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 THE TANKADIN THREAD

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Chuffa
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PostSubject: THE TANKADIN THREAD   Thu Feb 21, 2008 12:56 pm

Tankadin 102
The son of the revenge of the Tankadin Returns: the sequel
Dedicated to the Tankadin Community, who made this possible through continuous discussion, support, and help. A Special nod goes to our forum regulars.

The guide is currently in a state of overhaul: keep an eye out for changes/additions. There are some unfinished sections I’m still working on.

The most current version of this guide will always be available at http://tanking.sneakykitty.com.

The three tanking classes: overview

All three classes are CLOSE on overall mitigation and single target threat. Any of the three are suitable for tanking 5-mans, offtanking raids, or even maintanking unless the dynamics of a fight encourage a specific tank choice (which many of them do, even to the point of having different classes tank different stages of a given fight). In 90% of the content, they are interchangable. They can all do the job, but they do it somewhat differently, and understanding those differences will help players adjust their strategies according to the tank on hand.

While it may seem obvious: Specs matter. While a Resto Druid, a Retribution Paladin, or a Fury Warrior CAN tank in some situations, they’re missing many vital tools that help them do the job. Tanking can be a difficult job, especially on unfamiliar content, so having a tank that is well suited to the task at hand is important. Good tank selection will help the run progress smoothly, and also ensure that the tank doesn’t get frustrated by tackling a job they’re ill-suited for.

Spec and gear are particularly important for the Hybrid-class tanks. Paladins and Druids have a broader range of gearing options than Warriors, to the point that some of them may not have melee-oriented gear at all. While they may still be able to step up to the plate in a pinch, they’re going to have to work much harder to maintain control over a pull. Any time an off-spec or off-gear Hybrid is willing to tank, let them know you appreciate their willingness to help out where it’s needed.

While this guide is for Tanking Paladins, it’s not really possible to discuss Tankadins without a look at tanking in general and where they stand in comparison to the other tanking classes. World of Warcraft is now a game built around COOPERATIVE tanking, so you’re going to need at least a rough understanding of how the other two tanks function.

A brief comparison

Let’s take a look at some of the key differences between the three tanking classes. While we’re making these comparisons we’re going to be assuming that these tanks are wearing at-level TBC gear. I’m mostly referencing 61-70 greens and blues, but will note when there is a substantial difference at a different level of gear.

Warriors

Warriors will have a slight mitigation advantage over the other two tanking classes at most levels (though this evens out a bit and stays pretty close through most of the raid game). Their threat generation is innate to skills, so they don’t have to spend any of their gear slots on threat. The downside to this is that they can’t get gear to upgrade their threat: it’s mostly a fixed quantity that doesn’t improve with gear upgrades (though their weapon and shield do provide some improvement). As they level they will see improved threat generation from new skills trained. Their single-target threat is good, though they may need lead time in some situations (the habitual “wait for sunders”). The new Thunderclap gives them some multi-target capability, though this slows their threat generation on their primary target.

Warriors also have a great variety of special tricks they can pull out for emergency mitigation. Overall, at most level ranges Warriors will have the best staying power of any of the tanking classes, somewhat offset by relatively limited threat generation. Their overall staying power, situational tricks (like Spell Reflect), and great variety of panic buttons continue to serve them well. The biggest advantage that warriors see is late-game itemization. The Warrior raid-tank drops tend to be better than what is available to the Druid or the Paladin, though tank gear is getting looked at by the devs.

Druids

Druids have comparable mitigation to the other two tanks by virtue of their high Dodge and high Armor values. Their generally high HP pools are great for absorbing large hits that can’t normally be mitigated (like spell damage), and they have some unique abilities that help them deal with AoE damage Their overall mitigation is slightly less effective than the plate-wearers over time, but not so much so as to cause problems in most situations. They have good single-target threat generation (slightly superior to warriors), and good threat generation on up to three targets.

Druids as tanks have two features of note. First, they are holding aggro by dealing substantial damage: a tanking druid is doing a great deal to help a boss die faster, and not just by holding aggro. In addition to very solid damage-dealing (even when tanking), the druid is providing some great DPS buffs to their party. The second, and truly unique, feature of druids as tanks is that when their tank target is down they still have a lot to offer the party. Unlike warriors and paladins, druids don’t need to swap gear to switch from a tanking role to a melee dps role. While a gear swap would help them crank out a bit more DPS, they are still making a substantial contribution if they’re in cat form wearing their tanking gear (much moreso than a Prot warrior or Prot Paladin).

Paladins

Paladin mitigation is roughly comparable to warriors (they’re mostly wearing the same gear), reduced by the need to allocate a few gear slots for int/spellpower/mp5 (though not many… paladin itemization is actually pretty complicated and beyond the scope of this general overview). They have a few “panic buttons”, but these are overall more situational than the ones available to the warrior. The aspect of the paladin that really shines is threat management. Paladins generate threat through spell damage, much of which is applied through passive procs, DoT’s, and stacking effects. The upshot of this is that Paladins will generate comparable single target threat to warriors, comparable threat to druids on up to three targets, but on more than three targets they are vastly superior. Their use of mana rather than rage also means they can “frontload”: start a fight by throwing a lot of high-threat abilities, allowing DPS to start immediately.

Like Druids, Paladins are holding aggro by dealing large quantities of damage. Unique to the Paladin, however, is that most of this damage is Holy (bypassing most forms of damage reduction) and that it is reactive, i.e. it happens when a mob hits them. Paladins really WANT to get hit, as many of their most powerful abilities trigger on hits taken (and these abilities operate independently of the global cooldown). On single mobs that hit very slowly, however, many of these skills take a backseat. They also have a lot of utility in a tanking role, providing a great variety of debuffs. Their threat management options are second to none: Blessing of Salvation and Blessing of Protection are very powerful tools for reducing the threat of other players in the party.

When you’ve got more than one…
This won’t happen often in 5-mans, and for 5-man content any of the tanking classes will be able to do the job very well.

Occasionally, though, there may be more than one possible tank within a group, and the group will have to make decisions about who will tank what. While I’ll be going into greater detail on this subject later on, there are some simple things worth considering right off the bat.

First, Protection Warriors and Protection Paladins are very limited in their contributions when they are not tanking a target. The Protection warrior is geared and talented to act as a damage sponge: they can generate moderate DPS when not tanking, but nothing compared to a Druid. The Protection Paladin likely has a small mana pool and a limited amount of spellpower, and will lack real staying power in a healing role (and doesn’t do a lick of damage if they’re not getting hit).

