There are two different paths paladins can go down; physical and holy. My chosen specialty is the holy tank, and this guide will focus on how to build an effective holy tank. I have tried to keep this guide as brief as possible, and rather than providing every piece of information on every skill etc., I have included only those which I consider to be core tanking skills. We’ve been hit pretty hard with the nerf stick, but rather than continuously focusing on the negatives I prefer to adapt and make the most of what we’ve got. Paladin is by no means an easy class to play but we can still be effective!
Who am I?
I’m Muzza from Tenesses league. I’ve been playing since well before Gipat, and have played tank the entire time. My main focus is always being an effective tank, but any build I make always has PvP in mind. Downing bosses is all well and good, but you can’t beat the unpredictability you can only get from fighting other players, or the hilarity of the rage from the people you continuously spam immobilise/challenge on.
1: Physical vs Holy
2: How To tank
3.1: Offensive Skills
3.2: Defensive Skills
3.3: Passive Skills
5: Skill Rotation
1. What’s the difference between physical and holy?
Physical skills are those which utilise your weapon (spear, sword, axe, etc.). Paladins do not have any ranged physical attacks. Holy skills on the other hand use your wand, and are ranged. In the past the stats which were important for physical and holy builds were different (in previous versions finesse either wasn’t needed, or wasn’t very important). This has now changed however, and neither physical nor holy paladins can neglect any of their key stats.
2. How to tank
This may seem like a silly thing to talk about, but I think it’s important to keep in mind what you’re wanting to do when making your build.
There are two key components to tanking; agro generation and damage mitigation. High dps isn’t needed to take and hold agro as we have various skills and abilities which modify our agro. These will be discussed later. Paladins have very good single-target agro, but are lacking when it comes to getting agro on multiple mobs.
Damage mitigation is crucial for pallies. We have relatively little in the way of passive damage reduction and instead rely on our barriers. There are various skills which help you manage your barriers and there are a number of different approaches you can take to barrier management. The better you are at managing your barriers, the better you are at tanking. Practice makes perfect here.
I will break skills down into 3 categories; offensive, defensive and passive. Offensive skills are what you use to gain agro and dps, while defensive skills are those which you use to keep yourself alive. Passive skills are those which buff you or help you out in some way. In the interests of not having this guide take half a million pages I’m only going to include what I feel are the most important skills to consider for tanks.
3.1. Offensive Skills
This is our main attack and is the key to taking/holding agro. R3 is a must.
Does only a small amount of damage however gives a chance for purifying strike to restore energy. Its effect can also be renewed/spread to surrounding mobs by using holy/divine wrath. With condemnation it’s all or…very little. Everyone should have at least R1 of this skill simply for its utility. If you want to use condemn for extra dps then you will need R3 + all the rubies which boost the damage/crit chance of condemn.
This is the one physical skill every paladin uses regardless of build. It has a 25% chance of restoring 1 canon of light or purity, and a 50% chance of restoring energy if condemnation is active. R1 is sufficient for holy tanks and is used off cooldown simply to restore canons. Extra ranks only add dps.
Strike of Justice
Another physical skill. Some pulls are easier if you charge in, so tanks should take at least R1. If you plan on pvping R3 is highly recommended, especially combined with immobilise for the KD effect.
This is a pvp skill, and the only instance it is used anywhere else is for kiting mobs. If you’re taking too much damage using immobilise and then running in circles with mobs can be a good tactic, and as the majority of our skills are ranged we can continue to hold agro like this. What rank you take here depends on your play style. Uses 1 canon of light.
This is our only AoE ability. It hits hard, renews the effect of condemnation, and spreads condemnation to enemies within range (target must already have condemnation active). At least R3 holy wrath or R2 divine wrath is recommended. Uses 1 canon of light.
This is our hardest hitting skill, and the only skill with a cast time (besides strike of justice at R1 or R2). Sacred sunrise is a 2-stage attack. The first stage puts a buff on the target for 8secs. Within this time you must use another holy skill on the target (righteous word, immobilise, wrath) to detonate it, causing the target to take damage from both SS and the skill used to detonate it simultaneously. All holy pallies should have this at R3. Uses 1 canon of purity.
This skill is useful for dps for tanks as it can hit very hard. At R3 you reflect 75% of damage stored in the first barrier back at your target. Because of this it can also be useful as an additional barrier clearing ability. Retribution however has some downsides. Firstly it consumes 2 canons – 1 purity and 1 light. Secondly it requires heavy investment. The skill itself costs you 3 rubies, however if you are going to take it you will also need to take the copious canons rubies to help restore canons, which in most cases will cost another 4 rubies. It is up to you whether or not you take this skill.
3.2. Defensive Skills
This is our main barrier-clearing ability, all tanks need this at R3.
This skill is not necessary, but can be very useful. I usually use it either to help out a teammate who is taking a bit of damage, or to give myself a bit of a reprieve by having some incoming damage absorbed rather than going into barriers. Who the skill targets can seem a little random at times, though if someone is clearly on lower hp% than anyone else you know it will hit them. If this skill if going to be used at least R2 of either version is recommended. Uses 1 canon of Purity.
Tenacity can have 2 uses. Its primary use is for moving barriers around to refresh timers and to position them for breaking. Tenacity can also be used as a damage mitigating skill as it cuts a little damage off your first barrier each time you use it. As it has a 1sec cd it can be spammed constantly – assuming you have the energy available. If you want to spam it non-stop you will need it at R3, otherwise R2 is fine.
