Well, it looks like my hard work (*snrk*) on this blog is finally paying off. Yep, that’s right, kids, I has me an award…
…um. Yeah. I don’t know what Honest Scrap is. I think the last time I saw this sign was on the wall at a Cracker Barrel somewhere in Georgia. But I guess it means I’m, well, honest. And scrappy. Or maybe broken-down, which is how I feel some days.
Oh well, anyway. Meme, I has it. I’ve been tagged on this one by two folks–Stop over at The Stoppable Force and Tarsus at Tanking for Dummies. The rules on the meme–there’s always fine print on these things, kids, remember that–are thus:
- When accepting this auspicious award, you must write a post bragging about it, including the name of the misguided soul who thinks you deserve such acclaim, and link back to the said person so everyone knows she/he is real.
- Choose a minimum of seven (7) blogs that you find brilliant in content or design. Or improvise by including bloggers who have no idea who you are because you don’t have seven friends. Show the seven random victims’ names and links and leave a harassing comment informing them that they were prized with Honest Weblog. Well, there’s no prize, but they can keep the nifty icon.
- List at least ten (10) honest things about yourself. Then pass it on!
Well, I already covered number 1. Number 2, we’ll get to in a second, because I’m feeling rebellious and don’t want to do them in order, so nyah. So that leaves number 3, 10 honest things about myself. Hokai, here goes nuttin’…
- I’ve held an FCC Amateur Radio license since 1992. And no, I’m not telling you my callsign; those things are public record and can be used to look up addresses.
- I’m 42 years old, which makes me (IIRC) the second-oldest person in our raid, and not by much.
- I really want to take my family and go to Australia someday for an extended vacation.
- I have a huge phobia about stinging insects. If a wasp gets in the house, my wife kills it.
- I don’t drink coffee. I am the only IT worker in the world that does not drink coffee. I am a diet cola fiend.
- I am a type 2 diabetic and really should be taking better care of myself.
- I suck worse at PvP than Stop does. Seriously. I am absolutely horrible at it. Even when I was grinding honor in AV before Burning Crusade came out, I sucked at it.
- I proposed to my wife on the beach at Kiawah Island, South Carolina. Yes, I got down on one knee. Yes, she had to help me back up.
- My other major gameplaying interest is flight simulation. My Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 install is over 50 GB.
- I love The Barrens. Seriously. I do. Westfall can die in a nuclear explosion, but I just love The Barrens.
Now, I need to find 7 blogs that haven’t yet been tagged, brilliant in content or design. Much like the old joke about finding virgins in West Virginia, this ain’t gonna be easy. Some of these have been tagged by other people, I’m sure, but oh well…
- Binary Colors. It’s not just that Varenna’s a guildmate of my dwarf. She’s sharp, she’s insightful, she curses like a sailor with Tourette’s but knows when to use it. Plus, she’s a great writer, awesome RPer, and for a little slip of a human girl, damn that paladin can tank.
- Mad Cow Chronicles (formerly Mooonfire!). Neat layout, great content, and lots of Tauren. Always a plus.
- The Twisted Nether Blogcast. A great WoW-themed podcast featuring the best WoW bloggers around.
- WoW, Eh? How can you not like a WoW-themed comic with a ton of inside Canadian jokes?
- WTT: RP. A great blog about roleplaying and associated topics, put together by several friends from Feathermoon.
And that’s pretty much it. Most everybody else in my blogroll’s gotten tagged already. This either means that (a) WoW bloggers are a small incestuous community or (b) I’ve got one hell of a quality blogroll. Obviously, it’s the latter.
Slightly delayed by her foray into homeownership, Anna at Too Many Annas has gotten her RP Friday Five up. This one’s called Parts of the Whole. I’ll answer for Linedan, though I really should give the dwarf and the belf a little more love in these things…
- What color are your character’s eyes?
Linedan’s eyes are a light ice blue, both in his character model and in his RP background. I’ve seen very few other Taurens use that eye color, it’s pretty distinctive.
- What is your character’s skin like? Does he or she have freckles, tattoos, or other noticeable markings?
Lin’s fur is actually very uniformly colored. It’s gray, all over, lighter in the front and snout and darkening on the mane.
- How does your character smile?
Rarely. Very rarely. When he does, it’s small, unless it’s one of those very uncommon occasions where something makes him laugh.
- How does your character carry himself or herself when walking around? What is his or her posture like?
Very erect, as much as a Tauren can be. Lin walks tall and proud (and often slowly) but without arrogance. He doesn’t strut or preen, he just…walks.
- Describe your character’s hands.
Big and three-fingered. (Tauren touch-typing would be interesting.) They’re heavily calloused from years of wielding weapons and blacksmithing, and always have a little bit of dirt around the nails–do Tauren even have fingernails?–no matter how he cleans them.
Consider, if you will…Malygos. Aspect of the Blue Dragonflight. Lord of Magic. Along with the other four Aspects, the Titans placed them to guard and guide the development of the world of Azeroth. Pretty heavy stuff.
What must this poor guy’s adolescence have been like?
I mean, c’mon. Master of Magic. That just screams “nerd.” Can’t you see Malygos trying to sit at the lunch table with Neltharion, Alexstrasza, Nozdormu, and Ysera and getting totally blown off? Obviously, Neltharion is the studmuffin bad-boy jock that all the girls love and their parents hate. Alex? The hot, popular cheerleader who’s a little spoiled but loves fluffy bunnies and generally has her heart in the right place…she’s also probably either fending off Neltharion or has already done it with him in the back of his Camaro a couple times. Ysera’s the weird, dreamy chick who reads Kerouac and likes to wander in the fields and talk to trees. Nozdormu is a total stoner who’s baked out of his mind most of the time. And then there’s Malygos, with his 4.6 GPA and high-water pants and total lack of social skills, draco dorkus supremus, trying desperately to fit in. And failing. Oh, Ysera probably likes him well enough, and Alexstrasza has a little sympathy toward him when he epic fails the tail-swipe part of gym class. But he’s still a complete outcast.
It’s like some utterly fucked-up version of The Breakfast Club, but with wings and scales.
So you know what happens to Scorned Geeks, right? They grow up. And get even smarter. And invent things. And get even more powerful. And if they’re lucky, they build Secret Lairs and have Devious Plans to gain revenge on all those who wronged them. Such is Malygos.
Unfortunately for Malygos and the revenge fantasies of nerd dragons everywhere, 25 of us from the Anvil wandered into the Eye of Eternity last night and gave Malygos the worst beatdown since Neltharion wedgied him in the hallway outside trig class. Which is to say…
…with at least 10 people who’d never seen the fight before, we went in there and got him on our fifth try in our very first week.
Not that it was easy. Even the Server Gods conspired against us, giving us a 25-minute late start because the instance lagged out and crashed just before we were ready to pull. On the first attempt, the main tank died and I took over for a bit, but we wiped when he enraged just before phase 3.
The second attempt was even weirder. We blew through phase 1 in pretty good time and got started on phase 2…and then I noticed he was still flying around clipped through the platform. I made some comment on Vent like “What is he doing down here?” The reply? “Eating people.” Yep. Malygos was still alive, still attacking, and meleeing people to death…while being completely untargetable. G frickin’ G, Blizz. Nice one.
