First and foremost, I am not writing this as a call for Paladins to rise up and take on the mantle of main tank. I do not believe that we are superior to Warriors and I am not an advocate for Paladins main tanking in The Molten Core or in Blackwing Lair.
That being said, I do believe that we are excellent tankers and fully capable of tanking any 5-man instance in the game. And while we shouldnt be going toe-to-toe with Ragnaros or Golemagg, we are more than able to hold the attention of one of Garrs Firesworn or keep a Flamewaker Elite busy while Domos other adds are killed.
There are numerous Paladins out there that rolled this class because they believed what Blizzard told us from the outset, that we are meant to be in the front lines, protecting our allies from harm. I believed it and have striven towards that goal. I am here to help explain how other Paladins can make that belief a reality.
And just to give you a bit of warning about the length of this thread and to give you an inkling of whats to come, I give you the... Table of Contents
1 - The Basics
Aggro - Damage Mitigation
2 - Stats
Stamina - Intellect - Strength - Spirit - Agility
3 - Talents
Protection - Retribution - Holy
4 - Combat
Personal Setup - Party Setup - Single Targets - Multiple Elite Targets - Multiple Non-Elite Targets - Undead Targets - Losing Aggro and Other Problems
5 - Gear
Helms - Shoulders - Chest Armor - Bracers - Gloves - Belts - Leggings - Boots - Weapons - Shields - Sets
6 - Consumables
7 - Summary
Part I - The Basics:
Tanking is about 2 things, aggro and damage mitigation. Now bear with me, I know most of you already know what both of these concepts are, but lets be thorough and explain this for the people in the back.
Aggro is simply making sure the mob or mobs you are facing are attacking you and not the Priests in the background or the Warriors swinging Obsidian Edged Blades by your side. Paladins hold aggro through our spell Righteous Fury and generating threat with a constant and steady stream of holy based damage. Ill go into greater detail about all of these later. Damage mitigation is making sure that while you are being hit by those mobs focused on you, you are not losing health too quickly and overtaxing your healers. Without proper mitigation, you will die before the Priests can heal you or the mob will start to chase the Druids for casting too much. Our greatest asset in this realm is our trusty shield. It adds armor to cushion our bodies and blocks damage from frontal attacks. It can boost our stats and even deal damage and greatly boost our aggro while tanking. Ill also talk about this and other methods of damage mitigation later.
But keep those two concepts in mind when fashioning your Paladin, maximize your abilities in those two fields and youve taken your first step to being a great tank.
Part II - Stats:
Whether its buying greens on the Auction House or rolling on Blues in instances, keep in mind that just like any other class, we are highly stat dependent. Not having enough of one can be a serious hindrance in our ability to tank, while not having too much of another and we can still do our job. Listed in order of importance, we have:
Stamina increases our maximum health. Simply put, the more health we have, the more punishment we can take. To be able laugh at normal hits and not be too worried about larger crits is important to any tank and if you cant take a couple of heavy crits in a matter of few seconds and still have well over 50% of your health bar filled, you have a problem.
Every point of stamina equals 10 health. A decent Paladin tank, before equipping epics, should have around 3.8k health before buffs at level 60. Of course, the better your gear and the greater the spells cast upon you, can easily bring you up to 6k+ in health, but 3.8k is an excellent start and what you should strive for by the time you reach level 60. Unbuffed and without armor, a human Paladin has about 2,200 health, meaning youre looking for around +160 stamina on your equipment optimally.
Most magical plate armor you find will already have a boost to stamina on it, so fulfilling this base requirement isn't too difficult. However, if you find yourself tanking, but are still uncomfortable how far your health bar drops whenever you get attacked, look into stamina enchantments for your boots and bracers (or better armor).
The fuel for our mana reserves and the energy for almost all of our tanking abilities. The more intellect you have means more options at your disposal and the greater duration of your ability to tank. Run out of mana and you wont be able to judge your Seal of Righteousness or cast Holy Shield one last time.
Every point of intellect adds 15 mana to your mana pool. Like health, an optimal amount of mana to have is around 3.8k before buffs at level 60. More mana means being able to tank longer without taking a break or being able to tank greater numbers of mobs.
Finding magical plate with intellect on it can be a bit more difficult. Typically any you find in instances that does have it will have other stats or abilities that arent as useful to Tankadins. Still, the gear does exist and if you have problems getting hold of it, theres always those trusty enchanters.
Further down the list is strength. Needed not so much for DPS (though higher damage does generate more threat) as it is needed for blocking.
Roughly every 22 points of strength allow for one more point of damage reduction every time you block with your shield. This may not sound like much at the start, but when you hit the upper levels and find gear that can give you upwards of +100-200 strength, youll be taking as much as 10 less damage per block. Some may scoff at this, seeing it as a paltry sum when compared to the normal infrequency of blocks, but when mixed with +%blocking gear and talents, strength can greatly increase your damage mitigation, especially when battling against groups of non-elite mobs in instances.
Like stamina, most plate found in game will have bonuses to strength. Just note that overall it is not as important as intellect when picking your gear and if you have choice between Boots of the Bear or Boots of the Eagle, go for the latter.
At close to the bottom of the list we find spirit. This increases your health and mana regeneration rates, but only when you are out of combat for health or not casting at all for mana. As you should be typically casting nonstop while in combat, this doesnt come in very handy. The only times you might gain any benefit from spirit is while under the influence of a Druids Innervate.
For your mana regeneration needs, rely more in +mana /5 second gear than in spirit.
As a Protection specced Paladin, the only real use for agility is a minor increase in armor. Some may believe that agility is desirable because it also increases both critical strike chance and dodge percentage. Unfortunately, critical strikes do not increase the amount of holy damage generated by your seals and, as I will discuss later, you actually want to be hit to aid in your generation of threat.
