[Cataclysm] Protection Warrior
This is the official Protection PvE discussion thread for the Cataclysm expansion. Please limit this thread to Prot matters specifically, taking Fury, Arms and Simple Questions/Simple Answers issues to their respective threads on this board.
Here is an introductory lead post to provide a rough overview of how to operate as a Protection warrior and hopefully answer some of the more commonly asked questions. A basic knowledge of tanking mechanics is assumed -- if you've been out of the loop since 4.0 was introduced, refer to this post for a brief rundown. While some of the details are a little out of date, it should give you a good idea of what has changed for Prot.
The following is a bare-bones spec which illustrates all of the "must have" talents for a proper Prot talent build: WoW Talent Calculator - Sigrie
(Note: Incite and Gag Order are OPTIONAL talents which were added as filler for this example. You may pull points away from them as you see fit, as discussed below.)
There are a lot of viable options to spend those remaining 13 points. Here's a quick breakdown of most of them, along with with example builds depending on what theme you decide to emphasize:
Example AoE / Trash Focused Spec: WoW Talent Calculator - Sigrie
Example Hybrid Spec: WoW Talent Calculator - Sigrie
If you want a general purpose tanking spec which you can use as an alternate for a DPS spec, you'll probably want something resembling the above. Highly customizable.
Single Target Threat Priority:
Shield Slam > Revenge > Rend > Devastate
Note: A single Rend application is only worth using on a 30%-bleed debuffed single target if it ticks at least four times. Unbuffed, it must tick all six times. Never refresh an existing Rend -- always wait for it to run its full duration or else you lose the initial application tick.
Whenever possible, immediately follow up a Shield Slam with either a Revenge or Devastate. The Sword and Board talent is most effective when it procs the first GCD after a Shield Slam is used. If it fails to proc, use the remaining 2 GCDs to refresh debuffs/buffs as needed.
Applying three Sunder Armor stacks should typically be a high priority, as should be applying damage-reducing debuffs such as Demoralizing Shout and Thunder Clap. The exact order and urgency of applying debuffs isn't set in stone, and it's up to you to prioritize personal threat, group DPS, and reducing incoming damage depending on the circumstances.
AoE Threat Priority:
Rend > Thunder Clap > Shockwave > Revenge
This is assuming you have Blood and Thunder talent. Using T. Clap like clockwork will help your threat somewhat, especially by adding Thunderstruck charges for the next Shockwave, but the most important step is to keep Rend rolling on all your targets. It makes a dramatic difference in your sustained threat versus not having the talent. Remaining GCDs should be occupied prioritizing Revenge and then single-target abilities.
Burning Excess Rage (updated for 4.0.6)
The above rotations only cover how to occupy your GCDs. At the same time you're going to be able to have to utilize Heroic Strike, Cleave and Inner Rage to use the remainder of your rage income and maximize your threat. A simple rule of thumb is that if you have over 50 rage, use either Heroic Strike or Cleave as appropriate. If you still have over 50 rage despite using these abilities on cooldown, consider activating Inner Rage.
With the change to Inner Rage as of patch 4.0.6, it is a less situational ability for both Protection and DPS warriors. It's beneficial to activate in any situation where you are gaining rage faster than you're able to burn it, but due to the cooldown can never have more than 50% uptime. In order to get the most out of it, use it when you expect 15 seconds of sustained heavy rage generation -- activating it before the boss channels a randomly-targeted spell, or right before you stun a group of mobs with Shockwave, is less than ideal. When possible, combine its use with Shield Block and/or Berserker Rage in order to maximize your rage generation while it is active.
Spell Reflection > Pummel > Shockwave > Concussion Blow
Protection warriors have a slew of abilities that can be used to reduce incoming magic damage, particularly when Spell Reflect can be used. Beyond the rotation listed above, you can also use Charge, Intercept, Heroic Throw, even Intimidating Shout to interrupt a mob's cast if necessary. Many caster mobs in heroic 5-mans are no joke and they will kill you if left unchecked. Be proactive and make it your job to shut down casting whenever possible.
Survival Stat Priority (Updated):
Stamina ≥ Mastery > Parry ≥ Dodge
Your first priority when gearing up is to ensure that you have enough health to survive unavoidable burst damage. Whether it's a Mangle + Melee on Magmaw, a simultaneous Crackle + Shadowflame Breath on Nef, or any number of other nasty combos, you don't want to be vulnerable to getting one-rounded if you can help it. So be sure not to skimp on the stamina, especially if you're just starting to gear up your character for tanking.
Beyond that, it's in your best interest to stack stats which reduce your overall damage taken and allow your healers to be as efficient as possible. Mastery is unmatched for this purpose. It doesn't suffer diminishing returns, offers both defensive and offensive advantages, and provides the most consistent damage reduction of the avoidance stats. Your ideal set will include Mastery on every individual piece of gear, with the possible exception of trinkets.
