[Paladin] Tannyr's Guide to the "96969" Paladin Tanking Rotation


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:

  1. It's All About the Cooldowns
  2. Rotation Abilities
  3. Requirements
  4. The Rotation
  5. Implementation
  6. Weaving in Other Abilities
  7. 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.
  • The bar represents Ability 1 being used with time flowing from left to right.
  • The red denotes the Global Cooldown during which no abilities can be used.
  • The yellow denotes the remainder of Ability 1's cooldown. Ability 1 cannot be used again until the end of the yellow bar.
  • However, the Paladin can use another ability as soon as the red GCD allows.

Here is how we would show two different abilities executed one after the other using this graphical notation:

  • Ability 2 is used as soon as the GCD from Ability 1 allows.

And for the last graphical example, here is the previous 1-2 sequence followed by using Ability 1 again.
  • Ability 1 cannot be used for the second time until its yellow cooldown is completed.
  • Since abilities cannot overlap their own yellow cooldowns, each distinct ability will be shown on its own horizontal line like Ability 1 in this example.

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.
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Rotation Abilities

Two 6-second cooldown abilities are used in the rotation:

Shield of Righteousness   Available to Paladins at level 75. High damage (scales with block value), high threat and low mana.
Hammer of the Righteous   51-point Protection talent. Hits target plus up to two nearby enemies. Damage scales with weapon DPS.
Three 9-second cooldown abilities are used in the rotation:

Consecration   High mana cost. Generates aggro over time for all enemies near the Paladin.
Holy Shield   Increases block chance and damages attackers when block occurs. With Blessing of Sanctuary, can help regenerate the Paladin's mana.
Judgement   Triggers an effect based on the Paladin's active Seal plus invokes another effect based on the specific Judgement used. There are three distinct Judgements, the first two are the most commonly used:
   Judgement of Wisdom
   Judgement of Light
   Judgement of Justice
Actually, 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.

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The Rotation

How do these abilities fit together in a perfect rotation?

Like this...

  • One-letter reference codes (A-E) are used to refer to each ability inside the GCD section of the ability usage. Please don't confuse A-E with the keys bound to these abilities. A-E is simply for reference within the chart.
  • The complete 12-part rotation block is A-B-C-D-E-B-A-D-C-B-E-D.
  • The three 9-second abilities can actually appear in any order in the rotation and the 6-second abilities can switch places. It doesn't matter to the rotation integrity, as long as the cooldown sequence is 9-6-9-6-9.
  • The rightmost edges of the cooldowns stair-step perfectly so the 12-part block can be repeated.

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It 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.


The 12-part sequence is not easily memorized or recalled during battle.
Stuns, knockbacks, silences or lag can disrupt the cycle and cause confusion.

My Setup

During 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:

    Off topic: RedRange is also great for knowing how close you must creep to pull with Avenger's Shield.

My Method

Here'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:

The simple key to making the rotation managable is to realize that "left" and "right" abilities are used alternately.

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:

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.

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.


If 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.

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Weaving in Other Abilities

Paladins 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:

Hammer of Wrath   Efficient finisher and can be thrown at fleeing enemies. Should definitely be used when enemy health falls below 20%. The button will light up for you.
Exorcism   Big damage to Undead and Demon enemies and should be used often against them. Blizzard has announced upcoming changes to have this spell affect all enemy types.
Hammer of Justice   Stun and spell interrupt. Cooldown can be reduced with Improved Hammer of Justice (3 Ranks, 10 second cooldown reduction per Rank.
Divine Plea   Restores mana over time during battle. Essential for long fights, use early and often!
Avenging Wrath   Damage (hence aggro) boost when every bit helps. Use on bosses and long skirmishes.
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.

     Where could you possibly cram anything else? and is anyone still reading this?

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).
     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).

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 Weaving

In 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:

     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).

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):

     Almost there
     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.

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:
      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").

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 Weaving

Lets 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 Setup

Here 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.

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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:

 Affected GCDs are shown in blue.

