Protection Paladin Tank Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities (MoP 5.4)

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Protection Paladin Art Image
General Information

On this page, we list your Protection Paladin core abilities and how they should be used together (rotation) in World of Warcraft MoP 5.4. We also explain when to use your various cooldowns. Then, we go deeper and present all the subtleties that you will need to know if you want to excel at playing a Protection Paladin.

The other pages of our Protection Paladin guide can be accessed from the table of contents on the right.

About Our Reviewer

This guide has been reviewed and approved by Theck (@TheckPhD), the main author of Sacred Duty (a well respected, and arguably the most valuable Protection Paladin theorycrafting resource).

1. Single Target Rotation↑top

Your single target rotation revolves around generating as much Holy Power as possible, and using it on Shield of the Righteous Icon Shield of the Righteous and Word of Glory Icon Word of Glory to improve your survivability. Since both of these abilities are off the global cooldown, they are included as part of your standard rotation. In a subsequent section, we go into greater detail in explaining how to use your active survival abilities to complement your normal rotation. Below, we present the optimal spell priority for Holy Power generation.

  1. Cast Crusader Strike Icon Crusader Strike on cooldown to generate Holy Power.
  2. Cast Judgment Icon Judgment on cooldown to generate Holy Power.
  3. Cast Avenger's Shield Icon Avenger's Shield regardless of whether or not you have a Grand Crusader Icon Grand Crusader proc (which causes Avenger's Shield to generate Holy Power).
  4. Cast Holy Wrath Icon Holy Wrath.
  5. Cast Execution Sentence Icon Execution Sentence or Light's Hammer Icon Light's Hammer, if you have chosen one of these talents.
  6. Cast Hammer of Wrath Icon Hammer of Wrath.
  7. Cast Consecration Icon Consecration.
  8. Cast Holy Prism Icon Holy Prism, if you have chosen this talent.

In practice, this will result in a cyclic rotation following the format below, where filler spells are chosen according to the priority given above.

  1. Crusader Strike Icon Crusader Strike
  2. Judgment Icon Judgment
  3. filler
  4. Crusader Strike Icon Crusader Strike
  5. filler
  6. Judgment Icon Judgment
  7. Crusader Strike Icon Crusader Strike
  8. filler
  9. filler
  10. Repeat steps 1-9

For maximum survivability, you should be using Seal of Insight Icon Seal of Insight at all times. This provides you with increased self-healing, as well as sometimes healing you.

Seal of Truth Icon Seal of Truth may be better purely for DPS/threat, but the difference is negligible anyway.

2. Multiple Target Rotation↑top

The multiple target rotation is flexible, and ideal execution depends on the number of targets and level of survivability you require. What we suggest below is optimised for fighting 4 or more enemies without sacrificing any survivability. For fewer targets, executing a normal rotation and tabbing through the targets is practically optimal.

The AoE rotation remains very similar to the single target one, with the following changes:

When tanking many enemies (10+), you will likely be flooded with Grand Crusader procs. In that situation, prioritising Avenger's Shield over Crusader Strike and Judgment Icon Judgment can be a DPS and survivability increase.

3. Active Survival Abilities↑top

You have two important active survival abilities: Shield of the Righteous Icon Shield of the Righteous and Word of Glory Icon Word of Glory. This is what you will be using your Holy Power on. Both of these abilities are off the global cooldown, so they can be used at any time. Rather than using these abilities as part of a regular rotation, you should use them in response to or in preparation for abilities that the boss will be using against you.

Shield of the Righteous Icon Shield of the Righteous should be used pre-emptively, while you still have a lot of health and you are expecting to be damaged. This spell costs a fixed 3 Holy Power. Use it to mitigate large, predictable boss attacks. If you have 5 Holy Power, you can use the spell regardless of how much damage you are going to take, so that you avoid wasting Holy Power.

