The purpose of this guide is to introduce, explain and illustrate what is often referred to as the “96969” Paladin tanking rotation. A practical method for using the rotation is provided as well as techniques for handling interruptions and using additional abilities with the rotation.
A Paladin tank generates extra threat, damage or mitigation only when using class abilities. Therefore idle time between ability uses should be avoided.
The 96969 rotation effectively uses five key Paladin threat and mitigation abilities as often as possible with no idle time.
Most raiding Paladin tanks use the rotation and it should be mastered by aspiring Paladins who intend to tank.
This guide was created during patch 3.0.9
Table of Contents:
- It’s All About the Cooldowns
- Rotation Abilities
- The Rotation
- Weaving in Other Abilities
- The Future of Exorcism?
It’s All About the Cooldowns
When most spells or abilities are used, they trigger the “Global Cooldown” (GCD), a 1.5 second period during which no other spells or abilities can be used.
During the GCD all of the action buttons get dimmer and then brighten in a spiral fashion. When a button is fully bright, it can be used.
Many abilities (including all of the ones we’ll discuss here) also have their own Cooldown which is a period during which you cannot use that particular ability again. The spiral-brightening of the button associated with the ability will occur more slowly, taking the entire cooldown time to become bright again.
|The action associated with this button is a little over 25% through its cooldown|
Below is a graphical depiction of the cooldown concept for “Ability 1” in a format that will be used shortly to show the entire rotation.
All of the abilities in the rotation are instant-cast, so no cast-time is shown.
Here is how we would show two different abilities executed one after the other using this graphical notation:
And for the last graphical example, here is the previous 1-2 sequence followed by using Ability 1 again.
Paladins have an arsenal of abilities that (with a little talent and glyph help) can be used in an endless rotation that uses an ability every time the GCD allows.
This rotation is called the 96969 rotation. The 9 and 6 refer to the cooldown-times of the spells.
The abilities can be tightly packed in rotation because (among other happy mathematical coincidences) 9-seconds and 6-seconds are even multiples of the 1.5 second GCD.
The rotation effectively applies the component abilities as often as possible for maximum utility and effect.
- Each of the 6-second cooldown abilities is used every 6 seconds.
- Each of the 9-second cooldown abilities is used every 9 seconds.
Two 6-second cooldown abilities are used in the rotation:
</tableThree 9-second cooldown abilities are used in the rotation:</tableActually, none of these “9-second” cooldown abilities has a cooldown of exactly 9 seconds.Consecration and Holy Shield both have 8-second cooldowns. But this is not a problem since the Paladin can still use these abilities every nine seconds and that is the key.However, the Judgement abilities all have 10 second cooldowns. This would leave the Paladin standing idle for one second every nine seconds which would greatly diminish the effectiveness of the rotation. Fortunately, we can (and must) spend one point for Improved Judgements (Rank 1) (a 2nd-tier Retribution talent) to reduce the cooldown by one second. Spending the second point in Improved Judgements (Rank 2) is considered wasting a talent point since you will not be able to use Judgement more often than every 9 seconds in the rotation.
- Tank with one-handed weapon and shield
- Be level 75 to learn Shield of Righteousness
- Learn the 51-point Protection talent Hammer of the Righteous
- Spend one talent point for Improved Judgements
- Do not use Glyph of Consecration
The RotationHow do these abilities fit together in a perfect rotation?Like this…
[Back to top]
ImplementationIt is risky to try to give advice to a knowledgeable audience so instead I will describe my method of implementing the rotation. You may adopt or adapt as you see fit.
ChallengesThe 12-part sequence is not easily memorized or recalled during battle.
Stuns, knockbacks, silences or lag can disrupt the cycle and cause confusion.
My SetupDuring battle, my right hand is on my mouse for moving and targeting. My left hand is on the keyboard in “home row” position (like a touch-typist).Spells and abilities used during battle are all mapped to keys associated with the left hand.I created an over-sized (150% size) hotbar for the five abilities in the rotation.
