Protection Post-Patch 4.0.1

First of all my apologies for how long its taken to get this post up, as I realise the patch has been up a couple of weeks now and everyone has probably worked out the changes for themselves anyway. However, I didn’t want to make a post with just my first impressions as I’d only end up getting things wrong, especially with fury as I don’t get a huge amount of time to play it.

That said, I’ve now had plenty of time to play through the changes, and below the cut I’ll talk about talent builds, rotations and gemming/gearing. And I’ll still probably get it wrong, but thats what I get for not spending much time with the evil geniuses over at elitistjerks. The post ended up being longer than I expected, so this one will focus on Prot and I’ll write one for Fury in a day or 2. Sorry for any avid DPSers, but tanks can read on for helpings of Prot Warrior goodness.

Protection

With Prot, you get the feeling that not much has changed and yet everything has changed all at the same time. While we still have mostly the same moves and rotation, the small tweaks that have been made make tanking feel slightly different, and whether for good or bad I haven’t really decided yet. Although my wrists love the death of Heroic Stike spamming, I know that much. Lets start with the basics, the spec:

http://www.wowhead.com/talent#LMZhZcrGdRRodbu:0oVzsqkVM

Here’s the spec I’m currently using. It picks up all of the mandatory talents, and then focuses on survivability and AoE threat. Once Cataclysm arrives, it might be possible to ditch Blood and Thunder or Thunderstruck for other talents, but right now there’s still a heavy emphasis on AoE and picking up many adds at once. AoE tanking is still possible without these talents, but its much harder. If you’re thinking of dropping just one, Blood and Thunder isn’t quite as good, but the problem is you then need to spec into Incite to move up the tree, so its your call. As far the talents that I missed out in this build:

Incite – Certainly not a bad talent, but simply not as good as some of the others that are available. If AoE tanking becomes a rarity in Cata, I’ll be switching 2 points from Blood and Thunder into this, but otherwise extra crit on our rage dump simply isn’t that appealing. It used to be that heroic strike was our main threat move, but now its hard to use it unless we’re tanking something that hits very hard, and when we have such high levels of avoidance.

Impending Victory – I originally liked the sound of this talent, but its turned out to be really mediocre. Its useless in all dungeons, and in raids the 20% mark really doesn’t last that long. While the heal sounds nice, it generally ends up to be just overhealing, because we’re not watching our health that closely, and if we drop low the chances are we’ll get a heal before we die, or the 5% heal wont make a difference, or it won’t even have procced. Considering that we have quite a few buttons to push anyway, and we only really hit devastate to refresh sunders, its just not worth 2 talent points that could be spent elsewhere.

Safeguard – This talent hasn’t changed since Wrath, meaning its still not worth getting. The talent is simply just too situational, and in most fights will be just wasted, so skip it.

Battle trance – This will be a nice buff once we can put 3 points in it, but until then the chance for it to proc just isn’t high enough to warrant a talent point or 2.

Cruelty – Extra crit is always nice, but there are just better things available to us right now.

The talents that I took, but are optional:

Gag Order – This talent used to be mandatory, as it increased the damage of our Shield Slam, but now it only affects our interrupts. However, I would still highly advise getting it just for the quality of life bonus that it brings. Having heroic throw as a silence is something I take for granted now, and its a real pain in the ass not to have. The silencing effect on Shield Bash is just a nice added bonus that stops a caster from casting again for a few seconds. Both of those things aside though, this talent is probably worth getting just because it halfs the cooldown on heroic throw. I find myself using the ability a lot, and being able to use it every 30 seconds is just great, especially during trash and heavy movement fights. If you substitute in the glyph that lets Heroic Throw refresh sunder armor, you can do some pretty sweet stuff.

Hold the Line – I like this talent simply because its both offensive and defensive. We’ll parry a fair amount throughout a fight, and having our critical block increase as well as our critical strike means that we can take less damage and deal more threat. Not mandatory, but a nice talent.

Shield Spec – I’m only 2/3 in this talent, although I’ll go up to 3/3 when I get more talent points. When I first read the description it didn’t sound that amazing, but because they normalised rage and we now need as much of it as we can get, the talent is worth taking. It will also only get better over time as we get more mastery, because our block chance will go up and we will get rage more often from it. For a nice spike of rage, remember to use shield block as you pull a quick hitting boss or a pack of mobs, the rage should fly in.

