share the love when you’ve got time. On encounters you know well, you’ll find you have time to manage your targets AND provide good Cleanse cover for your party/raid, letting the healers focus on healing. Macro this and click away.
/cast [target=mouseover] Cleanse
also, if you put "toggle auto self-cast on in the interface options, you can cleanse yourself without moving too far from your other abilities...

**-{ Blessings }-**
There are a few blessings that are of particular interest to the Paladin tank. While you should be familiar with the general function of your buffs for 5-mans, you won’t be doing too much buffing in a raid environment (and as a Protection Paladin, it won’t be complicated either: Kings for everyone). That being said, there are a number of Blessings that perform an important utility role for a tank.

Blessing of Freedom (BoF)

BoF removes any movement impairing effects on the target. This is another ability I didn’t really appreciate until I went back to my Warrior for a while. Roots and snares are a royal pain for a tank, as most mobs that use these abilities will move away from you when they know you can’t follow. The joke is on them: not only does this ability break the root, it provides you a nice window of immunity. Save your BoF cooldown for yourself, macro it for self-cast, and enjoy being a tank who can’t be rooted or snared.

Blessing of Protection(BoP)
Makes the target completely immune to physical damage for a short time, and also prevents them taking any action but spellcasting. BoP has some very nice uses in specific encounters, as it will remove most DoT’s applied to the target, even ones that can’t be removed otherwise. BoP is handy for saving an overzealous caster, but the most important function it performs is an aggro redirect. Any mob that has a single physical attack on its attack table (i.e. virtually everything) will stop attacking the target and move to the next target on their hate list. In virtually all situations this should be you, bringing the mob directly back to you. What’s interesting about this “taunt” is that it technically isn’t a taunt: since the effect is applied to a player, immunities on the mob are irrelevent. You can, effectively, taunt a mob that is taunt-immune. Note that this will cancel any blessings you’ve placed on the target. Conversely, you can prematurely remove the BoP by applying another blessing. Macro BoP thus so you don’t have to switch targets to use it as a taunt, but be careful you don’t wind up putting it on yourself:
/cast [help] Blessing of Protection; [target=targettarget,help] Blessing of Protection

Blessing of Salvation(BoS)
This lowers the threat generated by the target player by 30%. Note that this does not work retroactively: they keep the threat they’ve already generated, but BoSa will reduce all threat generated after it is applied. This is a great followup to BoP: If you had to BoP someone, you probably need to BoSa them as well. Do NOT use the macro above (or a sequence macro) for BoSa: it is entirely too easy to accidentally apply it to yourself, as the “help” syntax does not prevent self-application. Also note that there is often a bit of lag in the “target of target” window, so you can’t rely on it when using BoSa. Instead, bind this to a button configured for mouseover, or macro it with [target=mouseover]. When you BoP someone, remember who it was, mouseover their name on your raid list, and hit BoSa. Chances are good you won’t have to taunt for them again.

**-{ Auras }-**
Changing your aura costs no mana, but does invoke the global cooldown. While you need to be careful about your GCD use, there are some situations where swapping auras mid-combat will be necessary.

Retribution Aura
The Aura of choice whenever you have more than one target hitting you (unless you have a Ret paladin available to provide the Improved version). The threat generated by Ret aura is free (i.e. costs you nothing), constant, and non-negligable. Note that Retribution Aura follows the On-hit rule: if you dodge, parry, or are missed, it will not proc.

Devotion Aura
The Aura of choice when you need a little boost to your mitigation. While the armor provided does not scale, it’s still a bit less damage taken, and in many situations a little is all it takes to make the difference between a screenshot in front of a corpse and a up-close inspection of the quality tilework on the floor.

Resistance Auras: Shadow, Fire, Frost
These are very, VERY handy for fights that are heavy on the associated damage type. On element-heavy fights witching to these on the appropriate fights can provide a MASSIVE damage reduction for both you and your party. Be aware of what the other classes in your group are capable of buffing: Priests can help with Shadow, Shaman can help with Fire and Frost. There may be situations where you’ll want to fill in the gaps, especially in 5-mans. Note that these resistance buffs do NOT stack. If a shaman throws down a Fire Resist totem and you’re using FR Aura, you’re wasting your aura slot.

**-{ Seals and Judgements }-**
Seals provide the tanking paladin with a wide range of tactical options, allowing for "on the fly" adjustments to your performance during an encounter. While it is possible, and even sometimes desirable, for a Paladin tank to focus purely on threat generation and do just fine, the class really shines when used to its fullest capacity, and doing that means knowing when to use what seal and judgement combination.

There are two macros that can substantially increase your efficiency in the use of Judgement and Seals, though personal preference and style may vary. The first Judges your current Seal then refreshes it with the Seal of choice:
/cast Judgement
/cast Seal of ______ note that the "stopcasting" line is no longer necessary
The second macro is a simple tool for adjusting where your judgements go. This allows you to judge your current seal on a target OTHER than the one you're currently hitting:
/cast [target=mouseover] Judgement Yes, I'm very fond of mouseover macros
A variation of this macro allows you to cast your Judgement on Mouseover or, if you aren't moused over an enemy target, cast it at your current target. Note: enabling "Sticky Targetting" in the interface options highly recommended if using this macro
/cast [target=mouseover] Judgement
/stopcasting This particular macro seems to function more reliably with this line included
/cast Judgement
/cast Seal of *Etcetera*

Seal of Righteousness(SoR)
Bread and butter: Holy Damage per swing. This is your primary source of direct-to-target threat as a tank. The holy damage dealt per swing scales very well with +damage gear (with reasonable amounts of +damage it outperforms SoC because of how well it scales). You're using this any time that you don't have a compelling reason to have another Seal active.
As a Judgement(JoR): JoR is a nice little swat of holy damage. Like other Judgements that don't apply a debuff, this won't replace an existing judgement, so fire away. When you're trying to build a threat lead, judge this every time the cooldown is available. When you need to be a bit more mana efficient, Judge right before the Seal runs out.

