Protection Paladin Tank Spec, Builds, and Talents — Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.1
On this page, you will find out the best talents for each tier for your Protection Paladin in World of Warcraft — Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.1. We also have default talent lists for various types of content, such as raiding or Mythic+. If you play with Warmode on, we have your PvP talents covered as well.
1. Talent Choices for Protection Paladin
|15||✓ Holy Shield||✗ Redoubt||? Blessed Hammer|
|30||? First Avenger||✓ Crusader's Judgment||✗ Bastion of Light|
|45||? Fist of Justice||? Repentance||? Blinding Light|
|60||✗ Retribution Aura||✓ Cavalier||✓ Blessing of Spellwarding|
|75||✓ Unbreakable Spirit||✓ Final Stand||? Hand of the Protector|
|90||✓ Judgment of Light||✓ Consecrated Ground||? Aegis of Light|
|100||? Last Defender||✓ Righteous Protector||? Seraphim|
Talents can be freely changed when out of combat and in a rested XP area (such as an inn or a capital city). Moreover, Tome of the Tranquil Mind and Codex of the Tranquil Mind can be used to temporarily allow players to change talents anywhere, as long as they are out of combat.
2. Tier 1 (Level 15) Talents for Protection Paladins
|✔ Holy Shield||✘ Redoubt||? Blessed Hammer|
- Holy Shield increases your block chance by 15%, allows you to block spells, and causes your successful blocks to deal Holy damage to your attacker.
- Redoubt makes your Avenger's Shield hit one additional target and increase your Block value by 75%.
- Blessed Hammer replaces Hammer of the Righteous. It has 3 charges (up from Hammer of the Righteous' 2), and the hammer can hit all targets it comes in contact with on its path, multiple times. Enemies that are hit take Holy damage and deal 12% less damage to you on their next auto attack.
We heavily recommend Holy Shield as it adds a straight up 15% chance to block as well as making abilities classified as spells blockable. Note that this does not include all forms of damage, but rather only abilities that are normally blockable, as well as abilities classified as spells; some abilities that deal Physical damage can be classified as spells as well. Holy Shield is great at reducing overall damage intake, but is not something to be relied upon against big nuke damage, as you will still have a fairly high chance of not blocking. It is recommended on most encounters and shines where the threatening damage is either magic damage or blockable non-auto-attacks (since Blessed Hammer will not do anything against that).
Redoubt is mainly to be considered a DPS talent, with Avenger's Shield hitting an extra target. Since Redoubt increases Block Value, not chance to block, the defensive value from the extra Block is very unreliable since your chance to block is likely low without Holy Shield. The Azerite trait Soaring Shield works together with Redoubt and will make you hit 5 targets in total.
The hammers from Blessed Hammer will spiral outwards and can damage and debuff the same target multiple times depending on the size of the mob and its position, meaning that the uptime per cast on the 12% damage reduction debuff will be high (but less, the faster the enemy hits). This talent does well in terms of reliably reducing auto attack damage by 12%, and if that is the only real threatening form of damage intake, it is a decent talent. In terms of damage output, Blessed Hammer can hit multiple targets but hits incredibly weak, its main benefit is to be able to procc Avenger's Shield at range.
3. Tier 2 (Level 30) Talents for Protection Paladins
|? First Avenger||✔ Crusader's Judgment||✘ Bastion of Light|
- First Avenger causes Avenger's Shield to deal 50% increased damage to the first target hit, and also increases the chance for Grand Crusader to proc by 10%.
- Crusader's Judgment causes Judgment to have 2 charges, and it causes Grand Crusader to also grant a charge of Judgment.
- Bastion of Light is an active ability with a 2-minute cooldown. It immediately grants you 3 charges of Shield of the Righteous.
First Avenger provides a big increase in Grand Crusader proc frequency when it comes to AoE tanking. Since Avenger's Shield is one of the strongest tools for AoE damage, this talent is an excellent choice for damage output in AoE situations. The chance to trigger Grand Crusader can further be increased by the Azerite trait Inspiring Vanguard, but only once.
