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BlizzCon prot paladin recap

Just a quick post to digest anything pertinent to our beloved spec!

The new talents system

Firstly, when they were gave prot paladins as the example for the new system in the WoW Preview Panel, they gave a quick list of what abilities we’d receive automatically as a result of our spec. No surprises here, except that retribution will have Hammer of the Righteous too.

(Apologies to mmo-champ for stealing their screenshots.)

As for the actual talents they offered for prot paladins later in the talent panel, I played with the wowhead calculator a little bit and settled on this spec. There’s not much reason to go terribly in depth, since these will likely all change before we even reach beta, but to briefly bob and weave through the six tiers …

Tier 1 – Level 15

First of all: HALLELUJAH — a gap closer at last! During the preview panel when they mentioned how the new talents would include a helpful amount of utility enhancements, I immediately thought that this could feasibly lead to the long-deferred dream of a tankadin gap closer to be fulfilled. So imagine my joy when that first screenshot came up on the screen showing an overview of paladin talents and the first tier was the three movement-enhancing talents in our current trees.

But I digress! Speed of Light is the obvious choice here. The fastest speed combined with a short cooldown makes it the most useful of the three choices. You’re not going to be constantly zipping around, so you want that burst of speed to mean the most it can when you choose to use it.

Tier 2 – Level 30

The stun is the only real choice I see here. CC is nice, but it has a cast time, and that’s not the kind of thing you’ll want to be playing with in combat. And, likewise, there are plenty of other CCs available. As for Seal of Justice, total PVP choice.

Tier 3 – Level 45

This is a wonderful tier, but despite the temptations of the first two, hands-down nothing can beat a cheat death.

Tier 4 – Level 60

Don’t make the mistake I first did when I saw this, the wording “friendly target” also includes the player (see Word of Glory, for example; same verbiage) so Holy Shield was be self-usable. It’s the only real survivability choice. Eternal Glory remains lackluster, and Selfless Healer focuses itself on a heal with a cast time, something we won’t be dirtying ourselves with.

Tier 5 – Level 75

Clemency seems like the best choice. The ability to get two BoPs out, for example, feels pretty powerful. Reduced cooldowns are boring, by comparison. Being able to choose the end of the cooldown will always be more powerful. Veneration likewise feels like a PVP talent, but you never know if a PVE fight may require switching to it if there’s some kind of raid-wide slowing debuff, or something of that ilk. You never know.

Tier 6 – Level 90

Holy Avenger gives us a burst of survivability: the ability to cast WoG/Holy Shield 6 times in a row — especially if WoG’s cooldown disappears in 5.0. That’s incredibly powerful, especially when choice of timing is the name of the game.

All in all, I know it’s stupid to dig through these when they are nowhere near final. But I love the new system, I’m very excited about it. For the same reason I enjoy flipping around my major glyphs fight to fight, I love the possibility of customizing my talents depending on the needs of the encounter. I really hope they stick with this to the end. (Not the numbers, mind you, the big picture framework.)

Sidenote: I think it’s cute that Blizzard is aiming for this new system to kill cookie-cutter builds. The truth of the matter is, if numbers are included on a talent, you’ll be able to crunch our its survivability value. We’re going to have a list of proper talents for each encounter, there’s no way around it.

The return of Blinding Shield?

At the class Q&A, Ghostcrawler imparted that Blinding Shield (originally a new spell for Paladins in Cataclysm, but later removed) is penciled in as the level 87 spell. As he went on to disclaim, that could very likely change, so don’t consider it remotely set in stone.

Hope burns eternal

I would love to see an orange shield.

- Ghostcrawler, when the panel was asked about a tanking legendary

Cosmetic librams soon?

When talking about hunter quivers, the panelists also brought up librams as a similar cosmetic option for paladins. I wonder if they’ll turn the soon-to-be deprecated ranged slot into a “cosmetic item slot”. You equip a libram, or a totem, or quiver, or whatever and it appears slung to an appropriate spot on your character. It’s something I’ve wanted to see since Burning Crusade, so here’s hoping we see that in MoP.

What we didn’t hear about

On Thursday, Miri texted me to let me know that she asked Ghostcrawler about active mitigation/tank changes during the charity dinner and he said there was not going to be any news about it during BlizzCon. Likewise, as the convention continued we didn’t get a single inkling of any news about the subject. I’m a little disappointed, but as long as it makes it to 5.0, there’s not much of value in worrying about not getting news about an early design iteration.

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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

0/31/10

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

0/31/10

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

0/31/10

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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First insight to the dps value of our talents

I quickly mentioned this on Twitter, but it merits a quick post. Delicious theorycrafts inc.

Theck, Bringer of Numbers and Pounding Headaches, did his first pass through our talents to gauge the relative worth of each in terms of damage (and thus threat). I’m not going to copy-paste his findings, but to summarize:

  • Our top three must-have threat talents are Wrath of the Lightbringer > Reckoning > Crusade.
  • His sim placed Reckoning at second with around 50 dps per point. However, his sim was run on a 264/277 gear set without anything reforged for Mastery. Therefore with additional Mastery/block Reckoning will get much more beastly.
  • Grand Crusader is really weak right now. To the point where there’s murmurs of not even speccing into it. That’s with current numbers though, things can obviously change.

