Mists Beta: Protection Paladin in August

I decided it was about time I had another good look at protection paladins. The beta is winding down now, so I wanted to get a good look at the spec changes that will be live in just a few weeks. I wrote about my first look on the beta, and about prot pallys, in April. I’ve not written about them since as, in all honesty, I’ve not taken a good look. It’s long past time where I need to do that as in just a few weeks this’ll be the new reality.

So let’s compare what I wrote a few months back and see how much, if any of it, is still valid.

Level 15: Pursuit of Justice – I still like this one for general utility purposes. Outside of raid encounters I just think this will get the most use. When you’re running around doing dailies my mind doesn’t really go to cooldowns. For raids, or dungeons I think I’d spec Speed of Light instead. Paladins lack a closer, we don’t have a Charge or a Death Grip, so this is as close as we can get. The cooldown is longer than I’d like but it isn’t prohibitive and perfect for chasing after a mob who wants to snack on the healer.

Level 30: Repentance – My opinion hasn’t changed on this either. CC for dungeons is an incredibly useful bit of toolkit. However, it’s not needed in raids where you can count on others to cc if needed. So the choice there would be dependant on the situation but I’d likely choose Burden of Guilt. Fist of Justice halves Hammer of Justice cd but 30 second cooldown is too long, when you have to stop adds from getting to the boss, vs a 6 second cooldown on this. Add to that the debuff lasts for 12 seconds you could in theory have it up on two adds at a time.

Level 45: Sacred Shield – This is a no brainer talent now. Eternal Flame was my choice before but they’ve seen changed it so it replaces Word of Glory. A HoT would have been nice but it in no way is worth the loss of a solid heal like Word of Glory for a tank. A tank has other things to spend holy power on than healing as we act reactively to damage. Selfless Healer is about healing other people which we don’t have time to do as a tank, and wouldn’t do while soloing.

Level 60: Unbreakable Spirit – I see potential in my previous pick Hand of Purity, however I’m unsure of the application. Potential isn’t enough if it’ll get wasted through never being used. Unbreakable Spirit means you can use some of the cooldowns that you’re familiar with more often. Clemency performs the same function but with a different set of cooldowns. As I use the cooldowns mentioned in Unbreakable Spirit more it becomes the obvious choice.

Level 75: Divine Purpose – I still think that this will give you most bang for your buck for general use. I like Holy Avenger for use on difficult phases in a raid, where you need to generate a lot of self healing, or reduce incoming damage, for a small amount of time. It has a two minute cd which is about normal. The current ret cooldown Zealotry does a similiar thing for the same cooldown. I don’t see Sanctified Wrath being as useful although I guess with the 20% buff to healing and damage, and Judgement cd being halved during the duration, you’d be generating more holy power from Judgement plus the healing/damage bonus.

Major Glyphs
There are 10 major glyphs which I can see would have benefit to tanks, dependant on the situation, and the benefits in some cases (Final Wrath anyone) are slim. However, you only get three slots so you have to choose. The choice may differ between encounters, I’m certainly going to be keeping a stack of Tome of the Clear Mind on me at all times.

Consecration: I picked this before though I was a little uncertain. I’ve been playing my dk recently and Death and Decay is useful in so many ways for those tricky pulls. Plus it’s not as tricky as I thought it might be to use it while in combat. I thought that it might throw me off to have to point and click but it really doesn’t. I wouldn’t say this is mandatory but I definitely think it’ll be extremely useful for dungeons. Raids may be a different story.

Alabastor Shield: Again I picked this before but it does seem like a good damage buff to have. When I look at the other talents I can’t see anything that’s more attractive than this, to get this glyph slot. It’s not as good as it would be on live as the damage of Shield of the Righteous has been slashed dramatically. That means that depending on circumstance it would probably be the glyph I’m most likely to swap out for something else.

Word of Glory: I picked Holy Wrath before as I was being lazy. However, a glyph that gives you potentially a 9% damage buff for healing yourself, sounds like a good deal to me. The buff only lasts for 6 seconds. Given the active mitigation model we’ll be hitting the button relatively often, therefore that buffed 6 seconds could add up to a fair bit at the end of a fight.