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



Will you update the tutorial for 4.0? Also can you post a screen-shot of your talents?

Closest thing you're going to

Closest 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

- from ElitistJerks Prot Pally thread

This 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 Cataclysm

Thank 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

Jiyambi's picture

Moved to Archive Section

I love this guide so much, it makes me sad to do this Sad

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Such 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.

Part 1
/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.

Part 2
/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.

Macro'ing for 4.01


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

Macros and the Paladin Tank Rotation

Thank 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.

- Tannyr

Skumball's picture

I absolutely 110% agree with

I 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 not 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 and

I 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 by definition 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.

Jiyambi's picture

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!

New To Tanking

Well, I am usually a mage, as seen from my main character, Tzhaarmejjar (http://www.wowarmory.com/character-sheet.xml?r=Ghostlands&cn=Tzhaarmejjar), but have been asked by my usual puggers to take up a tank to help relieve the pressure off our main tank for raiding and such.

So, here I am, looking to find a simple, yet effective system to get me into it and since I know pallies are usually the easiest of the tank classes comparatively, I went looking for a good guide for the action bar positioning and rotation.

This is perfect for that.

I also can only suggest that you add in a few talent tree builds, as others have said, just to help get people started.

At the moment, my character is only lvl 14, and soon to start the dungeon lvling combined with questing and should excell through the levels fast enough, but it's good to have a reference guide to help line up my bars as I go.

The addition of add-on links is also nice, and I'll likely use them.

As for hot-keying the buttons, I don't do that. I am a firm believer in free-hand clicking to facilitate situational combat to the maximum.

I always use my arrow keys to move, and have my next target hot-key linked to my number 1 key on my number pad, so I can always pick up the next target fast enough, as well as being able to turn on a dime.

but anyways, super good guide! I'll be using it alot.

Tzhaaradin, the noob pally. Cool

Jiyambi's picture

Tanking advice

As 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. Smiling

Level 72 Rotation

Hello, my paladin is level 72, and I was wondering if there is a specific rotation that I should use for him. I've had problems with mana before, even using Holy Shield, Blessing of Sanctuary, and Judgement of Wisdom. Thanks Smiling

Shinke's picture

Hello again

Hello again Eye

Today I figured out a macro to weave Judgement and Exorcism. It sure makes it a lot less confusing for me!

/castsequence Judgement of <whatever you use>, Exorcism

With this simple macro you can weave Judgement and Exorcism and not have to think about it.

Just trying to help now that I've hit 80 with my pally Smiling last night to be exact!

Jiyambi's picture

Is there any way to make

Is there any way to make this macro reset to the judgment after a certain number of seconds instead of just alternate? I don't think there is but I thought I'd ask Smiling

Yes there is. your macro

Yes there is.
your macro would look like this:

/castsequence reset=x Judgement of , Exorcism

where x = number of seconds you want it to wait till it resets.

Reference: http://www.wowwiki.com/Making_a_macro

Jiyambi's picture

Thanks! I think I vaguely

Thanks! I think I vaguely remembered that reset command but thought it fell under the timed/pause taboo for macros. I like this particular weave better because, if you end up weaving other abilities and skip Judgment for too long, this will allow you to refresh the debuff on the mob when needed.

Shinke's picture

I don't think so.

I don't think so.


I'd just like to say that this is an amazing guide and I will be sure to use it when my pally hits 80. I know you mentioned that Blizzard where thinking of changing exorcism, well they have. It does indeed hit every target, and whilst I do not use any rotation at the momment I am finding it amazing for my pally (71).

Great Guide!

This is definitely the best explanation of the 96969 rotation I've seen. I'm gonna have to give the key bindings a try. I use Alt as my modifier now and it has been working pretty good, but I also see how my rotation was not as efficient by repeating the same rotation each time. I think the Left-Right layout will be pretty useful and seems pretty easy.


Any other way?

I read through most of the guide and I think your "left side right side" way of organizing the 96969 rotation is really cool and effective. The only problem I have is this - "During 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)."

