The Protection Paladin Tanking PageProtection Paladin Tanking Guide

Human Protection Paladin in T16 GearUpdated for Patch 5.4.7

Patch 5.4 brings some “interesting” changes, including to your Vengeance ability. See our post on the 5.4 Paladin Changes for more info on that and the other changes. 5.4.7 changed nothing for any flavor of Paladin.

Protection Paladins have always been excellent tanks and nothing since patch 5.2 has changed that. Both of them were mostly minor changes. 5.3 brought a bit less mana cost and nerfed Glyph of the Battle Healer and Shield of the Righteous. You can see all of the patch notes for Paladins here.

5.4  brought more changes and one really interesting one is the Proving Grounds. The PGs will give you a chance to practice your various moves without concern for causing your team (or their causing you) excessive … stress. In addition, it will be a decent qualifier for your team-mates.

For Warlords of Draenor the Proving Grounds might well be a requirement (silver rating) in order to be able to join random LFR or heroic dungeon groups.

Protection Contents

  1. Protection Paladin Talents
  2. Glyphs
  3. Prot Stats
  4. Rotations
  5. Gems
  6. Enchants
  7. Consumables
  8. Professions
  9. Races
  10. Useful Macros
  11. Leveling Quickly
This Protection Paladin tanking guide is primarily intended for use at level 90. However, the principals will still apply during the leveling process. If you’re looking for advice on leveling your Paladin, check out our Paladin Leveling Guide.

If you want the same in-game step by step leveling guide that we use to get to level 90 as fast as possible, take a look at our favorite in-game leveling guide.

The Fastest Paladin Leveling, Get it Here

Other Paladin Guides: 

 

 

Protection Paladin Tanking Talents

Talents and glyphs share one major feature, and that is that you can change them at will. Pick the new talent of glyph, spend one Tome, click “learn” and you’re done. Going from one fight to a different one? Change up to suit, it’s easy. All of the talents are good, even very good in particular situations. Feel free to experiment and get an idea of what works when. Then change up to suit.

The following recommendations are for general tanking. Patch 5.4 changes are noted. Our picks are checked: Best talent

Protection Paladin Tanking Talents

Tier 1 Talents, level 15:

There’s no obvious pick here, it depends on what you prefer. larger burst movement or smaller, but constant?

  1. Speed of Light grants you a burst movement cooldown, a good choice if you need a sprint right now. Such as when that area effect “destroy everything” spell is dropped by the boss, or it dashes over there.
  2. Long Arm of the Law offers a different movement mechanic, though if you drop a lot of Judgments you might like it. Esp. if you take the Sanctified Wrath talent, below. It offers you a nice speed boost any time you need it. As with Pursuit, below, it doesn’t take up a key slot.
  3. Best talent Pursuit of Justice is a constant speed increase. Not as large as the others, but always there. This one doesn’t need space for a key, you just grab it, forget about it, and it’s always there.

Tier 2 Talents, level 30:

Pick whichever suits the encounter best as none of them should ever really impact your tanking. None of these work on bosses, all can be handy against trash.

  1. Best talent Fist of Justice is an improved version of Hammer of Justice, a single target CC. Great for trash and interrupting and just getting a mob to stop for a bit while you beat on it. Not so useful one bosses. Then again, none of these are useful on bosses.
  2. Repentance is a single target CC that lasts longer than Fist of Justice and has a longer cooldown. Let someone else sleep/sheep the new adds.
  3. 5.4 change: Burden of Guilt lets you slow targets with judgementIn 5.4 this is replaced with: Evil is a Point of View which allows the Paladin to use Turn Evil on players and beasts. Situationally useful in PvE.

Tier 3 Talents, level 45:

Healing yourself and/or others. The tier 16 set bonuses are in the image to the right.

