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Flavour and Consistency in Tanking 3: Paladins

July 8, 2010

The Burning Crusade aoe tanking poster child (“Round them up and stand in the consecrate”). The Wrath unkillable rock star (“OMG Ardent Defender rox”). Both of these are true and yet very unfair. Paladin tanking is defined by many as easy with their consistent 6868 rotation and the fact that their debuffs and buffs are semi-automatic (applied by judgements or applied throughout combat). This is unfair; paladins have a lot of tools to use and are defined very much by these. Tanking as a paladin is relatively easy if you place yourself in the right place and press your buttons at the right time. But if a protadin uses his non-core tanking abilities well (something I am not good at due to lack of practice), they can be an awesomely effective team-member.

Paladins are, of course, one of the most flavoursome of classes. Wrath is really about two classes, the paladin and the death knight. Tirion is a paladin, Arthas was a paladin. Burning Crusade had an entire order of evil paladins as a core plot point. In roleplaying terms, paladins are fascinating since you can be a champion of the light and evil at the same time. Blood knights are actually a failure in some ways, they know they are evil. The paladins of the Scarlet Crusade and even Arthas himself could channel the light simply due to their burning will and belief in their own righteousness.

In terms of mechanical flavour, paladins have some ups and downs. They have some of the prettiest spells (consecrate, judgement, captain america) but although there abilities and talents are well-themed they are also quite boringly named – the joke “Righteous Shield Hammer of the Holy Ardent Defender” ability is about right. Blizzard does appear to take a spell and add a religious descriptor to it.

1) single target survivability: 9/10
– A lot of self-buffs (glyphed Sacred Shield up + Devotion Aura + Blessing of Sanctuary + Holy Shield), both tanking debuffs (Attack Speed and Attack Power); even if they never press a defensive cooldown, it is very hard to hurt a competent paladin.

– Paladins have very good cooldowns, killing a paladin may be easier than it used to be now that lay-on-hands is linked to forbearance but Ardent Defender is the one cooldown that can actually ignore player mistakes; an ability that can allow you to survive your cat jumping onto your lap at the moment Soul Reaper hits is awesome. Mind you, it slightly annoys me that paladin tanks can indeed heal self-stupidity.

2) aoe survivability: 9/10
– they have block and can block more often than anyone else. Against trash this is a miraculous ability. Just ask any death knight or bear trying to tank the blasted adds in ToGC!

3) single target threat: 6/10
– Good when specced for it but very reactive. Off-tanking is annoying for all tanks but feels most crippling to me as a paladin.

– Threat game is especially tedious as a paladin. In a progression fight, you can’;t use your one threat cooldown (Wings) as this locks you out of your survival ones. If you keep your rotation up, you will have

– I especially hate the fact that paladins have to chain pull or they lose all threat because they have no mana. This is the core weakness of a paladin for me. Would be easy to fix too, just make divine plea’s cooldown get reset whenever it gets extended or even reduced to 15 secs or 30 secs by a talent. Just stop the fact that every so often I end up wanting to wait for half a minute between pulls.

4) aoe threat: 8/10
– paladins who remember the glory days of tanking in Burning Crusade cry about paladin aoe tanking. I, as a blood death knight, think they are mad. You have to use more buttons than just consecrate but the fact is that there is a multi-target ability off cooldown pretty much every other GCD is wonderful. Halls of Reflection has the added advantage of undead but I have buttons for every wave.

– Huge trash pulls on the other hand (e.g. Onyxia or Sindragosa whelps) are a pain. Consecrate is not enough. Basically, a paladin has a huge advantage on 2-4 mobs and after that has to work at things. Mind you, most pulls are 2-4.

– Gauntlets with spawning mobs (e.g. Violet Hold) is a huge pain to keep Divine Plea up in (see complaints above).

5) utility: 10/10
– one of the original utility classes and it shows. Auras, blessings, hands; paladins have a huge amount of utility and buffs.

– Outside of a raid environment, they even have great abilities like Aura of the Crusader for when questing.
– Raid wall is still a really lovely ability; slightly less good than it was for ret but perfect for prot.
– Blessing of Sanctuary may not be as good as it once was but is still a really nice ability for any plate wearer without a Disc priest.

– all raids want at least one paladin and preferably two, three is fine. This shows quite how much utility they have. Obviously some is specific or enhanced for ret or holy but protadin utility is definitely a huge strength.

Overall, paladins come out very well in my analysis. And if we look at the scores, they are strongest in the area that I, personally, see as the most important: survivability. To my mind paladins are almost perfect, they just need to make the mana situation slightly less dependent on never staying still.

Paladin average score is 8.4

Very strong showing from Paladins. Consistent with the fact that there appears to be a large amount of the WoW web commentary that sees them as the strongest tank and the one that the developers keep saying will be nerfed.

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