Now it’s time for our next-to-last guide on leveling your Protection Paladins. This time we’re going to finish up Vanilla, blow through the Burning Crusade content, and get started the Wrath of the Lich King content as well.
Up to this point you have all of the primary tools required for tanking, though you’re still missing some of your defensive cooldowns. At the end of this guide you’ll also have those cooldowns that you’re missing and you’ll finally reach the final talent point in your tree, allowing you to finally be able to branch out into the Holy and Retribution trees.
Playing a Protection Paladin
There’s not much change at all in how you play your Paladin in this level range compared to how you played it in the last. You now have both of your Holy Power generating attacks as well as both of the spells you’ll primarily dump your HP into to use. You’ve got all the tools you need to be an AoE grinding fiend, and you’re virtually immortal so long as you don’t over-pull.
While you’re getting ready to go to Outlands at level 58 I suggest you go ahead and start testing those boundaries to see just how far you can go. Pull five or six mobs and see how you do. Any problems? If so, then you know that your limit is below that. If not, then go pull a couple more and see if you can still survive it. Keep on doing this until you find out where your boundaries are so that you don’t find yourself in situations that you can’t handle. Know your strengths, and utilize them.
As you move into Outlands itself you’re going to end up in a gear reset though, so be prepared to get hit harder once you get there and likely you’ll find you can’t pull nearly as many mobs as you could in Vanilla. Well, not until you get your gear upgraded at least. Once you’ve got the gear upgrades you can start finding those boundaries again.
Prot Paladins truly are a power trip. You have some of the best defenses the game has to offer coupled with some incredible healing and survivability skills, and great damage thrown in as well. You’re not going to kill things as fast as a DPS character will, but you’ll kill more things in shorter time than they could. You also excel in areas filled with Undead or Demon mobs, which is what much of Outlands is all about.
The first thing you need to know about this level range is that level 50 opens up your Plate Specialization. Since you’ve chosen the Protection spec, this means that you get a 5% bonus to your Stamina for wearing Plate armor in all of your armor slots, so make sure you’re not still carrying around any Mail pieces that might have been left over; upgrade them as soon as possible. You can probably drop under 50g on the auction house to replace any Mail pieces that you’re still holding onto.
The next thing you need to know is that at level 62 you get access to Crusader Aura which increases your mounted speed by 20%. You’re probably going to have this ability turned on all the time when you’re out running around the world, especially if you have a gathering profession. But remember, you can only have one aura active at a time and having this active while running dungeons is a complete waste. So don’t be a nubcake by leaving your Crusader Aura on or else you’ll make me a sad panda, and I don’t want to be a sad panda. :(
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 Prot Paladin.
- Hand of Freedom: Places a Hand on the friendly target, granting immunity to movement impairing effects for 6 sec. Players may only have one Hand on them per Paladin at any one time.
- Blessing of Might: Places a Blessing on the friendly target, increasing attack power by 10% and restoring 326 mana every 5 seconds for 1 hour. If target is in your party or raid, all party and raid members will be affected. Players may only have one Blessing on them per Paladin at any one time.
- Crusader Aura: Increases the mounted speed by 20% for all party and raid members within 40 yards. Players may only have one Aura on them per Paladin at any one time. This does not stack with other movement speed increasing effects.
- Hand of Salvation: Places a Hand on the party or raid member, reducing their total threat by 2% every 1 sec for 10 sec. Players may only have one Hand on them per Paladin at any one time.
Hand of Freedom is by no means a critical spell, unless you’re a big fan of PvP. However, there are going to be some mobs that start to use some slowing effects on you in this level range were before it was very rare. If you find yourself slowed or rooted in place, then this is the spell that you use to free yourself (or another friendly target). I use this a lot when I’m body pulling several mobs for an AoE grind, especially when there are casters using Frost spells on me.
Blessing of Might is our second blessing. Generally speaking I like to use Might when I’m soloing, and Kings when I’m in a group (unless there’s a Druid in the group, then I’ll Might). It’s an Attack Power buff and it also restores mana, making it a very useful buff, especially when you don’t have any DPS there to provide you with extra firepower.
Crusader Aura, like I mentioned above, is a fantastic buff that gives you an extra 20% mounted movement speed, which makes Paladin an excellent gathering class, and that movement is very useful when you’re leveling by cutting down your travel time between questing hubs and locations. Just don’t forget to turn it off when you’re in dungeons since it does nothing for you there.
