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The purpose of this guide is to give advice and guidelines to paladins tanking low level instances and take a bit of the guess work out of your first few tanking trips. To start, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • You don’t need to be a protection pally to tank initial instances. Early on the additional damage of retribution can be a significant bonus to tanking. Don't worry about specialization until level 40.
  • Don’t tank with a two-handed weapon (you WILL be laughed at). Bring a one-hander and shield with you, the increased mitigation and blocking will keep your healer happy and the party confident in your abilities. It also allows you to use some of your best tanking abilities as you get further down the line.
  • Lay on Hands is your get out of jail free card right now. Save it for the last second.
  • A good habit to get in early are macros, make one for letting the group know your pulling, a wipe is imminent, incoming mobs, out of mana, etc… An addon like OptiTaunt is especially helpful for this.

Questions and Answers

  • Retribution Aura? For Tanking, why would you do this ever?!
Bear druids use thorns, the thought behind it is the same. The danger for Paladins is if the monster starts hitting someone other than them.

Useful Terms

  • Threat - what you need to have to keep the monsters from attacking anyone but you. Also known as hate. You want lots of it, you want all of it. Righteous Fury gives you lots of it.
  • Taunt - what you do when you don't have the threat. This can take the form of casting Righteous Defense or Hand of Reckoning
  • Tank - You, the person all the monsters and the healer should be entirely focused on.
  • Healer - The person keeping you alive so that you can keep the threat.
  • DpS - The people killing the monsters for you. Stands for Damage Per Second.
  • Pull - What you do when you want the fight to start.
  • Chain-Pull - A non-stop slaughterfest. You should have your Healer's permission before attempting.
  • Mob - The bad guys. Not player bad guys, though. Only NPC bad guys.
  • Boss - The biggest of the bad guys. Hits hard, hates everything, and is fully capable of killing everyone.
  • AoE - Area of Effect. The type of damage that hurts everyone, the type of tanking that keeps an infinite number of baddies on the tank.

Useful Abilities

  • Confidence - Tanks have to be able to wade into the fray of battle fearlessly! Not something every Pally is cut out for, but you can learn. Trust your healer, they know what they're doing. Your DpS usually does, but they don't matter that much (j/k we love the DpS). A cool head in a hot spot can save the repair bill of many a group, so know what you can do and do it confidently!


At level 15 you can now apply Glyphs. Choose Glyph of Judgement for your major Glyph and whatever Minor Glyph you feel like. Glyph of Blessing of Might will probably be the most useful for you at this point.
At level 30 you gain another major Glyph. Glyph of Consecration is ideal, allowing you to conserve your mana and not have to worry about casting it quite so often.
At level 50 you gain another minor Glyph.
At level 70 you gain another minor Glyph.
At level 80 you gain your last major Glyph.
The best Glyphs for threat are Glyph of Seal of Vengeance, Glyph of Sense Undead, Glyph of Divine Plea, Glyph of Hammer of the Righteous(the last major glyph depends on your play style for the most part)). Other minor glyphs are up to your playing style.

Level 16

Your Talents points should look like this.
Tanking prior to level 16 is difficult. You receive Righteous Fury at level 16, which increases the threat generated by your holy spells by 80 percent, without that, generating enough threat, especially on multiple mobs will be difficult and is just not fun or advised.

  • Righteous Fury - Do NOT forget this ever. Make sure it's listed as one of your buffs. If you die, make sure to recast this spell. You will feel very silly if you forget it.
  • Devotion Aura - gives you and all of your party members increased armor. This means less damage, so less stress on your healer.
  • Retribution Aura - much like a Druid's Thorns buff, this makes anything that hits someone effected by this Aura take damage (holy in this case). Good for the tank (more damage=more threat) but if anyone else gets hit by a monster this can make your job harder. Using this to tank is also frowned upon by most players but is acceptable in the early stages of Paladinship.
  • Seal of Righteousness - Make sure this Seal never wears off. If you lose it in the middle of the fight, it's valuable seconds to recast it before you can use one of your main threat generators - your Judgements.
  • Blessing of Might - This increases melee attack power, so you want this. So does anyone else you see who hits stuff with their fists/weapon/head/murlocs. It only lasts for 10 minutes, so share the love.
  • Judgements - At level 16 you have two. Judgement of Light and Judgement of Wisdom. Use Wisdom unless you have enough mana. If you have plenty of mana feel free to help your Healer by using Light.
  • Hand of Reckoning - Pull single mobs and groups with this. Preferably the most dangerous in the group, if you know which one that is. Sometimes you'll get stuck with a group that has a caster in it and they won't come running with everyone else. Don't panic. Make sure everything is hitting you, THEN go take care of that lone ranger.
  • Righteous Defense - If your healer or one of your DpS all of a sudden gets multiple monsters attacking then, target them (or one of the offending monsters, whichever is easier) and cast this. If it's only one monster or you don't have this available, cast the above.
  • Hand of Protection - A mixed blessing, so to speak. This ability will protect anyone you cast it on from melee damage, but it will also prevent them from doing anything melee oriented (bad choice to cast this on yourself). This is good if your Healer suddenly has all the hate.

Level 20

Your Talents points should look like this.
Paladins now get several of their signature spells.

  • Consecration - What makes a Paladin famous for AoE tanking, use whenever you're fighting more than one monster.
  • Exorcism - Takes time to cast, so not as useful for tanking where you're getting hit all the time. Something to cast while you're waiting for the mobs to reach you after casting Hand of Reckoning and they're just too far away for your Judgement and you're bored. Nice against Undead or Demon target because it will always crit on them.
  • Blessing of Kings - Even better than Blessing of Might, EVERYONE wants this one. Unless they specifically request Might, give them Kings.
  • Seal of Command - This replaces and improves upon Seal of Righteousness.

Level 30

Your Talents points should look like this.
You've gotten a few more spells, but you should be getting the hang of things by now as long as you have a firm grasp on the basics.

Level 40

Here is where talent specialization actually starts to matter. It is preferable to Tank as a Retribution Paladin up to this point. From here on out, you should either Dual-Spec Protection or respec entirely if you don't have the 1000g for Dual-Spec.
Prior to level 40 your talents should look like this.
At level 40 your talents should look like this.


You can't wear Plate until level 40, so only equip Mail items until then. Items with the suffix "of the Bear", "of the Champion", or "of the Soldier" are preferable. Champion is the most preferable. Random dungeons are the fastest way to get the equipment you need because of that lovely reward satchel.

The Cursed Felblade and Cavedweller Bracers are solid items from the first instance you’ll likely run, Ragefire Chasm . The sword, while not providing any stats, is a solid one-hander for this point in terms of damage. The bracers provide useful stats and better armor than you’ll likely find on any wrist piece for awhile.

Wailing Caverns provides several useful items, most notably a good shield. Two of note are worth getting, either the Worn Turtle Shell Shield, Kresh's Back or Seedcloud Buckler. The buckler is preferred, as it provides more armor, block value and some intellect to bolster your mana pool. Other than that, a few blue mail pieces are available, of note being the Mutant Scale Breastplate from Mutanus.

Deadmines is mainly useful for acquiring a better weapon. My pick is Smite's Reaver.

Beyond these initial instances, pay mind to items offering Stamina (for health) and Strength (for hitting hard) first. Agility is good for Crit and Dodge and Intellect will provide you with a larger mana pool. Spirit just plain sucks, so ignore it if it's on an item. It's not helping you any so does not contribute to the value of a piece of armor.