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Speccing your tankadin at 85

While begging Anafielle for ideas on what to blog about, she mentioned the trouble she went through to hammer out a spec she was happy with. This immediately made me realize I haven’t really talked about optimal specs at level 85. I shall now rectify that.

As you all may know, I’m a sucker for dual-spec prot. Part of that is exercising the luxury of being my guild’s main tank, which means I am seldom sidelined or forced to go offspec–and by seldom, I mean never–which is a blessing and a curse. Blessing because it befits my sloth; curse because I’m so woefully out of practice with the other specs of my class that if I was asked to heal or dps something I’d probably end up accidentally wrapping the mouse cord around my neck and proceed to garrote myself into a coma.

Anyway, as such, here are three specs for you: one for maxing out survival, one for threat and AoE, and one mish-mash of the two. I’ll be using the first two for each of my specs, but any of you pushing the Sisyphean burden that is a Ret or Holy spec up the progression hill might be interested in the third.

The survival spec


I traded Seals of the Pure for Eternal Glory, the reasoning being that SotP is one of our lowest threat talents and is the obvious choice to skip to grab EG instead. EG is amazing for situations where you’re making frequent use of Word of Glory.

Only one point in Improved Hammer of Justice. I like HoJ a lot, but that second point is needed elsewhere.

No points in Grand Crusader. It’s a somewhat negligible threat boost (in the sense that it’s only good for replacing Holy Wrath in the single-target rotation) so it’s an obvious choice to pass over. However, the trade off is you lose from our most frequently available interrupt options, so there’s a tradeoff you might not be comfortable with.

Picked up Divine Guardian. When someone gives you overpowered lemons, you make overpowered lemonade, dammit.

Glyphed Word of Glory instead of Judgement. Judgement was the lowest threat boost of the normal triumvirate of single-target glyphs.

You can also swap out Glyph of Seal of Truth with Glyph of Insight if you’ll be primarily tanking a fight with Insight.

The threat spec


Keep in mind this isn’t a “max threat spec”, there’s probably more tps I could have squeezed out of this. But that would require cuts I’m not comfortable chasing down yet.

Skipped Judgements of the Just. I feel dirty about this, but I’m not using this spec on bosses.

Skipped Hallowed Ground. You might be thinking, “isn’t this an AOE spec?” Well, yes, but my thinking is that I hardly ever use consecration and the threat gain would be so minimal as to completely invalidate any justification for the glyph.

Skipped Divine Guardian. Feeling kind of dirty about this too. The point for it could come Reckoning if you’re uncomfortable with skipping it.

Nothing surprising with glyphs. I went with Hammer of the Righteous instead of Judgement in the primes. That’s the only really notable thing.

The mish-mash


Hrm, seeing a pattern in these numbers. Anyway, nothing really important to note here. I picked the best of both worlds, though there’s still some on the fly customization you can perform with glyphing (for example, glyphing Word of Glory).

And that’s that.

I’m curious how others are speccing/glyphing and if you have major objections to anything I’ve just laid out. One of the major benefits of the stage we’re in right now is that it’s amazing for experimentation. And so, you shouldn’t be shy to try new things before you head into raids and have to ossify into the land of the cookie-cutters, where optimal builds are (rightly) the golden standard. Have fun with your spec now, let your suboptimal freak flag fly… but don’t get your healer killed.

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December 16, 2010
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Build 12539 brings a flood of changes

Finally we can begin to tinker with our talent trees. It looks like pieces are starting to fall into place and–as you might suspect–there has been much change visited upon the Protection tree. Some talents are gone, some are revised, some are new. I’ve broken down most of the changes into key themes or trends, rather than going tier by tier through the tree. I think it’ll be easier to give an effective overview of everything this way.


How we manage our blue bar is changing. To whit,

We also cut the Spiritual Attunement mechanic… Instead, Prot gets Judgement of the Wise (sans the raid Replenishment effect) as a passive, just like Ret. In essence, the melee paladins should rarely run out of mana, and if they do, they always have Divine Plea for emergencies.

So this is how things stand on the mana front: our mana will naturally regenerate, and should stay ahead of our consumption provided we don’t sit there and constantly recast Consecration. If we do run into a tight spot, we have Divine Plea as a mana “cooldown”. We probably won’t be as obsessed with keeping the effect up, because it will be overkill.

