Today we’re going to take the next step in leveling a Prot Paladin, moving through most of the remaining (revamped) vanilla content and pushing ever closer to the world of crappy looking gear known as Outlands.
You get to go through this level range with the majority of your primary tanking tools. You don’t get your defensive cooldowns just yet, but most of the other things will be yours in this level range. The most welcome tool, in my opinion, is Shield of the Righteous which will finally allow you to spend your Holy Power on something other than just Word of Glory heals, which in this case is a bashing your target’s face in with your shield.
Playing a Protection Paladin
A Protection Paladin in this level range will play much like you did in the lower level range (1-29) except that you can now get much more aggressive in combat and you can likely handle larger pulls as well. This is the level range in my questing where I stopped trying to gather 3 quest mobs at once and instead bumped it up to 5-10.
With some better defense spells opening up as well as some more powerful attacks and moving into areas where you’re more likely to find undead mobs, you’re able to get a lot more aggressive and really enjoy the total power trip that only a Paladin can truly be.
I already covered the basics such as Holy Power usage, Judgement and Seals, Auras and so forth in the 1 – 29 Guide if you feel you need a refresher on that, so this time we’re going to look a little closer at what you do to actually embrace the tanking spec.
First thing’s first – USE RIGHTEOUS FURY!!! If I see one more Paladin “tank” without RF on I’m going to go into an Unrighteous Fury of killing rabbits and squirrels all over the world. Do you hear me? Cute, fluffy animals will die all over Azeroth if you don’t have your Righteous Fury active! Do not test me… *cough* Alright, moving on then.
You have two abilities that generate Holy Power: Crusader Strike and Hammer of the Righteous. If you’re tanking a single target then you use Crusader Strike, otherwise you use Hammer of the Righteous. That part of the equation is really that simple (though you may prefer to use CS on 2-3 targets depending on the sitation, always an exception, so on and so forth). These general rules apply regardless of where you’re at or what you’re doing. It doesn’t matter if you’re tanking in LFG or if you’re solo questing or AoE grinding to farm mats – that’s how you do it.
At level 39 you finally have to start making a choice for how to spend your Holy Power. Just like building the Power, you have two abilities that spend the power too. You can either get a very nice heal from Word of Glory (WoG), or you can deal a very solid amount of damage to a single target with Shield of the Righteous (ShoR). Which you use, and how often, are going to depend entirely on your situation. If you need a heal and there’s not a healer with you then WoG is the obvious choice. If you need additional AoE threat then WoG can be a better solution than ShoR, even if you don’t actually need the heal. If you’re trying to burn down a particular mob, then ShoR is your best bet if you’re not in danger on the health front.
When pulling a group of mobs I follow one of two basic strategies: Body Pulling and Avenger’s Shield. Since I like to do a lot of AoE grinding the Body Pull is my most common method because I’ll body pull several groups of mobs at once. The key to successful body pulling is knowing when you can just run and when you need to strafe or back pedal. If you’re just running and mobs are trailing behind you then you lose all of your avoidance and just let the mobs spank you as you go. If you strafe away from them or walk backwards towards other mobs, then you don’t lose all of that extra protection. Pulling with Avenger’s Shield loads some threat right away as well as silencing the targets which is the much safer route in LFG.
If you’re doing LFG, don’t pull mobs with Hand of Reckoning. Never throw away your taunts to pull additional mobs before you know how the other people in your group play. You do get a second taunt in this level range that gives you a little more forgiveness if you do, but while HoR dealt damage to mobs not targeting you in previous patches it’s now just a typical taunt that sets you back on top of the threat list. Pulling with it is a waste unless you’ve got complete control of all mobs. Regardless, it’s a bad habit to get into, so save yourself some trouble later in your career by not getting into that habit early on.
Important Spells & Abilities
There are a lot of spells and abilities that come with being a Paladin, but I’m going to try to keep it simple and limited to only the most important ones for a Protection spec. There are other spells that you’ll get in this level range as well, I leave them out only because I do not find them critical to playing a Ret paladin.
Divine Protection (30): [1 minute cooldown] Reduces all damage taken by 20% for 10 sec.
Seal of Insight (32): Fills the Paladin with divine power for 30 min, giving each single-target melee attack a chance to heal the Paladin and restore 4% of the paladin’s base mana. Only one Seal can be active on the Paladin at any one time. Unleashing this Seal’s energy will deal Holy damage to an enemy and restore 15% of the Paladin’s base mana.