Hand of Salvation is a spell that you need to get familiar with as soon as you get it. It reduces threat over time of the target you cast it on, lowering their threat by 2% every second up to a maximum of 20%. If you see someone getting close to you on threat then you want to cast this on them early to be sure they don’t steal it from you. If you’re in a dungeon and you find someone who’s consistently pulling threat, just get used to casting this on them before it becomes an issue each time. Different classes build threat at different speeds so it’s hard for me to tell you when to cast it, so just pay attention and adjust as needed. If they’re stealing it early then cast it right when they start to become an issue, if it takes them a few moments to get it then cast it at the end of your rotation or something to knock them down before it becomes an issue.
Leveling a Protection Paladin
Buffs List: Righteous Fury, Seal of Insight/Truth, Blessing of Might/Kings, Retribution/Devotion Aura
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
Boss Rotation: Avenger’s Shield, Judgement, Divine Plea, Shield of the Righteous, Crusader Strike, Holy Wrath, Crusader Strike, Judgement, Crusader Strike, Shield of the Righteous
Not much change here except that I’ve added in the Boss Rotation and the Buffs List.
The Buffs List contains the buffs you should have up at all times. You’ll notice that most of those have a This/That option as well. I tend to use Seal of Insight at all times while I’m leveling. Most mobs aren’t going to live long enough to make SoTruth worth it, and it’s better to keep your life and mana topped off instead. For Blessings I generally use Might when soloing and Kings when I’m in a group or a Battle Ground. The Aura is up to you, though I lean towards Retribution unless I’m taking a ton of damage.
The reason why the boss rotation changes from everything else were doing is because you want to start off as strong as possible on the threat front. Avenger’s Shield and Judgement give you a decent start on threat but the real kicker is using Divine Plea which your talents trigger to give you 3 Holy Power and Shield of the Righteousness burns those three for a big burst of threat as well. Doing this should put you far enough ahead of all your DPS that you won’t have to worry about them pulling off of you. Also, if you have your Avenger’s Shield cooldown reset from your talent procs go ahead and fit it in whenever you have a moment to do so.
Talent Spec: Protection 69
- Vindication 1/1: Your Crusader Strike and Hammer of the Righteous reduce physical damage done by their primary targets by 10% for 30 sec. In addition, your Hammer of Justice will interrupt creatures that are immune to stuns.
- Guarded by the Light 2/2: Increases your Word of Glory by 10% when used to heal yourself, and allows your Word of Glory to grant Holy Shield. In addition, any overhealing will create a protective shield equal to the amount of overhealing that lasts for 6 sec.
- Reckoning (+1) 2/2: You have a 20% chance after blocking an attack for your next 4 weapon swings within 8 sec to generate an additional attack.
- Shield of the Templar 3/3: Reduces the cooldown of Avenging Wrath by 60 sec and Guardian of Ancient Kings by 120 sec. In addition, your Divine Plea will generate 3 Holy Power.
- Sacred Duty 2/2: Your Judgements have a 50% chance of making your next Shield of the Righteous a critical strike. Lasts 15 sec.
- Ardent Defender 1/1: Reduce damage taken by 20% for 10 sec. While Ardent Defender is active, the next attack that would otherwise kill you will instead cause you to be healed for 15% of your maximum health.
Vindication reduces the damage we take from the primary target of our CS and HotR attacks by 10%. It also turns Hammer of Justice into a spell interrupt for us to use against targets that are immune to stuns, which are typically elites and dungeon bosses, but also some mob types who are generally immune to stun as well. The main thing though is the damage reduction.
Guarded by the Light is another great defensive tool, increasing the healing we receive from Word of Glory and also allowing WoG to proc Holy Shield for us, so that we can get the defensive buff from HS even when we’re in AoE grinding mode and spending our HP on heals rather than single target DPS from Shield of the Righteous. It also has the added benefit of providing us with a bubble whenever we overheal ourselves with Word of Glory, allowing us to dump HP for addition defense in cases where WoG heals you to full but your other talents make that WoG cast cost no HP, you can cast it again to get a bubble if you need one.