A blessing and a curse, agility should only be on your gear if it is mixed with other stats that you desire on an item in particular.
Part III - Talents:
Here are a list of talents that all directly effect a Paladins ability to tank. None of these are required (with the exception of Improved Righteous Fury) and just serve as a guide to the tools at an aspiring Tankadins disposal. Pick and choose them to suit your playing style, but know that those that come highly praised are done so for good reason.
Also, for space and ease Ive only noted the maximum benefit of a talent in its description. This is the bonus received when the full amount of points are invested.
Redoubt - Tier One: 5 Talent Points
Increases your chance to block attacks with your shield by 30% after being the victim of a critical strike. Lasts 10 seconds or 5 blocks.
Our shield is a Tankadins best friend. Damage mitigation, damage and threat generation, talent benefits, it does it all. But it cant do any of that unless our enemy connects with it. When we block, everything starts to fall into place and anything you can do to make that happen is something that you need to try. Redoubt is our most basic protection talent and is the basis of most our coming abilities. Without this skill, a number of future talents and spells are weakened considerably. Think hard about your future role as a tank if you choose to pass on this talent. Guardians Favor - Tier Two: 2 Talent Points
Reduces the cooldown of your Blessing of Protection by 120 seconds and increases the duration of your Blessing of Freedom by 6 seconds.
Blessing of Protection is a fantastic tool for controlling aggro in the heat of battle. Not only does it protect the targeted party member from physical damage, but it also serves as an aggro wipe for the time that it is in effect. If that certain Fire Mage follows a critted Pyroblast with a critted Fire Blast, the mob will most likely turn to attack him. A Blessing of Protection takes him out of harms way and places the mob back into your tanking graces.
Think of Blessing of Protection as an emergency taunt and this talent will allow you use of that emergency taunt more often. If you travel with a normal group of players, they will eventually take this buff as a warning that they have pulled aggro and to back off a bit on their damage output. Precision - Tier Two: 3 Talent Points
Increases your chance to hit with melee weapons by 3%.
Using Seal of Righteousness is one of the few proactive abilities we have but it is entirely dependent on if our weapon lands a hit. Precision helps to keep our aim true and the holy damage constant. While this talent is not as useful as other tier 2 talents (such as Toughness), it still has a place in the Tankadins repertoire. Toughness - Tier Two: 5 Talent Points
Increases your armor value from items by 10%.
In later stages of the game, this talent means an extra 700+ armor, an impressive increase. This comes out to about an additional 2-3% of physical damage mitigation. While some may think that isnt much, any good tank knows that every little bit helps.
As I will describe in further detail later in this guide, most of our threat comes from actually being attacked. The more we can do to survive those attacks will keep us up longer and help the healers in their roles as well, making this an almost essential talent. Anticipation - Tier Three: 5 Talent Points
Increases your Defense skill by 10.
Your defense skill effects your ability to block, dodge, and parry with the full 10 skill granted by the talent giving each an increase of 0.4% as well as decreasing chances of suffering a critical strike by the same percentage. Now, this may sound all well and good, but its kind of a double edged sword.
The most important concept of a Tankadins ability to hold aggro is that the mob you are facing has to be landing physical attacks. Most of our best holy damaging abilities are reactive and require a successful enemy attack or a successful block to function. Dodged or parried attacks do not activate our Retribution Aura. Fewer critical attacks mean fewer Redoubt procs and fewer chances to use your Blessing of Sanctuary or Holy Shield. The bulk of our threat generation comes from these abilities and a higher defense means a decreased reliability on all of them.
Still, a higher defense does increase your outright chance to block with your shield, but it comes paired with that increase of dodge and parry percentage as well. And yes, fewer critical hits against you means greater survivability, but again its at the sacrifice of your shield-related abilities.
In conclusion, this talent is best skipped in favor of other talents in the Protection tree. For the most part, a Paladins armor will protect you from most critical strikes and added defense is not crucial, even when tanking Dire Maul or Scholomance. The Molten Core is another story, if you are chosen to off-tank for your guild during such an instance, you will need to invest in some added defense to cushion the multiple crits that can exceed 1k in damage apiece. But even in this case, Anticipation can easily be replaced by a few pieces of +defense gear. Improved Righteous Fury - Tier Three: 3 Talent Points
Increases the amount of threat generated by your Righteous Fury spell by 50%.
The most important talent in which you can spend your points. It makes every Seal of Righteousness, Holy Shield proc, or Holy Shock pack that much more threat. Even if you dont go any further into the Protection tree, this talent is a 100% must-have for every Tankadin. Shield Specialization - Tier Three: 3 Talent Points
Increases the amount of damage absorbed by your shield by 30%.
This may not sound like much, but eventually when its used with some of the level 60 shields and a healthy ability score in strength, this talent is capable of pushing the damage stopped from the 70s to over 100+ incoming damage with each successful block. When youre a tanking class where a healthy portion of your damage mitigation comes from your shield, anything you can do to increase its benefit will be a major advantage.
Keep in mind that many of these talents have a certain synergy with each other and work best when paired. With the proper mix of talents and equipment, you can expect to be blocking an exceptionally high number of attacks. When taking into account how often Redoubt may proc, the benefits of Holy Shield, and any +% to blocking gear you may find, the necessity of this talent becomes clear. Blessing of Sanctuary - Tier Five: 1 Talent Point
Places a Blessing on the friendly target, reducing damage dealt from all sources by up to 24 for 5 minutes. In addition, when the target blocks a melee attack the attacker will take 35 Holy damage.
Another incredible talent for an aspiring Tankadins. Not only does it improve damage mitigation, but it also increases threat generation by dealing additional holy damage. Best when used in conjunction with Redoubt and Holy Shield for maximum benefit.