When multiple targets are present and multiple tanks are available, the general rule for kill order should be Druid, Paladin, Warrior. Killing the Druid target first allows the Druid to continue contributing by doing substantial DPS, and killing the Warrior target last will insure that they have the lead time necessary to build a threat lead. In a situation such as this, if there are more than three targets, it is generally safe to give the Warrior the biggest (since their mitigation over time functions very well), the Druid the one that needs to die first (due to special abilities, etc), and the Paladin multiple tanking targets (since their threat and mitigation actually get better the more often they get hit).

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PostSubject: Tankadin Thread - Part 2   Thu Feb 21, 2008 12:57 pm

Tanking Universals

The primary aspects of tanking carry over between the classes, though how each tank manages these aspects are somewhat different. These three aspects, and the differences in how tanks manage them are:

Threat

All the damage reduction and perfect positioning in the world don’t do any good if the mob isn’t paying attention to you. Holding aggro on the appropriate target/s is the entry-level requirement of a tank, the aspect of the job that must be mastered before any other aspect of tanking becomes important. As outlined above, Warriors hold aggro through innate threat on skills, Druids hold aggro through high physical damage dealt with innate threat multipliers (and some innate threat on skills), and Paladins hold aggro through multiple spell damage sources and stacking threat multipliers. We’ll get more in-depth on the particulars of paladin threat in a moment.

Positioning

Every pull in the game has positioning considerations, from wandering mobs in the world to instance bosses. Whether it is as simple as tanking the target outside the patrol path of another mob (and thus preventing an unintentional add) or as complicated as knockback, arc damage, AoE, and environment hazards on a boss, there is always a proper place for you to stand and a proper place for the mob to stand. The positioning requirements of your group are contingent on you getting your positioning correct, and it is your responsibility to be familiar with the proper layout of the battlefield. This is but one area in which the tank must be aware of the entire fight: total-field awareness is part of the job.

Speed and Safety

As the tank, you're setting the pace for every pull and the run as a whole. Determining the pace your group can manage is a constant balancing act, finding the happy medium between Speed and Safety. As a general rule, the faster you move through a given pull (and on to the next one), the more risks you're taking. Party resources are depleted at a rate that depends on the classes present, individual playstyle, and how effectively the group is cooperating. Some classes provide different options for controlling speed in a pull. Crowd control may reduce the risk in a pull, but it can also slow down the group. Getting a feel for the pace for a given group takes time and practice. As a general rule, start out slow and speed up where you can. Remember that a death in the group is a bigger delay than taking a bit of time before the next pull.

Damage Management

I’ll only be covering this briefly here (there's a full section dedicated to the Combat Table later in the guide).

There are many complicated methods and philosophies for how a tank can, and should, deal with damage. In practice these vary radically from class to class, but in principle it’s the same. Damage mitigation can be broken down into two components:

The first aspect of Tank damage management is manipulating this table into as advantageous a configuration as possible, both through gear selection prior to the fight and skill use during the fight. The options for this table manipulation vary radically between the classes.

The second aspect of Tank damage management is preparing yourself so that when a strike gets past your table manipulation it poses as little a threat to your survival as possible. This is generally done through gear selection, optimizing armor and stamina to provide you with effective reduction on damage that does connect and a large HP pool so that damage reduces your health by as small a PERCENT as possible. Viewing incoming damage in terms of percentages rather than absolute values (i.e. 25%, rather than 3000) helps you conceptualize stamina as an integrated part of your overall damage management plan.

The Paladin at a glance

Now that we’ve covered some of the basics on where they fit in the overall scheme of the tanking game, let’s focus on the Paladin.

The Paladin was originally designed as a tank first, healer and support second. This was the case during closed beta and for the first months post-launch: Paladins were the preferred tank for 5-man groups thanks to their (at the time) superior threat generation and mitigation. Changes to class balance nudged the paladin further and further towards the back lines, excepting a few gimmick fights. That all started changing in TBC beta. A number of key abilities were added to the paladin class, covering the gaps in their tank game. Most significant has been the addition of serious Paladin tanking gear. Make no mistake: at every level of itemization the paladin has gear available to make them capable tanks. The Blizzard design team has confirmed this is not a fluke, and that Paladins are now considered a top-shelf tank class.

Here’s the short version:

* Paladins have comparable mitigation to the other tanking classes, with a slight disadvantage when taking slow hits and a slight advantage when taking fast hits.
* Paladin threat is DPS-based, and in a tanking role is roughly comparable to an equivalently geared mage. Their damage also scales up as they take hits.
* Paladin mana is constantly replenished while tanking thanks to mana returned from heals recieved (a class ability).
* Paladin damage and threat are subject to no form of mitigation short of Silence or Magic-Immune. Armor, Resistance, and to a lesser extent Dodge, Parry, and Block have little to no impact on threat building.
* Many of a Paladin’s threat generating abilities are fire-and-forget or passive: they build threat on anything hitting them, targetted or not.

Strengths

* High DPS and Threat when tanking, both highly scalable with gear
* Mitigation, Single target, and multitarget threat get better the more often they’re hit.
* Several taunt-like effects that work on taunt-immune mobs
* Great utility options while tanking
* Ranged options: taunt, some taunt-like abilities, and Avenger’s Shield operate from range. A Paladin rarely has to run during a fight.

Weaknesses

* Overspecialized: the tanking paladin cannot perform any role other than tanking without a full gear swap. The limited mana pool on their tanking gear has them OOM very quickly as a healer, and their DPS is almost entirely based on taking hits. A Tankadin, in tank gear, contributes much less when not tanking than a Feral Druid, and substantially less than a Protection Warrior. They can change gear between fights to act as a support healer.
* Limited Mobility: The Paladin is the only tank class that does not have a charge-like ability. When a Paladin has to get close, they have to walk.
* Extremely gear dependant: Paladins have to gear carefully to balance threat, mitigation, and staying power.

Challenges

* Paladins have the most complex cooldown management of the tank classes. Most of their abilities are tied to the global cooldown and have different cooldown durations: managing these cooldowns so that they rarely coincide (so you can always hit every ability as soon as it’s available) is vital to success.
* Paladins must manage spell durations mid-combat. Most Paladin spells are short-term self-buffs or DoT’s. Keeping track of these durations and refreshing them mid-combat while performing other tanking tasks can be quite demanding.

