As I continue to watch what brings readers to my blog, I see that my first post on Paladin AoE Grinding Rotation still brings in more traffic than anything else. But that post only covered you up to level 40. This time, I am going to take you all the way up to level 70 and get you started off on the right foot for AoE grinding in Northrend. Since my paladin is sitting at level 70 himself, the third part of this series will cover levels 71-80 (after I reach that point myself).
While some people have voiced their disagreement that AoE Grinding is an effective method of leveling once you hit Northrend, I can testify both from my own experience, as well as my wife’s, that AoE Grinding still works just fine in the great Frozen North. I am just getting my feet wet in Northrend, having used my AoE grinding methods in both Howling Fjord and Borean Tundra. My wife has been level 80 for a few weeks now and achieved that by gaining all of her levels through the use of AoE Grinding to help her speed through her quests. I don’t support this method simply because I think it’s cool, I support it because I know for a fact that it works.
One thing that I want to specifically point out in relation to the statement above, is that AoE Grinding is not the only means by which you should gain experience. The fastest way to level your paladin is to use AoE Grinding in conjunction with questing and farming. If you have quests that involve mobs in any way (basically everything except the “go talk to this guy” quests), then you have reason to AoE the mobs to take them out faster, thus gaining more experience in a shorter amount of time than you would by another means. If you have mats to gather for your professions, or your secondary skills (particularly cooking), or you need to gather mats for someone else to use to enchant your gear, then you will be able to do so faster if you AoE the mobs to get them. While it is certainly possible to do nothing but kill mobs constantly to gain your levels, it is definitely not the fastest way to do it.
Spending Talent Points
When leveling a paladin focused on AoE grinding as of 3.1, this is how I spend my talent points from 40-70:
- Lv 41-42: Spiritual Attunement 2/2 – Passive ability; when you are healed, you restore 10% of the healed amount as mana.
- Level 43: +1 Reckoning (4/5) – 8% chance after being hit with an attack, that your next 4 weapon swings will generate an extra attack
- Level 44: Divinity 1/1 – Healing you do, and healing that you receive are increased by 1%
- Lv 45-47: Redoubt 3/3 – +30% Block Value, also gives you a 10% chance when hit to get +30% chance to block
- Lv 48-49: Combat Expertise 2/3 – +4 Expertise, +4% Stamina and +4% crit chance
- Lv 50: Avenger’s Shield 1/1 – Hurl your shield at the target dealing holy damage, and dazing them for 10 seconds. The shield jumps to hit up to 2 additional nearby enemies as well.
- Lv 51-53: Touched By the Light 3/3 -Bonus Spell Power equal to 30% of your Stamina, also adds 30% bonus healing to your critical heals
- Level 54: Guarded By the Light 1/2 – Reduces Spell Damage taken by 3%, also impacts Divine Plea which you don’t have yet
- Lv 55-57: Shield of the Templar 3/3 – Damage taken reduced by 3%, Avenger’s Shield gains a 100% chance to silence for 3 seconds when it hits
- Lv 58-59: Judgements of the Just 2/2 – Judgements reduce the target’s attack speed by 20%, reduces cooldown of Hammer of Justice by 20 seconds
- Level 60: Hammer of the Righteous 1/1 – Hits the target and up to 2 additional nearby targets for 4x your weapon damage as Holy damage
- Level 61: +1 Guarded By the Light (2/2) – Reduces Spell Damage taken by 6%
- Level 62: +1 Combat Expertise (3/3) – +6 Expertise, +6% Stamina and +6% crit chance
- Lv 63-67: Deflection 5/5 – [Ret Tree] Increases your Parry chance by 5%
- Level 68: Improved Judgements 1/2 – Reduces the cooldown of your Judgements by 1 second
- Lv 69-70: Heart of the Crusader 2/3 – Judgements give you +2% crit chance against the target
Spiritual Attunement: The points in this talent can be moved if you desire to do so. Some people like it, some people hate it. Personally, I like it.