Righteous Defense (36): Come to the defense of a friendly target, commanding up to 3 enemies attacking the target to attack the Paladin instead.
Divine Protection is one of your best defensive tools in this early stage. It also has the wonderful added effect of not being tied to the global cooldown, meaning that you can (and should) macro this to one of your attacks so that it’s active as often as possible. I use a macro to cast this on myself when I cast Crusader Strike so that I don’t waste any of it’s uptime while I’m not engaged in melee combat.
Seal of Insight is the seal that I prefer above all others for most of my play. If you need additional threat you can get that from Seal of Truth which you get at level 44, but otherwise this is your main source of keeping your health and mana high.
Righteous Defense is the other taunt I mentioned up above. It pulls up to three mobs off of one of your party members and redirects them to you. A lot of Paladin tanks like to use this with what’s called a mouse-over macro so that you don’t have to target someone to actually cast it (thereby losing your current target), but I prefer assigning it to my Healbot addon which shows me when someone has threat. There are a lot of ways you can use this with macros and addons, so find one that works for. If I see the mobs leaving me soon enough I’ll also just cast it on one of the mobs heading towards the target and it works as though I’d cast it on the person instead, so whatever works.
Divine Plea (44): You gain 10% of your total mana over 15 sec, but the amount healed by your healing spells is reduced by 50%.
Seal of Truth (44): Fills the Paladin with holy power, causing single-target attacks to Censure the target, which deals additional Holy damage over 15 sec. Censure can stack up to 5 times. Once stacked to 5 times, each of the Paladin’s attacks also deals 9% weapon damage as additional Holy damage. Only one Seal can be active on the Paladin at any one time. Lasts 30 min. Unleashing this Seal’s energy will deal Holy damage to an enemy, increased by 10% for each application of Censure on the target.
Hammer of Wrath (46): Hurls a hammer that strikes an enemy for 442 to 488 Holy damage. Only usable on enemies that have 20% or less health.
Divine Shield (48): Protects the paladin from all damage and spells for 8 sec, but reduces all damage you deal by 50%. Once protected, the target cannot be targeted by Divine Shield or Hand of Protection again for 2 min.
Divine Plea is another great tool for restoring your mana, and one that I’ll often use during boss fights if I switch to Seal of Truth. It’s not as useful now as it will be later on, but it doesn’t hurt to get familiar with it early. It only restores 10% of your mana, so it’s not great, but it can help. It has the drawback of reducing your healing spells by 50% which can hurt in soloing situations, so while I have my WoG set to cast in my HealBot as well, I also have a WoG macro on my action bar that cancels Divine Plea before it casts the heal so that my healing isn’t nerfed when I seriously need it.
Seal of Truth is for when you’re dealing with single targets and need to firmly establish threat. It can help while soloing group quests as well if you really need the extra damage, though I tend to use Seal of Insight for the healing and mana restoration for those personally. If you’re having threat issues on a boss though, this is your answer.
Hammer of Wrath is your execute spell. If a mob drops to 20% health or below you chuck this sucker at them to finish them off. It’s not going to kill every single target you use it on (particularly bosses), but if you use it on trash mobs or questing mobs while they’re low on health you can pretty well count on them being dead.
Divine Shield is the notorious Paladin bubble used for the bubble-hearth of old. It doesn’t last long enough for bubble-hearthing any more, but I never really used it for such anyway so I couldn’t care less. The good thing about this bubble though is that you’re immune to everything the game will throw at you outside of PvP. It’s total immunity to just about everything. You do take a 50% cut to your damage dealing while it’s active, but the only time you’ll really cast this is when you’re about to die anyway. Cast the bubble, heal yourself to full, and then go right back to laying the smack down.
Leveling a Protection Paladin
Multi-Target Rotation: Avenger’s Shield, Hammer of the Righteous, Holy Wrath, Hammer of the Righteous, Judgement, Hammer of the Righteous
Single-Target Rotation: Exorcism, Avenger’s Shield, Crusader Strike, Judgement, Crusader Strike, Holy Wrath, Crusader Strike, Shield of the Righteous
While you’re questing you have two options. The first is to just keep on doing single target like it’s going out of style (it’s already out of style), the second is to do multiple mobs at once. I’m still a huge fan of AoE grinding, so I like to have at least 3 mobs on me at all times.
