3.3 Talent Spec & Glyph Guide

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3.3 Talent Spec & Glyph Guide

Postby theckhd » Thu Nov 26, 2009 2:12 pm

I've spoken with Dorvan, who is taking an extended (permanent?) leave of absence from the game, and he's given me permission to update his 3.1 talent spec guide. I will be keeping the format and style of his guide (and much of the text, in fact) while adding a few clarifications and references along the way.

It will still provide the following:
  • A basic description of the "core" tanking talents that should be in most tanking builds
  • A brief discussion of the options we have for spending the remaining points
  • Answers to commonly asked talent-related questions, with links to references for those seeking more detailed information.


I. The Core Talents
There are 56 talents that are considered "essential" to be a successful raiding paladin. You also need to spend 3 points in less essential talents to unlock the rest of the protection tree. That means that there are 15 talent points we can use to customize our spec, 3 of which must be in the first 5 tiers of protection.

If you're coming here and just want to know "is my spec decent?" check against this core.....if you have all the talents here your spec is probably fine, if you don't it probably needs some work. I've placed the three optional points in Divine Sacrifice and Divine Guardian since those will be "optional, but highly recommended" talents in 3.3:

The Core: http://www.wowhead.com/?talent#sZV0tAbuMusIufdxo

For a discussion of what to do with those 3 "discretionary" points in early protection, see the section later on in the guide devoted to that question.

II. Common Builds

From the core, we have two serious contenders for our attention. Most of what's left in the early Protection tree is lackluster, so we look to Retribution and Holy for places to spend our remaining 12 points.

Retribution: Ret contains a strong mix of utility and threat talents. Vindication and Pursuit of Justice are both great utility talents. Seal of Command is an excellent seal for AoE tanking situations, and a useful addition to our arsenal. And Crusade is a very strong threat talent, doubly so in an expansion with a large number of undead bosses. This makes a ret-heavy spec the most popular option amongst tankadins, and would be the most common "cookie-cutter" spec you'll encounter.

The 53/18 Ret build would look like this: http://www.wowhead.com/?talent#sZV0tAbuMusIufdxfMzbc

There are a number of possible variations on this build. Some people will drop Pursuit of Justice or Seal of Command for Conviction (more single-target threat) or Improved Blessing of Might (for utility). We also only require one point in Improved Judgements to maintain our rotation, so some players will choose to move that second point to Benediction or Improved Blessing of Might.

Holy: We can't delve too deep into the holy tree, but it also contains a decent mix of threat talents and utility. Seals of the Pure is a strong threat talent in the first tier, and tier three contains a possible cooldown option in Aura Mastery. Improved Lay on Hands used to be the primary reason to spec into Holy, but in 3.3 it becomes mutually exclusive with Divine Protection, subsequently making it the inferior choice any time we want a pro-active cooldown.

This build is already less common in 3.2 because it comes out behind on threat against Undead bosses and prevents us from picking up a potent mitigation talent in Vindication. It should become even less common in 3.3 with the change to Lay on Hands. This build does give us Aura Mastery for a magical damage cooldown, which could see limited use in situations where a Holy paladin isn't available. However, it's a very situational cooldown, and given that we prefer to run Devotion Aura for the extra armor we get from talents, I expect this spec to be all but extinct several weeks after 3.3 goes live.

The 11/53/6 Holy build would look like this: http://www.wowhead.com/?talent#sVcdzZV0tAbuMusIufdxo
This build has one free point, which I've put in Improved Lay on Hands for the extra mitigation in case we have to use LoH to prevent a wipe. However, that point could be (arguably better-) spent anywhere you like. Other than that point, there's not much room for variation here. The points in Divine Intellect have little effect on tanking, so those could be placed in either of the (equally irrelevant) options in tiers one and two.

Hard-mode Lich King (Lazeil's Build): This is a very fight-specific version of the Holy build that's generated a lot of attention recently. It makes sense to dissect it in a little more detail for a few reasons. First, it's a great example of how an excellent player who knows his stuff can tailor his spec to meet the needs of his raid for a specific encounter. Second, it will hopefully explain why Lazeil's decisions make perfect sense for that encounter. Finally, this will hopefully demonstrate why this spec isn't a "general" spec that everyone should be using.

Lazeil's 13/52/6 build looks like this: http://www.wowhead.com/talent#sVVzMZt0t ... fdxo:pjkmc
He's put 6 points in there to get Improved Judgement. This lets him keep up his single-target rotation on LK, while giving him the option of a slightly earlier Judgement on adds if necessary.

In Holy, he's gone for the coolodwn options of Aura Mastery and Improved LoH. Paragon's strategy involves using an AM on every Infest they can, so being able to provide one is a big help. Similarly, Improved LoH gives him another cooldown for use on the other tank.

Now to take all of these utility talents, he has to sacrifice a lot of things in Prot and Ret. He's mostly chosen to give up threat talents, which is a good choice since this fight has a lot of tank swaps and target swaps, so threat is not a critical problem.