It is important to note that Blessing of Sanctuary takes effect before other damage reduction is considered, meaning that if you take 50% less damage from physical attacks due to your plate, Blessing of Sanctuary will only prevent 12 of the damage that gets through. Holy Shield - Tier Seven: 1 Talent Point
Increases chance to block by 30% for 10 seconds and deals 130 Holy damage for each attack blocked while active. Each block expends a charge. 4 charges.
Dont let anyone tell you differently, Holy Shield is the best tool in which to invest for an aspiring Tankadin. Especially when paired with Redoubt, this talent greatly increases both your damage mitigation and your ability to generate additional threat. Any ability that (with a good shield and other talents) can prevent up to 400 damage and deal the same in holy damage to keep your mob attacking you is a great boon to any tank and her party. It gives the Priests a little more breathing room and allows the Rogues and Mages to be a little crazier.
When dealing with single targets this ability is best saved when Redoubt procs to get the most out of a single casting, but when dealing with multiple mobs you can activate it whenever it is up and typically find all 4 charges used before the time limit expires. Being at the end of the Protection tree, Holy Shield should only be acquired by serious Tankadins who intend to main tank. The damage it does is too low to be used offensively in solo PvE and is best suited for holding aggro in groups.
Benediction - Tier One: 5 Talent Points
Reduces the mana cost of your seals and judgments by 15%.
Simply put, the more mana you have, the longer you can serve as tank. In a role where you find yourself constantly judging your enemies and resealing your weapon to hold aggro, this talent can help keep your mana bar full and you on the front lines. Deflection - Tier Two: 5 Talent Points
Increases your Parry chance by 5%.
I place this here to bring up an important point that I already stated once under Anticipation. While an increase in parrying sounds nice (and it is very nice), remember that a parried attack does not proc Retribution Aura and does not trigger a shield block or any of its associated abilities. Essentially, a parried attack is a wasted chance at additional holy damage and additional threat generated for you. A fair ability if you plan on climbing high into the Retribution tree, otherwise it is best avoided. Improved Judgment - Tier Two: 2 Talent Points
Reduces the cooldown of your Judgment spell by 2 seconds.
2 seconds may not sound like much, but if you typically run around with a Fire Mage bent on critting as often as possible or a Rogue with a pension for stun locking, this talent can become exceedingly useful. Judgment of Righteousness is one of our basic tools for holding aggro and the ability to use it with greater frequency can be a major benefit to your party. Improved Seal of the Crusader - Tier Two: 5 Talent Points
Increases the attack power bonus of your Seal of the Crusader and the Holy damage increase of your Judgment of the Crusader by 15%.
With a good party, any mob should be down too quickly for this talent to be of any real use. However, when you are dealing with boss mobs in instances or any of the tougher elites out and about where the battle will last longer than 30 seconds, most Paladins should start off with a Judgment of the Crusader to help their Seals of Righteousness have that added punch.
Of course, it can be argued that using a Judgment of Righteousness from the outset will have the same effect. But still, if you choose to invest heavily into the Retribution tree, this is a good talent to spend your points. Improved Retribution Aura - Tier Four: 2 Talent Points
Increases the damage done by your Retribution Aura by 50%.
An exceptional talent for the point cost. This effectively boosts the damage of your Retribution Aura from 20 holy damage a hit to 30. An excellent tool for holding aggro especially as it is independent of your shield and will proc on every successful, physical attack made by your enemy instead of just your blocks. Its only downside is its high placement in the Retribution tree. Acquiring it means greatly limiting your access to other useful and important talents. Vindication - Tier Three: 3 Talent Points
Gives the Paladin's damaging melee attacks a chance to reduce the target's Strength and Agility by 15% for 10 sec.
The only real source of damage mitigation in the Retribution tree and its an excellent one. Weakening the enemys ability to injure while not hindering his ability to attack is a great blend of making things easier on the healers and still generating the same level of threat. Tankadins choosing to climb this far into Retribution should invest in this talent. Seal of Command - Tier Three: 1 Talent Point
Gives the Paladin a chance to deal additional holy damage equal to 70% of the damage of the attack. Unleashing this Seal's energy will judge an enemy, instantly causing 170 to 187 holy damage, 339 to 373 if the target is stunned or incapacitated.
A more potent version of Seal of Righteousness capable of dishing out hefty amounts of holy damage. For the Tankadins, however, it comes with two liabilities.
First, its not constant. Where Seal of Righteousness will give you a reliable stream of holy damage, Seal of Command only procs around 6 times a minute. This means the mob may choose turn its back on you during the long wait for procs to occur. Second, its based on weapon damage. Basically, to get the most out of it, you need to equip the slower, two-handed weapons. This strips you of a shield for increased armor and blocking, a major loss in damage mitigation.
Overall, Seal of Command has the potential to generate more threat than Seal of Righteousness, but its procs can be unreliable for that steady stream of holy damage thats best for tanking. Mixed with its loss of a shield make this talent less desirable than others for Tankadins. Sanctity Aura - Tier Five: 1 Talent Point
Increases holy damage done by party members within 30 yards by 10%. Players may only have one Aura on them per Paladin at any one time.
A 10% boost in holy damage is a large increase in threat generated by your attacks. Like Seal of the Crusader, it can give your Seal of Righteousness or Seal of Command an added punch that is sure to keep the mobs attention. But like Seal of Command, it comes at a cost.
Using Sanctity Aura, means being unable to use Retribution Aura, a better tool overall to a Tankadins. Where Retribution Aura procs every time the mob scores a successful or blocked attack, Sanctity Aura only procs when you hit with your seals or Consecration. Also, when used with Seal of Righteousness, the damage increase is minimal. It is best used in conjunction with Seal of Command for maximum effect which brings up the same problems with that talent as discussed earlier. Vengeance - Tier Six: 5 Talent Points
Gives you a 15% bonus to physical and holy damage you deal for 8 seconds after dealing a critical strike from a weapon swing, spell, or ability.