Seal of the Crusader(SotC)
SotC gives you a nice boost to overall physical damage dealt over time. Since physical damage doesn't benefit from the beefy threat multipliers of Righteous Fury, this is almost perfectly worthless as a tank.
As a Judgement(JotC): Ah, here we have a very different story. JotC boost Holy damage dealt to the target (varying by the coefficient of the spell that deals the damage). For all intents and purposes, JotC raises your +dam/heal against the target by the indicated amount. Judge this early on fights where you have some lead time: the extra efficiency over time is worth the Judgement cooldown. On short fights, or fights where you need threat FAST, don't bother. Also: do not Judge this when you have a Retribution Paladin available to do it for you. Their talents make their JotC much more powerful than yours.

Seal of Justice(SoJ)
SoJ adds a chance to stun the target to your weapon swings. This sounds interesting, and could be useful in paladin-heavy groups (i.e. 4 paladins with SoJ up), but in most situations it's just not worth the hassle. First, the stun percentage is relatively small. Second, most of the things you really wish you could stun you can't.
As a Judgement(JoJ): This judgement completely cancels the run behavior of the mob in question. If maintained on the target they will not run, ever. Handy for dealing with humanoids or other runners in position-sensitive areas. If you are in an instance where runners are an issue, judge this on every target. Better yet, toss it on them as they run using your mouseover judgement macro. There are lots of options for dealing with runners, but none of them are this simple or effective.

Seal of Light(SoL)
SoL is a perfect example of the flexibility and utility of Paladins in a tanking role. If you have enough of a threat lead to maintain it with other Holy damage sources you can throw on SoL and heal yourself with your weapon swings. This effective reduction in your overall damage goes a LONG way: a Paladin using SoL on a target with JoL on it has the best overall damage reduction in the game (at the cost of a temporary reduction in threat generation). When you're comfortable with your threat lead and notice the healers are having trouble, SoL can help (especially paired with JoL).
As a Judgement(JoL): This debuff has a chance to heal when striking the target. The amount healed is less than the Seal, but applies to everyone striking the target. This is your Judgement of choice on short to medium duration fights (especially trash mobs). The overall reduction in the healing the raid needs is substantial, saves healer mana, and makes it possible to move to the next pull faster. Note that the chance to proc is a fixed percentage per swing, so people attacking move often will recieve healing more often (rogues, enh shaman, and fury warriors love this).

Seal of Wisdom(SoW)
Another option for extending your efficiency in a fight: Seal of Wisdom has a chance to restore mana per swing, thus giving you more mana to spend on your other abilities. In most tanking situations you'll be getting enough mana from Spiritual Attunement to use all your abilities as soon as they're available, but you will need a boost from time to time. If you have enough of a threat lead you can use this to give your mana pool a bit of oomph, but most of the time you're better off using this as a Judgement.
As a Judgement(JoW): This judgement functions similiarly to JoL, restoring mana instead of health. This is the judgement of choice for long fights, both for yourself and for the other casters in the group. With JoW on the raid target, healers and casters can replenish their mana by wanding (which stacks with normal regeneration). JoW will also let you more or less throw mana efficiency out the window: you'll be able to set ridiculous threat levels, spam your abilities, and not worry too much about running out.

Seal of Blood(SoB)
Seal of Blood is complicated, contentious, interesting, and, in my opinion, of highly situational value as a tank. Every swing causes an extra attack, dealing Holy damage equal to 35% of normal damage and hitting you for 10% of that. On one hand, this allows for greater flexibility in gear choices. You could forego +dam alltogether, use a high damage one-hander, and still generate substantial threat. Debates rage on about whether this gear scheme generates more threat than the conventional SoR and +dam. The most interesting aspect of this seal is that the second attack counts as a physical attack, not a spell. This means that unlike SoR, it can proc JoW or JoL. This also means that it can miss, be dodged, blocked, or parried. See my commentary on Reckoning for why giving bosses Parry opportunities is a problem. Tinker, try it, and if you can make it work, great. I use this a lot when I'm tanking content that I'm overgeared for, and that's about it.
As a Judgement(JoB): Inferior to JoR in every way, for the reasons noted above. Even on content when I'm using SoB I'll switch to another seal before Judging. Note that while the Seal damage is based on melee dps stats (attack power, crit, etc), the Judgement scales with spelldamage. To get nice mileage out of the Judgement you'd have to be stacking spell damage, which defeats the entire purpose of using this seal.

