Please report for sticky as I'll soon have all the information up.
Welcome to the patch 3.3 Prot paladin guide. This project is an update of the original guide I had written for my guild boards back in Ulduar. It's been updated for 3.3 with all of the major changes covered. I hope to cover all the basics and go to facts for paladin tanking. In a perfect world, I'll slowly add links to good discussions, debates, and theorycrafting relating to the various sections as the thread evolves.
What this thread will cover:
- Prot basics such as spec, glyphs, rotation, and gear
- Reference points for accepted theorycraft and it's application
- Overview of tank theory (started, needs more work)
- Links to discussions and theorycraft supporting the guide
- A place for questions, esoteric or otherwise, about prot paladin related things
What this thread will not cover:
- Flames, crap posts, and trolls
- Hardcore MATLAB analysis (although it will be linked for references)
- Talking about the four filler points in tier 1 and 2 of ret. No really.
Talents and Builds:
Core Protection Raiding Talents
Yes, there are only 59 points in the linked build. They represent every necessary talent for a protection paladin to take. The remainder comes down to personal preference and group specific buffs that you may or may not need to bring.
OK, so what do I do with the rest of the points? Current theorycrafting tells us that any build with crusade outperforms non-crusade builds by a fair margin threat-wise. This is because in the majority of fights, we get the full 2% damage buff for DUH mobs (4/5 ToC bosses and pretty much all of ICC). Exactly how you fill out the rest of the ret tree is reliant on your own raid comp and what buffs your group needs. I will post what you can optimally achieve if every other raid buff is covered. It's important to realize that if you consistently raid with warriors, ret paladins, muti rogues, ferals, or any number of other classes, some buffs can be more easily covered by them. Talk to your other raiders, make sure you always know who takes what and that everything is covered.
Assuming you aren't responsible for demo shout, it's better off to pick up 3/5 conviction and 2/2 PoJ. Your final build should look like this. I am not advocating that your build needs to be this, the exact build will always depend on the raid.
Common mistakes and reasoning behind some more often debated talents:
Divinity: 5% increased heals looks good on paper, but in reality it's not a particularly strong talent. The majority of this talent will contribute to overheals and there really isn't anyplace else you can drop a whole 5 talent points for this incredibly marginal talent.
Reckoning: Reckoning is a cool sounding talent which I attribute the majority of the debates surrounding it. Realistically, it sims out to be one of the weakest threat talents available (second weakest after conviction) that gets increasingly worse as our gear and avoidance improves.
Dsac/DGuardian: There was a point in time where these talents were much more suited for offtanks and rarely useful for maintanking. As such, they were normally relegated to “optional” status and often used as the three filler points to go further down the prot tree. With 3.3, Dsac/DGuardian has become a much more mandatory talent. The damage transfer buff and the damage reduction buff are separate and the risky parts of this ability can be quickly canceled via macro while the flat 20% raidwide damage reduction remains. The ability is now largely considered an absolute must for progression tanking paladins.
½ SA: In practically any raid or heroic, only 1 point of SA is necessary to not worry about mana troubles. The sole exception to this is Vezax in Ulduar because sanc and DP are ineffectual there.
2/2 imp judge, Heart of the Crusader, imp might, and benediction: It does not matter where you spend these 4 points, none of them have any effect on your ability to tank. If your raid is missing a certain buff, then your choices may vary. Stop complaining about where these 4 points go. Do not have any prot spec discussion thread devolves into slap fights about where the lower ret talents go, it doesn't matter.
Vindication: Likewise depends on your raid comp. Definitely pick it up if no one else is covering it, otherwise there are legitimate threat talents to consider instead.
Seal of Command: SoC is good for short term AoE tanking burst, otherwise a MT will likely never use it. Good for heroics and most offtanking, but not a justifiable point for a MT-only build.
Threat and Rotations:
Paladins are well known for their incredibly high threat output, both single target and AoE. The simple fact is that we have more abilities then global cooldowns to generate threat. Because of this, it's impossible to use a rotation that keeps all abilities on cooldown all the time, but we can come close. The highest threat rotation is called the 96969 rotation which is excellently explained here.
The basic idea is that holy shield is up 100% of the time and our 4 highest threat abilities (shield of righteousness, hammer of the righteous, judgment, consecration) are always or almost always on cooldown. Abilities like exorcism, avenger's shield (unglyphed), and holy wrath do less single target damage then the above listed abilities and should only be used when you need to aggro something at range OR fumble your rotation and need some buttons to press while you wait for a CD to reset so you can begin the 96 rotation over again.