I love Paladins! They give you great buffs, they can heal you when needed, they fight, they threaten, they tank, they’re all that and then some.
Paladin Protection tanks are considered the most effective and most sought after (well in my server at least) tanks in the game to date. With their variety of skills that increases damage and threat generation towards mobs, several of the most needed buffs in any group or raid, plus some ‘break-glass in case of emergency’ healings when things go out of hand. Paladins are the most revered damage takers, especially in Wrath of the Lich King (okay I may have oversold it just a little, but there is a reason why Paladins take up a chunk of a server’s population).
However, this game won’t revolve around WotLK much any longer. In World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, new skills have been introduced, stats have been changed, and we’ll be seeing a little less of our friendly neighborhood undead in Northrend. The question is, will the Paladin tanks still claim the top spot when the expansion has arrived? Will our Light wielders cling on the glory of the tanks? Well let’s take a look at what’s coming, shall we?
New Abilities – Naturally, just like the rest of the class, we’ll be seeing new abilities to play with come Cata era. The 3 new abilities are primarily for crowd control, mass healing, and top-notch defense.
Blinding Shield (level 81)- Causes damage and blinds all nearby targets. This effect might end up only damaging those facing the paladin’s shield, in a manner similar to Eadric the Pure’s ability Radiance in Trial of the Champion. The Holy tree will have a talent to increase the damage and critical strike chance, while the Protection tree will have a talent to make this spell instant cast. 2-second base cast time. Requires a shield.
This is pretty much for crowd control. In instances where you accidentally pulled a different mob, Blinding Light can keep those baddies stunned long enough for the DPS to down your current mob.
Healing Hands (level 83) – Healing Hands is a new healing spell. The paladin radiates heals from him or herself, almost like a Healing Stream Totem. It has a short range, but a long enough duration that the paladin can cast other heals while Healing Hands remains active. 15-second cooldown. 6-second duration.
Paladin players’ prayers have been answered for a mass heal. But Protection Paladins have little to no use of this. They’re a bit too busy keeping the boss’ attention.
Guardian of Ancient Kings (level 85) – Summons a temporary guardian that looks like a winged creature of light armed with a sword. The visual is similar to that of the Resurrection spell used by the paladin in Warcraft III. The guardian has a different effect depending on the talent spec of the paladin. For Holy paladins, the guardian heals the most wounded ally in the area. For Protection paladins, the guardian absorbs some incoming damage. For Retribution paladins, it damages an enemy, similar to the death knight Gargoyle or the Nibelung staff. 3-minute cooldown. 30-second duration (this might vary depending on which guardian appears).
The cream of the crop. Its effects are almost as epic as its name. Sort of similar to a priest’s valkyrie companion, the guardian can be very useful to mitigate damage during an encounter. The 3 minute cooldown makes it an interesting addition to the rotation of a Pally tank when facing long fights. We just hope this won’t be affected by ‘Forbearance’, where other shielding abilities are disabled for a period of time when a shielding ability is enabled.
Several changes have been made in the Paladin’s abilities. Our main concerns here are Crusader Strike and Holy Shock becoming baseline abilities. These 2 can change the traditional ‘96969’ rotation which makes the Protection Paladins almost a whole new class/talent spec to play with.
Protection Paladins will also be treated with some Mastery bonuses for their tanking needs:
Damage Reduction – self-explanatory but not further details have been released.
Vengeance – A mastery bonus shared by all other tank classes. Damages received by the tank converts to attack power, making the tank have high amounts of DPS (and threat) so that they won’t have to worry much about high DPSers getting aggro.
Block Amount – Similar to the Warrior’s mastery bonus. The difference though is that the Paladin’s block consistent, and sometimes greater, normal damage unlike a Warrior who can get critical blocks.
Overall, comparing our Paladin tanks to other tank classes, Protection Pallys have enough tools to keep them among the top tankers in the game. This is despite the role is being jeopardized by the new stat system. But with proper training, rotation, and gear, Pally tanks can still be the most sought after, but not mandatory, addition to any raid or dungeon in the expansion.
The game has been tweaked by Blizzard, now it’s the tankers turn to use those tweaks to their own advantage. Paladins FTW! Woot!