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The Light and How to Swing It: An updated look at the prot paladin rotation

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.

With some of the buffs from 4.3 (specifically the buff to Seal of Truth, when Judged) along with ever-increasing stats and item levels, our rotational priorities have changed as well. In order to keep everyone up to date on the latest theorycrafting being brought down from Mt. Sinai from Theck over at Maintankadin (as well as a refresher for the rustiest among us), this column today will look over single-target and AoE threat rotations and talk about what is the most optimal way to roll face.

First things first -- the right setup

Talenting is important when it comes to producing threat. If you're sacrificing a key DPS increaser like Reckoning for a monstrosity like Hallowed Ground, you're going to be doing yourself a disservice in the long run. No matter how cool a damage-dealing talent sounds (Eye for an Eye is case in point here), unless it brings the proper numbers to the table in the sims, it's not worth it if optimal play is your goal.

This is the pretty standard setup. I included the three heaviest-hitting prime glyphs in there as well. With regard to the talents, you can also go a little deeper by swapping the second point out of Pursuit of Justice and finishing off Grand Crusader. The second point is worth about 241 DPS with 2% hit/10 expertise.

Speaking of: All the threat numbers I'll be sharing in this column with be Theck's standard 2%/10 expertise kit, to offer a stable baseline across the board. Obviously, in current raiding, with Vengeance, there's no real benefit for pushing your personal DPS unless you're contributing to a DPS check like Ultraxion. Otherwise, all your itemization energy should be going to survivability, as much as you can help it.

Do your homework!

All in all, every number and assertion you see here is based on the work of the amazing Theck. I cannot exhort you enough to make a habit of visiting his MATLAB thread early and often, to stay abreast of the most current theorycrafting for our beloved spec.

Single-target rotation

Not much has changed for our single-target rotation since 4.3 aside from the Judgement buff slightly shifted our priorities regarding when Judgement is cast. Now, you'll want to prioritize Judgement, in regard to Avenger's Shield, as follows:

  • Avenger's Shield goes first, if it has a Grand Crusader proc.
  • Judgement goes next.
  • Avenger's Shield without Grand Crusader always comes after Judgement.
Of course, the rock that our rotation is built on (Shield of the Righteous and Crusader Strike) remains unchanged. Shield of the Righteous is our alpha ability, always cast when you're at 3 holy power and repeatedly used (if it misses) until you get the shield slam off. Crusader Strike continues to be the heartbeat of our rotation, optimally occuring every 3 seconds except when Shield of the Righteousness is being used.

Bringing up the rear in the rotation is Consecration (assuming you have the mana for it) as a filler. You shouldn't need to do Holy Wrath, but if you have the opportunity, don't. It is (as the Scottish say) crap. Hammer of Wrath pulls ahead of both of those, so if the target is under 20% health, use HoW before any other filler.

Alternatively, the Inquisition rotation

Here's the question to ask yourself: Are you a bad enough dude or dudette to use the Inquisition rotation? Actually, it's really not that hard, and the benefits are no longer neglible. You can add up to 400 DPS to your output with this rotation.

The trick is that instead of mindlessly hitting Shield of the Righteous when you have 3 holy power, instead only use Shield of the Righteous if you have a Sacred Duty proc or if Inquisition is active. If both those conditions are not met, then dump your holy power into activating or refreshing Inquisition. The extra 30% holy damage really adds up across the board.

Tracking those two conditions is easily done using Power Auras. Just set one up using the conditions of the Sacred Duty or Inquisition buffs being active. Make it nice and apparent, and do your best to be super-attentive when the time comes to dump holy power.

It adds a little decision making to what's otherwise a bland rotation, which is fun. And more numbers are always welcome!

The AoE "rotation"

Do your best to maintain a straight face when calling this a rotation. Well, scratch that, two things can a rotation be. Inquisition should always be up, and Hammer of the Righteous should be cast on cooldown. Likewise, it's slightly more DPS to use Hammer of the Righteous at 3 holy power (and thus wasting a charge of holy power) instead of refreshing Inquisition too early.

For fillers, rely on Avenger's Shield and Consecration. Holy Wrath and Judgement are both weak, and the mana gains from Judgements of the Wise doesn't really even factor in since Sanctuary will be keeping your mana topped off in AoE situations.

Theck also, in the MATLAB thread, draws a distinction between AoE situations where you're spreading around damage like buttering a slice of a bread and if you're focusing down one target at a time and letting cleaves hit the surround mass of mobs.

For the former, prioritize Inqusition and Hammer of the Righteous like you'd assume. For the latter, it makes more sense to use your holy power on Shield of the Righteousness but still use Hammer of the Righteous for the holy cleave. Moreover, glyph Avenger's Shield for additional focusing power on that single target.

The Light and How to Swing It shows paladin tanks how to take on the dark times brought by Cataclysm. Try out our 4 tips for upping your combat table coverage, find out how to increase threat without sacrificing survivability, and learn how to manage the latest version of Holy Shield.

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