I don’t know if I’m hyper-aware of paladins because it’s one of my favorite classes, or if there are just a large number of players who believe a 71-pt. protection specialization is the way to go, but somehow, it seems that I have been seeing a lot recently as I tool around random groups on my shaman and death knight. Now, I’m not going to go back on my word, and say that you’re doing it wrong if you choose to go 71 points… at least not if you’re sufficiently holding aggro and have enough damage reduction to not make your healer to have heart failure every time you pull a pack of mobs.
What I am saying is that you could be doing such a better job at the roles you fulfill as a tank–threat generation and damage reduction–if you utilized your talents a bit differently.
Smells Like PvP
The only PvP I did effectively was Wintergrasp where I smashed unsuspecting innocents with my shield of the righteous. The only reason I was ever effective is because:
- the other guy didn’t have PvP gear or spec either, and
- I can stand around taking a hit while my fellows beat those pesky annoyances to death.
However, in a “true” PvP environment (sorry you WG fans) your ability to not die is likely not the asset to your team-mates that you envision. So, let’s see what PvP talents you pick up with a 71-point spec.
- Stoicism: Reduces the duration of all stun effects by an additional 10% and reduces the chance your helpful spells and damage over time effects will be dispelled by an additional 10%. (30% for all at 3/3)
Here’s the thing, when bosses stun you, you stay stunned. Your helpful spells and dots aren’t being dispelled either. In theory, if you were learning some horrific trash that kept clobbering you to death and then going on to ravage your party and raid, you might situationally spec into Stoicism until you learned how to minimize the threat, but it should be a situational, and quite short-lived change in your standard spec.
- Guardian’s Favor: Reduces the cooldown of your Hand of Protection by 60 seconds and increases the duration of your Hand of Freedom by 2 seconds. (2 minutes HoP and 4 second HoF at 2/2)
I use Hand of Protection in PvE content usually to prevent a screw-up from becoming a catastrophe. I might not use it all night. I might use it 3 or 4 times. Either way, a 3 vs. 5 minute difference isn’t shattering to my gameplay. I’ve only used Hand of Freedom on Rotface, and the current duration is more than sufficient to get me out of some slimes. Even for a gimmick fight, I don’t see tossing 3-points in this one.
- Improved Hammer of Justice: Decreases the cooldown of your Hammer of Justice spell by 10 secs. (20 seconds at 2/2)
Word to the wise: you won’t be stunning any bosses. If you’re specced into this, I hope it’s for Moorabi in Gun’drak.
The Tooltip Lies
Just because it sounds good on the surface doesn’t mean it IS good. Napkin math can keep you from a costly mistake.
- Divinity: Increases all healing done by you and all healing effects on you by 1%. (5% at 5/5)
This is the argument that I always see when I ask someone about Divinity: “Anything that helps my healers is a plus.” See, here’s the thing, if that 5% keeps you up, I guarantee that the very next hit will knock you out. Let’s say I’m healing you. My Healing Wave does a substantial 20,000 healing. You get healed an extra 1,000. A boss fart will knock you over if 1,000 hit points is keeping you from life and death. And Wrath bosses are well-known for their gassiness. This talent was much more impressive when tank health pools were in the 20-30k range, but with most tanks running from between 40-60k once raid and Icecrown buffed, a paltry 1,000 health isn’t even a sliver of life on your nameplate. Holy paladins may sink 5 points here in order to reach Divine Sacrifice (and they should probably take the armor bonus instead) but you should in no way shape or form be sinking 5 excellent points into this horrid talent. If you put in less than the full five points, not only do I cry, but the orphans cry too.
Reasoning Out the Rest
Currently, if you’ve just been removing talents, you should have 58 points spent in the Protection tree. This should absolutely be your max number of points you should have invested in the Protection tree.
Now, if you want to really trim down, you can remove up to 3 more talents without curbing your performance.
