Paladin tanks: If you're oom, you're doing it wrong

I mentioned in my druid vs. paladin tanking post that the one issue that people still seem to have with paladin tanking occasionally is that of mana management. The subject also came up in a WoW.com post the other day, and while the author's comments on it were technically correct, I felt that they were still kind of missing the point.

I'm not a huge expert on paladins, but I do have a frequently played paladin tank and a healer of every class, and with that experience under my belt I feel that it's safe to say that paladin tanks at eighty should never run out of mana. Levelling is a different matter as the poor pallies don't get many of their mana regeneration abilities until fairly late, but for a paladin that's running heroics, mana should never really be an issue. I don't remember the last time I had to stop and drink while tanking with mine. It doesn't matter if you're overgeared, it doesn't matter if your healer bubbles you, if you're struggling with mana then you're doing something wrong.

The main problem seems to be that some paladin tanks appear to be mentally stuck in BC, when spiritual attunement was their only way of regenerating mana. Nowadays paladins have more and much more effective tools at their disposal to keep their blue bar full, and they should use them. Seriously, forget about spiritual attunement. It's still worth the talent points, and particularly handy in raids - where ten percent of healing received is a lot, what with bosses hitting for gazillions of damage - but in five-mans it's nearly irrelevant these days. Personally I only really rely on three simple strategies to keep my mana bar full in instances:

1. Buff yourself with blessing of sanctuary

I cringe every time I see a paladin tank using blessing of wisdom or something else instead. Yes, BoW gives you some mana back, but it's only a static amount and has no other benefits. Blessing of sanctuary on the other hand gives you three percent damage reduction, ten percent extra stamina, ten percent extra strength, and a source of mana return that scales, namely with how many mobs you tank. If you need more mana, just pull a few extra (melee) mobs, and watch as all the dodging, blocking and parrying you do recharges your little blue bar in no time.

2. Keep divine plea rolling

Divine plea is pretty handy to begin with, what with allowing you to regenerate twenty-five percent of your mana over fifteen seconds once a minute, but with the protection talent guarded by the light you can theoretically keep it up forever, replenishing your mana bar from naught to full every minute. All you have to do is keep hitting things. I admit that this can be quite tricky when you're only just starting out, and if I had a penny for every time I went "argh, divine plea fell off" during my early tanking days I would have a fair amount of small change. However, this is simply something that gets better with practice. If your healer has mana and is otherwise ready, don't hesitate to pull the next group of mobs to keep your regen rolling. And well, if there is a brief break after that, the cooldown to reactivate divine plea manually should be available again anyway. Don't forget to use it!

3. Use consecration responsibly

It's an awesome tanking ability, don't get me wrong... but it's also a mana hog. Back in BC judging and consecrating was all paladin tanks could do, but these days they have so many other useful tanking abilities that consecrating on every pull really isn't necessary anymore, especially if you're only tanking three mobs or less. Hammer of the righteous, judging, shield of righteousness and any reflective damage are going to do just fine to maintain aggro most of the time, so use consecrate responsibly and save yourself some mana.

That's all that I usually do and it's more than enough for me, but if you're really desperate you can also use seal and judgement of wisdom for extra mana return.

Following these simple principles you can embrace any shields healers cast on you... and don't even think about taking off your pants in order to take more damage for spiritual attunement. Smart paladins wear their shields with pride and like to keep their pants on, thank you.


  1. Pausing for five seconds to get DP ready again is asking for DPS to pull. I'd prefer if they pulled, died, and then I got to pull normally. But they're so overgeared that they survive their sins when healers fail to pass divine judgement and leave them to their doom.

    Most instances I don't have problems with DP, except FoS where packs seem to be perfectly spaced, 16 seconds run-time apart. Sometimes I use rocket boots. :)

  2. Step 4: ask for innervate. If you aren't taking damage, your resto tree healer doesn't need their innervate for themselves :D I give my innervate to my pally tank when we're hitting up any instance that she overgears and doesn't take much damage on.

  3. @Klep: I didn't mean that you should stop intentionally to wait for DP to come off cooldown, but I tend to actually loot and such, which takes a few seconds every time. FoS is one of the instances where I actually still get good returns from spiritual attunement too, because of all the magic damage.

