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