- Author: Nevermore
- Date: July 27, 2022
- Updated: August 1, 2022
- Expansion: WotLK Classic
Welcome to our PvE Protection Paladin Tanking guide for World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King!
Stalwart defenders and fervorous defenders of the Light and all its followers, Protection Paladins are the strongest bulwark against evil and all its shambling dark denizens. Found right in the frontline, with shield and sword in hand, Protection Paladins can ward off the most powerful attacks out there, frequently holding back countless foes from harming their allies, thanks to their devotion to the Light. These plate-armored behemoths embody the Light’s protective touch.
Protection Paladins are considered the strongest tank specialization in the Wrath of the Lich King, offering great threat output along with some of the strongest survivability and utility options of any tank out there. Gone are the days of us simply being an AoE tank for fights with many adds — most raids will actually utilize a single Protection Paladin as their only tank in fights where only 1 tank is needed, as they excel at every aspect of tanking.
This guide will teach you how to play a Protection Paladin in PvE encounters, whether those might be difficult dungeons or terrifying raids. We will be covering everything from enchants and consumables, to talents, rotations, macros, and addons. By the time you finish reading this guide, you will be a masterful tank, capable of taking the front-line position and tanking any raid!
Protection Paladin Strengths & Weaknesses
- Amazing survivability
Protection Paladins are arguably the most resilient of all tanks. Their low-cooldown defensive abilities, Holy Shield and Sacred Shield, will help mitigate a lot of incoming damage at all times. Meanwhile, they have some of the most powerful damage reduction abilities in the game, in Divine Shield, Divine Protection and Ardent Defender — perfect for those “oh snap!” moments when you need to save yourself.
- Incredible utility
Paladin utility has always been exceptional, and Protection Paladins go one step further there. We of course have Paladin staples, like Cleanse, Hand of Freedom, Hand of Protection, and various blessings. As Prot Paladins, we also naturally pick up the incredibly important Divine Guardian raid cooldown, and have access to an exclusive nifty little blessing, Greater Blessing of Sanctuary.
- Double taunt
Most tanks only have one taunt on a short cooldown; if they need to taunt multiple mobs, or they need to taunt multiple times in a row, they’re in trouble. Protection Paladins are incredibly privileged to not have this issue, as they have 2 taunts: Hand of Reckoning and Righteous Defense. This unique strength comes incredibly handy during trash and multiple boss fights.
- Always in demand
Most raids would rather not stack up on Protection Warriors or Feral Druids for their tanks, and hence may not invite someone playing those specs if they already have 1 tank of that spec. That’s an issue that a Protection Paladin will never have; you will always be able to get a raid spot in raid groups that need a tank, as you simply can do anything that other tanks can do with no problem at all.
- Weak damage output
Protection Paladins are the only tank specialization that doesn’t really have access to DPS tools afforded by our other specs, and as a result our damage is incredibly low. Where Blood DKs can slap on DPS gear and Feral Druids can switch to Cat Form in fights where they’re not required to tank, we’re unfortunately stuck tickling the boss with out weak damage.
- Low mobility
Protection Paladins are the only tank specialization that doesn’t have any movement speed enhancing or displacement effects. This means that you will frequently be “late to the party”, so to speak, and that you are practically required to pick up the Engineering profession, for its invaluable Nitro Boosts movement speed boosting use effect.
Protection Paladin Utility
Besides their tanking, Protection Paladins bring the following raid buffs & debuffs to a raid:
- Divine Sacrifice & Divine Guardian
In WotLK, Paladins gain this exclusive and incredibly powerful raid cooldown — and Protection Paladins can naturally pick it up, where other Paladin specs need to sacrifice other useful talents to take it. The damage redirection component of Divine Sacrifice is very nice, but the real strength of this ability lies in Divine Guardian‘s first effect; a 20% damage reduction for your entire raid is absolutely massive, and will play a key role in surviving certain lethal mechanics in specific raid fights. The more Paladins your raid has, the more Divine Guardians it has, making us one of the best classes to stack up on.
- Greater Blessing of Kings (does not stack)
This is one of the strongest buffs in the game, and it is completely exclusive to the Paladin class. Every raid will want to have at least 1 Paladin just for the blessing alone — though our other buffs don’t hurt either.