Again, an increase in holy damage can only increase the amount of threat you are capable of generating. This has the added bonus of also increasing physical damage as well, which, if youre using Seal of Command, increases your holy damage even further. The only downside is that is dependent on you dealing critical strikes, something Tankadins do not excel at with their choice of gear and talents.
Divine Intellect - Tier One: 5 Talent Points
Increases your total intellect by 10%.
More intellect means greater mana reserves which means a longer ability to tank. The better of the two talents in the first tier to invest in for Tankadins. Improved Seal of Righteousness - Tier Two: 5 Talent Points
Increases the damage done by your Seal of Righteousness by 15%.
Our basic holy damage generator and our main proactive ability to hold aggro. While an additional 15% may only add 6-7 damage with a fast weapon at level 60, thats an additional 6-7 of holy damage thats helping you generate threat and keep that mobs attention. Also, the 15% is factored in after +spell damage is calculated, meaning that this bonus can potentially be much greater.
Still, this is not a talent you need to go out of your way to acquire, but if you are going further up this tree, spend your points here. Consecration - Tier Three: 1 Talent Point
Consecrates the land beneath the Paladin, doing 384 Holy damage over 8 seconds to enemies who enter the area.
Our only AoE spell and its one of the Tankadins best assets. When dealing with any grouped mobs that need to be flame striked out of existence, Consecration will help make sure those mobs stay glued to you and not the cloth wearers. Walk into an enemy groups midst, throw this out, turn on your Holy Shield, Retribution Aura, and Blessing of Sanctuary and watch the yellow numbers fly, knowing that each one is generating high amounts of threat and making it safe for Mages to blizzard and flame wave.
Do note, however, that Consecration is not meant as a tool to gain snap aggro, only to cement a mobs hatred upon the Paladin. Best for large groups where Seal of Righteousness just wont cut it or on boss mobs where a little extra threat is always a good idea. Unyielding Faith - Tier Three: 2 Talent Points
Increases your chance to resist Fear and Disorient effects by an additional 10%.
While there may be other talents that tickle your fancy, this is an excellent one to obtain for only 2 points cost. There are numerous mobs to tank where fear can be a major factor. Unyielding Faith gives you a better chance to stay focused and everyone else a chance to be quickly cleansed and get back in combat. Especially useful on boss mobs that invariably have a fear or disorient ability of some type. Holy Shock - Tier Seven: 1 Talent Point
Blasts the target with holy energy, causing 365 to 395 holy damage to an enemy, or 365 to 395 healing to an ally.
One of the few proactive, threat generating abilities we can get. Though stronger than Judgment of Righteousness, it can only be used every 30 seconds and has a relatively high mana cost. Essentially, Holy Shock becomes used as a way to generate snap aggro, our version of taunt if you will. If a mob suddenly turns its attention elsewhere, this spell is a reliable way of turning it back towards you.
But, when it comes down to it, Holy Shock doesnt have the same holy damage potential as Holy Shield and therefore not as much threat generation. Plus, the mix of a much higher cooldown time and lack of any damage mitigation makes it vastly inferior to Holy Shield for Tankadins. Still, for those who decide to invest the bulk of their talent points into the holy tree, this is your best chance at keeping a mobs attention for your build. Recommended only for those who plan on just off-tanking when a Mage polymorph is resisted or broken, while the real plate wearers do the main tanking.
Part IV - Combat:
Now that you know basics and what skills to obtain, lets put those skills to use. Before you go charging into that group of ogres you need to have an idea of what to do.
First off, you need to be sure you are wearing updated armor for your level. You may be able to get away with a piece of mail or two post level 40 if you cant find the right mixture of stats on a piece of plate, but the main emphasis here is on a high armor rating. The higher your armor rating, the greater the physical damage mitigation and the less stress you place upon your healers. Hopefully you can get yourself past the 50% less damage taken mark and, of course, the more the merrier. Once you get into gear at level 60, you can easily break past the 60% less damage taken barrier.
Equip yourself with a proper shield. What youre looking for is one that has a high block value, the higher this value, the less damage you will take with each successful block. A good shield will also add a large amount of armor to your rating as well. If you can, stick a shield spike on there for added damage or enchant it for greater chance at blocking.
As far as weapons go, you are best off with a one-hander with a speed around 2.20 or faster. This will make sure that your Seal of Righteousness is landing regularly and pushing out a steady stream of holy damage. Slower weapons run the risk of misses becoming long lapses of time where too little threat is generated. If you do choose a slower weapon, make sure that it has a compensating factor (such as exceedingly high stats or an armor bonus) that makes up for this trait.
Use Blessing of Sanctuary if you have it. This helps reduce damage taken and deals out additional holy damage to help you generate extra threat. If you chose not to invest in this talent, then either Blessing of Wisdom or Blessing of Might are fair second choices. But seriously consider respeccing and gaining access to the former.
Use Retribution Aura. Some may say that Devotion Aura is a better choice to help increase your armor rating, but with a good choice of equipment you should be safe in that area. Retribution Aura will deal 20 holy damage (30 if you spec for it) to any mob for each and every physical attack they make. Along with Seal of Righteousness, this is the most reliable method of constant threat you can generate and is extremely useful when fighting almost all mobs. Always keep Righteous Fury up and in your buff bar. With it, you are a more effective tank capable at holding aggro. Without it youre just another melee class dealing mediocre, if not downright pathetic, damage.
Your party can be of any standard setup with you as the Tank. As far as buffing them goes, you are safe giving them whatever blessings they wish. But if you are grouped with any class with a heavy, burst damage, crit build, you may want to toss them a Blessing of Salvation. Most intelligent players will also know when to back off when its necessary, after most crits, mages should refrain from casting for a few seconds before going again, Rogues and Warriors can take a step back for the same reasons. Some may say this is a weakness shared only by Paladins, but its true of all Tanks. If that Fire Mage crits that Pyroblast and immediately follows up with a critted Fire Blast, the mob is going to turn regardless.