Playstyle suggestions

The Paladin is the ultimate in micromanagement tanking. It’s more like playing an extremely fast-paced realtime strategy game than an action game. You never reach a point where you’re spamming a certain skill cycle: you’re always adjusting timing, utility functions, managing cooldowns and spell durations, and your effectiveness as a tank is directly related to how efficiently you can do these things.

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PostSubject: Tankadin Thread - Part 3   Thu Feb 21, 2008 12:58 pm

The slightly longer version

The Paladin has several key features that operate very differently than the other two tanks.

The Paladin uses mana where the other tanks use rage. While this originally prevented them from being viable tanks for long fights, mana regen from healing recieved (via Spiritual Attunement) makes this less of an issue. Tanking Paladins affectionately refer to their “Blue Rage bar”, as SA replenishes their mana supply constantly. The remaining functional differences are twofold: first, a paladin has a much larger (and scalable) functional resource pool (i.e. 100 rage is worth X seconds of ability use, 4000 mana will be more time of ability use than X), offset by a greater need for efficient spending. Second, they start a fight at full resource, making heavy frontloading possible.

The Paladin generates threat through Holy spell damage (with threat multipliers). Their overall threat model is more like a Druid than a warrior: high damage with bonus threat for damage dealt. They differ from Druids in that their damage source is unaffected by any mitigation mode in the game. Holy Damage has no resistance value: the spell damage can “miss”, resulting in a full resist, but partial resist or school-specific resists don’t apply. Since the damage is magical, rather than physical, the armor of the mob has no impact on the threat generated by the paladin. While some of the threat is generated from holy damage procs on successful weapon swings, a lot of Paladin threat is coming from reactive procs (i.e. damage when hit) and AoE DoT, so even outright mob avoidance has only a moderate effect on threat generation. This spell-based threat mechanic does make the paladin less effective on mobs that silence (see below) and are magic immune (though resistances aren’t a factor).

The Paladin generates threat through multiple sources that are active simultaneously, most of which are fire-and-forget. At any point in a fight a Paladin will probably be building threat from: seals on weapon swings, hits taken, hits blocked (at all times), bonus damage on hits blocked (when Holy Shield is active). These multiple damage sources all scale with gear and add up FAST. In any multi-mob encounter the Paladins screen will be covered with a constant stream of numbers.

Since much of the damage and threat of the Paladin is passive or nontargetted, there is no real limit to the number of mobs a Paladin can hold. The threat built on non-targetted mobs is substantial: instance nonelites will usually kill themselves from reactive damage long before DPS gets to them on the target list, and elites will still be substantially weakened when DPS gets to them. Paladins rarely require crowd control: the only limit to the number of mobs they can tank is the amount of damage the healers can stay on top of.

Paladins can frontload a LOT of threat. At level 70 (in decent pre-raid gear) Avenger’s Shield (the primary pulling ability) will generate 2-5k threat on the three targets it hits, followed by 1-2k threat from Judgement of Righteousness. While applying 3,000 to 7,000 threat on the first DPS target before it gets into melee range is remarkable, consider the real trump card on Paladin threat generation: Avenging Wrath ups all damage dealt (and thus all threat) by 30% for 20 seconds, once every 3 minutes.

Paladins are somewhat limited in their “Oh No!” buttons. While Righteous Defense *does* function through a Divine Shield (i.e. the paladin can bubble, then taunt, and the mob will come back and smack at them to no effect), the timing on this is very tricky and only works on mobs that can be taunted. Ardent Defender (always active) substantially reduces incoming damage when the Paladin is low on health, but it is sometimes “leapfrogged” by big, slow attacks: an attack that takes them below 30% may be followed up an attack that flat out kills them, even with the damage reduction.

A Tankadin who is not tanking is more or less dead in the water. Paladin tanks have very small mana pools: 5-6k at 70 pre-raid, at best. They rely on mana regained from Spiritual Attunement so that they can focus their gear on mitigation, and as such don’t have much staying power when they aren’t a primary healing target. They miss most of the mana efficiency options from the Holy tree, so their healing is limited. Their best DPS options require taking hits to function, so their damage is laughable (substantially less than a Protection warrior) when they’re not tanking. With a gear swap they can be a support healer (as well as handle buffing and decursing), but they are limited when it comes to changing roles mid-combat.

The single greatest challenge a Paladin will face is their own versatility. A Paladin has more manual control over their pacing during a fight than other tanks, making efficiency very important. They have more things to keep track of, so a lot of multitasking is required (even on single-mob fights). They have a wide range of options that may be required at various stages in the fight, and it’s up to the Paladin to determine when to emphasize threat, mitigation, or efficiency.

Putting it together: A typical pull

1. Prep Seal of Righteousness
2. Avenger’s Shield, break line of sight/ have other players counter if the pull involves casters.
2a. If CC is necessary (and it usually won’t be), apply it after the AS pull.
3. Judgement of Righteousness on the first kill target.
4. Consecrate, Holy Shield, up a Seal, in this order (to insure timers are appropriately staggered).
4a. If more threat is needed, Seal of Righteousness
4b. For more threat on a longer fight, Seal of the Crusader (Judged immediately, then up another seal).
4c. If more mitigation is needed, Seal of Light (Judged immediately, then up another seal).
4d. If the mobs are runners, Seal of Justice (judged, up another).
4e. If it’s going to be a long fight, Seal of Wisdom (Judged, up another).
5. Keep Holy Shield up (and Consecrate, should it be necessary), rotating seals and Judgements as necessary. Try to maintain active judgements on as many targets as possible, rotating weapon swings between judged targets to maintain them.
6. Throughout the fight try to move your targets a little bit as they die. It can be difficult to loot 12 corpses stacked directly on top of each other.

General systems

The rule of the Paladin is 1-per: 1 seal at a time, 1 judgement per target (per paladin), 1 blessing per target (per paladin).

Paladin holy damage generates 1.6 threat per point, 1.9 post talents.

Judgement operates independantly of the Global Cooldown.