  1. t16 protection paladin set bonusesSelfless Healer was changed in 5.4: stacks of Selfless Healer now reduce the cast time, mana cost, and improve the effectiveness of your Flash of Light. The Bastion of Glory effect from your Shield of the Righteous will now apply Selfless Healer‘s bonus to healing to the casting Paladin, as well as other targets, and consume all stacks of Bastion of Glory in the process.
  2. Eternal Flame is a solid pick. It improves your Word of Glory if you’re self-healing a lot and in 5.4 the periodic part of the heal has been buffed by 40%. In very high level gear (Tier 16) this talent becomes very nice. If you have several stacks (4-5) of Bastion of Glory it will heal a lot more damage than Sacred Shield absorbs.
  3. Best talent Sacred Shield is my recommended choice from this tier, it also uses none of your Holy Power. Keep it on yourself, as damage absorbed doesn’t have to be healed. In 5.4 it does cost mana, can be used on more than one target at a time, has charges, and is 30% less effective for you than for other Paladins. It’s still the #1 choice until you get to t16 gear, where Eternal Flame becomes very interesting.

Tier 4 Talents, level 60:

  1. Hand of Purity could come in handy, lending some protection (10%)  to an ally or yourself, but it mainly applies to DoTs (80% reduction.) Very nice in the right fight (esp in PvP,) but less useful than the others for most fights.
  2. Unbreakable Spirit seems rather unimpressive at first, but if you build Holy Power fast enough as you should be then it really starts to shine. In 5.4  it’s been much simplified. It now reduces the cooldown on Divine ShieldDivine Protection, and Lay on Hands by 50%. It’s a nice cooldown reduction for important abilities and is one less button on your bar. You will get to use these abilities more often with this talent.
  3. Best talent Clemency is pretty sweet if you’re using your Hand spells often. It adds a lot of flexibility. Here’s a comment about it from WoWheadBasically, this gives your Hands 2 charges like Roll. So, for example, you hit Hand of Freedom once. That first charge is on CD and Hand of Freedom is still available to you since you have 1 more charge. Clicking it again will use the second charge and the first charge’s CD is what you’ll be waiting for next. Once the first charge’s CD is up, it goes to work on the second charge starting at 25sec. Every Hand’s recharging CD is based on the spells usual CD. Hand of Protection’s is 5 mins for example. Experiment with it to better understand how to use it. If you rarely use Hand spells then it’s not so hot.

Tier 5 Talents, level 75:

There is no “best” here, it depends on your playstyle.

  1. Best talent Holy Avenger is a very good cooldown, my recommended choice. You get a big buff exactly when you want it, which is why it’s the pick here. Great on pulls or periods where you nee more damage right now. Works well with your Avenging Wrath, or you can alternate them.
  2. Sanctified Wrath is quite attractive, a viable option, but I feel it falls a little short of Holy Avenger. If you do take this one then seriously consider taking Long Arm of the Law, since you’re doing a lot of Judging. In 5.4 those judgments add 2 Holy Power while your Avenging  Wrath is active. This will make your Judgment your main Holy Power generator while A. Wrath is active.
  3. Divine Purpose is less reliable, being a random proc, making it inferior to the guaranteed effects of Holy Avenger. If that fits into your game better than a 2 min CD, then take it. A lot of people do prefer this talent and it does proc fairly often, esp. with lots of Haste.

Tier 6 Talents, level 90:

  1. For single-target encounters Execution Sentence is likely to be the best choice, but the long loading period is a negative unless you can wait 10 seconds for the effect to ramp up..  If you need AoE damage Holy Prism or Light’s Hammer will prove the better option.
  2. Holy Prism and Light’s Hammer are both viable AoE options. In 5.4 Light’s Hammer is improved to be a “Smart Heal” and it no longer heals minor riff-raff, such as your team’s minions (blood worms, wild imps, etc.) Holy Prism is great for picking up adds or if you need an aggro tool to hit 5 enemies right now. .
  3. Best talent  Execution Sentence is optimal for single target fights.

Tier 7 Talents, level 100 (Coming with Warlords of Draenor:)

See all of the level 100 talents here.These may well change a lot between now and the W of D launch, but here’s how they stand now:

  • The Light Within – Your seals add addition effects to your Judgement spell, each lasting 20 seconds. Judgement of Justice = 10% speed increase; J. of Insight = heal 3% every 2 sec.; Righteousness = 10% attack speed increase; Truth = 10% attack power increase.
  • Seal of Faith – Gain Faith equal to the damage you deal, your Faith acts as Spell Power towards your next healing spell. Damage dealt is reduced by 30% while this seal is active. I can’t see why Protection would have any interest in this talent as it stands now.
  • Divine Conviction – 10% increased black chance and when you block you do Holy damage to your target.