In light of this, I’m confused about Guarded by the Light. For 2 points, we get a no-cooldown DP coupled with an auto-refresh on hit. I would posit that if this talent made it to live, we very well might skip it. I just don’t see the point if DP isn’t going to be constantly used. Using it as a cooldown would preclude two talent points being spent in reducing cooldowns and extending durations.

I suspect the talent will be either changed or removed, but for now feel free to skip it in your drawing board builds.

Edit: Something I completely blanked out on that Kaelandros brought up in the comments was that GbtL autorefreshing gives us a constant 3% damage reduction via the glyph, which would be reason enough to go 2/2 GbtL. Assuming the glyph makes it to Cataclysm, you’d probably having to stick with GbtL, which is a particularly stupid design/reason to have to spec into a talent. I suspect the glyph will not make it to Cata untouched.

Rebuke, the greatest insult of all

Holy crap, Paladins get an interrupt! A real interrupt! … oh wait, it’s in the Ret tree. Four tiers down. Out of reach.


This needs to change. Call to arms!

Grand Crusader is our Sword & Board

Interesting, a proc! I like this, as you can imagine. I’m a sucker for procs.

I can forsee a future where Crusader Strike will only be used when proc’d by this talent (since as just physical damage it will be weak without the benefit of Righteous Fury upping threat, and we have harder hitting single target attacks), which will then flow Holy Power into our coffers.

Holy Shield is our primary Holy Power dump

Holy Power will now extend the duration of Holy Shield by 10 seconds per charge consumed. Baseline, Holy Shield increased block change by 30% for 10 seconds. So, generating 3 HoPo stacks (I feel dirty having written that) and then casting Holy Shield will dump our… HoPo… and push up a huge amount of block. With a 1 minute cooldown, that’s 66% uptime, nothing to sneeze at.

Combined with Mastery giving block, I wonder how much block we’ll have with this ability up. 45%? 50%? More?

We’ll also have the new skill Inquisition (which replaces Blinding Shield as our lvl 83 ability), that can be used to dump Holy Power. Increases holy damage done by 30% for 10 seconds per Holy Power charge.

Sacred Duty/Protector of the Innocent are beyond boring

1% or minute per talent point. 3 talent points to cap. Yawn. This is precisely the kind of talent we were told was going away in Cataclysm, and I expect these are just placeholders.

Raidwall survives the cut

A big sigh of relief from me, for now. I love the raidwall effect of Divine Guardian, and I’m glad to see it in our current tree. I hope it continues to dodge any further changes and stays just as it is from here til live.

… as does Reckoning

Rumors of this talent’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. And, color me surprised, I really thought this was the last we were going to see of this talent. The question now is, with its effect reduced to just blocks having a chance to proc it, how much threat will this talent be. If we’re blocking 35% of hits with Holy Shield up, it’s probably not going to be a lot of threat. At 50% we’re starting to see the chance of a more beneficial uptime.

This is definitely a talent that’s going to need to be mathed out to prove its worth. But, I have a nagging suspicion that because as gear gets better this talent will too, it’s eventually going to be worth it. The question is if it’s going to be worth taking off the bat or not.

How is AOE getting reined in exactly?

So, Blinding Shield is gone. Ok, that’s one less AOE spell. However, Holy Wrath now hits all enemy types. And Consecration is nigh-infinite when talented through Hallowed Ground.

I need to know exactly how the devs are planning to tone down AOE. Between our buffs and Warriors getting their own Consecration (oh yes), it seems like Cataclysm has the potential to become another massive AOE-fest.

I suppose mana costs can be tuned to make AOEing prohibitively expensive, and mobs can be designed that cannot be tanked in a huge pile–but the tea leaves seem to be pointing towards a different future.

10% vs 15%

From the linked GC quote above comes the news that we’ll be getting a +10% stamina modifier not from some talent, but rather

Prot paladins get +10% Stamina at level 10 for choosing Prot spec.

Believe me, unlike some delicate flowers on the official tanking forums, I understand that Beta does not equal final, so I’m not going to freak out in a glorious flash of italics and bolds and poetic similes. However, it is concerning that warriors at the moment have a 15% stamina modifier, while ours is down to 10%. And this is with classes have different initial stamina values.

This will probably change. I hope.