- The 9-second abilities are on the left
- The 6-second abilities are on the right
- A blank button is in between
I mapped these buttons to left-hand keys (S C D R and F) and displayed the bound keys on the buttons as shown above.Since I am glancing at it constantly, I put the bar below my avatar’s feet, about 1/4 to 1/3 up from the bottom of the screen. This is well inside the periphery where most buttonbars are usually kept.I use OmniCC, a fantastic Cooldown Counter addon by Tuller that puts cooldown timers directly on buttons.
I also use RedRange by Iriel, which turns buttons red when your target is out of range. You will know instantly if your target drifts out of range, especially for the 6-second abilities which only work in melee range:
My MethodHere’s what happens on a pull:As the target approaches I use a 9-second ability, usually Consecration (“C”) to start building aggro over time. For a boss or otherwise hard-hitting mob, I might instead use Holy Shield (“S”) for mitigation up front.Then as soon as I can (when the GCD allows which is 1.5 seconds later), I use a 6-second ability following this simple logic:
- If only one enemy (or only one is in range) I use Shield of Righteousness (“R”).
- If multiple enemies I use Hammer of the Righteous (“F”). These are just guides, the decision is not often critical.
Knowing that I just used an ability on the “right” side (Hammer of the Righteous), I glance to the “left” side and pick an available ability.
OmniCC makes this a lot easier since any button with a cooldown number on it is not available.
Assuming a Consecration (left) followed by a Shield of Righteousness (right), my hotbar looks like this and I am ready for an ability on the left:I have a choice of either Holy Shield (“S”) or Judgement (“D”). I choose quickly, the decision can only take 1.5 seconds.I choose Holy Shield (“S), and now I see this, looking to the right side for my next ability:Obviously I can only choose Hammer of the Righteous (“F”). From here the choices are automatic, only one ability per side is ready when needed. I just keep alternating sides and the rotation falls into place!Note that the key-letters are hard to read in these screenshots, but by the time the GCD is completed, the buttons corresponding to available abilities are completely bright and easy to read as they are in the first sample action bar above.Here is a graphical depiction of the left-right alternating sequence:
Quiz – Try it yourself!You have just cast Judgement, a left-side (9-second ability). On which side is your next ability? Glance below to determine which key to press.With practice, a glance can tell you your next two keystrokes. Highlight here: (Next is R. After that would be S.)
Practice #1: Set up your action bar, map your keys and find the target dummies in a major city. Practice until the rotation seems natural and you are alternating sides easily without delay.
InterruptionsIf I am silenced, stunned, thrown, slowed, CCd, victimized by lag or otherwise incapacitated or interrupted for several seconds, I don’t panic or get confused. As soon as I regain control, I simply choose an available ability on the right side, then one GCD later choose one on the left side. I’m back into a rotation in no time. It might not be the exact sequence I had before the interruption, but that does not matter. By alternating sides I am into an efficient rotation.I don’t think there are any boss fights where the rotation is used uninterrupted from beginning to end. Some attack or scripted event will disrupt the cycle and you will invariably need to recover. I believe the left-right system is a very effective method for establishing or re-establishing a 96969 Paladin rotation.Also, in the next section we’ll discuss using non-rotational abilities and the same “recovery” skill will be used to do this, so we should be very comfortable with it.
Practice #2: While executing the rotation on a target dummy, interrupt yourself (I suggest eyes away from screen) for 2 or 3 seconds, then recover. Practice until you can smoothly get back into a rotation. Recommendation: Let your first ability after being interrupted be a 6-second (“right”) ability.
[Back to top]
Weaving in Other AbilitiesPaladins have other useful abilities besides the five in the 96969 rotation. I will show how I weave these into the rotation. Here are the most common abilities I use shown in increasing order of their cooldowns, so that those at the top of the list can be woven in more frequently:</table
Weaving these into your tanking arsenal is extremely important. These abilities are just too powerful (even if situational) to ignore.