In Ret, he's had to give up Crusade, Vindication, Pursuit of Justice, and Conviction or Seal of Command. Crusade and Conviction are straight-up threat trades, and SoCom isn't necessary since AoE damage from the tank isn't critical on this fight. Losing Vindication isn't as big a deal as it would seem, because it's hard to keep up consistently on more than one target. That means he'll already have a warrior supplying Demo Shout during phase 1, and presumably the bear tank will keep it on LK most of the fight. Pursuit of Justice is a tough one to part with, but it's just unreachable if you're going as deep in Holy as he is, and if moving 15% slower (or 7% if he uses the boot enchant) means another raid-wide cooldown that prevents a wipe, there's no question it's a good decision.

Prot is where he's made the most interesting choices. He takes Divinity because this fight is very healing intensive, and they ran 5 healers, so he's trying to eke out throughput wherever he can. Divine Guardian is a strong raid-wide cooldown on a short timer, so he picks that up (presumably to help cover Infests or when a healer is picked up by a Valkyrie - either way it's a strong ability and well worth the points). And he picks up 1 point in Improved Hammer of Justice to drop his HoJ cooldown to 40 seconds, making it available for every Valkyrie spawn. This lets the other 4 paladins in the raid redundantly cover the remaining 2 valks for reliability.

To pick these talents up, he's had to trade in a lot of threat, dropping to 1/5 Divine Strength and 0/3 Touched by the Light. While both of these are among our stronger threat talents, they're also the two most efficient trades he can make in the prot tree. He doesn't have Reckoning, and Redoubt has considerable survivability value, so DS and TbtL are the weakest two pure threat talents he can drop.

It's clear that this spec is very well designed for his role in this encounter. He's maximizing his survivability while also providing key utility spells for his raid in the most efficient ways possible. That said, it's not a spec for general use - the point in HoJ is useless almost everywhere else, the extra AM and Imp LoH aren't necessary on most fights, and Vindication is strong enough that it's worth having on other bosses. Lazeil has a 0/57/14 spec that is likely his "general-use" spec for the other ICC hard modes.

III. Glyphs
We have several good choices for our glyph slots, and since they're easy to change between encounters, it's a good habit to have a stack of the ones you commonly use on-hand. Here's a quick discussion of the currently-relevant glyphs, and when and where to use them.

Major Glyphs:

Glyph of Divine Plea (Survivability, Mandatory) - This is the only glyph that most tanks would consider mandatory. It's 3% damage reduction that should have nearly 100% uptime (thanks to Guarded by the Light) and stacks with other DR sources.

Glyph of Seal of Vengeance (Threat, Recommended) - This is our best threat glyph by a long shot. It's between 300-600 TPS depending on your expertise, and helps with burst threat by reducing dodges and parries. For the (now rare) parry-hasting boss, it also has an avoidance-like benefit. If you want threat, use this over the Judgement glyph unless you have 53+ expertise by some freak accident.

Glyph of Righeous Defense (Utility, Situational) - 8% extra hit on both of our taunts. Note that taunts use the spell hit cap of 17%, so this drops the miss rate to 9%. That's 237 hit rating without other sources of hit, 158 rating if the 3% hit debuff is on the target, and 132 rating if you have a Draenei in the party. This glyph is somewhat situational; we have two taunts, and it's rare that both will miss. This is a good one to swap in for fights that depend critically on tank swapping or if your current gear set is very low on hit.

Glyph of Hand of Salvation (Utility, Situational) - An extra 20% damage mitigation spell on a 2-minute cooldown. The threat loss is an inconvenient downside that limits its use in certain fights. It's very strong for encounters where there's a predictable burst at a time when threat is not an issue. Examples would be Iron Council hard mode (taking Steelbreaker), Festergut, Blood Queen Lanathel, Sindragosa, Lich King. Now that we have a variety of cooldowns at our disposal, this isn't as frequently used as it was in Ulduar.

Glyph of Hammer of the Righteous (Threat/Utility, Situational) - An extra bounce on HotR. I've listed this as "Situational," but it really means "OK for trash/AoE." It's useless on most boss fights and any pull of up to 3 mobs, but reasonably good for AoE tanking 4+ mobs. I use it in my "trash tanking" off-spec for heroics, trash clears, Gunship and Dreamwalker. That's about it though, and none of those fights are made significantly easier with the glyph. If you aren't using your second spec for a trash spec, it's probably not worth reglyphing just for those few fights.

Glyph of Holy Wrath (Threat/Utility, Situational) - Reasonably useful for AoE/trash tanking, especially on ICC trash. It's of no use for single-target boss tanking, but the cooldown reduction on the AoE stun is helpful in a few fights (Dreamwalker, Anub'arak hard mode being the primary ones). Mostly useful on trash pulls of 8+ mobs, where the lack of AoE cap makes it a significant threat gain and the stun helps reduce damage intake.

Glyph of Judgement (Threat, Not Recommended) - Very small TPS increase (~100 TPS). Since SoV is so much better, this glyph sees very little use. If you want a second threat glyph, and don't want to give up your AS bounces, this is your only choice.

Glyph of Avenger's Shield (Threat, Not Recommended) - This can be a slight TPS upgrade, to the tune of ~200 or so if substituted for every 4th Judgement. The loss of utility on trash packs and heroics is generally considered not worth the gain though, and we don't often have room for a 2nd threat glyph, so it doesn't see very wide use.

Glyph of Spiritual Attunement (Mana, Not Recommended) - We generally don't have mana problems even with 1/2 SA, so this glyph isn't necessary for bosses. In heroics we can just pull an extra trash pack to take more damage if we need mana. It might be a helpful crutch for beginner tanks as they learn to manage their mana bar, and it could see very limited use on General Vezax.

