Protection Paladin Tank Spec, Builds, and Talents — Shadowlands 9.1
On this page, you will find out the best talents for each tier for your Protection Paladin in World of Warcraft — Shadowlands 9.1. 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.
If you were looking for TBC Classic content, please refer to our TBC Classic Protection Paladin talents.
Talent Choices for Protection Paladin
|15||✓ Holy Shield||? Redoubt||? Blessed Hammer|
|25||? First Avenger||✓ Crusader's Judgment||✗ Moment of Glory|
|30||? Fist of Justice||? Repentance||? Blinding Light|
|35||✓ Unbreakable Spirit||✗ Cavalier||? Blessing of Spellwarding|
|40||✓ Divine Purpose||✗ Holy Avenger||✗ Seraphim|
|45||✗ Hand of the Protector||✓ Consecrated Ground||✓ Judgment of Light|
|50||? Sanctified Wrath||✓ Righteous Protector||? Final Stand|
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 Still Mind and Codex of the Still Mind can be used to temporarily allow players to change talents anywhere, as long as they are out of combat.
Depending on what kind of end-game content you prefer, the choices you make in the talent tree can vastly depend on what kind of encounter you are progressing at any given time. If you want a better breakdown on what talents to use on what boss, you can follow its dedicated page here.
Mythic+ requires a slightly different character layout compared to most other end-game content and may require some quite specific talents due to what kind of enemies or affixes you are up against. The Mythic+ section of the guide can be found below.
Certain talents require you to change how you play and change your rotation in varied amounts. We will go over the strengths of those talents here, but if you want to know how to use those talents in the rotation, follow the link to the Rotation page where we go through the rotation or priority system we follow.
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 Shield of the Righteous give a stacking buff that increases Strength as well as Stamina by 2% per stack, up to 3 stacks.
- 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 will reduce the next damage they deal to you.
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. 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.
Redoubt, gives a stacking buff that increases Strength and Stamina by 2%, stacking to 3. This is a rather effective talent that basically adds 6% Strength and 6% Stamina at all times as long as you can use Shield of the Righteous once every 10 seconds.
Blessed Hammer does very well and is more flexible than Holy Shield for its convenient nature. It does not have a target restriction, which allows you to still be casting while kiting or moving, which can cause additional Grand Crusader procs to allow you to cast more Avenger's Shields. This effect also allows Holy Power generation on the move, or in transitions where there may not be a target. 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 damage reduction debuff will be high.
Tier 2 (Level 25) Talents for Protection Paladins
|? First Avenger||✔ Crusader's Judgment||✘ Moment of Glory|
- First Avenger causes Avenger's Shield to hit two additional targets, as well as granting an absorption shield for 100% of the damage it deals.
- Crusader's Judgment causes Judgment to have 2 charges, and it causes Grand Crusader to also grant a charge of Judgment.
- Moment of Glory is an active ability with a 1.5-minute cooldown. It refreshes and makes the next 3 Avenger's Shield trigger no cooldown, and deal 20% increased damage.
First Avenger increases the amount of targets hit by Avenger's Shield. Due to Avenger's Shield being one of the strongest tools for AoE damage, this talent performs well in pure AoE situations, but falls behind quickly against a single target.
Crusader's Judgment will allow you to recharge Shield of the Righteous slightly faster with more Judgment casts over time. This is advantageous to increase the Holy Power generation to get higher uptime on Shield of the Righteous. Overall, Crusader's Judgment is the go-to talent defensively, and the best talent offensively against a single target. Make sure to always use your Judgment stacks so you do not end up wasting any.
Moment of Glory is sort of an offensive AoE cooldown that also generates a lot of Holy Power. However, compared to the options in this row, First Avenger does more sustainable AoE damage and Crusader's Judgment does more sustainable single target damage. Moment of Glory benefits from being a cooldown, but with a rather limited use.
Tier 3 (Level 30) Talents for Protection Paladins
|? Fist of Justice||? Repentance||? Blinding Light|
- Fist of Justice causes each Holy Power spent to reduce the remaining cooldown of Hammer of Justice by 2 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 too 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.
Tier 4 (Level 35) Talents for Protection Paladins
|✔ Unbreakable Spirit||✘ Cavalier||? Blessing of Spellwarding|
- Unbreakable Spirit passively reduces the cooldown of your Divine Shield, Ardent Defender, and Lay on Hands by 30%.
- 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 or Blessing of Spellwarding. You first have to make sure of 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 choose Unbreakable Spirit.
Unbreakable Spirit is the go-to talent unless you need to use Blessing of Spellwarding for a dungeon or raid encounter. The reduction in Ardent Defender will be relevant quite often, but also the reduction of the cooldown of Divine Shield becomes quite relevant should you use the Final Stand talent.