If you’re facing a boss in LFG then you might want to switch from Seal of Insight to Seal of Truth for the additional damage and threat that goes with it, but if you’re doing single-target questing I’d stick with Seal of Insight since SoT isn’t likely to stack high enough to matter on a mob that’s not going to live long anyway. Better to keep the health and mana topped off to keep going than to save yourself 2 seconds if you’re lucky.
The one exception to ShoR being primarily used on single-target is that once you reach level 49 and place a talent point in Holy Shield, ShoR triggers Holy Shield to provide an additional 10% damage reduction from shield blocks for 20 seconds. If you’re doing very large pulls or are facing hard-hitting melee opponents, spending your first Holy Power on ShoR to trigger Holy Shield is a good way to help keep you alive. You’ll get a feel for when to cast it, and how early/often as you play more and more.
Talent Spec: Protection 49
- Sanctuary 3/3: Reduces the chance you’ll be critically hit by melee attacks by 6% and reduces all damage taken by 10%. In addition when you block or dodge a melee attack you gain 3% of maximum mana.
- Wrath of the Lightbringer 1/2: Increases the damage by 50% of your Crusader Strike and Judgement and increases the critical strike chance by 15% of your Holy Wrath and Hammer of Wrath.
- Shield of the Righteous 1/1:
- Wrath of the Lightbringer (+1) 2/2: Increases the damage by 100% of your Crusader Strike and Judgement and increases the critical strike chance by 30% of your Holy Wrath and Hammer of Wrath.
- Grand Crusader 2/2: When your Crusader Strike or Hammer of the Righteous deal damage to your primary target, they have a 20% chance of refreshing the cooldown on your next Avenger’s Shield.
- Reckoning 1/2: You have a 10% chance after blocking an attack for your next 4 weapon swings within 8 sec to generate an additional attack.
- Holy Shield 1/1: Using Shield of the Righteous or Inquisition increases the amount your shield blocks by an additional 10% for 20 sec.
Slam the target with your shield, causing Holy damage. Consumes all charges of Holy Power to determine damage dealt.
Sanctuary is all about keeping you alive and keeping your mana topped off. It’s one of the best talents in the tree and one you definitely don’t want to pass up. Wrath of the Lightbringer is one that a lot of Paladin’s go back and forth on whether to take it or leave it. It’s purely a DPS increase, which in turn is a threat increase, so it’s nice but not required. I take it because I like to kill stuff, but you may prefer getting more points into either Reckoning for some free melee swings or perhaps Divinity back up on the first tier for increased healing if you want more survivability.
Shield or the Righteous has a higher damage potential than everything else available to you, and it’s where you’ll dump your Holy Power when you don’t need to heal. It’s also the key to triggering another one of important defensive talents, Holy Shield, which we’ll talk about in just a second.
Grand Crusader is a lot like Wrath of the Lightbringer in that it’s all about giving you additional damage, but this time in the form of resetting your Avenger’s Shield cooldown so that you can cast it more often. Since you’re leveling in this bracket I strongly suggest it as a leveling talent, though if you’re going to be a raider you’ll likely not bother with it once you reach level cap. For leveling though, especially with AoE grinding, this talent is excellent.
Reckoning is a talent I go back and forth on, I’m not sure yet whether I love it or hate it. Free attacks are free attacks, but it doesn’t appeal to me as much as it used to . I’ll leave it to you to decide whether you want to spend more or less points in this one.
Holy Shield wraps it up for this level range, providing an extra 10% damage reduction on shield blocks. While ShoR is a single target attack, Holy Shield makes casting it when fighting groups of trash worth it. In AoE grinding you might want to spend your first Holy Power on ShoR just to trigger the extra damage reduction and then refresh it every 18-20 seconds so that Holy Shield stays up as often as possible.
I’m going to list at least two options for each glyph type that you can choose from, and below each section I’ll mention why I choose them and under which circumstances I might change from one to another.
- Glyph of Hammer of the Righteous: Increases the damage of both the physical and Holy components of Hammer of the Righteous by 10%.
- Glyph of Crusader Strike: Increases the critical strike chance of Crusader Strike by 5%.
These are your two best choices for threat and damage. Do you want to have better threat against trash (HotR) or better threat against bosses (CS)? That’s the question, and your choice of glyph is your answer. I prefer to go with HotR because I like to AoE while I’m questing as well, so it’s just more valuable for me to take it over CS.