Minor Glyphs:

Glyph of Sense Undead (Threat, Recommended) - We don't have that many useful minor glyphs, so one that boosts damage by 1% is a great choice, especially in an expansion dominated by Undead.

Glyph of Lay on Hands (Utility, Recommended) - 5 minute reduction on Lay on Hands doesn't hurt. In practice, I'm not sure there are many situations where I've needed to use LoH that frequently, especially now that it's less effective as a personal cooldown. However, if it saves your raid from wiping even once, that's better than any other minor glyph option for this slot.

Glyphs To Avoid:

Glyph of Consecration (Bad) - This is a ret glyph. It's actually a net TPS loss for us to use this glyph, as it forces us to break our rotation.

Glph of Exorcism (Bad) - Again, a ret glyph. This used to be an option when Exorcism was instant cast. Now that it has a cast time, you shouldn't be casting Exorcism, so glyphing it doesn't make any sense.

Glyph of Seal of Righteousness (Bad) - This is a leveling glyph. Even glyphed, Seal of Righteousness is weaker than SoV or SoCom.

Theck's Recommendation:
I generally run with a DP/Threat/Utility glyph set-up. So I use DP/SoV for the first two slots, and switch the utility glyph depending on the fight. This generally means I swap between Righteous Defense and Salvation depending on whether I need an extra cooldown. Holy Wrath is an option as well for the one or two encounters where it's strong if you don't have a dedicated aoe spec.

For a trash/aoe spec, I go with DP/HotR/Holy Wrath.

My minor glyphs choices would be Sense Undead/Lay on Hands in most cases, but Sense Undead is the only one that matters very much. Pick and choose whatever you like here. Use whatever you like in the third slot, there's really nothing compelling to put in it.


IV. Talent Details

This section will provide a brief discussion of the talents relevant to tanking in each tree. First, we'll look at the "mandatory" talents (part of The Core), then we'll look at the early protection options for those 3 discretionary points. Finally, we'll make some remarks on the talents in both the Ret and Holy extensions of the Core.


  • The Core

    Retribution:

    Deflection - Quoth the Dorvan, "Nothing flashy, but reducing the damage we take is core to a tank's role, and [Deflection is] bread and butter for the job."

    Improved Judgements - At least one point in this talent is mandatory to maintain our 969 rotation. Note that 2/2 Improved Judgements, while not part of the core, also won't break your rotation. See the Ret Extension section.


    Protection:

    Divine Strength - Strength gives us both mitigation (Block Value) and threat (Attack Power and Block Value), making Divine Strength a very strong talent both defensively and offensively. It's one of our best threat talents, and it scales well since our gear is packed with STR.


    Anticipation - See Deflection.

    Improved Righteous Fury - Again, solid mitigation is always welcome.

    Toughness - Armor is only mitigation against physical damage, but that still accounts for the vast majority of the damage we take, making this a solid mitigation talent.

    Improved Devotion Aura - While the healing bonus doesn't stack with the druid tree form aura, the extra armor is worth the investment all by itself. Having a back-up for the tree aura is also useful if your tree dies, or for heroics or 10-mans where you're not guaranteed a tree.

    Blessing of Sanctuary - This is our preferred Blessing, as it gives us Strength, Stamina, and one of our fundamental mana regen mechanics. It's also required for Holy Shield, which means we'd take this talent even if it didn't do anything.

    Sacred Duty - More health is always good, and it drops our Shield Wall cooldown to 2 minutes, in line with other tanks.

    One-Handed Weapon Specialization - This is our most powerful threat talent point for point (excluding HotR), increasing all damage done while we have a one-handed weapon equipped.

    Spiritual Attunement - Each point in Spiritual attunement gives us 5% of our healing back as mana. Currently, we should be able to maintain our rotation with just 1/2 Spiritual Attunement with Divine Plea and Blessing of Sanctuary active (see this post). Each point in Spiritual Attunement works out to 250 mp5 for every 1k damage taken per second.


    Holy Shield - Quoth the Dorvan: "This ability is what allows Tankadins to gear such that every hit they don't avoid is blocked (this is what people are talking about when they say they are "block capped" in a set of gear). An extra 1500 damage taken off of every physical hit quickly adds up in the mitigation department. The threat from the ability isn't that great, but it's such an extra side bonus."

    Ardent Defender - With the 3.2 changes to Ardent Defender, there's no longer any debate over whether this talent is worth it. Guaranteed mitigation for damage that takes you into the danger zone, along with a free "1-UP" every two minutes makes this a must-have for progression tanking.

    Redoubt - While the proc is only of marginal usefulness in most cases, the 30% block value modifier is a significant increase in mitigation and threat. Every point in Redoubt is slightly weaker than a point in Seals of the Pure or Crusade (half a point for Undead bosses).

    Combat Expertise - Quoth the Dorvan, "6% stam is worth it by itself. The crit and expertise is icing on the cake." It's also worth noting that expertise helps reduce damage intake on bosses that parry haste.

    Touched By the Light - This is our second strongest threat talent after One-Handed Weapon Specialization. Enough said.

    Avenger's Shield - Good pulling tool and utility ability when coupled with Shield of the Templar, for which it's a prerequisite.

