pve protection paladin rotation, cooldowns, & abilities (wotlk 3.3.5a)
  • Author: Pride
  • Date: August 22, 2022
  • Updated: August 22, 2022
  • Expansion: WotLK Classic

Protection Paladins have a large array of spells in their arsenal, offering both simple rotations for both Single-Target and AoE while also offering a large number of utility spells for their allies. However, you should take into consideration the fact that as a Protection Paladin, your mana can become a big problem unless you carefuly use your spells or you have a strong healer that can constantly proc your Spiritual Attunement.

Simple Rotation

Abilities Overview

  • Avenger’s Shield is your initiation ability! It allows you to throw your shield, hitting 3 enemies at the same time. It is very powerful as an initiation tool, so you should use it at the start of the fight, and then use it every time it is available.
  • Shield of Righteousness is one of your core abilities, dealing direct Holy Damage to your enemy, based on your attack power and Block Value!
  • Hand of Reckoning is our main taunt ability, allowing us to directly force an opponent to attack us, even from far away!
  • Judgement of Wisdom allows you to restore up to 2% of your mana with every single one of your attacks! This ability can not be used without a Seal!
  • Judgement of Light allows you to restore up to 2% of your health with every single one of your attacks! This ability can not be used without a Seal!
  • Hammer of Wrath is an execution ability that you can only use when your target reaches 20% health! You should use this ability as often as possible whenever it is available as it will generate large amounts of threat!
  • Hammer of the Righteous is one of your most important abilities, dealing a good amount of damage and thus threat to up to 3 targets. You should nearly always be using this ability on cooldown!
  • Avenging Wrath is your main offensive cooldown, allowing you to increase your damage done and healing done by 20%. This ability should always be used as an initiation tool in order to help you increase your threat generation!
  • Consecration is one of the biggest threat generating abilities in your arsenal, blessing the ground beneath your feet and dealing Holy damage to all of the enemies that thread that ground.
  • Holy Wrath is one of your strongest crowd control tools, dealing massive AoE Holy damage to all Undead & Demons caught in the radius. You should keep this ability in mind during dungeons or raids that have a high concentration of Undead & Demon foes!
  • Holy Shield is one of your core defensive abilities, allowing you to increase your Block Chance by 30% while also dealing Holy Damage back to any enemy attack you. This ability must be maintained at all times, especially due to its low cooldown!
  • Sacred Shield is an ability that grants you an absoprtion shield, which you can consistently spam on yourself. However, if there is a Holy Paladin in your group, you should always let the Holy Paladin use this ability!
  • Divine Protection is a defensive ability that allows you to reduce all incoming damage by 50 % for a set duration! This ability is especially strong due to the fact that you can combine it with other defensive abilities such as Divine Sacrifice.
  • Divine Shield is one of the trademark abilities of a Paladin, allowing him to create an impenetrable shield for 12 seconds! This ability allows you to become completetly immune to any form of damage or magical effect, however, as a tank, it will instantly make you lose aggro!
  • Divine Sacrifice is an extremely powerful defensive ability that allows you to transfer 30% of all damage taken by your party to you, allowing you to provide huge amounts of damage mitigation. This ability should always be used when you have high health and a specific scenario on your hands.
  • Righteous Fury is your main threat generation tool, increasing the amount of threat generated by 80%. There is one mistake that most Paladins make which can be quite easy to acomplish, a lot of people forget to activate this ability before a fight, make sure to not do the same mistake!
  • Hammer of Justice is an ability that allows you to stun a target, having a lot of practical uses! You should use this ability whenever possible to help your group, especially with pesky fast-moving targets!
  • Divine Intervention is an ability that you should use whenever your raid is about to wipe! This ability allows you to place an ally in “Stasis”, effectively saving them and making them immune to any form of damage for 3 minutes! However, the target of this ability won’t be able to able to act anymore as long as the effect is active, meaning that they can not use any ability or even move!
  • Righteous Defense is an AoE taunt ability that allows you to taunt up to 3 targets at the same time! This ability can be used on an ally to instantly taunt up to 3 targets that are attacking an ally. You should use this ability whenver your allies are in danger!
  • Lay on Hands is a trademark Paladin ability, allowing you to fully heal a target! This ability is best saved for “panic” situations in which either your healers are close to dying or you yourself are almost dead.
  • Sense Undead is an ability that display all Undead targets on your minimap. However, this ability once glyphed, will actually increase your overall damage against Undead by 1%.
  • Redemption is an ability that allows you to ressurect your allies, provided that you are not in combat!
  • Cleanse is one of the best utility abilities in your arsenal, allowing you to remove 1 poison, 1 disease and 1 magical effect from an allied target. This ability is extremely useful in many situations, especially since in a lot of dungeons or raids there are a lot of magical effects placed on players.
  • Divine Plea is one of the strongest abilities in your arsenal, allowing you to regain 25% of your total mana pool during 15 seconds. Due to how our talents work, this ability will be perpetually active as long as you hit your enemy!
  • Blessing of Sanctuary is an unique buff given by Protection Paladin reducing all damage taken by 3% while also increasing strength and stamina by 10%. This buff is essential for tanks!
  • Hand of Freedom is an ability that allows you to grant an ally movement impairing immunity for 6 seconds. This ability is extremely powerful and can be used in various situations to grant a lot of mobility.
  • Hand of Protection is an ability that allows you to grant physical damage immunity for 10 seconds, while also making them unable to perform physical attacks. This ability is a great way to protect caster alliies or to nulify powerful physical damage debuffs.
  • Hand of Sacrifice is an ability that allows you to transfer 30% of the damage received by the target to you, up to 100% of the target’s health. This ability is a great mitigation tool, especially when you are an Off-Tank.
  • Hand of Salvation is a great tool to reduce threat generated by one of your allies, by up to 20%, reducing 2% per second up to 10 seconds.
  • Seal of Command is going to be your main AoE seal, allowing you to severely damage multiple targets with Holy Damage!
  • Seal of Vengeance is going to be your main seal Single-Target, placing a stacking debuff on your target while also improving your Expertise!
  • Seal of Wisdom is a situational seal that you will want to use when your mana pool is dangerously low!



