This has been posted on the Blizzard forums, but because I had many wonderful replies over there, I went through and edited it a third time and feel it's ready to release again. I hope to post this over at my guild's website someday, but I'm waiting to do so until I get permission from either my Class Officer or from one of the higher ups. It's an interesting read, but do keep in mind that this is designed not for Tankadins themselves, but for other people who interact with Tankadins. It's basically a list of do's and don'ts and what you can do as your class/spec to best compliment your Tankadin.
If there are any continuing errors, please leave me a message and let me know! I'm always trying to improve what I've written, so it's good to hear from people. =)
Prepare for the wall of text right about now:
Prettyboi’s Guide to Having a Pally Tank (v3.0)
First off, I want to say I’m no expert, but I’ve learned quite a few things. I want to share my knowledge with everyone so that when I am in a group with other people, I don’t have to repeat or explain myself a billion times. And who knows, hopefully some day I won’t be the only active Pally tank in our guild. =) This will also be immensely helpful for if you snag a Pally tank in a run outside of the guild. Without further ado, here we go.
To all DPSers, in particular off-spec Warriors, please remember that Paladins need time to generate aggro as much as any other tank. Yes, we are quick aggro generators, and you’ll likely have to wait a shorter amount of time. However, we also have spell hit to worry about, so if something gets resisted or missed, we fall behind. Wait for the aggro! Especially given the fact that we have much fewer ways to pull than other tanks (our only distance pull we can use on any mob bounces to two additional targets, which with crowd control being mandatory in some places, makes it difficult to consistently use). Paladins dealing with crowd control will generate MUCH less aggro since they’ll likely have to body-pull. For most pulls, let us get about 2-3k. For bosses, like most tanks, allow for 10k.
As well, ALWAYS watch your aggro generation. This should go without saying no matter what kind of tank you have, but this is especially important with Paladin tanks! We have Blessing of Salvation for a reason. We give it to you because it’s part of how we generate aggro; by slowing down your aggro generation. We have a need for both physical +hit and +spell hit, neither of which consistently comes on the gear given to us to tank (read: Warrior gear). Thus, it is likely we miss, get dodged/parried/blocked, or get resisted A LOT. Blessing of Salvation is like aggro generation for us, so if we have problems keeping up with you and you know this, just take the blessing. You’re helping your fellow players by lowering the chance that you pull aggro off us and kill yourself or wipe the rest of the group.
Marking in a paladin's group usually isn't necessary if you pay attention, and remember this: DPS order should 80% of the time be healers>dps casters>slow melee>fast melee. Exceptions being when a specific mob has a nasty debuff, spike damage, etc that needs to be taken care of first. Whoever is group leader should mark in those situations.
In a similar vein as in addressed under the DPSers message, paladins have a much harder time dealing with crowd control, if crowd control is needed at all. If you are a CCer who can crowd control during combat, please do so after the paladin pulls. There’s no point in sheeping something if it’s gonna get hit with a shield. If you are a CCer who crowd controls before combat has started (looking at you Rogues out there), if it’s a large group, try to get the guy at the end. That way the Paladin can still use Avenger’s Shield and not hit the mob you CC’d.
While I’m not about to tell you healers how to do your job, if you have a full or near full mana bar after any encounter is absolutely wasted on a paladin tank. Just because we have good defense and don’t take a lot of damage does not mean you can stop healing us. Paladins, unlike Warriors or Druids, have a mana pool. Because we have to sacrifice a lot of our stats in favor of defense and particularly stamina, we have TINY mana pools. (Fully raid buffed, I currently have about 6k, and that’s likely only ever going to go DOWN.) Blizzard gave us this wonderful ability called Spiritual Attunement where we get a 10% return in mana from the amount we are healed by other characters. Therefore, a pally tank’s mana pool is only as big as his healer’s. We go through our mana in the blink of an eye (a typical rotation of abilities is Seal of Righteousness (~200 mana), Holy Shield (~220 mana), Consecration (~660 mana), Judgement (~180 mana), lather rinse and repeat. That’s approximately 1260 mana each rotation, which is roughly 8 seconds (the time it takes for Judgement’s cooldown to finish). This means that in less than 40 seconds, without heals, I would be entirely out of mana. For Kara, the amount of mana I use is much higher as I have more abilities (Exorcism, ~440 mana), and that gets added to the rotation. Bottom line, even if you see a pally tank at near full health, if their mana bar is low, toss them a little heal at least. The small amount we gain back can make the difference, even if we’re only missing a couple hundred points of health. Besides, shouldn’t we always be “topped off” anyway?
