Last time, we covered off the basics of specing and glying. Now we’ll take a look at your buffs & abilities and how to use the.

Part 2: Buffs, Abilities & Rotations

“In shield fighting, one moves fast on defense, slow on attack.”
– Gurney Halleck (Dune)

Paladins have a large variety of buffs available to them. Much like Shaman, you have buffs that enhance your own performance and buffs that will help your party/raid. It is therefore important to have a good understanding of all your buffs.

Auras

You have available to you five Auras. Three of these tie neatly to an obvious talent tree, the remaining two are more situational.

  • Devotion Aura Devotion Aura – This is the main aura you will be using as a tank for most content. Armor translates directly in to reduced physical damage making this key for most fights
  • Retribution Aura Retribution Aura – For content you out-gear, or where threat may be an issue, Retribution Aura is useful, however you’ll generally want to leave this to another Paladin to cover off
  • Concentration Aura Concentration Aura – Virtually no use to tanks at all, it is extremely rare that you will be hard-casting anything so should never have a need to use this yourself
  • Resistance Aura Resistance Aura – While Devotion Aura should be your first choice, for those fights with a high amount of magic damage you will want to consider switching to this
  • Crusader Aura Crusader Aura – While useful for getting around, this serves no purpose when in combat

Blessings

Blessings have been greatly improved and consolidated over the years. Originally, blessings only lasted for 5 minutes and only applied to the group you cast them on (which sucked in 40 man raiding!) Eventually, we got “Greater Blessings” that lasted longer, but cost a reagent. Then greater blessings were altered again and instead of buffing just a single group in a raid, they would buff all members of the same class. Right up until Cataclysm Paladins had 5 blessings to manage; Might (attack power), Wisdom (mana regen), Kings (10% to all stats), Sanctuary (damage reduction) & Salvation (threat reduction). Now though, we have 2 blessings, that buff the entire raid at once, last an hour and cost no reagent.

  • Blessing of Kings Blessing of Kings (BoK) – This should be your main Blessing. Unless you have a Druid in your party/raid, in which case let them cast Mark of the Wild freeing you up to cast Might
  • Blessing of Might Blessing of Might (BoM) – If you’re not casting Kings, you’ll want to be casting Might. This really helps the rest of the raid more than yourself, but this is a team sport people!

Hands

Hands are single-target abilities to use in moments of need. They are mostly “oh shit” buttons when a party member needs a little assistance, but are useful in other situations as well.

  • Hand of Protection Hand of Protection – Very powerful to saving someone too slow to get away from a big hit, however use with caution on yourself as it will drop you off the threat table
  • Hand of Freedom Hand of Freedom – With it’s short cooldown, this is very helpful for mobs that slow you. Not that you’ll need it that often
  • Hand of Salvation Hand of Salvation – Useful if you have a damage dealer who’s close to you on threat, though with the advent of Vengeance, this isn’t usually an issue these days
  • Hand of Sacrifice Hand of Sacrifice – Very useful on multi-tank bosses when you’re off-tanking to reduce the incoming damage on the main tank

 Cooldowns

Protection Paladins have a lot of cooldowns to use and manage. Being aware of what these are when you should use them will greatly help you as you make your way through the challenges you encounter.

  • Ardent Defender Ardent Defender (AD) – This is a good choice to save for low-health moments due to the restoration of 15% health and when you’re unable to use LoH
  • Divine Guardian Divine Guardian (DG) – Especially valuable on fights where your entire raid will be taking unavoidable damage
  • Divine Protection Divine Protection (DP) – When glyphed this provides 40% reduction to spell damage every 60 seconds making it highly valuable on bosses with a large amount of magic damage.
  • Divine Shield Divine Shield (DS) – Use this with extreme caution as it will drop you off the threat table. Used with care this is immensely powerful as it removes almost all debuffs from you in the process.
  • Guardian of Ancient Kings Guardian of Ancient Kings (GoAK)- For Protection, this provides you with 50% damage reduction
  • Holy Shield Holy Shield (HS)- For trash packs you’ll want to be hitting it every time it’s off cooldown. However for bosses, when timed correctly, it provides a great way of minimising predictable big hits
  • Lay on Hands Lay on Hands (LoH)- Very potent for occasions when death seems inevitable, equally as useful on yourself or a co-tank

Abilities

Your abilities and how you use them will be heavily influenced by the situation to hand. Something that works well on a boss will likely not work as well on groups of trash. Some Paladins in top-end guilds run with two Protection specs, one for bosses (maximum survivability) and the second for trash (maximum threat), but this is extreme and most will off-spec Retribution or Holy. I’m not going to look at every single ability in the spell book, but I will cover off the more important ones.

  • Consecration Consecration (Con) – Used infrequently due to the large mana drain, however still useful for group pulls
  • Crusader Strike Crusader Strike (CS) – Core ability for single-target fights. Generates Holy Power so you’ll be using it every cooldown
  • Hammer of the Righteous Hammer of the Righteous (HotR) – Replaces CS for multi-mob fights.
  • Holy Wrath Holy Wrath (HW) – When properly glyphed Holy Wrath is a real boon on a sizeable percentage of the Cataclysm dungeon population
  • Inquisition Inquisition (Inq) – On multi-mob fights you will use your Holy Power to keep this up, thereby increasing your damage/threat output
  • Judgement Judgement (Jud) – Regular use of Judgement has been shown to increase your mana gain by 30% over 10 seconds
  • Shield of the Righteous Shield of the Righteous (SotR) – Your main threat generating ability on single-target fights. Using this with anything less than 3 Holy Power is generally considered a waste

Rotations

As with many other things, Cataclysm greatly changed rotations for a number of classes. For Paladins, we not longer have a fixed rotation, instead your best option is to make use of a “Priority System”. This basically translates as “use your best abilities as often as you are able”. In most (single-target) situations your priority will be something along the lines of:

SHoR (whenever you have 3 Holy Power) >> CS >> AS >> Judgement >> HW/Con

Whenever Grand Crusader procs you have a choice which is also priority based; Do you already have 3 Holy Power? Yes: Use SHoR then AS.  No: Use AS and resume your rotation.

Multi-target situations are a little more… dynamic. Your main goal here is to lay down as much threat as you can so your priority looks something like:

Inq (whenever you have 3 Holy Power) >> HotR >> AS/HW/Con

 

Next time, I’ll discussing how you should approach gearing; What stats are important? How should you gem, reforge and enchant? So be sure to check back soon!