Protection Paladin Quick-Start Guide For WoW Patch 5.4 – Stats, talents and spec, glyphs, rotation, reforging and gems, priorities and tanking strategies

by on August 27, 2012

It’s nearly the end of the expansion – but first, us Prot Paladins get to bring the Holy wrath to Garrosh. Which, let’s face it, is long overdue. So, if you’re staring at your Protection Paladin in confusion after WoW’s Patch 5.4, here’s everything you need to know about our talents and advised specs, glyphs, rotation (such as it is), reforging priorities, preferred stats, gem choices and more.

Updated 17th September 2013 for World of Warcraft Patch 5.4

Protection Tanking “Rotation” and Priorities

Single-target Tanking

We use a “CS-X-X” rotation, meaning that when tanking, our rotation should go Crusader Strike – Something Else – Something Else – Crusader Strike – Something Else – Something Else – Crusader Strike and so on.

For the “Something Else” slot:

  • Top Priority: Use Judgement if available. If not, case Avenger’s Shield if that’s available.
  • Second Priority: Use your Tier 6 talent (probably Light’s Hammer if you’ve chosen talents as below) if it’s available. Use Hammer of Wrath if it’s available.
  • Third Priority: Use Consecrate.

Importantly – use Shield of the Righteous any time you have 5 Holy Power. It’s off the Global Cooldown, so you can literally use it whenever you like.

AOE Tanking

After your pull use Hammer of the Righteous on your targets.

For AoE, we use Hammer of the Righteous rather than Crusader Strike, so our rotation goes Hammer Of The Righteous – Something Else – Something Else and so on.

For the “Something Else” slot, use single-target priorities, but use Consecration as top priority after Judgement.

Use Shield of the Righteous any time you have 5 Holy Power.


Use Shield Of The Righteous when you’re about to take a lot of damage, and Word of Glory / Eternal Flame to recover after taking damage. Note that whilst Shield Of The Righteous costs 3 Holy Power always, Word Of Glory / Eternal Flamecan be cast with any amount of Holy Power.


Using the standard talent spec you have 6 cooldowns (at level 90):

  • Guardian of Ancient Kings – Save for periods of very heavy damage, or “I’mgonnadie” moments
  • Divine Protection – Use on cooldown unless you know there is a regular spike of damage in the fight (or you’re not taking any damage at that point).
  • Ardent Defender – Use if you’re about to die, and you’d prefer not to.
  • Holy Avenger – Supercharges Holy Power generation – good for massive threat or damage output, as well as temporarily granting significant protection by spamming Shield of the Righteous and Word of Glory.
  • Lay On Hands – Often best used on someone other than yourself. Use if you or another vital party/raid member is about to drop. I usually have this bound so I can one-click cast it using raid frames, using Clique or a mouseover macro.
  • Devotion Aura – A more limited raid-wide damage protection, only useful against magic. Use in conjunction with your raid leader’s guidance, or when the party’s taking heavy damage and you’re pretty sure it’s magical!


Use Seal of Insight. Make sure you have Righteous Fury active.

Use Blessing of Kings unless there’s a druid in the group, in which case use Might. Coordinate with other Paladins and Monks in the group if you have them to make sure the group has Kings and Might (or the Monk equivalents).

Protection Paladin Talent Choices

Talent choices in the 5.0 talent system are very flexible. Having said that, here is a good loadout for common situations. When in doubt, we’ve chosen the easiest abilities to use with minimal effort:

  • Tier 1: Pursuit of Justice.
  • Tier 2: Fist of Justice.
  • Tier 3: Eternal Flame.
  • Tier 4: Unbreakable Spirit.
  • Tier 5: Holy Avenger
  • Tier 6: Light’s Hammer

Note on Tier 4: If you’re facing heavy DoTs in a fight, you may wish to swap to Hand of Purity – it’s that good.

Stats, reforging and gemming for Protection Paladins

It’s now clear that the “Control” strategy for Protection Paladins is superior for most situations.

Get Hit to cap (2,550 rating or 2,210 for draenei), then Expertise to cap (2,550 rating). Then stack Haste.

Reforging: Reforge to Hit first, then Expertise, then Haste. Reforge out of Hit and Expertise above the cap, then Crit, then Dodge and Parry, then Mastery,.

Gems: If you have to, gem for Expertise to hit the cap. Then use Quick (Haste) gems.

Meta Gem: Austere meta gems are still the best option – search for Austere on the AH and choose whatever fits your budget best and has the biggest numbers!

Getting one- or two-shot? If you’re dying before healers can heal you, you need more Stamina. Gem blue sockets with Stamina gems until it’s no longer a problem.