Attempts 3 (33%) and 4 (13%) were matters of working on sticking together during phase 3 and dying less. The final piece of the puzzle was when a bunch of us decided to change our two-stack rotation of Engulf in Flames to a three-stack rotation (basically, “1112″ instead of “112″). It seemed to work. He enraged, and he ganked about 15 of us, but dammit, we got him even if it was 12 14 seconds after the enrage timer.
We still had an hour left before our stop time. So it was off to the Obsidian Sanctum to work on Sartharion +2 drakes again…one-shot, baby. Not the prettiest ever, and I won’t go into my suckage on add-gathering too much, but we did it. We even had time to fly up to Naxxramas and do a high-speed low-drag roflstomp on the Spider wing. That just leaves us three wings + the top floor of Naxx tonight with three hours to do it, and then we’ll have reached a raid goal–clear all the 25-man non-PvP raid content in our two normal nights of raiding. Malygos, Sartharion, and Naxx in six hours or less. All that’s left for us now is the Big Kahuna…Sartharion +3 drakes. We start that next week.
So yeah, it was a night made of awesome. No loot for me, but pfft, I don’t care. We killed Malygos on our first week, we’re finally in position to “win the game” with Sarth +3, and I got to write a blog post with a Breakfast Club reference. It’s a good day, peeps. A very good day.
Linedan lasted two days as Arms before I took him back Prot. I learned enough to know that (a) I need better gear before even thinking about bringing an Arms spec on a raid, especially as big a weapon upgrade as I can swing, and (b) I am totally addicted to the Prot playstyle now and it’s really, really hard to give up the crack. I guess for me, it’s worth slowly grinding through my dailies at 1100 dps and bringing up the bottom of the DPS meters in Naxx-25 to be able to pull entire camps and survive, or tank Kel’thuzad, or even solo elites.
It’ll work having Arms as a dual spec for those times I want to deeps. But I can’t give up being the Panzercow. I just can’t. It’s in my blood. I have to face facts…I have a fever, and the only cure is more cowtank.
Some friends of mine from the awesomeness that is the Feathermoon server have started a new blog dealing specifically with roleplay and roleplay-related topics in WoW. Knowing the people involved, the insightfulness will be epic and the posts will be legendary. So, put on your RP clothes and head over to WTT: RP. Now. You won’t regret it.
(Full disclosure: I wasn’t in on the ground floor of the idea, but I’m hoping to do some writing over there.)
ALL RIGHT, MAGGOTS, FALL IN! WHAT? YOU NEED SLEEP? YOU CAN SLEEP WHEN YOU’RE WAITING FOR A REZ, SLIMEBALL!
Let’s talk about your next 10 levels as a Prot warrior. If you’ve been following along with SYWTBAPW up till now, you’re level 30, have all three of your stances, and are running around with one of two different 0/0/21 specs. Where we proceed from here is pretty much the same whether or not you’ve got the 2/5 Toughness or 2/5 Improved Disarm build, so let’s get to leveling!
Levels 31-32: 2/2 Gag Order. It’s a silly name for a very useful talent. Gag Order is a talent that doesn’t really come into its own until past level 40. Right now, it has one nice feature; whenever you Shield Bash a spellcasting target, in addition to interrupting and dazing it, you’ll silence it for 3 seconds. Very handy on those pesky spellcasters. Once you get this, you’ll start dragging the two-hand weapons out of your pack less and less.
Levels 33-34: 4/5 Toughness (or 2/5 Toughness if you took Improved Disarm). We’re just filling in points here to get to the next tier of talents.
Levels 35-39: 5/5 One-Handed Weapon Specialization. The late 30s and early 40s are when the two-handed weapons finally get put in the bank and you become a true sword-and-board devotee. This talent, once maxed, gives you +10% to all damage you deal with one-handed weapons, including if you’re dual wielding. But by level 40, you’ll keep a shield in your left hand instead of another weapon.
Level 40: 1/3 Focused Rage. By now you may have noticed that rage can occasionally be hard to come by. Focused Rage helps that by reducing the rage cost of all your offensive abilities by one point per point spent.
You may be asking, “OK, why didn’t we put any points in Puncture or Vigilance?” Good question. Puncture only reduces the rage cost of a single ability at this level–Sunder Armor. (You won’t have Devastate until level 50.) It’s an inefficient use of points, even though Sunder is your main spammable threat generator. As for Vigilance, it’s a controversial talent. A lot of endgame/raiding builds don’t even take it. I have it on Linedan’s Prot build, and think it’s worth the point…at endgame. For now, I think the point’s better spent in Focused Rage. Remember, this is a leveling build, we’ll tweak it later.
Most of the new abilities you get in the 30s have to do with Berserker Stance. You won’t use them all that much, but they may come in handy if you’re grouped with friends and, for some reason, find yourself not doing the tanking but doing DPS instead. You’re smart, you can figure out when it’s appropriate to use these! And then, at level 40, the skies open, shafts of light come down, and Chuck Norris descends from On High, Mankrik’s wife by his side, to give you the talent that truly sends you on your way to Prot fearsomeness…
Berserker Rage (level 32): aka, “HULK SMASH.” Hit this (Berserker Stance only) and for 10 seconds you are immune to Fear, Sap, and Incapacitate effects; plus, you get extra rage when you take damage. I still use this on fights where I am not tanking and attempting to do “l33t prot deeps” (cough); with so many raid encounters pumping a lot of damage around an entire raid, getting more rage out of that splash damage lets me do more damage in return.
Whirlwind (level 36): Another Berserker Stance-only gem, when you hit this, you hit up to four targets in melee range with your weapon (both, if you’re dual-wielding). Sadly, Whirlwind does not count your shield as a weapon. Even against multiple targets, with a single one-hander, this is very inefficient.
Pummel (level 38): And yet another Berserker Stance restricted ability. This is a spell interrupt; not only does it stop casting, it locks out that casting school for 4 seconds. Unfortunately, Pummel and Shield Bash are on linked cooldowns, so you can’t Shield Bash, then stance-switch for a second interrupt.
Plate (level 40): Not really a spell or ability, but you suddenly gain the ability to figure out how to wear plate armor. It was all alien to you before, but then your trainer showed you how. Miraculous!
Shield Slam (level 40): This is it, baby. It’s clobberin’ time. Shield Slam was originally the Prot 31-point talent, but for patch 3.0, it was replaced by Vigilance and given to all warriors at level 40, to increase off-spec tanking viability. They can use it, but we raise it to an art form. This is your “nuke,” as it were; it hits hard, it removes a magic effect from the target, it causes high bonus threat, and it makes a really cool “CLANK” sound. What’s not to like?
Shield Slam damage, unlike most other offensive talents, does not scale directly from Attack Power. It scales with your Shield Block Value; the “block” number on your shield, modified by your strength (2 strength = 1 SBV). Your 2 points in Shield Mastery give you an automatic +20% SBV, and your 2 points in Gag Order give you +10% net damage on Shield Slam. And yes, when you hit Shield Block to double your block value for 10 seconds, your Shield Slam damage will skyrocket. This is not just a threat move. Shield Slam will, if you’re doing things right, consistently be your #1 damage-dealt move over time.
Getting Shield Slam changes your tanking priority system. You remember it, right? Revenge if it’s up, Thunder Clap if you need it, Heroic Strike if you’ve got the rage, Sunder Armor otherwise, lather, rinse, repeat next cooldown? Well, here’s what it looks like at level 40:
- Is Revenge up? Use it first, even before Shield Slam. Why? Because it goes away after 5 seconds. Your window of opportunity is small, so you have to take advantage of it. Remember, if you have a Glyph of Revenge, follow the Revenge with an immediate Heroic Strike, since it costs no rage.