I haven't tried using my mouse for running and targeting, but I'm quite used to using WASD for movement. Is there another way to implement your style of the 96969 rotation while keeping WASD intact for movement? Or would I have to train myself to use the mouse for movement?

Thanks. (:

Right-Hand Mouse

I've used the mouse to move and steer since EverQuest because the person who showed me that game did it that way.

I have heard that mouse-steerers can change direction (e.g. turn 180°) faster than key-steerers. For example, when "turning a boss around" to face it away from friends, I can zip under the boss and turn around to face it nearly instantly with my mouse.

I do think that combat abilities should be mapped to keys you can press without looking at. So this should be the opposite hand you use to manouver and steer (whether it is left-hand WASD or right-hand Arrows or right-hand mouse).

So in your case if you prefer to use WASD, just map the abilities to right-hand keys and see how that works for you.

- Tannyr

Jiyambi's picture

As an up and coming paladin

As an up and coming paladin who is currently learning to implement exactly what you are talking about, here is what I do:

I find it very comfortable to hit the "alt" key with my thumb while keeping my fingers on the q-t buttons (with tab in easy reach of my pinky). Therefor, I use alt as my major modifying key. My q-t row normally controls the major 96969 buttons, but with alt held down, I use w for strafe left, e for back up, and r for strafe right. Forward movement is still very natural for me to use the mouse, but you could easily modify this strategy to work for your own tendencies.

Hope this helps Smiling

Night_Hawk's picture

Before playing WoW I used to

Before playing WoW I used to play Battlefield 2142 quite a lot. The way the keys were mapped out meant sprint was Shift, and Control was crouch. I found that using fingers 1,2,3 (if you know what I mean) on the WAD keys and using your little finger on the control/shift is easy to do. Because of this I generally use them as my modifiers. However my mate cannot do this at all, but I would still recommend trying it.

To be honest I think it comes down to what is confortable for you and what you will find easiest.

Maw's picture

Havn't tested it, but I

Haven't tested it with a paladin, but I recon that you could also use Alt + Mouse Buttons (first the two on the sides, then scroll forward, press scroll, and scroll backwards).

I use these keybindings on my rotations on various classes.

Prot Build

Hi Tannyr,

Great guide, nice use of visual aids. I have been Pally tanking for some time and this guide helps see the rotations us Pally tanks deal with in black and white.
I tend to use macros more to juggle the 969 rotation but might now adapt to a more customisable approach as shown. Thanks.

Can i just go off topic slightly and suggest an alteration to the spec you use.

you may have good cause for specing into the Ret talents : Improved Blessing Of Might & Heart of The Crusader but if i may suggest dropping the 4 points here and 1 from Benediction and picking up Reckoning in the Prot Tree as you know damage is threat and Reckoning procs are up all the time producing extra swings inturn extra threat. When it comes to 25 man raids which most good tanks aspire to then you would have a Ret Palidan already spec'd into Heart of the Crusader and Imp Might effectively making these talent points wasted aggro.

Please correct me if you or anyone has another point of view i have over looked.

Thanks again for the handy Guide.


Thanks Adswalker for your comments.
This guide is limited to a discussion of the 96969 rotation and a visual way to implement it.
I intentionally do not discuss gear, talents or strategies in the guide because I am not an expert and people will always disagree on these topics.
- Tannyr

Prot Build

Reckoning is utter crap for tanking, NEVER think anything else. The more times you attack from the front, the more chance the boss has to parry your attack.

If they parry it, their swing timer goes down by 1 second. This is just asking for taking more damage than you need.

A lot of tanks take 3/3 Heart of the Crusader for the same reason you take 2/2 Judgements of the Just; sometimes you just don't have a ret paladin/DPS warr to do the debuff for you, and it's an important debuff.

2/2 Pursuit of Justice is amazing. It sounds horrible for tanking, but remember; what is the most important thing to a tank? Position. If you are in the wrong position, you die.