If you want to know the practical method for weaving abilities and skip the GCD explanations, go to the summary at My Weaving Setup.If you want to know the How and Why, continue.
When I first sketched out the rotation cycle (repeated below), I thought everything packed together so perfectly that introducing any new ability would wreck the cycle.
But the key to understanding weaving’s simplicity is to realize that we are attempting to stack red GCDs as closely together as possible, not necessarily yellow ability cooldowns. The yellow ability cooldowns simply constrain how closely we can pack the GCDs on the same line.
Our focus is really on the red GCDs as shown below. We just want them to be back-to-back-to-back so that we are using Paladin abilities as often as possible.
When we weave in an ability that is not normally part of the rotation, we can simply insert its GCD into the chart.
The GCD chart below represents weaving Hammer of Justice into the rotation.
Below, the yellow ability cooldowns are added to the diagram. Inserting the new ability simply postpones every rotation ability for one GCD (red arrows).
First Unmodified Rule for Weaving: After a non-rotational ability is used, simply pick up where you left off, using the rotation ability that was ready when you used the non-rotation ability as illustrated above. (This will certainly work but we can make improvements.)
First Refinement to WeavingIn practice, the 6-second abilities Shield of Righteousness and Hammer of the Righteous are so efficient compared to the 9-second abilities that we don’t want to postpone them by even one GCD.If you look carefully at the previous diagram, you will notice that there are actually two abilities that can be cast after Hammer of Justice‘s red GCD (“F”). Consecration (“A”) which is the one shown as being cast next and Hammer of the Righteous (“D”) which is postponed in the diagram.
In this example, after casting Hammer of Justice, let us have the Paladin use the 6-second ability Hammer of the Righteous. So we use Hammer of the Righteous right away and postpone Consecration by another cooldown and see what that does to our chart. I shaded the exchanged GCDs purple for clarity when compared to the previous diagram:Now after the cast of the Consecration (purple “A”) there are again two abilities available: Holy Shield (“C”) which is the one shown as being cast next and Shield of Righteousness (“B”). Though there are possibly rare exceptions, the Paladin will usually prefer the 6-second ability to a 9-second ability.
So lets exchange these two abilities (exchanged GCDs are purple again):
Now after casting Holy Shield (purple “C”) we have a little GCD collision between Hammer of the Righteous and Judgement. Both are available but we can only cast one. Again the Paladin will typically choose the 6-second ability, so we’ll push back Judgement (purple below). I’ll also add another dimmed Shield of Righteousness to line “B” to show that no GCDs are missed:
First Modified Rule for Weaving: Treat the weaved ability as a 9-second (“left”) ability and return immediately afterwards to a 6-second (“right”) ability. Continue rotation from there. This uses the 6-second abilities as often as possible.
Note that upon returning to the “left” side (9-second cooldown side), the Paladin actually has two abilities to choose from as shown by the circles below:This is very similar to starting out the rotation where we have more than one ability on a side to choose from. Our choice determines the ensuing rotation order. Being able to change the order of the 9-second abilities is a side-effect of weaving since the yellow cooldowns for the 9-second ability that got “skipped” plus the next natural 9-second ability are both completed by the time we get back to the left side.
Second Refinement to WeavingLets extend the GCD-shifting idea by making a switch to the previous diagram. Lets switch A and C:Finally lets switch A and E:We have effectively placed all of the GCD delays into the original ability that was due when we wove the non-rotation ability. (“A” was originally due when we wove in “F”).
Due to the meager damage and aggro caused by the Judgement abilities and the 20-second duration of their effect, Judgement can be skipped for an entire 9-second cycle after weaving in a non-rotation ability. This keeps its special effect up for your party but allows you to use the two stronger 9-second abilities as often as possible.
Second Modified Rule for Weaving: Weave a non-rotation ability by using it in place of Judgement. Then do not use Judgement again until it is the only ability off cooldown on the left side. This will skip Judgement for a 9-second cycle, keep its effect up throughout (it lasts 20 seconds) and use all of the stronger abilities as often as possible.