Crusader's Judgment will allow you to recharge Shield of the Righteous slightly faster with more Judgment casts over time. This is advantageous if the damage intake is constantly high and you need to spread out your Shield of the Righteous casts as much as possible. Overall, Crusader's Judgment is a solid passive go-to talent defensively, and the best talent offensively against single target. Make sure to always use your Judgment stacks so you do not end up wasting any. Crusader's Judgment turns the Azerite trait Inspiring Vanguard into one of the better defensive traits, as it increases the chance to trigger Grand Crusader by 5% (this effect does not stack with itself).
Bastion of Light can be considered a form of a cooldown, if you want a longer period of reliable Shield of the Righteous coverage. It pairs well with Righteous Protector to be able to dish out a couple of Light of the Protector heals in a short amount of time, but, due to Light of the Protector being on the global cooldown, it will upset your rotation a lot. That said, Bastion of Light can still useful in the rare scenario where you want to achieve about +40 seconds of straight Shield of the Righteous coverage, which can be strong on rare encounters that favor this timing.
4. Tier 3 (Level 45) Talents for Protection Paladins
|? Fist of Justice||? Repentance||? Blinding Light|
- Fist of Justice causes your Judgment to reduce the remaining cooldown of Hammer of Justice by 6 seconds.
- Repentance is an active ability with an 15-second cooldown. It is a form of crowd-control that incapacitates the target for up to 1 minute. Damage done will break the effect. Repentance can only be used against Humanoids, Demons, Undead, Dragonkin, and Giants.
- Blinding Light is an active ability with an 90-second cooldown. It disorients all enemies within a 10-yard radius around you for 6 seconds. Non-holy damage done to them will break the disorient effect.
The choice in this tier is entirely up to you; Fist of Justice vastly reduces the cooldown of Hammer of Justice. It does, however, suffer from diminishing returns if your group likes randomly stunning constantly, and unless used often, Hammer of Justice by itself might be enough without the lowered cooldown. It is generally the go-to talent though, since you can just throw it out every 25 seconds or so (more often with Crusader's Judgment).
Repentance has its uses, in cases where you want to crowd control some important add in a trash pack, or maybe an important add on a boss fight. While a mob is under the effect of repentance, mobs have a slightly shorter body pull range, but will still pull you into combat should you get to close.
Blinding Light is a great AoE crowd control/interrupt for 5-man content, and it does not suffer from diminishing returns. This means that if the add is susceptible to crowd control, it can be interrupted no matter how many other stuns it has already suffered. Its long cooldown means that using it requires more planning.
5. Tier 4 (Level 60) Talents for Protection Paladins
|✘ Retribution Aura||✔ Cavalier||✔ Blessing of Spellwarding|
- Retribution Aura is an aura that is applied to all party or raid members within 60 yards. Whenever yourself or an ally affected by Retribution Aura receives a melee attack, the attacker takes a small amount of Holy damage.
- Cavalier causes your Divine Steed to have 2 charges.
- Blessing of Spellwarding replaces Blessing of Protection. It has a 3-minute cooldown (down from 5), and it protects against all magical attacks, instead of against Physical damage. Otherwise, it functions exactly like Blessing of Protection, but since you can still receive Physical damage while it is active, it does not prevent you from tanking a mob with it active.
The first question you need to ask yourself when looking at these talents is if you need Blessing of Protection. Since Blessing of Spellwarding replaces Blessing of Protection, you first have to make sure what you need the most; both can be used to cheese plenty of mechanics and abilities, especially in raids. If you do not particularly feel you need either, you get to choose.
Blessing of Spellwarding is an amazing tool for both dungeons and raiding, for any situation that involves magic damage, giving you a magic-damage immunity. Aside from that, it also prevents the application of numerous debuffs (such as Necrotic), but does not remove them; this allows you to perform creative fight strategies. Note that unlike Blessing of Protection, the bosses will still target you while it is active. That said, they may choose to ignore you with a targeted spell if Spellwarding is active.
6. Tier 5 (Level 75) Talents for Protection Paladins
|✔ Unbreakable Spirit||✔ Final Stand||? Hand of the Protector|
- Unbreakable Spirit reduces the cooldown of Divine Shield, Ardent Defender, and Lay on Hands by 30%.
- Final Stand causes your Divine Shield to also force all targets within 15 yards to attack you for its 8-second duration.
- Hand of the Protector replaces Light of the Protector. Its cooldown is 15 seconds (down from Light of the Protector's 20 seconds), and it can be used on any friendly target, not just yourself. It heals for the same amount as Light of the Protector.