In-Depth Explanation

The Protection Paladin rotation is fairly simple. You have a defensive buff, Holy Shield, that you want to keep up on yourself at all times. Following that, you want to use your 5 offensive abilities (Avenger’s Shield, Judgement of Wisdom, Hammer of the Righteous, Consecration, Shield of Righteousness) on cooldown, adding Hammer of Wrath to the mix when your target is at or below 20% HP.

Moreover, you have a wide array of utility spells in your arsenal that you will want to use as necessary, such as Hand of Protection, Hand of Freedom, Cleanse, Sacred Shield and Divine Sacrifice.

First of all, before the fight even starts, you will make sure you have Righteous Fury & Seal of Vengeance active. They are crucial parts of our kit, and you don’t want to panic after realizing you forgot them just as the pull starts.

Then, right before the boss is pulled, activate Divine Plea. This saves you having to use a global cooldown to activate it mid-fight. Every time you attack a target, it will refresh itself, granting you a whole bunch of mana over the course of the fight — which is sorely needed, as our spells cost a lot of mana. There may be situations where Divine Plea falls off, as you are unable to attack an enemy for a long period of time. In those situations, you will need to manually re-activate it during the fight.

After you use Divine Plea, but still before the boss is pulled, you will want to activate your Holy Shield, for the same reason as Divine Plea — activating it before the pull saves you a global cooldown, that you can use on a damaging ability instead. You want to make sure that you always have Holy Shield on when enemies are attacking you, so from that point on you should be using it on cooldown, with higher priority than any other spell.

Use Avenging Wrath right at the start of the fight, followed by Avenger’s Shield, to guarantee that you get a high threat lead. After that, you will want to use Avenger’s Shield on cooldown, as it does a high amount of damage and threat.

With the fight now underway, you have 4 different damage-dealing abilities you want to make sure you’re using on cooldown, ideally with the following priority:

  1. Judgement of Wisdom
  2. Hammer of the Righteous
  3. Consecration
  4. Shield of Righteousness

Using these 4 abilities in that order, followed by Holy Shield, gives you a smooth rotation of abilities you can follow at all times.

When your target drops down to 20% or less HP, you can also add Hammer of Wrath to your priority list — however, make sure using it doesn’t cause you to delay Holy Shield, that will not be worth it!

You can make small optimizations to this rotation, such as using Shield of Righteousness after Judgement of Wisdom instead of Hammer of the Righteous, if delaying Hammer of the Righteous means you can hit more targets with it. However, the general idea here is to use your spells as they come off cooldown, in a “first come first serve” or FCFS system — you don’t gain a whole lot of damage / threat by complicating things more than that.

If extra enemies spawn during a fight, or if you lose aggro on an enemy and it starts running towards a DPS player or healer, you should quickly use one of your 2 taunt abilities (Hand of Reckoning, Righteous Defense) to quickly bring them back to you. There are specific fights where the tanks must alternate, taking turns tanking the boss, and you’ll want to use your taunts when it’s your turn to tank there as well.



Make sure you’re using Retribution Aura & Seal of Command in AoE situations

In-Depth Explanation

Protection Paladins have always shined in AoE tanking situation, thanks to our myriad of tools capable of helping us deal threat to multiple enemies.

The first of these tools is Retribution Aura, an aura that deals a small amount of damage to enemies that attack us. The damage might seem low, but when you’re in AoE tanking situations with DPS players trying their hardest to rip thread off you, every little bit counts — make sure you use this aura in AoE fights.

Furthermore, in fights with 2+ enemies, you should be using Seal of Command instead of Seal of Vengeance. The extra damage it deals to secondary targets will be incredibly useful in AoE encounters, and particularly when combined with Hammer of the Righteous.

The start of the fight will look like it does for single-target encounters: you open with Divine Plea, followed by Holy Shield, followed by Avenging Wrath into a big Avenger’s Shield. After that point however, you’ll want to play differently.