Admittedly, it's a personal preference, but one I find highly useful, not in the least for tanking Anub'rekan. It helps you position that boss away from the group faster (Sarth and Sapph) and it helps you switch polarities faster (Thaddius). If you are in the wrong position in any of these fights, people die, and we know the lag gods all hate us and lag at just that perfect time to wipe everyone.

Any good tank almost requires at LEAST 1/2 Imp Judgements, and most take another point in case of lag.

Talent tree for 3.0.8

Talten tree for 3.1.0

Yes, there are no talent points in Divinity. None whatsoever, and that was for a reason.

Bluntly, as a talent, it sucks. For one, it's 1% per talent point. Most plus heals are 2% per talent. It's a waste of talent points you could place in areas that are your job.

That brings us to the second reason; it isn't your job to raise healing. That is the healer's job. Your job is to keep aggro and not die, and your talent points are much more well spent doing those things. I wouldn't dissuade your from it if your guild needs that much more healing by barely to take down Sarth+3 or something, but it flat out isn't your job to help heal, especially with such a completely crappy talent.

Go for tanking related talents on your tank. Otherwise, why not go all the way and tank holy spec? You could really help keep yourself alive then.

Oh wait.

No divinity?

I personally heavily disagree with your mentality. As a tank you have 2 prime directives, 1: keeping your fellow players from dying, 2: staying alive so you can accomplish that. The simple fact is your talent build sacrifices a 5% total overall healing to you for heart of the crusader and pursuit of justice. Odds are you have a ret paladin in a 25 man raid, odds are they have heart of the crusader, therefore you don't need it, it's a wasted 3 talent points. Pursuit of justice does not warrant the 3 extra points you have to spend in the ret tree for the speed bonus it has over Tuskarr's Vitality enchant for your boots, -especially- when you're passing up 5% total increased healing on yourself for it. I don't care how good your healers are or how good you expect them to be, you should have divinity.

I know this is an old post/thread, but...

Reckoning was good in TBC with a ≥2.00 speed weapon. In a time before divine plea and JoW nerfs and Sanct buffs (correct me if I am wrong here, never really paid attention to BoS till it was given the 10% sta buff), getting Reckoning to proc while JoW was active would give back much needed mana at a higher rate. Mechanics have changed so that JoW replenishment cannot occur more than once a second and bosses are now parry-hasted, making their next attack come faster (meaning if you are low on HP and you cause this, your healer *may not* get the heal off in time and buh-bye raid). Now, it's just wasted, maybe good for a PvP prot build, but def not PvE.

Divinity is a waste of talents. Why sacrifice 5 talent points and LOSE threat gen and DPS, when you can get more threat gen and pick up more mitigation from gear?

My build here: http://www.wowarmory.com/character-talents.xml?r=Azuremyst&cn=Secundinius&group=1 is a high DPS build and I have great mitigation, even after loosing a LOT of block/block value while upgrading for ICC. I've even gone so far as to use a DPS shoulder glyph and agility(currently)/crusher to gloves, instead of armsman, because my threat gen is fine where it is. *NOTE* I am switching back to the tank glyph and -possibly- armsman, but for 5 mans this actually keeps me higher than most DPS in randoms.

It is a tanks job to take the beating and to keep the mob(s)/boss(es) attention so they don't turn around and one shot your heals/dps. Below is how you accomplish this (exactly as you put it)

1 - Most important - Holding aggro. You do this by building threat. The more threat you generate and the quicker you generate it, the better. So, taking points that would be spent on "bonus healing" and putting them into something that generates more threat thru damage (i.e. Crusade) is the better bet.

2 - Mitigation. Bottom line, if you cannot decrease the amount of incoming damage, divinity will not save you. You need to mitigate how much damage you take to make it easier for your healers, not use a talent that gives you 5% more of a heal (which isn't that much anyway).

Look at it this way, a 1000 heal without talents becomes a 1050 heal with talents. Not a huge difference. Lets take it one step further. A 10,000 gives a 10,500 with talents. When you are getting hit hard enough to need 10K heals, that extra 500 is probably not going to save you.

