Patch 4.3 Protection Paladin Guide – Stats, talent spec, glyphs, reforging and gems, priorities and tanking strategies

It’s time! Deathwing is lurching around the place. We’re going back in time and forward in time like a lost pilot around the Date Line. And pretty soon, it’ll be dragon-surfing time. So, it’s time to polish up our bubbles, put extra-spiky spikes on our shields, and get ready to tank a whole load of things we can’t even pronounce in WoW’s Patch 4.3. So, as always, here’s your quick-start guide to Protection Paladin play in the new patch – build, talents, stats, glyphs, enchants, reforging, gems and of course our famed “It’s really a priority system, honest” tanking rotation.

Updated Dec 12th 2011 to WoW Patch 4.3

Protection Paladin changes in Patch 4.3

Protection Paladins have seen very few changes in Patch 4.3. The only change is a slight buff to Judgement of Seal of Truth. This means that it’s slightly stronger than an unglyphed Avenger’s Shield now – however, you’ll probably be using Glyph of Focussed Shield on any single-target fight where you care about DPS or threat anyway, so practically it makes very little difference.

The two-piece set bonus from Tier 13 will make a difference, turning Judgement into a mitigation ability. On most boss fights, you’ll probably want to use Judgement as top priority in your “9” slot once you have it, unless threat or DPS are crucial for some reason.

Prot tanking “rotation”

No, of course we don’t have an actual “rotation” – oh, wait, yeah, we kinda do. Almost uniquely in Cataclysm, Protection Paladins do in fact have a very loose sorta-rotation for optimal threat generation…

Single-target tanking

The optimal threat generation approach for a Protection Paladin on a single target is usually the “939” rotation, so called because it consists of alternating a single 3-second-cooldown ability with various 9-second-cooldown abilities. The “3” is our Holy Power generator, Crusader Strike, and the “9“s are the other filler abilities.

A solid tanking rotation is thus: Crusader Strike – Avenger’s Shield – Crusader Strike – Judgement – Crusader Strike – Shield of the Righteous – Crusader Strike – Holy Wrath – Crusader Strike – Judgement and so on. in the “9” slot, use Shield of the Righteous if you have 3 Holy power, and otherwise Avenger’s Shield, Hammer of Wrath, Judgement or Holy Wrath in that order.

Once you have a solid threat lead established (you ARE using a threat meter, right?) you’ll want to swap every other Shield of the Righteous out for a Word of Glory to help your healers out.

Multi-target tanking

A slightly different rotation here: Hammer of the Righteous is our Holy Power generator, and Inquisition replaces Shield of the Righteous. You should also get Inquisition running as soon as possible, ideally before the pull (see below).

Assuming you have Inquisition running already, your rotation becomes Hammer of the Righeous – Avenger’s Shield – Hammer of the Righteous – Judgement – Hammer of the Righteous – Inquisition – Hammer of the Righteous and so on. The other “filler” abilities are the same as above – Avenger’s Shield, Hammer of Wrath, Judgement, Holy Wrath in that order. If you’re sure you won’t run out of mana, you can also use Consecration.

Again, once you have a solid threat lead, you can start weaving Word of Glory in too.

Buffs: Remember to keep your Seal of Truth up, check you have Righteous Fury, make sure you’re running the appropriate Aura (usually Devotion) and bless the raid with Blessing of Might or Blessing of Kings as appropriate.

The Pull: Divine Plea, on a two-minute cooldown, will give you full Holy Power. This is VERY useful for establishing a solid threat lead – pop it before a pull if you can. Avenger’s Shield is an excellent pulling tool – it won’t hit CC’ed targets, meaning it’s particularly good in dungeons or trash pulls. A very solid dungeon pull: Divine Plea – Inquisition – Avenger’s Shield – Hammer of the Righteous and into your rotation.

Cooldowns: It’s probably better to use cooldowns one at a time rather than using them all at once – that way, you’ve always got an “Oh, crap!” button available. However, if your healer just died and there’s 5% of the boss’s health left, feel free to pop the lot at once. Remember that Lay On Hands shares a partial cooldown with Divine Protection (Forbearance), so it’s best not to use that immediately. Holy Shield and Divine Protection have small enough cooldowns that you can use them in virtually every fight. Save Argent Defender for “argh, I’m about to die” moments, and Guardian of Ancient Kings for when you know you’re going to take a kicking – it’s our most powerful cooldown aside from Lay On Hands. And remember to cast Lay On Hands, Hand of Protection, and Hand of Salvation on other people – the latter two will really save over-eager DPSers’ bacon. Finally, use Divine Guardian when the group or raid is going to take a lot of damage, or as directed by your raid leader.