Cavalier is a good talent for when extra mobility is prioritized.
Blessing of Spellwarding is an amazing tool for both dungeons and raiding or for any situation that involves magic damage, giving you a magic-damage immunity. Aside from being immune to magic damage, it also prevents the application of numerous magic debuffs, 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.
Tier 5 (Level 40) Talents for Protection Paladins
|✔ Divine Purpose||✘ Holy Avenger||✘ Seraphim|
- Divine Purpose causes your Holy Power spending abilities to have a 15% chance to make your next Holy Power spending ability free and deal 20% increased damage and healing.
- Holy Avenger provides a 3-minute cooldown that triples all Holy Power generation for its 20-second duration.
- Seraphim is an active ability with a 45-second cooldown and costs 3 Holy Power. It grants 8% Haste, Critical Strike, Versatility, and Mastery for its 15-second duration.
Divine Purpose adds to the smoothness of your damage intake by spreading out your Holy Power gains over the course of the fight rather than all at the same time. A free Word of Glory also has a chance to trigger this proc, making you able to fish for more Shield of the Righteous uptime should you wish.
Holy Avenger is a strong cooldown that triples all Holy Power generation while it is up. This means that a single Judgment while Avenging Wrath is active with Sanctified Wrath will give you 6 Holy Power. This ability easily gives you 100% uptime on Shield of the Righteous while it is up. However, since Shield of the Righteous' duration only stacks three times, you will undoubtedly waste some uptime to be able to spend all the Holy Power you get when this is active.
Seraphim does not provide much survivability, since despite its bonuses, it consumes Holy Power from Shield of the Righteous, making it expensive to cast. With the downtime in dungeons, Seraphim will always have a high effective uptime on packs when and where it matters, since you can choose to save it to start the next pull with. While it should not be compared with your other cooldowns against high damage intake, all the secondary stats it provides will most definitely increase your survivability for its duration.
Tier 6 (Level 45) Talents for Protection Paladins
|✘ Hand of the Protector||✔ Consecrated Ground||✔ Judgment of Light|
- Hand of the Protector replaces Word of Glory and increases the healing done by the target's missing health.
- Consecrated Ground increases the size of your Consecration by 15%, and also reduces the movement speed of enemies in your Consecration by 50%.
- 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.
Hand of the Protector is not a very useful talent these days, as an untalented Word of Glory can already be used to heal players other than yourself. This talent makes that heal a little bit stronger, but you can already effectively do what this talent lets you do.
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.
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.
Tier 7 (Level 50) Talents for Protection Paladins
|? Sanctified Wrath||✔ Righteous Protector||? Final Stand|
- Sanctified Wrath makes Avenging Wrath last 25% longer, and causes Judgment to generate 1 additional Holy Power.
- Righteous Protector makes every Holy Power spent reduce the cooldown of Avenging Wrath and Guardian of Ancient Kings by 1 second per Holy Power spent.
- Final Stand causes your Divine Shield to also force all targets within 15 yards to attack you for its 8-second duration.
Sanctified Wrath, when paired with Crusader's Judgment, makes this talent a strong choice. However, the additional gain in Holy Power generation is only necessary when you are struggling to keep Shield of the Righteous active (low gear level) or require extra healing from additional Word of Glory casts.
Righteous Protector will generally be your go-to talent as it gives quite the cooldown reduction to both Avenging Wrath as well as Guardian of Ancient Kings. This talent can bring Avenging Wrath down to a 1-minute cooldown and Guardian of Ancient Kings to a 3.5-minute cooldown in typical play. This talent is further synergised with the Royal Decree Conduit where you will have more cooldown reduction on Guardian of Ancient Kings and gain a free cast of Word of Glory.
If you need another strong defensive cooldown, Final Stand is a great choice. It is an extremely powerful tanking cooldown, since it actively makes you immune to all damage for its duration. Final Stand can be extremely useful in dungeons, due to being able to make some complicated pulls a lot less threatening. In raids, however, 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 Hand of Reckoning and you would not need to run Final Stand.
PvP Talents (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 (30% if you are Alliance).
- You gain 10% increased Experience while leveling (30% if you are Alliance).
- 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.
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 it.
- 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.
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.
- 28 Jun. 2021: Reviewed and approved for Patch 9.1.
- 09 Mar. 2021: Reviewed for Patch 9.0.5.
- 01 Mar. 2021: Updated Level 50 Talents.
- 24 Nov. 2020: Removed reference to Conflict and Strife in PvP Talents.
- 23 Nov. 2020: Updated for Shadowlands.
- 29 Oct. 2020: Updated phrasing for Blessed Hammer.
- 26 Oct. 2020: Updated PvP Talents.
- 13 Oct. 2020: Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
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