My Paladin has 64.54% damage reduction through armor and aura, 24.20% dodge (4.20% in ICC w/debuff), 20.06% parry, 16.67% block (lost a lot through upgrades prepping for ICC), I block roughly 2K damage and I have about 42/43K HP buffed in ICC 10 (still raiding with some Naxx gear, as you can see from my armory). In ICC I get hit for roughly 8K on BLOCKED shots and the damage comes hard and fast. I dodge/parry/block enough that Sanctuary keeps my mana pool full, and topped of from the heals that cover the damage I take, so Light is the judgement of choice (on bosses, wisd on trash), to give the healers a little help. Not a 5% increase to heals they cast on me. Looks nice on paper, but bottom line is, if you can't mitigate enough incoming damage and/or your healers can't heal through it, you need to take a step back and figure out what is wrong and how to fix it.

I'm a casual raider and even for casual raiding, if you NEED that talent in your build to help your healer or stay alive in general, you shouldn't be raiding.

As far as PoJ goes, feel free to change it for 2 more points in Conviction to get to Crusade if you prefer to take the other enchant for your boots. Honestly, you have a good point with that one. Seeing as being disarmed is more Outland/PvP, you might be better off with an extra 2% crit over the 50% shorter disarm duration.

Bottom line is, this is a high dps/threat build and you can tweak it however you see fit. Every player needs to tweak the "basic build" to fit their play style.

Jiyambi's picture

This all matches what I've

This all matches what I've read, though I am NOT experienced in any way, I've just been reading up on Pally tanks. That said, for folks who want a detailed discussion of builds and other techniques, check out maintankadin.com. They have a good basic and advanced "FAQ" that are basically small tanking guides. Seemed high quality and quite helpful to me, but again I have almost zero pally tank experience so it may be complete rubbish!

Shinke's picture

Hey again, Tannyr! I just

Hey again, Tannyr! I just have one teenie suggestion for you.

For the Paladin noobies like me, could you recommend a talent build? I know you have your required talents, but I don't want to waste points in Improved Hammer of Justice if I don't need to.

So if you could just recommend a build, I think your guild will be 100% perfect!

Talent Build?

Hi Shinke thanks for your suggestion and interest.

I guess if I had to, the talent build I would recommend is my own: Tannyr on Terenas.

But please note: I thought I could write a good guide on the 96969 rotation and the left-right technique I developed to make it easier to use. I tried very hard to limit the scope to just that. I intentionally don't discuss specific techniques, general tanking strategies, bosses, builds or gear because there is just too much I don't know.

There are lots of good resources however:
- Elitist Jerks' Paladin Forums
- Tankspot.com
- Maintankadin Forums
- and eventually our own wow-pro class guides as more are written and submitted.

p.s. I like Improved Hammer of Justice.

- Tannyr

Skumball's picture

I think this is a great

I think this is a great guide Tannyr, good layout & formatting and everything is explained so well. I love it.

I do agree with Shinke though with regards to mayube icluding a talent build for it. Maybe somewhere at the beginning of your guide just include a couple of variations on Tankadin builds, just to make it that much measier for a Tankadin-wannabe able to get the most out of it as possible.

I love this guide, annd I'm going to be levelling a Paladin at some point in the near future I thik and eventually would like to tank with it so I will be using this guide without a doubt. Though as for speccing I have absolutely no idea whatsoever about what talents to choose lol Obviously you have explained the key talents and skills for this rotation and this does help no-end. I just personally feel that including an example spec or 2 would take this guide from amazing to the level of godlike.


Jiyambi's picture

Well, I think Tanyr meant

Well, I think Tanyr meant this to be an "advanced" tanking guides, and not the first thing nooblets like me read Eye Perhaps someone will write a nice beginner's Pally tank guide for WoW-Pro, but I can see how Tanyr would consider it out of the scope for this guide.

