Low Level Paladin Tanking: Mana Regen
Ah yes. More paladin adventures. I have spent a lot of time recently bashing faces in as a low level protection paladin. It’s afforded me some interesting opportunities to mingle with idiots and pros alike. It has also allowed me to restart the level 70 paladin tank I sort of abandoned eons ago and now I don’t know what I’m doing and am too scared of assholes in random dungeons to dive in and try. Really. I started a new paladin to learn the class from the group up before I go diving in at level 70.
So today’s topic is mana regeneration. Paladins are the only tank class to use mana. There’s been some whining about it, mostly because at low levels you run out of mana far too quickly. While bear druids and warriors utilize rage, which generates as they attack and are hit, paladins must rely on passive regeneration and a host of talents, buffs, spells, and their healer to keep their “blue rage” bar full. In order to properly tank, you need +stamina and +strength gear. This flies in the face of our mana pool, which requires +intellect and +spirit to refill its self. You should never be wearing +intellect or +spirit gear. Ever. But there are other ways to refill your mana.
Let me be the first to tell you that life as a low level paladin tank sucks. Sure, you can equip a sword and a shield and queue as a tank, but at level 15, you’re no more a tank than the priest healing you. You have no methods for gaining or maintaining threat. You have one taunt ability, on an 8 second cooldown, and that’s it. My experience at this level was horrible. I was grateful for the druid in my first Ragefire Chasm group who went bear and tanked for me, while I ran behind and smacked things woefully. It was embarassing. My first tip for you: wait to queue as a tank until level 16.
At level 16 you gain two very important skills: a real taunt (Hand of Reckoning) and a real threat modifier (Righteous Fury). You can now tank. Use Blessing of Might until you learn Blessing of Kings at level 20. You also gain Consecration at this level, which is the bread and butter of AoE tanking later on but right now it’s just a mana whore. Only throw it down if you pull a bazillion things and need to snap some threat on them fast. Otherwise, casting Consecrate is going to eat your mana like Fat Albert eats…anything.You should be using Seal of Righteousness. Use Judgment of Light for threat. There is no need to judge the same target more than once, which just eats mana. Seal of Wisdom and Judgment of Wisdom may be substituted if you’re low on mana, but I find bringing along Melon Juice or its equivalent is more effective than smacking something and hoping it gives up the blue.
Any skill or talent that encourages mobs to smack you in the face is good for mana regeneration. The more things that are hitting you, the faster you will regenerate mana. Read on.
Your mana woes will persist until you gain Blessing of Sanctuary, available only in the Protection tree for 21 talent points. Up until now you have likely been using Blessing of Kings. No longer. Slap Sanctuary on immediately. Blessing of Sanctuary does one very important thing for you at this level: returns mana. Every time you block, dodge, or parry a melee attack, you will regain 2% of your maximum mana. If you run instances as a tank, this blessing should always be up. Always. If you solo as a protection paladin, you will probably get more use out of Blessing of Wisdom for sheer mana regeneration. If you like to AoE grind large packs of mobs, Blessing of Sanctuary will likely still be your best bet.
Blessing of Sanctuary really shines in conjunction with your next favorite talent, something all protection paladins should pick up: Holy Shield. Holy Shield is available for 31 points in the Protection tree and it does one very amazing thing: increases your chance to block melee attacks by 30%. Pull a large group of mobs. Hit Holy Shield (you better be wearing Sanctuary!). Watch your mana overfill and run all over the floor. Awesome.
Holy Shield is really your saving grace at this level. If you are savvy about how you pull groups, you will never run out of mana. Keep Blessing of Sanctuary up at all times. Pull lots of things. Consecrate. Holy Shield. Smile. At this level, Consecrate is finally not the mana whore it used to be. If you keep Holy Shield up (its cooldown allows you to always have it up, and I recommend that you do so long as there are 3 or more mobs attacking you), and you pull enough mobs to generate enough blocks, dodges, and parries, you’re golden.
One last thing to mention, and that’s Spiritual Attunement. This talent is in the same tier as Holy Shield, but you should take Holy Shield first. Then, put two points in Spiritual Attunement. This talent is epic for low level tanks. Every time you are healed, you gain 10% of that heal as mana. This talent will be your friend until level 80, when you may decide to put those points elsewhere if you feel mana is not an issue.
Remember that paladins are born to tank large groups of mobs. Pulling mobs one at a time is going to be hard on your mana pool, as you will not block, dodge, or parry enough to refill it. Save Consecrate and Holy Shield for groups of 3 or more. Against 1 or 2 mobs, Holy Shield won’t do much, and will ultimately cost more mana that it returns.