Read the whole post to get the straight dope. A lot of these numbers aren’t yet final, so don’t them as gospel, but they’re heading in the direction we’re going.

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October 5, 2010
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A shot in the arm for WoG, and build 13066

There was a very interesting (and informative) Ghostcrawler post this weekend that gave some some great news about Word of Glory, as well as some insight into our tanking situation.

Word of Glory now scales with either attack power or spell power, whichever is higher. The net result is that Ret and Prot Word of Glory will heal for at least 50% more than they did before. That was why we had to nerf Selfless Healer. If I am remembering correctly, a level 85 Ret or Prot paladin 3 Holy Power WoG went from around 6000 to around 9000 (before Selfless Healer or Guarded by the Light). You should test it yourself though, since I may be misremembering.

One poster on Maintankadin reports Word of Glory healing him for 25k (out of a total of health bar of almost 100k hp) multiple times while Vengeance capped. Hearing these numbers just about evaporates many concerns I have about WoG. Indeed, with a heal of that value (25%!) then the ability definitely becomes a “meaningful choice”, contra the threat of ShoR.

If you need the threat, you shield slam. Otherwise you can toss a major heal on yourself. Much better choice now.

In other news, not only is Sanctuary broken, but so is our avoidance.

As far as tank balance goes, in beta we found that DKs and Feral druids were taking less damage than paladins and warriors. This is partially because of the Sanctuary bug (where it just wasn’t working). Beyond that, the avoidance of the former were just a lot higher. Druids get dodge and DKs get parry just from wearing Agi and Str respectively. Block tanks used to get a little mitigation from Strength, but it was never much, and that won’t really work any longer with the new model. Solutions include letting Str affect parry (for everyone in the same way Agi provides dodge) or giving all plate users some kind of Forceful Deflection passive or talent.

Part and parcel is this declaration:

Basically, we think that avoidance below 20% or so doesn’t feel very good because you don’t see it, and avoidance above around 70% or so breaks encounters and forces us to add “radiance” debuffs to raids.

It’s interesting, and welcome, to get hard numbers like that. I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with.

Build 13066 also was datamined this weekend, and looking at the change there’s nothing particularly amazing. The biggest change I saw was Seals of the Pure going to 2/2 points, and Vindication going to 1/1, each shedding one point to cap. Which frees up three points for us. I think it’s safe to say they intend to trick us into putting those points into Guarded by the Light. Though, in light of the WoG change, I will gladly do that.

I’m currently looking into a spec like this, with those last points (plus the one in Hallowed Ground) going to some combination of Hallowed Ground, Reckoning, Eternal Glory, or Rule of Law. I’m certain it will depend if I’m doing an AOE threat or single target threat or survival build. Also depends on the relative TPS value of those talents.

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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.

Mana

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.

Dammit.

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 wowtal.com 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 wow-tal.com 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.

Sigh.

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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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Tankadin leveling 1-50: speccing the early years

I got an email from one of my WoW-playing friends recently who’s leveling his brother’s paladin in his spare time. He wanted to level by sticking to the dungeon finder tool and initially asked if it made sense to go prot and just farm LFD. I kind of scoffed at the idea and told him just go ret/holy (since he’s a healer usually, it’d be more comfortable for him). Anyway, he emailed me again earlier this week:

so i bucked your suggestion and went prot, because the dungeon queues are literally instant, which i like for my xp/hour
i was thinking – you should write a “how to” for baby prots. like what talents to fill out first, what heirlooms to get, what stats to prefer, pre-divine plea mana strats

And so I shall!

First, a disclaimer: I leveled my tankadin (yes, as prot) during the early days of TBC. Back then we auto-attacked until level 40 and we liked it! … Uphill, both ways. And there was none of this “mounts at 20″ nonsense, we ran ourselves from end of Desolace to the other… and we liked it!

Sidenote: I originally recommended going straight prot all the way, but after discussing it with my colleague Honors on Twitter, I was persuaded to his point of view that it makes more sense to hang out in the Ret tree initially. The reasons why are below in the relevant sections.

Pre-game

There are no tanking heirlooms per se, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use some dps heirlooms to speed up leveling and make you nigh-unkillable in the first chunk of the game. I would recommend grabbing:

Venerable Dal’Rends Sacred Charge (enchanted with Crusade) — 40 EoH
Polished Breastplate of Valor (enchanted with Major Health) — 40 EoH
Polished Spaulders of Valor — 40 Emblems of Heroism
Swift Hand of Justice — 50 Emblems of Heroism

If you want to go the extra mile, and already have it, grab Discerning Eye of the Beast as well. But, don’t go out of your way for it. It’s not critical, just the bonus mana is nice and that would normally be an empty trink slot.

With those items you’ll be ready to level in style. For the other slots though, when you get items from the AH or for quests, always take the highest armor class item with stamina and strength. Those are your two biggest stats (the “of the Bear” item class) and should be the two you focus on gear-wise. Avoid any intellect, mp5, spirit gear. Even though are attacks are technically spells, mana shouldn’t be a big concern for you. And spellpower is garbage, avoid that at all costs.

