This guide aims to provide all of the most critical information that you need to know so that you can tank as a Protection Paladin, at level 90 in PVE content.  It covers talents, glyphs, stats, reforging, and rotations. 

This guide will assume that since you are level 90 you will be able to take the basic information and run with it, simple topics like addons, macros, targeting, threat generation, tank positioning, and more are not covered.

The Role of a Protection Paladin

As a Protection Paladin your role in a group is to take a beating and protect everyone else in the group by tanking all of the enemies in the area. However in addition to survivability and tanking a Protection Paladin has several other good buffs and group benefits that they can provide. Just a few of the abilities and benefits that a Protection Paladin can provide are as follows:

  • Provides either of two great raid buffs, either Blessing of Kings of Blessing of Might. These provide either a 5% boost to strength, agility, and intellect from BoK, or 3000 mastery from BoM.
  • Can lower incoming magic damage to all raid members by 20% for 6 seconds every 3 minutes.
  • A short term CC from Hammer of Justice (6 seconds every 1 minute), and a long term CC through the talent Repentance.

Protection Paladin Talents and Glyphs

The new talent system 2.0 allows almost all classes and spec to be free for the most part too chose talents and glyphs that you like rather than specific ones. 

Protection Paladins are no different than the normal, in that they can fulfill their roll of being able to survive and tank right out of the gate regardless of talents chose. However there are a few talents and glyphs that can help their survivability and threat. While nothing is absolutely required, there are some that do help.

As a Protection Paladin you should make sure you choose the following talents and glyphs to help your tanking ability.

Eternal Flame (Tier 3 talent) - This talent replaces your Word of Glory spell with a new and more powerful one. The initial healing that it provides is roughly the same as Word of Glory, but it also provides a HOT that lasts for 30 seconds. This HOT provides extra healing and has the added advantage of also transfering to your Beacon of Light target. While the amount of healing provided is low from a single HOT, it is possible to apply it to several players due to the 30 second duration.

Holy Avenger (Tier 5 talent) - This talent provides a 2 minute cooldown ability that boosts your Holy Power generating abilities damage by 30% for 18 seconds, as well as causing them to generate 3 Holy Power instead of 1.

This talent allows you to put out a lot of damage and generate a lot of threat very quickly since you will be able to do one normal attack and then a Holy Power based attack. It can also be used to help mitigate damage by attacking and then self healing with Word of Glory over and over again for the period of time this ability lasts.

Holy Prism (Tier 6 talent) - This talent grants you an AOE damage / healing ability on a 20 second cooldown. It can either provide an additional AOE threat and damage generator for groups of mobs. It can also be used to heal friendly players in an area, however as a tank you are not likely to use it for healing.

While there are several really nice glyphs to chose from, most are only optional depending on your play style. These optional glyphs include: Consecration, Divine Protection, Final Wrath, and Focused Shield. The one glyph that is a real requirement though is below.

Glyph of the Alabaster Shield - This glyph offers the best overall damage and threat increase for Protection Paladins. With it, each attack that you block will boost the damage of your next Shield of the Righteous by 20% and this boost stacks up to 3 times. There really is no other glyph that will provide as much to you as this glyph does.

Protection Paladin Stat Priority

It is critical to understand your stat priority for all classes in the game. It is potentially the most important for tank classes though, because if a tank isn't good and dies then the whole group wipes.

Stat priority is complicated for tanks as there are different ways to look at it. The two schools of thought are to aim for high threat to ensure you hold aggro away from high DPS players or to aim for high survivability and make the DPS players that pull close to your threat manage their aggro.

Both stat priorities work in the game, and I have always suggested going for survivability over threat, however due to the current mechanics in the game, going for a Threat build is far supperior. This is due to a few things, not the least of which is how haste helps your active mitigation and the diminishing returns of parry and dodge. Therefore you should aim for the threat priority, the survivability priority list is given as referance for the differences only, currently you should not use it.

The stat priority for a Protection Paladin gearing for Threat is as follows:

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

The stat priority for a Protection Paladin gearing for Survivability is as follows:

Reminder: this is for referance only, do not use currently
Stamina > Parry > Dodge > Mastery > Hit (to 7.5%) > Haste > Expertise (to 7.5%)

Important Notes:

  • Parry + Dodge - Due to the nature of diminishing returns on Parry and Dodge, and the benefit of Haste to active mitigation both of these once critical stats to any tank, are now relegated to the sidelines and are of almost no priority at all.
  • Mastery – Mastery increases your chance to block attacks and increases the effect of your shield of the righteous and bastion of glory buffs. Due to the changes that came in Patch 5.0 however it is no longer to best overall stat for Paladin tanks as it was in Cataclysm. If you played a Protection Paladin in Cataclysm do not fall back to the old practice of stacking mastery and ignoring all other stats, it no longer works.
  • Haste - This stat increases your attack speed and reduces your global cooldown. This allows you to generate additional Holy Power, which can then be used for casting Shield of the Righteous more often. This increases both your threat and survivability, which is key as a tank.