Most of the tanks I have run with side-by-side have been druid tanks. And I tell you what, I love me my druid tanks. They’re there for me when there’s a fight I can’t do because of my lack of stam ( ;-; 2.3 patch, where are you?). We have much the same relationship as a Warrior MT with a Druid OT. I have OT’d with both warrior and druid MTs, and the results have always been the same; I can grab and keep my aggro just fine, and sometimes a little *too* well, accidentally pulling the aggro off the MT and onto myself.
Thus, in my opinion, Paladins make, by default of their abilities, a better MT than an OT, and I’ll elaborate on why. If a Pally tank is not tanking in a fight, he or she is being wasted. Paladin tanks, unlike Warriors or Druids, don’t have something else we can do without a full respec. We can heal, sure, but about as well as a shadow priest can. It becomes entirely gear dependent and we WILL run out of mana, no matter how good our gear is. DPSing is a laugh as a paladin. The Retribution tree needs work as it is, and a paladin tank is not going to be optimized for dealing damage, he is optimized for generating aggro (which are two very different things to a paladin).
It’s not that we’re “taking your job,” other tanks. We’re just competitively working in the same field. I do not feel that a Paladin tank is any better or any worse than a Druid or Warrior tank. If you have better gear than me, than likely, by default, you are a better choice than I am. And that’s fine. Either way, there are situations where you will be better for a job than I am, and I respect that. I just hope you respect that there are some jobs I am better for than you are as well. =) (I’d love to see any group in Kara that isn’t over-equipped where they lack a pally tank and the AOErs don’t die from the groups before and after Moroes.)
Tips and Tricks
There’s a few things from classes that Pally tanks like to see. Here they are separated by class. Some are no-brainers, but I tossed them in there anyway.
-Food and water. Pally tanks are the only tanks who need copious amounts of water, and boy howdy do we ever need it. I typically down water after almost every pull because of how small my mana pool is. Don’t be surprised if at the beginning of Kara you handed a pally tank two stacks of water and he asks you for more later.
-Arcane Intellect/Brilliance. Then we’ll pester you for water a little bit less. =)
-Polymorph after the pull. Addressed in the Crowd Control section, but I’d like to reiterate it as I’ve had problems with this one before. In addition, the further away you place your polymorph, the happier your pally tank will be. If we can still Consecrate, you’ve done your job exceptionally well. If we can’t, well, it’s not the most desired, but we’ll survive. =)
-Polymorph Casters or Ranged Attackers. We hate dealing with them anyway. =P If there is neither, pick the slower swinging warriors over the faster hitting ones.
-Counterspell Casters. We find it highly amusing as well as helpful with the casters come charging blindly into our Consecrate.
-Air Totem. I found this one out on my own, but ZOMG does Air Totem rock! Any pally tank should gladly take Air Totem over Windfury Totem. It can double the amount of aggro we generate, or beyond that if your pally tank has low +spell damage to begin with (though admittedly, he shouldn’t). Any extra spell damage for a Pally tank is love.
-Windfury Totem. This is fine if we're in a raid group with nothing but other melee DPSers. I mean, then it just kinda makes perfect sense.
-Tremor Totem. If we are fighting something that fears at all, this is REQUIRED. Barring trinkets, a paladin's only way out of a fear is bubbling, and even when specc'd, that's once every four minutes (and it temporarily wipes aggro until we unbubble, so we try not to use it at all). If we don't have this, we're kind of boned, and I don't know about you, but I'm not terribly fond of armor bills.
-Commanding Shout. I know this is a spec thing, but DEAR LORD IN HEAVEN are those extra hit points nice. Anything which increases the survivability of your paladin tank is obviously a huge boon to your group, be it a casual run or a raid.
-Accept Blessing of Salvation. If you are not OTing, ask for Salvation because YOU NEED IT. Warriors, no matter what spec they are, generate A LOT of aggro. I don’t care who you are; if you’re “watching your KTM,” you’re going to see a lot of down time where you’re not DPSing AT ALL because you’re generating aggro so fast. Suck it up and take Blessing of Salvation. As I say to all DPSers, if I give you Salvation, it’s a compliment; it means your DPS is so leet that I can’t keep up with you.
-No Stunning. Please don’t charge and stun. What you are doing is causing me to lose valuable aggro. Pally tanks gain a lot of their aggro by being hit, so cut it out! If you want to charge and stun, please go back to being a tank and not DPS.
-Sap on the End. Stated in Crowd Control, but I felt the need to reiterate. Please please please please PLEASE always try to sap the END target of a group. If your tank is marking, this shouldn’t be a problem, but if for some reason he’s not, then this is a good rule of thumb.