    Guarded by the Light - Spell damage reduction is always good, and more importantly this talent allows us to achieve 100% uptime on Divine Plea, which is a critical component of our mana regeneration.

    Shield of the Templar - 3% damage reduction across the board would be enough reason to take this talent, the fact that it gives Avenger's Shield a strong utility function makes it even better.

    Judgements of the Just - Perhaps the second most argued-over talent in our tree, this one actually has one right answer. Take it. It should really read "reduces melee swing damage intake by 16.67%." It is by far the strongest mitigation talent in our entire tree, and costs us less DPS to apply than any other class. The reduction in HoJ's cooldown is convenient too, but not the reason this talent shines. In addition to all of that, it has an undocumented effect - it allows Judgement to proc seals, meaning this talent is worth 65ish DPS in T10 gear, or roughly equal to one point in Conviction.

    Hammer of the Righteous - A critical part of our threat rotation, and our highest-DPS ability to boot.

  • Early Prot Options

    Divinity - Probably the most argued-about talent in the Protection tree, Divinity increases the amount of healing you receive and generate. If you're interested in details, there are many threads debating its usefulness (including this 15-page monstrosity), but the general consensus is that it's an optional talent. Here's a quick rundown of the pros/cons:

    Pro:
    • Might be able to make life/death difference.
    • Seems to address survivability more directly than the competing alternatives

    Con:
    • Due to the burst nature of many fights, most benefit is lost to overhealing
    • doesn't result in any mana efficiency improvement for healers
    • benefit per talent point is low
    • effect scales inversely to danger (the fewer heals you're getting, the less it helps, the more heals the greater it's effect)

    Note that with ICC heroic modes, we've seen more paladins picking up Divinity for extra survivability, often dropping Crusade to do so. It's a decision that will depend on the content you're seeing and your particular raid group (Are wipes usually due to tank death? Is threat an issue? etc.).

    Stoicism - More of a PvP talent, this has very few uses in PvE.

    Guardian's Favor - Another nice utility talent, though again more PvP-focused. There are certainly a few PvE encounters where it would be useful, but it's not a very popular choice amongst tankadins.

    Improved Hammer of Justice - Dropping our HoJ cooldown to 30 seconds is useful, but not particularly game breaking. It's nice if you're locking down a caster on Faction Champions, and on fights with stun-able adds it can be a nice chunk of damage reduction (fewer attacks taken since the add is stunned). But again, this is a flavor choice that few paladins will opt for.

    Reckoning - With the advent of faster-swinging bosses in Icecrown Citadel, Reckoning has risen considerably in usefulness. What used to be a very weak DPS/TPS talent now out-threats Conviction point for point in single-target situations. In addition, it is the only threat talent we have the option to take with our three discretionary points in the Prot tree.

    There is one situation where Reckoning really shines - AoE tanking with Seal of Command. Each extra swing Reckoning gives you will proc SoCom, and while tanking many adds Reckoning uptime will be reasonably good. The one boss encounter in the game where this comes into play so far is Anub'arak add tanking (see this post for the theorycraft, or this one for the example spec). Tanking Onyxia whelps is another scenario (though in that case there are so many adds that you'll mostly be holding aggro with Consecration anyway). For Icecrown examples, both the Deathwhisper and Gunship encounters involve add tanking in some fashion.

    In short, Reckoning is a good threat investment if you're getting hit frequently, which will be the case in Icecrown due to lower avoidance and faster boss swing speeds. It will also be the case while AoE-tanking. If you're tanking slow-hitting single-target encounters like those seen in TotC or Ulduar, then Reckoning will be a weak threat investment (weaker even than Conviction).

    Divine Sacrifice and Divine Guardian - Saving the best (and most confusing) for last, I'm going to tackle these together. From the 3.3 PTR Patch Notes:

    3.3 Patch Notes wrote:
    • Divine Sacrifice: Redesigned. The effect of Divine Sacrifice is now party-only and the maximum damage which can be transferred is now limited to 40% of the paladin’s health multiplied by the number of party members. In addition, the bug which allowed Divine Sacrifice to sometimes persist despite reaching its maximum damage has been fixed. Divine Sacrifice will now cancel as soon as its maximum damage value is exceeded in all cases. Finally, Damage which reduces the paladin’s health below 20% now cancels the effect early.
    • Divine Guardian: This talent no longer increases the amount of damage transferred to the paladin from Divine Sacrifice. Instead it causes all raid and party members to take 10/20% reduced damage while Divine Sacrifice is active. In addition, the duration has been changed to 6 seconds, however the effect does not terminate when Divine Sacrifice is removed before its full duration.


    To try and make sense of this, here's another way to re-word that:

    • Divine Sacrifice - when activated, redirects damage from party members to the paladin. It will continue to redirect damage until either the paladin drops below 20% life, or until an amount equal to N*40% of the paladin's health is redirected, where N is the number of party members.

    • Divine Guardian - When Divine Sacrifice is cast, this talent will give the entire raid a 10/20% damage reduction buff for 6 seconds. The buff is independent of Divine Sacrifice, which means that it will persist even if Divine Sacrifice is removed.

    Divine Sacrifice itself is pretty lackluster, though it can be used as a damage mitigation cooldown for another tank in your party We've seen a few cases this expansion where that could be useful, either as off-tanking (Icehowl, Twins during vortex), or on tank-swap fights (Thorim, Saurfang).

