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An effective tank of any class must accomplish two things:

  1. Hold aggro on monsters the group is fighting
  2. Mitigate damage from those monsters enough to stay alive

Generating Threat and Holding Aggro

In order to hold aggro on a target, a tank must be able to generate more threat than their comrades. A paladin tank accomplishes this mainly by dealing a large amount of Holy damage while under the influence of Righteous Fury.

A protection paladin's bread and butter threat generation tools are Consecrate and Holy Shield, with Hammer of the Righteous and Shield of Righteousness becoming available at later levels. Extra threat can be generated with Retribution Aura if the mitigation from Devotion Aura is not needed.

Paladins have two taunts available: Hand of Reckoning and Righteous Defense.

While paladins generate threat through use of holy spells, gearing for spell power is not to their advantage since 3.0 due to their spells now scaling with Attack Power as well as spell power. Strength is a Prot Paladin's best threat stat.

Advantages in Threat generation

Paladins generate threat by putting out a high amount of constant damage, rather than high threat/low damage abilities like Sunder.

The reactive Holy damage caused by Retribution Aura and Holy Shield is more than enough to overcome the threat caused by basic healing spells.

A Protection Paladin's Taunt (Righteous Defense) is extremely powerful as it can force up to three mobs off of one target, in case of a mis-pull. Once the targets are taunted, the attacks on the Paladin and reactive damage alone is usually enough to maintain Aggro.

Disadvantages in Threat generation

Protection Paladins will find it impossible to tank any mob that is immune to spell damage, and difficult to tank mobs that spam Mana Burn. Mobs or bosses that silence the paladin tank will greatly hinder threat generation, because every tanking ability the paladin has is a spell, except Hammer of the Righteous.

Damage Mitigation

Paladins achieve damage mitigation against incoming attacks in much the same way that Warriors do. Both classes wear plate armor and can equip a shield. Both classes are capable of dodging, parrying, and blocking.

Generally, the order of important for tankadins gearing up for raid is:

  1. At least 540 defense for level 80, which is the absolute minimum needed to be uncritable by a level 83 boss mob in a raid. [Note: The requisite defense skill to be uncritable in heroics, which have only level 82 bosses, is 535.] Resilience can be added from pvp gear, to reach the necessary 5.6% reduction to crit that renders a tank uncritable. (Though resilience is not recommended as the primary approach for tanks).
  2. When the above is met, start stacking stamina, then defense stats such as dodge, parry,block, and additional defense rating (Defense is still an excellent stat above 540). Hit and Expertise may be helpful to improve threat generation, although notably for Paladins it is more effective point-for-point to get hit (which improves the chance for all of a Paladin's melee and spell attacks to hit), rather than just expertise (which, for a Paladin, only helps auto-attack and Hammer of the Righteous). Strength is also a highly effective stat for Paladins, as the attack power from Strength helps threat generation, while the Block Value received from Strength helps the Paladin's damage mitigation, as well as increasing the damage done by Shield of Righteousness.

The old 102.4% total avoidance/blocking needed to be uncrushable is no longer necessary since patch 3.0.2, because you can only be crushed by mobs 4 levels above you. Having full or close to full avoidance/blocking is recommended for high end raiding. If you avoid/block 102.4% currently, you are said to be block capped.

Gear is arguably the most important factor for the success of a tankadin. For those who want to learn more about tankadin gear mechanics, please check the related links at the end of this page.

Basic Paladin Tanking Abilities

Paladins use many tanking abilities, and can put out a large amount of damage at the same time.

Holy Shield

Patch 4.0.1 Using Shield of the Righteous or Inquisition increases the amount of damage your shield blocks by an additional 10% for 20 seconds.


The Paladin signature move, capable of generating massive amounts of aggro on unlimited amounts of mobs. The mana cost of this spell is extremely high, but the tank will regenerate most of the mana back with Blessing of Sanctuary alone if tanking many mobs. This move breaks most forms of Crowd Control, so be careful when using it.

Hammer of the Righteous

Hammer the current target for 45% weapon damage, causing a wave of light that hits all targetrs within 8 yards for [x] Holy damage. Grants a charge of Holy Power.

Holy Wrath

Shoots bolts of holy power in all directions. Always stuns Undead and Demons. Often used in conjunction with Consecration to maintain aggro.

Shield of Righteousness

Another new ability acquired at level 75, Shield of Righteousness is an extremely high damage and high threat maneuver that hits for thousands of damage. Its damage is based off of the Paladin's block value plus a fixed amount of damage. It is not affected by spell power or attack power.

Avenger's Shield

Paladin tanks can throw their shields, dealing damage to up to three targets who are within 10 yards of each other. It is normally used to pull the mobs at the beginning of a fight can also be used mid-fight as it is an instant cast. Avenger's Shield also dazes for 10 seconds. An important fact to note is that Avenger's Shield is a Smart Spell, which means it will not bounce to targets that have been Crowd Controled. You can use this spell without worrying that you will break CC.


There are three different judgments that can be used (Light, Wisdom, or Justice), they all do the same amount of damage. Each of them cause a different debuff on the mobs. Judgement of Light heals the tank and raid members, as well as possibly lowering a healer's threat generation by reducing their need to spam heals. This can be very useful in fights where the whole raid is taking damage. Occasionally, you may also want to use Judgement of Wisdom, which replenishes mana of raid members, much like Vampiric Embrace and Replenishment. This helps damage dealers maintaining their mana throughout some longer boss fights. Currently, Seal of Vengeance/Seal of Corruption is the standard seal that provides the best threat. When combined with Glyph of Seal of Vengeance gives an extra 10 expertise points (not rating!). Other seals can be used for specific situation, such as when Damage over Time effect on the mob is not desired, or when replenishing of mana/health is needed.