Global Cooldown

With the exception of Judgement, all Paladin spells and skills use the Global Cooldown. Given that most of the spells used for tanking are instants, the Paladin has no method of “soaking” the downtime between GCD’s: this built in pause is a true pause. The Paladin offsets this with the duration of all their GCD-consuming effects: most Paladin tank spells are fire-and-forget, something you can activate then simply allow it to work for a few seconds. The moderate cooldowns on most of these spells means the Paladin will rarely have to choose between more than 2 or 3 abilities on any given Global Cooldown. A Paladin will have to choose carefully to optimize their efficiency, unless…
Unless they don’t have to choose at all. The Cooldowns for the primary tanking spells can be staggered in such a way that they will rarely overlap. Your initial series of casts throughout a fight will determine how frequently this overlap will occur: if you start out with a string that brings an early overlap, you will have to deal with those overlaps frequently. If you start out with effective staggering, you will only have to maintain it. The one curveball you will have to deal with is long cooldown skills, like HoJ, or fights where some of your utility spells are necessary (hint: you CAN be an effective decurser and tank much of the time). There are a few tricks that help in this process:

* Use Consecrate before Holy Shield any time you’ll be using both. The 2 second gap between their CD’s means that if you reverse this, they’ll overlap on the next CD.
* The time when both HS and Consecrate are on Cooldown is when you Judge. While Judgement itself does not invoke GCD, the seal you’ll be refreshing will.
* Special or situational abilities like HoJ, AS, or Cleanse should also be fit into this window, but be aware of how this may effect the timing of other skills.
* Keep an eye on your cooldowns. If you aren’t using a mod that displays the cooldowns on the buttons themselves, get one.
* Keep an eye on your spell durations. Turning on “Aura Fade” for scrolling combat text will give you a visual cue when seals and blessings fade, but you need to be thinking ahead so you can fit refreshed buffing into your skill rotation.

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PostSubject: Tankadin Thread - Part 4   Thu Feb 21, 2008 12:59 pm

General Spells and Abilities

The magic word for a Paladin tank is OPTIONS. You have a lot of them from base class abilities and talent-granted spells. We’ll get to Seals, Blessings, Auras, and abilities from talents shortly, but first lets take a look at some more general abilities.

Spiritual Attunement
This is part 1 of “Why Paladins can tank now”.
You don’t have a mana bar. You have a blue rage bar (that starts full instead of empty), and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Spiritual attunement will provide you with plenty of staying power as a tank: until you hit 70, 8% of all healing you recieve will apply to your mana as well, and at 70 it moves to 10%. This may not sound like a lot, but in most tanking scenarios where staying power is very important (i.e. boss fights), you will be recieving a LOT of healing. That’s a lot of mana, and should be more than enough to keep you cranking out threat.

Righteous Defense
This is part 2.
You have a taunt. At first glance it may seem a bit odd: it’s player targetted, effects multiple mobs, and operates from range. The first thing to do when you get this ability is to macro it (macro below). It will now function more or less like a default taunt, with a few noteworthy exceptions. First, if that player pulls aggro on multiple targets (up to 3), they’ll all come to you. Second, it operates from range. I can’t stress how awesome that is. A Paladin does not, and should not, move to pickup a target: they can taunt from range, and have some handy abilities to build threat while the target is walking back to them.

* Macro: /cast [help] Righteous Defense; [target=targettarget,help] Righteous Defense

Consecration
Consecration is a terrific threat source when dealing with multiple targets: toss it down and let the holy damage tick away at your enemies. It’s effective for adding another source of threat on a single target as well, but be aware that it’s a mana hog. The relatively high mana cost is offset by its fantastic scalability: consecrate recieves a full 96% of your +dam/heal, though divided evenly between the ticks.

Avenging Wrath
Obtained at 70, AW is a powerful threat tool. It increases all damage dealt (from all sources, including reactive damage procs) by 30% for 20 seconds. With a 3 minute cooldown it’s usable once per trash pull and a few times per boss fight.

Cleanse
I didn’t appreciate how powerful a tank tool this was until I went back to playing my warrior for a week. Cleanse is awesome. You’re going to get hit with poisons, diseases, but mostly a lot of pain-in-the-butt magic effects. There are some magic effects that will ruin your day, and if you were a warrior or druid you’d have to wait until one of your healers had time to deal with it. As a Paladin, click, it’s gone. The power this gives you becomes most evident in fights where those magic effects get frequently reapplied. If you’re on the ball, it’s like they’re not even there. Note that many DoT’s are magic effects, as are many boss-specific effects. Be sure to share the love when you’ve got time. On encounters you know well, you’ll find you have time to manage your targets AND provide good Cleanse cover for your party/raid, letting the healers focus on healing. Macro this for target=mouseover and click away.

Seals and Judgements

Seals provide the tanking paladin with a wide range of tactical options, allowing for “on the fly” adjustments to your performance during an encounter. While it is possible, and even sometimes desirable, for a Paladin tank to focus purely on threat generation and do just fine, the class really shines when used to its fullest capacity, and doing that means knowing when to use what seal and judgement combination.

People will invite you to a party for Blessings, but they’ll sing your praises for Judgements. A lot of folks have limited experience with Paladins as debuffers, and once they’ve seen what a JoW can do, they can’t get enough of it. Effective mid-combat use of your buffs and debuffs can make life a lot easier for your party.

Seal of Righteousness(SoR)
Bread and butter: Holy Damage per swing. This is your primary source of direct-to-target threat as a tank. The holy damage dealt per swing scales very well with +damage gear (with reasonable amounts of +damage it outperforms SoC because of how well it scales). You’re using this any time that you don’t have a compelling reason to have another Seal active.

As a Judgement(JoR): JoR is a nice little swat of holy damage. Like other Judgements that don’t apply a debuff, this won’t replace an existing judgement, so fire away. When you’re trying to build a threat lead, judge this every time the cooldown is available. When you need to be a bit more mana efficient, Judge right before the Seal runs out.

Seal of the Crusader(SotC)
SotC gives you a nice boost to overall physical damage dealt over time. Since physical damage doesn’t benefit from the beefy threat multipliers of Righteous Fury, this is almost perfectly worthless as a tank.

As a Judgement(JotC): Ah, here we have a very different story. JotC boost Holy damage dealt to the target (varying by the coefficient of the spell that deals the damage). For all intents and purposes, JotC raises your +dam/heal against the target by the indicated amount. Judge this early on fights where you have some lead time: the extra efficiency over time is worth the Judgement cooldown. On short fights, or fights where you need threat FAST, don’t bother. Also: do not Judge this when you have a Retribution Paladin available to do it for you. Their talents make their JotC much more powerful than yours.