Reckoning we already had one point in, and now we’ve just finished it off. It’s purely a Threat/DPS increase, giving us a chance to get free melee attacks after we block an enemy attack. The best way to (ab)use this talent is by fighting multiple melee mobs at once, so always strive to do so when it’s convenient.
Shield of the Templar reduces some cooldowns that we don’t even have yet which is kind of wasted for right now, but it also provides us with 3 Holy Power instantly when we cast Divine Plea. You can either turn that into an “oh crap-heal!” opportunity to get a full powered WoG cast (or as a bubble from the talent above), or you can use it offensively by popping Divine Plea before you rush in to attack a boss and start the encounter off with a full powered Shield of the Righteous (see the Boss Rotation in the section above).
Sacred Duty is another potential Threat/DPS increase. Every time you cast Judgement on the target you have a 50% chance to ensure your next Shield of the Righteous is a critical strike. The buff lasts for 15 seconds, so if you’re about to cast SHoR and your Judgement is off cooldown, but you don’t have a Sacred Duty proc, start with the Judgement cast first for a chance to score a free crit with your most damaging spell.
Ardent Defender is purely a defensive cooldown. You want to use it when you think you’re about to die. It provides a 20% damage reduction so it’s good to cast at any time, but it’s best used when you really are going to die because it will stop you from dying and instead heal you back up to 15% of your maximum health. If I’m going down I try to pop this when I know I’m a few seconds away from dying and I’ll follow up the Ardent Defender heal when I “die” with either a Lay on Hands for a full heal, or a Divine Plea-fueled Word of Glory heal to try to get myself back on my feat as best I can.
Now that we have access to two of each glyph slot I’m going to include a third option for you to choose from in each category. Glyphs are listed in the order I would suggest you take them.
- 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%.
- Glyph of Shield of the Righteous: Increases the damage of Shield of the Righteous by 10%.
Now that you have two slots to fill you need to decide which two are going to be the best for you. I suggest Hammer of the Righteous no matter what. Of the other two I suggest Shield of the Righteous if you’re going to do a lot of dungeon running, and Crusader Strike if you’re more focused on solo questing.
- Glyph of Dazing Shield: Your Avenger’s Shield now also dazes targets.
- Glyph of Holy Wrath: Your Holy Wrath now also stuns Elementals and Dragonkin.
- Glyph of Consecration: Increases the duration and cooldown of Consecration by 20%.
Dazing Shield is the one I suggest you get first as it has the most potential for being useful. Holy Wrath is a close second since you’re going to start running into more Dragonkin and especially Elementals as you continue on. As I’ve said before, Consecration is quickly becoming a thing of the past, so I’m not too fond of it. As my 85 Prot Paladin is currently AoE grinding the crap out of mobs left and right I’m actually using it more and more, but that’s really the only situation where it’s a big deal. Pick up Dazing Shield and then go with whichever of the other two appeals to you more, or pick another one that I didn’t mention if you don’t like the sound of either.
- 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%.
- Glyph of Blessing of Might: Reduces the mana cost of Blessing of Might by 50%.
Pick two and go with it. Since seals only have a 30 minute duration where Blessings are 60 minutes, I suggest you take that as one of them just because you’ll cast it more often, but otherwise it really doesn’t matter.
Only one new glyph this time, and it’s up to you whether or not you use it.
/castsequence reset=10 Judgement, Divine Plea, Shield of the Righteous
This macro is one I use when I’m charging in on a boss. Rather than pressing all the buttons I need to cast the spells individually, I just spam this one while I’m running in to face the boss until SHoR goes off. I’ve played around a bit with adding Avenger’s Shield either before or after Judgement, but I prefer to just have it off on it’s own to add it in when I want it or leave it out otherwise.
The idea here is to use Judgement hoping for a Sacred Duty proc to force SHoR to be a crit, then using Divine Plea to get 3 Holy Power for free, and following that up with the actual SHoR cast. It’s the single best way to establish threat on a boss early on. The only thing you can do to improve it is to throw Avenger’s Shield into the mix as I said, though I’d probably start off with it and then spam this one. Whether or not you need that much threat starting off is something you’ll have to decide on your own.
I only use this on bosses though, as it’s not really needed during trash pulls or when soloing.
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 are still rare for us to find even in Outlands (though not as bad as Vanilla was), so this is really all you need to watch out for for the time being.