Seal of Vengeance(SoV)Much credit to the numerous people who have described the intricacies of SoV tanking
The Alliance-only seal is much more interesting than the aptly named SoB: each swing has a chance to apply a stackable holy damage DoT, and the Judgement deals direct holy damage based on the size of the dot stack (which caps at 5). In theory, SoV and JoV could provide better threat generation than SoR/JoR, but for one problem: keeping the dot stack maxxed is by no means certain. Alliance tankadins give SoV very mixed reviews because of this: some love it, and say that it's great, when it works. Others point out that "when it works" isn't often enough to really rely on it as a primary threat tool. if you have more than 5% spell hit, not including precision, you should start using SoV. it is FAR superior in threat gen than SoR. But, for the stacks to be reliable you need to start stacking spell hit. also be mindful that there are occasions where judging SoV or using SoV can be very detrimental to the raid. example, Leo and his threat drops. If you are ever MTing Leo SoV is amazing, it lasts longer than whirlwind, so the tick will return him to you after. altho, if you are not MTing him, it will bring him to you and away from the MT most likely wiping the raid. So like always, apply appropriate skills and talents to the fight.
A number of variations have also been suggested, like switching to SoR as soon as the stack timer refreshes and switching back to SoV when your Judgement timer is up. SoV adds another layer to the rotation mechanics of paladin tanking and, as with all rotations, is as much about style as skill. this should never really be done, as it would interupt your refreshes of SoV. Altho, an appropriate spell rotation using them both is recommended. I always start with this rotation: SoR-Judge-refresh SoR (wait for GCD) SoW-Judge-SoV (wait for GCD) then follow a Judge/SoV rotation on every GCD, DO NOT wait for 5 stacks as your threat gen on even 2 stacks is superior to SoR threat. remember while doing this rotation you also need to be rotating holy shield everytime it is not on cool down, there is NO excuse to not have it up. Consecration (ONLY if you are not near any CC) and ALWAYS, ALWAYS be aware of your surroundings.

Talents provide most of the core tanking abilities. The Paladin has very limited options as a tank before investing heavily in the Protection tree.

Row One
Improved Devotion Aura - More armor is always good, but the returns here just aren’t worth 5 points (less than 400 extra armor at 70). Since devotion aura is applied post-gear, Toughness doesn’t boost this either. This is a debatable talent: the 5 point investment is steep for the modest returns you get, especially a boost that doesn’t scale with your gear. I’d recommend skipping it.
Redoubt - Core ability, and indicative of the overall way that Paladins tank: reacting to hits taken. This is one of the few mitigation talents in the game that scales real-time: the more often you’re hit, you’ll block a higher a percentage of the hits. This is vital early in your career as a tank, but becomes less important as you get higher avoidance stats (and get deep enough in the tree for Improved Holy Shield).
---Redoubt has some limitations, especially once you’re deep enough into Protection to get Holy Shield. It does not really stack with Holy Shield: if you're Uncrushable with Holy Shield up, all the block from Redoubt is going to fall off the table.
---Redoubt will still provide valuable, if unpredictable, coverage between Holy Shield cooldowns. While it will be very rare for you to expend all your HS charges before the cooldown is up, it will happen (especially when tanking several mobs at once), and Redoubt can help keep crushes from becoming a problem.

Row Two
Precision - 3% to hit with melee and spells is very handy. Holy effects cannot truly be resisted (if you see "Resist", it was a spell miss). You're not going to find a lot (or any) spell hit on your tanking gear, and melee hit is in short supply. While this talent won't get you spell hit capped, it'll get you close. Great returns for 3 talent points.
Guardian’s Favor - A longer-lasting Blessing of Freedom is handy, but the real treat here is reduced cooldown on Blessing of Protection. Since BoP acts as your backup taunt, being able to use it more frequently is a nice perk. Worth fitting in your build, but not absolutely required.
Toughness - 10% more armor. Very simple, and very necessary. Must-have in any main tank build.

Row Three
Blessing of Kings - While a tank isn’t generally concerned with buffing, BoK is too good NOT to take. This is one of the most powerful buffs in the game: 10% to all stats is very potent, and one of the few buffs that becomes more powerful the deeper into the game your party/raid gets. Since you’ll be spending a lot of time in 5-mans you can’t count on having another paladin to cover this for you. In a Raid you’ll be able to pitch in with Greater BoK, but you need the talent first. Must-have.
Improved Righteous Fury - Wow. 6% reduction to all damage recieved is big, and upping your holy threat multiplier to 1.9 is very nice. The damage reduction is so significant that many healing or pvp builds include this talent for that reason alone. Absolute must.
Shield Specialization - Paladins block a LOT. 30% improvement on the damage reduced by blocking is great. The role of Blocking in the damage mitigation scheme is often misunderstood, and many players skip Block Value in their plan (i.e. “4oo less damage on a 5k hit? who cares?”).
---Block value is flat reduction: 400 block is 400 less damage on a 1k hit or a 5k hit, and this is the point at which many players decide it’s worthless. Bear in mind that, for a Paladin tank, Blocking is almost a constant. Any situation likely to burn through our Holy Shield charges is also likely to proc Redoubt, giving us 8 guaranteed blocks per 10 seconds, not including the ones we would have blocked anyway (or extra blocks from a likely Redoubt proc). 400 damage off a 5k hit sounds trivial, but what about a minimum 3,200 out of 8k? Block value matters most in the situations where Paladin tanks perform best: fast, small hits.
Anticipation - Increases defense SKILL by 20: this talent is worth more in terms of Defense RATING as you level up. Even if you're uncrittable without it, the mitigation and avoidance returns are beefy. A definite must for a MT build, highly desirable in an OT build.