My Weaving SetupHere is a slightly expanded view of my action bars:The abilities I weave most often into the rotation are right beneath by my left-side abilities as a visual cue to use them in place of left-side abilities.
- Non-rotational abilities should be used when you are due to use a 9-second “left” ability.
- Return immediately to the “right” side since these abilities are stronger than the “left” side abilities.
- You will have two “left” abilities to choose from. Put off using Judgement until it is the only “left” ability off cooldown since it is the weakest ability in the rotation.
- Apply this same method of rotation recovery when you are interrupted from the rotation.
Practice #3: At a training dummy, practice weaving Divine Plea, Hammer of Justice and Avenging Wrath into the rotation in place of a 9-second ability (note that Exorcism and Hammer of Wrath cannot be used on training dummies since they are not undead/demons and their health does not fall below 20%). Recover the rotation by starting with a 6-second ability and do not use Judgement until you must. This is actually easier than Practice #2.
Practice #4: (optional) At a training dummy try to weave the abilities in place of Judgement and then do not use Judgement again until you must. This is an optional technical refinement due to Judgement’s relative weakness. Mastering Practice #3 is certainly satisfactory for practically all tanking encounters.
The Future of Exorcism?Blizzard has announced changes to the Exorcism ability for PTR 3.1 .Blizzard Staff wrote:
Exorcism – this spell now causes damage to all types of enemy targets. However, it always critical strikes undead or demon targets.
We must wait and see what they do to the damage, mana cost and cooldown, but if the numbers don’t change too much, this will be a powerful spell to add to the rotation. Its cooldown of 15 seconds, however, is not rotation-friendly.A possible solution is to alternate this strong ability with the relatively weaker Judgement. This would use Exorcism and Judgement every 18 seconds and still use every GCD:Here is the conceptual sequence logic for this modified rotation:
The 96969 Paladin Tanking Rotation is an efficient way for a Paladin to maximize threat and damage mitigation by stacking key abilities as often as possible.
The left-right system of categorizing and visualizing the 9- and 6-second cooldown abilities used in the rotation is an effective and intuitive way to establish the rotation, recover from interruptions and weave in non-rotation abilities.- Tannyr
|Off topic: RedRange is also great for knowing how close you must creep to pull with Avenger’s Shield.|
|The simple key to making the rotation managable is to realize that “left” and “right” abilities are used alternately.|
|This is the sequence followed, but you don’t need to memorize this. The logic shown above unfolds automatically when using the left-right system.|
|Where could you possibly cram anything else? and is anyone still reading this?|
|Gaps are OK as long as red GCDs are packed.|
|Notice: Weaved ability results in five GCDs worth of delays (five red arrows each 1 GCD induration).|
|Can you spot the problem? It will get fixed soon (several GCDs are stacked/simultaneous)|
|Notice: One GCD delay is shifted from 6-second ability to 9-second ability (purple shift D to A).|
|Notice: Another GCD was shifted from a 6-second ability to a 9-second ability (B to C). The strong 6-second abilities (“B” and “D”) are now packed with no gaps.|
|Order is restored!|
|Notice: The 6-second abilities should not affected or postponed due to weaving since all of the inserted GCDs (red arrows) have been shifted to the relatively weaker 9-second abilities (“A”, “C” and “E”).|
|Affected GCDs are shown in blue.|
Closest thing you’re going toClosest thing you’re going to get to 96969 for Pally tanking in Cata is this:Our new queue is ShoR>CS>J>AS>HW. Feel free to slip Cons in
above HW if the boss is stationary and mana isn’t an issue.
This is equivalent to the following (dubbed “939”) rotation:
CS-J-CS-X-CS-ShoR, where X is filled with AS if it’s available, or HW
otherwise.– from ElitistJerks Prot Pally threadThis is because you can’t just mindlessly slam buttons anymore with the introduction of Holy Power (and especially the change that CS don’t grant HoPo on misses anymore).
