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The Light and How to Swing It: How will protection glyph come 5.4?

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 9 other people, obsessing over his hair, and maintaining the tankadin-focused blog Righteous Defense.

One of the most monumental changes that protection paladins will be facing in the upcoming patch will be a simple nerf to one of our favorite glyphs. Since just about the beginning of Mists, protection paladins have uniformly equipped the Glyph of the Battle Healer to great effect and, alas, the devs have finally decided to step in and put a stop to our shenanigans.

You can't really blame them, Battle Healer was brokenly good -- free heals that were augmented by Vengeance, and while they weren't a gamechanger by any means (thanks to overheals), it was still an advantage that paladins had over any other tanking class. It was a needed change.

Regardless, the change to Battle Healer has a ripple effect for protection paladins as it makes Battle Healer a purely situational glyph for fights where the raid needs your Seal of Insight procs more than you need them for yourself. Which means, for probably the first time in many, many months, we will have an open glyph slot. Let's take a look at what could possibly fill that empty space, both in our hearts and our glyphs tab.

The old stand-bys

If you're anything like me, you've generally been playing with a pretty small roster of glyphs this expansion. My defaults have long been Battle Healer, Glyph of Divine Protection, and Glyph of the Alabaster Shield (which is also being nerfed, but not enough to break it). Depending on the fight (ie, if the most dangerous damage is predominantly magic or physical; if fight has adds) I would swap out one of the latter two and replace it with Glyph of Focused Shield.

That strategy has served me pretty well, but it's been pretty rigid and boring, and I'm a little excited at the prospect of having extra flexibility with how I glyph. Blizzard always stated that they did not want there to be mandatory glyphs, and as we all know, no glyph was as mandatory as Battle Healer was.

Unfortunately, with that vacancy soon appearing, there aren't many obvious choices to occupy it. A lot of our major glyphs are pretty uninspiring, run counter to how we will be playing our class, or just don't sim out to be that worth it in terms of damage over the course of a fight.

Probably the best glyph I haven't been using much thus far is Glyph of Final Wrath, which while a distant third, is still our third-best glyph in terms of damage for single-target fights. For glyph loadouts where I'm trying to maximize damage output, I can see myself reaching for that glyph with little hesitation. I'm struggling to think of anything beyond that which is an absolute "must have."

What's lining up to replace Battle Healer?

Also coming in 5.4 are a handful of new glyphs. Unfortunately, they are generally uninspiring and don't immediate grab me as something terribly exciting to slap on.

Glyph of Burden of Guilt takes what is currently a talent and demotes it to a glyph, to make room for a brand new talent. I'm still waiting for a Nefarian-esque raid encounter that requires kiting a pack of dangerous add for this to be useful. One day, maybe!

Glyph of Devotion Aura bedevils me, because on paper it seems awesome (a whole new cooldown, cool!) but in practice I can't image a fight where it'd be necessary. Situationally, I guess I can envision an encounter where tanks need constant cooldowns rotated on them (maybe like an early Heroic Garajal) -- but it would also have to be an encounter with little raid damage. Giving up the kind of raid utility that Devotion Aura offers is pretty alien to me. I guess that might be part of my 10s mindset, whereas a 25s paladin may have many, many other pink spots on their raid frames and thus many, many other raidwalls to be utilized that would free up their own to be converted to a personal cooldown.

Glyph of Divine Shield is kind of cool, but the heal is pretty small, and chances are I'm going to have enough healing coming in constantly that any healing it imparts will go straight to overheal. Especially if I just cheesed off a debuff with a major damage component. I imagine this is one of those glyphs that, again, will be super situational.

Glyph of Hand of Sacrifice is a glyph that seems designed more for the non-protection specs. As a tank, the damage-suck component doesn't really ever make me bat an eye, other than the enjoyment I get out of putting it on my co-tank and then getting yelled at by the Resto Shaman for taking damage for seemingly no reason.

Glyph of Holy Wrath was updated to include aberrations in its list of affected mob types. Problem is, there are very few aberrations in the game and none that I can see that I would be really gunning to put a quick stun on. Still a very situational glyph.

A wider array of possibilities

I think the only glyph I can definitely say (without reservation) that I'll use will be Alabaster Shield, and that's a welcome change from the boring same-old, same-old of the past months.

If you're purely interested in single-target damage dealing, the three obvious choices seem to be Alabaster Shield, Focused Shield, and Final Wrath. However, that last one is pretty weak, and on most fights you'll find that Divine Protection is going to be a better choice, compared to any extra damage you might do.

Regardless, I'm looking forward to having the room to play with utility glyphs finally. With Battle Healer relegated to a one of those accursed situational glyphs, we'll finally be able to stretch our wings a little more, and hopefully get to mess around a bit more with the expansive toolbox that is our glyphs book.

The Light and How to Swing It shows paladin tanks how to combat the Sha in the strange new land of Pandaria. Try out the new control gearing strategy, learn how to make the most of the new active mitigation system on your tankadin, and check out how to deck out your fresh 90 tank to get ready for any raids!

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