Can I Solo That?

Something I’ve been noticing for awhile now on my blog’s stats page is that people end up coming here because they are googling “paladin solo doomwalker” and I’m pretty sure that my little vanity post is of absolutely 0 use to them, so I decided to make a post that will speak to the needs of those people a little more. So, rather than specifically talk about doomwalker, I’ll talk about how I go about soloing just about everything as a Paladin. I imagine much of my ability to do so will disappear with the reworking of combat mechanics in Cataclysm, so I hope everyone gets to stomp some 20-story monsters before that happens.

Step 1: Spec – I am a tank. Everything I solo, I solo in protection spec. I do not change my spec at all to facilitate soloing things unlike some people. I’ve heard of hunters soloing some Northrend Heroics and a Deathknight who has solo’d Alar in Tempest Keep and other stuff, and they have specifically altered their specs and play-styles to facilitate those things. I never set out to tailor-make my spec or my gear to give me a greater chance of success, I just see a big monster and wonder “can I take ’em?” I use the cookie-cutter 0/53/18 raid tanking spec with seal of command. Things I solo’d before the changes to Vindication and Seal of Command in the ret tree was still 53/18 but I had all my points in Conviction instead.

Step 2: Gear – I’ve solo’d alot of things with various levels of gear so even with Northrend heroic drops (and especially in full-232 and emblem-bought gear you should be fine to take on any challenge you face. The biggest things I have difficulty soloing are things which a) curse me, b) silence me, c) stun me, and no changes to gear will mitigate any of this. Sure you could change a meta gem maybe and take some PvP talents that reduce stun durations and whatnot, but realistically, you shouldn’t have to make such specific changes unless you are having a repeated specific problem, standard common-sense optimal raid gear with standard gems and standard enchants will suffice. If you want to get a little more hard-core about soloing specific things (Alar for example) you’ll need to do additional research on your own.

Step 3: Self-Buffs – This is the part I see most Paladins doing, what I consider to be, sub-optimal. When I first saw Doomwalker, another Paladin, a dwarf, was actually fighting it so I was kinda peeved that I might not get my shot. But he was making one fatal mistake, he was prioritizing DPS over survivability. He was using Seal of Corruption because it is the standard raid-tanking top-threat+damage seal. He was eventually killed by the Doomwalker because he was not able to sustain himself with Holy Lights (especially with Divine Plea making them heal for 50% their normal effect). Rule #1, Use Seal of Light. Rule #2 Judge Light. Rule #3 Keep Divine Plea up 100% of the time (shouldn’t be too hard in most cases). Rule #4 Blessing of Sanctuary. Why judge light and use its seal? Well, because you don’t have to keep agro off anyone, all you need to do is keep yourself alive. Judgement of Light returns 2% of your maximum health on a melee swing (make sure you have a fast weapon, 1.5 or 1.6 speed, so you have more melee swings with which to trigger the heal proc) and if you use Seal of Light, you heal that much more often. Now, I have 47k+ health unbuffed, so I will typically heal for as much as 1k per melee swing. With Seal of Light Judgement of Light, Melee Swing, and a Hammer of the Righteous I have the potential to heal for 4k in 1 GCD’s time. It is very, very rare for something I’m fighting to be able to do enough damage to me that Seal of Light and Judgement of Light are not able to keep me at 100% most of the time. For things that can, I go down very slowly, at which point I can then click-off Divine Plea, cast Holy Light a few times, then turn it back on and resume.

Step 4: Sustainability – Rule #5 It is ok to not using Consecrate, Avenger Shield, or Holy Shield if your mana gets low. It is not uncommon for me, even in Northrend heroics, to only use Judgement, Shield of Righteousness, and Hammer of the Righteous in order to conserve mana, and I have to actually keep threat. It is also not bad to judge wisdom for a few rotations if your self-healing can afford it. Especially against large single targets like Doomwalker, you can run out of mana quickly if you keep Consecrate and Avenger Shield constantly in your rotation, and boss-sized monsters have a slow enough swing timer that Holy Shield will not proc enough times to refund its mana cost for you making it a drain with little to no benefit. If you are fighting many small monsters (soloing a dungeon for example) Holy Shield should always be up and with Blessing of Sanctuary you likely shouldn’t have any mana problems anyway. Also, if you are soloing lower level monsters (like lv70s) they will miss rather often, and Blessing of Sanctuary does not return mana on a miss, further tightening your mana-returns. And, since you are soloing, you get 0 mana back from Spiritual Attunement, so just make sure to budget your mana expenditure.

Step 5: Expectations – Remember, if you’re reading this about how to solo things as a protection Paladin, remember that your DPS is not very good. It will be somewhere between 1000-1800 depending on what your gear looks like. It is going to take you a long time to kill things. It took me 40 minutes or so the first time I tried to solo lv60 Onyxia, partly because of her air phase. It takes me about 15-20 minutes to do 1 million damage, so you can use that as a relative gauge as to how long you’re gonna be doing something. I think I did 1.2 million damage to Sapphiron in 25man Nax before her hitherto unknown enrage timer ended and she 2-shot me (and no, I wasn’t soloing her, I had a pocket druid healer friend with me, so he could remove the life-drain curses and I was in 3 pieces of frost gear).

Step 6: Practice – Some “easier” big-bads to try and solo if you’re new to doing this are Thrym in Zul’Drak (hard to miss), Jotun (he pats around between Wyrmrest Temple and Crystalsong Forest), or a Halaa guard if the opposite faction controls it (they’re lower level and have 1.5 million health). Really, any world elite will do. The Fel Reaver is always fun to go and break. The Storm Giant in Howling Fjord actually beat me up pretty good at the time I tried soloing him. What you will ultimately learn while soloing things is the ability to be adaptable. Paladins don’t have any direct ways to mitigate magic damage, so trying to solo bosses Novos the Summoner in DTK is much harder than trying to solo the first troll boss. Just remember the cooldowns you have, remember that Lay on Hands causes forbearance now so plan ahead which forbearance-using CD you think you might need in the fight. If you choose Lay on Hands, let Ardent Defender proc first before you us it, it might take 2 minutes or more for your foe to get you that low again so it would be able to save you again (not to mention forbearance would have fallen off by then too so you could bubble and heal).

I am no expert on soloing things; as I said, I’ve only ever taken it as far as seeing something and wondering to myself if I could take them one-on-one. Most of the time the answer has been “yes” or “get some more gear and try again later” (Thrym). If anyone has any specific questions about how to solo something specific, or for additional tips, feel free to ask me, but there is no guarantee that I’ve solo’d what you might be asking about so just be forewarned. One last thing, repair your shield, especially after fighting a Halaa Guard. Happy hunting and good luck.

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