Protection Paladin Tank Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities — Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.1
On this page, you will learn how to optimize the rotation of your Protection Paladin, depending on the type of damage you will be tanking. We also have advanced sections about cooldowns, procs, etc. in order to maximize your survivability and DPS. All our content is updated for World of Warcraft — Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.1.
1. Single Target Rotation for Protection Paladins
The Protection Paladin rotation is based on a priority system. The main goal with your rotation is to generate Shield of the Righteous charges while also maintaining Consecration uptime. In addition to this rotation, you will have to make use of your Shield of the Righteous (and to a lesser extent your Light of the Protector) to stay alive, as we explain below.
The priority system is not very complicated, since all abilities have different cooldowns, and you basically just press whatever comes off cooldown next. When two abilities are ready at the same time, you prioritize accordingly. Having downtime and not having any abilities you can cast is not uncommon.
- Cast Judgment
- Cast Consecration IF you are not standing in it.
- Cast Avenger's Shield
- Cast Hammer of the Righteous
- Cast Consecration
You want to always try to make sure you are currently standing inside your own Consecration to reduce damage intake. Usually, during your rotation, you will get a chance to refresh it early when all other abilities are on cooldown. By tracking the uptime of Consecration, you should be ready a few seconds before it will run out to be ready to prioritize it above most of your usual rotational abilities. Keep in mind that due to your Grand Crusader passive, there is always a chance for your Avenger's Shield to have its cooldown reset.
2. Active Mitigation for Protection Paladins
2.1. Shield of the Righteous
Shield of the Righteous is your main damage mitigation ability. It has 3 charges, and each use grants you a 4.5-second buff that increases your Armor (the amount of Armor is increased by your Strength). Shield of the Righteous deals damage to all enemies directly in front of you and does not require a target to cast.
Shield of the Righteous is off the global cooldown, so you can easily fit it in together with your normal rotation. The exact timing for when to use it depends greatly on your circumstances, but in general, you should aim to have it active whenever you are taking significant amounts of damage, while always making sure that at least one of its charges is used so that you do not waste the recharge time. Ideally, you should keep at least 1 charge in reserve, in case of an emergency.
Under normal circumstances it is not possible to keep 100% uptime for an extended period of time, so be ready for the higher damage intake after it fades.
2.1.1. Inner Light
Inner Light is an Azerite trait that you should play around, should you have it. When using Inner Light, you want to make sure you not use Shield of the Righteous while it is already active and, instead, drop it for a moment. You can then use Shield of the Righteous again once it has dropped, as it will not overwrite the Inner Light buff. Inner light has an internal cooldown, so it will not deal much damage, but it does give a fair amount of Block, and should you have the trait you should definitely play around it.
2.2. Light of the Protector
Light of the Protector is a small heal which is increased by your missing health.
Given its rather long cooldown, you should wait to use Light of the Protector until your health is at a comfortably low level (around 30-50% health to gain the highest possible benefit from it without dying. Correctly maximizing the efficiency of Light of the Protector is essential.
In certain situations, it is also worth taking a hit or two without Shield of the Righteous active (only do this when you can do it safely), but as soon as the hit lands, you instantly heal yourself back up and apply mitigation; that way, you can buy yourself a few seconds to let your Shield of the Righteous charges recharge.
Hand of 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 (even if you currently have an immunity effect active), putting you on top of the mob's threat table, and causing you to generate 3 times more threat for 3 seconds.
4. Cooldown Usage for Protection Paladins
Due to the strength of Shield of the Righteous, it is best to try to use these cooldowns when Shield of the Righteous is not available in order to smooth the damage intake, as very rarely will you need a cooldown AND Shield of the Righteous.
- Guardian of Ancient Kings provides you with a 50% damage reduction for 8 seconds, on a 5-minute cooldown. You should use this before a period of large damage, or when you are unable to use Shield of the Righteous.
