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Tankadin: Paladin tanking durning The Burning Crusade.

>> Monday, November 5, 2012

In the days before the Burning Crusade, paladin raid tanks were absolutely unheard of. For the most part, they are still uncommon, possessing a niche in any guild that allows them to do any tanking at all. And even then, most of them do not have the opportunity to pit themselves head to head with real bosses. When it comes down to the nitty gritty, they are expected to strap on healing gear.
While paladins are and have always been excellent healers, it is no longer their sole role. It is possible for paladins to main tank some of the hardest bosses to date in World of Warcraft. Here's a history of how and why.

The Beginning

At the first annual BlizzCon, the development team of World of Warcraft admitted that, initially, paladins were meant to be a very simple class to play -- and that often, things evolve beyond their control in the course of testing and making content live. Paladins soon thereafter received a talent review, ostensibly in preparation for the Burning Crusade expansion.

The paladin was delivered into the hands of the Horde, and amidst much derision became an integral part of the PvE - player versus environment - portion of the game.

They came to those with only the experience of fighting paladins as annoying healer or melee units in the battlegrounds -- and soon, since the healing mechanism in PvE was so important, found a niche in Horde raids as spam-healers and blessing bots.

Most are content with this role. Most Horde paladins leveled their characters following behind a level 70 or two, never really learning the intricacies of the class. The supposed simplicity of it, as within the Alliance, attracted poor players, and as such tarnished the image of the paladin.

Unfortunately for them, the paladin is no longer the simplest class to play in the World of Warcraft. In some cases, it is one of the most involved.

In the first BlizzCon's character class panel, the developers, in nearly the same breath, said that paladins were intended as "a defensive class, not a hybrid, to be up there beating on the mob," and to be "holy warriors using plate armor."

In my experience as a paladin raid tank, I have come across many a warrior who told me to,"Leave the tanking to the real tanks, stand in the back and heal. It's your job. Live with it." With the recent talent changes as of patches 2.2 and 2.3, healing mechanics were changed; no longer can paladins spam heals with a full mana bar.

...But we can take hits as well as, if not better than an equally geared warrior - and we buff the raid - and we are the AoE kings.

That's right. I said it.
If your guild is not grooming a protection-specced paladin main tank, you are behind the curve.

The Basics

Before patch 2.3, paladins were want for stamina as compared to druids and warriors. This was their main downfall - after all, in order to main tank, you need health, avoidance and mitigation in large amounts.

Fortunately, talents were added in the paladin review that allowed the paladin to make up the difference. "Combat Expertise" not only gives plenty of +hit (after all, if your melee swings aren't connecting, your Seals are not either) - but also, 10% additional overall stamina, on top of the talent that gives a bonus of 6%.

This brings to light the paladin's single most valuable statistic - the one that stacks with talents, Blessing of Kings and Prayer of Fortitude: stamina.

If you have designs upon becoming a paladin main tank for any guild, you'll need lots and lots of stamina. After all, if you have 1000 total stam with gear, you'll get an additional 16% over that - and the numbers do add up quickly.

Of course, stam alone does not a great tank make. For paladins, threat comes from spell damage (either from enchants or from weapons or a combination of the two). And avoidance is difficult to come by. 490 Defense is easy; that makes you uncrittable in a player versus environment situation. Uncrushable, however? That is not a walk in the park.

More Advanced Stuff

Statistical priority for a paladin main tank should be as follows:


Defense (490 minimum)

Avoidance (Dodge, Parry, Block)


Spell Damage

You need a minimum of 102.4% combined avoidance - dodge plus parry plus block plus your natural miss chance - in order to be uncrushable. Warriors have it easy; all they really need to do is stack up 25% shield block rating and their Shield Block ability makes them uncrushable - well, for one or two charges.

Paladins only get 30% additional shield block from Holy Shield. However, they can maintain that uncrushable status for far longer. If you're just starting out, you will definitely want to put priority on block for avoidance after you're capped for defense.

Unlike warriors, too, a paladin needs spell damage rather than melee damage or strength in order to tank effectively. Since the best tanking gear is made for warriors, covered in stamina, agility and other statistics, a paladin should find a good spell damage sword or mace. The best options there are the Continuum Blade from Keepers of Time reputation - or the Crystalforged Sword, a rare drop from Ogri'la dailies. Both blades have a healthy amount of stamina and spell damage to start with.

For a paladin to begin main tanking in raids, such as the ten-man Karazhan, he or she should have 10,000 to 12,000 life unbuffed, uncrushable status, and 160 spell damage.

The Endgame

The paladin tank suffers through tier four content with very little in the way of gear upgrades. Justicar helm and shoulders are excellent. Badge of Justice gear offers more options. Tier five content is much the same. Aside from trinkets and off-set pieces, there are few upgrades.

Mount Hyjal and Black Temple are where a paladin main tank shines.

After a certain point in the gear curve, a paladin main tank sees a dramatic shift in defensive statistics, spell damage and overall avoidance...and, of course, a massive amount of health. It is not uncommon to see paladins breaking 16,000 unbuffed life. Properly socketed, with all applicable stamina enchants, I have 18,700 unbuffed life as of the end of May.

As a paladin, I have main tanked every boss throughout Hyjal and Black Temple - yes, including Kaz'rogal, the infamous mana draining boss, Archimonde, and the hardest-hitting mob in World of Warcraft to date: Teron Gorefiend.

In Hyjal, the waves of ghouls and other undead are a non-issue. Consecrate catches all of them and holds them in place for mages and warlocks to obliterate. In Black Temple, DPS classes are actually allowed to do so instead of focusing on crowd control.

The trick to being able to take hits from these bosses - and being able to maintain threat - is to not say no to dodge, parry and spell damage. Your shield block rating will dip low - probably below 20% in some cases. The sheer amount of avoidance your armor will have, however, in the form of dodge and parry, more than makes up for the loss.

In order to compensate for the loss of shield block threat from Holy Shield, stack plenty of spell damage. My character, fully raid buffed, boasts about 600 spell damage. Between several pieces of Tier Six armor and the Hammer of Judgement from Hyjal trash, this cap is easily attainable.

Proof positive - a paladin can do it. Keep that in mind if one of the warriors in your guild wants to go Fury...if you have a protadin, you have a capable MT.

*Originally Published by Stephanie Berthiaume


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