Ardent Defender still is gimped

I’m withholding judgement on this talent until we see what a more realistic/tuned iteration looks like. Obviously, I like the clickability,  but the timing in which is can be active seems off. There’s a lot of questions that need to be answered. The health range should probably also go up to 50%.

Subject to further balance tweaking of course.

Update! Ask and ye shall receive:

Ardent Defender – Activate to reduce damage taken by 20% for 10 sec. While active, attacks which would otherwise kill you cause you to be healed for 15% of your maximum health. 3 minute cooldown. Off the GCD.

Two specs, one tank: Trash and Boss Builds

While screwing around with I came up with two builds. One is primarily for trash tanking, 0/34/7, and has Wrath of the Faithful and Reckoning. The other is more boss-tanking oriented, 3/31/7, and has Divinity and only 2 points in Reckoning (because I can’t think of a better place of them).

I can definitely see myself just juggling two different prot specs in the next expansion. Even while dual specced now I barely ever use my Holy spec… or is it Ret? I haven’t switched specs in about four months and can’t remember while I currently have as my offspec. With only 41 in our pocket, talent points are a precious commodity, so it makes sense to me to have two different specs for two different tanking roles, and not “wasting” points on a talent that I might not need at that moment.

Likewise, I’m seriously considering dumping Pursuit of Justice if run speed enchants return in Cata. Doesn’t seem worth 2 points when an enchant can provide half the effect and those points could be spent on talents more directly affecting our threat.

All in all

I’m pretty happy with the tree. I’m not one for doom and gloom–er, generally–and I know none of this is final. It’s a good step towards the end game (and a huge improve over the last tree!) and I’m sure it’ll only improve and tighten up from here.

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Prot tree is dead, long live the prot tree

On the official forums, someone asks a question about a few talents. Ghostcrawler gives up that Improved Devotion Aura is dead, Eye for an Eye’s new incarnation is dead, and then just lets the cat out of the bag:

I’m going to regret saying this, but the paladin trees are the most changed in the game. There are only a few of the current beta talents that survived the, um, cleansing.

Well then.

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July 15, 2010
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3 trends you can see in our “new” tree

I did one pass with this morning and came up with this selection of talents. A complete waste of time, though, because our tree is obviously a work in progress. Everything is subject to change. Yet, there are still some trends you can see through the fog of war.

1. A radically different Consecration

Consecration on the beta server right now lasts for 15 seconds and has no cooldown. You drop it in one place, then can move and drop it in another immediately. Old one disappears, new one comes up. Then, the talent Hallowed Ground increases the duration by 15 seconds and damage by 15% for 1 point, and 30 seconds/30% for 2. A 45 second Consecrate.

Basically, the ability shifts to almost like a harmful aura than an actually ability in a rotation. I think this is a good change for sure, especially once you consider point #3 of this post. It’s shifting to more of a “fire and forget” ability. Moreover, even if the 45 second duration doesn’t stay, it’s obvious what the new path they want Consecration to take is.

2. Clickable Ardent Defender

This was probably one of the biggest complaints masochistic Paladins like yours truly leveled at Ardent Defender in the past, that it was automatic. At the beginning of Ulduar, we begged Blizzard for a second cooldown and instead we got the grotesque god-mode that has hung over our class ever since.

As of this latest build, Ardent Defender is now an on-click ability. Finally, some reactivity. Nonetheless, I sincerely doubt this is anywhere near the final version of this ability. Especially since 35%-0% seems too small a window to have for AD, you’re either going to misuse it or miss using it.

I’m still heartened that we’re being trusted with activating our own cooldowns now.

3. Many more buttons to push

Holy Shock, Crusader Strike, Exorcism. Those are three new single target abilities we’ll be juggling next xpac. Well, probably not Holy Shock.

The talent Improved Exorcism returns to us our precious instant Exorcism, though it’ll be a tad late if Hand of Reckoning retains its damage component. And Improved Crusader Strike… removes the cooldown entirely. Um. I can’t imagine this’ll will persist through later builds, unless it’ll be a lingering stupid trap for Paladins that think spamming a physical damage ability is a good idea for threat.

The biggest downside of all these buttons is a severe case of GCD-lockage, which will hamper us with attempting to throw out helpful abilities like a Hand of Freedom, a BoP, a self-Holy Shock in a pinch, whatever.