Not exactly "Advanced"

I don't consider it an "Advanced" guide so much as a "Specific" one. The 96969 rotation is one tiny piece of a Paladin tank's overall knowledge-set. I thought I had discovered/developed a clever way to implement 96969 and I thought perhaps people might like to read it.

This guide would logically be part of a larger tanking guide that I would very much like to read but am not at all qualified to write. Please don't think I am being falsely modest. Check out Tannyr's wowarmory profile, you will see that I am not über.

- Tannyr

First I want to say thank

First I want to say thank you.
If all guides were written half as well as this the world would be a better place .. Smiling

I guess its my lack of playing a tank (I went 70-80 as a retard, ret tard? ,ah you know.

anyway I am just learning how to tank and I found myself getting confused on what I had just done and where I was in the rotations.

at first I tried making a couple of macros

/castsequence reset=9 Consecration,Holy Shield,Judgement of Wisdom

/castsequence reset=6 Shield of Righteousness, Hammer of the Righteous

maybe hit 1 2 1 2 1 2

well it starts off fine but soon ran into problems.
if something happens and you have to stop to do something. I was always wanting to come back with a 6 sec spell.
But I know that I am restarting and should start over with a 9 second...just like a new sequence and not some modified continuation. IS this correct?

Overall I believe its experience and practice...5 minutes on a dummy is not enough...at least for me.

Is there a way to put my action bars right below my point of view in the format of the bars you show in My Weaving Setup
I can put bars there but I just want the skills you have in the 2 bars you show, not a full 10 skill bar.

again thanks for this great guide...it is one of the best I have ever seen

Bar Mod

Thank you Sparks for your kind words.

Let me address some points you raise in order:

When using the rotation the way I recommend, you don't need to remember what you've just done or where you are in the rotation. You only need to remember which alternating "side" you are on and choose an available (i.e. not on its own cooldown) ability. The OmniCC addon I recommend helps a lot. If you see a number you cannot use that button/ability. Pretty simple!

So in my opinion this makes the rotation so simple that you don't need macros. It gives you more control after you are interrupted or weave in a non-rotation ability too.

You can begin the rotation with a 6-second ability instead of a 9-second ability, so when interrupted you do not need to start with a 9-second ability. In fact, I recommend against it (there are always exceptions, for example if you need to pick up a small pack after an interruption then use Consecrate).

I happen to use Dominos which lets you have bars between 1 and 12 buttons wide (or high).
You can put them anywhere on your screen (mine go right below Tannyr's feet) and enlarge them up to 150% of normal size, which I do for the main rotation buttons.
The buttons in the guide are from screen-prints of my setup.

Also map the buttons to key-presses instead of using the mouse. That makes execution much simpler. Keep practicing!

I hope this helps.

- Tannyr

Jiyambi's picture

You'll need a bar mod. I

You'll need a bar mod. I highly recommend Dominos, it's very easy to set up and use. Others also use Bartender 4 for this purpose.

Jiyambi's picture

Hi Tannyr! I just read

Hi Tannyr!

I just read through this again with the intent of actually digesting the information, as my pally is now level 66 and just specced to prot. I just wanted to let you know again how awesome and useful this guide is for newb pallies such as myself. Thank you so much for writing it! The graphics, while initially a bit overwhelming, actually do a great job of explaining your meaning. You rock!


You are welcome Jiyambi, it is pleasing to see the guide so appreciated.

I made an edit shortly after initial publication where I include a link that skips over many "optional" diagrams that show the GCD shifts associated with weaving in a non-rotation ability. Understanding these shifts really isn't necessary at all so long as the left-right technique is followed. Maybe I should remove them entirely?

- Tannyr

Jiyambi's picture

No, I really enjoyed seeing

No, I really enjoyed seeing the process on how you got to your conclusion. Leave it in!

Libram of Obstruction

A very interesting read and great description of what I now realise I have been intuitively doing.