    @Kae: I do the same when I'm on my tree, but asking for it kind of goes against the "you're not dependent on your healer for mana" theme I was going for with this post. :P

  4. I enjoy tanking with my pally. Things are very easy thanks to the aoe aggro skills. Just lacks some "oh shit!" buttons like warrior's Last Stand or Shield Wall (never, never!!! bubble yourself or you'll lose automatically all aggro) but in compensation has the "cheater" Ardent Defender skill.
    It's true that mana management may be the biggest concern for pally tanks (forget about 9:6:9 rotation, it's not that strict, you can generate tons of aggro and keep it easily by just using available skills out of cooldown). In the first serious runs I did as tank I forgot to keep an eye on my mana and to press Divine Plea, so that made me struggle when the combat had just begun. Now after a typical opener on a group (Holy Shield, Avenger's Shield, Consecration, Hammer of the Righteous, Judgement) mana will be very low, so it's time for a Divine Plea. Once you remember to refresh it when needed (if not done by Guarded by the Light), mana will be never again an issue and you'll be able to keep aggro generation endlessly.

  5. There is no way in hell a paladin tank can loot and reach the next mobs within 15 seconds. Not going to happen. A class design which forces you to not loot is stupid.

    If you're not geared or your healer is not, you will have to stop sometimes. And DP falls off. DP adds an unnecessary amount of urge into your tank style which is, in my opinion, not warranted. You can't even type a "hi" in guild char or DP falls off.

    Sure, if you and your group overgear the content then you can work around the stupid DP design. But if the classes stay how they are, then I will level my DK tank way before my paladin in cataclysm.

    Divine Plea, die in a fire!

  6. I don't agree with this entirely. In theory this sounds great, but in practice this isn't that simple. The smallest break after a pull can cause the buff do drop. Yes, you can help preventing this by becomming one of those steamroll tanks. This isn't always nice towards the group.

    In some cases it's simply not possible.

    Take VH for example. The time between the portals is so long, that the buff nearly always drops between portals. The only way to prevent this is to keep one of the adds alive after the portal keeper dies, so you can get a few extra hits off while the other portal opens. DPS rarely let's this happen, and this only works with the portals that get opened by a single keeper anyway.

    I have a stack of older mana potions on me just in case. They're cheap, and fill enough mana to get going again, but I still don't like to use 'm.

    The problem get's worse with too many casters: think about FoS (which also has big spaces between groups, so it's near impossible to keep DP up constantly). They don't melee you, so all the mana you get is from divine plea and healing. If you hardly need healing, or have a disc priest with you, you'll run out fast. Devine plea simply isn't enough for the rotation alone. Try it on a target dummy, you'll run out very fast.

    @Kring: I'm actually noticing bigger mana problems with overgeared groups than undergeared groups. Mobs die so fast I hardly need any healing. I also get fewer hits, so little BoS mana too, I also need to generate top threat, so no easing on the Consecrate (if I don't and someone dies, the long ress will surely make it drop), and DP cooldown isn't up again after two groups, but after 5 or 6 because of the speed. So if you lose it, you're much longer without.

    I don't really see all of this as a big problem btw, I just drink between pulls when it's needed, which is luckily not that often. It takes a few seconds with the low mana bar anyway.

    Anyway, it's not just a matter of "doing it wrong", it's a nice attractive title, but that's about it.

  7. I completely agree ressme. The correct statement is:

    Paladin tanks: If you're oom, you're tanking the wrong instance.

    Are you using Seal of Cleave (Command)? I found that it's nearly impossible to pull aggro against a paladin tank with SoC and holy shield on heroic trash, even for amazing DD. I don't feel like I have to use consecration for groups with 3 or less mobs. (I do it anyway if mana permits because I like the graphic effect... :-)

  8. Well, at the risk of sounding arrogant... I don't think I'm in a terrible rush while tanking, I always loot all my sparkles, I've tanked all the WOTLK heroics many times, and I didn't have any problems in any of the examples you mentioned either. It's not a huge issue if DP isn't up for every pull, as long as you refresh it whenever it's off cooldown. So saying "it's not possible" is simply not true. It's not me being uber amazing or anything either, in fact ninety percent of paladin tanks I run with while healing never have mana problems either.

    Regardless, I have no problem with pally tanks wanting to drink either, as I said I'm not in a rush. The main point of this article was to point out that paladins have a lot of mana regeneration tools of their own these days, and that blaming lack of mana on not receiving enough healing is silly.

  9. What I do is I just tank with my pants off or add some holiday cheer to your collection. This will allow you to not only tank in style but you have more incoming damage thus more heals.

    Works like a charm ;)