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The Light and How to Swing It: Guardian of Ancient Kings for prot and ret

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 soon, an entire flight of black dragons. Please send screenshots as well as any comments to gregg@wow.com.

I've been holding off on talking about Guardian of Ancient Kings (which I'll abbreviate "GK" and pronounce "goak" because, frankly, why not?) for a few different reasons. One, it wasn't implemented, and two, even if it were implemented, we couldn't level to 85 to use it. Both of those have changed in the past couple builds.

So, we've got a warrior of the light who will stand by our side and do ... what was it again? Oh, right. Something completely different depending on what spec you are. If you're holy, it helps heal; prot, it helps you tank; and ret, it helps do damage. This is intended to be a major cooldown for whichever spec you've chosen and will adapt appropriately. It is the Batman of abilities, with something in its utility belt for everyone.

Guardian of Ancient Kings for holy spec
Summons a Guardian of Ancient Kings to protect you for 30 sec.

While active, your next 5 heals will cause the Guardian to heal the same target for the amount healed by your heal, and friendly targets within 10 yards of the target for 10% of the amount healed.
Apologies to holy paladins -- I can give you the ability text, but I haven't gotten to play with your version of the ability yet due to a lack of healing gear. As much as I would absolutely love to get into the minutia of this ability's interaction with all of those wonderful new holy spells, I just haven't had time to keep up with everything new in the holy tree for Cataclysm. I would inevitably mess up the holy information, and then you'd all post nasty things about my dog (which is strange, because I don't even have a dog), or I'd forget about Light of Dawn or Holy Radiance and how those AoE heals would be considered in the "5 next heals" part of the text. I have no idea what those interactions would be, but I'm sure Chase does -- and I'm sure he'd love to answer your holy paladin questions, if you ask him nicely.

I love you guys. You're wonderful, but I don't want to mess up talking about your version of a cool, new skill. Please don't kill me.

Guardian of Ancient Kings for prot pallies

If you've been following the tanking changes in Cataclysm, then you know that a lot of the various tanking cooldowns have been adjusted to match up with the new healing/health model. This means our old friend Divine Protection got reduced from 50 percent down to 20 percent damage reduction. Ardent Defender is now an ability instead of a passive talent, but it also affords a 20 percent damage reduction in addition to its ability to let you cheat death. Let's look at what GK does for us:
Summons a Guardian of Ancient Kings to protect you for 12 sec.

While the Guardian is active, all incoming damage is reduced by 60%.
With all of the survivability revamps for all tanks, it's nice to have some big tanking cooldowns to rely on. Every 5 minutes, you can toss out a 60 percent damage reduction for yourself. Putting three talent points into Shield of the Templar will reduce the cooldown down to 2 minutes. This gives you four tanking cooldowns that you can use: Divine Protection, Lay on Hands, Ardent Defender and Guardian of Ancient Kings.

I really wish I could say more about it. However, GK for prot is just a really simple but extremely powerful damage reduction buff.

GK for retribution paladins

We've got a lot of things to manage now. You've got to watch your holy power, keep Inquisition up, hit Zealotry when it's up for a damage rich rotation, and take care of Art of War procs and Avenging Wrath. With all of that extra depth to the class, there are times when you just want: "Step 1: Hit stuff. Step 2: ???. Step 3: Profit." That's what you're getting with GK.
Summons a Guardian of Ancient Kings to attack your current target for 12 sec. While active, your and your Guardians attacks cause you to be infused with Ancient Power, increasing your strength by 20 per application.
After 12 sec or when your Guardian is killed, you will release Ancient Fury, causing 102 damage plus 102 per application of Ancient Power, divided among all targets within 10 yards.
Summon your guardian and just blow all of your other cooldowns to maximize your damage.

Ta-da! Profit!

...

OK, it's a little more complex than that. Let's look at the first part. GK summons a guardian to attack your current target. So, you'll be doing additional damage based on that. There hasn't been a real numbers pass on abilities, so I'm going to wait until closer to release to talk about that part (especially since that "numbers pass" might include changes to stat conversions).

Second, every time you or your guardian hit your opponent, you'll be accumulating a stacking strength buff. OK, the obvious answer to this is get as much melee haste as possible to stack up that buff as high as you can. This is actually a decent theory. The problem with that is, as I said earlier, is that we aren't finished with numbers passes yet. I wouldn't necessarily stack just haste on gear, because mastery, hit, expertise and crit are always good as well. What I would do is take advantage of Bloodlust/Heroism/Time Warp. If you're in a raid or even a dungeon, someone is going to have this from time to time, and a good group usually chooses which fights they're going to use it on. Of course, this is newbie damage-dealing: Blow your cooldowns during Bloodlust. Let's see what else we've got.

Third, we've got the finale of the act. Either at the end of the guardian's duration or whenever someone kills it (yes, ret's is the only version that can die), the guardian will blow all of that wonderful strength buff stack as damage. This is going to be dished out among everything you can attack within 10 yards. If you're standing next to a crowd-controlled target? Broken. If you're standing next to a killable but non-aggressive mob of some sort? Consider it attacked. Bugs? Attacked (although your Holy Wrath should have killed all of them).

Your stacking strength buff is gone and you end up with a lovely damage spike on the meters.

I've said a couple of times that you really don't need to worry about numbers right now. The devs will balance things as they see fit, and we'll probably have hotfixes nerfing one thing and buffing another. That's how the start of expansions work, especially with as many class changes as we've seen to everyone. Just be sure to give truthful feedback on how everything works together.


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. With Cataclysm soon heating things up, will you be ready?

Filed under: Paladin, (Paladin) The Light and How to Swing It, Cataclysm

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