    However, Divine Guardian is an improved version of the Raidwall we had in 3.2. With the following macro we have a raid-wide mini-shield-wall for 6 seconds:

    Code: Select all
    #show
    /cast Divine Sacrifice
    /in 0.5 /script CancelUnitBuff("player","Divine Sacrifice")

    Note: Apparently the "/in" command is part of the Ace framework. If you don't have an Ace addon, you can use the following (just mash it a few times):
    Code: Select all
    #show
    /cancelaura Divine Sacrifice
    /cast Divine Sacrifice


    Note that this includes the casting paladin, meaning that these 3 points give us an extra 20% damage mitigation cooldown that we didn't previously have.

    For this reason, I expect that the three "discretionary" points in early Prot will be spent in DS/DG by the vast majority of tankadins working on progression content.

    A note about the macro: I've tried using a simple /cancelaura macro, but it didn't work. It seems that the server needs to know about you gaining the buff before you're allowed to tell it to cancel the buff.

    The macro I posted above cancels Divine Sac half a second after you cast it. I wasn't able to get it working for /in 0.2, so my guess is that the lower limit will be your server latency, since mine hovers around 300ms. If you generally run with sub-100ms latency, you may be able to safely drop that 0.5 in the macro as low as 0.1.

  • Talents in the Ret Extension

    Heart of the Crusader - Most people take Heart of the Crusader to progress further down the Ret tree to tier 3. Most of the time this will also be applied by a Ret paladin, but then again so will Improved BoMight. Since these are our only two damage options in the tree, and HotC is a bigger bonus while solo or on a different target, most paladins take HotC.

    Improved Judgement - We still need one more point to progress to tier 3. Benediction is a weak talent (see below), and one point in BoMight is only marginally useful for raids where you don't have a Ret paladin and aren't buffing Kings. While the extra second shaved off of Judgement's cooldown doesn't do anything for your boss tanking rotation, it does have situational usefulness for picking up adds earlier. For this reason, Improved Judgement is a common choice for that one point. It's really a flavor choice though, and it won't make much difference what you choose.

    Vindication - Vindication is an excellent mitigation talent. It is exactly the same effect as Demoralizing Shout/Roar, but gets applied passively by our melee attacks and HotR. For details on why these abilities work so well despite removing what seems like a small amount of attack power, see this thread. Vindication removes all of a boss's attack power, which can reduce his damage output by 15-30% or more (varies from boss to boss). This is nearly a mandatory talent, and one of the big reasons that the Crusade spec is so popular nowadays.

    Conviction - Our weakest threat talent, it's still about 50 TPS per point. It's one place to sink points on our way to Crusade if you don't want the utility of Vindiation or Pursuit of Justice.

    Seal of Command - Also known as "Seal of Cleave," SoCom gives us an additional seal option for AoE tanking. It gives a considerable increase in threat for groups of 3+ mobs, and better snap aggro than Seal of Vengeance. It also has one particular situation in which it shines when coupled with Reckoning - see the Reckoning description to see why.

    My current recommendation is to take this instead of Conviction to progress to Crusade. There are already several add-tanking situations in Icecrown Citadel, and it's a big convenience for clearing the heroic daily. There's also the fun factor to consider - how many other talent points let you pull 6k DPS or more in a heroic clear?

    Pursuit of Justice - Mobility is important while tanking. Most encounters in current content are more complicated than "stand still and smack boss," and being able to close distance more quickly can easily make the difference between a dead healer and a controlled add. Pursuit of Justice gives 15% movement speed, which is 7% more than the boot enchant. Players who want to maximize effective health but retain the movement speed buff will take PoJ and enchant boots with 22 stamina, while players content with an 8% movement speed buff will sometimes skip this and take 2 more points in Conviction for threat.

    Crusade - A phenomenal threat talent, a point in Crusade is worth about the same as a point in Seals of the Pure on a regular mob. However, for the "special" mob types that see the additional 3% bonus, Crusade becomes our third-best threat talent. With Icecrown Citadel looming, this talent will continue its run as a strong threat choice straight into Cataclysm.

    In addition to these talents, here is a brief discussion of the talents we don't usually see in the 53/18 spec, and why:

    Benediction - Each point in Benediction is worth about 2% of our mana regeneration from SA, DP, and BoSanc. For this reason, it is usually skipped. There's never any reason to take more than one point in this talent, and many people will look at you funny if you even have one point in it. See Imp. Judgements.

    Improved Blessing of Might - Since most tanks take Heart of the Crusader, they can only spare one point for this, making it weaker than the equivalent that a Ret paladin brings to the raid. It's certainly an option, just not a very commonly chosen one. See Imp. Judgements.

    Eye for an Eye - This talent is purely for PvP. Boss spells don't crit, and if you're gearing properly their melee won't crit you either.

    Sanctity of Battle - Since Exorcism isn't part of our tanking repertoire, this talent is identical to Conviction. Since Conviction is much much weaker than Crusade, there's never a reason to take this talent.

  • Talents in the Holy Extension:

    Seals of the Pure - SotP is a strong threat talent, and it's early enough in the tree that we can easily take it. It would be a staple of every tanking build if it weren't for the strength of Crusade. In fact, for mobs where Crusade gives only the base 3% bonus, a 4/53/12 build with 4 points in SotP will out-threat the standard 53/18 Crusade build.