Levels 1-10

Before you do anything, hie thee to a mailbox and grab all your heirloom items (assuming you sprung for them).

Now, unfortunately, there are no talents at this point in your character’s life. You start off with Devotion Aura, Seal of Righteousness, and Holy Light. Just burn through all the quests and when you hit level 10 you should have your first tanking seal (Righteousness), a judgement spell (Judgement of Light), your first cooldown (Divine Protection), and your extra life (Lay on Hands).

Levels 11-20

10-14 — Benediction (5/5)
15-16 — Improved Judgements (2/2)
17-19 — Heart of the Crusader (3/3)
20 — Seal of Command

At level 14 you get Righteous Defense, your aoe taunt (pulls up to three mobs off a friendly target). At 16 you get Hand of Reckoning, a single-target taunt that does damage (don’t be afraid to use this as an attack when pulling). And, most importantly, at 16 you get Righteous Fury, which you’ll need to hold aggro. Once you get this spell you’re ready to hit the LFD tool with a… er… righteous fury. Lastly, you get Consecrate at level 20, which is key for holding large groups of mobs.

At level 15 you get your first two glyph slots, and for those I’d recommend grabbing Glyph of Judgement and Glyph of Lay on Hands for each.

If you’re tanking dungeons at this point you’ll have to learn how to cope with a limited toolset. Manage pulls by grabbing one add with Hand of Reckoning, judging a second, and then dropping Consecrate. Hopefully the dps you run with will be intelligent enough to know to attack what mob you are attacking. If you lose aggro be sure to quickly pick it back up with either taunt. Be sure to keep Righteous Fury on at all times!

Bless yourself with Might until level 20 when you get Kings, then switch to that.

If you find mana hard to manage, and you’re dealing with lots of downtime, don’t be afraid to judge wisdom. And don’t consecrate for only one mob, because the spell sucks up a huge chunk of mana when you cast it. Consecrate sparingly. However, once you hit 20 and grab Seal of Command, couple that by changing your major glyph to Glyph of Seal of Command. Now every time you judge you’ll gain back 8% of your mana!

Levels 21-29

21-25 — Divine Strength (5/5)
26-27 — Pursuit of Justice (2/2)
28-29 — Conviction (2/5)

At this point we’re just bouncing between the Ret and Prot tree, biding our time until level 30. Enjoy Pursuit of Justice now while you can, you won’t be seeing it again until past 60.

Legel 30: Respec!

Now that we’ve hit level 30, it’s time to hop over to a capital city and ditch our current build so we can reboot as full prot. When you respec, grab these:

10-14 — Divine Strength (5/5)
15-19 — Anticipation (5/5)
20-22 — Improved Righteous Fury (3/3)
23-27 — Toughness (5/5)
28-29 — Improved Devotion Aura (2/3)
30 — Blessing of Sanctuary

Now, the huge, huge new spell at 30 is Blessing of Sanctuary. This becomes your primary tanking blessing for the rest of the game. All the good parts of Kings (stam and strength) coupled with mana return on every block, dodge, or parry and damage reduction to boot. You can’t beat it. This spell will generally negate a lot of your mana concerns and adequately replace Seal of Command.

Another major glyph slot opens at 30, and you can put the Glyph of Consecration in there. That’ll give you a little more return for the massive amounts of mana it costs you to drop a consecrate. Change your first major glyph back to Judgement now that Seal of Command isn’t part of your toolbox anymore.

Levels 31-40

31-33 — Reckoning (3/5)
34 — Devotion Aura (3/3) [this is putting the last point in there]
35-37 — One-Handed Weapon Specialization (3/3)
38-39 — Sacred Duty (2/2)
40 — Holy Shield

Just a note on the 3/5 Reckoning: generally, 3 points in Reckoning will be enough to ensure optimal uptime in aoe tanking situations. The last two points have diminishing returns, we can better use them elsewhere.

At 34 you can get Divine Shield and thus the ability to bubble hearth. Use it well.

And at 40 you get Holy Shield, which is awesome for tanking dungeons. That extra 30% block means more mana from Blessing of Sanctuary, less damage taken, and more threat when Holy Shield does damage to a mob. You’ll find aoe tanking becomes a walk in the park at this point.

Levels 41-50

41-43 — Ardent Defender (3/3)
44 — Spiritual Attunement (1/2)
45-47 — Combat Expertise (3/3)
48-49 — Redoubt (2/3)
50 — Avenger’s Shield

Two awesome talents at this point. Avenger’s Shield is when pulling gets really easy. No longer do you pull one mob then run in to intercept the rest, now you can hit three mobs at once and build a huge pile of initial threat. And with Spiritual Attunement, you’ll find mana is nearly infinite in dungeons.

You also get a minor glyph slot at 50, which you should put Glyph of Sense Undead into. At this level you’ll probably be spending a lot of time in the Plaguelands and the undead-filled dungeons there in. Coupled with your new Holy Wrath spell, you’ll find aoe tanking undead mobs is where tankadins truly shine.

Contine to Part 2: Levels 51-80. >>

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