-Accept Blessing of Salvation. Generally, I will give rogues the Blessing of Might they want. However, the MOMENT you pull more aggro than I do, you get Salvation. No ifs ands or buts about it. I know you want to do more damage; but overall, you will do more damage if you can have at it and unload on him without stopping yourself than you will by the extra attack power boost I’m giving you. Please stop whining about it when it’s only hurting your group when you die.
-No Stunning. I know it gets you combo points and happy fun-time damage, but you could be Eviscerating instead of Kidney Shotting. It hurts paladin aggro, and while it’s necessary to kick or stun some caster mobs, which is fine, just don’t stun in general, especially at the beginning of a pull.
-Silence Casters. This is for the Shadow Priests out there. Like the mage’s counterspell, we enjoy seeing the casters charge blindly in to kill themselves in our consecrate and by melee-ing us. It’s helpful as well as hilarious.
-Stack Buffs. Another kind of “dur” statement, but talk over with your pally tank about what buffs they’ll be giving, and what buffs you’ll be giving. (Or install Pally Power which just kind of does it for you) My general rule of thumb is to let the Tank hand out Blessing of Kings and the other tailor to the needs of the raid. It just seems easier that way, especially since not all pallys besides Prot-specc’d pallys have Blessing of Kings and the first place. And everyone loves BoK.
-Judge Crusader. If you have the opportunity to judge, tack on another Crusader for us. It’ll increase the amount of aggro we generate, and even if you’re Holy, it’s a nice little boost at the beginning of a fight.
-Imps. Imps are love. They give Pallys much-needed stamina. We love Imps, and we love buffing Imps. If we don’t, set your pally tank straight on that. Imps being buffed makes the Warlock better, and makes us better too.
-Succubae. Succubae are also love (in more ways than one, of course =D). We rather like having a backup plan if an extra mob decides to wander off. A pally tank will always prioritize keeping as many mobs on them as possible, but sometimes we can’t get ‘em all. Succubae eliminate that need, so they’re a very helpful addition.
-Fel Guards. TURN OFF THE TAUNT. We don’t need the competition between your pet and ourselves for who’s tanking. Paladin tanks get half their abilities from procs that only happen when we get hit. If we’re not being hit, we’re a lot less effective. In addition, watch your Cleaving; if a Tankadin’s already suffering the loss of not consecrating because of crowd control, then you shouldn’t be cleaving things either.
-Voidwalkers. See Fel Guards. You’re better off using something else, though I have less problems with Voidwalkers.
-Fel Hunters. I like these guys. They take care of the mages so that they run stupidly at the group and I can begin to consecrate and have them beat the crap out of themselves by wailing on me. Fel Hunters are good in my book, though I rarely see them used other than in PVP. Really, I wouldn’t mind seeing more Fel Hunters around.
-Trap far back. This is also something your tank needs to pay attention to, obviously, but you also should do your part. The further away you trap, the better off your pally tank is. We like to use Consecration. It is part of our general rotation of aggro-generating abilities, like Sunder Armor is to a warrior. I’m more than willing to admit this is a two way street, though. We need to be paying as much attention as you do.
-Misdirect. I love Misdirect. Any possible chance you can Misdirect onto me, do it. Adding aggro to a paladin’s plate is a welcome thing. We never mind another mob beating on us, as it only makes our abilities proc more frequently, and thus, make us harder to kill.
-Pull the Clean Mobs. Meaning, go after and trap the mobs which either were not a target of Avenger’s Shield, or were missed by Avenger’s Shield. A good idea as to which ones were missed are the ones that are charging full speed, since they didn’t get slowed.
-Pets. TURN OFF GROWL. In the same vein as the Warlock’s Fel Guard, we appreciate being hit and being able to, you know, do our job. Please don’t make us have to compete with your pet. It’s just dumb.
-Insect Swarm. If you want to help your Pally tank take less damage against a nasty hard-hitting mob or boss, this is your best choice. Not that we dislike your HoT’s either.
-Run TO the Tank. We won’t bite you, we’re aiming for the mob that’s making you run away like a little girl anyway. Dragging it further away from us is only going to get you killed.
I hope you have found this guide useful and informative. I understand that there are some no-brainer tips and comments in here. For those of you who note they are such, obviously you’re already a smart player and I didn’t need to tell you that to begin with. For those of you that didn’t know some of this, then you’ve learned something new! And remember; all this doesn’t only apply to Paladin tanks, but to other tanks as well. Treat your tank nice, and you survive! Not a hard concept really.
Now, who wants to join me in Shattered Halls? =)