    Unyielding Faith - You can't avoid while feared or disoriented, which makes this a pretty useful talent for 2 points.

    Divine Intellect - Unfortunately there's nothing else to sink points into that's worth taking in early Holy. Divine Intellect helps with mana regen slightly, which is at least marginally useful for tanking.

    Aura Mastery - Aura Mastery gives us a 2-minute cooldown to double the resistance value of our auras. Assuming we have a resistance aura active for 130 passive resistance (20% average mitigation), popping Aura Mastery will increase our resistance to 260 or 33% average mitigation. That makes it a roughly 13% magical mitigation cooldown. Unfortunately, Aura Mastery is a cooldown that can also be supplied externally by either a Ret or Holy paladin, contributing to its low representation amongst progression tanking specs.

    For more details on the math, see this post at EJ.

Improved Lay on Hands - 10/20% physical damage reduction previously turned LoH into a proactive cooldown option for physical damage. Unfortunately, in 3.3 it will trigger Forbearance, meaning that in any two minute period you can choose either Improved Lay on Hands or Divine Protection. As such, it will always be the weaker choice as far as guaranteed mitigation goes, effectively killing off the old 12/53/6 Imp. LoH builds.



IV. Frequently Asked Talent Questions

I've seen <famous paladin name> spec differently than you suggest. Do they know something we don't?
No, probably not. But when pushing progression on new bosses, you'll often see people choose a spec that's tailored to the most difficult fight they're working on and their particular raid composition. For example, on the Lich King encounter, 1/2 Improved HoJ ensures you can apply a 6-second stun to one Valkyrie every time they're spawned, which is pretty strong (especially in 10-man if your comp is low on stuns). It's a choice that would make little sense on any other encounter, but makes a lot of sense on that one particular phase of LK. So keep in mind that there is no one "catch-all" spec that's optimized to every single encounter.

For a detailed example of a very fight-specific spec, see the "Common Builds" section for Lazeil's Hard-Mode LK25 spec.

That said, there are also a lot of players in good guilds that don't optimize completely. It's entirely possible to clear end-game content with a sub-optimal spec if your raid is talented and you play well. If the most-progressed paladin tank on your server is speccing SotP or Conviction over Crusade, and they tell you that they're doing it for threat, then you have good reason to be skeptical. Send them my way and let the graphs do the work.

V. Changelog
4/12/2010 - Added Lazeil's HMLK25 build to the "Common Builds" section.
3/10/2010 - Added Glyph section, Updated Divinity entry, Added a question to the FAQ
2/9/2010 - Updated the DS macro section
1/15/2010 - Updated the Conviction and Reckoning entries slightly to clarify them.
12/26/2009 - Updated the default spec to include Seal of Command, and did some heavy editing of the Reckoning and Seal of Command entries.
12/16/2009 - Updated to reflect current 3.3 talent standings. Mostly minor edits, rewrote some of the SoCommand section.
12/10/2009 - Updated Divine Sacrifice/Guardian with working macro and slight rewording of tense.
11/29/2009 - Added Changelog, revised Holy Sub-spec section to account for 3.3 LoH Nerf, added clarification about Improved Judgements.
11/24/2009 - First posting
Last edited by theckhd on Mon Apr 12, 2010 8:00 am, edited 17 times in total.
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Re: 3.3 Talent Spec Guide

Postby theckhd » Thu Nov 26, 2009 2:13 pm

Reserved for any conceivable reason I can come up with.
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Re: 3.3 Talent Spec Guide

Postby Florisia » Fri Nov 27, 2009 10:28 am

while adding a few clarifications and references along the way.


Awesome. Now we can get flow charts and headaches to go with our talent guides. :)

At least we'll have mathematical proof behind every build. <3
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Re: 3.3 Talent Spec Guide

Postby theckhd » Fri Nov 27, 2009 10:47 am

Florisia wrote:
while adding a few clarifications and references along the way.


Awesome. Now we can get flow charts and headaches to go with our talent guides. :)

At least we'll have mathematical proof behind every build. <3

I plan to go very easy on the math in this guide. As in, none at all outside of the occasional reference to a number from my theorycraft work (like X TPS per point).

The goal of this guide as originally set by Dorvan was to have an accessible guide that quickly answered basic questions about talent builds and choices. Putting too much theorycraft into the mix would just make it unapproachable and less effective. The people who want that information already have the entire Advanced Training forum to peruse anyhow. They'd be hard pressed to suggest that I didn't give them an adequate amount of math to sift through over there. ;)

So don't worry, I won't be adding anything mathy to encumber the guide. And if anyone feels I do add something too complicated, please point it out and suggest a revision so I can keep it understandable.
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Re: 3.3 Talent Spec Guide

Postby Florisia » Fri Nov 27, 2009 10:57 am

I don't really think you could make it any more simple without lobbing off something important, like the expectation that people have free will.

I'm not complaining about your theory crafting, by the way. I happen to be quite a fan of it and I personally wouldn't mind seeing it here. :D Just it costs me about 20 dollars a month to pay for the bottles of Tylenol I go through. My health insurance will cover the damage I'm doing to my kidneys and liver, so it's all good.

