Monday, December 10, 2007

Ask Coriel: Levelling as Protection

We interrupt the PvP / PvE war to answer some questions from Amava:
I found your site the other day while searching for advice on a talent build for my levelling Paladin alt who I'm currently viewing as a tank. My main is a relatively new lvl 70 Hunter. Some things that I could not find on the site, but would love to hear your ideas on are:
1) As a Prot Pally levels, what is a good order to invest the talent points? This is for a bit of solo work and tanking in 5-man instances. Speed of levelling is not a concern of mine as I value becoming a good tank way more than rushing to the end game.

This is a somewhat complicated question. Basically, there are a few key talents when levelling a Paladin: Spiritual Focus in Holy; Holy Shield in Protection; and Seal of Command in Retribution. Your plan should focus around which of these you want to take and when.

Protection really only comes into its own with Holy Shield at 31 points. The lower part of the tree is decent, but Holy Shield is the engine which drives the entire tree. My usual advice is not to bother with Protection until level 40 or 50. You can do well enough with the other trees for tanking purposes at the lower levels.

Spiritual Focus is an amazing talent for solo play as you can easily heal yourself while meleeing. Unfortunately, it costs 10 points in Holy, which will put off getting Holy Shield for another 10 levels. However, you don't need it if someone else will be healing you all the time.

So my usual advice is to go 10 points in Holy for Spiritual Focus, then 11 points in Ret for Seal of Command. Then level as Retribution until level 40 or 50. If you think you can get by without Spiritual Focus, respec to Protection at 40. Otherwise respec at 50 and keep SF.

Other than that the only difference between a Prot levelling build and a Prot end game build is Reckoning. Reckoning is very nice while levelling, but not all that useful at 70. I'd take Reckoning over 1H Specialization while levelling, then switch at 70.
2) Besides simply running instances and performing trial-n-error, do you have any ideas for how I can develop my tanking skills? I grew up as a beast master hunter on my first toon, and tanking is a hugely counter-intuitive concept to me. Ideally, I'd like to hear about things you do in 5-man groups while levelling up, since the full spectrum of threat-generating abilities and talents is not available until you get further and further into the talent trees.

Generally, learn the theory of tanking, especially the rules on how threat works. Take a look at:


This is *the* tanking guide. Although it is aimed at warriors, it is very useful for all tanks. Paladin specific resources include:

Zen Tanking

After that it's pretty much just keep Holy Shield up all the time, Consecrate when necessary, and Judge Righteousness when you can. Unlike warrior tanking, the actual mechanics of paladin tanking are not that complex.

Any other advice from Protection Paladins?


  1. I love playing a tankadin! As to the method I used to level - and recommend to all other up-and-coming prot paladins: Go full ret until lvl 34 or 35. At that point respec full prot bos before 5th in reckoning) - At this point you have all the tools talent-wise to do same-lvl elite 2-3 person quests and handle multiple melee with impunity. Notes:

    Get the best shield you can and drop a mithril shield spike on it.

    Get the fastest 1h you can find. This isn't to max reckoning damage as it's been shown that it doesn't make a difference (math geeks elsewhere can sound off on it). What does matter is the procs off of s/jol and s/jow. I bought a flurry axe when I saw it on the AH - it'll last a long time.

    After lvl35, spend the next 7 in ret (benediction, improved judgement), then go prot up to the end.

    There comes a point where reckoning has diminishing returns - but that's only when you start getting enough gear to push your avoidance up (around karazhan).

    IMO, the definitive pally aoe guide:

  2. No editing - should've previewed :/

  3. If your focusing on being a tank first and leveling second (I must warn you this probably not a great idea, leveling ret to 40 really is much more efficient.) Start with Redoubt (Imp.Devo has no bearing on your ability to tank), next toughness (ugh), then improved Righteous fury, (all we have done so far is increase your survivability and give you more threat.) Get Kings, SS and 3 into anticipation, then BoS and max Reckoning, (Finally some dmg adders).

    Here it becomes less easy to follow, the stamina Add from Sacred Duty is nice, though improving your bubble is something totally useless to you. As a tank you will never never want to bubble. (Self Explanatory), 1h spec is also a decent option total dmg increase is nice.

    HS is next what Pally tanking is all about. Its primary mitigation, very strong aggro add, and the whole focus of the prot tree.

    Ardent defender is strong, if your playing with someone who hates to flash heal then it probably is for you.

    Expertise went from being the worest talent hated by all to being very strong in 2.3. With another 10% stam increase (Totaling to 16%) you are now a beefy tank.)

    AS (or as i call it Cap'n America), is an amazing aggro adder, a decent pulling tool, (just get used to its skipping mechanic) and with no dead zone now not half bad for some extra dmg for when that/those mob(s) just have to die right now!

    Imp HS is just another way to keep massive AoE tanking the wacky pally only tanking style it is.

    In the end prot is to much of a point sink once your toped out of the tree get rid of Reckoning and spread some pts around, the other trees you will have to choose between ret for parry judgements and mana efficiency, or holy for DS/SF/ISR/DI (in some combination).

  4. 1) As a Prot Pally levels, what is a good order to invest the talent points? This is for a bit of solo work and tanking in 5-man instances. Speed of levelling is not a concern of mine as I value becoming a good tank way more than rushing to the end game.

    I missed that in part of the guideline I used. But the same build applies up 'til you grab Anticipation and Deflection (the last 2 I grabbed). When instancing, the healer will be keeping you alive. Never attempt to heal yourself while tanking (save LoH in an emergency). You can't block/parry when you don't have your shield up (any non-instant cast). When soloing, judicious use of seal/judge of light/wisdom will keep you up until post-fight - at which point you can heal/drink (heal if keeping mana up, drink if keeping health up, neither if you're around 35% health w/ ardent defender and have a decent amount of mana).

    For reference, here's my build - pretty much the stock post-reckoning prot build (note that w/ 2.3 there are some variations for people that like pursuit of justice and/or improved crusader - talk about a heavy tree):

  5. Most people will tell you to hold off on putting points into prot until you can respec later for full reckoning and holy shield. In conjunction with blessing of sanctuary, holy shield boosts AoE grinding, so I get that viewpoint. But personally, I went prot as soon as I could put 1 point in Reckoning and went off AoE grinding at level 30. Your mileage can vary of course, but for me just 1 point was enough to get the Seal/Judgement of Light procs I needed to stay up almost indefinitely. Appropriate use of your bubble, BoP, and bandages helps conserve mana and keep you alive too. You just have to learn, through experience, how many guys you can successfully handle, and find good spots to do it in (there are guides that can help you with this--at 30, as a Belf, I killed farmers in Arathi for several levels for instance). If your armor is high and you have a fast weapon, you can AoE grind. Use a shield spike and consecrate when you have the mana and it goes even faster.