One point though, just to confuse things abit, how would you take into account the buff from the Libram of Obstruction (http://www.wowhead.com/?item=40707, probably the only real end game tanking libram that most tanks will get). The 352 extra block value it gives for 5 sec after a judgement has a significant impact on damage output for the Shield of the Righteous as well as damage mitigation from blocking over the course of any encounters.

Has anyone done the numbers to compare a 96969 rotation above with say a higher rotation of judgements, possibly aided by none, one or two points in Improved Judgements. I tend to tie my judgements with the SotR as either the 1st or 2nd spell to follow it.

Looking forward to your comments.

Libram of Obstruction

Thank you Tanka for your comments.
Two quick notes and then my opinion:

1. I tried diligently to limit the scope of the guide to an illustration of the Rotation and a handy way to implement it and recover back to it.
2. I am not a theorycrafter and there is a lot about tanking I do not know and have not seen.

My opinion is that any currently-available benefit achieved by breaking the perfect left-right rotation is not worth it. There is a break-even point however, and as an extreme example if the Libram increased block value by 25,000 then I would certainly abandon the Rotation to maximize Libram-utility. I do not know exactly what the break-even point is, but I think it is higher than 352. This is just an opinion and I do not have a provable justification for it.

I will take this opportunity to make a few more comments about Judgement because you bring up a good point that I ignored:

Although my guide disparages Judgement as the weakest ability in the rotation, it can have many beneficial side-effects based on gear and talents:

  1. It procs the effect of the current Seal (Usually Seal of Vengeance for tanks).
  2. It has its own 20-second effect (party health regen, party mana regen or preventing an enemy from fleeing).
  3. It can increase block value with Libram of Obstruction.
  4. It can reduce the enemy's melee attack speed with the Judgements of the Just talent. This is excellent damage mitigation.
  5. It can increase the critical strike rate (for everybody) against the enemy with the Heart of the Crusader talent.

Except for the Libram's 5-second buff to SoR, each of these effects lasts 20 seconds.

If a Paladin is geared and spec'd to take advantage of all of these, care should be taken not to skip two Judgements in a row, or perhaps skip a different left-side ability (the mana-consuming Consecration is another popular choice) instead of Judgement when weaving or recovering.

Thanks again for your comments Tanka.
Perhaps someone has a more rigorous mathematical treatment to share.

- Tannyr

Avenger's Shield?

Really what I needed to figure out a good rotation. Now I have to get my action bars set up! Can I ask why there is no spot for Avenger's shield? I'm guessing that I am missing something here.

Avenger's Shield

Perhaps with the upcoming patch (3.1) it might make sense to weave in Avenger's Shield if you need to interrupt a spell. But you certainly don't need Avenger's Shield to hold aggro if you stick to the rotation. Also it is rather expensive mana-wise and I find it more convenient to simply save it for starting the next pull.

But when the next patch comes out it will be a nice silencer on a 30-second cooldown. It will probably be used more, good suggestion!


Good job!

I must say ive been to many pala focused sited to get this rotation and spell usage explained to me while leveling my pala, but found none in this qualety so thumbs up very good, ill be testing this on the next instance run, but my TPS jumped to the double from what is was (hadnt trained from 75-79)just after i knew of the rotation, and thats with out the right rotation and usage of spells with loads of waiting on GCD , so ill be very impatient now to try this out again to see what my undergeared pala is doing on the TPS.

honj93's picture

fantastic guide

My paladin end-game knowledge is very limited, but I have to say that this guide seems to be one of the bests I've seen (Don't worry Jiramby yours is the best Sticking out tongue). Without any experience I could easily follow it and understand it.
Perfect formatting, good explenations, I don't know what to say... Eye
Simply amazing Laughing out loud

Jiyambi's picture

LOL honj93, I think it's

LOL honj93, I think it's fair to say that this guide is as good as mine. They don't serve exactly the same purpose, as this one is much more focused, but it's incredibly in depth and very well laid out.

Anyway it's not a competition! Sticking out tongue Again, great job on this guide. Laughing out loud