I would advise against obsessing too much about the tree and spending more than necessary (like I did) trying to finesse a spec with Righteous Vengeance (this will be must have, mark my words) and other major Prot talents. Next build may see a radical shift in talent placements and cost that will change the picture completely. Save your energy for then!

Bonus: What the hell is happening to Holy Shield?

We are going to turn both Holy Shield and Shield Block into short cooldowns. A short cooldown is an ability that you don’t save for an absolute emergency (like Shield Wall) but we also don’t want it to be on such a short cooldown that it feels maintenance-y. It’s a tricky number to get right, but something in the 30 sec to 1 min zone feels about right. Then you might use Holy Shield one GCD instead of SoR or you can choose to save it until the next big boss attack.


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What have I come home to?

Last week I had an amazing vacation and it’s somewhat disappointing to be back at work and in the routine again. However, I do have raids this week to look forward to, so that’ll dull the pain a bit.

I feel like I missed a lot in the week I spent over in Buffalo, what with the Real ID crisis and the 31 point debacle. There’s really not much I can say about Real ID that hasn’t already been said, and a week ago at that, so I’ll keep mum. Not to mention the matter is “settled” so to speak.

As for 31 points, and locked trees, I am very much in favor of this change. First and foremost because it can help remove one of the plagues of the Paladin class, that we’re too powerful at baseline. If they divide up healing, damage taking, damage dealing and lock each specialization up behind that faded out wall from levels 10-70, then that gives the developers a lot more room to make up more powerful in our spec without the risk of a Ret Paladin having too much survivability, or a Prot Paladin being able to toss more than three heals.

It’s also for the best that they’re using the redesign of the talent trees to get rid of the stupid point dumps that no one used and were primarily a noob trap. Like Ghostcrawler said:

[Players] were also given ample opportunities to make mistakes, what we call “traps.” A forum-savy player may know which are the dumb talents nobody takes or which are the mandatory ones that might at first glance seem too bland to take. But why have “choices” that are just there for new players or people who just want to swim against the stream just to be different? We’d rather have actual legitimate choices, which we feel like we can offer by having a stable of fewer good talents.

A prot tree missing Stoicism or Divinity, or only having 1 rank of Spiritual Attunement would be a good thing. As fun as it is for all of us to be in the know and cluck our tongues at those who don’t understand why Reckoning isn’t as much threat as Crusade, there’s no real benefit to having a series of “stupid traps” in the talent system.

It’ll also be interesting to see which talents don’t make the cut in the shuffle. Our tree is very top heavy, has a lot of good stuff, talents that I can’t see living without. Obviously I can, but at a glance I feel like a kid being asked to donate some of my old toys to Goodwill. Everything north of Blessing of Sanctuary feels like some epic Transformers figure.

Can’t wait for the next beta build.

So, how about some other blue posts I missed over the week? First, concerning that worst debuff ever:

[Forbearance] will be reevaluated.

I hope by reevaluated, GC means “taken out back and bludgeoned to death with a dirty toilet seat.” There is no excuse to keep this glorified band-aid any longer in game, with the touch up that so much of everything else is getting. Even if it means each spec only gets one Forbeance-inducing ability anymore, like Holy gets LoH, Prot Bubblewall, and Ret Divine Shie–no that’s a terrible idea. In any case, it’s time for a more polished mechanic than “you used x cooldown, now y and z are locked out for 2 minutes.”

Re: block,

Without defense gear any longer and with no block rating on gear, you’re probably at ~5% block, which is way too low. We need base block to be higher, but we still haven’t fully decided if that’s something all characters get or just warriors / paladins, or just tanks, etc.

I’m assuming by “all tanks” he’s also referring to the DK absorb mechanic and Savage Defense? Otherwise I’m a bit confused. Right now I’ve got 11% block (mostly from Defense), with 30% from Holy Shield, and 30% from the occasional Redoubt. I wonder what the final “base” number they’ll settle on will be. I have no idea what would “feel right” at this juncture, since 30% damage reduction can be very powerful if you’re getting that too often.

Lots of speculation about lots of changes. Let’s hurry up and get that next beta build so we can get a better idea of what we’ll all be working with this fall, eh?

Lastly, big thanks to Anafielle for posting in my absence and keeping some of the cobwebs away! I hope she’ll continue to post in the future, and I request you all shoot puppy dog looks her way to ensure that.