Reforging as a Protection Paladin

When reforging you simply follow the stat priority that you chose from above, either for threat or survivability. Move the lowest stat to the highest stat that the piece does not have on it. You can also follow the table below, as long as you keep in mind the key percentages you should be aiming for and the 2:1 parry to dodge relationship.

  Reforging for Threat Reforging for Survivability
If your gear has these two stats… Reforge this stat… … to this stat Reforge this stat… … to this stat
Hit + Expertise Do not reforge Do not reforge Expertise Parry
Hit + Haste Haste Expertise Hit Parry
Hit + Mastery Mastery Expertise Hit Parry
Hit + Parry Parry Expertise Hit Dodge
Hit + Dodge Dodge Expertise Hit Parry
Expertise + Haste Haste Hit Expertise Parry
Expertise + Mastery Mastery Hit Expertise Parry
Expertise + Parry Parry Hit Expertise Dodge
Expertise + Dodge Dodge Hit Expertise Parry
Mastery + Parry Parry Hit Mastery Dodge
Mastery + Dodge Dodge Hit Mastery Parry
Parry + Dodge Dodge Hit Do not reforge Do not reforge


Protection Paladin Cooldowns


There are many great cooldowns at your disposal as a Protection Paladin, which is a good thing as you will be pounded on constantly as a tank. The bad part is that with so many cooldowns, learning to use them at the appropriate times can take a while. As a Protection Paladin your cooldowns include:

Ardent Defender – This is your go to cooldown when you know you are going to take some big incoming damage. It reduces incoming damage by 20% for 10 seconds and if you would be killed by a hit during that time you are instead healed for 15% of your health.

Guardian of Ancient Kings - Used to reduce all incoming damage by 50% for 12 seconds. You suffer less damage than you would with Ardent Defender, but are not protected from death.

Divine Protection - Used when you are going to be subjected to a large amount of incoming magic based damage.

Divine Shield – Makes you immune to all damage for 8 seconds but drops threat. Therefore as a tank it is best used to clear DOTs, debuffs, or movement impairing effects, and then canceling it immediately to gain threat back.

Lay on Hands - This is your "Oh Crap" ability that heals you to full health. If the healers are almost out of mana, and you are almost dead, this is a great save your butt ability.

Avenging Wrath - Use this ability at the start of every fight to help establish a huge threat lead over everyone else, then as required when it comes off of cooldown.

Protection Paladin Single Target Tanking

When trying to hold aggro and tank a single target a Protection Paladin has a set of abilities that they should try to use in rotation. The rotation is not hard set, but is more about building up Holy Power to use abilities and managing several of your buffs and applied debuffs. As long as an ability is available to use closer to the top of the list, you can ignore abilities further down the list.

The priority rotation for Protection Paladins against a single target is:

1 - Righteous Fury – Keep this active at all times to boost your threat.

2 - Seal of Insight – Keep this seal active at all times for its self healing ability, a boost to casting time, and boost to self healing.

4 - Shield of the Righteous  - Use when you have 3 Holy Power and are at or near full health to cause damage and generate threat, as well as applying the Bastion of Glory self buff. If you are at low health use Word of Glory or Eternal Flame instead for a large free self heal.

5 - Hammer of Wrath - Only usable when the enemy is below 20% health.

6 - Crusader Strike - Use when available, generates Holy Power.

7 - Judgement – Use when available, generates Holy Power.

8 - Avenger's Shield -Use when available, to generate threat.

9 - Consecration - Use when available, if mana is available.

10 - Holy Wrath - Use when available, if mana is available.

Important: Remember to consider your cooldowns any time you are being subjected to large amounts of incoming damage or are losing threat.

Protection Paladin AOE Tanking

When fighting 4 or more enemies you need to consider ways to hold threat against all of those targets instead of just focusing on a single target. Luckily this is fairly simple for a Protection Paladin. The priority rotation stays fairly close, but does have a few changes in priority order.

1 - Righteous Fury – Keep this active at all times to boost your threat.

2 - Seal of Righteousness – Keep this seal active for AOE encounters as it adds a small cleave to your attacks.

3 - Sacred Shield – Keep this active as much as possible to reduce incoming damage.

4 - Shield of the Righteous  - Use when you have 3 Holy Power and are at or near full health to cause damage and generate threat, as well as applying the Bastion of Glory self buff. If you are at low health use Word of Glory or Eternal Flame instead for a large free self heal.

5 - Hammer of the Righteous - Use when available, cleaves all nearby enemies and generates Holy Power.

6 - Consecration - Use when available, if mana is available.

7 - Holy Wrath - Use when available, if mana is available.

8 - Avenger's Shield -Use when available, to generate threat.

9 - Judgement – Use when available, generates Holy Power.

Comments on Protection Paladins

Do you have something to add on how to get the most out of a Protection Paladin in a PVE setting? Let us know by sharing in the comment section below.

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Last Updated: Mar 18, 2016

About The Author

Byron 1
Byron has been playing and writing about World of Warcraft for the past ten years. He also plays pretty much ever other Blizzard game, currently focusing on Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone, while still finding time to jump into Diablo III with his son.


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