No update for CataclysmThank you for asking. The positive feedback the guide has received has been rewarding to me.However, I do not plan to update it. The whole premise is made obsolete by changes made in 4.0.I haven’t played Tannyr in months and haven’t even purchased the expansion for any of my accounts, so I actually don’t know how to tank as a paladin right now.Perhaps I could read one of your guides?Be safe and have fun!– Tannyr
4.0Will you update the tutorial for 4.0? Also can you post a screen-shot of your talents?
Moved to Archive SectionI love this guide so much, it makes me sad to do this 🙁
We are recently working on improving the quality of content here on WoW-Pro.com, both by limiting low ranked guides and by moving out of date guides into archives. For more information, see [url=https://www.wow-pro.com/node/3016]the full news post detailing this process[/url].
Your guide has been moved to the archive section for the following reasons:
[list][*]The guide is significantly out of date as of patch 4.0.[/list]
If you improve your guide to address these issues, you are welcome to move the guide back to it’s proper category. If someone else would like to adopt the guide, please leave a comment.
If you have any questions about this process, feel free to comment here.
Macro’ing for 4.01Hey,
I found this guide extremely helpful and found the macro’s in the comment part awesome.
I’d love to get a hold of your new macro’s for the new patch.
Keep it up
I absolutely 110% agree withI absolutely 110% agree with Tannyr and Jiyambi here.
Any class can set their rotation to a cast sequence macro. But why do it? In my eyes, that is pure and downright laziness. If you want to play a class that’s rotation is purely one button, find a private server opperating on TBC, and play the Hunter Class BM spec. There are too many procs, too many mistakes waiting to happen, to many occurances or things you may need to quickly recover from. And in my eyes, a castsequence macro for your rotation will [b]not[/b] allow you to do this effectively.
Playing properly is being able to counter any problems you may face with immidiate reactions, being able to effectively use your procs, all whilst still maintaining your rotation. You cannot do this with a cast sequence macro. Trust me I’ve tried hundreds of times to find a solution that enables you too. Yes they make your life a little easier, but by doing this you are willingly sacrificing your own performance and possibly letting down your raid because of it.
I don’t wish to offend anyone here, but if you’re going to play in a serious environment, have a serious attitude about it. If you don’t have the right attitude then it’s just lazy and you’re on a slippery slope to becoming a bad player.
I partially agree andI partially agree and partially disagree. There is almost always a need for macros, even if only to glue a modifier or a miscellaneous precondition or postcondition to an action. However, castsequence macros [i]by definition[/i] completely undermine the technique you outlined here. Sure, you can faceroll a castsequence in your sleep, but they are totally inflexible. They’re fine for repetitive buff sequences, but I get a little bit queasy when I see them proposed as part of a rotation. That aside, I don’t see why using toggle-modifier-style macros would be at odds with the core of your technique, particularly if one has a multi-button mouse and uses a logarithmic cooldown tracking bar (fortexorcist, sexycooldown, etc.) or some other means of tracking what isn’t visible on their action bar. I even find that the modifier key acts like a placeholder in the event that I have to deviate and return to the rotation, like putting one’s thumb in a book (or in my case, thumb on the shift or control key on my mouse).
Yes, of course you’re right.Yes, of course you’re right. As I said, being the CL Rogue of my guild I can’t spend time learning to weave as a main character. I don’t have, and I would not suggest my Rogues to use a macro doing all the rotation. Your keybind is too exotic for me, I play like an FPS but also I have Shift modifier to use all my spells/skills with one hand. In a far future I will learn to weave without it but so far the macro served me well, I promise XD. There’s no macro that can substitute in a rotation for dps or for tanking the human skills.
100% agree with Tannyr here.100% agree with Tannyr here. I tried using macros for a while for this, because I liked that it freed up space on my screen. But, the lack of flexibility is just plain bad.