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July 12, 2010
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Armory datamining tells all

Last week, Armory Data Mining updated itself for patch 3.3.3. The site is fascinating and I recommend checking it out to see how everyone out there is speccing, gearing, gemming, and the like. It’s an interesting peek into the vast multitudes that play this game and how they play it. And, most importantly, it provides a view of how many people are playing the game correctly–ie, by the established and settled baselines widely understood among more top-end players.

While poking through the site I was floored to see just how many people were “doin it rong,” so to speak. As a caveat, I know a lot of surveyed characters may be fresh 80s, or abandoned characters from when the standards were different a year ago (or whenever). However, in the grand scheme of things, it’s shocking how many widely recognized “knowns” are ignored. I’m going to go through a few data points in this post just to show the more interesting things I noticed.

(Note: Unless otherwise stated, percents given are of level 80 Paladins.)

No one is using Shifting Dreadstone. For gems, the popularity (according to the site, popularity correlates to total numbers of gems compared to the number of characters with at least one gem) of red slot gems are 38% for Regal Dreadstones, 21% for Defender’s Dreadstones, and 15% for Dreadstones. Shifting isn’t even on the board, it’s popularity percentage is less than 10%.

You and I both know that when you’re gemming a red socket and going for that socket bonus, you want a Shifting Dreadstone. According to Theck, Agility is 83% as effective as Dodge for avoidance and, thanks to Agility giving Armor, each point of Agility is 4% more effective than Dodge when it comes to reducing damage. The fact that this information is so widely unknown among the surveyed masses is discomforting.

35% of Prot Paladins are using a +stats chest enchant. Look at those numbers. This I can only explain via simple ignorance. The standard for chest enchants should be this: if you’re under the crit cap, enchant +def, if not, enchant +health on your chest. Never, ever should you use +stats. Much for the same reason we avoid Nightmare Tears, the stat spread just isn’t as good as solid defense or solid hp.

63% are using Armsman on their hands. I can see the allure to this enchant, and hell, even at end game there can be some honest disagreement over what is better. Nonetheless, personally, I would always rather enchant for survival than for threat. So while this isn’t egregious or anything (definitely not on the level of no one gemming Shifting), it’s still fascinating to see how vast the appeal of this enchant is.

32% are using Blade Ward. This I’m sure can be explained away by those 32% being completely ignorant of how awful this enchant is. Which is a shame, because if they even did a cursory Googling, they would find that Blade Ward is widely derided as a bad enchant.

Only 15% are using the pvp shoulder enchant. Again, this is probably one of those counter-intuitive, makes no sense to the layman kinds of things, but unless uncrittable, you really want to have that +30 stamina shoulder enchant. The return on investment is much better than any of the Hodir shoulder enchants. It’s somewhat distressing on 15% of the Prot pallies out there have gotten that message.

On the other hand, there is the “holistic” gearing argument–that most of that 85% are T10-geared tanks that have enough stamina and are scaling back to emphasize damage reduction through things like avoidance–which is a valid philosophy at a certain gear level. Nonetheless, I find it hard to believe that that 85% is made up of just people who need the defense and people who are being holistic.

Glyph of Divine Plea is nowhere near as popular as it should be. GoDP has a popularity (same formula as gems above) rating of 63%. Judgement 60%, Seal of Vengeance 48%, Righteous Defense 26%. Those are my big four. Contrawise, here are some facepalm ones: Holy Light 25%, Flash of Light 19%, Consecration 29%, Seal of Wisdom 16%. The list goes on.

Only 18.4% of Prot Paladins use a 53/18 build. And of those, only 10% use the cookie cutter build we know and love. The rest somehow are across the board on 53/18.

34% of Prot Paladins take Seals of Pure, while only 24% take Crusade. And as we all know, Crusade builds are more threat than SoP builds.

1% of Prot Paladins take Eye for an Eye. What is this I don’t even. I’m hoping this is from a pvp Prot build… oh, how I hope.

62% of Paladins put points into Divinity. There’s some merit to this talent in harder content where trickle-down deaths are frequent and every ounce of healing matters. 62% of Prot Paladins are not currently in that content. This is another case of the talent “sounding” good and people putting points in without determining if the talent is best for them or the content they are currently tanking.