Row Four
Most of the following row Four talents can be skipped:
Stoicism - Largely a PvP talent: the stun resist is decorative, since most “stuns” in WoW aren’t really stuns (incapacitates, disorients, etc). The main point here is to prevent other players from dispelling your buffs. As a tank, skip it.
Improved Hammer of Justice - PvP talent. Reduces cooldown on Hammer of Justice. Nice for PvP, occasionally useful as a tank.
Improved Concentration Aura - 30% reduced silence duration is nice but by no means necessary. Every situation where you'd be encountering silence (and these will be rare), you will have means of working around it. Note again that most of your spells are "fire and forget", silence durations tend to be very short to begin with, and you will likely be able to "coast" through any silence effect with only a moderate dip in your threat output (and silence should NOT effect your HS rotation if you're playing carefully). You will very rarely be using Concentration Aura as a tank, and the extra chance to avoid interruption from damage is pointless: the whole point of Concentration Aura is that it will, at skill base, take any player who has taken their own interruption avoidance talents up to 100%. This is a passable group buff talent, but tank specs have so many point considerations that justifying 3 points here is difficult.

Row Five (GREAT stuff)
Spell Warding - 4% reduction on spell damage may not sound like much, but it goes a long way to helping you deal with the one damage type you have issues with. Combined with Improved Righteous Fury you have a good baseline reduction to spell damage. Take it if you tank (and if you’re this deep in Protection, it’s to tank).
Blessing of Sanctuary - This Swiss Army Knife talent provides damage reduction and extra threat from your blocks. In most tanking situations this is the blessing that you’re maintaining on yourself. Of particular interest is the flat damage-per-attack reduction: the more frequent the hits, the higher the effective percentage of reduction. The reduction is pre-armor, so the amount actually reduced will not be the listed value. The damage reduction component scales very poorly with gear (your armor may reduce the damage reduction to single digits), but the Holy proc remains. Think of this as a second Ret Aura. Must-have as a prerequisite, but you'll get some mileage out of the spell itself, especially while you're still levelling up.
Reckoning - Reckoning is a bit involved. This one has changed a lot. In it’s current form it is AMAZING for threat generation, and the main reason that paladins can set very high single-target threat. Every hit that causes damage has a 10% chance to proc, including hits blocked (so long as any damage gets through the block). Reckoning causes your next 4 hits to produce an extra attack, including any procs from active seals. This is the point in your spec where you’ll have to ask yourself what sort of content you’re primarily tanking:
---If you’re exclusively focused on 5-slot content, this talent is an absolute must.
---If you’re exclusively focused on off-tanking raid content, this talent is debatable.
---If you’re exclusively focused on Main-tanking raid content, this talent is one you should skip, for one reason: Bosses parry. When you’re dealing with a boss with an average or fast swing timer, parrying isn’t a big concern. When you’re dealing with a boss with a very slow swing timer, parrying is a big deal. Reducing a boss swing timer from 3.8-4 down to 3.0 or below drastically increases the amount of incoming damage, and worse, does so in an unpredictable fashion. This isn’t generally a large concern, as it’s something that healers naturally deal with. When Reckoning goes off, however, you’ve doubled the chance of giving the boss Parries, reducing their swing timer, and possibly causing a massive damage spike for which your healers aren’t prepared. Note that the Parry issue is the main reason I object to Seal of Blood tanking, as the same problem applies.

Row Six
Sacred Duty - 6% more stamina is a nice survivability buff, and the extra functionality from Divine Shield is nice. Stamina and Health are one of our weak points, and this does a nice job of offsetting that problem Give this a serious look in a support/ offtank build. Absolutely mandatory in a MT build.
One-handed Weapon specialization - This talent provides a 5% boost to *all* damage dealt when you have a one-handed weapon equipped (which you will, unless you’re fond of tanking with a two-hander). This applies to white damage, seals, consecrate, auras, Holy Shield procs…. everything. This is a great threat gen boost and well worth fitting into your build if you've got the points.

Row Seven
Holy Shield - 30% block on 4 attacks in the next 10 seconds, causing substantial (and scalable) threat for each block. A must-have, and the centerpoint of the Protection tree.
---The use of Holy Shield is largely a matter of context, personal style, and finesse. How you use Holy Shield is how you define your Tank style as a Paladin. Some downrank it for the block bonus and use full rank only to frontload threat. The cost is low enough that I don’t find this necessary, and use full rank every time. The real question is one of timing, unless you get….
Improved Holy Shield - You love Holy Shield, and it loves you. With this talent you’ll love it even more. 2 points in Imp HS doubles the number of charges you get, giving you a total of 8 charges per 10 seconds. At this point you won’t burn all your charges unless you’re tanking a LOT of mobs or a mob that is hitting ridiculously fast. This talent secures the Paladins position as the best Blocker in the game, so get that Block value high. The icing on the cake is the increased HS damage. With this talent you’ll start seeing Elite mobs kill themselves on your shield, and once something starts hitting you it will STAY hitting you. A fantastic mitigation AND threat gen boost for 2 points. If you have specced into Holy Shield, you are speccing into this talent as well. The benefits are too powerful to skip.
Ardent Defender - When below 35% health all damage dealt to you is reduced by 30%. Note that this synergizes very well with Stamina talents. While situational, the extra "padding" to your hp pool this provides is very valuable.

Row Eight
Combat Expertise: This talent provides a 10% multiplier to Stamina (which DOES stack with the 6% from Sacred Duty). While most Tankadins are excited about more stam, the 5 points of expertise are nice as well. Expertise reduces the chance that your attacks will be dodged or parried. While the increased likelihood of your attacks landing is nice, the real treat here is less parries (and thus less “I accidentally buffed the boss’ DPS” moments).