Word of Glory Icon Word of Glory should be used reactively, to help your healers heal you up, or to recover from a large damage spike. Word of Glory consumes up to 3 Holy Power, but can be cast with as little as 1. It is generally best to cast it with 3 or more Holy Power, but using with 1 or 2 Holy Power is better than not using it at all when your health is critical.

4. Righteous Fury↑top

Always have Righteous Fury Icon Righteous Fury active while tanking. You must only activate it once, and it will remain active until you disable it (it even persists through death).

5. Taunting↑top

Reckoning Icon Reckoning is your taunting ability. It only works on a single target and has an 8-second cooldown, forcing the target to attack you for 3 seconds, putting you on top of the mob's threat table, and causes you to generate 3 times more threat for 3 seconds.

6. Cooldown Usage↑top

As a Protection Paladin, you have a number of defensive cooldowns and other abilities that help you better survive damage spikes or recover from them. This is how they are best used:

  • Guardian of Ancient Kings Icon Guardian of Ancient Kings provides you with a 50% damage reduction for 12 seconds, on a 3-minute cooldown. It is an excellent defensive cooldown. You should use this before a period of large damage, or when your healers are unable to heal you for a while.
  • Ardent Defender Icon Ardent Defender is another powerful defensive ability, with a 3-minute cooldown and 10-second duration. It reduces all damage taken by 20% while it is active, and it causes the first killing blow against you to heal you up to 15% of your maximum health instead of killing you (the latter effect consumes the Ardent Defender). This ability is best used to bypass deadly encounter mechanics, or to save your life in critical moments.
  • Divine Protection Icon Divine Protection provides you with 40% magic damage reduction (or 20% magic damage and 20% physical damage reduction, with Glyph of Divine Protection Icon Glyph of Divine Protection). It is best used before a period of high damage, or before a damaging boss ability.
  • Lay on Hands Icon Lay on Hands is essentially a massive heal with a very long cooldown. It will heal you for your maximum health, with a 10-minute cooldown. It is best used as an emergency heal, either for yourself or another raid member.
  • Avenging Wrath Icon Avenging Wrath provides you with a 20% increase to your damage and healing done for 20 seconds, on a 3-minute cooldown. It should primarily be used to increase your self-healing, but it can also be used as a DPS/threat cooldown.
  • Divine Shield Icon Divine Shield makes you immune to all damage for 8 seconds. Normally, this ability is difficult to use while tanking (since the boss will immediately attack the next target on the threat table), but it can be employed to clear certain debuffs, or to avoid fatal encounter mechanics.
  • Devotion Aura Icon Devotion Aura is a raid cooldown (unless you are using Glyph of Devotion Aura Icon Glyph of Devotion Aura). You should consult your raid leader on when the best time for using this ability is.

You also gain additional cooldowns and abilities from your talents. We cover these in a subsequent section.

7. Optional Read: Mastering Your Protection Paladin↑top

While the information we gave in the previous section will yield very good results, there are a few things you should be aware of, in order to play your Protection Paladin to its full potential.

7.1. Vengeance

Vengeance Icon Vengeance is a passive ability which you receive for choosing the Protection specialisation. Essentially, it increases your attack power for 1.5% of the unmitigated damage you receive. It takes the form of a 20-second buff, and its power fluctuates during the encounter, based on your damage intake.

Vengeance also has diminishing returns, in that each additional target attacking you generates less Vengeance than the previous one.

7.2. Pooling Holy Power

Thanks to Boundless Conviction Icon Boundless Conviction, a passive ability, you can have up to a maximum of 5 Holy Power at one time. However, no ability that consumes Holy Power can consume more than 3. This means two things:

  • You do not need to dump your Holy Power as soon as it reaches 3 charges, and you can continue to use Holy Power-generating abilities at 3 charges.
  • You can pool Holy Power to chain two of your survival abilities in quick succession.

7.3. Survival Abilities

Using Shield of the Righteous Icon Shield of the Righteous and Word of Glory Icon Word of Glory adequately and frequently is crucial to your performance as a Protection Paladin.