Exorcism is usable on all targets, and always critically hits Demons and Undead. It does Holy Damage and so is a good threat builder, but has a 15 second cooldown. It also has a 30 yard range, allowing paladins of all specs to pull from long range without using one of their taunts immediately. As of Patch 3.2.0, now Exorcism has a casting time of 1.5 seconds, so Tankadins will find difficult to use this skill while being beaten on by several mobs; you cannot dodge, parry, or block while casting a spell. Exorcism should only be used for pulling.


For beginner tanks in Heroics and raids, Devotion Aura will be the aura of choice. After the Paladin and all other tanks in the raid group surpass 25,000 armor, the reward for armor bonus diminishes, and Retribution Aura will make a better choice. Retribution Aura deals additional damage to attackers, helping with threat for all tanks in the group, and increasing overall dps. As of patch 3.1, the Improved Devotion Aura talent provides a healing bonus to ALL auras, so the most appropriate aura for the situation may be chosen without worry of losing talented benefits.


With the new 3.2.0 Patch, Blessing of Sanctuary gives a 10% boost to Stamina, along with the damage reduction and mana replenishment effect, making it the best choice for a Tankadin, even though the Stamina bonus doesn't stack with Blessing of Kings. Still, having both blessings is useful since Strength and Agility influence damage mitigation of the Tankadin and Intellect gives her/him a larger mana pool. The other two blessings, Blessing of Might and Blessing of Wisdom gives advantages respectively in threat generation and mana replenishement, but they should be chosen only if the other two blessings have been already given to the Tankadin. In Patch 3.2.2, Blessing of Sanctuary will also increase Strength by 10% which will increase threat even more.


Hand of Reckoning

This new ability added with patch 3.0.8 uses 3% of the paladins base mana and taunts the target while dealing low amount of holy damage. It has an 8 second cooldown. This new ability is akin to the warrior taunt ability. This is also the first ability available to the paladin to directly taunt a monster. Righteous Defense taunts mobs off other friendly players. As of patch 3.2.0, Hand of Reckoning deals consistent damage to the taunted mob if it isn't attacking you, but it has no effect if it is currently attacking you.

Righteous Defense

One of the Paladin's taunts. Unlike other tanks' taunt, Righteous Defense affects up to three mobs who are targeting the friendly target.

Threat Rotation

The "9696" rotation is the most common spell rotation used by experienced tanks to generate high amounts of threat. It requires one point in Improved Judgement and avoiding the use of Glyph of Consecration.

6 seconds cooldown abilities:

  • Shield of Righteousness
  • Hammer of the Righteous

9 seconds cooldown abilities:

  • Holy Shield
  • Judgement (of your choice)
  • Consecration

The rotation requires the use of 6 sec abilities and 9 sec abilities alternately to provide a smooth sequence that keeps the above abilities on cooldown most of the time. Base idea is to first use any 6 second cooldown spell, then 9 second, and then 6 again. (Note that Holy Shield and Consecration actually are 8 seconds cooldown but there is no way to utilize this one second without messing up the whole rotation. Note also that it is possible to use "8686" rotation with 2/2 in Improved Judgements, but it has lower overall threat generation that 9696. )


Pulling with Avenger's Shield

  1. 9: Judgement
  2. 6: Shield of Righteousness
  3. 9: Holy Shield
  4. 6: Hammer of the Righteous
  5. 9: Consecration
  6. 6: Shield of Righteousness
  7. 9: Judgement
  8. 6: Hammer of the Righteous
  9. 9: Holy Shield
  10. 6: Shield of Righteousness
  11. 9: Consecration
  12. 6: Hammer of the Righteous

repeat from 1 to 12

The order of the 6 sec abilities can be changed among themselves according to personal preference, so are the 9 sec abilities. Consecration can be left out in situations where AoE damage is not desired, or occasionally be replaced with Exorcism, Holy Wrath or Avenger's Shield.

Emergencies, Panic Buttons and Special Situations

No matter how good your gear and skill is, you will still face situations that threaten your life from time to time as a tank. Paladins have a passive skill called Ardent Defender which significantly decreases damage taken when the Paladin's health is under 35%, giving them an effective hp boost of 15% (making it as large if not bigger than a druid's), and giving them a "passive automatic ressurrection" depending on their Defense every 2 minutes. Paladins have several panic buttons. At low health, they can restore all of their own health with Lay on Hands. When anticipating high damage, they can cast Divine Protection to reduce all damage taken by 50%, and even Sacred Shield to absorb a little more. Note that Paladins have also access to Divine Shield wich makes you invincible for 12 seconds. Using it is not recommended, since it makes all mobs attacking at you to de-aggro for the duration.

Paladins can Cleanse some debuffs.

Fears, stuns, other crowd control, and most debuffs can be quickly removed by using Divine Shield and immediately canceling it (made easier through the use of a macro).

Misconceptions and changes in Wrath of the Lich King

Because of major changes between The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King, there are some misconceptions around Paladin tanking that can be addressed.

Mana Supply

Because of Blessing of Sanctuary, combined with Spiritual Attunement and Divine Plea, mana supply should not be a problem for a Paladin tank. If you are running out of mana, check that you are using Blessing of Sanctuary; you may accidentally overwrite it with a greater blessing when grouped with other Paladins.

Spell power

At level 80, Paladins should not be stacking spell power for tanking. Spell power does benefit Paladins by boosting holy damage from many major threat-generating abilities. However, Paladins are intended to get their spell power through Strength (with the talent Touched by the Light) and not by stacking it directly as it provides inferior threat compared to the other options. Level 80 gear with spell power has stats oriented toward healing. Paladins benefit far more from gear with Strength, high Stamina and defense.

Video Tutorials

See also

External links