One aspect that your party needs to be aware of though, and one of the most important things to remember as a Tankadin, is that the mob has to be actively attacking and successfully landing physical attacks to help you generate threat. If the mob is stunned, incapacitated, or otherwise hindered in its attacking routine, then it isnt stinging itself with holy damage against your shield and auras.
Any Rogues in the group need to understand that stun locking the mob hinders a Paladins ability to tank. They need to either join in on battle a few seconds later than the rest of the party or avoid stunning altogether. The same goes for Warriors that want to start off every battle with a Charge and spell casters with Impact, Blackout, and similar abilities.
This above most things is what gives Tankadins a bad reputation. Not being allowed to build aggro in the way we are able to and losing a mobs attention. Warrior tanks need a Sunder Armor or two, Druid Tanks need to cast that Faerie Fire a few times, Paladin tanks need to deal an opening amount of holy damage. Running with a regular group is the best way to rectify that problem, they get to know the flow of battle and how it can flow with differing tanks.
Battle: Single Targets
What I state here is the optimum course of action for a Tankadins to take to establish initial aggro and hold it. This is working under the assumption that you have chosen, at the very least, Redoubt, Improved Righteous Fury, Holy Shield, Consecration, and Blessing of Sanctuary as talents. I have found that the use of these abilities are our best tools to being the best Main Tanks we can be. Remember, all of our threat comes from holy damage. Generate a constant amount of this and the mob will always be with you.
As with Warriors, we need a chance to establish aggro on a mob before others can join in on the fray. Most of the time, the rest of the party will wait for a Sunder Armor or two before attacking with a Warrior at the helm; the same goes for Paladins.
Start off with a Judgment of Righteousness and then recast Seal of Righteousness, 200+ holy damage right off the bat is a nice burst of threat to make sure that the mob turns away from the puller and anyone that decides to start attacking a little early. As soon as you have aggro, let your Retribution Aura do its job and start your attack. Every hit you take and every swing you make is another surge of threat. It doesnt take long, just a few seconds, to make sure that the mob will stay on you for the whole battle. Have the party give you those few seconds and youre set.
Every 8-10 seconds (depending on your choice of talents) your Judgment of Righteousness spell will be ready to cast. When you first start tanking, you will want to use this whenever you can. But as you become more comfortable with your abilities and get to know the intricacies of your party better, you can save it for the dry times in between Redoubt procs. This spell is basically another cushion of holy damage to give you confidence that you have aggro. Always begin tanking a mob with Judgment of Righteousness and everything else is easier to follow.
Whenever you suffer from a critical strike and Redoubt procs, cast Holy Shield to get the most out of both spells. Not only will the extra blocks greatly reduce the damage you take over the next 10 seconds, but you will gain a large threat advantage on your target. With the proper spec, your mob will take 35 holy damage from your Blessing of Sanctuary, at least 20 holy damage from your Retribution Aura, and 130 holy damage from your Holy Shield each time you block. With a 65% chance of this happening per attack at the very least (much more with the right equipment and enchantments), you can count on this combination typically proccing about 3 times in that 10 seconds with the average mob.
Or if youre fighting a mob that has either a fast attack speed or is wielding dual weapons, you can cast Holy Shield whenever you feel appropriate. If you find yourself suffering a bit too much damage, it can help cut down on health loss. If you think that Rogue is using Eviscerate a bit too liberally, it can add a bit more holy damage to give you more of a cushion.
Battle: Multiple Elite Targets
During instances, mobs generally come in packs. Any good group will have multiple methods of crowd control (e.g. Polymorph, Sap, Hibernate, etc.). If they can bring the number of active units down to one, just cast Judgment of Righteousness on that free mob and continue with your normal routine. In cases like these, you want refrain from any additional Judgment after the mob reaches around 50-60% health. Then, when it reaches around 15-20% health, hit it with a Hammer of Justice.
This will allow you to turn your attention to a crowd controlled mob and cast another Judgment of Righteousness on it to start the cycle anew. The mob you stunned with your hammer will stay in place while the melee can finish it off and leaving you free to start building threat on the next target. If your group is missing Executes or other Paladins with Hammer of Wrath you can choose to stun the mob as late as 10% health, but generally stunning it at 20% will work fine.
If you have already used Hammer of Justice for whatever reason, you can simply stay in place and use Judgment of Righteousness on a sheeped or sapped mob. The increased distance of the spell allows for this in most cases. It may make the fight a bit chaotic for a few seconds, but it shouldnt be anything an experienced group cant easily handle.
For the short moments when you are fighting dual mobs, and for the parties that lack sufficient crowd control, a few extra steps are involved to make sure that both elites attack you and you alone.
Before fights such as this, make sure the party knows which mob you will be focusing your holy attacks. This is the one to be brought down first. The second mob, while suffering minimal holy damage from your Retribution Aura at the very least, has not been hit with a Judgment of Righteousness and should be allowed to continue beating on the Paladins shield in peace.
When fighting two elites mobs at once, its always a good idea to keep Holy Shield up whenever you can cast it. Not only does this put less of a strain on your healers, but it also builds aggro on the mob youre not currently facing. Remember, 130 holy damage from your Holy Shield, 35 holy damage from your Blessing of Sanctuary, and at least 20 holy damage from your Retribution Aura are all hitting each mob with every successful block; even without Redoubt proccing, you should see full use or close to full use out of each casting against dual mobs. WIth your Improved Righteous Fury in effect, this will keep both mobs attacking you.
Consecration is also a good tool to use. If you feel you need a bit more threat generated because a couple of critical strikes have hit you in a row, causing a sudden surge in healing, a Consecration is in order. Discretion must be used with this spell however, it has a high mana cost and will hit any other crowd controlled mobs that happen to be nearby. Overuse will tax your mana reserves and could possibly put your party in danger from a third elite mob. Because of this, Consecration is best saved for the next scenario.
