As a tanking Paladin there are some subtle parts of playing that it took me a long time to commit to memory, or practice with regularity. Many of the tips & tricks below carry across for any character or class, but in particular I have found a significant difference when using a Protection Paladin who is still gearing up, as opposed to a character who is already using high quality gear.
I’m going to assume that you know about stacking blessings, and you’ve read all about what buffs to use in Opportunistic Rotation – if not let me know and I’ll post on it.
A. Check the damage type from mobs regularly.
Most creatures will be hurting you with physical damage, so the choice of aura/buff is easy. However there are some creatures where the damage type is not obvious, or you may forget to switch Aura type to gain more resistance to a particular type of mob. Especially true of casters who might do shadow damage (like the Skettis casters).
For example the Mana Worms in the Bashir Landing do Nature damage when you hit them, and their physical attacks are really weak. So instead of worrying about which aura or buff, I buy a few Nature Resist potions and absorb the damage. This means the recovery between fights is much quicker.
This is normal behavior in an Instance so you learn what the best strategies are, but it applies equally to solo play.
B. Check the AH for cheap pots, food, scrolls, and buffs.
As prot spec the mana bar when soloing is never full enough, and a few extra mana pots are always handy. Browsing the AH for cheap potions is always a good idea, and the don’t have to be Super Mana or Health to be handy. Also keep an eye out for cheap food, and other consumables, as often folks sell these items without an appreciation of how valuable or handy they really are. That extra Amour potion, or health regeneration can make a difference. Lower level water seems especially cheap (or find a mage and press the button on their forehead). A few silver spent on buffs can cut significant time off your combat recovery.
Extra buffs will make a difference when doing an instance where your gear is close to the limit of what you can survive. Doing a harder instances means you will need stamina food, weapon and shield buffs, and a potion or two. Get them and encourage those you play with to do the same.
A good list of items to watch for is any mid level to late level scrolls and cheap potions. Also check the AH at different times during the week, as popular raid nights will create shortages, and other nights you’ll see a few bargains.
C. Use a buff time manager.
As you run more and more instances, you’ll find the demand for Blessings to be many and varied. There will be times when you will be using 30 minute buffs on some classes, and also 10 minute buffs on others. A good tool for managing this is PallyPower, as it lets you set what buffs each paladin in the group will use. This might seem overkill initially, but it becomes a no brainer to see how long each buff has remaining, who is missing a buff, and re-buffing is a simple one click on each class icon. My old guild was so happy with PallyPower that it is a raid requirement for all Paladins.
An example of this is when you are Tanking with another pally in group. Your tanking buff is useless to them, so hit them with Salv (or what ever is useful), and use the 10 minute tank buff on yourself. The monitor will warn you when its time to re-buff them, which means you only need worry about yourself. They can in turn use the tool to buff you with Light or Wisdom, and 10 minute buff themselves.
Also consider a strategy when in a group with more than one Paladin. If you have buffs that they don’t (Bo Kings) then get them to apply buffs in accordance with what is useful all round. eg. One Paladin does Salv all round (not you), then you do Wis/Might/Kings depending on the target class. If you have three Paladins, get Salv and Kings all round, and Wis/Light/Might on class specifics.
Also check out a mod called Aurora (Ace2 compatible) which gives you a warning when you enter combat with Crusader aura on. The big red warning will help train you to switch before pulling, and catch it for you whe you’re being forgetful.
D. Learn about your friends
Spend the time to learn about what other classes and professions can bring to the run. Taunt, Sap, Shackle, Sheep, Fear (pally and warlock), Stun, Slow, Mind Control, Seduce, Kite, Trap, etc, should all be part of what you regularly consider, but it takes extra effort to really understand what the limitations of these control methods are. Some instances are almost impossible without the right type of crowd control.
For example: if your Priest doing the Mind Control gets hurt, it all goes sour. So tank well away from them, or get them to stand way off to the side. Ask what spec your Rogue and Hunters are to see if they will have the improved versions of Sap and Trap. Might be handy to know that you have a few extra seconds longer than normal on that CC, or that the Hunter is happy to chain trap.
Also learn what professions can help. The Drums of Fear from Leatherworking can help in a pinch, and you can use Freeze bombs and other explosives from Engineering to help slow and pull mobs to where you need them. There may even be times when a well placed Net created by a Tailor may help (like when the Warlock tailor drawns aggro and you taunt is on cooldown).