7.3.1. Shield of the Righteous

Shield of the Righteous Icon Shield of the Righteous has a 1.5-second cooldown and grants you a 3-second buff that reduces the amount of physical damage you take by 25%. Casting Shield of the Righteous while a previous buff is still active will add the 3-second duration of the new buff to the remaining duration of the old buff, so nothing is wasted.

In addition to this effect, Shield of the Righteous also stacks a 20-second buff on you, called Bastion of Glory Icon Bastion of Glory, which increases the healing you receive from the next Word of Glory Icon Word of Glory by 10% per stack (up to a maximum of 5 stacks).

The potency of both of these buffs is increased by your Mastery (Mastery: Divine Bulwark Icon Mastery: Divine Bulwark).

It is important to remember that Shield of the Righteous only reduces physical damage taken, making it entirely useless against magic attacks.

You should try to keep as high an uptime on the damage-reduction buff of Shield of the Righteous as possible, whenever you are tanking a boss that melees you for considerable amounts. This will also stack Bastion of Glory Icon Bastion of Glory, preparing you for whenever you need to use Word of Glory Icon Word of Glory.

7.3.2. Word of Glory

Word of Glory Icon Word of Glory is a simple self-heal that is off the global cooldown and has only a 1.5-second cooldown. You should use it whenever you feel that you need additional healing. Since you will probably be using Shield of the Righteous regularly, many of your Word of Glories will be buffed by Bastion of Glory Icon Bastion of Glory.

If the damage you are taking is predominantly magic damage, then you can forsake Shield of the Righteous Icon Shield of the Righteous altogether, and use all your Holy Power on Word of Glory Icon Word of Glory. A situation such as this is unlikely to occur often, however.

7.4. Creative Divine Shield Usage

Divine Shield Icon Divine Shield (and to a lesser extent, Hand of Protection Icon Hand of Protection) frequently allow you to bypass or break certain encounter mechanics. While this sort of thing is usually an advanced technique, there are some simple tricks that you can use to great effect even if you are not an experienced Protection Paladin.

7.4.1. Divine Shield Taunting

Taunting a boss with Reckoning Icon Reckoning forces them to attack you for 3 seconds (commonly called a "3-second fixate"). You can use this in combination with Divine Shield Icon Divine Shield to "cheese" certain mechanics. Simply cast Reckoning and then immediately cast Divine Shield. Then, use a macro such as this one to cancel Divine Shield about 2 seconds later. The idea is that while the 3-second fixate is up, the boss will continue to attack you, despite you being shielded by Divine Shield. For this reason, it is important to cancel Divine Shield before the 3 seconds are up.

You can use this to remove many harmful debuffs (most DoTs and bleeds), or to avoid an otherwise fatal attack. Also note that some attacks bypass Divine Shield, and this trick will obviously not work for those effects.

7.4.2. Avoiding Mechanics

There are a number of encounter mechanics that choose a random target (or several random targets) from amongst a raid group. Many of these effects ignore players that are immune to damage when the targets are being chosen. By using Divine Shield Icon Divine Shield at the appropriate time, you can often divert the target choice to another player, or in many cases eliminate the spell cast entirely, resulting in an easier encounter.

7.4.3. Hand of Protection

Hand of Protection Icon Hand of Protection lets you pull many of the same tricks on other players (since you can cast it on any raid member). It removes many physical DoTs and bleeds. In a raid team with several Paladins, this can eliminate the danger from an otherwise complicated mechanic.

In addition, mobs that fixate on a random player often ignore the immunity granted by Hand of Protection. This is particularly helpful when the mob targets a caster or healer, as it can allow them to skip kiting a mob and maintain their full DPS/HPS output.

Finally, Hand of Protection frequently bypasses the target-selection mechanics the same way Divine Shield does. Casting Hand of Protection on a player before the target-selection process can ensure that they do not get chosen. This can allow them to move to locations that would otherwise be dangerous to themselves or the raid.