Battle: Multiple Non-Elite Targets
Theyre out there. Clusters of trash mobs in Dire Maul, Maraudon, and Stratholme. They can be bugs, plants, or undead, but theyre there and theyre meant for the Mages and Warlocks to AoE. This is where Consecration shines.
Have all of your defenses ready and simply charge into the groups center with Consecration, Retribution Aura, Holy Shield, and Blessing of Sanctuary. Not only will you see the holy damage fly, but damage will be surprisingly light. Typically if the Mage waits about 4 seconds before nuking, he can throw off 2-3 spells before the mobs even notice hes there. And by this time, its already too late.
If there happens to be an elite hiding in that group of non-elites, just hit it with a Judgment of Righteousness as you enter the fray and treat it just like any other fight. Cast Consecration and Holy Shield whenever they are up and you should have no problem keeping the entire bunch.
Battle: Undead Targets
What needs to be said about cases like these? Paladins excel in attacks on the undead. Exorcism and Holy Wrath are massive threat generators and will make sure that you are the only one taking damage in the party.
Stratholme is the best example of where to use these abilities. Single elite targets hit with Exorcism and Judgment of Righteousness at the start wont waver in their hatred for the Paladin. With groups of undead mobs, have the Priest start you off with a Power Word: Shield and you will be able to cast a Holy Wrath without interruption; follow this with a Consecration and even critted Flame Strikes followed by Flame Waves shouldnt turn the undeads ire.
Battle: Losing Aggro and Other Problems
Yes, it happens. The Rogue has to prove hes the top damage dealer. The Mages Talisman of Ephemeral Power is ready to use. The Warrior flat out doesnt like you and wants to prove youre a terrible tank. Whatever the reason, someone else has pulled aggro and the mob is running around chewing on others instead of trying to kill you.
Paladins do not have a taunt. We do not have an ability specifically designed to pull snap aggro and it can be a major hindrance. If you have Judgment of Righteousness or Holy Shock up, cast it and hope thats enough threat to regain aggro. If its not, then we use Blessing of Protection.
Blessing of Protection is a fantastic ability that serves two purposes. First, it grants whoever you cast it upon full immunity to physical damage. Second, and more importantly, it acts as a temporary aggro wipe for the target. Yes, the Fire Mage pulled aggro, but after having Blessing of Protection cast on them, they are now ignored by the mob and it will return its attention back upon the Paladin.
In essence, Blessing of Protection is a player-targeted taunt ability that lasts 10 seconds.
But remember, while the party member may be safe for those 10 seconds, they still retain their current level of threat, do whatever holy damage you can in that time to climb back on top. Most intelligent players will back off when they are hit with Blessing of Protection, understanding what has happened and not casting to allow the tank to regain aggro. Those that dont will most likely be killed after it wears off and while they blame the healers and tanks for their demise, the blame rests squarely on them.
Still, the biggest obstacle we have, as Paladins, to being main tanks is prejudice. Most players are used to having a Warrior in this role and will be adverse to giving Paladins or Druids a chance. When you find yourself playing with these types of players, problems can easily arise.
Some of the time, these players will do what they can to sabotage the group. Its generally best to always keep Blessing of Salvation on them at all times and calmly point out that the Warrior is doing more damage than they are and not causing any problems. Still, the best thing to do, as I have noted before, is to run with a regular group of friends and guild members and avoid pickup groups altogether.
MMORPGs generally work on teamwork and supporting your party. In Final Fantasy and Everquest parties had to be highly coordinated to function. World of Warcraft should work under the same principles, but doesnt always seem to hold up to the same standard. Youll find many players that just constantly attack, doing whatever damage they can despite mana for the casters or aggro concerns in combat. Yes it may be difficult to get around them in your group, but know that those that cant grasp the concept of the party dynamic, wont be able to function in 40-man raid instances and will most likely be kicked from your guild.
Part V - Gear:
Last we come to armor and weaponry. What Plate should you seek out? Should you use a sword or a mace? Arcanite Reaper or Arcanite Champion?
All of this comes down to personal preference. Some Paladins choose to go for maximum armor and stamina with a hint of added defense in the style of a Warrior. Others want to get as many bonuses to blocking or to hit along with their stats. And then there those that choose aesthetics over function, loving the look of a menacing axe in one hand and a giant spiked shield in the other.
Regardless of your style, there are numerous pieces of gear that suit it. To save time and space, I shall only list the near endgame gear you would find in the higher level instances such as Dire Maul and Stratholme. In earlier levels, just seek out gear with a fair amount of stamina and intellect and you shall do fine. If you are lucky enough to be fighting in Blackwing Lair, then any piece of our Judgment Set will do you proud. Lets start at the top.
Whitesoul Helm: http://www.thottbot.com/?i=24516
629 Armor / +15 Intellect / +15 Spirit / +35 Healing Spells
High armor and great intellect on this crafted item make it an excellent piece of gear. Mixed with a relatively cheap material cost makes this a helm that all Paladins should have in their inventories.
Helm of the Holy Avenger: http://www.thottbot.com/?i=53086
574 Armor / +17 Stamina / +18 Intellect / +20 All Spells / +1% Attack Crit
Outstanding gear out of AQ. You will probably never see this ... ever. But for the unique occasion it pops up on the Auction House and you happen to have a few hundred gold to spare, buy it.
Bile-etched Spaulders: http://www.thottbot.com/?i=35747
485 Armor / +17 Strength / +6 Stamina / +6 Intellect / +7 defense
Theres not much in the way of plate shoulders for us to choose from out there. This is probably the best you can find as it adds all 3 of the main stats we require to tank. The added defense, while not completely beneficial, is not completely unwanted either. These drop off of Immolthar in Dire Maul West.