Seal of Justice(SoJ)
SoJ adds a chance to stun the target to your weapon swings. This sounds interesting, and could be useful in paladin-heavy groups (i.e. 4 paladins with SoJ up), but in most situations it’s just not worth the hassle. First, the stun chance is relatively small. Second, most of the things you really wish you could stun you can’t.

As a Judgement(JoJ): This judgement completely cancels the run behavior of the mob in question. If maintained on the target they will not run, ever. Handy for dealing with humanoids or other runners in position-sensitive areas. If you are in an instance where runners are an issue, judge this on every target. There are lots of options for dealing with runners, but none of them are this simple or effective.

Seal of Light(SoL)
SoL is a perfect example of the flexibility and utility of Paladins in a tanking role. If you have enough of a threat lead to maintain it with other Holy damage sources you can throw on SoL and heal yourself with your weapon swings. This effective reduction in your overall damage goes a LONG way: a Paladin using SoL on a target with JoL on it has the best overall damage reduction in the game (at the cost of a temporary reduction in threat generation). Note that the amount healed scales with +dam/heal. When you’re comfortable with your threat lead and notice the healers are having trouble, SoL can help (especially paired with JoL).

As a Judgement(JoL): This debuff has a chance to heal when striking the target. The amount healed is less than the Seal, but applies to everyone striking the target in melee. This is your Judgement of choice on short to medium duration fights (especially trash mobs). The overall reduction in the healing the raid needs is substantial, saves healer mana, and makes it possible to move to the next pull faster. Note that the chance to proc is a fixed percentage per swing, so people attacking move often will recieve healing more often (rogues, enh shaman, and fury warriors love this).

Seal of Wisdom(SoW)
Another option for extending your efficiency in a fight: Seal of Wisdom has a chance to restore mana per swing, thus giving you more mana to spend on your other abilities. In most tanking situations you’ll be getting enough mana from Spiritual Attunement to use all your abilities as soon as they’re available, but you will need a boost from time to time. If you have enough of a threat lead you can use this to give your mana pool a bit of oomph, but most of the time you’re better off using this as a Judgement.

As a Judgement(JoW): This judgement functions similiarly to JoL, restoring mana instead of health. This is the judgement of choice for long fights, both for yourself and for the other casters in the group. With JoW on the raid target, healers and casters can replenish their mana by wanding (which stacks with normal regeneration). JoW will also let you more or less throw mana efficiency out the window: you’ll be able to set ridiculous threat levels, spam your abilities, and not worry too much about running out.

Seal of Blood(SoB)
This is the seal of choice when you have a fantastic threat lead and both you and the healers are incredibly bored. The issue with this seal is that it scales incredibly poorly with +dam/heal. At 64 you only need about 75+dam/heal for SoR to be doing more damage than SoB. Even more fun is that this seal damages you with every swing. Again, only break this out when the healers start complaining about being bored (and if JoL is on the target, they probably won’t even notice).

As a Judgement(JoB): Inferior to JoR in every way, for the reasons noted above. Cross your fingers and hope that we see a tweak to the spelldamage coefficient to make this useful.

Seal of Vengeance(SoV)
The Alliance-only seal is more interesting than the aptly named SoB: each swing has a chance to apply a stackable holy damage DoT, and the Judgement deals direct holy damage based on the size of the dot stack (which caps at 5). In theory, SoV and JoV could provide better threat generation than SoR/JoR, but for one problem: keeping the dot stack maxxed is by no means certain. Try it, experiment, and if you master this ability, let us know :-)

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PostSubject: Tankadin Thread - Part 5   Thu Feb 21, 2008 12:59 pm

Blessings & Auras

There are a few blessings that are of particular interest to the Paladin tank. While you should be familiar with the general function of your buffs for 5-mans, you won’t be doing too much buffing in a raid environment (and as a Protection Paladin, it won’t be complicated either: Kings for everyone). That being said, there are a number of Blessings that perform an important utility role for a tank.

Blessing of Freedom (BoF)

BoF removes any movement impairing effects on the target. This is another ability I didn’t really appreciate until I went back to my Warrior for a while. Roots and snares are a royal pain for a tank, as most mobs that use these abilities will move away from you when they know you can’t follow. The joke is on them: not only does this ability break the root, it provides you a nice window of immunity. Save your BoF cooldown for yourself, macro it for self-cast, and enjoy being a tank who can’t be rooted or snared.

Blessing of Protection(BoP)

Makes the target completely immune to physical damage for a short time, and also prevents them taking any action but spellcasting. BoP has some very nice uses in specific encounters, as it will remove most DoT’s applied to the target, even ones that can’t be removed otherwise. BoP is handy for saving an overzealous caster, but the most important function it performs is an aggro redirect. Any mob that has a single physical attack on its attack table (i.e. virtually everything) will stop attacking the target and move to the next target on their hate list. In virtually all situations this should be you, bringing the mob directly back to you. What’s interesting about this “taunt” is that it technically isn’t a taunt: since the effect is applied to a player, immunities on the mob are irrelevent. You can, effectively, taunt a mob that is taunt-immune. Note that this will cancel any blessings you’ve placed on the target. Conversely, you can prematurely remove the BoP by applying another blessing. Macro BoP thus so you don’t have to switch targets to use it as a taunt, but be careful you don’t wind up putting it on yourself:
/cast [help] Blessing of Protection; [target=targettarget,help] Blessing of Protection

Blessing of Salvation(BoS)
This lowers the threat generated by the target player by 30%. Note that this does not work retroactively: they keep the threat they’ve already generated, but BoSa will reduce all threat generated after it is applied. This is a great followup to BoP: If you had to BoP someone, you probably need to BoSa them as well. Do NOT use the macro above (or a sequence macro) for BoSa: it is entirely too easy to accidentally apply it to yourself, as the “help” syntax does not prevent self-application. Also note that there is often a bit of lag in the “target of target” window, so you can’t rely on it when using BoSa. Instead, bind this to a button configured for mouseover, or macro it with [target=mouseover]. When you BoP someone, remember who it was, mouseover their name on your raid list, and hit BoSa. Chances are good you won’t have to taunt for them again.

Auras
Changing your aura costs no mana, but does invoke the global cooldown. While you need to be careful about your GCD use, there are some situations where swapping auras mid-combat will be necessary.