- Mana regen buff (does not stack) – Greater Blessing of Wisdom
Our mana regeneration blessing, available to all Paladins, suffers a small nerf in WotLK, as it no longer stacks with a Shaman’s Mana Spring Totem, meaning raids don’t need to stack up on Paladins to get all of our blessings. However, Shamans have been severely nerfed in WotLK, to the point where most 25-man raids will only bring 1. Thus, having an extra Paladin for this blessing allows the Shaman to use Healing Stream Totem instead, meaning it’ll commonly be our job to apply this important buff.
- Attack power buff (does not stack) – Greater Blessing of Might
Our attack power blessing, available to all Paladins, suffers a small nerf in WotLK, as it no longer stacks with a Warrior’s Battle Shout, meaning raids don’t need to stack up on Paladins to get all of our blessings. As most 25-man raids will typically have 1-3 Warriors, and they can provide a slightly improved version thanks to their tier 2 set bonus (Battlegear of Wrath), we typically won’t be the ones applying this must-have buff. You may need to be the one to apply it in 10-man raids however!
- 3% reduced damage taken buff (does not stack) – Greater Blessing of Sanctuary
This Protection-exclusive blessing has been overhauled in WotLK. It now offers a 10% strength and stamina buff (does not stack with Greater Blessing of Kings) so you aren’t penalized by applying it to tanks instead of Kings. Furthermore, it provides the handy 3% reduced buff that Discipline Priests can apply with their Renewed Hope talent — the two don’t stack, but it’ll be a nice buff to have in 10-man raids. Finally, it now restores 2% of maximum mana when blocking, dodging or parrying, which is sadly only useful for Protection Paladins.
- 20% attack speed slow debuff (does not stack) – Judgements of the Just
This debuff is a must-have, reducing boss damage significantly. Protection Paladins apply it really easily, as part of their regular rotation. However, multiple other classes can offer it, so depending on your raid setup you may not need to spend the 2 talent points on it.
- Judgement of Wisdom (does not stack)
Paladins of all specializations can apply this incredibly useful, Paladin-exclusive mana regeneration effect — an absolute must-have. Protection and Retribution Paladins excel at applying it as Judgement is part of their rotation.
- Judgement of Light (does not stack)
Paladins of all specializations can also apply this often underestimated Paladin-exclusive healing effect. While the healing isn’t massive, it can help make your healers’ job a good bit easier. Protection and Retribution Paladins excel at applying it as Judgement is part of their rotation.
Certain short-duration Paladin blessings have been renamed to “Hand of …” so they now finally stack with regular blessings! Those are incredibly powerful, and include such effects as Hand of Freedom, Hand of Protection, Hand of Sacrifice and Hand of Salvation. All of these spells can save someone’s life and even prevent a wipe when used skillfully.
Auras are back in WotLK and still offer a variety of minor but incredibly handy effects. The most useful will be Devotion Aura, Concentration Aura, Fire Resistance Aura and Frost Resistance Aura. Furthermore, in WotLK a new talent gets added to the Holy tree: Aura Mastery, which temporarily enhances our auras — though not all non-Holy Paladins will be able to pick this up, as there is a trade-off with other useful talents.
- 6% increased healing taken buff (does not stack) – Improved Devotion Aura
Prot Paladins can pick up this handy little talent, which offers the same 6% healing increase as a Restoration Druid’s Tree of Life. Most 25-man raids will have a Resto Druid and thus we don’t absolutely need to be the ones to offer this buff, but we pick up the talent for the extra armor anyway, and it can situationally be useful in 10-man raids.
- Lay on Hands
This famous Paladin ability has saved many lives in the past, and it will continue to do so in Wrath. In fact, it’s been buffed pretty significantly; it no longer drains the casting Paladin’s mana, meaning you can use it at any time without fear of being useless after using it, and its cooldown has been reduced to 20 minutes, allowing you to use it multiple times per raid. Even better, the Improved Lay on Hands talent has been buffed, temporarily offering a 20% physical damage reduction effect, which trumps the 10% physical damage reduction that other similar spells offer.
We hope this guide has been able to help you decide if PvE Protection Paladin is the class / spec for you. Make sure to check out our other sections, such as talents, gear, gems etc., to get more information on how to improve your performance as a Protection Paladin in WotLK!