As an alternative, there is an excellent addon out there called CLCRet. This is normally an addon for Ret paladins, but also has a prot setting which helps with your 969. It basically pops up an icon for what button you should press next in your 969. You can program whatever sequence/priority system into it you want, but it comes with one set so you don’t have to mess with it if you don’t want to. It’s great if you lose your place and need a little extra help getting back on track. If you follow the logic described by Tannyr in this guide, you won’t NEED it, but it’s still nice to have – things can sometimes get quite chaotic while tanking!
Macros and the Paladin Tank RotationThank you Drejeck for your nice comments.
I feel defeated when somebody reads my guide and then suggests or asks for macros to make it easier.
With the left-right setup I recommend, there is no need for macros. It is always much better to have full control of the execution sequence and the left-right system makes it easy.
As a side comment, I agree with Jiyambi’s opinion below: Keyboard hotkeys should always be used for your combat abilities and certainly for the abilities in the 96969. Your normal mouse hand should be on the mouse for targeting and moving. Your other hand should be on the keyboard to use combat abilities.
MacroingSuch a useful tanking rotation I couldn’t bear to learn since I am the Rogue Class Leader of my guild and using an alt tankadin for raiding purposes. Before this guide I was mashing all the available spells consuming tons of mana. Now, my alt tankadin is far over the main characters and with two simple macros I’ve made from your awesome guide, consider them a tribute to your awesome guide.
Why two? Because of the 255 characters limit in macro text.
How did I separete the macro? I went examining the timing of the spells and noticed you could break after the second judgement to loop from the start, or open just after the second judgement to loop to the end of the rotation. You can even do the full rotation but I needed something quick, without having to learn to weave, to teach others tankadin and flexible for those quick pulls.
/castsequence reset=1 Consecration,Shield of Righteousness,Holy Shield,Hammer of the Righteous,Judgement of Wisdom,Shield of Righteousness,Hammer of Justice,Hammer of the Righteous,Holy Shield,Shield of Righteousness,Judgement of Wisdom
I usually use this part when it comes to gain aggro while I am still taking position and there are more than 4 enemies. Also, looping this macro make your Judgement proc the libram of obstruction and bash a very strong Shield of Righteousness to your enemy with a certain continuity.
/castsequence reset=1 Hammer of the Righteous,Consecration,Shield of Righteousness,Holy Shield,Hammer of the Righteous,Judgement of Wisdom,Shield of righteousness,Consecration,Hammer of the righteous,Holy Shield,Shield of righteousness,Judgement of Wisdom
I usually run this macro the most because I feel like it’s very easy to trash tanking after an avenger’s shield.
Of course there are also other spells I cast when need calls for it.
I would try some other macros to get all the rotation to one keybind as I have already done for the Retradins, SV & MM Hunters.
P.S.: Macro Rotation part 1 is keybound to my mousewheel up and the part 2 down, making me free to move.
Tanking adviceAs an experienced tank and as someone who has been around the forums, I can give you this advice: If you use your keyboard to turn, train yourself out of it now. It’s the absolute, number one, worst habit any tank (or any player in general) could get into.
I use one hand on my keyboard to use all my abilities and to strafe (use the same keys with a modifier to strafe), leaving my mouse hand completely free to change my view, turn quickly, and select targets. Clicking from ability to ability will *never* be as fast as using hot keys, tabbing will *never* be as fast as clicking on your target, and keyboard turning will *never ever ever* be as fast as using your mouse to turn (which you can’t do if it’s busy clicking things).
Tab targeting (what you are doing with 1) can be useful in some situations but shouldn’t be relied on, I’ve seen a lot of fail pulls where someone accidentally tabbed to a mob in a different pack.
I would suggest you go download Tidy Plates and make sure your nameplates or turned on. I would *never* tank without this addon, it’s ridiculously useful. The Threat Plates mod for it is good, too, though I honestly dislike it’s aesthetics. With Tidy Plates it’s easy to click the enemies around you, you’ll never need tab targeting again.
Obviously you should do what works best for you – this is simply my set up, but it seems to be similar to the general consensus of experienced tanks. 🙂