Row Nine
Avenger’s Shield - This merits special attention. This is the big, juicy cherry on top of the Prot sundae, and it’s worth every point you spent along the way. I’ve gone back and forth on AS during my time as a Paladin, and it’s currently back in the “must-have” category. The use of this skill is so intricate I could, and probably will, give it its own subsection. For now:
---At first glance it’s a great pulling skill, something that Paladins, at class base, lack. It generates a ton of frontloaded threat, and the daze effect makes mob positioning and on-the-fly crowd control much easier (always CC *after* AS. If your rogues keep walking up for the sap that the party/raid leader told them not to do, keep hitting em with Blessing of Protection). The Daze duration keeps them slow long enough for CC to be applied EXACTLY where you want the mobs parked. A lot of Paladins look at this aspect of the skill and stop there.
---The Deadzone from this skill has been removed, making it better than ever. The two remaining problems with this skill, limiting its use, are the high mana cost and the casting time. Make no mistake: this is still not a skill you want to be using carelessly on mobs already in melee range (or when you have ANY mobs attacking you). That one second cast time can stretch out for a painfully long time when you’re taking hits.
---Note that you CAN safely use this in melee range if you’re very good with your timing. The 1 second cast is pretty easy to fit between attacks on bosses with a slow swing timer, and with practice you’ll find you can use it on most single-target fights. The technique is somewhat similar to hunter Steady Shot weaving, using the mob attack timer instead of your own. Make sure you’ve got a good sense of the rhythm for the incoming attacks, work this in during one of your “free” global cooldowns (as a replacement for Judgement, for example) , and watch the threat meter skyrocket. This takes a lot of practice and you’ll want to reserve it for situations where mana isn’t an issue, but mastering this technique will dramatically increase your threat output.
---AS is your third ranged threat management skill. Your “taunt” operates from range, you can BoP a target that pulls aggro to redirect the mob back to you, and in most cases AS will put you back on top of the threat list. In most situations where you’d need to use RD or BoP, you’ll have time to follow it up with an AS to further secure your position at the top of the threat list.
---Effective use of AS requires practice. Tinker with when and how you use it and you’ll likely surprise yourself with the tricks you discover.

Sample Builds
Note: I'm a fan of "always on" specs, i.e. talents that provide a consistent and constant effect. For this reason I don't put points into multiple auras. I also tend to favor "Spec for reduction, gear for threat": if I'm overmitigating the content I'm running, I'll fix that with a gear swap, not a respec.

Primary Statistics
Note that the values here are stat returns above and beyond class "base stats". Every class has base values for AP, Dodge, HP, Mana, etc, to which values from prime stats, ratings, etc are added.
- 2 attack power per 1 Str
- 1 Block Value per 20 Str
Paladin threat is generally based on spell based effects rather than physical damage. Our most powerful threat multipliers impact spell damage, not physical dps {unlike warriors and druids, whose threat multipliers are type agnostic}. The ratio of Strength to Block value is poor, and Strength has a higher item budget cost than Block Value. The only situation where you'd be taking Strength into consideration at all is if you are heavily and regularly relying on Seal of Blood, i.e. extremely situational.
- 2 armor per 1 Agi
- 1% melee crit per 25 Agi
- 1% Dodge per 25 Agi
The armor bonus to Agility is trivial: with armor values between ten and twenty thousand it would take a monstrous amount of Agi to make a substantial contribution. Melee crit is situational in the same way Strength is: applicable if you're using SoB, negligable otherwise. The one aspect of Agility of interest to the tanking Paladin is Dodge. While we generally rely on Dodge Rating for our Dodge values, our favorable Agi to Dodge ratio {superior to Warriors, inferior to Druids} makes Agi an attractive secondary attribute. Skip it in gems {you're better off with Dodge gems}, consider it on your gear, and consider Agility enchants for gear slots where you're having trouble finding better enchanting options.
- 10 hp per 1 Stam
Stamina is the source of your HP pool. Your mitigation stats {armor, block, block value}, avoidance stats {miss, dodge, parry}, and table manipulations {uncrittable, uncrushable} effectively make your hitpoints "count for more". Between all the attacks you avoid, the amount you reduce the hits that land, and preventing those hits from critting or crushing, 5k worth of damage to you might have been 25k to someone else. You're doing everything you can to make sure you're taking more damage than anyone else in your group by holding attention and reducing that damage to a level that the healers can manage. Stamina is the most important of the Prime Stats for tanks: it extends our survivability and, most importantly, provides "spike protection". You need enough hitpoints to be able to survive occasional damage spikes, giving your healers time to get you back to full.
- 15 mana per 1 Int
- 1% spell crit per 80 Int
Intellect provides the mana you'll be using to cast spells, generate threat, keep Holy Shield active, etc. You'll be getting a constant flow of mana from healing recieved via Spiritual Attunement, but you'll still need a bit of Int to have a workable mana pool to start with. Most Paladin tanking gear is fairly generous with Int. If you find yourself constantly short on mana, you may be overmitigating {i.e. overgeared for the content that you're tanking, reducing damage to the point that you aren't recieving enough healing to keep your threat generation going}. If you find that most of your tanking gear lacks Int, consider gems, enchants, or relying more on Seal/Judgement of Wisdom.
The function of the Spirit stat is perpetually changing. Read for the latest information Spirit provides mana regen while outside the "five second rule": mana regeneration starts 5 seconds after the last time you spent mana. As a tank, you will NEVER be outside the 5 second rule and your gear will have negligable Spirit, if any. There has been mention made of a total overhaul of the function of the Spirit stat in Wrath of the Lich King. Keep an eye out for any news on this front.
The calculations for
Last edited by Virek on Thu Jun 26, 2008 6:13 pm, edited 13 times in total.

