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The Light and How to Swing It: Everything tankadins need to know about patch 4.2

Matt Walsh

Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Light and How to Swing It for holy, protection and retribution paladins. Protection specialist Matt Walsh spends most of his time receiving concussions for the benefit of 24 other people, obsessing over his hair (a blood elf racial!), and maintaining the tankadin-focused blog Righteous Defense.

Patch 4.2 is upon us. The Firelands is opening, and Mount Hyjal is once again threatened with being consumed by flames. Pretty soon we'll be knocking down the doors to the Sulfuron Keep and overthrowing the Lord of Flames himself. But first we need to find our footing in the face of the many changes being tossed at us.

Some are particularly tame, like the new icons for three of our abilities, others are much more consequential, like the redesign of Holy Shield. The key to being able to tank right out of the gate is having a good bearing of what these changes are and what they mean to you. In today's post, I'll provide you with just that.

Holy Shield has been redesigned

No more will Holy Shield immediately activate when Holy Power is expended, providing a boost of 10% block value. Instead, Holy Shield now an active, off-global cooldown ability that provides 20% block value for 10 seconds, with a 30 second cooldown.

In a previous column I explored at length why I think the change is a buff to us, and I stand by that. Reasonable people can disagree with that assessment -- hopefully reasonably -- but, nonetheless, I recommend approaching the ability like another cooldown. I'm sure many will have the instinct to just macro the new Holy Shield to Crusader Strike and be happy with an aggregate percent of total damage reduction, but I strongly suggest that's the wrong way to go about it.

Instead, as I said, treat it like a cooldown. Use it as much as you can, but use it intelligently. Watch your boss mod timers for an imminent damage spike and pop Holy Shield to mitigate it. Even if you're expecting a spike in magic damage, using Holy Shield will take the edge of the following physical attack, which can make healing you back up that much easier.

Bottom line: This is a nerf to total damage reduction, sure, that's a gimme. However, TDR is not as big of a factor in your survival as proper cooldown usage is in mitigating spikes. Spikes kill tanks and spikes devour healer mana. TDR can be covered by overheals to the point where you might not even notice it ebb.

No more dodge from agility

In probably the saddest change for us this patch, Blizzard has officially finished off agility's usefulness as a tanking stat. With patch 4.0 at the start of Cataclysm, agility no longer provided us with armor. Now, it no longer provides us with dodge chance, either.

There are several repercussions to this. For starters, we will no longer be able to use agility accessories to boost our combat table coverage. Pieces like the Necklace of Strife were considered exceptionally powerful pieces because they often paired gobs of mastery with a nice chunk of agility, which had a much more favorable conversion rate to avoidance than strength.

Make sure you have strength pieces banked to cover the hole left in your kit by any agility pieces you won't be able to use anymore. Also, when balancing your dodge and parry while reforging, you want to keep your dodge about 200 rating higher than your parry rating to account for any parry rating you'll gain from raid buffs.

Base dodge is increased

Overall, however, we will end up with more dodge. The above change is being paired with a boost of base dodge chance to 5%. Prior to this, our base dodge chance was 3.652%. As long as you didn't get 1.348% dodge from various agility pieces (around 500 agility with likely diminishing returns), you're looking at a buff to your avoidance levels.

Along with even more parry from strength!

On top of that dodge chance buff, you're looking at a minor buff to your parry as well. The conversion of strength to parry rating is being boosted from 25% to 27%, which in turn converts to parry chance. The additional parry chance gained per point of strength will be small, but any additional avoidance is always welcome.

Mastery is not being nerfed

As for stats that are not being changed, thankfully, mastery will remain (for now) as it currently is. It will remain our best stat for damage reduction. Even more so with the new Holy Shield, which is all the more effective at block cap. Let's count our lucky stars that, for now, Blizzard didn't have the time this patch cycle to monkey with our precious block chance.

We'll need new leg armor

Charscale Leg Armor offers up stamina and agility, the latter of which is (as you read above) useless to us following 4.2. Thankfully, we're getting a new leg armor option in 4.2, the Drakehide Leg Armor. Make sure to have the mats for one of these handy on patch day: one Pristine Hide and 20 Volatile Earth. Prices for the mats will surely skyrocket if you wait until Tuesday to buy them.

Ardent Defender has a new spell effect

A small change, but a nice one. When you pop Ardent Defender, you'll see the following spell effect:

This might preclude the need to have a Power Aura set up to answer that question of "I hit the button, but is Ardent Defender still up?"

Hammer of the Righteous costs less mana

The cost of Hammer of the Righteous has been dropped from 12% to 10%. A very minor change, of course, but this will make AOEing a little less mana-intensive.

Judgements of the Wise procs differently

This is a very nice change for those of us that like to ride the knife's edge of trading threat for survivability, and as a result reforge away all our hit for better stats. Now, rather than a miss costing you precious mana regen, the mere act of casting your Judgement procs Judgements of the Wise and will begin to refill our blue rage bar.

Seal of Righteousness was buffed, but not for us

With 4.2, Seal of Righteousness now procs on any melee attack, not just single-target melee attacks. I only mention this to help dispel any confusion over whether this is ideal for tanking now. The answer is no -- this is a buff intended purely for ret paladins, and we should continue to use Seal of Truth as our primarily offensive seal.

And, don't forget the most important change of all -- Rebuke, Divine Protection, and Divine Shield have new icons. Holy fists for everyone!
The Light and How to Swing It tries to help paladins cope with the dark times brought by Cataclysm. Check out our protection 101 guide and our suggestions for protection paladin addons.

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