Parry and Dodge are still valuable stats and should not be neglected. The way you prioritize one over the other, however, isn't perfectly obvious. The short answer is that Parry is better than Dodge due to the Hold the Line talent, but diminishing returns discourage you from ignoring Dodge entirely. Against a single mob with a normal attack speed, there exists a "sweet spot" ratio of Parry:Dodge which you should strive for. Here is a graph made by swcarden which illustrates the ideal ratio depending on your character's Mastery rating and combined Parry/Dodge ratings.
Keep in mind that the above graph assumes you're being attacked once every 2.5 seconds. The advantage of Parry over Dodge is reduced as the frequency of incoming attacks increases, since the uptime of Hold the Line will naturally improve as you're attacked more often. If you're tanking multiple mobs or a single fast-attacking mob, it may be best to gear for a 1:1 Parry/Dodge ratio to minimize the impact of DR since you will have 99%+ Hold the Line uptime regardless. Use your discretion.
Threat Stat Priority:
Expertise > Hit >>> Strength > Crit
In a real-world situation nothing beats Expertise for producing consistent threat output. A string of parries against a fresh mob is what gets DPS killed. Hit provides similar benefits to Expertise once you defeat a target's dodge chance, and is of particular importance when using interrupts (since targets cannot parry or dodge while casting). Strength and crit, while not specifically bad for tank threat, are never worth gearing for.
Wowhead to the rescue! They have a powerful, easy-to-use gear database filter which you can use to find all any potential upgrades. Here's some handy examples:
5-man Normal Mode Drops or Equivalents (ilvl 333)
5-man Heroic Mode Drops or Equivalents (ilvl 346)
First-tier Epics (ilvl 359)
(The above links have a few matches which aren't appropriate for a tank -- trinkets, mostly. They should be obvious and easily ignored.)
[Arcanum of the Earthen Ring]
[Greater Inscription of Unbreakable Quartz]
[Charscale Leg Armor]
[Ebonsteel Belt Buckle]
[Enchant Weapon - Windwalk]
[Enchant Boots - Lavawalker]
[Enchant Boots - Earthen Vitality]
[Enchant Chest - Greater Stamina]
[Enchant Gloves - Greater Mastery]
[Enchant Gloves - Greater Expertise]
[Enchant Bracer - Greater Expertise]
[Enchant Bracer - Precision]
[Enchant Bracer - Dodge]
[Enchant Cloak - Protection]
[Enchant Shield - Blocking]
Is Shattering Throw worth using?
Yes, absolutely. It's a minor TPS loss for you, but if you have even one physical-based damage dealer in your group then the total DPS gains are significant. Best used while everyone's DPS timers are active (e.g. during Bloodlust), and in a situation where shifting to Battle Stance and casting a 1.5 second spell won't get you killed. Convince your DPS-specced warrior friends to use it as well -- just not at the same time that you do.
Are agility-based weapons worth using?
Not unless it's significantly better than what you're using in terms of base DPS, stamina or ratings. Strength now provides a small amount of parry in addition to its TPS benefits, and you'll never have to worry about speed being too fast (all strength-based one-handed weapons are 2.6 speed). Never tank with a fast weapon.
What's this Heroic Leap thing?
Press the button to produce a targeting circle, click where you want to go within 40 yards, land there a second later and do damage in a moderate radius. It will definitely come in handy sometimes, as it's basically a targeted Blink on a one-minute cooldown. Unfortunately it's also like Blink in that it has a very high failure rate if you're not on perfectly level ground. When it does fail, it will simply give you an error message and you'll remain where you are. If you were trying to use it to avoid something, your face will subsequently be smashed.
Can I use Colossus Smash while tanking?
Sure, though there are drawbacks. Beyond the low-threat GCD you spend, you'll need to burn all your rage and leave yourself open to crits momentarily by shifting to and then from Battle Stance. Potentially following it up with a Heavy Repercussions Shield Slam -> Revenge -> Sword and Board Shield Slam combo is a huge burst of damage however, so you can use it against a single target under the right conditions.
If you have any comments on how to improve this post, feel free to PM me.
Update 2/11/11: Changed the "Burning Excess Rage" subsection to reflect the new Inner Rage.
Update 3/19/11: Added more notes to the "Survival Stat Priority" subsection.
I don't agree with your assessment of Battle Trance. It's one of the weaker talents and should be in the 'not recommended' list as there are far better alternatives.
- The actual proc rate is low (15% after using Shield Slam). With one Shield Slam every 4.5 seconds, that's 2 Battle Trance procs per minute.
- The 'Ideally, each Battle Trance proc will equate to a free HS/Cleave' part is unrealistic.
- Presuming you actually do manage to spend Battle Trance on HS/Cleave every time, it would be equivalent to 1 rage/sec gain for 3 talent points.