- Is Thunder Clap off cooldown and I’m facing multiple targets? Use Thunder Clap to try and keep other mobs beside your current target on you.
- Is Shield Slam up? Use it. It hits hard and gives you excellent threat.
- Do I have more than 40 rage? If so, it’s time for Heroic Strike or Cleave to convert it into damage.
- None of the above? Sunder Armor, for threat and extra physical damage.
- Debuffs: Don’t forget to drop Demoralizing Shout if you have a spare global cooldown.
Shield Slam changes the way that you pull, too. Shield Slam should always be your opening move on a single-mob or boss pull, assuming you have the rage. A Charge + Shield Slam combo, with one white attack in there, should give you a solid threat lead on the target. For multiple mobs, you’ll probably still open with Charge, then Thunder Clap; but Shield Slamming the kill target as soon as possible is very much advised.
If it sounds like I’m making a big deal out of Shield Slam, I am, and you’ll see why when you start to play with it. In mostly epic-level Naxx gear and raid buffs, Lin’s dropped 7200-point SS crits on Naxx trash (with Shield Block up). You’ve probably been feeling a bit underwhelmed in the DPS department through the mid- to late-30s, but Shield Slam will give you an immediate damage boost. Combine that with new ranks of Cleave and Heroic Strike at level 40, and you may well feel very invigorated about your Prot warrior.
As always, take opportunities to practice those tank skills. There’s not always a lot of call for tanks at these levels, as folks tend to push through them quickly and prefer to be blendered through instances instead, but if you do get a chance to tank for a group, take it. Shield Slam changes the rotation you’ve probably gotten used to so it’ll take some time to work it in and get comfortable with it. The problem is, most of the instances at this level range suck. Scarlet Monastery is the one good one; your other choices are Uldaman and Gnomeregan, and going to one of those is like being asked “which would you prefer, a one-way ticket to Kabul or Pyongyang?” Learn to love Scarlet Monastery.
Finally, a note on gearing. At level 40, you can wear plate. Save up some money for the occasion and start prowling the AH. Do not switch a mail piece to plate if the plate piece has inferior stats; be intelligent about what you’re looking for. The higher armor from plate is nice, but if you’re 41 or 42 and still have some mail on, that’s OK if it’s good mail. Strength and stamina are still important, but at this level you’ll start to see a very few pieces of gear with other stats on it. You’re not worried much about crit rating. Hit rating, on the other hand, is good even in the 40s, so if it doesn’t cripple your strength and stamina too much, by all means, grab it.
One point to remember: +strength is superior to +attack power. Why? Because +AP just increases attack power. +Strength increases attack power, and shield block value (for Shield Slam damage), and parry percentage. It’s more bang for your gold.
Also, you’ll be able to start using better enchants with items over level 35. If you’ve got the gold to do it, by all means, enchant what you can, although I wouldn’t spend a massive amount on it considering how fast you’ll replace some gear. Weapons are good candidates since you tend to hang onto those a little longer. Fiery Weapon is a good and reasonably available enchant, but if you’ve got the gold and are willing to go all the way, Crusader is probably the best for you under level 60.
Next post covers levels 41-50. You can run any instance you like between 41 and 50, except they all suck! I’M LOOKING AT YOU, MAURADON!
So if you go to look at Linedan’s armory link in the next few days, don’t freak out. I haven’t been hacked, and the Armory isn’t broken.
For a few days, the Panzercow…is DPScow.
Yep. In the interest of trying out a potential Arms dual-spec come 3.1 (as I mentioned in a post a while back), I’ve shifted Linedan over to a 53/18/0 Arms build for a little while so I can try to learn how to play it. Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere as a tank. Tanking is still my first love. But in the interest of raid utility and general versatility (since we have a lot of good up-and-coming tanks in our circle of online friends), it makes sense for me to have my main have the option to deeps occasionally. I don’t have anywhere near the gear for Fury, and Arms provides some raid utility, hopefully moreso in 3.1. So, Arms is the plan, and I’m test-driving it now.
My first impression, from a single heroic Utgarde Keep run, is that I’m going to dub the 53/18/0 Arms build the “waiting for Godot” build. I’m sitting there constantly waiting for something to happen. Waiting for Taste for Blood to proc Overpower, waiting for Sudden Death to proc Execute, waiting to have enough rage to Mortal Strike, Slamming if nothing else is available…good grief. I just thought Prot was reactive. Arms is so much more reactive than Prot is, it’s scary. Talk about worshipping at the Altar of the Random Number Generator, sheesh. This is crazy.
BTW, my performance in that HUK run? 1250 dps, 2 stupid deaths due to agro yoinking. If I was tanking, I’d have probably done 1250 dps and not died once. Yep. I’ve got a lot to learn, and a lot of gearing to do, to make this work.
And I’ve only got 21.8k health and 13.3k armor. Sweet motherhumpin’ zombie Jesus, I’m squishy.
We were down several people on the raid tonight because of the final episode of Battlestar Galactica. We did Sapphiron easy enough with 21 in the raid, and should have been able to do KT…but only having one guy handling all four bugs during the final phase (which he was doing a great job on) left us too vulnerable to him getting mind-controlled or iceblocked. So guess who KT kept picking to mind-control or iceblock?
We got him on the fifth try after we drug three more people in to help. Then Sarth +1 because after five KT fights, it’s all we had time for. So Malygos gets a week reprieve before the Anvil comes to take his lunch money.
Lin doesn’t. He does have a pink mageweave shirt that’s a bit of a constant though (see below).
The aforementioned pink mageweave shirt. See, our raid main tank, Gorebash, has worn a pink shirt for years now. It’s part of one of his RP outfits–pink shirt, denim overalls, a straw hat, and a Thunderstrike. (No, I’m not kidding. On a male orc. It looks like he just stepped out of bizarre through-the-Dark-Portal version of Iowa. It’s awesome.) One raid night he couldn’t make it and I had to stand in as MT, and did a creditable if not particularly noteworthy job in Tempest Keep. The next day, Gore mailed Linedan a pink mageweave shirt. To this day, Lin takes good care of it, keeping it mended and clean, and wears it on every raid as a good luck talisman.
I used to name Linedan’s weapons early on. One of his first sabres was called Truecleaver. His self-crafted Masterwork Stormhammer was named Cloudcaller (because it cast Chain Lightning). But soon he was switching weapons so fast that I got out of the habit.
Maybe the pink shirt, but probably not even that. Lin’s got a fairly que sera sera attitude about possessions.
Most of my characters pack-rat. So did Lin for the longest time. Eventually I got sick of my wife’s little friendly jabs about never having any bag space and I got ruthless. Now on average Lin’s got 40 open slots, sometimes more. Of course, this just means his bank is full to bursting…
(EDIT: Welcome to the folks from WoW Insider! Thank you very much! Hang around, browse the blog, I hope you find something you like!)
I love my raid. Notice I didn’t say I love raiding…my interest in raiding, and WoW in general, waxes and wanes with time. But even if I’m not playing WoW every night and indulging in other timesinks, I still love my raid. We’ve had the same core of good people together for almost three years now, and honestly, it’s been really good to me from every standpoint I can see–it’s made me a better player, gotten me lots of phat virtual loot, let me see and experience things in the game that I never thought I would, and given me some awesome memories.
