If you're new to prot paladin tanking I suggest you read this guide through to get a general understanding on what prot paladin is all about. You won't have all the skills at level 15, when you can be expected to start tanking, but the essentials are there. There is one big difference though, you'll use Crusader Strike instead of Hammer of the Righteous, since you don't get HotR until level 29. When you start out there are only a few things you need to keep track of;
- Keep Righteous Fury buff up.
- Keep Seal of Righteousness up.
- Use Avenger's Shield to pull and hold aggro on several targets.
- Use Crusader Strike to do threat on single targets.
- Use Judgements to regenerate mana.
- Use Word of Glory if someone needs a heal (which will most likely be yourself).
You've probably heard all about some of the changes already. Holy Power, ramp up times, procs. These are all new things to us, but how important are they to master to do a good job? Let me just say you can relax, it's all easier than it seems at a first glance. The major changes to paladin tanking are good ones, at least in my opinion. Instead of a rigid rotation we now have procs and synergies to keep an eye on.
Threat has become more troublesome however, there is no reason to deny it because you'll notice it at once (unless this is the first time you tank as a paladin). Unlike warriors, paladins don't have a good initial singe-target threat skill anymore, and keeping aggro those first seconds is alot trickier than it used to be. Where a warrior (I don't know about dk's and druids yet) can use Shield Slam we have to combine the use of alot of small threat-skills like Holy Wrath, Hammer of the Righteous, Avenger's Shield and even Consecration for our initial threat. So even if all tank classes have a ramp-up time to high threat, due to how Vengeance works, this seems especially true for paladins since we also have to stack Holy Power for best threat.
Is a sort of combo point system. We gather Holy Power from using one set of skills so that we can use another set of skills. Holy Power can be stacked up to 3 times and each power lasts for 30 seconds. So if you have 3 stacks it takes 90 seconds before they all disappear. Anyone who's ever played a rogue or feral cat or even death knight knows the deal with this one, although there are differences of course, and it's not particularly tricky.
You get Holy Power from using Hammer of the Righteous, so this skill is still among your most important. HotR has also sort of replaced Consecration as our main aoe-damaging attack. It deals low aoe damage affecting an unlimited amount of targets around you, much like thunder clap. HotR should be used at every cooldown to gather Holy Power.
We use Holy Power on two different things. Most importantly on Shield of the Righteous. SotR is our main single-target threat skill. The more Holy Power you have gathered with HotR, the harder you will hit with SotR, and trust me you'll hit pretty dang hard with it when you've got three stacks. If you've talented properly, and a suggestion on tank spec will follow, using SotR will also grant you 15% shield block for 20 seconds.
We can also use Holy Power on Word of Glory, which is an instant heal. You will use this skill considerably less than SotR, but it will be damn handy when you're taking alot of damage in a raid environment so it should be counted as part of your tanking arsenal and tanking cooldowns. This is a choice we can make and that we should make the rest of the group (especially in a raid) aware of. You'll either do good threat, or heal yourself, and we'll most likely have to do both in a regular raid encounter.
Your most important tanking skills will be, by name anyway, pretty much the same as before. But they do new things now, and you have to keep track of them to be able to use them all efficiently.
Hammer of the Righteous - Like mentioned this is now an aoe attack that deals small damage to everything around you. It is your only source of Holy Power income. With the right talent HotR will also have a 20% chance to reset the cooldown on your Avenger's Shield. You should use HotR on every cooldown.
Shield of the Righteous - Becomes available once you have at least 1 Holy Power. It deals a big blow on a single target making it good for single-target threat. It also increases your block chance by 15% for 20 seconds (Holy Shield). Because of this it is wise to use it as soon as possible. Once you've got your Holy Shield up you can make the choice to stack Holy Power for harder blows or use SotR as often as possible for more, smaller blows. It depends a little on what you're fighting. The thing is that each point of Holy Power increases the damage (and thus threat) with SotR significantly. The first increases by 20%, the second by 60% and the third by 120%. Saving to three Holy Power when fighting a boss for example is therefore more threat than to save only to one for more blows.
Avenger's Shield - Has become a way more important tank-skill than it used to be. Before 4.0 AS was mostly used to pull, because of its long cooldown. Now it is supposed to be part of your standard rotation. It already has a pretty low cooldown and it has a 20% chance to be reset when using HotR meaning you'll often end up using this many times in one fight. This combined with HotR should be considered your new aoe-threat skills. It also no longer dazes targets which tbh only makes me really happy (you can glyph it to do that, but I can't see why you'd want that).
Consecration - Much less important than it used to be. One could say Avenger's Shield and Consecration have switched places in use. Now you often find yourself wanting to save Consecration in case there are some suprise adds. Consecration is still a good way to collect adds however, on fights like Lady Deathwhisper and should be saved for moment like these rather than used as a standard threat skill.
Holy Wrath - Now deals damage to any target, not just demons/undeads (but only stund demons/undeads) and should therefore be used as any aoe-threat skill.
Judgement - Is your source for mana, combined with Divine Plea and the talent Sanctuary. Judging also increases the crit chance of your next SotR by 50% (talents) which makes it a good single target threat skill in combination with SotR.
People say paladins have become weaker cooldowns for survivability. This might be true, but I also think alot can be contributed to our survivability cooldowns now needing a little thinking before we use them. Instead of one big oh-shit button, we now have several smaller ones. In a way that means we don't have to be as well timed with our cooldowns as we used to be. It means we can use them more often, probably even have to use them more often. Knowing when to use your cooldowns will as always define if you're a good or bad tank, especially when raiding.