- Divine Sacrifice / Guardian: 30% of all damage taken by party members within 30 yards is redirected to the Paladin (up to a maximum of 40% of the Paladin’s health times the number of party members). Damage which reduces the Paladin’s health below 20% will break the effect. / When Divine Sacrifice is activated your party and raid members take 10% reduced damage for 6 seconds. In addition increases the duration of your Sacred Shield by 50% and the amount absorbed by 10%. (20% at 2/2)
I took the liberty of combining the two, because the additional damage reduction is just such a nice bonus. However, if you are not raiding, or are your guild’s designated main tank the likelihood of using this ability is nil.
- Reckoning: Gives you a 2% chance, after being hit by any damaging attack that the next 4 weapon swings within 8 seconds will generate an additional attack.
This is a threat-generation talent. However, if you manage to trim your tree sufficiently, you can pick up Crusade and Conviction in the Retribution tree and increase the damage of all of your attacks. You also lose a chunk of damage that could potentially be generated from the extra attacks if you are using Seals of the Pure (the dot seal).
- Spiritual Attunement
No, you don’t have to get rid of it, but you can definitely afford to pare it down to a single talent point. I promise it works. I’ve been running with 1/2 SA the entire expansion, from regular dungeons to ICC, and the only time I truly struggle with mana is when I’m passing out buffs.
- Judgements of the Just: Reduces the cooldown of your Hammer of Justice by 5 seconds, increases the duration of your Seal of Justice by .5 seconds, and your Judgement spells reduce the melee attack speed of the target by 10%. (10 second HoJ, 1 second SoJ, and 20% melee attack speed reduction at 2/2)
Consider this one very carefully if you are considering removing it. If you run dungeons/heroics, you might not notice the lack. However, if you are in a raid group where the melee attack speed reduction buff is not applied, it will seriously cramp your style. I personally consider this a must-have talent since I find relying on other people to bring my buffs often leads to no buffs. If you want to re-spec in the eventually that you gambled wrong, then you’ve grabbed another two points.
What You Should Pick Up No Questions Asked
- Parry: Increases your parry chance by 1% (5% at 5/5).
Your points in divinity? They belong here. Any chance you have to talent damage reduction should be taken, and if you’re 71-points into protection, you’ve missed free avoidance.
- Improved Judgements: Decreases the cooldown of your judgement spells by 1 sec.
Heard of that mysterious 9-6-9 rotation? In order to do it correctly, you must have on point in Imp. Judgements. If you need help visualizing the rotation, there’s a great video here:
What Other Options Do I Have?
- 18 points in Retribution.
There’s a few ways to do this, but what you’re aiming for is 3/3 Crusade. You do not want Benediction. Don’t take it. Really. You also want to bypass Sanctity of Battle and Eye for an Eye (another PvP talent). Otherwise, the choices are yours. I personally take 2/2 imp. judgements, 3/3 in Heart of the Crusader (sometimes we don’t have a retribution paladin), 3/5 Conviction, 2/2 Pursuit of Justice, and 3/3 Crusade. Vindication is likely a better choice than PoJ or Conviction; however, I do run with a group that carries the AP debuff. If your group does not, this is another case of taking care of your own debuffs. If you don’t have BoM, you probably don’t have HotC either. Dependent on your raid team.
- Seals of the Pure
Highly effective through Ulduar. The effectiveness has decreased as health pools have substantially increased. Still, if you don’t like the retribution road, this is an option.
- 13 points in Holy
This is highly dependent on your raid composition and effectiveness since you must literally throw out 5 talent points to get to Improved Lay on Hands and Improved Concentration Aura.
A Final Word On Choice
You may love your 71-point protection spec with your entire heart and soul. Maybe you’re the best damn PvP’ing protection paladin the server has ever known. What do I know anyway? However, if you are choosing blindly down the tree because you can’t decide what else to do with your points, then take some advice from your fellow Paladin–there are better choices if you PvE, whether by party or by raid.