Because of all this, I’m loyal to them. I want to be there for every raid that I can possibly make, real life permitting. (We have a very strict “real life first” policy…missing raids due to RL scheduling interference is understood and expected.) Admittedly, part of my pushing for 100% attendance is because I have that lovely little phenomenon known as Performance Issues…even after all this time, I can’t quite shut up that annoying little voice at the back of my head that says “if you aren’t there, they’ll figure out they do better without you and you’ll never get invited again…” It’s BS, and rationally I know it’s wrong, but rationality is not always the Panzercow’s strong suit.
So at 8:00 Eastern last night, I faithfully answered the call for whispers, and was at Naxx well before 9:00 for first pull. This, despite the fact that I felt like, to dredge up a term from my old Star Wars fan days, bantha poodoo.
See, sometimes I get headaches. Nasty headaches. Not the classic migraine where you get incredibly photosensitive and have to lie down in a dark and quiet room. Just slowly building headaches that get worse and worse until nausea kicks in and sometimes I throw up. I used to get them more when I was a kid, but I grew out of them; nowadays they’re exceedingly rare. This was the first one in a couple of years or more. I know that if I don’t nip these things in the bud and take some painkiller–just a couple of Advil work fine–early on, and I let them go, they get ugly. Problem was, we had nothing in the house but some Tylenol PM, and I’m not taking sleepytime medicine before a raid.
So I figured I’d tough it out. And at first I didn’t feel too bad, but I could tell I was definitely off. The pain wasn’t intense, but it was enough that I was out of it, a tick slow here and there. That all culminated 30 minutes into the raid where I got assigned to tank the frontside of Four Horsemen…and made a massive cock-up on a target handoff that wiped the raid. (Protip: If you’re tanking Rivendare and supposed to switch to Korthazz with the other tank, mis-targeting and taunting Rivendare again is counter-productive.)
Now I screw up a lot, more than I should. I’m hard on my own performance. But rarely do I epic fail so hard that I actually, demonstrably, wipe the snecking raid. If my headache wasn’t bad before, it sure as hell got worse on that long quiet run back from the entrance.
The second time through 4H, I bore down, concentrated, and did my job right that time. And indeed, we went on to have one of our better Naxx runs ever. We cleared all four downstairs wings in 2 hours and 54 minutes, a first. I tanked Loatheb, Gluth, and Anub’rekhan without difficulty, nobody died on Patchwerk, we even got a couple of achievements along the way. I picked up a couple of nice pieces of loot, and in general the raid was steamrolling everything in our path. It was a good raid night.
And I was miserable the whole way. It was taking a massive effort to keep focused and do my job while railroad spikes pounded into my left temple and I wondered if that Quiznos sub I had for dinner was going to come back up and visit me. I hung on by my thumbnails, and when we dropped Maexxna at three minutes to midnight, I was grabbing my emblem and hitting my hearthstone before her legs stopped twitching. I didn’t do any of my usual post-raid ritual of repairing, selling, checking Recount and post-morteming things with my wife. I landed in Dalaran, logged off, took two Tylenol PM, laid down in bed, and spent an unpleasant hour waiting for the acetaminophen and sleep aid to kick in.
Now, I don’t tell this story to show that I’m some kind of studmuffin. I’m not. Ask my wife, I’m a freaking miserable SOB when I get sick. I tell it to illustrate a point–I probably shouldn’t have been there in the first place. As much as I love my raid and want to give 100% for it every time I’m there, I might’ve been more of a liability than an asset in the shape I was in.
And that’s the topic for discussion, Gentle Readers. Most of us want to be there for our friends and raidmates, and we want to do our best even if we aren’t at our best. At what point do you go to your raid officers and say, “Sorry, guys, I feel like crap tonight, you might be better off taking somebody else?” To use the sports analogy, when do you bench yourself? Pro athletes almost never do it…but for them, it’s a livelihood. For us, it’s a diversion. The rules are a little different.
Discuss among yourselves!
The Lollipop of Death? The Broken Railroad Signal of Doom? The Most Real-World Impractical One-Handed Sword Design Ever Seen in WoW? How about just…Broken Promise? I got lucky and obtained this last night during the Anvil’s first one-night four-wing Naxx 25 clear, along with Heritage, a good tanking neck. Tonight, it’s just Sapphy, KT, then on to Sartharion…and maybe Malygos after that. Great. Considering that I’ve never successfully completed Aces High, this should be suitably humiliating. Let’s see, how’s that Blue Dragon Waltz go again? 1123 step, 1123 step, 1123 step?
Further actual content on raiding will be forthcoming later today. Last night put a question in my head that I think will make an interesting point for discussion.
OK, recruits. Back on the leveling train! Let’s pick up the next 10 levels, from 21 to 30, as we work our way down the road toward 0/0/51 tanky goodness at level 60.
The 20s are great levels for getting more tanking practice. For Alliance, that means Deadmines, possibly Blackfathom Deeps or Shadowfang Keep if you’re willing to run a bit, and at the high end, the Stormwind Stockades. For Horde, it’s Wailing Caverns (ugh), Blackfathom, and Shadowfang, and Razorfen Kraul when you’re pushing 30. Finding groups to run instances at these levels might be hard–it depends on the age and population of your server. But keep trying. You may have to run with the dreaded “pug”–a pick-up group put together via the Looking For Group tool or just via a zone general channel. Do it anyway. Pugging can be a horrid experience sometimes, but tempering yourself in the fire of healers that get distracted by shiny objects and DPS that can’t follow a kill order will, if it doesn’t kill you, make you stronger. And, hey, if you get a good group, put them on your friends list!
You’re going to have a few more options for talent point distribution at this point. Again, this is how I’d do it, your mileage may vary:
Levels 21-22: 2/2 Shield Mastery. This is a no-brainer. Two points here give you 20% more shield block value (extra mitigation, and extra damage later on) and a 40-second cooldown on your Shield Block.
Levels 23-24: 2/2 Improved Revenge. You’ve probably figured out by now, if you’ve done some tanking, that Revenge is a heck of a lot of bang for your buck. This makes it better by not only boosting the damage by 20%, but giving it a 50% chance to stun the target. After you get this, you may find it easier to start doing your normal farming and questing in Defensive Stance, even with the 10% damage penalty.
Levels 25-27: 5/5 Anticipation. We’d already put two points in this a while back, now we’re just filling it out. 3% more Dodge means 3% fewer hits–and 3% more chance to proc Revenge.
Levels 28-29: 2/5 Toughness. We’re building this up for later; it’ll come into its own more when you reach level 40 and can equip plate and your armor value increases considerably. Right now, the main bonus is -12% duration to movement-slowing effects. Alternately, if you’d like, you can take 2/2 Improved Disarm. If you grind a lot in Defensive Stance and can remember to use the ability, this makes your Disarm cause the target to take extra damage, and reduces the cooldown to 40 seconds. It might prove useful while leveling, although somewhere between level 40 and level 60, I’d recommend respeccing out of it and swapping these two points over into Toughness.