Abyssal Plate Spaulders: http://www.thottbot.com/?i=52242
530 Armor / +1% to hit / <random enchantment>
Gear that drops off of the quest mobs for AQ are difficult to come by, so dont hold your breath trying to farm one yourself. But, you may get lucky and find a set of these in the AH with just the right enchantment on them to make your Tankadin dreams come true.
Energized Chestplate: http://www.thottbot.com/?i=35671
617 Armor / +13 Strength / +20 Stamina / +12 Intellect / +5 mana per tic
Great all around gear that drops off of Alzzin the Wildshaper, the final boss in Dire Maul East. Its only downside is that on females it looks like that golden bikini that Princess Leia wears in Return of the Jedi. I suggest wearing a red swashbuckler shirt along with it to make it seem less tacky.
Plate of the Shaman King: http://www.thottbot.com/?i=5324
627 Armor / +12 Strength / +15 Stamina / +15 Intellect / +18 All Spells
After 1.10, this piece was upgraded considerably with added stats and a bonus to spell damage. For those of you who prefer an added punch to your holy based spells as opposed to increased mana. You can find this on Highlord Omokk in Lower Blackrock Spire.
Arena Vambraces: http://www.thottbot.com/?i=37261
371 Armor / +6 Stamina
Exceptional armor rating and stamina that can be worn at lower levels, a good all around piece of gear. If youre lucky, you can grab a pair of these from the arena treasure chest in Stranglethorn Vale.
Fel Hardened Bracers: http://www.thottbot.com/?i=37376
283 Armor / +12 Strength / +12 Stamina / +3 Defense
High armor, a healthy chunk of 2 of our 3 needed stats, and only a little bit of +defense make these a wanted item for Tankadins. Theyre only real downside is having to claim them from the rarely spawned Dreadlord boss for the Warlock epic steed quest, Lord Helnurath in Dire Maul North.
Darkrune Gauntlets: http://www.thottbot.com/?i=52179
410 Armor / +8 Stamina / +20 Shadow Resistance / +2% chance to block
Crafted gauntlets with good armor, below average stats, but an increased chance to block that makes up for it. The one material that may be difficult to obtain to make them are Dark Runes, only found in Scholomance.
Razor Gauntlets: http://www.thottbot.com/?i=35698
386 Armor / +8 Strength / Deals 3 arcane damage when attacked
Not really much in the way of gauntlets to choose from for us Paladins, youre best off looking for Lightforge Gauntlets. But if youre trying for an Energized Chestplate off of Alzzin the Wildshaper, you may get these as a fair replacement. The added damage goes well with the Paladins defensive capabilities.
Belt of the Ordained: http://www.thottbot.com/?i=37571
353 Armor / +9 Stamina / +8 Intellect / +42 healing spells
For those lucky enough to find this off of random mobs in Scholomance would be wise to pick it up for themselves. Our two most important stats and a huge boost in healing spells, its almost everything we need in a piece of gear.
Handcrafted Mastersmith Girdle: http://www.thottbot.com/?i=9158
519 Armor / +11 Strength / +10 Agility / +10 Stamina
Agility and lack of intellect not withstanding, the high armor on this item make it exceptional. 150 better than other belts its level, if you have difficulty picking up a Belt of the Ordained, then definitely look into this one on your next upper Blackrock Spire run as it can be found on Goraluk Anvilcrack.
Lightforge Belt: http://www.thottbot.com/?i=23553
341 Armor / +10 Strength / +9 Stamina / +15 Intellect / +6 Spirit
One of the few pieces of our basic set that I would recommend for Tankadins. It has a fair armor rating, but great stats across the board. Its a random drop off of mobs found in Stratholme.
Chitinous Plate Legguards: http://www.thottbot.com/?i=37189
557 Armor / +20 Stamina / +20 Intellect / +5 mana per tic
Another great selection of stats and abilities on gear thats relatively easy to obtain. These drop off of Nerubenkan, the spider boss in the dead side of Stratholme.
Darksoul Leggings: http://www.thottbot.com/?i=51358
722 Armor / +22 Stamina / +2% chance to hit
While it has no intellect to entice us, these leggings do have an incredible amount of armor for blue gear and the added chance to hit is a tanking boon. From a ZulGurub reputation Blacksmithing recipe and while you dont need to go there yourself to get a pair, you do need someone on your server to have access to it.
Master Cannoneer Boots: http://www.thottbot.com/?i=20122
438 Armor / +10 Strength / +21 Stamina
A high amount of stamina make these a very desirable item for a tank with the strength being a good secondary trait. They can be found off of Cannon Master Willey in the live side of Stratholme.
Death Knight Sabatons: http://www.thottbot.com/?i=37631
424 Armor / +11 Strength / +11 Stamina / +11 Intellect / +9 Spirit
Good armor and a fantastic blend of stats for Tankadins. Marduk Blackpool in Scholomance drops these.
Mind Carver: http://www.thottbot.com/?i=35828
2.00 Speed / 40.8 DPS / +8 Intellect / +12 spell damage
While not the prettiest of weapons, the Mind Carver has a good speed, decent damage, and excellent abilities for a Paladin. Like the Timeworn Mace listed below, this weapon can be found on Prince Tortheldrin in Dire Maul West.
1.90 Speed / 40.0 DPS / 100 Armor / +9 Strength
A quick weapon with added armor, a great steppingstone weapon until you can find a Timeworn Mace. Serathil is a random world drop and can typically be found on the Auction House if you can spare the gold.
Timeworn Mace: http://www.thottbot.com/?i=35823
2.20 Speed / 40.7 DPS / 120 Armor / +7 Strength / +11 Stamina
While not the fastest weapon, this mace still has great stats and an added armor bonus. It drops off of Prince Tortheldrin, the final boss in Dire Maul West.