Conc Blow/Vigilance – Sadly these talents aren’t actually mandatory anymore, especially in Cata when they remove the 3% damage reduction from Vigi. However, they still provide a lot of utility, and thats what Prot Warriors are all about. The taunt refresh will be useful on any boss fight with a taunt swap or with waves of adds, and Conc Blow is still nice to have even if the damage and threat aren’t brilliant just because having 2 stuns can be great on trash, in heroics and on add fights. You could get away without them, but I’d still recommend them.

Heavy Repercussions – To put it simply, 2 shield slams that hit twice as hard every 30 seconds is just a nice buff, and I thought it was better than some of the other choices. Completely up to you with this talent, although if your in the habit of forgetting to use Shield Block you should definately skip it.

Blood and Thunder/Thunderstruck – As I said above, right now these talents are pretty key to AoE tanking, but may prove unnecessary in Cataclysm. Only time will tell.

Any talents I didn’t mention were either ones I considered mandatory (if I took them) or just not worth the time (the ones I didn’t take in the Arms tree). As far as what I’ll be doing at 85, I expect I’ll be adding in the last point to Shield Spec, and then spending 2 points in Fury to get to Booming Voice, probably by putting 2 points in Cruelty. Deep wounds is ok for threat, but there just isn’t anything good enough in the first tier to warrant spending 3 points in to get to it.

As far as glyphs go, you can see my choices next to my spec in the link above. The prime and minor glyphs are pretty much a no-brainer, but when it comes to the Major glyphs, just pick whichever ones you prefer, as none of them give a serious edge over another. Mine are focused on AoE simply because I’m still doing a lot of AoE tanking right now, but later I may switch to get Long Charge or Heroic Throw, as they’re both nice buffs.

As far as our rotation goes, its pretty much the same as before. Shield Slam still takes priority, then Revenge which hits hard, can hit 2 targets and can proc Shield Slam to come off CD and cost no rage (Revenge is generally better than Shield Slam, but its always worth hitting Shield Slam first because if Sword and Board procs you can hit Shield Slam twice in the space of abut 3 seconds). When both of those are on cooldown hit Shockwave, and if you hit Thunderclap a couple times before it went off cooldown it will hit even harder. Devastate up to 3 sunders, and then use it only when everything else is on cooldown, and Thunderclap and Demo Shout debuffs are up. Remember to use Shield Block pretty much everytime its off cooldown for reduced damage and hard hitting Shield Slams, and use Commanding Shout every time its off cooldown for more rage (unless your at max rage). Your Vigilance should always be on your offtank, assuming its a 2 tank fight. In dungeons, put it on the DPS thats most likely to pull aggro.

For AoE situations, nothings changed except you’ll want to apply a rend if you’re using Blood and Thunder. Be sure to use rend after the first Thunderclap however, as otherwise during the time it takes to apply a rend the other adds will walk off towards the healer or dps. Also be sure to hit 3 thunderclaps in between Shockwave cooldowns, as it will make it hit even harder thanks to Thunderstruck. Opinion seems divided on whether or not its worth using rend and keeping it up on a singe target, but my strategy is to not bother unless I know more enemies are incoming. If you’re tanking one thing and adds are about to spawn, its probably worth rending and then spreading it with Thunderclap as soon as they’re in range. Other wise, the damage from rend is still lower than one devastate, so don’t bother with it, as it makes you hit thunderclap much more often which is unnecessary.

As far as stats go, nothings really changed except for the fact that we just don’t need defence anymore. Shield Block and Block rating no longer exist, which is fine because we always avoided them like the plague, and instead we have Mastery, which does what Shield Block should have done the last 2 expansions. When it comes to stats to look for on gear, you’ll want about 8% hit and 26 expertise for a decent amount of threat (some people don’t mind having less, others like lots of expertise, just do what you did in Wrath) and then you can focus on avoidance. At the moment it seems that Parry is better than Dodge which is better than Mastery, but Mastery will become better than both of them as soon as we can start getting a decent amount of it on our gear. Parry was always much worse than Dodge, but now they’ve got equal diminishing returns, meaning that Parry is slightly better because of the Hold the Line talent. However, you’ll want a good spread of avoidance, so try to end up with your dodge and parry percent around the same number – 20% dodge and 30% parry is bad. Gemming hasn’t changed – get stamina, and lots of it. Only go for socket bonuses if they’re Stamina, and its enough to be worth it.

And thats pretty much everything. For those of you completely new to Warrior tanking, I suggest you check out some Wrath 101 guides so you can put all this info into perspective, but for my fellow long time tanks, feel free to challenge me on any of the points I’ve made. I don’t mind being wrong if it means I can change to be a better tank.

/end rant

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