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Demon Hunter
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Post#2 » Tue Jun 24, 2008 11:17 am

Other Ratings / Misc
Our primary threat stat. Spelldamage improves most of our threat building abilities: Holy Shield, damage seals, consecrate, etc. The breakdown of how much benefit a given spell gets from how much +dam is in the appendix of this guide. The biggest question regarding +damage/heal is "How much is enough?" When looking at your stats, ask yourself:
1.} Am I losing aggro frequently, even when using a high threat skill rotation {i.e. full rank holy shield and consecrate}?
Paladins have very high threat generation, and the TPS boost from a little improvement in spelldamage is remarkable. If you're losing aggro, Blessing of Salvation the daylights out of your DPS. If you're still losing aggro, get more Spelldamage. For a reference point, most Tankadins report having no difficult with the early raid game at 150 to 200 +dam, i.e. the amount you'll get from a weapon with a spelldamage enchant.
2.} I'm holding aggro just fine.... for the 5 seconds before I go splat. What gives?
You, dear friend, are suffering from "Mage in Plate" syndrome, and you're not alone. I've encountered a number of Tankadins in the mid 60's sitting at 600 +dam and 4k health. If this playstyle appeals to you I'd suggest taking a look at Shockadin builds {playing one as an alt myself}, but it does not work as a tank. Trade down that +dam for some survivability.
- 15.76 Hit Rating = -1% Chance to Miss
Hit rating has a solid place in your gear as a secondary threat stat. Missed weapon swings won't proc seals, missed Avenger's Shields are frustrating in the extreme, and Hit Rating now effects the chance that Taunt effects {Like RD} will be resisted. Precision helps with this, but a little hit rating {possibly from a gem or two} can help if you're seeing a lot of "Miss".
- 15.76 Expertise Rating = -1% Dodge/Parry chance on your target
Replacing the much maligned, often abused, and thoroughly ambiguous "Weapon Skill", Expertise provides us with a means of dealing with "the other Miss": Dodges and Parries. In addition to the boost to threat, Expertise finally gives Tanks a way of dealing with the Parry problem mentioned throughout this guide. Combat Expertise helps with this a bit, but Expertise is {at the time of this writing} tragically scarce.
Spell Hit
- 12.6% Spell Hit Rating = -1% Spell Miss
Holy spells are not, truly, resisted. There is no "holy resist" in the game on players or mobs. When you see a "resist", it means your spell has fallen in the base chance for a spell to miss. For a detailed look at how spell hit is calculated read . Spell Hit provides consistency in our threat generation, reducing the chance that a badly timed miss will throw off our rhythm or result in DPS being crunched. The Precision talent goes a long way to covering our spell hit needs, but a little bit from gear goes a long way. You'll mostly be seeing this on weapons, but if you're seeing "resist" a lot, consider swapping some gems.
Spell Crit
Tankadins don't crit. Rather, the abilities that we use that have the ability to crit are Avenger's Shield and some Judgements. That's it. That mage in your guild that's been complaining about you rolling on their weapons is right if you've been oggling spell crit. This is mostly pertinent to weapons, as at most gear levels where you would find a weapon with spell damage and +spellcrit you'll also find ones with +spell hit.
Exactly what it sounds like: Provides the indicated amount of mana every 5 seconds. Many Tankadins are finding this stat increasingly necessary as they move deeper into the raid game. Mp5 is almost completely absent on tanking gear, so you're going to be getting this mostly from gems.


In the overview section we talked a bit about the combat table. Now it’s time to talk about it in greater detail. There are two values on the combat table that we, as tanks, are particularly concerned with: Crit and Crush. Hopefully you’ve already taken care of Crits by raising your Defense skill to at least 490. The Defense skill directly reduces chance to be crit, i.e. “shrinks” it on the table until it’s gone. Removing crits is very important: a tank who occasionally gets hit for double damage won’t likely be a tank for long.

We handle crushes in a different way. Since we cannot directly reduce their position on the table (the defense tooltip says that crushes are reduced, but this only applies to your defense skill up to the level-based maximum, not the defense from gear), we deal with crushes by “pushing them off the table”. Take another look at the combat table:
Crushing Blow (mobs only)
ordinary hit

Let’s assume your Defense is at your level base (i.e. no defense from gear), and that your Do/Pa/Bl% are at 12% each. We’ll assume that you’re getting hit by a level 70 mob, the same level as you. You just activated Holy Shield and still have charges left. The effective combat table would look a bit like:
Miss 5%(1-5)
Dodge 12% (6-17)
Parry 12% (18-29)
Block 12% +30% (30-71)
Critical 5% (72-76)
Crushing Blow 5% (77-81)
ordinary hit (81 -100)

We’ll roll 1d100 (kudos if you have dice on hand for this), and I got a 67. Compare this to the table, and we see that this blow was blocked. We would then calculate the damage of the blow and subtract the block value.

See the problem? With our stats like this, we’ve got a 10% chance to be hit with a crit or a crush, and still have a large chance to be hit with the normal damage of the blow (before our armor comes into play). Let’s take a look at this same table, with better stats:
Miss 5% + 5% from Def(1-10)
Dodge 20% (11-30)
Parry 15% (31-45)
Block 25% + 30% (46- 100)
Critical 0% (5% - 5% from Def)
Crushing Blow
ordinary hit

See what we did there? No matter what we roll on our 1d100, we can’t get a result in the “danger zone”: it is impossible for us to get hit with a crit, a crush, or the normal damage of a blow. Now, if we were dealing with a level 73 mob, the table would look a bit different (since our chance to be missed would be lower). Getting our stats to the point that we can make the table look like this when we have Holy Shield up is what we mean when we say “uncrushable”.

