Updated Mon, Dec 19, 2011 by Messiah
NOTE: This guide has been updated to reflect the game as of patch 4.1.
It is not like the old days of BC or WotLK, we really only have one seal that we should be using now.
Our tanking seal is the Seal of Truth which causes damage when judged and also places a DoT on each target that it hits. The DoT stacks up to five times and deals holy damage over time. While in theory you could use the Seal of Insight for some healing return while tanking, it is a threat loss and does not return much health.
The same goes for Blessings in Cataclysm. Gone are the days of multiple Blessings to chose from and we really only have two now. Blessing of Might for damage and mana regen and Blessing of Kings for a stat boosts.
Which Blessing you should use really depends on two things. First, if there is a druid in the group, you bless might since Mark of the Wild is essentially the same as Kings now. Second, if there is no druid it is up to the healer. If they have enough mana regen, then Kings is better because everyone gets a stat boost, if not, then bless Might so that the healer has more mana regen and can heal longer.
For complete details read the guide: What are the Best Paladin Seals.
As a Paladin Tank you have several great cooldowns. The use of these cooldowns is critical and separates the regular players from the truly great players. Remember that using a cooldown at the right time can save a wipe of the whole group, so make sure you have one available for when you need it. However, equaly important is that cooldowns can drastically reduce the healing that you require and therefore help a healer that is having mana issues. Knowing when the exact best moment to use these abilities comes over time, but to start with, just make sure you start using them.
Ardent Defender - This is a great ability, that prevents the next killing blow against you in the following 10 seconds and instead heals you for 15% of your health. It also reduces all incoming damage by 20% for those 10 seconds. It is on a 3 minute cooldown.
Divine Protection - A quickly refreshing ability that lowers all incoming damage by 20% for 10 seconds. The cooldown is only 1 minute, so it is usable every fight when clearing trash or 5 man instance bosses, and several times a fight on raid bosses.
Divine Guardian - This is a cooldown that comes from your talents and reduces all damage to your party or raid by 20% for 6 seconds. This is a great cooldown to help out when there is heavy AOE damage to the group or raid. It is on a 3 minute cooldown, and it is important to note that the 20% damage reduction does not apply to yourself.
Divine Shield - This is the feared Paladin bubble and reduces all incoming damage by 50% for 8 seconds and is on a 5 minute cooldown. As a tank, it is not all that usable though as it effectively removes you from combat, so whatever you have threat against will ignore you and move to the next target, which can quickly lead to a wipe. It is occasionally useful though to pass threat to a secondary tank, or to quickly put it up and remove it to cleanse off damaging debuffs on you.
Guardian of Ancient Kings - This ability on one of our best cooldowns as it prevents 50% of all incoming damage for 12 seconds. It is available to use every 5 minutes which means it will be up for every boss fight.
Lay on Hands - This is an instant full heal that is not on a global cooldown. This ability can be used to save yourself or any other person in your group or raid. While only usable every 10 minutes, it is an extremely strong ability.
Ok, you now understand the basics about gear, stats and talents but how do you actually tank something? Knowing that most of your threat generation comes from holy damage how do you cause as much as possible as quickly as possible? What is the best rotation to generate as much threat as possible on your target so that they stay attacking you?
The new best single target (boss) tanking rotation is based on a priority system called a 939 or 93939 rotation, and is derived from the old 969 rotation. These two simple number based names come about due to the cooldowns from your basic tanking abilities, and involve weaving the two cooldown lengths together to cause as much threat as possible.
The 3 refers to the abilitiy that you will use every second global cooldown, which is every 3 seconds. This is your Crusader’s Strike. You will use this ability every other global cooldown.
The 9 refers to your abilities that are on a longer cooldown and will only end up being used once every 9 seconds. These are your Judgement, Avenger’s Shield, Holy Wrath, and 3 Holy Power Shield of the Righteous. You will notice that there are four abilities listed there, however you actually time them is based on a set of three.
A standard single target threat rotation will look like this:
GCD - Ability
1 - Judgement
2 - Crusader Strike
3 - Avengers Shield / Holy Wrath (if AS is on cooldown)
4 - Crusader Strike
5 - Shield of the Righteous (whenever you have 3 holy power)
While listed above in an order you are likely to use at the start of combat, since your Judgement can hit from further away than your Crusader Strike, the actual priority of your attacks between each Crusader Strike is as follows:
Shield of the Righteous (with 3 HP up) > Judgement > Hammer of Wrath (when available) > Avenger's Shield > Consecration > Holy Wrath
To make this easier many players will arrange their abilities in a manner that they can easily remember what to do next. A fairly standard setup is: Crusader Strike, Judgement, Avenger’s Shield, Holy Wrath, and Shield of the Righteous, as shown below.