 

Protection Glyphs

Most of the available glyphs add utility instead of damage or defense. Youi’ll probably be switching them around, depending on the fight. Make sure you stop by the Reagents vendor and have some Tome of the Clear Mind handy.

More or less in order of usefulness

Minor Glyphs

These are mostly just cosmetic. Pick whatever suits you.

 

Protection Paladin Stat Priorities

We’re looking at damage mitigation before avoidance. This is a Haste build.

  • Priorities: Stamina > Hit to 7.5% > Expertise to 15% > Haste > Mastery >> everything else
  • Parry, Dodge, and Crit and bad. Avoid them.

A Mastery (Mastery > Haste) build smooths out incoming damage nicely and is easier for some to deal with. The Haste build, above, allows for more DPS and more Shield of the Righteous uses, but it requires a bit more attention.

Your abilities are designed around actively mitigating damage, therefore 7.5% Hit and 15% Expertise become very important, to make sure those abilities function at the highest rate possible. See the rotation section below for more details.

Human Protection Paladin in T16 Gear pointing at the stats to useStamina - Try and stack as much as you can without gemming it. This means enchants and trinkets and rings.

15% Expertise removes all the boss’s dodge and parry. In addition to making sure your attacks land it also makes sure you are generating maximum threat. Certain races have an Expertise bonus, which will add to this total.

Haste just makes things work faster, meaning you get to use your abilities that much more often. You’ll generate more threat and more Damage.

Mastery is very close to Haste in value and, depending on your game it might be worth experimenting with a Mastery build instead of Haste. Once upon a time Mastery was the “go to” stat, in M of P a more active mitigation is a bit better for a skilled player.

Crit: Avoid this stat. Try not to have it on your gear, at all. It does nothing for either mitigation or avoidance.

This Vs That

This assumes that you have all your Hit and Exp.

Haste build: Great at avoiding the big damage spikes, high DPS (for a Prot Pally,) requires pretty good skills to time your abilities “just so.” Not much room for error. If you have the high level skills than give this one a shot. You will get pounded, but that damage shouldn’t be anything you and your healers can’t handle. This works best at high gear levels, when you can get haste to over 20%.

Mastery build: This is the default build and should be used by most tanks. It leaves room for error and it smooths out all damage rather nicely. You won’t get as many Shield of the Righteous uses, but your blocking will make up for most all of that. At lower gear levels, or leveling as a tank, this is the way to go. You won’t be able to get enough Haste to be interesting.

Avoidance: Putting everything into Dodge & Parry. Defense is fine, but a bit off of Mastery. DPS goes down significantly and you’ll be missing shots. The first two builds are better for yoiur survival in 5.4.

Reforging:

Try to get to 7.5% Hit from just gear stats, then reforge to Expertise and then either Haste or Mastery.

The old strategy

was avoidance, and the stat order would look like this:

  • Stamina > Parry/Dodge > Mastery > Hit (7.5%) > Haste > Expertise (7.5%)

That is less than optimal in Mists of Pandaria since your ability mechanics have to land in order to function properly and that is what will be accounting for much of your mitigation. So consider this old plan to be obsolete.

 

In-Depth Rotation Guide

As a tank our rotation largely focuses on generating Holy Power for defensive purposes, primarily the use of Word of Glory for self healing and Shield of the Righteous for the Bastion of Glory buff and 30% damage reduction for 3 seconds. Bastion of Glory increases the effectiveness of Word of Glory when used on yourself by 10% each stack up to a maximum of 5 stacks or 50% increased healing. Note that, while sometimes necessary, Word of Glory is a DPS loss.

Boundless Conviction, a passive, allows us to store up to 5 charges of Holy Power at a single time meaning we can pool Holy Power if necessary for use at crucial moments rather than simply expend it the instant we reach 3 charges.

Note that in 5.4  vengeance works a bit differently (shouldn’t be an issue, though) and there have been tweaks to your abilities. See our patch notes for details.