That's not something a 'normal' spec can afford to spend talent points on when there are alternatives such as Incite, Deep Wounds or situationally good talents like Safeguard. It's certainly not something I would include in a hybrid spec.
For your single target rotation: it's really looks not that simple for us now. If you specc into Blood & Thunder your mental checklist will look something like this:
Leaving us with a priority list:
1 Shield slam
2 Thunder Clap* > Revenge > Devastate
3 Thunder Clap* > Revenge > Shockwave > Heroic Throw > Concussion Blow > Devastate
4 Thunder Clap* > Shockwave > Heroic Throw > Concussion Blow > Revenge > Devastate
Skipping step 3 and 4 if you got a sword'n'board procc and starting over again from step 1.
Thunderclap* = don't delay Shield slam, only hitting Thunderclap at 1.5s or 4.5s remaining depending on the progress of your cycle
Devastate is pretty underwhelming, even while proccing Sword&Board it looks more advisable to hit those harder hitting abilites like Shockwave, Heroic Throw or Concussion Blow. Especially Shockwave looks pretty strong at T11 attackpower values while can't be blocked, dodged or parried.
Skipping Blood&Thunder in favor of cruelty + deep wounds should look something like this:
1 Shield slam
2 Revenge > Devastate
3 Revenge > Shockwave > Heroic Throw > Concussion Blow > Rend > Devastate
4 Shockwave > Heroic Throw > Concussion Blow > Revenge > Rend > Devastate
Great post, it has really helped me out some in terms of gearing and rotation. I would like to add one thing, I was looking around for that Charscale armor but it seems that only LW's can do it for themselves. I've looked on Wowhead to see if there was a different version but there isn't. The only epic leg armor is that one and it's for LW's only. I looked at the reputation factions as well and I saw no recipe for an "epic" version of the leg armor. The only one that I think we can use right now is Twilight Leg Armor - Item - World of Warcraft
One thing to note about Inner Rage - it increases the rage of all abilities, including ones that don't do any damage. Couple quick examples - Shield Block, Shield Bash, Demoralizing Shout, etc etc.
Until Blizzard fixes or acknowledges the issue, you should have /cancelaura macros in front of said abilities to remove Inner Rage.
For example, the avoidance tank (dodge focused) won't be viable going forward because of the amount of AOE damage going out. A healer that has to step out of rotation and throw a BIG heal for BIG mana (due to spikes in inc dmg caused by multiple dodges) will be detrimental to the group/raid.
Additionally, our rage is at a premium now. Parry and Block will do 2 times what dodge can do... parry mitigating the entire attack while giving you rage (as well as a chance to proc Hold the Line) and Block/Mastery will help smooth the incoming damage AND generate rage.
I think I could have clarified what I said better. What I meant was to forge most of your dodge into mastery and to leave parry alone due to Hold the Line.
How much Mastery rating should I be aiming for? I've been told to reforge all my Dodge to Mastery and leave Parry alone because of Hold the Line?
I've been experimenting with different things and I seem to take the same amount of damage no matter which combination of stats I use...
Current unforged stats are:
EDIT: Should have read the posts before I made this one, but the question still stands. I'm mostly worried about reforging. Any additional input would be appreciated.
Glad someone made a thread, I was really far too busy (and lazy) to make one in an appropriate format.
There are a couple of things I've noticed so far in Cata. It seems as though all taunts can no longer resist, at all, at least on mobs 3 levels higher. Have no idea how creatures higher than 3 levels fare with resists. None of the tanks in my guild have any recorded resists of any taunts. This makes hit capping far less important, or even as something we should think about unless the tank is needed to be relied on for interrupts.
You mention not refreshing rend until it has fully ticked off, and thus needing to waste a GCD on Rend rather than using TC to refresh it. That seems wildly wasteful when TC can be used doubly to refresh the critical debuff (the attack sped snare) and reapply rend, and finally the damage TC itself does. While you'd be casting it roughly twice as often as you normally would (if you were just using it to refresh the TC debuff), you are gaining the damage of the initial hit of TC over the last tick of Rend, which certainly seems like a gain to me.
The total hit table should be almost cappable in the first tier of content, given all available gear options, including those from Sinestra. I theorycrafted a gearset that should land the tank at around 94-97% total coverage, and roughly 42-44% critical block. These being raid buffed values. It's naturally just high mastery pieces with avoidance, and an emphasis on mastery gemming/enchanting.
Randomly, Bandages aren't affected by Field Dressing.
Did anyone yet have the chance to test the Eternal Shadowspirit Diamond?
I think we must add to the enchant 40 stam on brasers Enchant Bracers - Major Stamina - Spell - World of Warcraft
Also, which tool did you use to theorycraft this suit? Having trouble finding one with correct ratings and all available loot.
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