- Glyph of Dazing Shield: Your Avenger’s Shield now also dazes targets.
- Glyph of Consecration: Increases the duration and cooldown of Consecration by 20%.
The more I play as Prot, the more I think Consecration is a thing of the past. I just don’t need it. I do go ahead and use it when I’m doing some serious AoE grinding and pulling way more mobs than I really should be, but otherwise it’s really just a waste of a cooldown and the mana that goes with it these days. It’s good to use in LFG if you’re having threat issues, but otherwise it kind of sucks right now. If you need the threat, take it, otherwise go for Dazing Shield.
- Glyph of Blessing of Kings: Reduces the mana cost of Blessing of Kings by 50%.
- Glyph of Insight: Reduces the mana cost of Seal of Insight by 50%.
As with most classes, our minor glyphs kind of suck. Most Paladin minor glyphs right now just reduce the mana cost of spells that you’ll likely only cast outside of combat anyway, where casting your buffs and then drinking to restore your mana would negate the glyph’s use, not to mention we don’t care about mana much to begin with. But, these are the main glyphs we can use at this level range, so there you have it. If you’re going to do LFG a lot, then go with Kings since you’ll cast it more often, but if you’re going to solo/quest more then Insight will give you more “savings” in the long run since it’s duration is half as long as Kings.
I don’t use a whole lot of fancy macros on my Paladin just yet, but I do have a few that are particularly useful.
/cancelaura Blessing of Protection
/cast Crusader Strike [same for Judgement, Hammer of the Righteous, etc]
/cast Divine Protection [only on the Crusader Strike and Hammer of the Righteous]
This is the one that I mentioned up above that cancels my BoP right before I attack. BoP gives you immunity to physical damage, but at the expense of not allowing you to attack. Generally you want to cast this when you need to heal yourself (if you’re targeting yourself), so after you’re finished healing it’s time to get back to combat rather than just waiting for it to end itself. Basically this one saves me the trouble of canceling the buff myself.
I use a version of this macro for all of my primary attack spells as I mention in the macro text itself. The one difference is that I only apply the Divine Protection cast to Crusader Strike and Hammer of the Righteous. I’m more likely to take a lot of damage once I close in to melee range than I am from max range for Avenger’s Shield, so I don’t want to waste some of the protection time while closing the gap. Using it on my melee abilities means it’s going to cast at the most important time and give me the most protection possible.
/cast [modifier:alt] Consecration
/castsequence reset=combat/9 Holy Wrath, Consecration, Holy Wrath
This macro I use for my AoE, just to save space on my bar. I don’t cast Consecration as often as I do Holy Wrath, and if I have an option between the two I generally go with HW unless the fight is going to last long enough for Consecration to be worth it. So using this you’ll cast Holy Wrath and for the next 9 seconds or until you cast it the button will change to cast Consecrate instead. For long fights with lots of AoE I have it cycle to another cast of Holy Wrath. You also have the option of holding Alt to force a Consecrate cast if you can’t or don’t want to use Holy Wrath.
I actually modified the version of this that I use to just be a simple HW cast by default, or a Consecrate cast if I hold Alt when I activate it just because I almost never cast Consecrate now. Consecrate used to be the spell I looked forward to getting the most, but now it’s just another crappy spell taking up space in my spellbook.
/cancelaura Divine Plea
/cast Word of Glory
This is the one that I mentioned I keep on my action bars even though I have a healing addon that casts most of my heals for me. Divine Plea cuts your heals in half, so if you’ve used it to get your mana back but find yourself in sudden need of a heal this will cancel your Divine Plea, meaning you don’t get any more mana back but your heals will work fully.
Gearing Up as Protection
As a melee class we’re looking for stats that impact our melee performance such as Strength, Attack Power, Hit, Crit and Haste. As a tank though, you also want to look for survival stats such as Stamina, Dodge and Parry.
Stat Priority: Strength and Stamina, Dodge and Parry, Other melee stuff
In short, we’re going to stack Strength and Stamina first and foremost, followed by our avoidance stats of Dodge and Parry, and then on to any other DPS stats (attack power, hit, crit, haste, etc). Most of the stats that you want to cap at end game don’t even exist in the early stages, so this is really all you need to watch out for.