Unbreakable Spirit is a good comfort pick when it comes to raids, mainly due to reducing the cooldown of Ardent Defender by 30%. With a limited cooldown kit, this makes a sizable difference, allowing you to have something for emergencies more often. The reduction of Divine Shield and Lay on Hands will only be useful in very rare situations, as their cooldowns are still rather long to rely on.
If you need another strong defensive cooldown, Final Stand is great. It is an extremely powerful tanking cooldown, since it actively makes you immune to all damage for its duration. It comes with a rather long cooldown, but we do not have that many cooldowns to choose from. Final Stand comes out on top in dungeons due to being able to make some complicated pulls a lot less threatening. Most fights in raids however, having the ability to use Ardent Defender more often is generally preferred, but there are also fights where that reduction matters less. There are some bosses where you might want to use Divine Shield to remove a debuff, or soak a mechanic or ability; the boss will still target you for 3 seconds during Divine Shield after you use taunt and you would not need to run Final Stand.
Hand of the Protector is your good talent when you or your group is struggling to stay alive, and you are able to greatly help out with throwing very strong heals on group members. While this only lowers the cooldown of your self-heal by 2 seconds, the reduction is not why you choose this talent, but rather because now you can use it on others as well. Proper usage of Hand of the Protector can make a huge difference in terms of saving other team members from dying, but since it is on the global cooldown, you may have to make sacrifices with your own rotation to do this. With a geared and skilled healer in your group, its uses might become a bit redundant compared to the other talents in this row.
7. Tier 6 (Level 90) Talents for Protection Paladins
|✔ Judgment of Light||✔ Consecrated Ground||? Aegis of Light|
- Judgment of Light causes Judgment to apply a debuff with 25 charges to the target, called Judgment of Light. When the target is attacked, the attacker is healed and one charge is consumed.
- Consecrated Ground increases the size of your Consecration by 15%, and also reduces the movement speed of enemies in your Consecration by 50%.
- Aegis of Light is an active ability with a 3-minute cooldown. It is a channeled ability that, for 6 seconds, reduces the damage you and any allies located within a 10-yard radius behind you take by 20%.
The default raiding choice in this tier should be Judgment of Light, since it is easy to use and provides a steady amount of passive raid healing. The healing itself is not high, but it can still make a difference and it is generally a strong choice compared to the other talents in this tier.
Consecrated Ground makes it easier to stand inside Consecration if you are moving around a bit, as you want to make sure you are standing within it. The slow makes Consecrated Ground your default choice when it comes to Mythic+ dungeons, where kiting enemies can potentially help deal with some troublesome affixes, or just running away from mobs to give you a few seconds of not taking damage.
Aegis of Light is a great choice of a talent to add a raid cooldown, but given its positional requirement (reducing the damage of your allies behind you), using it effectively while tanking can be difficult. It does also work as a personal 20% damage reduction, but in most cases it is undesirable due to its 3-minute cooldown and the fact that you have to stand still channeling; it can still be used against nukes if you make sure to have Shield of the Righteous up beforehand, and then cancel the cast after the hit has landed. There are multiple encounters where it can be used to help the raid out, however. On tank-swapping encounters where there are moments during which you are not actively tanking, this ability can be excellent for the raid.
8. Tier 7 (Level 100) Talents for Protection Paladins
|? Last Defender||✔ Righteous Protector||? Seraphim|
- Last Defender causes you to take 3% reduced damage and deal 3% increased damage for each enemy within an 8-yard radius around you. The effect has diminishing returns, however.
- Righteous Protector causes your Shield of the Righteous casts to reduce the remaining cooldown of Light of the Protector and Avenging Wrath by 3 seconds.
- Seraphim is an active ability with a 45-second cooldown. It increases your Haste, Critical Strike, Mastery, and Versatility by 748 each, and it lasts 8 seconds per charge of Shield of the Righteous available when using it, consuming the charges in the process. It can consume up to 2 charges.
Last Defender is a good passive talent when you are constantly AoE tanking. It shines when you can consistently tank a lot of mobs to really make sure you use the talent effectively. It is rare that you can get much benefit out of it in raiding, and while great on trash in dungeons its also limited there during the majority of boss fights. It will be greatly effective in a few pulls each instance, but rather ineffective on most others. It is a comfortable pick, however, as it is easy to get overwhelmed against multiple mobs compared to fewer.
