Managing Threat – Paladin Style

Holy ShieldThreat rotations and when to change them:

Hey guys,

Had a pretty good reception from my last post, so I thought I’d write up something a little more rich with paladin detail.

Any tank has two basic jobs.

One is to generate enough threat for the damage-dealers to not have to hold back too much. Eventually, its inevitable that they will be holding back, but, especially on fights with sensitive enrages, its important to put out as much threat as possible.

The other is to survive, obviously. A dead tank generates no threat. Most of the work you have to do to keep yourself alive is done way before the raid, when preparing your gear. Once in the raid, your life is in the hands of the healers. Obviously you have a few things you can do to help them but basically you need to trust your healers.

In this little post, I’ll be talking about our first job, and how it relates to paladins.

Most people in here would know a basic threat rotation for paladin tanks.

Seal Righteousness
Avenger’s Shield (if possible)
Judge Righteousness on the primary target while dropping a Consecrate
Seal Righteousness
Holy Shield

if on a boss, you do Holy Shield before the Judgement.

Thats pretty easy, right? Right.

The hard part is that all of these abilities cost mana. You get your mana back from being healed, but what if you’re not taking enough damage? You’re going to get less mana. This is where you have to start looking at doing something. You can basically either, a) get more mana, or b) spend less mana.

Of course, its preferable to get more mana, because then you can continue your threat production. There’s a couple of ways to do this. Mana pots are the easiest and quickest. I always carry a healthy supply with me. Seal and Judgement of Wisdom are good also, although I prefer to use them to prevent mana shortages, and not to fix a current one, as they work slowly. Judging Wisdom on a boss at the start of a fight will give you a lot of mana back over the fight.

There is also three “unorthodox” methods to get mana. One is a Demonic Rune. Little known to many players who did not play before The Burning Crusade, Demonic Runes drop in many of the high-level instances in Azeroth, Dire Maul, and the like. They restore 900-1500 mana at the cost of 900-1500 health. So, you get mana, and you also take some damage, which then translates into more mana from Spiritual Attunement when you get healed.

If you’re REALLY scraping the barrel for mana, you can use Lay on Hands on yourself. It will give you 900 mana.

Finally, you can mash the X key. This will cause you to “sit” (unless you’ve changed your key bindings from the default for this key) and automatically take a critical hit on the next hit. The next heal you get will give you more mana back, as it will be healing actual damage and not overhealing. Obviously this is not a good idea if you’re tanking a hard-hitting boss, but then again if you’re tanking a hard hitting boss you’re probably not having mana problems to begin with.

The second option when faced with mana starvation is to spend less of it. This is what you move onto once you’ve exhausted all avenues of getting more mana.

Personally I don’t change my threat rotation all that much, as by the time I’ve exhausted all avenues for getting mana back, the fight is over and I can drink. However, here’s a few tips I use, during combat, that make a small difference.
-If you’re AOE tanking a few mobs, but they are not being killed by AOE, you can probably drop Consecrate from the rotation after two-three full Consecrates. It will be plenty to keep ahead of healer aggro, and you can focus your Seals/Judgments on the target being killed first.

-Judge and Seal Wisdom. Energy gains such as mana are AOE threat, and in a huge AOE situation (Hyjal), can actually add up to more overall threat than if you went through and hit mobs with Righteousness up.

-Balance your threat cooldowns. If I look at my actionbar and see that I have 30 seconds left before Avenging Wrath and my Icon of the Silver Crescent are both cooled down, and I look at my mana bar and see that I’m spending mana faster than I’m gaining it, I’ll slow down a little. What this achieves is that when its time to blow those cooldowns, you don’t want to be running low on mana, because it will lessen their effect. What you ACTUALLY want to do is to maximize the effect of those, by spending as much mana as possible on threat abilities while they are up.

The other half of managing mana is when you have so much incoming damage, and thus, incoming heals, that you simply cannot spend your mana fast enough. Everyone loves to be in this situation. In this situation, what you want to be doing is hurling Judgments every cooldown without fail, Consecrating constantly, if the enemy boss is Undead, using Exorcism, and even, if your latency allows for it, weaving Avenger’s Shield and Hammer of Wrath in between the boss swing timer. If you want to go REALLY overboard, you can constantly recast Righteous Fury. It will dump a lot of mana and give you more threat from Spiritual Attunement gains.



  1. I find mana always an issue when doing long-ish trash tanking, or instances which are for leveling characters, so now I gear for it. I use a boss set which is my best defense gear for Uncrsuh/uncrit/avoid. A trash set set which is still uncrit, but not stressed about being crushed. A lowbie tank set where stam/hit/spell dam/regen/dps are increased as you don’t need to be worried about the odd hit.

  2. @typhoonandrew

    I find that the best way to gear for trash is, rather than put on mana regen gear, just put on more spell damage.

    rather than giving you more mana to spend, it simply gives the mana you DO spend a more potent effect because you output more threat, and it means that if for whatever reason you suddenly find yourself with more mana you can put out some crazy threat.