Level 30: 1/1 Concussion Blow. Oh, we do love our stuns, yes we do. The original version of this ability did no damage, it just stunned the target. Now, it hits for (0.75 x AP) damage in addition to the 5-second stun, so it’s very handy for DPS rotation even if you get a target that’s immune to stuns. Remember, however, that this stun shares a diminishing-returns timer with many others–second and consecutive stuns on the same target halve their duration, until the target is immune after three or four. (Charge stun will not be on the same DR timer come 3.1; Improved Revenge’s may not be on the same one now, I’ve never tested it and I’ve seen some people swear it is, and others swear it isn’t.) Obviously there’s a world of uses for this nasty little bonk on the noggin. It’s a great second spell interrupt when Shield Slam is on cooldown, it’s fun in PvP, it’s great for stopping runners.
As for your new abilities, you don’t get quite as many as you got between levels 10 and 20, but those you do get are (mostly) useful:
Intimidating Shout (level 22): Will cause up to 5 enemies within 8 yards to flee or cower in fear for up to 8 seconds. It’s one of your few possible ways to get out of a bad situation. Be VERY careful using this in instances, for obvious reasons–fearing a mob into two more patrolling groups is baaad, mmkay? Obviously, you can’t do this if you’re silenced.
Execute (level 24): FINISH THEM! When you Execute, you dump all your rage into an attack; if it hits, you do a pretty good-sized chunk of damage. You can only do this on a target under 20% health, and only in Battle Stance (and Berserker Stance past level 30). You must have at least 15 rage before Execute is available for use. This is not something you’ll generally do when tanking, since you’ll be in Defensive Stance, but if for some reason you find yourself DPSing an instance, or just out in the world trying to beat an elite, this can quickly end a fight. One point about Execute–the damage of your weapon doesn’t factor in to how hard it hits, only how much rage you’re carrying and how much AP you have.
Challenging Shout (level 26): Here’s another “oh shit” tanking button. When you hit this, all tauntable mobs within 10 yards will suddenly find you totally irresistable and be compelled to nom your face for 6 seconds. Then they’ll go back to whoever they were previously nomming. This is your emergency button when that four-pull in Stockades has totally gone to hell. Three-minute cooldown, so use it wisely, and hope you can generate a lot of threat in those six seconds.
Shield Wall (level 28): This ability will reduce all damage taken by 60% for 12 seconds. I think the only damage it doesn’t work on might be falling and drowning damage, and I’m not even sure about those. But it does work on all other types of physical and spell damage. With a 5-minute cooldown, it’s not something you do every fight, but you’ll generally have it handy when you need it. And you’ll need it. Trust me on this.
Berserker Stance (level 30): At level 30 your warrior trainer will give you a quest and send you to an island off the coast of the Barrens, near Ratchet. There you will have to fight a gauntlet of several challengers. When you win, you’ll gain Berserker Stance. This isn’t something you’ll be using all that often as a Prot warrior, but it’s there if you need it. Berserker Stance gives you +3% crit chance at the expense of +10% damage taken (possibly down to +5% in 3.1) and opens up some new abilities to you, such as…
Intercept (level 30): It’s sort of like Charge, except it can only be used in Berserker Stance, and it costs rage instead of giving it. But, unlike Charge, Intercept does damage, and the stun is more substantial–most importantly, it’s on a separate timer. You can thus quickly switch to Berserker Stance (keeping 10 rage), Intercept (burning all the rage), and then switch back to Battle or Defensive to allow you to, basically, “charge” while in combat.
Slam (level 30): No, you’re not reading it wrong–this is a warrior attack with a channeled cast time of 1.5 seconds. At the end of that, you hit somebody a little harder. I don’t ever remember doing this as a Prot warrior. Arms warriors do this all the time, but they take a talent to cut the cast time down to 0.5 seconds. Previous to 3.0, Slam reset your swing timer; now it pauses it, picking it back up from where it left off after the Slam finishes casting.
At level 30, you’ll gain a second major glyph slot. The post on basic gearing has some good glyph suggestions near the bottom, and to those, I’ll add two other potential major glyphs:
- Glyph of Cleaving: Your Cleave will hit three targets in front of you, instead of two. Not something I’d pick as a top priority, but if it’s all you can find, this’ll help you with multi-target threat in instances.
- Glyph of Last Stand: Your Last Stand cooldown is reduced by 3 minutes (to 2 minutes) but the amount of bonus health is reduced to 20% (from 30%). I wouldn’t bother with this one. If you’re having to hit Last Stand every 2 minutes, you’ve got other problems that need to be looked at.
Your basic tanking rotation doesn’t change much during your 20s. You get new levels of your old friends Heroic Strike, Revenge, Cleave, Thunder Clap, etc., and you’ll still be using them. With Improved Revenge and your increase in avoidance and mitigation from filling out Anticipation and Shield Mastery, you’ll probably start to feel a good bit more…well…tanky. Work on grinding in Defensive Stance using your instance-tanking abilities.
Gear-wise, more of the same…strength and stamina. One thing for Horde warriors to note–in your high 20s you can go to northern Thousand Needles and visit Dorn Plainstalker, in a cave along the north wall of the zone northeast of Freewind Post. The quest Test of Faith starts a long questline that takes you through Thousand Needles, Stonetalon, Ashenvale, and eventually to Scarlet Monastery, and the result is the Windstorm Hammer, a very nice one-handed mace. If you can get somebody higher-level to blender you through the SM run–you only have to hit the library–you can get this puppy at level 29, and it will serve you for several levels afterward.
Coming soon, we talk about levels 31-40, in which you will probably get to kill about eleventy-one squillion Scarlets and anything else that gets in your way, and visit new and exciting places where everything wants to eat your face! Yum! Tasty tank face!
Illy hit 80 over the weekend, I just hadn’t gotten around to the post before now. She’s my third level 80 (as compared to my wife’s four, probably five in a couple weeks when her now-71 resto druid gets there). As you can tell from her stats, she’s not exactly uber-geared…most all that stuff is a mixture of mid-70s instance and quest reward blues, with the exception of a couple of heroic pieces and one incredibly lucky drop, her new mainhand sword, Avool’s Sword of Jin. Because, hey, fresh 80 beastmastery hunters need a 143 dps mainhand, amirite?
She can limp along through heroics…she plus her new pet (a purple wasp named Indigo) can combine for about 1400-1500 dps if I push it as hard as I can, hit Bestial Wrath and Kill Command every time they’re up, and keep my rotations tight. Not great, but I’ve seen worse. I’d like to get her ready to be able to sub on Naxx runs, but that ain’t happenin’ anytime soon unless I can radically gear her up.
(Wasps, by the way, are just cool as hell hunter pets. They don’t scale down in size very much when you tame them, so she’s got this eight-foot-long insect following her around constantly cleaning its mandibles. And when she hits Bestial Wrath, let’s just say Indigo gets pretty intimidating. And hurty. I find my love of a wasp as a pet ironic, considering I’m phobic around stinging insects in real life.)
Ghostcrawler’s got some info on 3.1 UI changes up on the official WoW site. The highlights:
- You’ll be able to switch specs anywhere out of combat (except Arenas or Battlegrounds), only taking 5 seconds to do so. The only downside is that you zero out your energy, rage, mana, etc. when doing so. No Lexicon of Power is needed to switch. (This is perfect for me as a raid off-tank…switching between tank and DPS mid-raid on the fly. Awesome.)
- There will be a UI option to preview your talents before committing to them. (HELL YES! No more blowing a 50g respec because you fat-finger one click!)