The first ability you should be using is our good-old Consecration, immediately after the pull, and then on cooldown with the 2nd highest priority after Holy Shield. The amount of threat it deals cannot be rivaled, particularly as Hammer of the Righteous only affects up to 3 enemies, meaning Consecration should be your bread-and-butter when there are 4+ enemies. Use it right after the pull, where you want enemies to be positioned.

We get an extra ability we can use in AoE situations: Holy Wrath. You should be using this ability on cooldown right after Consecration, but do note that you can only use it when the enemies you’re fighting are Undead or Demons.

Following that, you use your remaining 3 damage abilities with the following priority:

  1. Hammer of the Righteous
  2. Judgement of Wisdom
  3. Shield of Righteousness

You can also use Hammer of Wrath when the target drops to 20% or less HP, just like in the single target rotation.

However, Judgement of Wisdom, Shield of Righteousness and Hammer of Wrath do not deal AoE damage, so when you have to hold multiple monsters on you, they should have lower priority than Consecration and Hammer of the Righteous, which you should always be using on cooldown.

AoE tanking can be challenging, so make sure you’re ready to use your taunt spells (Hand of Reckoning, Righteous Defense) on any monster that you happen to lose aggro on, before it kills that overly-eager DPS player — looking at you, Demonology Warlocks!


About the Author


Classic WoW is my jam, with a passion for PvP. Most know me as Baranor, the ret paladin guy, but I'm secretly a druid main, don't tell anyone. In my free time I play Switch games, particularly JRPGs. Some day I'll be making my own games and I humbly hope you play those too!
Notify of

Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 year ago
Reply to  Fideous
1 year ago

Probably because the author of this guide seems to think Hammer of the Righteous and Shield of Righteousness share a cooldown, and describes them as mutually exclusive based on number of mobs the fight…. Which is completely false.

Reply to  Pride
1 year ago

Thanks for the update, all good (:

Reply to  Pride
1 year ago

That is patently false, and Theck did the math to prove it in OG Wrath (Wayback link since the Maintankadin forums were closed years ago): https://web.archive.org/web/20100906121429/http://maintankadin.failsafedesign.com/guides/theorycraft/969-and-fcfs-rotation-theory

FCFS will naturally become 9696/6969 when you prioritize keeping HS and Judgment on CD whilst also attempting to minimize empty GCDs, other “rotations” that stray from this will typically lose survivability from the loss in HS/Judge uptimes at the expense of very little gain in DPS/TPS

2 years ago

About the pull, you pop Wings, Throw Avenger at max range and because of travel time you taunt the target. And for god sake, never ever taunt target that is already targeting you.

Pre-taunting is not solution to anything as it either kills dps now or 2 seconds later, either way if he wasn’t able to notice threat situation 10 seconds prior, 2 additional seconds won’t help him and you lost taunt CD.

Reply to  Aik
1 year ago

If a DPS attacks a mob before it gets in my consecrate, they deserve to die. My healers know to heal only me at the start of a pull. If the DPS drags the mob to my consecrate they live. If not they die and I’ll taunt if it goes for the healer. Doesn’t take many times for the DPS to understand this.

Reply to  WhatPsecyaneed
1 year ago

You don’t know how much I agree with this. There is the false misconception that threat is only a tank’s concern. In tbc with only one taunt it has been a nightmare at times with DPS trying to compete on who had the longest **** since pull inception

Reply to  WhatPsecyaneed
1 year ago

Consider opening with hammer of the rightious instead of consecrate for this reason, its instant snap threat consecrate is not, same applies to avenger shield.

Assuming you are not dealing with an metamorphed demo lock or starfall hurricane boomkin noone should be able to out-threat you as a prot pala on aoe

Last edited 1 year ago by Jamielolx
Reply to  Jamie
1 year ago

Unless your a ret pally 😉

9 months ago

helo. I give up tank with my paladine. I never play wow before, start now 28/02/2023. But tank is hard, for exemple the scarlat monastery cathedral, we all die becouse i dont know need to cleam all mobs before start the boss. And people dont be paciente to tech, they just kick you from the party… so, be a tank is the most important and dificult thing.
I’m noob, but for me i think Tank> healer> DPS dificult level. Tank is the vanguard, a vanguard cant be someone who do not know the way to go. So for that things and the kick from party, people not paciente i give up to be a tank. I will reset my talents and change for retribuition paladine.

Last edited 9 months ago by BrazilianNoob
Reply to  BrazilianNoob
8 months ago

Bro dont give up! You just dont have enough experience, you need a lot of practice and you can be a good tank!

9 months ago

dude, paladine is so broken, so unfar. I’m a completle noob, i creat 10 characts and play at level 30 with every class. but all classes i die in pvp for horde mother fuckers, my paladine is the one who never die wtf, if the guy dont kil me with 1 hit, my paladine wins the fight kkkk kkkk thats so funny kkkk. i kil 2 people, i never start the combat but i defend myself. i win against a rogue and a shaman.

Last edited 9 months ago by BrazilianNoob
Scroll to Top