A while back I wrote a post on leveling as protection, and how ridiculously simple (even if it is boring) it is to do. Assuming you followed that post to level 80, you’ve not got yourself a freshly minted tank that is looking to get some gear upgrades.
Like I wrote a few days ago, patch 3.3 is a god-send for tanks. Instant queues are the order of the day, and even if you run into some rude DPS/healers – your badge to hour ratio should still be exceptionally high. With that in mind, I’m going to go over a basic talent/glyph set, basic stats you should be shooting for, and a rough outline of spells and the 9/6/9 rotation. I’m not going to go over specific gear lists, because honestly there are some already out there, and your gear will upgrade so quickly that your head will spin.
First – get your spec right
Rhidach (and many others) have posted on the merits of using Seal of Command (SoCom) in five man instances for the snap agro you’ll need to help hold mobs off those trigger finger DPS. While a protection build is fairly flexible, there are certain things to keep in mind when speccing for tanking heroics.
1. It’s all about damage. Survivability is important, but you don’t need all the talents you’d normally take for raid tanking.
2. Speed is the key. While you can get away (to some extent) with a slower speed, you’re going to be getting pushed by the DPS.
3. Remember the Sunwell. I don’t know how that really fits in, but they yell it to me all the time in Silvermoon/Shattrath – so I’m assuming it’s important.
My personal spec for heroics is a variation on the 53/18 I use for tanking raids. I don’t know that this build is perfect, but it gets the job done.
· Divine Strength: 5/5 – More Strength means more block value, more damage, and thereby more threat.
· Anticipation: 5/5 – More dodge equals, more dodge?
· Imp. Righteous Fury: 3/3 - 6% less damage taken, right off the top.
· Toughness: 5/5 - More armor equals more mitigation.
· Imp Devotion Aura: 3/3 – More armor plus 6% more healing done to anyone hit by your aura.
· Blessing of Sanctuary: 1/1 – 10% more Stamina and Strength, plus 3% reduced damage taken, and mana back when you block, dodge, or parry. This will be the only blessing you should be running.
· Reckoning: 5/5 – This build centers around SoCom, which can proc from reckoning hits.
· Sacred Duty: 3/3 – We’re taking this for the 8% more stamina. The 60 seconds off our bubble wall is just pure gravy.
· One-Handed Weapon Specialization: 3/3 – 10% more damage from your 1H weapon.
· Spiritual Attunement: 2/2 – I only run 1/2 in my raid build, but you may need more mana back due to lower avoidance. If you’re finding mana isn’t an issue, feel free to put one (or both) of these points elsewhere.
· Holy Shield: 1/1 – Part of the 9/6/9, this deals damage and ups your block percentage. It’s win all around.
· Ardent Defender: 3/3 – your extra life. This talent is so overpowered that no Paladin should be without it.
· Redoubt: 3/3 – More block value and block percentage on chance.
· Combat Expertise: 3/3 – Doubly important now that Shield of Righteousness is now a melee hit and can be dodged or parried. 6% more stamina and crit is just pure deliciousness added to this.
· Touched by the Light: 0/3 – If you can find points to slam into here, please do – but I can’t find any, and since this build is dependant on SoCom instead of SoV, spellpower isn’t as important.
· Avenger’s Shield: 1/1 – Your Captain America, and the reason we all rolled Pally tanks to begin with.
· Guarded by the Light: 2/2 – Less spell damage taken, and your Divine Plea stays up as long as you’re hitting something.
· Shield of the Templar: 3/3 – 3% less damage taken, and your Avenger’s Shield can now be used as a silence/interrupt.
· Judgements of the Just: 2/2 – 10 sec reduced CD on your one true stun/interrupt (Hammer of Justice), plus you reduce a target’s attack speed by 20%. These points can go into Touched by the Light if you so choose.
· Hammer of the Righteous: 1/1 – Reach out and touch many mobs.
· Deflection: 5/5 – 5% more parry.
· Imp Judgements: 2/2 – While I normally only run 1/2 in this talent for raid tanking, you’re going to run into situations where you need this spell up faster in order to pick up a loose mob.
· Heart of the Crusader: 3/3 – Gives everyone an extra 3% crit chance against your target. You can take 2/2 in Imp Might here instead if you want, but I just give everyone kings anyway.
· Conviction: 2/5 – Increases crit chance
· Seal of Command: 1/1 – The core of this build, and the seal you will run on all trash.
· Pursuit of Justice: 2/2 – Personally I like the increased speed, but you can swap these talents out and put a speed enchant on your boots if you like.
· Crusade: 3/3 – 3% more damage against 75% of the mobs you’ll be facing.
Remember that this build is not ideal for raid tanking, or even for soloing as you’ve lost the increased spell power and buffed Sacred Shield. This build is designed for maximum damage, while still tanking.
Second – Your Glyphs
Glyphing for heroic tanking is slightly different than glyphing for raid tanking. I like to run with the following glyph set.
· Glyph of Holy Wrath – Reduces the CD of your Holy Wrath by 15 seconds. A nice DPS boost, plus it stuns your targets (undead), and helps hold them in your consecrate for an extra second.