Wipes all damage from the first barrier. Take at least R2 for the reduced cd. Uses 1 canon of light.
This is our only heal now and can return a lot of hp not just to you but to all group members in range. With the new healing aura you can potentially full-heal yourself, you just need to keep an eye on canons when using it (Solemn prayer and the aura both use 1 canon of light each). R3 is recommended.
3.3. Passive Abilities
Every time you parry you get a buff which increases your agility and endurance by 1%. At R3 the effect can stack up to 9 times and lasts 15secs. R3 is recommended.
Instantly forces your target to target you. Is a must for tanks. This skill is also very useful in pvp, can save a friend or quite effectively disrupt an enemy player. Uses 1 canon of light.
Causes righteous word to inflict periodic damage and increases your threat generation by 150% at R3. As a tank you need this to maintain agro, take R3.
Breaks the first barrier and restores all canons of light. Incredibly useful skill, everyone should have this.
There is a lot of disagreement when it comes to this skill. When you receive a critical hit the cooldowns on overcome, deliverance, vindication and self-sacrifice are reduced. At R3 cooldowns are reduced by 6sec and the effect can happen once every 4sec. Many people think it is not worth it as tanks should be aiming to receive as few critical hits as possible. The skill also seems to be at odds with combat inspiration which reduces your chance of receiving crits. Personally I’m in love with this skill. Our barriers are what make us great, and this skill helps us maximise use of our barrier-clearing abilities. Once you are sufficiently geared you can play with your stats a little so that you have lower endurance. When you do this the rate at which you use overcome is unreal, and the cd on deliverance gets cut back big time. However if you do this it is advisable you keep 2 gear sets; one for pve and one for pvp, low endurance doesn’t serve you nearly as well in pvp =p
At R3 this restores 30% of your hp when you drop below 30%. Highly recommend taking this.
When a barrier is destroyed you receive energy and incoming heals are boosted. The energy is much needed and the heal buff will be on you the entire battle, making it well worth taking at R3.
Protection of Faith
Decreases cooldown time and energy cost of overcome and deliverance. All tanks should have this at R3.
At R3 you receive 15% less damage when you break a barrier. R3 for all tanks.
This skill is very much an optional one (unless you’re using vindication). If you have trouble managing your canons you can take this to ease the burden.
This is the only skill which reduces damage while it is sitting in our barriers, however the small reduction makes it not worthwhile. Do not recommend taking this skill.
Every pally automatically has 1 barrier. An additional 2 barriers can be acquired through rubies. Some people prefer to have 2 barriers so that “smaller” hits are taken sooner, allowing healers to do their job, and to help prevent sudden deadly multi-barrier explosions. Personally I prefer 3 barriers. The third barrier allows for more planning and lets you juggle barriers more effectively. As you will be using self-sacrifice the extra barrier also gives you a greater chance to take a small hit to restore canons, rather than a larger one.
4. Skeleton Builds
The two skeleton builds here basically pull together everything I’ve said above. I’ve put only those skills which I believe are essential and left loads of room for customisation. The gaps you fill in will boost dps or tanking abilities as you feel is required. As always feel free to disagree with what I’ve put here. People can – and do – differ from what I’ve put down.
I wasn’t going to include my own build as I’d rather people be creative and make builds which fit their playstyles. Having said this I also think it’s useful to see an example of a complete build. At this point I only have 1 mage page ruby, and am lacking the GT rubies, and have no extra talent points. A very achievable build for anyone, and I can vouch for it being very effective.
5. Skill Rotation
It is difficult to advise on skill rotation as we are constantly spamming so many skills while tanking, and which skills we use depends on both our build and the situation. Because of this I will only give very general approaches for both single and multi-target tanking.
For single target a good approach is; Strike of Justice with Righteous word being cast mid-charge, condemnation, Sacred Sunrise, Wrath, Purifying Strike. Righteous word and Purifying should be used whenever available, with other skills being used depending on your energy, canons, and agro requirements.
For multi-target a good approach is to use Strike of Justice with Righteous word again, condemnation and then wrath. Once this has been done switch targets and use Righteous word and then Wrath. Aim to use Righteous Word on all mobs. Any mobs which give you trouble you can either target and use Righteous Word, Sacred Sunrise, Wrath in a combo, or use Challenge and move on to another mob. You should use Wrath as much as possible, and it is usually a good idea to use Self-Sacrifice on these pulls to allow you to spam Wrath. As always Purifying Strike should be used as much as possible to restore canons.
For multi-target pulls remember it’s a team effort. Any CC your team has should be used to help out as much as possible. Scout caltrops and warden bush are always incredibly useful as they allow you to move around, avoiding damage and generating agro from range.
As mentioned earlier holy pallies used to be able to neglect finesse. We cannot do this anymore as finesse affects our holy damage and healing.
Your key stats are strength, finesse, expertise and luck. Strength is the stat which you will be focusing on last as its progression is linear, meaning that the benefit you receive from extra strength will be less than that received from the other stats – at least until you get your other stats high enough.
A friend of mine who is much better with numbers than I am tested stats and put together some very useful graphs. Using these you can see which stats you might want to prioritise, and at what point adding additional points stops being worthwhile.
All credits for the following go to Jethroeg from Tenesses.
Credits go to ministermuz.