Seals and such:

Rotation

  1. Crusader Strike and Judgment should be used as often as possible to generate Holy Power.
  2. Use Avenger’s Shield when available. When Grand Crusader procs use Avenger’s Shield for an extra charge of Holy Power. Avenger’s Shield can otherwise be used without the proc for extra damage and threat.
  3. Use your tier 6 talent (eg: Light’s Hammer)
  4. Holy Wrath and Consecration provide extra damage and threat and should be used when you have nothing else available.
  5. Hammer of Wrath should be used when the target is below 20% health.
  6. Hammer of the Righteous is used to apply Weakened Blows assuming no one else is already applying this debuff.
  7. Reckoning is our taunt, forcing the target to attack us and it has a cooldown of 8 seconds.

When facing multiple targets

Cooldowns

  1. Avenging Wrath increases damage and healing done by 20% for 20 seconds with a 2 minute cooldown. This both increases our damage and thus threat and enhances our self-healing capabilities.
  2. Divine Protection reduces magical damage taken by 40% for 10 seconds with a 1 minute cooldown. The effect can be changed to 20% magical and 20% physical damage reduction with the Glyph.
  3. Ardent Defender reduces damage taken by 20% for 10 seconds and while active causes the first attack that would otherwise kill you to instead heal you for 15% of your maximum health
  4. Guardian of Ancient Kings grants us 50% damage reduction for 12 seconds with a 3 minute cooldown. This is one of our more powerful defensive cooldowns and should be reserved for moments of heavy damage.
  5. Lay on Hands is an emergency heal that instantly heals for maximum health with a 10 minute cooldown. Due to the lengthy cooldown this can rarely be used more than once in an encounter and should be saved for when it is absolutely necessary either to use on yourself or another member of the raid.

Tier 5 Talented Abilities:

  1. Holy Avenger allows us to generate almost limitless amounts of Holy Charges for the duration of the effect which contributes to our self healing and survivability as we can temporarily use Shield of the Righteous often enough to keep the damage reduction active at all times.
  2. Sanctified Wrath improves the benefit of Avenging Wrath by increasing the duration of the healing buff it provides. It also allows us to use Judgment more often and therefore generate more charges of Holy Power.
  3. Divine Purpose grants us a 25% chance to have a free 3 Holy Power ability use.

Tier 6 Talented Abilities:

  • Execution sentence when fighting single bosses with no adds.
  • Lights hammer fro groups, or for singles with add phases.
  • Holy Prism for when you need to grab some adds.

 

Protection Gems for Tanking

How much does it all cost? Let us count the ways…

  • Buy your gems, enchants, gear, repairs, enhancements, and consumables.
  • Do the same for your alts.
  • Do the same for your buddies
  • Collect a second gear set for your Ret/Holy build.
  • Buy your PvP set, at least the starting one.
  • Collect mounts and pets.
  • Throw gold at guildies, beggars, and those Gnome/ Undead dancers in the taverns.
  • Got enough gold to do all that? If not, check out the Tycoon addon.

Gems with Stamina have 50% more value than gems with primary stats and the gems with secondary stats are double value, so you have 160 Str Vs 240 Stam Vs 320 Mastery.  This means that it will be worth matching socket bonuses, at least for Str, Mastery, or Haste. Gem for what you need, but a general plan is:

Gemming for: Haste Build Mastery Build
Meta socket Austere Primal Diamond for both, but if you can do the legendary quest and get the Indomitable Primal Diamond, then do it.
Red Fierce Vermilion Onyx Skillful Vermilion Onyx
Yellow Quick Sun’s Radiance Fractured Sun’s Radiance
Blue Forceful Wild Jade Puissant Wild Jade
Buckle or Blacksmithing socket Fierce Vermilion Onyx Skillful Vermilion Onyx

 

Useful Gems to mix and match
Meta Austere Primal Diamond: +324 Stam and 2% Increased armor from items
Indomitable Primal Diamond: +324 Stamina and chance on being hit to gain 20% reduction to physical damage taken
Red Bold Primordial Ruby: 160 Str
Yellow Quick Sun’s Radiance: +320 Haste
Fractured Sun’s Radiance: +320 Mastery
Orange Skillful Vermilion Onyx: +80 Str and 160 Mastery
Fierce Vermilion Onyx: +80 Str and 160 Haste
Blue Solid River’s Heart: +240 Stam
Green Puissant Wild Jade: +160 Mastery and +120 Stam
Forceful Wild Jade: +160 Haste and +120 Stamina
Purple Sovereign Imperial Amethyst: +80 Str and +120 Stam
Etched Imperial Amethyst: +80 Str and +160 Hit
Prismatic Bold Primordial Ruby: 160 Str
Cogwheel Requires an engie helm, such as this.
Quick Tinker’s Gear: 600 Haste
Fractured Tinker’s Gear: 600 Mastery

 

Paladin Tanking Enchants

Helm enchants are gone in Mists of Pandaria, shoulder enchants are from the Inscription profession. A couple of slots here have choices for more offense or defense. It’s your call depending on exactly what your style happens to be. The boot enchant adds some extra Hit if you need that, the glove enchant some extra expertise. See the profession section below for profession buffs/enchants.

