Hi. I've got a quick thing to report on before we get to the meat of the article. If you were tanking those first couple days of patch 4.0.1 and you seemed to be taking extra damage, almost as if you weren't crit-immune, there is a reason for that. There was a bug that made us vulnerable to crits in 4.0.1. It should be fixed now, but I received a couple emails about it from people who were extremely concerned about their survivability. Try things again and see if you're still having issues.
We really need to talk about talent builds. I know we're a week after the patch at this point, but due to how much we've changed throughout the course of the beta, I've developed an innate fear of committing to talent builds. Part of this comes from having had talents moved between trees each build. Other parts of this come from seeing talents keep the same name yet be completely changed as far as what they do. I really wanted the patch to drop before doing this, because I didn't trust Blizzard to keep things the same from the PTR/beta build to the live build. However, that is in the past. Let's look toward the future.
The General Purpose Tank (0/32/4) There aren't many bells or whistles here. This build concentrates on single-target threat and survivability. Consecration won't be in your regular rotation, because this doesn't include the mana-savings talents. There is a little bit of utility provided by Divine Guardian that gives a 20 percent damage reduction to everyone in your raid/party except for you. This is good for any predictable high damage moment or attempting to save the day if a healer gets disconnected. Otherwise, no fancy tricks. Just tanking.
The Dungeon Hero (0/31/5) This build is a variation on the one above. It is set up for those of you interested primarily in running dungeons. It sacrifices some of its single-target threat in Reckoning for AoE damage and mana savings in Hallowed Ground. It will let you drop Consecration on cooldown without emptying your mana bar too quickly. Consecration isn't as awesome as it was for keeping threat on multiple targets, but combined with the lower cooldown on Avenger's Shield (including procs from Grand Crusader), it should work pretty decently. We also dropped the utility of Divine Guardian for a little extra threat with another point in Crusade.
The High Damage Build (2/31/3) This takes away some survivability and utility options in trade for higher threat. You lose your extra range provided by Improved Judgement. You lose Divine Guardian's "raid wall" ability. You also lose Guarded by the Light's self-healing bonuses. In return, you've got Hallowed Ground, Reckoning and Judgments of the Pure. Using a build like this, it's going to be up close, personal and quick-hitting.
The Self-Healing Tank (3/31/2) Word of Glory has become a popular tool for a lot of tanks on the beta. With the right talents, you can use it to turn yourself into an extreme damage soaker. The problem is that you have to sacrifice a lot of threat to do this. Are the benefits worth it? It depends on what content you're running and what you need to be able to handle.
This takes advantage of three primary talents: Guarded by the Light, Eternal Glory and Protector of the Innocent. The first part is Guarded by the Light, which boosts the healing of Word of Glory in addition to letting any overhealing become a short-duration bubble shield. Next we've got Eternal Glory, which allows us the chance to recycle holy power used on Word of Glory to use on another holy power ability ... like casting another Word of Glory. Finally, Protector of the Innocent gives some self healing whenever you cast a direct heal, including if that heal was cast on yourself.
The Base Build (0/0/[30+1]) This does not include all of the points, but I wanted to point out something with retribution. That build says 30+1. That means you've got a free talent point that can wander between a few different talents. The problem is that it must be spent on something in order for you to reach Zealotry at the top of the tree. Sure, there are a couple talents that are not absolutely required for you to do the maximum possible DPS, and we're going to tell you that you have to take them. Even with those talents, you still have a lonely talent without a real home. Your choices are Eye for an Eye, Selfless Healer or Acts of Sacrifice. Each has its own perks and uses, but the choice is up to your playstyle.
Eye for an Eye actually has the potential to give you some additional "free" DPS. If you take magic damage, it can possibly pump a portion of it back at its source. This could lead to some free damage with your name on it in the meters.
Then we've got Selfless Healer, which is good for those of you who like helping out with healing when the chips are down. The point of Selfless Healer isn't that it is a DPS boost, but if you use your holy power to heal someone, it makes that usage less of a DPS loss than it normally would be.
Finally, we've got Acts of Sacrifice which lowers the mana cost and cooldowns of Hand of Sacrifice, Hand of Freedom and Hand of Salvation. Being able to cast Hand of Salvation more often means that you have less of a chance of pulling threat. Less threat means more DPS. Or something. Regardless, I like my utility abilities to be able to provide more utility, so I'm going to put that point in here for the examples.
The Damage Abilities Build (5/0/[30+1]) The two main builds aren't really that much different, and that's primarily due to a difference in opinion based on how much damage two different talents provide. This one puts two points into Arbiter of the Light to bump up some damage abilities. Otherwise, we've got access to Rebuke (our new spell interrupt) and Repentance (our faithful crowd control method) in the middle of the retribution tree. You could take these talents and put them elsewhere, but you will end up wanting them for both leveling and dealing with the harder dungeons in Cataclysm.
Seal Damage (3/2/[30+1]) This also has the floating talent point in the retribution tree. It differs from the build above by removing those two points from Arbiter of the Light and putting them into Seals of the Pure in the protection tree. The math comes out pretty even between those two choices, so it really comes down to your playstyle and gear. If you're better at managing your rotation, then go for the build above. If you'd rather have more damage come from passive seal damage, then grab this build.
The Light and How to Swing It tries to help paladins cope with the dark times coming in Cataclysm. See the upcoming paladin changes the expansion will bring. Wrath is coming to a close and the final showdown with the Lich King is here. With Cataclysm soon heating things up, will you be ready?