22% of Prot Paladins take Vindication. Sigh.

85% of Prot Paladins take Judgements of the Just. This is somewhat heartening.

54% of Prot Paladins take Divine Guardian. This makes me sad. This talent is so key and has so many, amazing uses that it’s a shame for anyone (let alone 46% of all Prots) to pass this up.

Ultimately, what I’ve learned from perusing the wealth of information compiled by this site is the wide disconnect between those that look up information on the net, and attempt to better their character and playstyle through the resources available to them, and those that wing it or (more likely) are unaware of what kind of treasure troves exist out there for the taking (or have consulted out of date/just plain wrong resources). A lot of what I listed above will more or less seem obvious to you or me (with some debatable exceptions), and yet it all might be considered arcane knowledge to others.

There are many horses out there that must be brought to water, methinks.

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How I specced in 3.2

This post is long overdue, but I wanted to take some time to explain my current spec and specifically some choices I did or did not make.

Here is the spec in all its glory: 0/53/18.

Crusade > SotP

One of the bigger choices I made when talenting was speccing into Ret for Crusade rather than Seals of the Pure. Why did I do this? Well, primarily because the Crusade talent may seem like less threat on paper this is only when considering it at the 3% level. When facing Undead/Humanoid/Elemental/Demon mobs, the damage bonus jumps to 6% and that is when Crusade really begins to shine.

I wrote extensively about the two talents when SotP was first changed for the better.

Now, Northrend is still crawling with Scourge (Undead) and Humanoids, and because the Coliseum is, excepting Icehowl and the two Jormungar, packed to the brim with UHED bosses, it makes sense to choose Crusade over SotP. You’re going to get more mileage out of the former talent.

2/2 Imp Judgements

Like Randall in Clerks 2, I’m taking back 2/2 Imp Judgements. If anyone calls you on dropping a second point in this talent, all you need to know is this: any tank worth their salt has the discipline to maintain 969 even if a cooldown is up one second earlier. If you’re using Judgement when it isn’t Judgement’s turn, you’re not doing a proper rotation. Additionally, an 8 second Judgement is much more convenient for trash when a steady rotation is impossible, so it makes sense not to artificially restrict yourself to a 9 second Judgement.

Where else would that point go? Benediction? Meh. 1/1 Improved Blessing of Might? Nah. Topping off Imp Judgements is the logical choice.

Talents you still want to avoid

Stoicism, Guardian’s Favor, and Improved Hammer of Justice are really more pvp-flavored and have no place in a strictly pve spec. There are some merits to the latter talent, but I’d rather focus on my own job in a raid than a rogue’s.

Divinity is still bad. 5% heals sounds great, but the ROI is not worth the 5 talents points.

Likewise, Reckoning has some synergy with SotP, but in lieu of an SotP spec, it’s not worth getting. The tps return per talent point isn’t worth depriving yourself a mitigation talent like Divine Guardian.

In which I backtrack

Now, one caveat: we all have the two-point “fluff” bridge to carry us past the lower-tree talents to Blessing of Sanctuary and beyond. I spent my two bridge points on Divine Guardian. If you raid with nothing but Holy Paladins out the wazoo, DG is not an ideal talent, assuming they have it as well and they’re slapping an improved Sacred Shield on you and the other tanks.

I am unfortunately not so lucky, the Holy Pallies in my guild being addicted to Ret tree crit still. Alas, DG is for me. If you are so lucky, however, it is not a terrible idea to spend those bridge points on Improved Hammer of Justice for a 40 second cooldown, or Reckoning for a 60 tps gain. You do after all have to spend those points somewhere in that early portion of the Prot tree.

Now I turn the floor to you all. How are you speccing this patch?

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August 14, 2009
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Speccing next patch just got murky

Oh, things used to be so simple. 53/18 was our max threat spec and you could get every utility talent you wanted along the way. Now, how complicated it all seems.

Blizz changed Seals of the Pure so that 15% damage modifier also applies to the 33% weapon damage bonus you get with a five stack up. This change means (as calculated by the amazing Theck) that 5/5 SotP is worth as much threat as the 3/5 Conviction + 3/3 Crusade (major caveat on this below) pairing that most of us are running around with today.

