Paladin
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Lightsworn: Transition into tanking

Hey Blizzard Watch, it’s Hammer time! Until Legion, most Paladins had a Retribution spec and a support spec (Holy or Protection). Maintaining all three specs proved difficult because you needed specialized weapons, and you had to redo your UI and keybindings whenever you wanted to play that third spec. With Legion solving those issues, all specs (and dimensions and realities) are open to us. Maybe you are curious about tanking or your team needs someone (i.e. you) to step up and fill the role. It’s time to strap on a sword and board and try tanking.

Tanking can appear to be a daunting role to take on. We’ll look at some steps you can take to ease your transition into a the role even if you’ve never done it before. While there will be Paladin specific information in this article, the basic strategy can work for any class with a tank specialization.

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Homework

I’ll go over some basics, but I recommend you read my introduction to Legion and Luminara’s full Protection Paladin guide on Wowhead. For your talents, I recommend this build. It’s a survival focused build that will help as you get used to tanking. Once your talents are set, open your spell book. Some spells, like Judgment, will look familiar, but have different effects. Others will be brand new to you. Take a moment and read all the tooltips even though some of it might not make sense yet.

The basic protection rotation is Avenger’s Shield (`), Consecration (5), Shield of the Righteous (2), Judgement (4), and Blessed Hammer (1). The number in parentheses is my keybinding, but find the arrangement that works best for you.

Has active mitigation for tanks been a success?

Dress for success

Your current gear should be fine to start out.  The biggest things you’ll need are the aforementioned sword and board and trinkets. If you do want to customize your gear a bit, Prot loves Versatility more than Ret or Holy, but doesn’t like Critical Strike as much.

You can buy a weapon and shield from Eadric the Pure in the Sanctum of Light if you haven’t done the Artifact quest for Truthguard.

For trinkets, a Darkmoon Deck: Immortality is a good buy. If you’ve got plenty of Timewalking badges, you can purchase the Gnomeregan Auto-Blocker 601  or a Valor Medal of the First War. Otherwise use whatever you have. If you go full time tank, you can switch your loot spec over to Protection for a shot at the Protection Legendaries and trinkets. Check out the list of trinkets here.

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Practice

Find a DPS Target Dummy (not a Tanking Target dummy), and try out the rotation a few times. Don’t worry about your DPS. Prot has enough baked in threat modifiers that holding threat should be a non-issue in most cases. Once you’ve mastered your Tankadin, you can start pushing out as much damage as possible.

When you’ve run the rotation enough times to feel comfortable, you should switch over to the Tanking Target dummy. This dummy will damage you and you get can get a feel for using Hand of the Protector, and your cooldowns Shield of the Righteous (your Active Mitigation ability),  Ardent Defender and Guardian of Ancient Kings. If you’re a sexy Dwarf, you can throw in Stoneform for good measure. Try not to get yourself killed, and if you do, remember that to err is human, but to blame it on someone else shows you are potential raid leader material!

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Truthguard

If you haven’t done questline for Truthguard, now would be an excellent time to do that. You can pick up the quest from Lord Maxwell Tyrosus in the Sanctum of Light. The Artifact quest is good introduction to some of the special utilities Prot provides even if you don’t do much actual tanking during the scenario. Try to do the quest as Protection. If you find it too challenging, you can attempt to finish it in your normal spec.

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Test drive

Now that you know the difference between Avenger’s Shield and Shield of the Righteous, you’re ready to take your head knowledge out into the field.

I recommend you do several World Quests as Protection. These provide Artifact Power, and Relics. You’re looking for Arcane and Iron Relics as Prot is the only Paladin spec to use those. Trinkets are another useful reward from World quests, but keep in mind that all the World Quest trinkets are simple stat sticks.

Doing World Quests as Protection is an absolute blast and you may find it even easier than doing them as Holy or Ret. As you start to get the hang of your tank, try to put yourself in dangerous situations. Head down to the shore in Aszuna and pull as many murlocs as you can. Now that’s Paladin tanking! Try soloing an Elite that you would never have attempted before. You’re a tank now. There is little you can’t go toe to toe with.

“… it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward.” – Rocky Balboa

This will put your entire toolkit through its paces. When you die (and you will) look at your hotbar and see what was not on cooldown. Could anything there have saved your life? Never die with a cooldown unused because when you die, the party or raid goes with you.

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Phone a friend

Up to this point, you’ve been on your own and you’ve been the only one to bear the brunt (and repair bills) of your learning experiences. Now, it’s time to reach out, reach out and touch someone and share your pain with others.

“Fortunately for us, sanity is not a prerequisite for tanking… anybody who charges into a pack of mobs determined to break all forms of crowd control has probably lost a couple marbles.” – Kitria of Gilneas

Nothing will kill an aspirant tank faster than getting a bad group in LFD. Group up with some friends, or if you don’t have any of those, try to get some guild mates. Having someone who has tanked before, like your current main tank on his Hunter alt, would be an added bonus. If you have to venture into LFD, try to get a guild healer at least, and be honest with the group at the outset that you are a new to the Tanking role. Better to know if that’s going to be a problem at that start of a run.

As the tank, the expectation is you’ll lead the run, start the pulls and know the layout of each dungeon.  Keep this simple phrase in mind:

“If the healer dies, it’s your fault. If you die, it’s the healers fault. If the DPS dies it’s their own [redacted] fault.” – Unknown

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Overcompensate

You’ll want to drop down at least one difficulty level as you start your new role. If you’ve been running Mythics, start with Heroics. You’ll find the fights completely new as a tank. We have to deal with a set of mechanics that don’t affect the rest of the raid, and we ignore many of the mechanics you have learned to deal with as Ret or Holy. For example, tanks don’t eat cake. Overgearing the content will give you more room for error. If (when) you die, use the same check of cooldowns that you used when soloing. What card did you leave in your hand unplayed that could have saved you?

“Judge a man by the dents in his shield, not the shine of his sword.” – Joanadark of Spirestone

Tanking is a different mindset from healing or DPSing. There is only one metric, one meter to win. Did you survive (or did you at least survive long enough for your team to finish the fight)? The only way you’ll get better is to get out there and be that meat shield for your team.

Welcome to the Paladin tank family.

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