· Glyph of Hammer of the Righteous – HotR hits one additional target. Helpful with AoE tanking, especially when you’re running Seal of Corruption/Vengeance instead of Seal of Command.
· Glyph of Divine Plea – 3% less damage when Divine Plea is up.
· Glyph of Seal of Command – If you’re really having mana issues, this can help some. Not my first choice though.
· Glyph of Righteous Defense – Increases the chance for your taunts to hit. Use this if you’re missing a lot of taunts. Personally, I just let the melee die if they’re pulling agro.
· Glyph of Blessing of Kings – This is the only blessing I generally put out (other than Sanct on myself) so this helps reduce the initial mana cost.
· Glyph of Sense Undead – 1% increased damage against undead, which is a good chunk of what you’re tanking.
· Glyph of Lay on Hands – Really the only other minor glyph worth taking here, reduces the CD of your LoH by 5 minutes.
Basic gear and stats
Now that you’ve got your talents and glyphs set, let’s look at your basic gear and stat layouts. The first, and most important thing, is to reach the heroic defense cap of 536. Don’t worry about it if you go over, and don’t worry about hitting 541 just yet – that’s your soft cap for tanking in raids.
Don’t stress hit or expertise at this point, as your entry level gear won’t have a lot of these stats on them. While I personally like to run fully hit capped (or as close as I can get), it’s not imperative for heroic farming. If you can get around 150 hit or so, you should be fine. You’re going to lose out on 10 free expertise by not running Seal of Corruption and its corresponding Glyph, but that’s the price we play for Seal of Command cleaves.
My best advice is to get yourself to 536 defense, and then stack stamina. With the cost of rare gems so low, don’t be afraid to use them or even epic gems if you can afford them. Make sure your gear is enchanted as well. Having good gems and enchants on your gear will go a long ways towards comforting your group members who may be upset that they didn’t draw a T10 geared tank with 50k HP.
For your tanking weapon, pick up the slowest 1H you can that has some Strength and Stamina on it. Don’t worry about getting a tank-stat weapon, unless you need it to reach your defense cap. Enchant it with Mongoose or AP, and get thyself to cleaving.
I’m geared and talented – now what?
Fortunately, the LFG tool should prevent you from landing in HoL or HoR right off the bat. Just in case, it might be best to queue yourself for some of the easier heroics (UK, Nexus, AN) or even start in non heroics (choose the random so you get two badges) until you get your feet steady under you. Don’t be afraid to let your group know right off the bat that you’re working on your tanking, and to please give you a bit of extra time with the boss and trash. Your healer is your number on ally here – as long as they are comfortable with it, you should be fine.
Most importantly though Read the strategies before you walk in the door, and don’t queue as the leader unless you mean it. It’s a lot easier to forgive a tank when they seem to have the basics (like not standing in Anub’s pound ability in AN).
You may want to make a few macros similar to these.
/p Hi guys. Just a heads up that I’m fairly new to tanking and am still working out the kinks. I’m defense capped, but would really appreciate a few extra seconds to establish threat on any trash and the bosses.
If there is another paladin in your group:
/p I will be buffing Kings. Please pick up Wisdom and Might.
What if my group is a bunch of jerks?
Fortunately for you, you’ll have instant queues as a tank. While some groups may vote kick you, or give you lots of harassment, you’ll ultimately come out on top. There’s a lot more DPS out there looking for groups than there are tanks looking to lead them.
Final tips, spells, and “I used to be a xyz tank, what now?”
Run Seal of Command and judge Light whenever possible. You can switch to judging Wisdom if you’re having mana problems or if there’s no replenishment in the party. Between 2/2 SA, Divine Plea, and BoS, you should be ok for mana though.
Don’t be afraid to stop and drink. Buy some cheap water (Honeymint Tea is about 3x the amount of mana you actually have – maybe more) and don’t be afraid to use it.
Use buff food on yourself, and spend the money on flasks or elixirs. Again, you’ll buy a lot more leniency if you’re showing that you’re putting out the maximum effort to make yourself the best you can be. You can also close some defense/HP gaps by using elixirs or flasks. Think of them as investments, especially if you’re chain running heroics.
Righteous Defense is your AoE tuant – you can simply click on a player who has agro and hit it. Hand of Reckoning causes damage now, and is great for breaking CC or pulling if Avengers Shield is on CD.
Learn to love the 9/6/9 rotation. You’ll live by it, or die by it. Basically it is Shield of Righteousness/Consecrate/Hammer of the Righteous/Holy Shield/SoR/Judgement/HotR/Consecrate – forever. You are rotating a short CD ability (SoR or HotR) with a long one (Consecrate, HS, or Judgement). On trash it’s tougher to keep this rotation up, but on bosses you should settle into the rhythm fairly quickly. Download the mod CLCRet for some help with this. It will show you what ability you should use next – think of it like training wheels.
You have no closer, and your interrupt is on a long CD. Use them wisely.
Pop your wings before a boss pull for extra threat. Just remember you can’t use your damage CDs for 30 seconds.
Hopefully this wall of text helps some new Paladin tanks feel more comfortable stepping into the heroic scene. With the bonus badges, it’s entirely possible to start today and be in full T9/232 gear by New Years. Good luck, and I’ll try to answer any questions in the comments in a timely fashion.