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Build Shop: Paladin 21/31/0



Hello, talent-loving faithful! Ready for some more build dissection? This evening we turn to a hybrid class that's getting a bit of a nerf for one of its roles in the upcoming patch, but some buffs to its other major role. Yep, it's time to poke and prod Paladin talents. The Holy talent Illumination, as I'm sure all Paladins reading this know, is receiving probably the single biggest nerf anything is getting in patch 2.1 (aside from Alchemy). On the other hand, the Protection tree is getting a few buffs, including a new Improved Holy Shield talent, elimination of the deadzone on Captain America's Avenger's Shield, and a buff to Ardent Defender.

The arithmetically astute among you may note that the build above, 21/31/0, is incomplete. It only has 52 points in it, out of the 61 points available at level 70. This is because the submitter of this build, Mithral of Kael'Thas, isn't quite sure how exactly he wants to finish it off. The reason I picked this build is because, like Mithral, I "actually like the idea of a Hybrid class." His goal is to somehow make a Pally build that is decent at both of the class's primary roles, healing and tanking. This, he says, could also take advantage of Pally itemization, since "most Pally gear comes with +Spell damage AND +healing in one piece." I have my doubts about this point -- I definitely maintain very separate healing and DPS gear on my Priest. Just because it says "damage and healing" doesn't mean it's going to hold a candle to a dedicated healing piece.

But this feature isn't about gear; let's see how the talents shake out. Mithral's goal with the build is "to be able to main-tank and main-heal in the BC 5-mans, and off-tank/off-heal in Kara and beyond. Possibly even use the melee-healer concept: Get into the thick of things, drop helpful seals on Mobs/Bosses, heal-like-crazy, and maybe swing a weapon every now and then. I don't give a crap about DPS for soloing mat-farming or rep-grinding, I've got plenty of DPS-heavy guild-mates to team with. I want to tank more than heal, thus the 31 in Prot, and 21 in Holy." Holding that in mind, we plunge into the Holy tree.

Most Priests wish our Holy and/or Discipline trees were anywhere near as good as the Paladin Holy tree. Looking at these talents has refreshed my jealousy from the very start: Divine Intellect, which 10% more mana for five talent points. The Priest equivalent, Mental Strength, requires 20 points in Discipline, and taking it precludes taking a lot of really nice healing stuff in Holy. I promise I won't make this whole thing into a post about fixing Priest talents, but I just thought this example particularly telling. Anyway, a fine start for a build interested in healing, and certainly more useful for healing than extra strength. Although I wonder, if tanking is this build's first priority, if more Str wouldn't actually be nice -- is it the case that Str is fairly irrelevant for a Pally tank, and they rely more on spell damage?

Moving down the tree, we find a place where Pally talents are actually worse than Priest ones. Spiritual Focus gives heals a 70% chance not to be interrupted by damage, for 5 TP; the Priest version only takes 2 and is at the top of the tree. So I guess that's nice. Of note here as well is the fact that this stacks with Concentration Aura (even untalented) for complete heal uninterruptability. We then move down and grab Healing Light, a "no duh" talent for healing: 4% more to the main heals per talent point? Gimme.

However, then the build does something I question. Having two talent points left to spend before we can move on, it backs up a tier and dumps them in Imp. Seal of Righteousness. To me, the obvious move, especially for a tank, would be to put them in Unyielding Faith, for a chance to resist fear and disorientation. Fear is all over the place in BC dungeons, and it's always nice when it doesn't hit the tank. (On the other hand, besides Blind, I'm not sure what counts as a "disorientation" effect -- anyone care to fill me in?) But then again, Imp. SoR is getting applied after +damage from gear in 2.1, so that makes that talent a little more worthwhile, and an excellent Pally in my guild informs me that post-patch, in his opinion, Imp. SoR will be better than Unyielding Faith for tanking.

Next we come to the talent that is to the Pally Holy tree as Flurry is the Fury tree: Illumination. In its current state, it returns 100% of the mana of a critical heal. Post-patch, it will return 60%. Either way, it's quite formidable, and is basically the reason why Paladins can heal practically forever (well, that and the cheap base cost of Flash of Light). And picking up 5/5 Illumination (which you'd have to be crazy not to do) gives access to Divine Favor, which is a 3-minute cooldown skill that guarantees that the next heal will crit. And since you've got Illumination, that means that heal will also be free (now) or 40% cost (after patch). Pretty nifty in a pinch, and a decent place to stop in the Holy tree.

On to Protection! Redoubt is a very interesting talent, and a nice opener to the talent tree. Against a 2.0 attack speed mob, Redoubt should be up about half the time, if I'm doing my math correctly, which means each TP nets you a 3% increased chance to block, overall. Toughness is another gimme: every tank loves armor. Shield Spec makes Redoubt even better, although I don't understand how shields work very well, so the precise math of it eludes me. As Mithral points out, while Blessing of Kings is not strictly related to tanking or healing, everyone loves it, so going at least 11 into Prot without picking it up would be kind of silly.

To my unpracticed eye, Improved Righteous Fury reads like the Illumination of the Prot tree. Not only does it gives a solid boost to threat generation, it also reduces damage in considerably (2% per point). That takes care of both of a tank's primary goals at once: stay alive and keep the mobs' attention. But now we're a bit stuck: we don't like the next tier, consisting as it does of entirely PvP talents. What do we do? Go back and fill in Precision. No, white damage isn't the heart and soul of a tanking Pally, but it helps.

Next! Blessing of Sanctuary: flippin' sweet, if I may be so bold. Another less damage in/more threat out talent, and one that leverages our already improved shield ability. Alongside it we pick up Reckoning; while Reck bombs are a thing of the past, it's still a solid skill if you're getting hit. The next tier is something I feel will be reevaluated when 2.1 hits. One-Handed Weapon Spec is being changed to increase all damage caused by 1% per point, instead of increasing damage caused by 1h melee weapons by 2% per point. This makes it much more viable for tanking, what with all the Holy damage you're throwing around. In 2.1 I'd put 4 points here instead of 2/2 Sacred Duty and 2/5 1h Spec.

And finally, this tree finished out in Holy Shield, yet another mitigation/threat talent, and another one that works with the shield. Heck, they could've just named this tree "Shield," and then there would've been fewer Pally results when I searched for how to level my Warrior as Prot (don't worry, I gave that up after trying it for a couple hours). That's where this build finishes out. Mithral has a couple ideas for where to go from here: add some Ret for 21/31/9, or add some Holy for 30/31/0. I'd also like to throw out there at this point a build from the aforementioned guild Pally whose skill I admire, Ganggrel: 40/21/0. This is what he suggested when I asked him about a hybrid build, and essentially, it seems to drop some of the tank-specific stuff from Prot for some dual-purpose stuff in Holy.

What do you guys think? Where would you go from 21/31/0 if you wanted a hybrid build? And please, send me your builds! Next week I'll be doing a Druid, a Shaman, or a Hunter.

Filed under: Paladin, Features, Talents, Build Shop

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