With my druid now happily whizzing around in his newly acquired flight form I decided to take a closer look at my paladin again who had been sitting around pretty much unused since patch 3.0.2.
I've never been a great fan of retribution and decided that I wouldn't go with the current Flavor of the month build for retribution paladins. Instead I took a quick look at holy, determined that my previous shockadin build was not going to work anymore (at least not without some work) and instead focussed my attention on protection.
The problem with paladin protection has always been that the protection tree was very bloated and would quickly soak up all your talent points. That combined with the fact that outside of an AOE setting protection paladin damage was horrible meant that protection paladins needed either the support of a decent DPS class or one hell of a good book to read while they're killing.
The bloat unfortunately is still there and protection will still eat all your talent points. However the damage component for protection paladins has been greatly improved even at lvl 70.
Since I do a lot of solo-ing and especially enjoy solo-ing /duo-ing instances it's very important for me to find builds that combine survivability the ability to at least do enough damage to kill things every now and then.
Here is what I am running with at the moment at level 70:
Paladin Solo Build
Before I dive into the explanation of my talent choices let me make a quick note of the fact that the gear I am using is for the greater part still spell damage based. Even though point per point strength is now a very valuable stat I currently am trying to maintain a decent level of spell damage so that I can throw out the occasional high-powered heal.
In the end for protection paladins it's very important to know that strength will both add to your dps as well as your damage mitigation as of patch 3.0.2. So while a spell damage weapon is still a good choice we're definitely looking at a shift away from spell damage in favor of strength.
On to the build:
On the first tier we have the choice between blessing of kings and divine strength. And while Blessing of kings is still a superb buff we will be suffering from point shortage further down the line so we skip kings here. With strength being as important as it is divine strength is just too good to pass up so we dump our 5/5 points in here and head off to the next tier.
Anticipation is all about dodge... and dodging is good stuff if you want to stay alive. As a protection paladin I'd much prefer block over dodge since blocking returns damage to the target but a chance at 100% damage mitigation is still very significant.
Stoicism is picked over guardian's favor and can probably be considered an odd choice by many specialist raiders. Still the ability to reduce stun duration by as much as 30% is godsent for me. With stuns ranging from 5-10seconds in pvp you can shave off 2 or 3 seconds which essentially comes down to 2 gcd's worth of damage that you're not taking while stunned. In cases where you're aoe tanking stunning mobs this ability will also ensure that you don't end up completely stunlocked.
30% Dispell resistance on top of that is gravy.
Here we find our old faithful improved righteous fury. A 6% damage reduction for all incoming damage is very much similar to having 6% more health. In a health pool of 15K HP or more which is not uncommon for tanks that means an extra 1000 hit points which is not a bad thing at all.
Toughness gets a nice 4 out of 5 points because I need the extra point further down the line. A decent armor increase from items isn't really a requirement but coupled with the reduction duration on snares makes for a fairly solid talent. I wouldn't call it mandatory but it's a good pick on the way to
Divine guardian is a nifty little talent. But since my groups are few and far between there's really no need to spec specifically for the purpose of the group.
Improved devotion Aura is an interesting choice. Not so much because of the armor increase (which is still fairly poor) but mostly because you can scrape together a 6% stronger heal this way.
Despite the newfound beauty of devotion aura I opted for 3 points in improved hammer of justice. Since hoj now also causes spell interrupt it's very handy to have hoj available every 30 seconds both in solo play and pvp. A stunned mob isn't hitting you, a stunned player isn't hitting anything except his keyboard.
Here we find the mandatory blessing of sanctuary. Not only does this talent reduce damage by yet another 3% but more importantly it also restores your mana if you're blocking, dodging and parrying which is exactly what the protection paladin is about.
Reckoning has always been a debatable skill. What I can tell you for certain is that looking at uptime graphs 3/5 reckoning is just about as good as 5/5 reckoning. I opted for 3 points here. It's a passive skill so it translates into the occasional RNG based DPS increase but without having to waste a GCD on it. All in all the usefulness of this talent is debatable but more weapon swings translate into more seal procs which is never bad.
Sacred duty and one handed weapon specialization are excellent talents and deserve all the points they can get. What is often forgotten here is that one handed weapon specialization increases ALL damage and not just the damage of the weapon you're holding. So that means even your consecrate ability benefits from one handed specialization.
There is no protection paladin without holy shield. Its your default spell and should be up... always. Holy shield returns damage and prevents you from getting it. What could possibly be better?
Ardent defender is another skill that has often been debated. Some people say it only mitigates 1-3% of incoming damage which may be very much true. But unless you always find yourself in situations where you health is always above 35% ardent defender is mitigating damage that could otherwise potentially kill you.
Being able to take 35% more damage before you kick the bucket is superb in solo PVE..
You can't go wrong with more expertise especially if you have reckoning (you don't want to be parried too much after all) and more stamina and crit chance is a beautiful thing.
Redoubt is an interesting talent but very much random. Sometimes it will proc constantly during a battle and sometimes you wonder if you specced out of it the other day because it simply never procs. The 30% increased block value (which means more damage absorbed by your shield when you block) makes the talent worth the time since blocking is still what you do the most.
Is full of talenty goodness. With avenger's shield being our primary pulling tool and now quite useful even in mid combat due to being instant cast there's no doubt about picking this talent.
Touched by the light does a conversion of stamina to spell damage meaning you can drop a boatload of spell damage (if you have much of it) and stack stamina instead and still get decent return on your spells.
Last but not least guarded by the light takes off another 6% damage off of spells which is one of the paladin's biggest weaknesses. Reducing the mana cost of abilities that are used constantly is always a good idea even though shield of the righteousness (shouldn't that be shield of the righteous?) is not yet available to us. You'll be casting holy shield about every 10 seconds, you might as well make it cheaper.
Here we're skipping the Shield of the templar talent even though it is an excellent talent. This talent will become invaluable if not mandatory once you pick up shield of the righteous but before that it only really benefits your holy shield talent. If you have points to spare at this point this is the talent to drop them in. For now I skip it even though 30% more damage out of my holy shield would be useful.
Judgement of the just is a bit of a toss-up for me. I can't really tell if it's working but 20% slower attack speed from a mob looks really good on paper especially if it also sticks on bosses. Then again slower attacks also means less blocks and less mana returned via blessing of sanctuary. If in doubt shift these points from here to shield of the templar... something I am considering at the moment.
Hammer of the righteous is great stuff especially when AoE tanking. Even against single targets the hammer makes for a nice talent simply because it converts weapon damage to holy damage which is essentially unresistable.
From the retribution tree we furthermore pick up deflection for more parries and improved judgements with 1 point so that the judgements fit a little better in our tanking rotations. Improved judgement comes highly recommended since it can be a real pain in the rear end when your rotation doesn't go smoothly. 2 points would be preferred for more breathing room but 1 point is the bare minimum to keep judgements a solid part of your rotation.