Divine Protection - Has been turned into something of a "Barkskin" for paladins. It now reduces damage taken by 20% for 10 seconds with a 1 minute cooldown. If you want to learn how to use this properly you should take a chat with a fellow druid tank, they've used this kind of skill for years. Basically it means popping it at any moment you expect to take a little more damage. If you know when that will happen, save it for then, but don't save it for too long! If you take about the same amount of damage the entire fight, use it every cooldown.
Examples of fights where you can pop it all the time: Marrowgar, Sindragosa, Saurfang.
Examples of fights where it would be good to save it: Gunship tanking Muradin, Deathwhisper picking up adds, LK for whenever adds/boss hits harder.
Ardent Defender - People say it is les good now. Most importantly it now needs you to actually think for it to work, but yes it has also become weaker. Ardent Defender is like a weaker Guardian Spirit. Because it has a longer cooldown it should be saved for when you really expect to die. This is difficult to know of course, and can only be based on experience. Remember that the 15% heal you get from it isn't much at all, so this should be combined with Divine Protection for example if you really find yourself in a situation where you take alot of damage.
We have four different seals to choose from.
Seal of Insight - If survivability is more important than threat, this is a great tank seal as it heals you when you judge and swing. You have to evaluate the situation and decide between more threat or more survivability.
Seal of Justice - Pvp-seal.
Seal of Righteousness - Is replaced by Seal of Truth as a tanking seal at level 44.
Seal of Truth - Just as Seal of Vengeance was the best tanking seal pre-patch, seal of Truth takes its place as the best tanking seal post-patch. They work about the same, doing both good aoe and single-target threat.
There is really no such thing anymore. Instead we have a set of priorities and synergies to keep track of, depending on the fight.
Instances (aoe threat):
Pull: Avenger's Shield - HotR - SotR 1HP for Holy Shield - Holy Wrath - and then;
- HotR each cooldown
- Keep Holy Shield up with SotR
- Avenger's Shield each cooldown
- Holy Wrath each cooldown
- Judge for mana if needed
Raid (single target threat)
Pull: Avenger's Shield - HotR - SotR 1HP for Holy Shield - Consecrate - and then;
- HotR each cooldown, stack HP to 3
- Judge before using SotR (preferrably between your 2nd and 3rd HotR cooldown).
- Use SotR as soon as you've reached 3 stacks (or heal yourself with Word of Glory if that seems more necessary).
- Avenger's Shield each cooldown
- Consecrate each cooldown
And of course, use survivability cooldowns where necessary.
As with any tank we are choosing talents that either help us survive or help us do threat. Some talents are needed for the abovementioned synergy effects for example. Here is a suggestion on a tanking spec at level 80.
Some talents are open for discussion;
Reckoning - Ever since Blizzard changed it so that our white damage became less important for our threat generation, this has become a less important talent for us to pick. I am assuming hitting faster would make us stack Seal of Truth Censur stacks faster as well, but I don't think that would make a big enough difference on our threat to warrant putting talents here instead of at other places where they are better needed.
Judgements of the Pure - Similiar to Reckoning, I think haste is a less important stat for prot paladins, since most of our threat comes from skills and not white damage.
Improved Hammer of Justice - HoJ is with the talent Vindication an interrupt, which means lowering the cooldown on it could be useful. But since we already have Avenger's Shield as an interrupt with only 15 sec cooldown (resetable with talents) it seems like overkill/pvp to want this as well.
Seal of Truth - Gives 10 expertise when SoT is active.
Hammer of the Righteous - Increases damage with HotR by 10%.
Shield of the Righteous - Increases damage with SotR by 10%.
Divine Plea - DP grants 5% more total mana. Since mana isn't much of an issue anyway this won't do much for us, but there isn't much of an alternative.
Holy Wrath - Now also stuns Dragonkin and Elementals.
Consecration - SITUATIONAL: Increases duration and cooldown on Consecration by 20%.
Focused Shield - SITUATIONAL: Avenger's Shield only hits one target but for 30% more threat. Could be good for raid-tanking.
Divine Protection - SITUATIONAL: Divine Protection reduces magic damage by 40% instead of all damage by 20%. If we ever get a fight where magic damage is the big issue, this could become an interesting glyph to have handy.
Lay on Hands - Reduces cooldown on LoH by 2 minutes.
[Free to choose] - The other minor glyphs barely make a difference, but I'd probably go with Kings and Truth.
Stamina has always been among the most important stats for tanks. Now that armor has gotten a nerf and we stack attack power based on our max hp, this is even more true than it was pre-patch. Also, stats like dodge and parry are subject to diminishing returns (you can't 100% dodge or parry), but stamina isn't. We also no longer need defense (and the stat doesn't exist anymore anyway) to become crit capped, but get this through a talent instead. This means gemming and collecting gear towards gathering alot of stamina always is a safe way to go.
Expertise is less important for paladins than most other tanks, since most of our skills are magical and therefore can't be blocked, dodged or parried. This means hit becomes more important for us. Expertise is still an important stat and overall paladins have to collect a nice amount of both. Blizzard have tried to help us out by giving us glyph of Seal of Truth (see above) which gives 10 expertise when using SoT. 10 expertise is still far from cap, but it gives us a chance to focus a bit more on hit. You should try to collect at least 5% hit.
For reforging it depends a little on your current gear. Note that you will want to keep a balance to your stats however. Just because one stat is higher on the importance list than another doesn't automatically mean you want to change all of the one into the other. It is important to keep a nice amount of all of the above. If you're hit capped, hit is a otherwise good stat to convert to Mastery.
In order of importance;