- Ardent Defender is another powerful defensive ability, with a 2-minute cooldown and an 8-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 12% 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. It also allows you to play at low health and still be safe.
- Avenging Wrath increases both damage done and healing done by 20%, as well as gives your paladin abilities 20% critical strike chance. This is not only an offensive cooldown, but also very useful defensively, as it increases self healing and chance to critical strike with Light of the Protector. The increase to critical strike also impacts Judgment, helping to reduce the cooldown of Shield of the Righteous.
- Lay on Hands is essentially a massive heal with a very long cooldown. It will heal you (or a targeted ally) for your maximum health, with a 10-minute cooldown. It is best used as an emergency heal, either for yourself or another raid member, if you are unable to cast Light of the Protector due to its global cooldown, or because you recently used it.
- 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 unless you Taunt it, and only lasts for 3 seconds), but it can be employed to clear certain debuffs, or to avoid fatal encounter mechanics. Final Stand however, turns Divine Shield into a usable tank cooldown that makes you immune to damage while also forcing all enemies to attack you.
You also gain additional cooldowns and abilities from your talents. We cover these in a subsequent section.
5. Optional Read: Mastering Your Protection Paladin
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.
5.1. Creative Divine Shield Usage
Divine Shield (and to a lesser extent, Blessing 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.
5.1.1. Divine Shield Taunting
Taunting a boss with Hand of Reckoning forces them to attack you for 3 seconds (commonly called a "3-second fixate"). You can use this in combination with 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 second fixate is 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 do bypass Divine Shield, and this trick will obviously not work for those effects.
5.1.2. 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 having such effects applied when targets are being chosen. By using 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.
5.1.3. Blessing of Protection
Blessing 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 that the target is in fact immune from Blessing 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, Blessing of Protection frequently bypasses the target-selection mechanics the same way Divine Shield does. Casting Blessing 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.
Keep in mind that if you take the tier 4 Blessing of Spellwarding talent, your Blessing of Protection is replaced by this new ability that instead protects against Magic damage and sometimes prevents the application of debuffs. It does, however, not remove Magic debuffs like Divine Shield does.
5.2. Abilities and Cooldowns from Talents
5.2.1. Tier 4 Talents
Blessing of Spellwarding replaces Blessing of Protection, causing it to instead grant magic damage immunity. Its usage remains largely the same as for Blessing of Protection, but is adapted to magic damage.
5.2.2. Tier 5 Talents
Final Stand allows you to continue tanking (and forces all targets within 15 yards to attack you) for the duration of your Divine Shield. Obviously, this turns Divine Shield into an even more powerful cooldown, and can be used to completely negate boss mechanics for 8 seconds.
5.2.3. Tier 6 Talents
Aegis of Light should be used to protect as many raid members as possible from extreme damage. It will require proper positioning not just from yourself, but also from the rest of the raid, which should be stacked up in such a way that allows you to protect them.
5.2.4. Tier 7 Talents
If you have chosen Seraphim, you will generally want to try and use it as soon as possible every time it is available to get the most effectiveness out of it in terms of offensive value. Remember that this comes at a considerable survivability loss (due to it consuming Shield of the Righteous charges), so only use it when it is safe to do so (you are not actively tanking or the boss damage is low). However, due to Shield of the Righteous only reducing Physical damage, in the absence of threatening Physical damage Seraphim becomes fairly decent at reducing damage.
To maximize the uptime of Avenging Wrath-powered Seraphims, your best option is still to use Seraphim on cooldown and delay using Avenging Wrath by 15 seconds until Seraphim becomes ready again. This does, however, give you the flexibility to choose if you want 4 seconds of Avenging Wrath before or after Seraphim, which can be a nice trick to know depending on the fight.
- 10 Dec. 2018: This page has been reviewed for Patch 8.1 and no changes are necessary.
- 13 Aug. 2018: Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
- 09 Aug. 2018: Included Inner Light section.
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