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The Grass is Always Greener…

March 21, 2010

… on the other side.

After ranting so much about Paladin tanks and their overpoweredness, I realized I might have been a bit too harsh on them. Admittedly, my experience with Paladin tanks comes from overgeared monsters who pull the entire first section of Halls of Lightning (boss included), to the point the boss fight turns into a massive display of Area of Effect spells.

So I decided to dust my old Paladin off and take her for a whirl. Level 69 with PvP shoulder heirlooms and PvE chestpiece heirloom, and still carrying some of her Outlands greens. Since my interest here is tanking, she’s obviously Prot-specced. Here are some of my impressions of Paladin tanking, from the standpoint of a slightly disgruntled Warrior tank who can barely remember how it felt to tank anything but heroics and the occasional weekly raid quest:

  • She’s at level 71 now. While she does feel really squishy (11k health self-buffed doesn’t help), threat on multiple or single mobs is beyond solid, considering the amount of effort I’m putting into it. Once she’s had had a mob’s attention, no one even came within 50% threat of me.
  • How much effort I’m putting into it? Not a lot. The rotation is still incomplete (no Shield of Righteousness), so there are a few blank spots I’m really not used to while Warrior or Druid tanking. My Death Knight also has a few points where her rotation has to wait for a second or two due to rune cooldowns, but the Paladin doesn’t feel nearly as stressful (or action-packed) as the other three tanking classes.
  • Holy crap(*), that’s a lot of buffs and auras! After a death, I have to turn Righteous Fury, Seal of Vengeance and Blessing of Sanctuary on before being ready to tank again. While tanking, I have to keep an eye on the Seal and the Blessing to make sure it doesn’t fall off, and Holy Shield takes that to extreme levels by putting that in the rotation. That’s the kind of stuff I’m not used to doing on the Warrior: just throw a Commanding Shout between pulls, and we’re good to go.
  • On the other hand, I like being useful and spreading Kings around whenever the run starts. The reagents coming in huge stacks and being dirt-cheap make it all the better.
  • Speaking of Holy Shield, that’s the weirdest avoidance mechanic ever. My Paladin’s base block chance is about 5%, she needs to keep that up at all times or she turns into a dwarf-colored smear on the floor very quickly. Redoubt makes that mechanic even more interesting, so there are times when the trash is simply not hitting me at all, and others when I’m taking so much damage I can see the healer struggling to keep me up. I suspect that will stop later on as I get better gear and more armor.
  • Consecration and Hammer of the Righteous: pure win. Set-it-and-forget-it AoE, plus a 3-4 target attack doing about two times my normal swing every 6 seconds, all with extra threat and no armor reduction?! I want those on my Warrior!
  • No, I don’t have Seal of Command yet. But I suspect that when I do, I’ll want that on my Warrior, too. Look ma! Passive holy damage Cleave!
  • Mana. It’s the one reason I never really paid much attention to Paladins (besides them being FOTM). Hunters also use mana, but they have easy ways to never run out of them (ironically, the most reliable involves gluing themselves to a Paladin). It seems Blizzard looked at the Paladin and said “Oh, nevermind!”, because at level 71, Divine Plea makes it impossible to run out of mana unless you’re really trying. Huge plus, I just wish they had added that earlier.
  • AoE grinding! Look at me, mobs! I just. Won’t. Die! ❤
  • Oh, yeah. I almost forgot. Avenger’s Shield is the best pulling tool ever.

Yes, I do realize I’m probably still dazzled by all the pretty lights and the effortless AoE. I’ll keep leveling and gathering gear. Heroics is where it’s at, and that’s where this Paladin will go through her real trial by fire, standing against merciless DPS whose only thoughts are “must top recount!” and “I’m pulling aggro! But I like pie! Must keep DPSing!“!

* Pun totally not intended.

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