Protection Enchantments
Weapon Enchant Weapon – Dancing Steel: Offense: Sometimes gain 1,600 Str for a few seconds. The Str boost will increase your parry and DPS, making this better than River’s Song.
Enchant Weapon – Colossus - Sometimes activates a damage shield, which is pretty nice.
Enchant Weapon – River’s Song: More defense: Sometimes increase Dodge by 1650 for 12 seconds.
Shield Enchant Shield – Greater Parry: +170 Parry
Shoulders Secret Ox Horn Inscription: +750 stam, 100 Dodge, Requires Inscription
Ox Horn Inscription: +300 Stam, 150 Dodge
Cloak Enchant Cloak – Greater Protection: +200 Stamina
Chest Enchant Chest – Superior Stamina: +300 Stam
Bracers Enchant Bracer – Mastery: +170 Mastery
Gloves Enchant Gloves – Superior Mastery: 170 Mastery
Enchant Gloves – Superior Expertise: 170 Expertise
Belt Livingsteel Belt Buckle: New gem slot for gem of choice.
Leggings Ironscale Leg Armor:: 430 Stam & 165 Dodge
Boots Enchant Boots – Pandaren’s Step: 140 Mastery, slight movement speed increase.
Enchant Boots – Greater Precision: 170 Hit
Rings Enchant Ring – Greater Stamina: 240 Stam, Requires Enchanting 555

 

Consumables for the Protection Paladin

Note that Pandarens get twice the food buff. All food buffs last one hour and provide only one stat. If you have the Alchemy skill the effect and duration of flasks and elixirs will be increased, including the value of secondary stats, by about 30% and an hour. Foods are available that provide secondary stats, but they’re only worth about 200 points.

Foods

Potions

Flasks

Elixirs – you can have one battle (offensive) and one guardian (defensive) elixir up at a time. This will be more worthwhile than the one flask.

 

Protection Paladin Race Choices

Pandarens will be unable to become Paladins.

Alliance Paladins:

Draenei: Might be the best Pally race for raiding, due to:

  • Increased chance to hit: a 1% increased chance to hit doesn’t sound like much, but it is a free point and it makes the end-game gearing a bit easier. Since 4.0 this is a self-only ability.
  • The heal isn’t worth much to you.
  • Good with Jewelcrafting.

Dwarf:

  • Stone Form: Nice against bleeds and, as such, is useful for PvP, but only occasionally elsewhere. The 10% damage reduction will be useful for those “Uh oh…” moments.
  • Expertise with Maces is nice, if that’s what you’re using.
  • Ranged Expertise – Not at all useful for you, since most of you attacks use the Melee expertise mechanics. But if you’re using Wrath from your Druidic symbiosis sharing…

Human:

  • May be the best Pally race for PvP, nothing special for raids.
  • Bonus to Rep gains: Nice if you intend to gain faction with any of the many factions in the game. In the long run this may save you many hours of faction grinding.
  • Increased Expertise with Swords/Maces: Nice, if these are the best weapons available.
  • Escape: Very nice for PvP, occasionally useful elsewhere. Allows the use of two “non-escape” trinkets in PvP and can break the occasional PvE mechanic.

Horde

Blood Elf: Now the 2nd best Horde race for Paladins

  • Arcane Torrent: Provides both an A of E silence, nice for PvP, occasionally useful elsewhere; and also regains a small amount of mana, occasionally of small use.
  • Best hair of any race.

Tauren

  • Best Horde Pally race
  • War Stomp stuns nearby opponents – great for general usage and PvP.
  • Increased Health – Always useful. Roughly equal to three Stamina gems at 90.
  • Hebalism skill and speed increased – The heal obtained from herbalism also adds Haste, which isn’t a great stat for you, but it’s free.
  • Target of a wide variety of bovine jokes.

