Inspired by Phelps and aimed at the people I wind up in randoms with, here’s a few things about Paladin tanks that may not be apparent from the outside yet are important to know if you’re trying to work with one.
1. Paladins are fantastic at generating AoE threat- under certain conditions. Those conditions are: we must be able to stand still, we must be able to maneuver mobs in front of us, and there must not be more than an upper limit of about 5. If these conditions are met, you Icecrown-geared mages and warlocks can rain down all the pain you want and I’ll still have a comfortable lead over you on the threat meter; if not, I might as well have my sword stuffed where the sun don’t shine, because some of them ARE going to go back to the line and have themselves some cloth burritos.
If I’m using Seal of Command, which I usually do in heroics and when tanking trash packs, then I have four threat-generating abilities that affect more than one mob; avenger’s shield, consecrate, hammer of the righteous, and shield of righteousness. Consecrate makes for a lovely DoT tick affecting all mobs in its area, BUT I can only lay that glowy gold down in one particular spot; if I can make mobs come to me or round them up and then choose my spot, it’s very helpful. If I can’t do either of those things, it’s nearly worthless if the DPS isn’t focus firing. (Note to Halls of Reflection DPS: it is also NOT A TAUNT, god dammit.) Hammer of the Righteous generates fabulous spike threat- BUT it only hits five targets if I have it glyphed, four if I don’t, and ONLY targets in front of me that are sufficiently close to one another. Avenger’s shield also generates great spike threat and can hit more than one target AND will silence most casters for a few seconds- BUT they have to be, again, in front of me, and the targets have to be close enough to each other to catch the bounce. Shield of Righteousness, if SoC is on, acts like a holy cleave; but again, only on mobs that are in front of me, close to each other and to me, and it has an upper limit of about the same small number of targets. I also have no true AoE taunts, only Righteous Defense- which affects three mobs maximum.
Under the right conditions, I am a righteous holy threat generating machine and DPS needn’t worry about passing me on that meter. Outside of them, a warrior or bear that can generate threat on mobs that are chasing him with AoE abilities that affect all mobs and work on targets not in front of him has a significant leg up on me, because all I’ve really got on them while I’m trying to run over and pick up the next caster is my sheer force of personality. This is why my co-tank Ossifer Bear tanks the Onyxian Whelps, while I go play with the infernals during Jaraxxus. And the caster five-groups in Forge of Souls appear to have been deliberately designed to thwart cocky Paladins.
2. My threat depends on holy damage, not on strict damage done or a baked-in threat bonus mechanic like Defensive Stance or Frost Presence. This means two things: one, if I am out of mana, I am out of threat, and I’m all of a sudden significantly behind any of the DPS in ways to generate it beyond taunts, and two, my abilities to maintain high levels of threat actually depend on two innocuous-looking talents buried in the Protection tree and not on anything intrinsic to my wearing a Devotion aura and a shield.
Holy spell damage normally depends on spell power, which does not come on tanking plate. The talent Touched By the Light turns a stat that DOES come on tanking plate and is otherwise pretty useless to us- strength- into spell power. Protection paladins that aren’t thinking carefully about how their threat mechanics actually work, and aren’t using a cookie-cutter build, sometimes skip this talent, because hey, what does a tank need with spell power? Others may take it too far and start gemming for spell power without realizing that all the strength that comes on their gear is more than sufficient. Either are common newbie-tankadin mistakes.
The second talent, Spiritual Attunement, is one that my life would be easier if all healers were familiar with. Our spells are pretty mana-intensive, and since we have puny mana pools, this can create problems; tankadins rely on a very high refresh rate from multiple sources. Judgement of Wisdom returns mana on hit once the target has been judged, Divine Plea returns a percentage of our mana per second when active and is refreshed when we’re meleeing stuff, and Spiritual Attunement turns the healing done to us into mana regeneration. The Divine Plea mechanic is why tankadins in heroics tend to try and chain-pull, trying to keep it ticking when otherwise it has an irritatingly long cooldown. The other two sources are why tankadins have a harder and harder time doing their job in heroics the better their gear gets; targets start to die too fast for Judgement of Wisdom to help much, and the tank takes so little damage that healers with good, mana-efficient healer habits do very little healing to them.
So healers: if you’re running with a Paladin tank dripping in T9 in a heroic, especially if mobs are awkwardly spaced so as to make chain-pulling difficult, overheal him. Healing done when we are full doesn’t count, but overheals when we’re only a little down do. This makes the difference between tank mana starvation and wipes or long breaks to drink, and the kind of fast, brutal experience you signed on for.
3. You know that bouncy Captain America shield throw we do? The one that silences casters? The silence only lasts for a few seconds, and it’s on kind of a long cooldown. DPS and healers in the Halls of Reflection, if you see a mage standing off out of the way merrily zapping away, and the tankadin hasn’t shut it up and hauled it in, chances are he can’t without dragging the rest out of the consecrate. If you have a silencing ability or a Death Grip up, help a tank out- once in range we can pick it up and nail it down pretty quick.
4. Warrior DPS envy is matched only by Paladin toolkit envy. All those interrupts and zipping-around things and disarms and whatnot you do? I wish I could do that, srsly. All I get to do is bubble clothies.