As usual, I will be recommending talents but don't feel tied to the choices I make. As I said last time, if you need certain talents to support your style of play, go for it -- but at least read about why you should consider taking some of the talents I suggest.
Let's start by briefly examining a typical healing-orientated build, and how you'll be able to deal damage in your healing gear starting today!
We're going to use a pretty standard healing build (50/11/0) that focuses on maximizing healing and survivability in this example. Since patch 2.3, you now get about a third of your bonus healing converted to bonus spelldamage. A reasonably well-equipped raiding Paladin should have at least 1500 healing, which translates into about 500 spelldamage. Coupled with a high spell crit rate and the revamped Seal of the Crusader, it shouldn't be necessary to switch to a spelldamage set for everyday tasks, like farming / questing / grinding. Of course, you still can carry around an extra set of gear, but I know I'll save some bag space.
In the main, dealing damage with this build is done mostly the same way a Shockadin would (read Part 2 for more specific info on this), but you are missing a few of the goodies a Shockadin would pick up from the Retribution tree. Although you'll miss Sanctity Aura, more mana-efficient seals and a reduced cooldown on Judgement, you still have Holy Shock and the increased spelldamage / crit talents the Holy tree has to offer.
Now let's get to something new, like how to DPS as a Protection spec Paladin, aka Tankadin!
What is a Tankadin?
A Tankadin is a Paladin who has specced heavily into the Protection tree in order to pick up additional stamina, threat generation, and damage mitigation talents. With the proper gear, Tankadins are quite capable of being the main tank in any instance or raid, and are much more effective in certain types of tanking situations (I'd go so far as to call them the Kings of AoE tanking). As of 2.3, they've also picked up some additional stamina talents and should now be roughly inline with Warrior and feral Druid tanks, health wise. Due to the fact that they generate threat by dealing holy damage via various abilities (Holy Shield, Consecration, etc), and that a few of those abilities are activated by being hit, this also makes Tankadins capable of taking on many mobs at a time. In fact, some lower level paladins like to get experience by rounding up many enemies and killing them all at once, a feat sometimes called "Prot grinding" or "AoE grinding."
Once again I'm not going to recommend any particular piece of gear over another. Instead I'm going to talk about the type of gear you should be aiming for if you are a Tankadin. As a tank, you depend on your gear more than almost any other class. Your goal should be to mitigate or avoid damage, keep yourself from being crit or crushed, and stack stamina all while keeping the target on you.
Mitigating and/or avoiding damage can be done in a few ways: your AC (armor class) reduces the physical damage you take, while blocking with your shield means that you'll take less damage from the hits that land. However, once you are uncritable (meaning you've effectively pushed crits off of the attack table against a mob up to level 73) by getting at least 490 defense, it's a better idea to stack avoidance stats. Avoidance is often times better than mitigation for obvious reasons: with mitigation you're getting hit, and even when you block you still take some damage. With avoidance stats (Miss / Dodge / Parry), you're actually completely negating incoming physical damage. By gathering enough avoidance and mitigation, you'll make yourself uncrushable (meaning you should never suffer a Crushing Blow under normal circumstances). To do this, you need a combined Avoidance value (Miss / Dodge / Parry / Block) of at least 102.4% -- the extra 2.4% is for raid bosses and other mobs up to level 73. Defense increases the chance your enemy will miss you, and Dodge / Parry / Block make up the rest of your avoidance. It is easier for Warrior tanks to become uncrushable because their skill, Shield Block, increases their chance to block by 75%. Tankadins have Holy Shield, which only increases chance to block by 30%, so you've got to make up that extra block with the proper gear or other avoidance stats.
The other important piece of gear you'll need is a good tanking weapon. As the threat you generate comes from holy damage, not physical damage, I suggest picking up a one handed mace or a sword that has lots of spelldamage and stamina on it.
In summation, don't worry too much about stacking spelldamage with your gear -- focus on getting 490 defense and 102.4% avoidance first, then find a nice tanking weapon and start stacking that stamina. If you're looking for a good list of pre-raid gear, check out this thread on the Paladin forums.
Since some new changes to the Paladin trees were made in Patch 2.3, this is the build I'd now suggest for tanking (0/44/17). Here's some of the key talents in this build:
- Improved Righteous Fury: Reduces the damage you take and increases your threat generation. Awesome.
- Blessing of Sanctuary: Reduces the damage you take and causes Holy damage every time you block. This is the Blessing you should have on yourself at all times when tanking.
- Reckoning: When it procs, it generates some extra attacks for you making it great for tanking and is a key talent for Prot grinding.
- Sacred Duty: Increases your Stamina by 6%.
- Holy Shield: Increases your chance to block by 30%, and deals holy damage with increased threat each time you block.
- Ardent Defender: Decreases the damage you take by 30% when you're under 35% health.
- Combat Expertise: Changed in 2.3, this increases your stamina by 10% and reduces the chance for your enemy to dodge your weapon swings.
- Avenger's Shield: A ranged attack that deals holy damage and slows up to 3 targets for 6 seconds. This is great for frontloading some threat at the start of a fight.
The buffs you'll use will primarily depending on what you're doing (tanking or grinding), but in general I recommend using Blessing of Sanctuary and Retribution Aura. The seals and Judgements you should use depends mostly on your activity -- for Prot grinding, you'll generally want to use Seal / Judgement of Light to gain some health back, but while tanking using Righteousness or Vengeance is adviseable. If you're a Blood Elf Tankadin, you definitely don't want to use Seal of Blood for any reason.
If you're tanking, start off the fight with Avenger's Shield or JoR for some frontloaded threat. At some point you should judge Crusader, Light or Wisdom to help your group, but mostly I'd recommend using SoR. You can also mix it up if you like by using SoV until you've got a full stack, then judging it and switching back to SoR. If you like, you can use the same macro I've mentioned in the last 2 editions to make sure your chosen seal is up after each Judgement. As a Tankadin, a lot of your damage is reflective -- you deal damage from being hit with skills like Retribution Aura and Holy Shield, so make sure Holy Shield is up as much as possible. When tanking a group (and not worrying about any CC'd mobs) lay down a Consecrate for even more threat.
If you're prot grinding, you'll want to round up mobs that don't have any ranged attacks and get them all in front of you (or as close to your front as possible), then fire off a Consecrate. With so many mobs attacking you at the same time, you'll see constant Reckoning procs which can quickly destroy your target(s) when using SoR. If you find that you need health, you can switch to SoL, but it should really only be necessary at the lower levels. Remember: the more mobs you have hitting you, the more damage you'll do, so just cut loose with Holy Shield, Consecrate, and an appropriate Seal.
Well, that wraps up my 3 part series on dealing damage with your Paladin. Remember, whether you're a Shockadin, Tankadin, Healer or Retributer, you're capable of doing damage. How much damage and in what quantities will depend a lot on your spec, but nothing can change the fact that you're one of the most flexible and survivable classes in WoW!