 

Tankadin Professions

The crafting professions all have some form of self-0nly buff or enchant that adds about 320 or so points of Str . They’re generally pretty expensive to level so might very well not be worth the effort to get those few points. Your call, here’s the rundown:

  • Alchemy – You will be able to create a large variety of useful potions that will heal, restore mana, and more. You get better effect from your own potions, so more Str, Stam, Mastery, etc. You also get two hours instead of one on the elixirs and flasks.
  • Blacksmithing – Add two extra sockets to add two more of the finest gems you can afford. Since gems with secondary stats have twice the value of those with primary stats, you can socket 640 Haste or Expertise Vs 320 Str or 480 Stam, Blacksmithing might be the most useful profession for you.
  • Enchanting – One of the most expensive professions to level, but you can save a lot of gold by disenchanting items into parts that you can sell or use. Enchants your rings for additional Str or Stam.
  • Engineering – Very expensive to level, but you will be able to create some nifty gadgets, including those motorcycles you see some people riding around in. Synapse Springs is a killer item for burst damage and backfires, which might cause additional threat, might not be so bad either.
  • Inscription – Not as grimly expensive to level as some of the others, but you will go through a lot of herbs. Create glyphs, cool magic items, and some enchants. You will be able to create killer shoulder enchants, there one for Str and another for Stam, that are way better than otherwise available.
  • Jewelcrafting – You can be your own Tiffany Diamonds Company. Well, not quite, but you will be able to cut all kinds of interesting gems and make some nice jewelry. Ultimately you will be able to make better gems, for your own use, than others have access to.
  • Leatherworking – Makes a nice self-only bracer enchant as well as those leg-armor enchants that everyone wants.
  • Tailoring – Has a nice self-only cloak enchant, that sometimes adds 4k attack power, and you can make yourself a flying carpet.
  • Herbalism – Yes, you’re a flower picker. Note that you will also gain a small heal and very nice haste effect (2880 at 600 skill) with this skill. A nice little gold maker or a skill, too.
  • Skinning – Also a fine gold making skill. This skill also builds your crit rating.
  • Mining – Another good skill for earning gold. Your ores are used by blacksmiths, engineers, Jewelcrafters, and sometimes others. Mning also builds your stamina, probably from swinging that heavy pick around all day. 120 Stam at 525 skill, 480 at 600.
  • Cooking – You can cook up lots of interesting foods, some of which will buff various stats. These buffs stack with those of any of the above skills, as well as with other buffs.

 

Macros for the Protection Paladin

See this post if you need some “How to” for building your macros.

Bubble Taunt

When you taunt a target it will run towards you and, sometimes, come in with a powerful attack. It will do its best to mash you into goo for three seconds and then the extra threat of your insults (taunt) will wear off. By that time you will have all of its attentions anyway, right?

For those times when that initial attack is actually a concern, there’s this macro (precise timing is required :)

  • /cancelaura Divine Shield
  • /cast Divine Shield

The idea here is to taunt and use the macro to bubble, thereby surviving the initial crush. You then hit the macro a second time to cancel the bubble. You must cancel the bubble before the three seconds is up or the target will forget about you and attack someone else. You could also use this mid-fight to avoid a really big hit. Just remember to hit it again and cancel the bubble.

 

 

The Fastest Paladin Leveling Guide

Hit the Level Cap FastLeveling a Protection Paladin is interested. Your damage isn’t hot, but you can take piles of mobs and burn them down so it actually works as a leveling spec outside of the dungeons. Want to go even faster and get your Protection Paladin leveled and into that juicy end-game content? How about never again having to wonder “Where to go?” or “What do I do next?”

Zygor’s guide is your ticket to much faster leveling. Zygor’s is an in-game guide that shows up as a small window on your screen. It shows the current quest, tasks, and displays an arrow pointing the way to go, showing you the most efficient way to knock out the most quests in the least time. Imagine having an expert partner helping you out every step of the way, showing you what to skip and the most efficient way to level. Heck, you may never again have to consult your quest log, nuch less some website for quest tips.

Grab yours now (or read our Zygor review first) and cruise to the level cap, fast. Then you can be the one to answer the “Where do I go at level…?” questions people ask in trade.

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