Your go-to talent when it comes to raiding is always Righteous Protector. It increases the frequency with which you can use Light of the Protector and Avenging Wrath, this is an great talent in single-target where more self-healing would be beneficial. While you can further increase the frequency of self-heals by using the Tier 5 Hand of the Protector talent having both is mainly to help off-healing. This talent allows you to use Avenging Wrath more often for either burst damage, or stronger heals during a period of time when you are taking more damage.
Seraphim does not provide much survivability, since despite its bonuses, it consumes charges of Shield of the Righteous, making it very expensive to cast. It does provide great damage output and is generally your go-to talent for Mythic+. With the downtime in dungeons, Seraphim will always have a high effective uptime on packs where it matters, since you should not use Seraphim when mobs are about to die but rather save to start the next pull with. And while Last Defender does well in constant AoE situations, dungeons usually shift in the amount of enemies you deal with at once, which makes Seraphim more versatile. However, you will not use this for raids during progression, unless the damage the boss does is very low. As Shield of the Righteous reduces Physical damage only, and since both Mastery and Versatility reduce damage, Seraphim will be valuable defensively versus Shield of the Righteous in the absence of Physical damage.
9. PvP Talents (War Mode)
Battle for Azeroth introduces a new system called "War Mode". Opting into War Mode makes you eligible for open world PvP, but also grants you the following benefits:
- World Quests at maximum level have 10% increased rewards.
- You gain 10% increased experience while leveling.
- Allows you to earn Conquest Points towards weekly gear rewards.
- Grants you the use of PvP talents in the open world.
With the benefits of enabling War Mode for leveling and PvE content, it is recommended that you enable the feature to maximize your leveling and rewards at maximum level. However, you will make yourself eligible for open world PvP, and the possibility of being "ganked" while leveling or doing World Quests exists.
The first talent you can choose is not class specific and all handle crowd control effects slightly differently. We recommend Adaptation or Relentless if you do not care too much about PvP and just want something passive that you do not have to think about too much. Alternatively Gladiator's Medallion is generally a stronger talent when engaged in PvP as you can choose when to use it instead.
9.1. PvP Talents for Protection Paladins
This list is going to be assuming you care little about actual PvP combat, and focuses rather on optimal talents for outdoor PvE such as World Questing and Leveling.
- Warrior of Light makes Shield of the Righteous deal 30% more damage at the cost of less armor granted. This is generally fine for outdoor content since tanks usually do not struggle to survive in outdoor content.
- Steed of Glory increases the duration of Divine Steed by 2 seconds, which means you can travel a lot further per steed charge, allowing you to quickly get between two places. Note however that it does cause you to knock back enemies that get close to you, which can be a negative aspect if you are trying to gather them up to AoE.
- Unbound Freedom turns your Blessing of Freedom into a 30% speed increase, helping you get around slightly faster when questing and leveling.
- Inquisition is a very minor single-target damage increase in most situations, but can come into play and be effective when up against world quest elites where you might have other people hit as well, or when playing in a group. It does however put a very useful off global cooldown spell used to pull and engage mobs on a 20-second cooldown instead of 8 seconds.
Talents, such as Hallowed Ground and Shield of Virtue, do what Protection Paladins already do very well with either Blessing of Freedom or Avenger's Shield. Shield of Virtue most importantly makes Avenger's Shield silence players, as it does not do it normally, but it will silence targets around it as well and has very limited use.
Most other talents are either very weak or benefit players around you instead and are very limited in use.
- 10 Dec. 2018: Minor wording changes on Tier 2, 5 and 7 talents and priority.
- 04 Sep. 2018: Minor rewording on level 100 talents.
- 03 Sep. 2018: Minor wording changes on Tier 1, 2, and 7 talents.
- 27 Aug. 2018: Updated Repentance paragraph.
- 13 Aug. 2018: Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
- 04 Aug. 2018: Fixed Inquisition link.
- 21 Jul. 2018: Changed wording to better reflect Unbreakable Spirit vs Hand of the Protector.
- 18 Jul. 2018: Added War Mode talents.
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