With the Light as his strength, Gregg Reece of The Light and How to Swing It faces down the demons of the Burning Legion, the undead of the Scourge, and helps with the puppet shows at the Argent Ren Faire up in Icecrown.
Here we are again with the final section on the low level paladin tanking guide. You can go back and read parts one, two, and three if you need to catch up. This final part deals with consumables, macros, and addons. As a dungeon runner, you don't have the high requirements usually associated with raids, but there are a couple things you'll want to keep an eye on. You'll want to keep reasonably buffed, have some useful macros to fall back on, and have some addons to help organize some of the more procedural steps. Let's take a look after the break.
For leveling up, generally you'll just want to keep a good stash of food and water. I recommend learning to cook so that your food will at least boost your stamina up a little bit. Most low level food is primarily stamina and spirit buffs and a lot of them are rather lacking. There are exceptions to that rule, but generally that's what you'll see. A lot of holiday food items are pretty good as they will usually scale with your stats. Some holiday food items even have unique buffs to things like hit and defense.
Fishing is helpful for getting something to put over the cooking fire especially if you're a die-hard dungeon runner and is pretty easy (if not boring) to skill up in and will keep you up to date with cooking supplies.
For secondary buffs on higher end food, if you need more hit, go with hit foods. If you need more threat, go with strength or attack power foods. Otherwise, use whatever consumables you have at your disposal. If you happen to be an alchemist, then try to make some potions, elixirs, or flasks that are useful to you. If you're an engineer, then lob some dynamite during pulls. Blacksmiths, use those Sharpening Stones and get a little extra threat. Scribes can use the scrolls that they made for skill ups. For leveling dungeons, use what you have available to you. For raiding, you'll probably want to be a little more precise about your choices.
Macros are pre-defined little batches of commands that you can run. They're a bit like programming, because they can be told to do certain things in certain orders and they can be told to check for certain things first. Our old column Macro Anatomy did a little primer on what macros are, simple macros you can make, and more complex macros. There is also a guide on the WoW website as a simple guide to macros.
"Oh Crap" Macro - There are many variations on this one. My personal favorite just hits both trinkets and my Divine Protection cooldown. I used to also have it as a cast sequence where I hit my shield wall first and then hit it again to use Lay on Hands, but that doesn't work anymore thanks to the patch 3.3 change. If you'd rather use Lay on Hands for bringing you back from a near death experience, feel free to change it. Note that this will work with whatever trinkets you have on you. There is a number associated with each equipment slot and your trinket slots are numbers 13 and 14.
The "Unbubble" Divine Shield Macro - When soloing, you can just hit it once and you've got Divine Shield up so that you could hearth out if you were in a pickle. When tanking, you hit it once to use Divine Shield to clear any debuffs you have on you and then hit it again to cancel Divine Shield so that the monsters don't attack the rest of the party. This is also a great way to cancel out of effects you accidentally get yourself into although it doesn't always work. Just make sure you don't spam this macro if you want to bubble-hearth, because it'll end up canceling the bubble if you're not careful.#showtooltip
/cast Divine Protection
/cancelaura Divine Shield
/cast Divine Shield
The "ZOMG Heal the Healer!" Macro - Okay, the name is probably a little overboard, but occasionally your healer gets 'martyr vision' and starts concentrating so much on the tank's health bar that they forget their own. Either that or the entire group is taking a lot of damage and they figured that they should get everyone else healed first. In these situations, it's important to have something like Lay on Hands available. This one is a mouse-over macro so don't have to change targets to use it. All you have to do is put your mouse over the unit frame (the little window with the health bars) of the person you want to use it on and then hit the macro button. You don't even have to select them. This version can also be used by just clicking on them.
/cast [target=mouseover, help] Lay on Hands; Lay on Hands
Every paladin running dungeons should have a few types of addons. They'll need a blessing manager, a cleanse tracker of some sort to help them keep track of anyone who has debuffs you can remove. It's also good for a tank to have a way to keep tabs on what buffs and debuffs they have cast on them. We'll take a quick look through some of these.
Blessing Tracker - The main addon that everyone uses for this is PallyPower. It's been around for a long, long time and unfortunately, it sometimes shows it. If you're starting out, this is probably a good choice. Personally, I've been using ZOMGBuffs lately. While these two technically play together, they sometimes fight for dominance. If you're in a guild, check with your fellow paladins there to see which one they use and follow suit to avoid any issues.
Cleanse Tracker - I like Decursive for my remove debuff addon. However, being as paladin debuff cleansing is fairly simple (it's one spell for three things instead of a spell for each), you can do this fairly simply with a mouseover macro and some decent group unit frames (Grid, Pitbull, or even the default user interface). That would give you a little more control and less addon overhead. You'd just have to change the above Lay on Hands macro to use Cleanse instead (or Purify for you low level types).
Threat Tracker - Omen... Was I supposed to say more? Fine. The defacto threat meter addon in World of Warcraft is Omen. It's simple, easy to use, and it hooks into the underlying threat system that Blizzard lets addon developers have access to. You can use the in-game threat tracking, but it's not always as useful as you need it. You can use Omen to know when to tell the hunter to Feign Death or check when to hit Avenging Wrath to force your threat up higher.
Buff/Debuff Tracker - Being able to see what bad stuff you've currently got stacked on top of you is vitally important for some fights. You have to know if you've got 3 stacks of horrible damaging debuff that will drive your healer mad or if you're just standing in fire. There are a couple ways to do this. You could run custom buff/debuff bars such as Elkano's BuffBars (which is one of my favorites) and stack them in easy to see places or you could pre-plan for certain debuffs and use something like Power Auras Classic which you can setup to give you different glows when good or bad things happen. I use a mix of the two. There are certain debuffs that I want big flashing symbols on my screen to warn me about and there are others that I'm fine with just looking over at a short list of current debuffs to see what's what.
Reagent/Food Tracker - When you get near level 60, you'll start getting greater versions of all of your blessings. To cast one of these, you need a little item called Symbol of Kings. These are sold in stacks of twenty (and stack up to 100) at almost any reagent dealer and when running dungeons and raids, you'll go through metric tons of them. You'll also go through a lot of water at lower levels before you get talents and abilities to help you keep your mana up. However, there are addons to keep track of these things for you. There's a text line only one called FreeRefills which does a good job. There's also one with a graphical UI called Reagent Restocker. These can be setup to automatically keep you in stock with however many of a certain item you want. If you tell it you want two stacks of Symbol of Kings, then every time you open up a reagent vendor, it will try and purchase enough reagents to keep you at those 2 stacks. You can do the same thing for food, water, and any other consumable you want.
Well, that's pretty much it for our low level dungeon tanking guide. I hope you've enjoyed the series. We're going to be hitting a couple weeks of end game info and then delve into a low level healer's guide (that is unless we find a holy paladin columnist before then and then I'll let them cover it).
The Light and How to Swing It tries to help Paladins cope with the dark times coming in Cataclysm. See the upcoming Paladin changes the expansion will bring. Wrath is coming to a close and the final showdown with the Lich King is here. Are you ready for the assault on Icecrown Citadel?