By using this setup on your toolbar your rotation becomes as follows: 2-1-3-1-5-1-2-1-4-1-5-1 and then repeated. You can also find a fairly standard macro later in this guide that allows you to combine the Avenger’s Shield and Holy Wrath buttons so you only need to use 4 buttons instead of 5, simplifying the rotation. While useful and making your bar cleaner I would suggest at least keeping the full list on one of your toolbars for fights where you may need to break rotation or prioritize different abilities.
The new multi-target (trash) tanking rotation not significantly different than the single target rotation in that it is still basically a 939 rotation. However, instead of using Crusader Strike every other cooldown you use your Hammer of the Righteous ability. Also, instead of prioritizing your Avenger’s Shield you prioritize Holy Wrath. Finally you use Holy Wrath any time it is available instead of Avenger's Shield.
Therefore a multi-target threat rotation will look something like this:
GCD - Ability
1 - Judgement
2 - Hammer of the Righteous
3 - Holy Wrath/ Avengers Shield (if HW is on cooldown)
4 - Hammer of the Righteous
5 - Consecrate (if available)
While items and gear are required for any raid, obviously, you also really should bring along all the consumables that will help you maximize your tanking ability. The ones that every Tankadin should bring to a group or raid are:
There are several very common macros that every Tankadin should use (assuming they haven't started already) to simplify their life. Many more can be found in the official forums. The most common that I use though are as follows.
Simplified Rotation Macro
When using a standard 939 rotation, you want to use Avenger’s Shield (AS) any time it is not on cooldown and only use Holy Wrath when AS is not available. This is not always predictable though due to Grand Crusader procs. Many players do not like to tie up 2 slots on their action bar for both abilities though, and will sometimes miss using AS when GC procs.
What you do then is create a macro that will cast AS by default, or Holy Wrath if AS is not available. Then simply replace your AS and HW buttons on your toolbar with this one, freeing up a button space.
This macro can be used to turn your Righteous Defense taunt into a more Warrior like taunt. Simply click on the mob you wish to taunt and the macro will target their target for you and cast Righteous Defense. If, however, you already have a friendly target set as your target it still works as it normally would.
/cast [target=target,help] Righteous Defense; [target=targettarget,help] Righteous Defense
While not really a taunt, many Tankadins use Hand of Protection (HoP) as a backup taunt. Since it protects the affected player from physical damage if the attacker is only doing physical damage they will leave them to attack the new person on top of their aggro table, which is hopefully you.
IMPORTANT NOTE: It is possible to hit yourself with HoP with this macro if the attacker switched targets while you are targeting them, If you do, the macro will cancel the bubble if you simply use it again, however you have now wasted your HoP.
#showtooltip Backup Taunt
All in One Taunt / Backup Taunt
For those minimalist players that want as few commands on their toolbars as possible, you can combine the above two macros into one. When combined it will first try to use Righteous Defense on the target or targets target and if that has already been used it will cast Hand of Protection on that target.
|#showtooltip All In One Taunt
/castsequence [target=target,help] Reset=8 Righteous Defense, Hand of Protection; [target=targettarget,help] Reset=8 Righteous Defense, Hand of Protection
Bubble to Break Fear, Poison, Debuffs
Sometimes you get feared, poisoned or something else and need to get out of it fast. This can happen in fights with mass fear effects when you do not have enough priests for a full fear ward rotation or don't have Shamans for tremor totems. Using this macro once casts your Divine Shield, using it a second time cancels it so that you can grab threat back from the target fully cleared of debuffs.
You will notice that technically it cancels the aura first. That is so that when you use the macro the second time it does not error out with "Spell not ready". If you do not have Divine Shield active already the cancel aura command does nothing.
#showtooltip Divine Shield
Things to do
Things to avoid
Note from the Author: While I try to cover everything I have learned about tanking while playing my Paladin and main tanking for my guild in this guide, I would be remiss to not mention the excellent sites that have helped me learn to be a Paladin Tank. There are three main sites I read on a constant basis to uncover all the best tricks, tips, tactics and math behind the game, they are Elitist Jerks, Maintankadin and Tankspot. If you really want to be the best Paladin tank you can be, I strongly suggest referencing all the great material out there.