Arcanite Champion: http://www.thottbot.com/?i=26058
3.00 Speed / 53.8 DPS / Chance on hit: Heal for 270-450 and +120 strength for 30 sec.
If you insist on trying to tank with a 2-handed weapon, this is probably one of your best bets. A fair speed, and the periodic healing can help give your healers some breathing room. This is a crafted item you can pickup from your local swordsmith.
Arcanite Reaper: http://www.thottbot.com/?i=14268
3.80 Speed / 53.8 DPS / +13 Stamina / +62 Attack Power
For those looking for a bit more in the damage department, the Arcanite Reaper will hit a bit harder with your Seal of Command. The added stamina is also a bonus if you can actually hold aggro with this equipped. Ask your local axesmith and be ready to pay a hefty sum to have this made for you.
Crest of Retribution: http://www.thottbot.com/?i=23345
2057 Armor / 38 Block / Deals 5-35 damage when blocking
No stats, but high armor and block value along with a fantastic ability make this an exceptional shield that looks exceedingly menacing. Add a Thorium Shield Spike and your regular tanking abilities and your enemies will be taking well over 230 damage each time you block. This can be found off of Ramstein the Gorger in the dead side of Stratholme.
Barrier Shield: http://www.thottbot.com/?i=36187
2121 Armor / 39 Block / +2% chance to block / Increases block value by 18
Again, no stats, but the added bonuses on it are outstanding. The effective 57 block value mixed with a high strength and Shield Specialization can bring the amount of damage blocked into the 80s. This shield is one of the items that can be found in the Gordok Tribute chest in Dire Maul North.
Argent Defender: http://www.thottbot.com/?i=21010
2121 Armor / 39 Block / 1% chance when hit to increase blocking chance by 50% for 10 sec.
Yet another shield with no stats, but the bonus proc synergizes extremely well with our Protection talents. This shield can be procured through a series of Argent Dawn quests involving the bosses of both live and dead side of Stratholme.
Deathbone Guardian: http://www.thottbot.com/?set=124
2438 Armor / +70 Stamina / +62 Defense / +24 mana per tic
After 1.10, this set became impressive gear for off-tanking in The Molten Core. Good armor, high stamina, needed defense for end-game raiding, and a mana regen rate that helps overcome it's lack of added intellect. All pieces of this set can be collected in Scholomance.
Part VI - Consumables
Crystal Ward: http://www.thottbot.com/?i=9372
Increases the target's Armor by 200 for 30 min.
It may not seem like much, but every little bit helps and it also stacks with Mark of the Wild. Picked up in the Un'Goro Crater from the pylon quests.
Of lesser note are Crystal Spires from the same quest line. These reflect 12 nature damage in the same style as our Retibution Aura. While it doesn't do much to help hold aggro, they are fantastic when dealing with melee oriented players in duels and PvP.
Night Dragon's Breath: http://www.thottbot.com/?i=6414
Restores 394 to 456 mana and 394 to 456 health.
A quick boost in health and enough mana to cast another Holy Shield and Seal and Judgment of Righteousness. The best part of these are the fact that they only have a one minute cooldown that isn't shared with potions. Found in the wilds of Feralas from the Cenarion Hold quests therein.
Whipper Root Tubers: http://www.thottbot.com/?i=2959
Restores 700 to 900 health.
Even the best of healers need a little help and these can supplement them very nicely. Like Night Dragon's Breath above, they don't share a cooldown with potions, can be used once a minute, and are collected in Feralas.
Lung Juice Cocktail: http://www.thottbot.com/?i=6228
Increases Stamina by 50 when consumed. Effect lasts for 60 minutes.
Fantastic, but this incredible item comes with three major problems. First, it's unique so you can't stockpile them. Second, they are an extreme pain to create as doing so means completing a legthy quest in The Blasted Lands. This further complicates the third problem, the effects don't last through death. So if you go through the trouble of making and using these, make sure your healers won't have you waste it.
Cerebral Cortex Compound: http://www.thottbot.com/?i=6267
Increases Intellect by 50 when consumed. Effect lasts for 60 minutes.
From the same line of quests as the Lung Juice Cocktail above comes this item. But this also comes with the same three problems, so be sure of your party before using it.
Flask of Distilled Wisdom: http://www.thottbot.com/?i=25118
Increases the player's maximum mana by 2000 for 2 hrs. You can only have the effect of one flask at a time. This effect persists though death.
A huge increase in mana to help keep a Tanakdin's abilites ready to use and, unlike the consumables above, the effects last through death. Making or buying them is the catch here as all flasks require hefty materials and a trip through Scholomance to manufacture.
Flask of the Titans: http://www.thottbot.com/?i=26327
Increases the player's maximum health by 1200 for 2 hrs. You can only have the effect of one flask at a time. This effect persists though death.
On the flip side of Distilled Wisdom is this flask that gives a straight increase or health. Also lasting two hours through death, but requiring the same level of materials and time to make. Part VII - Summary
So, in final conclusion, Paladins are fully capable of main tanking.
Maximize your damage mitigation. High armor, a good shield, a healthy amount of stamina, Redoubt, Shield Specialization, Blessing of Sanctuary, and Holy Shield are all ways of achieving this requirement and helping you to survive.
Produce a constant stream of holy based damage to generate threat and hold aggro on the mobs you are tanking. Improved Righteous Fury, Seal or Righteousness, Judgment of Righteousness, Blessing of Sanctuary, Holy Shield, Retribution Aura, and Consecration are key to doing this right.
Learn to use your abilities, understand yourself, and you can become a great tank.
Good luck and have fun!
-Krynn of Agamaggan
Original version can be found here: http://web.archive.org/web/20060703200743/http://forums.worldofwarcraft.com:80/thread.aspx?fn=wow-paladin&t=929373&p=1&tmp=1