To summarize Theck’s findings, this brave new world of threat looks like this against non-Undead/Humanoid/Demon/Elemental mobs:

  • 5/5 SotP == 3/5 Conviction + 3/3 Crusade
  • 4/5 SotP is ~70 less TPS than the 3/5 + 3/3 pairing above
  • 5/5 SotP + 3/5 Reckoning > 3/5 Conviction + 3/3 Crusade (by ~80 tps)
  • 5/5 SotP + 3/5 Reckoning > 5/5 Conviction + 3/3 Crusade (by ~10 tps)

Ultimately, there are several specs that cascade from this change:

4/53/15 – This spec takes most of the mitigation utility talents plus the delightfulness of PoJ. It’s less threat than the standard 3.1 spec, but not by much.

5/54/12 — This trades PoJ and DG for the final point in SotP and 3/5 Reckoning. This spec is worth ~170 more tps, but you’re trading off 15% run speed and a buffed Sacred Shield for that extra oomph.

0/53/18 — I know everything written thus far implies you can ignore Crusade, but the problem with that is this: if you’re fighting any of the mob types that Crusade does 6% damage to, then this spec is worth about ~140 more tps than 5/5 SotP, but when you’re not getting 6%, this spec is ~100 tps less than 5/5 SotP.

Considering you’re going to encounter more humanoids/undead in 5mans and outside of instances (along with most of the encounters in the Coliseum falling into the 6% category), overall you’ll probably get more threat with the third spec.

If in Ulduar you’re threat goes down a little (and for sure, in the great scheme of things, if you’re doing 8000 tps, 100 tps isn’t that big of a loss) it probably won’t be the worst thing in the world, because you’ll end up with more threat in the Coliseum with Crusade than otherwise.

For anyone who follows my Twitter, you’d have seen this morning that I pronounced Crusade was dead. As I’m sure you all know by now, I tend to stack haste rating IRL, and that was probably a case of me greatly exaggerating Crusade’s demise.

Ultimately though the one absolute you can walk away with from this post from is this: you want Divine Guardian and you want Vindication. Survivability is always a higher priority than 100-200 additional tps.

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July 24, 2009
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Tanks, what 3.2 means to you

Ardent Defender, our new cooldown

Our long national nightmare is now over, we finally have a second cooldown! And a real one at that, not some slap-dash, Mickey Mouse cooldown.

So sum up all the changes to the talent: AD has finally been fixed so that it is no longer leapfroggable (ie, any damage that applies under 35% of your health is mitigated), and it has a new effect that, if you are reduced to 0 hp, you receive an immediate heal to 30% of your max health (assuming you have 3/3 in the talent and 540 defense skill).

Once you receive that heal you get a debuff from preventing that save from occurring again for two minutes. Originally on the PTR that debuff also removed AD’s damage reduction, but that is a bug that has been fixed.

Dodge couldn’t avoid this nerf

Our avoidance is taking a nerf that will reduce our dodge across the board while presumably increasing parry. Overall this will amount to a reduction of our total avoidance. Rather than rehash the numbers, as I’ve done previously, just know the three take-aways on this are: (a) agility/stam gems are now junk for pure avoidance, (b) parry gems are not an immediate red flag for bad tanks, (c) defense is now, oddly, our best avoidance stat. There’s a lot more nuance in this, mind you, thanks to diminishing returns.

Sacred Shield is less awesome, but still great

Not as awful as I originally supposed in my post on Friday. I mistakenly assumed that the Holy Pally hot would only apply if their shield was on you, but any old SS will do. So, despite my earlier ruminations, still get Divine Guardian instead of 2/5 Reckoning. But anyway you slice it, only one Sacred Shield is disappointing.

Sweet, sweet Vindication

This is perhaps my second-most favorite change in 3.2, an attack power debuff to a boss that’s automatically applied. We don’t have to burn rage or gimp our dps/threat to get this up–nope, it comes just from us meleeing. This will be a great mitigation buff to us overall.

You’ll probably want to shift two points from Conviction into this talent, assuming you’re running the 53/18 spec (and you better be! /shakingoffist).

BV is better, but still not better than avoidance

Block value as you know is getting a huge boost. Does this mean you want to start wearing your block set and slapping the Titanium Plating on your shield for tanking Ignis25? Er, no. You’ll still want a heavy EH/avoidance set. Considering most BV pieces also have block rating, you’ll want to continue keeping most of these pieces out of your heavy tanking set, but by all means, use them for trash.