- It still costs 1000g to activate dual specs, but the minimum level is now 40. (Twinks rejoice.)
- The Equipment Manager (the built-in UI version of current addons like Closet Gnome or ItemRack) will move stuff to and from your bank if you’re at a bank while using it. And you can hotkey your item sets. (Handy!)
- The UI will include expanded quest-tracking abilities, including putting icons on your window to use quest items without digging through your bags.
- New LFG window improvements.
- You’ll be able to queue for a Battleground from anywhere.
Go read the whole thing–there’s some seriously tasty stuff there.
(Hat tip: TankSpot.)
By now, if you’re following along at home with our little guide, you’re level 20. You’re ready to tank! It’s time to strap on a shield and go hit the Deadmines or Wailing Caverns or Ragefire Chasm and get beaten to a bloody pulp repeatedly! Yay pulp!
But before you go, let’s talk a little bit about how to tank. Going in to your first tanking experience with a little bit of background on what to do and when to do it will give you a leg up over those of us who had to walk into an instance with four drooling idiots we didn’t know behind us and no clue what we were doing.
If you’ve played WoW for any length of time, you probably know how threat and agro basically work; if you raid, you’ve probably run a threat meter like Omen and actually seen it work graphically. I’ll quickly hit the very basics anyway, because as a tank, you are required to not just know all this stuff, but have it be second nature to you.
Every attack, some special abilities, and most heals, generate threat. A mob will generally attack whoever has the highest threat (special abilities excepted); this is called agro. As the tank, it is your job to maintain agro on every single mob that’s awake and aware, at all times…or at least to try. Certain abilities can be used to decrease a player’s threat; a priest can Fade, a mage can Ice Block, a rogue can Feint, a druid can Cower, a DPS warrior can die, etc. The listing of each party member’s threat is called the agro table. You want to be at the top of the agro table, always.
One interesting thing about threat and agro is that if somebody exceeds your threat, they may not pull agro immediately. There’s a 10% buffer for melee range and a 30% buffer for outside melee range. So a rogue or DPS warrior would have to have 110% of your threat, or a mage or hunter 130% of your threat, in order for them to make #1 on the agro table and attract a mob’s attention. The problem is, when they do pull agro, now you need 110% of their threat in order to get it back. This 10%/30% buffer is why playing “agro pong” is so frustrating for warriors; it gets harder and harder for us to pull agro back on a non-Tauntable mob when the rest of the party are passing it back and forth like a bong at a frat party. Plus, when tanking, we develop a significant portion of our rage from being hit; if we’re not getting hit, we’re not getting enough rage to generate enough threat to pull something away from someone else.
As warriors, we solve this with Taunt. Taunt is what we use when somebody else pulls agro. When you hit Taunt, you are immediately placed back to the top of the agro list and given 1 point more threat than whoever was the current lead. That’s it. That’s all it does. It does not force the mob to attack you in any other way. If whoever pulled agro continues to out-threat you, they’ll pass that 10% buffer and get the mob back in their face. Also, Taunt is an attack, and it can miss like any other attack…and as you no doubt know, there are many instance and raid mobs that cannot be Taunted.
For failed Taunts, there’s Mocking Blow; now that does force the mob to attack you for 6 seconds, but it doesn’t move you back up the agro list. So you’ll need to really pump out some threat, and/or get the rest of your party to back off, so you can be back on top of the list when the Mocking Blow expires. Unfortunately, most Taunt-immune mobs are also Mocking Blow-immune, too.
So at this point you might be wondering, “what’s my tanking rotation?” Lots of classes have fixed rotations of attacks that they use (I’m looking at you, death knights). Prot warriors don’t. We used to, but 3.0 changed that. Now we use what you might call a “priority system,” or, if you’re a programming geek like me, a “case structure.” It’s pretty simple at the low levels, but gets a lot more complex once you’re fully invested in the Prot tree at level 60+.
Your low-level tanking priority system will look something like this, for every single global cooldown:
- Is Revenge up? If so, use it on the next global cooldown. It’s your most efficient ability in terms of both threat-per-rage and damage-per-rage. If you have a Glyph of Revenge, immediately follow the Revenge up with a Heroic Strike, which will be rage-free due to the glyph.
- Is Thunder Clap off cooldown? Use it on the next global cooldown, even on a single mob. It does damage, generates threat, and reduces the damage you are taking–that’s three great tastes that taste great together.
- Do I have more than about 40 rage? If so, hit Heroic Strike (for one mob) or Cleave (for 2+ mobs). It hits harder and (for HS) generates bonus threat. Don’t do this if you’re in a low-rage situation, you’ll starve yourself of the rage you need to perform other moves.
- If none of the above apply, and you’ve got the rage to do it, Sunder Armor on your current target. It reduces their armor so they take more physical damage, and generates threat.
This is the flow you have to work through every second and a half after your pull. Think it’s a bit harder than a good tank makes it look? Now imagine you’ve got four mobs to try and keep on you.
See, warriors are not hugely awesome AOE tanks. We can do it well enough, but not as well as a paladin or DK. Thunder Clap can only be used every 6 seconds. That’s an eternity in tanking. Cleave will hit two mobs in front of you, but what about #3 and #4? The answer is target-switching. You’ll be doing a lot of it. Drop a couple Sunders on mob #1, maybe a Cleave, then tab over to mob #2 and Sunder them a couple times. Then tab over to #3, Sunder x2, then tab over to #4, Sunder x2, and so on. All the while, you’ll be working through that rotation every GCD–Revenge, Thunder Clap, Heroic Strike or Cleave.
Making multi-mob tanking as a warrior work requires three things. It requires you have good situational awareness–basically, keeping a list in your head of how much love you’ve given each mob and when is a good time to switch targets. It requires that your tanking abilities be mapped to keys that you can hit quickly and accurately. And most importantly, it requires a party that works with you.
Mark a kill order–skull, X, square, circle–and make it very clear to your group that they are to stick to it. This way, you can give the majority of your single-target agro generation to the current kill target and use your limited AOE capability (Thunder Clap, Cleave, and/or the secondary Sunder effect of a Glyph of Sunder Armor) to hold the other mobs on you over top of healing agro. If you’re unsure of your tanking ability, ask your group to limit their use of AOE and focus on single-target damage following the kill order. If they won’t do it–they won’t follow the kill order, they AOE too much, they won’t back off when you ask them to–let them die. Healers always get taunt priority over DPS. Always.
This means that you, as the tank, should also be the one doing the pulling. You’ll need to gain experience doing it anyway, and if you pull, you will have at least some initial agro on all the mobs and be able to position them properly–assuming your DPS doesn’t go nuts too fast. There’s a couple different options for a pull. You can be in Battle Stance, Charge in to gain rage, hit Thunder Clap, then immediately jump to Defensive Stance. Or you can stay in Defensive Stance, hit Bloodrage, and pull using a ranged weapon, or even just your face (by running in). I always preferred to Charge-pull whenever possible, but sometimes, you’ll need to bring a group back from where they’re standing. So make sure you have some sort of ranged weapon always ready to use.
When things go wrong, and they will, that’s when your tank fu will truly be challenged. Zoom your camera way back out and try to position it so you can see when something leaves you and heads toward another party member. Have “target of target” turned on in your UI so you can tab over the mobs and see who they’re interested in killing. Remind your party members that if they pull agro, they are to run toward the tank, not away from you. If they bring the mob back to you, you can switch targets and Taunt it, or catch it in a Thunder Clap to get it back. If your Taunt fails, be ready with a Mocking Blow.