Protection Paladin Talent Spec

This is a good basic Protection talent spec for 4.3

You have 3 main choices for the last 5 points:

  • Pursuit of Justice (second tier, Retribution): There is almost no situation where movement speed isn’t useful for a tank – take this unless you have a good reason not to.
  • Rule of Law (second tier, Retribution): Boosts your Word of Glory – it’s a minor survivability increase, but every little helps. Also boosts your DPS a bit.
  • Reckoning (Fourth tier, Protection, one point in already): Decent single-target DPS boost – useful if you are getting out-threated by DPS, although that’s unlikely these days.
  • Hallowed Ground (Third tier, Protection): Consecration has a nasty tendancy to leave us OOM if we don’t have this talent – hence its not being in the rotations above. Makes AOE tanking a lot easier, although with the recent changes to threat, you’ll probably not have any problems regardless.

Stats, reforging and gemming for Protection

Mastery is probably our most important stat – whilst Stamina is also nice, we’re no longer in WoTLK, and high HP totals aren’t everything. After Mastery, Dodge and Parry should be roughly equal and are the second most important stats.

If you’re having threat problems, which is unlikely, Hit and Expertise to cap (aim for 8% hit and 26 Expertise) are our best threat stats. (See our guide to Paladin tank caps here.)

Reforging: Reforge everything you possibly can to Mastery, threat stats first. After that, reforge to Parry or Dodge unless you are having threat problems. Reforge Haste and Crit first, then Hit and Expertise, then Parry and Dodge to Mastery only.

Gems: Everything With Mastery, please. If a single non-Yellow socket can give you +20 to Mastery, Dodge or Parry, use a combination gem – Puissant Dream Emerald for Blue sockets, and Fine Ember Topaz for Red sockets. Otherwise, use Fractured Amberjewel. You’ll also need at least 3 Blue gems to activate your meta gem, Eternal Shadowspirit Diamond, so choose the least bad blue slots there.

Meta Gem: Austere Shadowspirit Diamond will always be a solid choice. Consult the EJ guide below if you want to be more accurate with it.

After the Block Cap: If you are at the point where you reach the Block Cap (block + Parry + Dodge + 5% = 102.4% ) with food and raid buffs, gem and reforge for Parry/Dodge instead of Mastery.

Getting one-shot killed? If you’re getting killed before healers have a chance to heal you, try swapping some Mastery gems out for Stamina until that’s no longer a problem.

Prot Paladin Glyphs

Prime: Seal of Truth, Shield of the Righeous, and Hammer of the Righeous. If you’re not having threat problems at all, substitute Word of Glory for Shield of the Righteous. If the fight’s purely single-target and you need more threat or DPS, swap in Crusader Strike rather than Hammer of the Righteous.

Major: Glyph of Holy Wrath, and two others of your preference. Glyph of Focussed Shield is superb for single-target fights, but a disadvantage for multi-target – remove it for those fights. Glyph of Divine Protection is very useful for magic-heavy fights, but SHOULD NOT be in at all times.

Minor: What – evaaarrrr.

Protection Paladin enchants and item enhancements

You should almost always use a profession enhancement item if it provides appropriate stats instead of a general enchant – Inscription of the Earth Prince on shoulders from Inscription, for example.

Head Arcanum of the Earthen Ring
Shoulders   Greater Inscription of Unbreakable Quartz
Back Enchant Cloak – Protection
Chest Enchant Chest – Greater Stamina
Wrist Enchant Bracer – Dodge
Hands Enchant Gloves – Greater Mastery
Belt Ebonsteel Belt Buckle
Legs Drakehide Leg Armor
Feet Enchant Boots – Mastery
Weapon Enchant Weapon – Windwalk
Shield Enchant Shield – Mastery

All hail Theck, Bringer Of Numbers And Pounding Headaches. More than any other class, Protection Paladin theorycrafting is dominated by his work – here are some of the bits you should read for more info:

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