Change is a blessing

Blessing of Sanctuary has been given a +10% stamina modifier (that doesn’t stack with Kings) in order to make it more attractive to Paladins. But is it? Sure, if you can have Kings as well. Kings gives avoidance (through agility) and mitigation (through strength) which between the two makes it the superior blessing for raid situations if you have to choose between the two (which hopefully you won’t). At least now you won’t have to bemoan the loss of Kings’ health while in heroics where the mana return of Sanc is critical.

Exorcism is not for tanking anymore

Exorcism has been retooled to make it a situational move for Ret Paladins. That is, Art of War procs and they fire off an instant-cast Exorcism, and the rest of us shlubs are stuck with a 1.5 second cast time. This change of course makes Exorcism unusable while tanking, because time spent casting is time you can’t avoidance any attacks (and pushback, oh the pushback).

They changed Hand of Reckoning so that it does a lot more damage if the mob is currently not targeting you, which is supposed to make up for losing the Reck/Ex pickup combo for a run away mob. It’s an annoying change overall, but one we can work around.

Expertise isn’t terrible anymore

With the change to Seal of Corruption/Vengeance to do an additional 33% of weapon damage with melee hits after a five stack is up, expertise becomes a valuable stat again. For example, this change makes the SoV glyph the second-best TPS glyph in the game now (and one I’ll happily swap into my spellbook after the patch now that I don’t need said Mickey Mouse cooldown anymore). You’ll probably not want to gem expertise or purposefully gear for it, but don’t shun any gear anymore because it has expertise on it. A junk stat no longer.

Other cool little things

Lastly, two dopey little changes I’m happy about are Auras reapply after your death automatically, and Righteous Fury lost its duration and mana cost.

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July 21, 2009
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Spec possibilities in next patch

All the patch news yesterday lead to the inevitable conclusion that some pretty big changes are happening to Paladin tanking when 3.2 drops. Finally we’ll have a second high-mitigation cooldown to help us roll with the new big-hits style of tanking. I am personally ecstatic at the redesign of Ardent Defender and can’t wait for the first time pink angels descend from the heavens to restore me to 30% health because the healers panicked and switched to raid healing during a flame jet, letting Ignis crush me under his iron boot.

I’m getting carried away though! The changes announced yesterday have some weighty implications on how we spec. Specifically these changes are:

  • Seal of Vengeance/Corruption will also do 33% of weapon damage when a full five-stack of the dot is up. This would theoretically make Seals of the Pure a better talent for threat generation than it currently is. Could also be paired with Reckoning for additional threat.
  • Improved LoH will now provide a 20% damage reduction effect, rather than +50% armor value, making it a more useful cooldown.

Right now the default spec I see for tankadins is something around 0/53/18, which is a high threat output spec, but this might change. Here are two possible specs we might see becoming viable in 3.2:

Lay on Hands Spec (12/53/6)

Yes, I know, the irony is delicious. I’m not super enamored with this spec just yet, though. One of my big concerns with it is having to dump 5 talent points into increasing our Intellect to reach Improved Lay on Hands. Total waste of talent points considering what a non-issue mana is for us. There’s also the question of whether it makes sense to trade the threat and utility of 6% crit, 3-6% extra damage, and a run speed increase for an 11 minute cooldown.

Vindication Spec (0/53/18)

This spec takes two points out of Conviction and puts it in Vindication for the attack power debuff. Right now I think this looks like a better deal. It’s a little less tps but adds survivability thanks to the Demo Shout effect. And you don’t have to waste talent points on ineffectual talents. And you can benefit from the target effect more than once every 11 minutes.

Ultimately all this hullaballoo is just speculation (har har har). I think a lot will change depending on how much tps the new Seal of Vengeance generates and whether it makes Seals of the Pure or Reckoning viable (it probably won’t). I’m finding myself inclined to agree with the speculation Theck laid out in this thread at Maintankadin:

As the trees stand now, people desiring Vindication will have to go at least 10 points into Ret, unlocking Conviction. If Crusade is still considerably better than SotP (and it will be), it’s likely that 1 Conviction + 3 Crusade will out-threat 5/5 SotP, and give you the added utility of Vindication and SotP.

That’s probably where we’ll stand when the dust settles.

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June 19, 2009