    Gearing for regen is a valid method also, limiting the need to drink.

  3. balloo33 says:

    normally trash cant crush u if i remember correctly, so as a warrior i generally tend to ignore shieldblock unless its more hard hitting trash

  4. Correct Balloo. As I understand it a mob (or any creature, as I’ll get to in a sec,) must be at least 3 levels higher than its target in order to execute a Crushing Blow on the target. Therefore at lvl 70, the only way to be crushed is by a lvl 73+, which solely the land of Raid Bosses.

    This even works for players as during a runthrough of Normal Blood Furnace, while I was being controlled by The Maker (I was lvl 70), I dropped a Crushing Blow on a lvl 63 Fury Warrior for about 3k dmg. Rawr.

    But anyway, long story short, No need to worry about crushes from trash once you’re 70. It’s impossible for them to do so.

  5. Urago:

    thats quite interesting, I didn’t know players could perform crushing blows, even taking into account the mind control. I know you can’t crush players when you’re under your own power.

    there ARE exceptions to the crushing blow rule. The actual math for Crushing Blows is that the mob must have at least 15 weapon skill higher than your BASE defense skill. Your base defense skill is 350. A three level difference will usually result in a weapon skill difference of 15 (5 per level, just like players), but some mobs are tweaked to have higher or lower weapon skill.

    The Hellfire Warders in Magtheridon’s Lair can crush, they are level 72. Nalorakk, the Bear Avatar, does not crush, nor does Halazzi, the Lynx Avatar, both in Zul’Aman.

  6. As a recent 70 tank, I have serious aggro issues when there is a well-geared DPS in the party… though I didn’t use righteous defense before (me bad — i should read more)

    Does the actually rotation order is important? I usually pull with avenger shield, then consecrate to aggro the lot (if more than 1 mob), then judge… and keep going on rotation… I’ll throw a judgment of wisdom somewhere to help getting mana if it’s a boss… otherwise it’s not that useful.

    I never thought about casing righteous fury when it’s still on though… i never imagine it would cause threat.

    Also, I was told by many, even though prot pallies have 1H sword specialization that I should use a 1H mace… which I now have and use, though I’m suffering through PVP to get the mace from Eye of the Storm right now.

    I also see many of you have many gear sets… is that really useful? I mean, bag space is always an issue even with all 16 slots bags when you are running in an instance… right now I’m full of blues, but I’m hoping to start kara/heroics to gain access to T4 and T5 gear.

  7. Sounds like you have the right rotation down, but for bosses, you should start off by judging Crusader. It will give you a huge threat lead.

    Any new 70 tank is going to have aggro problems with well-geared DPS in the party, the DPS just have to learn when to manage their threat.

    In a normal 5man, recasting Righteous Fury isn’t a good idea. It does give more threat from being healed and getting mana, but in a normal 5man, even in less-than-fantastic gear, you’re not going to be taking enough damage to sustain it. Recasting Righteous Fury is the thing that t5-t6 tanks do when tanking a hard-hitting boss who is a DPS race (such as Teron Gorefiend) to give every last bit of threat they can to the DPS.

    As regarding Swords vs Maces, it really doesn’t matter. Generally there are more spelldamage maces out there that are good for us, or that are easily obtainable, than spelldamage swords.

  8. As a rather ‘fresh’ paladin tank, I can’t recall having too big issues with threat (not counting situations when I’ve been tanking normal ramparts at level 60ish with 70s epic geared dps team – can’t blame friends for helping, can you?).
    A real must-have for paladin tank is Holy Shield rank 1 / rank max macro – same goes for Consecration. It greatly helps you maintain mana pool. What have been decent rotation for me (threat/mana efficient) is: Av. Shield, Judge & Seal, rank max HS, rank max Cons. and then repeat with rank 1 Cons. instead. Also, in some situation HS should be superior to Consecration. For example, you have to pull mobs far back, or doing wall pull – you want to use HS rather than Consecration. Same when your mage does polly in wrong place.
    Once you accumulated enough threat, use rank 1 spells.
    Also, as I quite often see people with Continuum Blade, your main goal should be to get Merciless Gladiator’s Gavel – all threat problem solver for 5mans normal. Especially that it’s just 25k honor points now, which is nothing considering you don’t have much more gear to spend honor on as prot. paladin.
    Yesterday I did my first heroic run, and realised my major issue was watching my hp rather than mana – quite funny change I must say =)


  9. “mash the ‘x’ button”?!? Really?

    Protip: healers need their mana. The return rate on the mana we spend for you to take that extra 20% damage and the mana you get back is total shit.

    Healers tend to run out of mana all the time, they’re making up for not only the encounter difficulty and gear level of the rest of the raid, but also the dps and tanks stupidity. Adding to the amount we need to heal is not good tanking practice.

    Please don’t do this.