Divinity: The point I put in here can also be moved. This is one that a lot of people go crazy over and feel should be 5/5, but personally I don’t find it necessary. You can take it away, or you can add more to it. Do as you please.
Judgements of the Just: This is another one that can have it’s points shifted if you desire. I took it for a couple of reasons. First, because I like to solo elite mobs that are higher level than me and slowing down their attack speed helps me do that. Second, reducing the cooldown of HoJ is a nice bonus because of its use in interrupting spells.
Improved Judgements: There is a lot of discussion about whether you should put 1 point here or 2. Personally, I put 2 just because I like to have it available to me more often. For the 96969 rotation you only need 1 point in it, but other people feel that 2 is better. Decide for yourself. You can get by with 1, but it doesn’t hurt to have 2. I find it useful when running low level characters through instances to be able to throw my judgements more often.
AoE Grinding Rotation: General
As I mentioned in the previous post, there really is no set rotation for AoE grinding, so I will once again stick to a general rotation for you here. If you find something that works better for where you are and what you are doing, then by all means feel free to use your own.
The most basic steps to AoE grinding are these: [Pull], Holy Shield, Judgement, Consecrate, Hammer of the Righteous, “Other Stuff”
Pulling includes each of the following: Exorcism, Avenger’s Shield, Hand of Reckoning
If you have other mobs near where you are fighting your current group, and you aren’t being overwhelmed, then feel free to pull them into the group as well. If there are not any stray mobs in the area to pull, then feel free to use your pull spell on one of the mobs you are currently fighting to help bring it to a close sooner. For this, I only suggest using Exorcism and Avenger’s Shield since the damage from Hand of Reckoning is rarely enough to do anything other than kill critters.
You can look at my notes in the previous post about Pulling as part of your rotation for details as to why it is in my rotation as opposed to simply being part of AoE Grinding.
Holy Shield always takes priority over Consecrate. It was true at level 40 when you got it, and it’s still true at level 80. Holy Shield reduces the damage you take by increasing your Block, and it also deals significant damage to enemies when you block their attacks. Since Consecration only deals damage, and it costs nearly twice as much mana to cast, it is better to cast Holy Shield if your mana is low or the mobs you are fighting are all close to death.
Which Judgement you use is entirely up to you. By default I use Judgement of Light until level 60 because I have both Blessing of Sanctuary and Seal of Wisdom providing me with the mana that I need. Once I hit level 60 though my health starts to become less of a problem than my mana as I get more and more spells that help me grind down the mobs faster. At that point my default changes to Judgement of Wisdom instead.
Which Judgement you use is going to depend on your situation and may change from fight to fight even against two groups of the exact same mobs. The only time I use Judgement of Justice is when I am fighting humanoid mobs inside an instance and there are either caster mobs in the area, or I know that my healer could not handle me pulling more groups due to lack of mana or similar circumstance. I do not believe that I have used Judgement of Justice even once since I reached the Outlands.
Consecration is still, and always will be, the bread and butter of your run as a Prot Paladin. This is easily going to cover 40% of the damage that you do. I haven’t kept a close eye on the percentages here lately, but up until I got my achievement for completing 90 quests in Hellfire Peninsula Consecrate averaged out to about 42% of my overall damage dealt.
This is best way to ensure that you continually deal damage to the mobs around you, and also helps you to maintain threat on all of them. With Righteous Fury both reducing the damage you deal and also increasing the threat you generate by 90%, pulling agro away from you is not easily done.
Hammer of the Righteous
This spell is an amazing contribution to how fast you are able to grind. Once you reach level 60 and pick this bad boy up you can finally start to move to a much more aggressive form of AoE Grinding. With already impressive amounts of damage coming from Consecrate and your reflective damage from items and Retribution Aura, the Hammer of the Righteous spell lays a powerful weapon-based beat down on the targeted enemy as well as two other mobs standing next to them.
