Cataclysm Shakes Up Paladin Tanking Semi-Hardcore #4
Its been a while since I wrote a Semi-hardcore and thought it was about time to send one out again. Its been a while simply because there hasnt been that much to say about Paladins and specifically Paladin tanks in WoW:WotLK. The game has been stable for a long time, essentially since TOC and then IIC came out.
The changes that will really affect the Paladin class are those that are coming in WoW: Cataclysm, however they have been really unstable until recently. Now that many of the new mechanics are becoming more stable in the beta and some of the numbers have started to be worked on I thought it was time to come in and discuss the new tanking rotation and how it is shaping up.
Before looking at the new rotations, it may be a good time to review the current WotLK 969 rotation to fully understand the changes. This has been written up and discussed previously, so rather than repeat it here head over to this link to get a refresh: Paladin Protection Guide Threat Rotation
NOTE: Everything discussed here is in beta and therefore subject to change. Also the exact values (damage and threat caused) have not been tuned yet that I know of, therefore the exact priority of abilities is not yet able to be figured out, I am looking only at the theoretical rotations.
Before we actually look at the new rotation it is also best to understand the changes that have occurred to many of the tanking abilities that they are based on. While there are not many new abilities, several of our core abilities have changed significantly.
Holy Power (HP) This is not an ability itself, instead it is our new Rogue-like combo point system. Using different abilities generates HP points which stack up to three points and then stick around until used. The points can be used to power other abilities, and the more points you currently have the more powerful the ability becomes. Once an ability that requires HP is used, all HP points are reset to zero.
Currently Holy Power in Beta is used to power three different abilities for Protection Paladins. They are Word of Glory (a small instant self-heal), Shield of the Righteous (single target attack), and Inquisition (a self buff to holy damage).
Even though the cooldown for this ability is fairly long, there is a chance to get it back off cooldown sooner. By taking the Grand Crusader talent (which you should) your Hammer of the Righteous and Crusader Strikes both have a 20% chance to refresh the cooldown on your Avengers Shield. This brings it back into your rotation more often. Since you use one of those abilities every 4.5 seconds it means that on average you will get a cooldown refresh roughly twice a minute. The actual time that this saves on your cooldown depends when Grand Crusader procs in your rotation.
Vindication is a debuff that reduces the physical damage done by the affected target(s) by 10% for 30 sec.
Because HotR is on the same cooldown as Crusader Strike it is almost always better to use it rather than CS due to hitting multiple targets. Crusader Strike only gains priority when there is a single target, and in fact because of the damage coefficients for the abilities right now in Beta, HotR is always the better ability to use, this will hopefully change before release though.
The amount of damage and threat it causes varies drastically depending on the number of HP points you have, it can be as little as 20% of your attack power up to 120% of your attack power. This really means that ideally you should only ever use this ability once you have accumulated the maximum three points of Holy Power.
In addition to causing damage and threat, using SotR also triggers your Holy Shield buff.
The change to the cooldown means that you need to time your use of it for maximum effect. This will generally mean that you use it at the beginning of any fight with a large number of enemies and then again later only if multiple enemies are still alive.
Understanding the abilities allows us to now look at the rotations to be used for threat generation and damage mitigation. I bring up the damage mitigation since we are no longer able to actively click Holy Shied to keep it active and create threat, instead it is just damage mitigation and triggered from other abilities.
To ensure that Holy Shield is active all the time you need to make sure that you use your SotR ability at least once every 20 seconds. An important thing to remember here is that HS is triggered at full strength no matter how many points of Holy Power are used to trigger your SotR. This means that at times you may be forced to trigger a less than optimal SotR hit just to keep Holy Shield active. Try not to, but do it if required, you want that HS buff up at all times. If Inquisition is off of cooldown you can also use it instead of SotR to bring your HS buff up, but since it is on a three minute cooldown it is only used occasionally.
Next up it is important to understand that there will no longer be a single rotation but two separate ones. While similar, the abilities will have different priorities depending on if you are fighting a single enemy or an AOE group of enemies.
Single Target Threat Rotation
When fighting a singe target after a pull your best rotation will be based off of Crusader Strike, Judgements, Avengers Shields, Hammer of the Righteous, and Shield of the Righteous. Your rotation will end up being something like: CS, J, AS, CS, HotR, CS, J, SotR and then rinse and repeat.
There are some breaks that will occur during the rotation where abilities are not available due to timings not lining up exactly. This means that you can fill in those breaks with things like Holy Wrath, Consecration, and extra Avengers Shield cooldowns created from Grand Crusader procs.
AOE Threat Rotation
When you are working against AOE groups the standard rotation stays fairly close, however instead of prioritizing CS over HotR, you reverse it whenever possible. Also you should be using Consecration every single time it is up and the same with Holy Wrath. It is important to keep these multi-target abilities open though for shortly into the fight.
The biggest change when AOE tanking will be on your first rotation through when you have generated 3 Holy Power. At this point instead of using a SotR for single target threat you should use Inquisition and then follow it up with Consecration and Avengers Shield. The boost to your holy damage will keep the group of enemies locked to you solid.