7.5. Abilities and Cooldowns from Talents

7.5.1. Tier 3 Talents

If you chose Eternal Flame Icon Eternal Flame, you should attempt to keep the heal-over-time buff active on yourself with near-100% uptime, ideally refreshing it just before it expires, with 3+ stacks of Bastion of Glory Icon Bastion of Glory, and with 3+ Holy Power. Note that Eternal Flame's healing is affected by Vengeance Icon Vengeance, so it can be worth refreshing early if it nets a significant Vengeance gain.

If you chose Sacred Shield Icon Sacred Shield, then you should keep up this buff on yourself with a 100% uptime. It is worth noting that the power of Sacred Shield is affected by Vengeance. This means that, if you pre-cast Sacred Shield on yourself before the fight starts, you should refresh it as soon as your Vengeance increases after the pull.

If you chose Selfless Healer Icon Selfless Healer, then simply use Flash of Light Icon Flash of Light on yourself or other low health raid members whenever you have 3 stacks of the Selfless Healer buff and at least one stack of Bastion of Glory (if healing yourself).

7.5.2. Tier 4 Talents

Of these talents, only Hand of Purity Icon Hand of Purity requires a mention. That said, its usage is very simple. Just use it to reduce the damage of large DoT effects, or, if such effects do not occur as often as Hand of Purity comes off cooldown, just use it to mitigate damage slightly.

7.5.3. Tier 5 Talents

Holy Avenger Icon Holy Avenger allows you to generate a great amount of Holy Power, enabling you to keep up your Shield of the Righteous Icon Shield of the Righteous buff 100% of the time. Holy Avenger also improves your threat output. It should be used whenever you need more Holy Power to improve your survivability.

Sanctified Wrath Icon Sanctified Wrath is most interesting for the addition of Holy Power income from Judgment Icon Judgment, though the passive 20% healing you receive while Avenging Wrath Icon Avenging Wrath is active is also quite potent. The reduced cooldown on Judgment puts it ahead of Crusader Strike Icon Crusader Strike in the priority, turning your rotation into:

  1. Judgment Icon Judgment
  2. Crusader Strike Icon Crusader Strike
  3. Judgment Icon Judgment
  4. filler
  5. Repeat 1-4

In case you have chosen Divine Purpose Icon Divine Purpose, you should have a way of tracking the Divine Purpose procs, and using them promptly on Shield of the Righteous Icon Shield of the Righteous or Word of Glory Icon Word of Glory.

7.5.4. Tier 6 Talents

Tier 6 talents will predominantly improve your threat generation and DPS.

If you have chosen Execution Sentence Icon Execution Sentence, you can either use it on yourself, which will heal you, or on the boss, which will deal damage and provide you with a substantial amount of threat. Which of the two you choose will depend on the situation in which you find yourself, and which of the two benefits you value more.

Holy Prism Icon Holy Prism and Light's Hammer Icon Light's Hammer can be used to deal AoE damage (especially useful in the case of adds that are entering the fight), or to provide some AoE healing for your raid.

8. Changelog↑top

  • 19 Feb. 2014: Made a few small modifications to the single-target rotation.
  • 11 Sep. 2013: Patch 5.4 update.
  • 20 May 2013: Patch 5.3 update: updated Shield of the Righteous Icon Shield of the Righteous description to account for the fact that it now offers a 25% damage reduction, down from 30%.
  • 01 Apr. 2013: Made several changes.
    • Greatly revised and improved the single target rotation.
    • Slightly tweaked the multiple target rotation and cooldown usage sections.
    • Added mention that Word of Glory Icon Word of Glory and Shield of the Righteous Icon Shield of the Righteous are off the global cooldown.
    • Added Divine Shield Icon Divine Shield as a cooldown, and added an entire section dedicated to clever ways in which Divine Shield (and Hand of Protection Icon Hand of Protection can be used.
    • Made other small improvements to the wording of certain paragraphs.