To calculate your “crushability”, take your dodge, parry, and block percentages, round down to the nearest whole number (the combat table ignores trailing decimals, rounding down instead of to the nearest integer), and add the total to 5 ( for base chance to be missed). Mouse over your Defense skill. The tooltip will tell you how much your chance to be missed has been raised by defense (note that this value is against an at-level mob). Round down and add this to the earlier value. You’re looking for a total at or above 102.4% (to allow for the lowered chance to be missed by a 73). If you’re not there yet, that’s your top priority.

The Table values, taken individually:
Defense: While this stat does not appear on the combat table, it works primarily by altering the values found on the table. See the Gear section for the breakdown of how much Defense does what. Your first Ratings goal is to get your Defense Skill to 490 to remove the chance to be critted, but Defense continues to provide substantial boosts in Do/Pa/Bl%. More importantly, Defense is the only way to increase your chance to be Missed, an avoidance stat often overlooked (likely because it doesn’t appear on the Defenses tab on the character screen). “Missed” functions like Dodge, with one noteworthy exception: while Dodge is an absolute value (i.e. 20% dodge is always 20% dodge), “Missed” is modified by the difference between your level and the mobs level. This is of particular concern to us since we’ll often be fighting level 73 mobs (bosses), which will miss us less often than a level 70 mob would. This is why we shoot for an overall value of 102.4%: the values on our character sheet reflect our Missed value against a level 70 mob, and the extra 2.4% covers the difference for a 73.

Dodge: A dodged attack completely negates the damage from an incoming attack, including any “on hit” effects the attack might have had. This means that Reckoning and Redoubt will not proc off a dodge, but also means that an enemy skill that requires a hit (such as an attack that would apply a poison) will not proc either. Dodge is the easiest of the avoidance stats to raise, as it has a good rating to skill ratio and is available in comparatively high values.

Parry: Parry mostly functions like Dodge. A parry negates incoming damage (as well as “on hit” effects), but also has the perk of reducing the time till your next weapon swing. This side effect doesn’t do much for a Tank. We tend to favor fast weapons, and the swing timer reduction is most noticable when wielding a slow 2-hander (there’s a reason the Parry talents for both Warrior and Paladin are in their 2-Hand weapon DPS trees). For a tank, Parry is generally less desirable than dodge, since they function very similarly (for our needs) but Parry has an awful rating to skill ratio and is one of the most expensive stats in the item budget system (i.e. parry rating is available in small amounts, and tends to lower the stats on an item overall).

Block: Blocking reduces the damage from an attack by your Block value. As long as a single point of damage gets through (i.e. you are hit for 301 and block 300 of it), “on hit” effects can proc. While this means that a block can allow for a Reckoning proc, it also means that Block doesn’t offer protection from enemy procs. The main function of Blocking (from a damage management standpoint) is to flesh out the combat table, though for a Paladin Blocking is a substantial source of damage and threat. It’s important to note that Block Rating has a good rating to percent ratio and has a modest item budget cost, so it’s a great way to push your overall mitigation and avoidance level up to Uncrushable status.

Block value is very interesting: it’s not a rating, so it doesn’t decay with a level. It reduces damage by a fixed amount, not a percentage, so it mitigates a higher percentage on a small hit than a large one. As a Paladin, you’re going to be blocking a LOT, and raising your block value will help make those blocks count for more.

I agree with this last section too, awsome way to end the post.

I love tanking, I love being MT, I love working hard to help my guildies. It’s a great job, but it IS a job. There really is nothing like the satisfaction of knowing that you, personally, are helping your friends and guildies make their gameplay experience as much as it can be. The tactical and strategic demands of the position are very rewarding for players who like a challenge. It’s a lot of fun being the guy on the business end of a dragon.

For all that, it’s very demanding.

Main Tank has the highest burnout rate of any raid position: more than offtanks, more than healers, more than DPS, more than Raid Leaders, more than Master Looters, for the simple fact that it is the only position that can’t be traded out on anything but trivial content. They don’t get nights off. The “optional” raids are optional for everyone except the MT. You are there every raid, in one of the highest pressure positions in the raid.

This is why many guilds put the emphasis on a Corps of tanks, rather than a single tank. With the changes in class balancing and encounter design this is more important than ever: there really isn’t room for *one* main tank anymore.

Approach Tanking as a team effort. We have class MT’s, but this is really a secondary consideration. The real emphasis on Tanking should be on the Tank Corps: the group of players who have committed themselves to tanking for the benefit of the guild. Tanking is a team-oriented role, and the Tanks, themselves, are a team. We help each other out. We’re friends, brothers, sisters, whatever analogy works for you, because we absolutely MUST be on the same page. Since Tanking is, itself, a team-focused role, there is no room for competition in the Corps. We all have the same goal: help our guildies get where they want, what they want, and have fun doing it. We play together, for the benefit of our guildies, knowing that as we help the guild, the guild is in a better position to help us. While this is true across a guild in general, it is absolute amongst tanks.