With only a 6 second cooldown this spell gets fired off frequently, and with impressive results. Unless I have a very large group of mobs around me, or for some other reason feel that I might be forced to bubble or LoH, then I will use this spell in priority even before Holy Shield. I would not suggest that you do the same unless you are comfortable with your grinding and know the actions of the mobs you face. Otherwise, putting a higher priority on using this spell means that you grind through the mobs faster, which means more experience and more loot in shorter amounts of time.
The “Other Stuff” that I have up there is where you throw in anything else that you might want to use. This includes Hammer of Justice, Hammer of Wrath, Exorcism, Arcane Torrent (Blood Elf only), item or trinket use, healing spells, potions, etc.
As you continue to get higher in levels, and you become practiced in pulling more and more mobs, you find that the “Other Stuff” tends to get left out quite a bit. The other spells mentioned in the rotation are the bread and butter of what you are doing, and they should be what you focus on if you are tanking a group of mobs. Once the numbers start to dwindle down as the fight progresses, then it’s alright to throw the other things in there, but when you are fighting a group of high level mobs, it’s better to spread your butter.
Healing: Special Note
If you need to heal, do not be afraid to go ahead and do it. It’s alright to throw off your whole rotation for the sake of saving your own life. Be aware that spells that have a casting time (like Holy Light and Flash of Light) are going turn off your avoidance while you are casting them, so prepare to be hit more often and for a bit more damage while you are healing.
While you are still in your 40’s and 50’s you can probably manage to cast Holy Light without activating your bubble, so long as you are fighting a small group of mobs (around 5 or so) and you have enough health to take their hits throughout the cast time of the spell. If you are fighting a large group, then I suggest you resort to healing while bubbled, or by use of your Lay On Hands spell for a full heal.
After level 60, I no longer cast Holy Light without using my bubble first, and generally resort to Lay On Hands for my healing, or Bubble + Holy Light x2 if LoH is on cooldown. I also make use of bandages at this time to top my health off while I wait for my bubble duration to expire.
If you do use a bubble, then you have two primary options for healing. You can either cast Holy Light on yourself 1-3 times, depending on your total hit points, or you can cast Holy Light once and then use a bandage if you have kept up on your First Aid skill. Using bandages saves you the mana it would cost to cast a healing spell on yourself, and since you are bubbled you will not have its use interrupted. The higher level you are, the smaller percentage of healing you receive from a bandage, simply because they don’t scale all that well. I still use them, but most often I stick with Holy Light.
AoE Grinding Rotation: Specific
At level 50 you finally start to be able to take mobs down at an increased speed with the addition of Avenger’s Shield. It’s a great tool for pulling mobs, but with Exorcism being able to target all enemies now as well as Hand of Reckoning, I very rarely actually use Avenger’s Shield for pulling during my Solo Grinding. I will use it when I am in a group for the sake of establishing agro, but when I am going solo it is merely a tool for dealing massive damage to multiple mobs.
The general methods of gathering mobs that I mentioned in the last post still apply here, and will throughout. Find a method of pulling mobs that suits you and stick with it. If you are in a group then be sure to communicate with everyone else about how you intend to pull and when they should move into action. You don’t want to be in the middle of a large body-pull and have your healer throw a small heal on you that grabs all the agro because you did nothing to establish it. Communication is key in anything you do.
In the list below [OS/P] indicates the use of “Other Stuff” and Pull spells. Use whichever you feel better fits the situation you are currently in.
The following examples assume that you are Solo AoE Grinding, and have already gathered the mobs you intend to grind via your preferred pulling methods:
Level 41-59, AoE Grinding on multiple mobs
1) Cast Holy Shield – it’s better to start off with this to make sure your defense starts out high, than to worry about dealing damage with Consecrate. You increase your block, and those blocks do significant additional damage.