But yeah. It's for the best if this is kept simple anyhow. The talent spec guides were the first thing I looked for back when I was just starting out in TBC.
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Re: 3.3 Talent Spec Guide

Postby Meloree » Fri Nov 27, 2009 11:01 am

I'm just disappointed that you haven't included the 5/51/15 and 2/51/18 "Massive DPS for Irrelevant Content" specs.

When you absolutely, positively have to stress out your healers and embarrass your DPS.
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Re: 3.3 Talent Spec Guide

Postby theckhd » Fri Nov 27, 2009 11:04 am

Meloree wrote:I'm just disappointed that you haven't included the 5/51/15 and 2/51/18 "Massive DPS for Irrelevant Content" specs.

When you absolutely, positively have to stress out your healers and embarrass your DPS.

I'd rather let players discover those specs once they know better (as in, they're able to recognize why they're bad tanking specs).

Plus, the difference between 2/51/18 and 0/53/18 isn't that significant as far as DPS goes. If your DPS is bad enough to be embarrassed by 2/51/18, they'll be embarrassed by 0/53/18 as well.
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Re: 3.3 Talent Spec Guide

Postby Epimer » Sat Nov 28, 2009 11:07 am

The nit-pickiest of all nit-picks, but perhaps consider rewording "Improved Judgements - One point in this talent is mandatory to maintain our 969 rotation." to something akin to "At least one point in this talent...". I know the difference between 1/2 and 2/2 is gone into later on, but given how often the misconception that 2/2 Imp Judgements is A Bad Idea comes up, it couldn't hurt to be as clear as possible the first time it's mentioned.
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Re: 3.3 Talent Spec Guide

Postby Veilan » Sun Nov 29, 2009 4:38 am

theckhd wrote:Holy: [...]tier three contains two possible cooldown options in Improved Lay on Hands


Being denied the ability to reasonably LoH myself in 3.3 certainly makes me beg to differ here. Sure I can still LoH other tanks, healers or DDs in a pinch, but I simply don't find this worth it for a maintankadin.

Anyway, my 0.02€.
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Re: 3.3 Talent Spec Guide

Postby theckhd » Sun Nov 29, 2009 5:46 pm

Epimer wrote:The nit-pickiest of all nit-picks, but perhaps consider rewording "Improved Judgements - One point in this talent is mandatory to maintain our 969 rotation." to something akin to "At least one point in this talent...". I know the difference between 1/2 and 2/2 is gone into later on, but given how often the misconception that 2/2 Imp Judgements is A Bad Idea comes up, it couldn't hurt to be as clear as possible the first time it's mentioned.

Good idea, I'll make explicit mention of it in that section.

Veilan wrote:Being denied the ability to reasonably LoH myself in 3.3 certainly makes me beg to differ here. Sure I can still LoH other tanks, healers or DDs in a pinch, but I simply don't find this worth it for a maintankadin.

Anyway, my 0.02€.

Yeah, making shield wall and LoH mutually exclusive in a given 2 minute period makes this somewhat pointless for a proactive cooldown. I fear that 3.3 will be the end of the holy sub-spec. I'll have to re-word that section to focus more on Aura Mastery I guess.
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Re: 3.3 Talent Spec Guide

Postby moduspwnens » Wed Dec 02, 2009 3:22 pm

Stickinated.
I rule.
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Re: 3.3 Talent Spec Guide

Postby Splattage » Fri Dec 04, 2009 3:15 pm

Divinity - Probably the most argued-about talent in the Protection tree,

I can totally understand not wanting to get into the maths here,
but it should be possible to show how Divinity isn't nearly as good as people might think with a thought experiment.
Let me try even though I am no good at this kind of stuff:

Divinity increases the size of the heals you receive IF AND ONLY IF the heal would not have already topped you off before adding in the Divinity talent. In WotLK content so far, there have been very high levels of overheal, greatly reducing the effectiveness of Divinity. If Icecrown fights contain situations where your health slowly goes down over a long period of time and never gets back to full, then Divinity might just become a great talent. Until then, we will plan on skipping it and trust in overheal.

and to get a very little into maths, with ~60k HP main tank and HL spams providing ~15k hps; we are never more than 4 healing gcds from completely refilling our tanks. Even with a completely continuous DTPS intake of 30k, 2xHLspam will routinely overheal as AoE, Hots, and JoL do their part. The basic problem is the magnitude of the HPS possible is currently too large as a fraction of Main Tank max HP size. In order to have an era when Divinity is more useful than a DG/DS we would need to have Tank HP ( and therefore dtps possible without 1 shotting tanks ) increase to more than 10 times hps of the largest hps output. That would give enough room for the designers to put in long burst phases of higher dtps where a 3% increase in heals received would outweigh a 6 second 20% dtps decrease. The problem with those kinds of designs are that our cooldowns then become overwhelmingly powerful during the burst phases and you wind up rotating pain suppression and shield wall to get through them instead of relying on divinity to make the heals larger.
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Re: 3.3 Talent Spec Guide

Postby Chasey » Sat Dec 05, 2009 5:20 pm

Very indepth and simple write up.
Thanks for this, you broke it down and I totally understand it.