Those are my top three. However, depending on circumstance you would pick something else. For a fight with no adds Focused Shield would be a good glyph to have. You would only be hitting one target so a 30% damage buff for Avenger’s Shield ability sounds like a good idea. For a fight with a lot of interrupts Rebuke would be almost essential. It reduces the cooldown to 10 seconds like it is on live, and adds an extra 2 seconds of lockout. So you’d have an interrupt you could hit every 10 seconds that would lock the target from that school for 6 seconds. This would leave only 4 seconds uncovered but if you were careful on timing you could have Avengers Shield available to cover that time. I’m tempted to say you should glyph this for dungeons given that it’s rare anyone else in pugs would interrupt. However, I’m not sure how much interrupting is required. Divine Protection essentially swaps with the glyph on live for what it is on live. We have more cds and abilities to handle incoming physical damage, therefore unless there’s no magic used in the fight it makes more sense to leave it unglyphed.

Minor Glyphs
All but two of these are purely cosmetic. I’ve picked the two that aren’t for general use. However, you would want to swap out Focused Wrath dependant on the circumstances. The last slot really is down to choice.

Focused Wrath: This reduces the number of targets hit by Holy Wrath down to one, rather than everything in range. This means that it’s damage is no longer quite as pitiful. However, as Holy Wrath can be used as a stun for demons and undead (plus elementals and dragonkin when glyphed) reducing it’s targets might not always be a good thing. Glyphed Holy Wrath was practically essential on Ragnaros for example. However, for general use I’m not going to pass up a damage buff. As it stands it’s a filler button that we hit when we have nothing better to press. Glyphed like this it would still be a filler button but it’d pack a little bit more of a punch.

Falling Avenger: You don’t want to hit Avenging Wrath except when you want too. It’s too useful to waste on a Slow Fall which is what this glyph provides. However, I remember when I tanked Throne of the Tides back when Cata first came out. This was before I’d upgraded my graphics card, and I couldn’t always see the blue swirl on the floor for the geyser when fighting Lady Naz’jar. If you didn’t have an on the ball mage or a priest to hit you with slow fall or levitate then you went splat. If I could then I’d hit Divine Shield, cancel it as fast as possible, taunt and try and stop the boss from chewing on the healer. If it was my second geyser then I was usually flat out of luck. Given how seldom you are thrown up into the air it’s not like this ability would be called into action often. However, it’s more than cosmetic and one day I might be glad I had it.

Fire From the Heavens: This was entirely personal preference. I thought about Righteous Retreat, but the last time I had to hearth while under attack was a couple of years ago, when I’d first started playing the game. I figured I’d get more use from this as with the effect I can see the critical hits more. Plus it’s kinda fun.

The rotation
I actually feel more like I’m on my death knight. As I’m on beta I don’t have any addons installed (though I know that you can have them on beta now) and I’m really missing OmniCC. Seeing when abilities come off cooldown will be essential in Mists. Right now with the heartbeat rotation the cds aren’t long enough to matter. Here, with everything being fluid seeing what you can press at a glance will be invaluable. I’m also going to be setting up TellMeWhen as that’s another invaluable addon. There’s a lot more to keep track of in Mists:

– Bastion of Glory
– Weakened Blows
– Alabaster Shield
– Sacred Shield

Those are the important ones but there could be others.

Is it patch 5.0 yet? Right now it’s hard to properly judge on beta as I don’t have access to recount, or other addons, or the same character. I went back and soloed Stonecore which I’ve done a fair bit recently. However, this was on a copy I’d made back in April so my gears a fair bit better now on live. Things like that make quite a difference and so it will be very interesting to see what happens when the patch does drop

I really honestly can’t wait. In Cata I mostly raided as a healer and was tank rest of the time; in Mists if I can I’ll be tank all the time. The changes haven’t changed how much I love this spec, in fact it makes me feel like I’ll be more in control, and more aware of how my spec works. It’s a bit up in the air right now as to whether I’ll get to raid at all, let alone as a prot pally, but whatever happens I’ll be running dungeons as prot. I’m really looking forward to it.