Tanking Paladins and WotLK

Paladin class discussion.

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Heartwood
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Tanking Paladins and WotLK

Post#1 » Wed Jul 30, 2008 8:20 am

Here is an interesting article on Tankadins and itemization come WotLK:

I'm not outrageous, I'm SPECTACULAR!!!

With all the changes happening to the Paladin class in Wrath of the Lich King, many questions have been answered, and even more new questions are coming up. Joanadark has already discussed much of the details of the Paladin revamp in his excellent article (link), so I won't bore you by rehashing all of that again. Instead, the purpose of this article is to bring to light some of the questions the Protection Paladin faces in the new expansion, and hopefully bring some anwers as well.

What am I going to wear?!
Among Blizzard's announced intentions for the expansion was the promotion of more "shared" itemization between classes. This has been a particular concern for Prot Paladins, as our dependency on spell damage for threat has made our itemization somewhat unique. Initial thoughts were that perhaps Death Knights would utilize spell damage in their tanking sets, but that still leaves Warriors out in the cold. Plus, Death Knights don't use shields, and would probably be disappointed to find block-related stats on their gear. The answer to the question is twofold, and is much simpler and more elegant than expected.

The first change was the addition of a deep Protection talent that grants 30% of our Stamina as Spell Damage. This not only removes one stat from the "need" list for the Tankadin, it also reinforces the usefulness of one of our most important stats, especially considering our 16.6% Stamina scaling through Combat Expertise and Sacred Duty.

This removes our need for Spell Damage and makes us formidable in straight Warrior gear, but how do we fit Death Knights into the mix without forsaking our shields for anything other than armor bonuses? The answer: Strength. The Strength to Block Value conversion in WotLK has been increased tenfold, meaning you now get 1 SBV for every 2 STR instead of every 20. In addition, most of our primary threat abilities have been given attack power scaling, so Strength becomes an excellent threat stat as well as mitigation stat for all three classes. Plus, it lets Blizzard remove the Shield Block Value stat from WotLK itemization entirely.

There's one other small mechanics change in Wrath: Mobs now need to be four levels higher than you in order to perform a Crushing Blow, up from three. As there are very few level 74 mobs running around in the current game, it seems the intent is to remove Crushing Blows from raiding entirely, returning them to their original purpose (a deterrent to killing mobs much higher level than you for XP). This means that uncrushability is no longer necessary, and since Death Knights don't use shields, also seems to indicate that Shield Block Rating will no longer appear on our gear.

In summary, tanking armor in Wrath of the Lich King will probably have some spread of the following stats on it:

* Stamina
* Strength
* Defense
* Dodge/Parry
* Hit/Expertise

with the slight possibility of some more DPS-style stats such as crit and haste. High-threat sets of gear will probably consist of defensive pieces mixed with melee DPS pieces.

What about my weapon?
With threat scaling from Attack Power (and our new 51-point ability, Hammer of the Righteous, scaling with weapon damage), it seems the intent is to have Paladins using more Warrior-style weapons. This makes sense, as Death Knight tanks would benefit from onehanders with defensive stats as well. However, one key threat ability does not benefit from attack power: Consecration. This asks the question "Spellpower weapon or Melee weapon?" Do we lose out on HotR threat in favor of Consecration threat, or vice versa?

Thus far, data collected from Beta seems to indicate that Hammer of the Righteous is an excellent skill that gives amazing amounts of threat. So, anytime you're tanking three mobs or fewer, it seems that using a more "Warrior-style" weapon is going to be best. This works out well as it should let us fit some more mitigation-oriented stats into our gear, where we previously were using items that were most commonly itemized towards Shadow Priests or Elemental Shaman. For AOE tanking, however, Consecration is still likely to be a big player, so having a Spellpower weapon handy is probably a good idea. It should be noted, however, that since Spellpower is now the primary stat for both spell damage AND healing, this could easily just be your healing weapon.

Healing?
Yes, Healing. In fact, one of the most exciting effects of all the changes occurring in the expansion (to me anyway) is the reinstation of the Paladin's status as a hybrid class. Remember the Spellpower change: +Spell Damage and +Healing have been merged into a single stat, with healing spells simply having a much higher coefficient. Since we get 30% of our Stamina as Spellpower, we'll have a decent amount of it in just our regular tanking gear. In addition, the same talent increases the effectiveness of our critical heals by 30%.

This means that a Protection Paladin can, for example, tank a mob until it dies, swap on a healing weapon, shield, and libram, and put out a respectable amount of healing on any remaining tanks. We don't get any of the cool toys that Holy Paladins get (and due to mana constraints will probably be limited primarily to FoL spam), but it's significantly more healing than we're capable of now, and gives us some Feral Druid-style midfight role swapping. We gain some healing-based raid utility in the form of the new Improved Devotion Aura as well, which increases the healing received by anyone within Aura range by 3%.

So what's our role in the expansion?
First and foremost, we remain the best multi-target AOE tanks (although Warriors have recieved some excellent additions to that extent as well, making us no longer the only option). Second, we have received a massive single-target threat boost through our two new abilities (which will occupy a previously empty portion of our threat rotation) and attack power scaling, which in conjunction with our ability to use a cooldown for extra threat should make us excellent high/burst threat tanks as well. Judgements of the Just (which gives our Judgements a Thunderclap effect) makes us significantly more viable in a "Main Tank" position as well, particularly in 10-mans where a Warrior isn't always handy to thunderclap for us.

Summary
Well, it's hard to put a cap on everything at the moment. Each new Beta build seems to bring some new change that brings up more questions than it does answers, and I don't think we'll really know the nature of everything for certain until we can get into the level 80 raid zones and see how it all matches up with encounter design. That said, it's an incredibly exciting time to be a Tankadin, and I'm very much looking forward to seeing how it all plays out.