Prot Paladin Glyphs

Glyphs are a very personal choice in MoP – there aren’t many automatic must-haves. Having said that, here’s a good selection:Major: Glyph of Divine Protection, Glyph of the Battle Healer and Glyph of Alabaster Shield. For AoE fights, Glyph of Word of Glory may be better. Glyph of Consecration is fantastic for AOE pickups and 5-mans.

Minor: Your choice – they don’t affect your tanking. Glyph of Righteous Retreat is useful if you’re likely to want to bubble-hearth.

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.

These are VERY approximate choices that should be OK for either stat strategy (above).

  • Shoulders – Greater Ox Horn Inscription
  • Back – Enchant Cloak – Greater Protection
  • Chest – Enchant Chest – Superior Stamina
  • Wrist – Enchant Bracer – Dodge
  • Hands – Enchant Gloves – Superior Mastery
  • Belt – Living Steel Belt Buckle
  • Legs – Ironscale Leg Armor
  • Feet – Enchant Boots – Pandaren’s Step
  • Weapon – Enchant Weapon – River’s Song
  • Shield – Enchant Shield – Greater Parry


If you want more in-depth information:

  • Theck’s blog at Sacred Duty is THE resource for Protection Paladins right now if you want more detail.
  • Maintankadin can be hard to navigate, but is a truly excellent source of info.
  • Icy Veins’ excellent Prot Paladin guide is now Theck-Approved
  • Finally, as a WoW player, you should really check out the latest and greatest from the blogosphere on World of Warcraft, here at the Melting Pot.

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{ 73 comments… read them below or add one }

Samuel August 30, 2012 at 9:58 pm

Your actually better using bold Gems not Flashing as Strength conversion pre Mists is high than rating coversion


Hugh Hancock August 31, 2012 at 10:59 am

Interesting – what’s the math on that?


Samuel August 31, 2012 at 1:58 pm

1% parry requires 244 strength
1% parry also requires 265 parry rating


Samuel August 31, 2012 at 1:59 pm

This will change at level 90 but at current times strength is better


Samuel August 31, 2012 at 2:28 pm

I’m actually tanking with Heroic Bone-link Fetish and Fire of the Deep with Great success thinking of Changing the fire of the deep for Heroic Soulshifter Vortex to see results with more stamina plus mastery proc are really nice now with the new SotR

Hugh Hancock September 3, 2012 at 3:17 pm

That’s a very good point – thanks. I’m editing the guide to include that now.

Nasteria October 18, 2012 at 3:14 am

Is that information true of DK’s as well? I was wondering why this website recommended strength on my pally and not on my DK. Is it a class thing?


Hugh Hancock October 18, 2012 at 10:24 am

It’s a class thing. Because of their different mechanics, they have similar but not identical stat preferences.

Loiteta September 2, 2012 at 12:10 am

Gotta question… My parry is like DOUBLE my dodge…. How would you level them out? I reforged everything off of parry to dodge or mastery and its still 26%Parry and 13% dodge… so I occasionally get hit like a truck because they are so far apart. Please help. Thanks.


Samuel September 2, 2012 at 12:27 pm

I personally believe this is what blizzard want to make tanking a more active role the way i counter these high bursts is using Word Of Glory (with 5 stacks of bastion i’m getting nearly 200k non-crit heals) and you will have to have higher parry anyway as its diminishing returns is a lot lower than that of dodge.


Hugh Hancock September 3, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Great answer, thanks.

I wouldn’t worry too much about the disparity between Parry and Dodge if Dodge is lower – the reason for balancing the two is to avoid diminishing returns, which is less of a problem for Parry than Dodge right now.


Dan May 31, 2013 at 9:48 pm

I’m confused on the parry\dodge discussion here. My paladin tank is an alt, but I’ve been using him more and more these days. Last I checked we were meant to have double parry over dodge. This new talk (new to me) about having them now equal is confusing. My tank is ilvl 504 now so I just made the switch from mastery > haste, to haste > mastery (or changed to control). I’ve been trying to find out mainly if I should always be reforging from dodge and parry to haste, or if I should leave a set value. This talk about having them preferably equal has now thrown another wrench that logic. Help in clarifying would be appreciated. Thanks for your guides and links. I’ve always used them and always respected that your always about good information over the more typical “My way is best!” :)


Hugh Hancock June 12, 2013 at 1:36 pm


To be honest, the New Paradigm of tanking tends to say “don’t worry too much about parry and dodge, they’re not very important any more”.