I guess my only question is, if you cancel Divine sacrifice, Divine Guardian is still going to be active. This is the first I've heard that, mabye because....I have looked into a whole lot but this is goiong to be great.
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Re: 3.3 Talent Spec Guide

Postby Veilan » Tue Dec 08, 2009 7:06 am

Splattage wrote:
Divinity - Probably the most argued-about talent in the Protection tree,

I can totally understand not wanting to get into the maths here,
but it should be possible to show how Divinity isn't nearly as good as people might think with a thought experiment.
Let me try even though I am no good at this kind of stuff:

Divinity increases the size of the heals you receive IF AND ONLY IF the heal would not have already topped you off before adding in the Divinity talent. In WotLK content so far, there have been very high levels of overheal, greatly reducing the effectiveness of Divinity. If Icecrown fights contain situations where your health slowly goes down over a long period of time and never gets back to full, then Divinity might just become a great talent. Until then, we will plan on skipping it and trust in overheal.

and to get a very little into maths, with ~60k HP main tank and HL spams providing ~15k hps; we are never more than 4 healing gcds from completely refilling our tanks. Even with a completely continuous DTPS intake of 30k, 2xHLspam will routinely overheal as AoE, Hots, and JoL do their part. The basic problem is the magnitude of the HPS possible is currently too large as a fraction of Main Tank max HP size. In order to have an era when Divinity is more useful than a DG/DS we would need to have Tank HP ( and therefore dtps possible without 1 shotting tanks ) increase to more than 10 times hps of the largest hps output. That would give enough room for the designers to put in long burst phases of higher dtps where a 3% increase in heals received would outweigh a 6 second 20% dtps decrease. The problem with those kinds of designs are that our cooldowns then become overwhelmingly powerful during the burst phases and you wind up rotating pain suppression and shield wall to get through them instead of relying on divinity to make the heals larger.


Not a big fan of divinity, but you can't really target where the bonus healing lands - it's simply a part of everything. It's just 1-5% of overheal just as it's 1-5% of all other healing.

However, I get what you mean: Healing power is not a problem, we don't need to increase it.

I'm actually looking forward to healing in cataclysm (one of the few things, cough), due to the statements they would go away from the "always topped off" proactive healing in raids. I'd love that, it means healers have to get into the game again, instead of just spamming their spells. Being able to see a balance play out over a couple of blows is of course part of the always-make-the-game-easier mantra of mass appeal, but I think it's a far more interesting way to heal than just spamming without much regards to the green bar of the tank. We'd have a lot less overheal with such a system, simply because healer's supposedly won't have the power and necessity to do it.

Still skeptical how it might work in practice, but hey, perhaps divinity is worth a little something then.
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Re: 3.3 Talent Spec Guide

Postby Snake-Aes » Tue Dec 08, 2009 7:55 am

Veilan wrote:
Splattage wrote:
Divinity - Probably the most argued-about talent in the Protection tree,

I can totally understand not wanting to get into the maths here,
but it should be possible to show how Divinity isn't nearly as good as people might think with a thought experiment.
Let me try even though I am no good at this kind of stuff:

Divinity increases the size of the heals you receive IF AND ONLY IF the heal would not have already topped you off before adding in the Divinity talent. In WotLK content so far, there have been very high levels of overheal, greatly reducing the effectiveness of Divinity. If Icecrown fights contain situations where your health slowly goes down over a long period of time and never gets back to full, then Divinity might just become a great talent. Until then, we will plan on skipping it and trust in overheal.

and to get a very little into maths, with ~60k HP main tank and HL spams providing ~15k hps; we are never more than 4 healing gcds from completely refilling our tanks. Even with a completely continuous DTPS intake of 30k, 2xHLspam will routinely overheal as AoE, Hots, and JoL do their part. The basic problem is the magnitude of the HPS possible is currently too large as a fraction of Main Tank max HP size. In order to have an era when Divinity is more useful than a DG/DS we would need to have Tank HP ( and therefore dtps possible without 1 shotting tanks ) increase to more than 10 times hps of the largest hps output. That would give enough room for the designers to put in long burst phases of higher dtps where a 3% increase in heals received would outweigh a 6 second 20% dtps decrease. The problem with those kinds of designs are that our cooldowns then become overwhelmingly powerful during the burst phases and you wind up rotating pain suppression and shield wall to get through them instead of relying on divinity to make the heals larger.


Not a big fan of divinity, but you can't really target where the bonus healing lands - it's simply a part of everything. It's just 1-5% of overheal just as it's 1-5% of all other healing.

However, I get what you mean: Healing power is not a problem, we don't need to increase it.

I'm actually looking forward to healing in cataclysm (one of the few things, cough), due to the statements they would go away from the "always topped off" proactive healing in raids. I'd love that, it means healers have to get into the game again, instead of just spamming their spells. Being able to see a balance play out over a couple of blows is of course part of the always-make-the-game-easier mantra of mass appeal, but I think it's a far more interesting way to heal than just spamming without much regards to the green bar of the tank. We'd have a lot less overheal with such a system, simply because healer's supposedly won't have the power and necessity to do it.

Still skeptical how it might work in practice, but hey, perhaps divinity is worth a little something then.
It's easier to target than that, though based on your conclusion: Healing power, currently, is so strong that 5% more healing won't make the difference between living and dieing. Most heals are EXPECTED to overheal. For as long as we have to be healed within the gcd, we do not benefit from Divinity(or improved devo aura's healing bonus at that)
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