Update 7/29
Well, I was right. The newest Beta build brought even more changes. They're not too extensive but are very important, so I'll discuss them in short form here:

* Divine Protection Reworked - It's now effectively a 12 second mini-shield wall on a 5 minute cooldown. This is a significant buff to the Protection Paladin as a "Main Tank".
* Divine Plea - A handy new spell for offtanking. It should be noted, however, that this is most likely just a response to the Potions nerf.
* Judgements placed on GCD - This simply means we have to worry about fitting them into our rotation again. Not a big deal. Seal durations got increased to 2 minutes anyway, so that's a few less extra GCD's to worry about.
* Forbearance increased to 3 minutes - With Avenging Wrath no longer causing Forbearance, this isn't a huge concern to the Protection Paladin. We aren't likely to be getting Forbearance from anything other than Divine Protection anyway, and it has a 5 minute cooldown.
* Consecration given AP scaling - Our primary AOE threat ability now scales along the same lines as everything else. Barring any mana issues (it's still a huge mana hog) it may be worthwhile to fit this back into the level 80 tanking rotation.
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Lealla
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Post#2 » Wed Jul 30, 2008 9:01 am

This is even more significant than I had originally thought. It seems like Protection (and to a certain extent Retribution) Paladin mechanics will be monstrously different in WotLK - enough so that a great deal of retraining will be required.

Single-target threat gen will look something like: Seal of Righteousness, Avenger's Shield, [Exorcism], Holy Shield, [Consecration], Judgement of Wisdom (which will cast the Righteousness effect), Seal of Vengeance, Shield of Righteousness, Hammer of the Righteous, then rotate Judgement, Shield, Hammer, Holy Shield, Consecration depending on mana, and Exorcism on Demons/Undead.

The removal of SBV and Block Rating stats, and concomitant change to Crushing Blows, will put Paladins, Warriors, and Death Knights on a more or less equal footing with respect to avoidance; DKs won't have shields but have additional damage mitigation talents. Feral Druids will be uncrittable from the getgo (SotF = 6% crit reduction), so they won't need any Defense at all and may end up sharing gear with Rogues - although there remains the issue of the extra Armor on Feral-specific gear.

I also didn't "grok" the change to Divine Protection; is this article saying that it's now a distinct spell from Divine Shield that reduces incoming damage but does not drop aggro? If so, that's an astonishingly good buff.

At this point, I'd be hard-pressed to say which tank will be superior for which situations. Paladins will still have superior threat generation on Demons and Undead, and with their block mechanics will still rule AoE tanking, but Warriors are being improved in that regard as well. It seems like Feral Druids are the ones left out in the cold unless there are more changes in store.
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Heartwood
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Post#3 » Wed Jul 30, 2008 9:48 am

The 'retraining' issue is a valid one. I leveled Heart to 70 as Prot and I'll do so again to 80. Yes it will be slower, but it will give me a lot more experience in the new abilities and how to use them.

Druid tanks will be specialized mostly as effective health tanks from what I can currently see, especially given the removal of crushing blows.

A lot will be changed before WotLK ships, and a lot will change even after it ships. So I'm not getting too excited just yet about how the various classes will function in end-game raiding at level 80. But it does appear that Blizzard is trying to get tanks onto a more equal footing, just with some degree of specialization for gimmick fights.

-Heart
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Lealla
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Post#4 » Wed Jul 30, 2008 9:57 am

Well, given the way these changes are playing out, leveling as Protection won't be nearly as painful due to the increase in damage output from both tanking gear itself and the new class mechanics. It might actually be worth trying.
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Heartwood
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Post#5 » Thu Jul 31, 2008 8:34 am

Here is the official blue response regarding crushing blows in WotLK:

Crushing blows used to apply to mobs 3 levels above you, which included most bosses. The change was to make them apply to mobs 4 levels above you. If you are running an instance of the appropriate level, you will not be crushed.

Crushing blows originally served a dual-purpose: they discouraged you from attacking mobs much higher level than you, and they made bosses more challenging. Now they only fulfill the first role. We have plenty of other knobs to make bosses more challenging that feel less random.
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Obanswrath
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Post#6 » Thu Jul 31, 2008 11:03 am

looking at everything I think this looks like the best all round build for tanking

http://wotlk.wowhead.com/?talent=sV0bZEbtIx0zMgoeRGoVb

you get the threat, the resist to stun/fear/disorient the only thing you lose is the parry (which is kinda crap) and the ardent defender stuff, which AD is nice and all but I do not think it outweighs all the other stuff, opinions?

though still pissed i could not pick up PoJ, Reck, or the damn imp ret aura

BTW with the new dmg and SB (especially with shield of righteousness) stuff i think it is very important to pick up the extra str and 1h weapon specialization, also the points in imp SOV/SOR etc... is very nice from holy
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Lealla
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Post#7 » Thu Aug 28, 2008 9:48 am

Copied from my other post on the subject.

Okay, I'm trying to figure out what to do with the Protection tree once the 3.0 patch comes out before the expansion. Do you go for Avoidance with Deflection, or do you go for the most mitigation possible withShield Specialization, Spell Warding, and Ardent Defender?

I'm talking about a level 70 build here, not level 80. Given current itemization and the new abilities, threat generation should not be an issue... not even a little bit. Opinions? Death threats?
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Virek
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Post#8 » Sat Aug 30, 2008 10:35 am

well, since they arent changing the spell damage/ attack power BS yet. and im so far above uncrushable now i can safely drop deflection without going below. i may try one of those builds lealla, however i am a big fan of ardent defender. expecially in the expac, with out crushing blows its impossible to leap frog the tallent unelss you are a horrible tank.....

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