As for some of your other abilities…Shield Block is useful for when you’re getting pounded hard, to reduce your incoming damage. It’s particularly useful several seconds into the start of a pull, after your first few attacks; by then you should have plenty of rage built up, so the rage you’ll lose from the lessened incoming damage won’t be as big a deal. Of course, use Shield Bash to interrupt casters, and Shield Bash or Hamstring to slow down runners. Last Stand is your “oh shit” button that can be the difference between a wipe and a great save if the healer is down or indisposed. Disarm big mobs to reduce their damage a bit, and use Demoralizing Shout if you can to reduce the amount of damage you take by cutting the enemies’ attack power.
Other than that, here’s my best advice to you: practice. I have always found tanking to be largely reflex. I actually can’t articulate some of the stuff I do when I tank…I just do it. It’s hard to explain. After a while, you’ll start to pick up on what you need to do from experience, both good and bad. Get out there and tank anything you can. Harass your friends to go places with you. Practice tanking rotations on just regular mobs out in the world when questing. Get a healer friend, pair up, and go pull entire camps of mobs and practice holding agro on them. Just get out there and do it…it’s the only way to decide if the Way of the Meatshield is truly for you or not.
Next, levels 21-30!
After the last two posts in this series have unloaded a waterfall of information on you, you might be a little dazed, like you just took a Shield Bash upside the head, complete with the little stars circling and everything. That’s OK. Warriors get a lot of toys to play with as they level, like other classes, and figuring out which toys are ultra-cool like Transformers and which are worthless like My Little Ponies takes time. (Don’t go hatin’ just because I dissed My Little Ponies, yo. I’m a guy.)
Before we move on past level 20, let’s start talking about your gear. Make no mistake about it–warriors are the most gear-bound class in the entire game. We scale better with good gear than anybody, and bad gear hurts us worse than anybody. It’s not much of an exaggeration to say “we are what we wear.” I’ve leveled one warrior, two hunters (one marks, one BM), one feral druid, one enhancement shaman, and one death knight to 67 or higher. Only the enhancement shaman seems to have anywhere near the gear-scaling issues that Linedan did. The hunters, the druid, and especially the DK could run around in any old mish-mash of greens and still get the job done. Yeah, they kick more ass with blues and purples, but I didn’t have to constantly obsess with upping their inventory every few levels. I could just snag upgrades as I got drops or quest rewards, with only the occasional trip to the AH to fill in a gap. Not so for Linedan.
I can’t emphasize this enough, because take it from me and my hard personal experience, leveling an undergeared warrior, Protection or otherwise, sucks. Dying a lot isn’t much fun, and warriors have very few ways to get out of a fight anyhow. If you want to have fun leveling your Prot warrior into an impregnable fortress of spiky doom, it’ll be to your advantage to use every option at your disposal to make your gear as good as possible at each level.
Now this doesn’t mean you have to be like the bracket-campers in PvP, the level 19s that run around with every slot a blue and hundreds of gold worth of enchants. It just means that you’ll probably replace your stuff more often as a warrior than you do as other classes.
Let’s talk about what you need to look for in gear upgrades as a Prot warrior during your first 30 or 40 levels. In the early levels, your priorities for gear are very simple: strength and stamina. That’s it. Strength directly increases your chance to Parry, but more importantly it also increases your attack power and shield block value. For a warrior, 1 strength = 2 attack power and 2 strength = 1 shield block value. Attack power did not used to be hugely important for Prot warriors, but 3.0 turned that completely on its head. We do so much more damage now than we did before, and generate so much of our threat from that damage, that the ability to pump out pain is now vitally important even when tanking. Stamina, of course, increases health. You’re the guy taking hits, so you need all the health you can get.
At this point in your career, other stat boosts are pretty much secondary. Agility boosts your crit percentage and contributes a tiny bit toward Dodge, but don’t sacrifice strength or stamina for it. If you do find some mail gear or a weapon that boosts your defense rating, expertise, crit rating, or hit rating, feel free to grab it. But again, think strength and stamina first. Later on, these “non-stat” ratings will become vitally important, but for now, not quite so much. Don’t worry too much about the armor of an item, that’ll go up as you get better gear. I would definitely stick with mail only up to level 40, though, because nobody is going to take a Prot warrior in leather seriously. You’re not a druid. Don’t dress like one.
The principle is simply this: Get the best gear you can afford. When you have to go back to a capital city to train every two levels, swing by the Auction House and do some window shopping. See what’s available. If you can find some “of the Bear” greens (+str/+sta), snap those up. You can also look for “of the Tiger” (+agi/+str) or “of the Monkey” (+agi/+sta) greens if you can’t find any “of the Bear.” Obviously blues are better, but they’re also much pricier. Fill all your slots! Get a helm and shoulders as soon as you can, typically around level 14-16. Grab different weapon types so you can keep those skills leveled up; for weapons, look at the damage per second on the tooltip and grab the hardest hitter you can find. And never neglect your shield!
Talk to friends that are crafters, or maybe you have another character that’s a crafter. At low levels, blacksmiths handle all the mail armor duties, so see what armor and weapons your friendly neighborhood metal-banger can make for your baby warrior. In general you’ll be able to get better drops from instances than what smiths can craft for you, but crafted items can be useful for plugging holes in your gearset. With the advent of jewelcrafting, you can now get some very handy rings and neckpieces even at low levels, so take advantage. Again, use all those slots on your character screen, empty slots are just wasted space. As for enchants…I never really bothered using them on gear that I would just dump in a few levels, but if you’re rich or have an alt or friend that can enchant and don’t mind doing it, by all means, go for it. You guessed it…strength and stamina uber alles.
And instance, instance, instance! You need the tanking practice anyway! These are where the best drops for you are going to be found, not to mention some of the instance-related quest rewards are very good for their level. A prime Hordeside example is the Wingblade, which comes from the Horde Wailing Caverns quest Leaders of the Fang. That sword will hold you for several levels through your low to mid 20s. After all, the main reason to level a Prot warrior in the first place is to tank, so you should take as many opportunities to do it as you can. Plus, the experience from instancing now is much better than it used to be, so it’ll help you level faster.
(One more thing–if you’ve got a level 80 character who raids, there’s always Emblems of Heroism and bind-to-account gear. Polished Spaulders of Valor or a Venerable Dal’Rend’s Sacred Charge will relieve you of having to worry about what goes in that slot, and give a +10% xp boost to boot.)
Finally, glyphs. At level 15 you can equip one major and one minor glyph, and you should go make friends with an inscriber or snag some off the AH pronto. There’s no one hard-and-fast best choice at this level, my recommendations (in no particular order) are:
- Glyph of Resonating Power (Major): Reduces the rage cost of your Thunder Clap by 5. Great for tanking instances, because TC is a vital move for holding packs of mobs on you.
- Glyph of Revenge (Major): Makes your next Heroic Strike within 10 seconds of using Revenge cost zero rage. If you are planning to grind and quest/farm in Defensive Stance or do a lot of instancing, this is a very good choice.
- Glyph of Sunder Armor (Major): Your Sunder Armor ability affects a second target, like a Cleave. This is another one that can be very useful for tanking instances, less so for normal day-to-day questing.