Retribution Aura
The Aura of choice whenever you have more than one target hitting you (unless you have a Ret paladin available to provide the Improved version). The threat generated by Ret aura is free (i.e. costs you nothing), constant, and non-negligable.

Devotion Aura
The Aura of choice when you need a little boost to your mitigation. While the armor provided does not scale, it’s still a bit less damage taken, and in many situations a little is all it takes to make the difference between a screenshot in front of a corpse and a up-close inspection of the quality tilework on the floor.

Resistance Auras: Shadow, Fire, Frost
These are very, VERY handy for fights that are heavy on the associated damage type. On element-heavy fights witching to these on the appropriate fights can provide a MASSIVE damage reduction for both you and your party. Be aware of what the other classes in your group are capable of buffing: Priests can help with Shadow, Shaman can help with Fire and Frost. There may be situations where you’ll want to fill in the gaps, especially in 5-mans. Note that these resistance buffs do NOT stack. If a shaman throws down a Fire Resist totem and you’re using FR Aura, you’re wasting your aura slot.

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PostSubject: Tankadin Thread - Part 6   Thu Feb 21, 2008 1:00 pm

Talents

Talents provide most of the core tanking abilities. The Paladin has very limited options as a tank before investing heavily in the Protection tree.

Row One

* Improved Devotion Aura - More armor is always good, but the returns here just aren’t worth 5 points (less than 400 extra armor at 70). Since devotion aura is applied post-gear, Toughness doesn’t boost this either. This is a debatable talent: the 5 point investment is steep for the modest returns you get, especially a boost that doesn’t scale with your gear. I’d recommend skipping it.
* Redoubt - Core ability, and indicative of the overall way that Paladins tank: reacting to hits taken. This is one of the few mitigation talents in the game that scales real-time: the more often you’re hit, you’ll block a higher a percentage of the hits. This is vital early in your career as a tank, but becomes less important as you get higher avoidance stats (and get deep enough in the tree for Improved Holy Shield).
o Redoubt has some limitations, especially once you’re deep enough into Protection to get Holy Shield. First, it only sort-of stacks with Holy Shield. If you’re gearing to be a tank, you’re shooting for being Uncrushable during Holy Shield. That means that your gear and Holy Shield alone will get you to uncrushability, and the extra Block from Redoubt will simply fall off the table.
o Redoubt will still provide valuable, if unpredictable, coverage between Holy Shield cooldowns. While it will be very rare for you to expend all your HS charges before the cooldown is up, it will happen (especially when tanking several mobs at once), and Redoubt will help keep crushes from becoming a problem.

Row Two

* Precision - 3% to hit is very handy, particularly for seals. Generally worth taking if you can fit it in your build, but don’t sweat over it. I’ve played many builds that didn’t include it and didn’t have a huge miss rate (with no +hit gear at all).
* Guardian’s Favor - A longer-lasting Blessing of Freedom is handy, but the real treat here is reduced cooldown on Blessing of Protection. Since BoP acts as your backup taunt, being able to use it more frequently is a nice perk. Worth fitting in your build, but not absolutely required.
* Toughness - 10% more armor. Very simple, and very necessary. Must-have in any main tank build.

Row Three

* Blessing of Kings - While a tank isn’t generally concerned with buffing, BoK is too good NOT to take. This is one of the most powerful buffs in the game: 10% to all stats is very potent, and one of the few buffs that becomes more powerful the deeper into the game your party/raid gets. Since you’ll be spending a lot of time in 5-mans you can’t count on having another paladin cover this for you. In a Raid you’ll be able to pitch in with Greater BoK, but you need the talent first. Must-have.
* Improved Righteous Fury - Wow. The buff to this ability was one of the things that put Paladins up there as serious tanks: 6% reduction to all damage recieved is big, and upping your holy threat multiplier to 1.9 is very nice. A must-have, even for an offtank build.
* Shield Specialization - Paladins block a LOT. 30% improvement on the damage reduced by blocking is great. Take it for a MT build, though it’s optional for a support build.
* Anticipation - Increases defense SKILL by 20: this talent is worth more in terms of Defense RATING as you level up. A definite must for a MT build, highly desirable in an OT build.

Row Four

Most of the following row Four talents can be skipped:

* Stoicism - Largely a PvP talent: the stun resist is decorative, since most “stuns” in WoW aren’t really stuns (incapacitates, disorients, etc). The main point here is to prevent other players from dispelling your buffs. As a tank, skip it.
* Improved Hammer of Justice - PvP talent. Reduces cooldown on Hammer of Justice. Nice for PvP, occasionally useful as a tank.
* Improved Concentration Aura - 15% chance to resist interrupt and silence is nice, but this talent is mostly a head scratcher. You will very rarely be using Concentration Aura as a tank, and the extra chance to avoid interruption from damage is pointless: the whole point of Concentration Aura is that it will, at skill base, take any player who has taken their own interruption avoidance talents up to 100%. Skip it.

Row Five (GREAT stuff)

* Spell Warding - 4% reduction on spell damage may not sound like much, but it goes a long way to helping you deal with the one damage type you have issues with. Combined with Improved Righteous Fury you have a good baseline reduction to spell damage. Take it if you tank (and if you’re this deep in Protection, it’s to tank).
* Blessing of Sanctuary - This Swiss Army Knife talent provides damage reduction and extra threat from your blocks. In most tanking situations this is the blessing that you’re maintaining on yourself. Of particular interest is the flat damage-per-attack reduction: the more frequent the hits, the higher the effective percentage of reduction. The reduction is pre-armor, so the amount actually reduced will not be the listed value. Must-have, both for itself and as a prerequisite.
* Reckoning - Reckoning is a bit involved. This one has changed a lot. In it’s current form it is AMAZING for threat generation, and the main reason that paladins can set very high single-target threat. Every hit that causes damage has a 10% chance to proc, including hits blocked (so long as any damage gets through the block). Reckoning causes your next 4 hits to produce an extra attack, including any procs from active seals. The buff only lasts 8 seconds, so you want to be using a weapon that will use all 4 charges within that time. With a weapon at 2.0 or faster you are certain to get all 4 charges, regardless of timing (thanks for catching this, gang) . With anything slower, timing becomes a factor. Reckoning will rarely proc in even time with your swing timer, so most of the time you’ll be getting 3 charges out of a Reck proc. The closer you are to 2.0 (or below) the higher the chance of getting all 4.
o This is a game-changing talent. Must have.