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Re: Paladin tanking guide

Post#3 » Tue Jun 24, 2008 11:35 am

Virek wrote:Warriors
Warriors will have a slight mitigation advantage over the other two tanking classes at most levels (though this evens out a bit and stays pretty close through most of the raid game). Their threat generation is innate to skills, so they don't have to spend any of their gear budget on threat. The downside to this is that gear upgrades have little impact on their threat output: it's mostly a fixed quantity (though their weapon and shield do provide some improvement). As they level they will see improved threat generation from new skills trained and better rage generation (allowing them to use their skills more often). Their single-target threat is good, though they may need lead time in some situations (the habitual "wait for sunders"). They run into some problems when trying to tank multiple targets.

Warriors have a great variety of debuffs they can apply, the best selection of "Oh NO!" panic buttons, and fantastic mobility. Overall, at most level ranges Warriors will have the best staying power of any of the tanking classes, somewhat offset by relatively limited threat generation. Thier overall staying power, situational tricks (like Spell Reflect), and great variety of panic buttons continue to serve them well.

Interesting guide. I didn't get a lot of time to read the entire article, but this section is not accurate. A few points:

1) Warriors are probably the highest single-target threat generators. I haven't compared vs. a druid tank, but with a Paladin on a single target and not using taunts a well-geared Warrior will generate more threat.

2) Warriors are very gear dependent for threat and their tps is therefore not at all fixed. The new tanking meta gem is a huge boost in threat. Expertise and +hit, are gearing trade offs against mitigation/avoidance to improve threat gen (not even considering stat-based gear choices). Heartwood currently generates around 600 more tps compared to his original epic gear set at 70. Heart has gear sets with higher survivability, but is balanced against threat gen for almost all fights.

3) Skills are fixed by 70. Talenting choices are flexible and can be pushed towards threat gen or survivability.

4) Warriors have only two debuffs. Thuderclap and Demoralizing Shout.

5) Spell Reflect unfortunately has very little use in boss fights as most bosses are immune to this. But it does have the occasion good use by a clever warrior.

6) The biggest weakness that Warriors currently have is when it comes to multi-mob tanking. Hands down Paladins are the best choice in this area. Although from leaked WotLK information it looks like Warriors will be getting some much needed love in this area.

At the brink of danger I stand. Clad in armour, shield and sword in hand.

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Post#4 » Tue Jun 24, 2008 11:59 am

Great guide on the wow class forums. It can make even the worst noob at least understand how to tank. But remember, it is only a guide, there may be innacuracies with some things and there are always situations where you need to improvise and do things on the fly, this is where the skilled succede and the rest fall behind. I agree with 99% of this, like above, there are things that are innacurate, but for the majority of the post, it is excellent.
= )

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Re: Paladin tanking guide

Post#5 » Tue Jun 24, 2008 12:03 pm

Heartwood wrote:1) Warriors are probably the highest single-target threat generators. I haven't compared vs. a druid tank, but with a Paladin on a single target and not using taunts a well-geared Warrior will generate more threat.

From everything i've read and researched, the common theme was that one of the main advantages of using a feral tank is that they are the best at generating "snap aggro" (i.e. maul) and they have the highest sustained tps of all the tanks.

Just my 2 cents =)

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Post#6 » Tue Jun 24, 2008 12:04 pm

and in IMO, warriors dont need love in multy mob tanking..... let the paladins have their area of goodness.

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Post#7 » Tue Jun 24, 2008 12:06 pm

yep, druids are amazing at snap threat. paldadins are also decent at it, but a warrios shield slam is excellent for this, above a padadins judged SoR but still behind a good drood.

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Post#8 » Thu Sep 25, 2008 11:22 am

Virek, I'm assuming that a full update to your core Protection Paladin tanking post will be coming for 3.0 at some point. :-) For the sake of spurring discussion, though, I'm posting my updated bubble macro from the PTRs.

In 3.0, Divine Protection is its own spell that, instead of 100% damage immunity, now reduces incoming damage by 50% but does not drop aggro. It's the Shield Wall ability that Paladins have always asked for. The changes to the talent trees also include some nice goodies that go along with DS/DP:

* Divine Guardian: While Divine Shield is active, 30% of damage sustained by party/raid members within 30 yards is redirected to you. (Obviously, you're still immune to this damage.)
* Sacred Duty: Reduces the cooldown of Divine Shield and Divine Protection by 1/2 min. (iirc)

Also, while Avenging Wrath no longer causes Forbearance, the duration of the Forbearance effect itself has increased to 3 minutes.

What does this mean in total? Protection Paladins can now choose to either (a) "Shield Wall" every 3 minutes, or (b) reduce all incoming raid damage by 30% for 12 seconds every 3 minutes.

If, like me, you keep Divine Shield in a prominent place on your action bar so you can hit it in emergencies, you might enjoy this macro which integrates DP, DS, and DS/cancel for those occasions where you need to be immune for a second or two but not drop aggro.

Code: Select all

cast [mod:shift] Divine Protection; Divine Shield
/cancelaura [nomod] Divine Shield

What this does:
1. On first unmodified (or Ctrl/Alt) click/keypress, casts Divine Shield.
2. On second unmodified click/keypress, cancels Divine Shield.
3. While holding Shift, casts Divine Protection.
4. Does not cancel DS on a modified click/keypress, so if you want to spam it without accidentally cancelling your shield, hold Ctrl or Alt instead.

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Post#9 » Thu Sep 25, 2008 6:42 pm

yes, i am currently working on an overhaul to this tanking guide since the mechanics are completely different. it is a work in progress, and may be delayed to beyond 3.0 for experimentation and implemantation. Currently it is 3 pages on MSworks.

stay tuned = )

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