2) Cast Judgement of Light – restore your health while you attack your target. If you are high on health, go ahead and switch over to Judgement of Wisdom instead.
3) Cast Consecrate and reposition yourself if necessary to get all mobs in front of you – establish your primary source of damage and agro
4) Cast Avenger’s Shield [OS/P] – “burst” damage to three targets. Though this is a ranged attack, you can use it in the middle of melee. If Avenger’s Shield is on cooldown, choose one of the other OS/P spells. I almost always use Avenger’s Shield as my first spell in the OS/P category.
5) Cast Arcane Torrent (if available) – restore 6% of your base mana, and a chance to silence nearby casters
6) “Other Stuff” – other attack spells such as Exorcism, or healing yourself if necessary
7) Repeat steps 1-6 as needed until the fight is over
Where the 96969 build optimizes it’s cool downs, you really only have the 9’s of that equation right now, so a lot of your cool downs are going to overlap.
At this stage in the game you need to set a priority for your spells. For me, I set my priority as Holy Shield > Judgement >< Consecrate. The reason why I do this is because HS provides more protection than either of the other two, it deals damage to multiple mobs (assuming you block their attacks), and it has a fairly low mana cost. Judgement and Consecrate are swappable in the priority list, depending on the situation. If you have a lot of mobs around you, then Consecrate is higher priority to take them all down. If you have only a few mobs around you, then Judgement is the higher priority to help you end with as much health and mana as possible when the fight is over.
Level 60+, AoE Grinding on multiple mobs
1) Cast Holy Shield – raise your block, and deal some damage while you do it
2) Hammer of the Righteous and Reposition to be in front of mobs – deal 4x weapon damage as Holy damage to 3 mobs within melee range.
3) Cast Judgement of Light – restore your health while you attack your target. If you are high on health, go ahead and switch over to Judgement of Wisdom instead.
4a) Cast Consecrate – If you want to get more into the rhythm of 96969, then go ahead and use OS/P here instead, and push Consecrate to the next step
4b) Cast Avenger’s Shield [OS/P] – If you already used Consecrate, then throw the Avenger’s Shield here, or one of the other OS/P spells if AvShield is on cooldown. I almost always use Avenger’s Shield as my first spell in the OS/P category.
5) Cast Arcane Torrent (if available) – to restore mana and a chance to silence enemies.
6) Hammer of the Righteous – The 6 second cooldown of this amazing ability means it pops up multiple times in rotation.
7) Repeat steps 1-6 as needed until the fight is over
At level 60 you finally manage to get one of the 96969 components that fall under the “6” category, which is Hammer of the Righteous. This allows you to fall into the general rotation, using HotR as one of the 6’s, and then the OS/P spells to fill the others.
Hammer of the Righteous is also the key to you becoming truly aggressive in your AoE Grinding instead of the defensive stance we’ve had to take for so many levels. Instead of having to rely so heavily on Consecrate and reflective damage, you can now deal a significant amount with HotR to help blow through the mobs more quickly. By no means does that justify no longer using Consecrate and the like, it simply means that you are not more aggressive than you have been up to this point.
I have found in getting closer to level 70 that I often times only manage to cast Consecrate once before my fights are over. If I manage to pull other mobs in during my rotations, then there will be additional castings as well, but I have been pulling for so long now that I rarely miss gathering all of the mobs I want from my initial pull unless I get dismounted very early in the pull. Even then, I have taken more to kiting the mobs around to gather more of them than I previously did now that I know I can get through the mobs faster with HotR.
And there you have the rotations that I use from levels 40 through 70. As I mentioned before, when you are not fighting solo, there really is no such thing as a specific rotation because you have to be aware of everything that’s going on around you, and you need to be able to react to the situation rather than trying to feel comfortable in a rotation. When grinding solo though, there’s no reason not to have a rotation because you don’t have to worry about other party members or anyone’s actions other than your own.
As always, I appreciate any comments you care to share, and welcome any questions you might have.