Row Six

* Sacred Duty - 6% more stamina is a nice survivability buff, and the extra functionality from Divine Shield is nice. Stamina and Health are one of our weak points, and this does a nice job of offsetting that problem Give this a serious look in a support/ offtank build. Absolutely mandatory in a MT build.
* One-handed Weapon specialization - This talent has recently been overhauled. Instead of a 10% boost to weapon-based damage, it provides a 5% boost to *all* damage dealt when you have a one-handed weapon equipped (which you will, unless you’re fond of tanking with a two-hander). This applies to white damage, seals, consecrate, auras, Holy Shield procs…. everything. This is a huge threat generation boost, too good to skip.

Row Seven

* Holy Shield - 30% block on 4 attacks in the next 10 seconds, causing substantial (and scalable) threat for each block. A must-have, and the centerpoint of the Protection tree.
o The use of Holy Shield is largely a matter of context, personal style, and finesse. How you use Holy Shield is how you define your Tank style as a Paladin. Some downrank it for the block bonus and use full rank only to frontload threat. The cost is low enough that I don’t find this necessary, and use full rank every time. The real question is one of timing: most of the time you’ll expend the 4 charges long before the cooldown is up, especially early in your tanking career when your avoidance stats are low. Practice and personal style will help you figure out when and how to time your Holy Shield, unless you get….
* Improved Holy Shield - You love Holy Shield, and it loves you. With this talent you’ll love it even more. 2 points in Imp HS doubles the number of charges you get, giving you a total of 8 charges per 10 seconds. At this point you won’t burn all your charges unless you’re tanking a LOT of mobs or a mob that is hitting ridiculously fast. This talent secures the Paladins position as the best Blocker in the game, so get that Block value high. The icing on the cake is the increased HS damage. With this talent you’ll start seeing Elite mobs kill themselves on your shield, and once something starts hitting you it will STAY hitting you. A fantastic mitigation AND threat gen boost for 2 points. If you have specced into Holy Shield, you are speccing into this talent as well. The benefits are too powerful to skip.
* Ardent Defender - When below 35%, all damage dealt to you is reduced by 30%. This is another talent that was changed. In its old form it was prone to frequent “leapfrogging”: a hit that reduced you to Ardent Defender range would often be followed up by one that would kill you outright. Worse, a hit for 21% of your total health would bypass AD entirely. In the new form it’s much less likely to be leapfrogged. AD will be active more often, though for less effect. This used to be a debatable talent, but after the changes, it’s promoted to a Must-Have.

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PostSubject: Tankadin Thread - Part 6   Thu Feb 21, 2008 1:00 pm

Talents, Continued

Row Eight

* Weapon Expertise - Don’t spend a single point here. After the weapon skill nerf this talent is almost perfectly useless. You get a tiny boost to Crit and a moderate boost to Hit chance. If you’re worried about missing, take Precision. If you’re worried about critting, grab a 2-hander and spec Retribution. Cross your fingers and hope this gets replaced some day.

Row Nine

* Avenger’s Shield - This merits special attention. This is the big, juicy cherry on top of the Prot sundae, and it’s worth every point you spent along the way. I’ve gone back and forth on AS during my time as a Paladin, and it’s currently back in the “must-have” category.
o At first glance it’s a great pulling skill, something that Paladins, at class base, lack. It generates a ton of frontloaded threat, and the daze effect makes mob positioning and on-the-fly crowd control much easier (always CC *after* AS. If your rogues keep walking up for the sap that the party/raid leader told them not to do, keep hitting em with Blessing of Protection). The Daze duration keeps them slow long enough for CC to be applied EXACTLY where you want the mobs parked. A lot of Paladins look at this aspect of the skill and stop there.
o The Deadzone from this skill has been removed, making it better than ever. The two remaining problems with this skill, limiting its use, are the high mana cost and the casting time. Make no mistake: this is still not a skill you want to be using frequently on mobs already in melee range (or when you have ANY mobs attacking you). That one second cast time can stretch out for a painfully long time when you’re taking hits.
o Effective use of AS requires practice. Tinker with when and how you use it and you’ll likely surprise yourself with the tricks you discover.


Sample Talent Builds

The “Standard” Tank build
http://www.wowhead.com/?talent=aZV0tIx0dggqzVbx

This is pretty much the bread and butter Paladin tanking build. You’ve got all the must-haves from the Protection tree and deep enough into the Retribution tree to get Benediction, Deflection, and Improved Judgement. There are three “floater” points in this link to allow for fine-tuning. The last three points won’t make or break the build: it’s purely a matter of preference. Here are some possible places to stick points:

3/3 Precision for increased chance to Hit (note my comments on the precision Talent)

2/2 Guardian’s Favor for faster BoP’s.

2/2 Pursuit of Justice for improved run speed (this can be very handy, since we have no charge-like abilities)

1/1 Seal of Command (nuff said. Not as a tanking tool, but may help with soloing/farming).

Note:
The rest of these builds are PURELY for Off-tanking or General Support. The Protection tree is very point hungry, and a dedicated raid tank is going to need to have a build something like the one above. See the section on the Protection Tree for an explanation of why these talents are must-have for a full time tank.

The Healer/Tank Hybrid

http://www.wowhead.com/?talent=aVVhbxzhZVztIx0zxgo

This is an interesting build for the switch-hitter, the player who likes to be an occasional offtank some of the time and act as a support healer the rest of the time. I’m not a fan of heavily hybridized builds, but this includes most of the absolute musts from Holy and Prot. You won’t be a great tank or a great healer, but will be moderately effective at both.

The Ret/Tank Hybrid

http://www.wowhead.com/?talent=aZV0tIh0zxLoZVbxtbMzi

Similar to the build above. You can take some moderate hits and hold aggro reasonably well, and will be able to do some DPS when you’re not tanking. The real problem with this build is the absence of Crusader Strike, but if you’re not deep enough in Prot for Holy Shield, you’re not going to be an effective tank (and I’ll leave a pure Ret build to people who know the playstyle better than I do).

