The Naked Tank

by Jon on January 31st, 2008

Nathan posted the following question to my Maintankadin entry from a couple of weeks ago.

A few days ago I switched my Paladin from Ret to Prot, as 66 seemed to be the level of choice to do so. Now I’m happily tanking. I’ve noticed that sometimes I have to drop defense gear so that I take enough damage, and in one fight I considered getting my 2h sword out again, just so that the hits would hurt more.

These were 60-62 instances – so is that pretty normal if you’re doing a lower instance. eg. At 70 will I be doing the same in the 68-69 Instances?

As I was writing my response in the comments I figured I’d go ahead and make it a full-fledged post.

Paladins are a unique breed in that our rage bar just happens to be blue. We use our mana to generate threat and provide other utility like our taunt and the occasional hammer-stun. When we tank, we rely on our healers to provide a healthy stream of mana by way of our passive Spiritual Attunement.

For every heal that we successfully receive, SA rewards us with 10% (at level 66) of the healed amount in mana with one very important caveat: if we’re at full health, we get no mana. This can be extremely problematic as in Nathan’s situation where one isn’t actually losing enough health to keep their mana levels up.

The Naked Tank

I often joke about taking my gear off as we run through 5-man trash as I burn through mana at an extremely fast pace but stay relatively topped off in the health department due to my superior defense. What you will find as you progress through content as a tanking pally is that you will need to acquire (and keep with you at all times) at least 2 (if not more) sets of gear.

The first set is probably closest to what you’ve acquired thus far if you’re new to the prot scene and that is high spell dmg, high int, mp5 gear. These pieces will come in handy when burning through instance trash, and even on some boss battles that favor staying power over damage reduction. If you’re still not taking enough damage, feel free to slip into some caster cloth or pull out the ole’ zweihander.

The second set is what you will be working on for raid content with a focus on tanking stats. Get yourself to 490 defense to become virtually uncrittable and work on 102.4% for uncrushability. With these goals in mind, you will still probably want to hang on to most any tanking piece you come across as different stats will be better suited for different scenarios. Some gear will have have a focus on mitigation (reducing the damage taken) while other items will provide more stamina (allowing you to take more damage) or avoidance (not taking any damage at all). Which stat to build over the other is still a topic of huge debate among players. My preferred solution is to have them all and switch them out as needed.

So to answer your question Andrew, yes, it is entirely normal and you will still be tweaking your equipment on the fly throughout runs at 70 in not only the dungeons but I can only assume well into the raid progression as well. With so many different encounter types, increasing the ability to excel at your role by adjusting your stats through gear is crucial to the success of any player, especially the tank.

  1. As far as raid progression: paladin tanks are incredibly useful up until Black Temple. Past the trash that leads up to the first boss, paladin tanking is totally useless in BT. However, in karazhan, SSC, and TK, paladin tanking is quite good, and in ZA, paladin tanking is totally unmatched. SSC has several fights where a paladin tank is a definite plus – Leotheras comes to mind, because the paladin can captain america shieldthrow him to regain aggro after whirlwind spins him across the room.

  2. I know our tank has a habit of running without a chestpiece and pants for non-heroics, and has two different shields and various interchangeable armor pieces for tanking different instances.

  3. Wow – a post about my comment, nice. It makes sense and I suppose thats one of the charms of the spec, being so hard to kill gives Paladin Tanks a good range of options for gear. I’m now 69 and noticed already everything you’ve said makes perfect sense.

    As an update we ran Shadow Labs and Achi Crypts with me as the Tank at level 68. SL took all my concentration, and but only we wiped on silly mistakes with trash (thank you hunter for 2 patrols and shammy for a body pull).

    btw – thank you for the full post response, its certainly more than I expected.

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