Having said that, I don’t believe the actual Parry/Dodge math has changed – it’s just that Haste is so much better that the optimal strategy is just to reforge everything that you can. However, if you have the choice between reforging Dodge and Parry, I’d keep the old 2:1 ratio in mind.

Interested to hear any other comments on this, too!

Samuel September 11, 2012 at 9:45 am

Always using your posts and things felt like i should finally give something back :)


Jose October 4, 2012 at 8:57 pm

Any information on what seals to use on both single and AOE tanking?


Slampig October 14, 2012 at 4:48 pm

Use Seal of Truth for single-target tanking and Seal of Righteousness for multi-target tanking.

***as stated above***


Ombiatmat November 7, 2012 at 10:27 am

I’m kinda new to tanking, so pardon in advance if this is a stupid question.
But why would you choose Colossus over Windsong for your weapon enchant? Are there differences that sets them miles apart?


Hugh Hancock November 7, 2012 at 10:47 am

That’s not a stupid question at all – in fact, I’m going to alter the guide because of it.

The answer is that in the early days of MoP, Colossus was slightly superior – however, Windsong’s proc mechanic has been changed, and it’s now superior.

If you can get it, Dancing Steel is superior to either, as is River’s Song, but both are expensive.


Stenzalius November 16, 2012 at 1:32 am

As an avid paladin tank, I have recently been chatting to, and getting advice from the #1 pala tank on my server.

He has enlightened me that because of Sanctity of Battle, you mitigate more damage by stacking haste as opposed to mastery.

Why? Because the Shield of the Righteous uptime is alot higher, and the damage is less spikey, AND less damage. I recently change from stacking mastery to stacking haste. I don’t know the exact numbers but I’m mitigating around 5-10% more damage now. Stat Priority is as follow:

Hit (to 7.5%) > Expertise (to 15%) > Haste > Mastery > Dodge = Parry.

Because of this I would recommend the following gems:
Red: Expertise (Precise)
Yellow: Haste (Quick)
Blue: Haste/Hit (Lightning)

Also 2 enchants I disagree with. We’re not exactly lacking stamina at the moment so I could personally take the +180 Hit enchant for Cloak, as opposed to the +200 Stamina. Also the Bracers enchant could be Mastery instead of Dodge.

Also, for the most part we should be using Seal of Insight. Since the nerf to SoT and SoR, Insight has been the way to go. The self-heal scales with Vengeance, so we’re not shy of 20k-30k heals. There can be differences if more dps is needed, or aoe threat etc, but Insight is the way to go for now.

Hope this info helps!


Samuel December 5, 2012 at 10:11 am

Althought I agree with you on the SoI although Battle healer is almost a must have due to threat issues, although I disagree with Stamina Alot of damage from these raids is either unmitigated due to mechanics or Magical therefore I think your underestimating the value of stamina. Take Blade lord Tay’yak for example his Unseen strike although this mitigatiable( not sure if thats a word) its a a waste to use a CD to reduce damage as you need CDs for overwhelming assaults as SHoR is not always that easy to time with Wind Step messing up timers with more stamina you are putting less pressure on healers to spam heal you so you survive the Overwhelming assaults. you still try to have SHoR up. But you may miss time due to unfortunate Wind Step. your still likely to survive the Overwhelming assault if healers have not topped you off fully and on a side note this boss meele swings hit like a truck so you may not be full health for the Assault anyway.

Alieana silvermoon Eu


Nina May 22, 2013 at 5:35 pm

I Sacred Shield before the pull – after the pull those first few globals are too precious to waste. I do a countdown, sacred shield when I say ’2′, pre-pot when I say ’1′, then Avenger’s Shield to pull with a nice snap threat. I’ve got an aura that tells me five seconds before it’s going to fall off so that I can reapply.

And those last few comments probably need some pruning.


paendamonius May 23, 2013 at 3:35 pm

As a couple other posters several months pointed out, the seal of choice for prot paladins should be Seal of Insight. The damage increase from using either Truth or Righteousness is minimal, and the self healing (which stacks with vengeance) is considerable and if you glyph Battle Healer the raid healing is great for both healing and threat purposes. Check out Theck’s latest post for why SoI is so good.


Hugh Hancock May 23, 2013 at 4:03 pm

Very true, correcting. Thanks!


Blair Petterd July 31, 2013 at 9:50 am

Hi there,

I’m not new to paly tanking but have come back to it, I was just wondering if someone could have a look at my armoury and let me know where I should go with it. I am looking at stacking haste ATM but don’t know if that’s the way to go after reading thecks posts.
Thanks, Sin


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