Consider checking out Joanadark's The Light Works in Mysterious Ways for more insight into different specs.
http://forums.worldofwarcraft.com/thread.html?topicId=114122517

[b]Gearing and Stats Overview[b]
CAPTAIN PLACEHOLDER LIVES!
This section (work in progress) is a breakdown of desirable tanking stats, the item budget system, ratings conversions, etc. It is NOT a gear checklist. A far better one than the list I had written is posted here:
http://forums.worldofwarcraft.com/thread.html?topicId=388092293
If anyone can give me the name of the original poster, I'd love to give them credit.

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PostSubject: Tankadin Thread - Part 7   Thu Feb 21, 2008 1:01 pm

The Combat Table and Uncrushability

In the overview section we talked a bit about the combat table. Now it’s time to talk about it in greater detail. There are two values on the combat table that we, as tanks, are particularly concerned with: Crit and Crush. Hopefully you’ve already taken care of Crits by raising your Defense skill to at least 490. The Defense skill directly reduces chance to be crit, i.e. “shrinks” it on the table until it’s gone. Removing crits is very important: a tank who occasionally gets hit for double damage won’t likely be a tank for long.

We handle crushes in a different way. Since we cannot directly reduce their position on the table (the defense tooltip says that crushes are reduced, but this only applies to your defense skill up to the level-based maximum, not the defense from gear), we deal with crushes by “pushing them off the table”. Take another look at the combat table:

* =======
* Miss
* Dodge
* Parry
* Block
* Critical
* Crushing Blow (mobs only)
* ordinary hit
* vvvvvv

Let’s assume your Defense is at your level base (i.e. no defense from gear), and that your Do/Pa/Bl% are at 12% each. We’ll assume that you’re getting hit by a level 70 mob, the same level as you. You just activated Holy Shield and still have charges left. The effective combat table would look a bit like:

* =======
* Miss 5%(1-5)
* Dodge 12% (6-17)
* Parry 12% (18-29)
* Block 12% +30% (30-71)
* Critical 5% (72-76)
* Crushing Blow 5% (77-81)
* ordinary hit (81 -100)
* vvvvvv

We’ll roll 1d100 (kudos if you have dice on hand for this), and I got a 67. Compare this to the table, and we see that this blow was blocked. We would then calculate the damage of the blow and subtract the block value.

See the problem? With our stats like this, we’ve got a 10% chance to be hit with a crit or a crush, and still have a large chance to be hit with the normal damage of the blow (before our armor comes into play). Let’s take a look at this same table, with better stats:

* =======
* Miss 5% + 5% from Def(1-10)
* Dodge 20% (11-30)
* Parry 15% (31-45)
* Block 25% + 30% (46- 100)
* vvvvvvvvvvvvvvv
* Critical 0% (5% - 5% from Def)
* Crushing Blow
* ordinary hit

See what we did there? No matter what we roll on our 1d100, we can’t get a result in the “danger zone”: it is impossible for us to get hit with a crit, a crush, or the normal damage of a blow. Now, if we were dealing with a level 73 mob, the table would look a bit different (since our chance to be missed would be lower). Getting our stats to the point that we can make the table look like this when we have Holy Shield up is what we mean when we say “uncrushable”.

To calculate your “crushability”, take your dodge, parry, and block percentages, round down to the nearest whole number (the combat table ignores trailing decimals, rounding down instead of to the nearest integer), and add the total to 5 ( for base chance to be missed). Mouse over your Defense skill. The tooltip will tell you how much your chance to be missed has been raised by defense (note that this value is against an at-level mob). Round down and add this to the earlier value. You’re looking for a total at or above 102.4% (to allow for the lowered chance to be missed by a 73). If you’re not there yet, that’s your top priority.

The Table values, taken individually:

* Defense: While this stat does not appear on the combat table, it works primarily by altering the values found on the table. Each point of defense skill at level 70 raises your Dodge, Parry, and Block% by X, increases your chance to be Missed by Y, and reduces the chance to critically hit you by Y. Your first Ratings goal is to get your Defense Skill to 490 to remove the chance to be critted, but Defense continues to provide substantial boosts in Do/Pa/Bl%. More importantly, Defense is the only way to increase your chance to be Missed, an avoidance stat often overlooked (likely because it doesn’t appear on the Defenses tab on the character screen). “Missed” functions like Dodge, with one noteworthy exception: while Dodge is an absolute value (i.e. 20% dodge is always 20% dodge), “Missed” is modified by the difference between your level and the mobs level. This is of particular concern to us since we’ll often be fighting level 73 mobs (bosses), which will miss us less often than a level 70 mob would. This is why we shoot for an overall value of 102.4%: the values on our character sheet reflect our Missed value against a level 70 mob, and the extra 2.4% covers the difference for a 73.
* Dodge: A dodged attack completely negates the damage from an incoming attack, including any “on hit” effects the attack might have had. This means that Reckoning and Redoubt will not proc off a dodge, but also means that an enemy skill that requires a hit (such as an attack that would apply a poison) will not proc either. Dodge is the easiest of the avoidance stats to raise, as it has a good rating to skill ratio and is available in comparatively high values.
* Parry: Parry mostly functions like Dodge. A parry negates incoming damage (as well as “on hit” effects), but also has the perk of reducing the time till your next weapon swing. This side effect doesn’t do much for a Tank. We tend to favor fast weapons, and the swing timer reduction is most noticable when wielding a slow 2-hander (there’s a reason the Parry talents for both Warrior and Paladin are in their 2-Hand weapon DPS trees). For a tank, Parry is generally less desirable than dodge, since they function very similarly (for our needs) but Parry has an awful rating to skill ratio (recently buffed, but still bad) and is one of the most rare stats on tanking gear that isn't class-specific.
* Block: Blocking reduces the damage from an attack by your Block value. As long as a single point of damage gets through (i.e. you are hit for 301 and block 300 of it), “on hit” effects can proc. While this means that a block can allow for a Reckoning proc, it also means that Block doesn’t offer protection from enemy procs. The main function of Blocking (from a damage management standpoint) is to flesh out the combat table, though for a Paladin Blocking is a substantial source of damage and threat. It’s important to note that Block Rating has the best rating to "chance to" ratio of any of our mitigation/avoidance stats, so it’s a great way to push your overall mitigation and avoidance level up to Uncrushable status.

Block value is very interesting: it’s not a rating, so it doesn’t decay with a level. It reduces damage by a fixed amount, not a percentage, so it mitigates a higher percentage on a small hit than a large one. As a Paladin, you’re going to be blocking a LOT, and raising your block value will help make those blocks count for more.

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