- Glyph of Battle (Minor): Increases the duration of your Battle Shout by 1 minute. If nothing else, it’s useful for reducing the pain-in-the-ass factor of remembering to reapply Battle Shout.
- Glyph of Thunder Clap (Minor): Increases the range of your Thunder Clap by two yards. This makes positioning a little easier on multi-mob pulls. Pair it with Resonating Power and you’re a Thunder Clapping mosheen, baby, awwww yeeeeah.
Notice I didn’t give you many specifics on items? That’s because I shouldn’t have to! Gearing a warrior for the first 40 levels or so isn’t really rocket science. Strength and stamina are your most important stats, then agility and all the other various defensive and offensive ratings. Spirit and intellect, obviously, don’t matter. If your character was smart, she wouldn’t be getting conked on the head for a living, would she? Just get the best stuff that you can afford, and continually upgrade as you go. Don’t think of it as an expense, think of it as an investment.
Next time, we’ll talk about Tanking 101. It’s never too early to start learning how!
(I know, I know, I said in my last post that this one would be about levels 10-30, not 10-20. But you really don’t want to read a 3000-word wall of text, trust me. The only way I can keep these even close to reasonably sized is to go 10 levels at a time. I’m a verbose Panzercow, what can I say?)
At the completion of your Defensive Stance quest at level 10, you gain a “stance bar” on your UI. Stances for warriors work similarly to animal forms for druids, and use the same default keys; they also switch the default button bar #1 on your UI, so you have to set your Battle and Defensive Stance keys up separately. Map your stance bar icons to keys that you remember and can reach; Prot warriors don’t stance-dance as much as DPS warriors do, but it’s still best to keep the ability very handy. For now, you’ll primarily be remaining in Battle Stance, the default, but you’ll do your tanking in Defensive Stance.
For your next 10 levels, things will start to get more complicated with the introduction of your talents. (Before I go through the talents, here’s the disclaimers: I leveled Linedan four years ago, back when trilobites were advanced lifeforms. I have not yet leveled a warrior 1-70 through this brave new world we call “3.0″. These are, therefore, my best suggestions and guesses based on my knowledge of the class. No warranty express or implied, your mileage may vary, void in New Jersey and where prohibited without the express written consent of Major League Baseball, blah blah blah.)
Also, where we’re leading on this journey is ultimately to a 15/5/51 Prot build similar to Linedan’s. We will take all fifty-one points in Prot first. Suggest this a year ago and you would have been laughed off your server. Now? It’s possible, and we’re going to try it. Hardcore Prot, baby. Mooyah. (I’ll talk about some alternatives much later down the road.)
So as you head out into the big wide world, to that special level of Hell known as The Barrens or Westfall, here’s my suggestions for your first 11 talent points:
Levels 10-12: 3/3 Improved Thunder Clap. Three points in ITC will hugely increase the effectiveness of your Thunder Clap; the rage cost is reduced by four points, the damage is increased by 30%, and the slowing effect doubles to -20% attack speed. That’s a pretty fair chunk of incoming damage mitigated and outgoing damage increased.
Levels 13-14: 2/5 Shield Specialization. +2% chance to block, and a 40% chance of generating 2 rage when you do block. Not bad. We have to put the points somewhere to get to the next tier of talents, this’ll do nicely.
Levels 15-17: 3/3 Incite. How does a flat +15% crit chance to your Heroic Strike, Thunder Clap, and Cleave sound? I thought so. Incite’s also why good rage management to maximize your use of those three attacks is so important; by level 17, your mere 7% crit on white attacks becomes a pretty nice 22% on your Heroic Strike, Thunder Clap and Cleave.
Levels 18-19: 2/5 Anticipation: +2% chance to dodge. We’ll come back and fill this in later, but for now, this gets you more avoidance.
Level 20: 1/1 Last Stand. Welcome to your first big “oh shit” button. Last Stand will give you 30% extra health for 20 seconds. At the end of that 20 seconds, the health goes away. If you’re below that amount of health, you’ll have 1 health left. Basically, once you hit this, you have 20 seconds to either kill what’s in front of you, or run away. Being a Prot warrior, you will, of course, kill it instead of running away. Right?
Now for your level 10-20 skills, and there are a metric crapton:
Sunder Armor (level 10): This is a tanking staple. It does no damage, but it reduces the armor on your target so it takes more physical damage, and it also causes a pretty good chunk of bonus threat. Sunder Armor is not restricted to Defensive Stance, but that’s where it’s most often used during tanking. You can use it during grinding if you want, although you’d probably be better off sticking with burning rage on damage-causing moves.
Taunt (level 10): Defensive Stance-only, this “taunts the target to attack you.” It does it by putting you at the top of the target’s current agro list. It does not force the target to attack you, so if somebody else is generating more threat than you, it’ll turn right back to them. We’ll talk about this more when we get into discussing tanking and the concept of agro.
Overpower (level 12): This is a Battle Stance-only ability that can only be used after the target dodges you. It’s basically a free weapon hit; the bad guy can’t dodge, parry, or block it (but it can miss). At 5 rage, it’s very efficient, and should be used every time it lights up.
Shield Bash (level 12): You smack the bad guy “in da mouf” with your shield. You somehow don’t do any damage, but you do three things–you daze them (so they move half speed), you interrupt their spellcasting if any, and if they were casting, you lock out that spell school for 6 seconds. If you try this without a shield in your left hand, I will laugh at you.
Demoralizing Shout (level 14): Think of it as a reverse Battle Shout. You lower the attack power of all your enemies within 10 yards by a certain amount. The catch? It’ll agro any attackable enemies in that range. If you’ve got non-aggressive but attackable stuff around you, be careful with your AOE.
Revenge (level 14): Welcome to your big tank nuke for the next 26 levels. Revenge can only be used in Defensive Stance, and can only be used after you dodge, parry, or block an attack. When you do, this lights up, and it hits pretty hard–especially considering it costs a mere 5 rage. This attack is why I grind Linedan on his dailies in tank gear and in Defensive Stance. With high dodge/parry/block, this lights up all the time and hits like a truck with no brakes. For now, you’ll primarily use it when tanking. Prior to 3.0, it was a good high-threat move, but not much for damage. The bonus threat is gone, but it’s been replaced by tasty yellow numbers. Mmmmm. Pain. (Note the 5-second cooldown.)
Mocking Blow (level 16): This is your backup taunt, and unlike Taunt, it’s usable in Battle Stance. It does normal damage, some bonus threat, and forces the target to attack you for 6 seconds–but doesn’t move you up the agro list, so after 6 seconds, the mob reverts to normal behavior and goes back to nomming face on whoever’s on the top of its list. It’s your emergency “break glass in case of priest being eaten” move, to be used if Taunt misses or is on cooldown, and is designed to hold the mob on you until you can try Taunt again.
Shield Block (level 16): Defensive Stance only. For the next 10 seconds, you hide behind your shield and block everything in front of you–and your shield block value doubles so you block about double the normal amount. Use this liberally when tanking, especially on bosses. It’s a lifesaver, even on a 60-second cooldown, which we’ll talent down to 40 seconds eventually. This ability becomes even more useful later on, but that’s a ways off yet.
Disarm (level 18): Self-explanatory. You yoink the bad guy’s mainhand weapon for a few seconds. Not hugely useful in PvE, but fun. Handy in PvP.
Cleave (level 20): Another “on-next-swing” attack like Heroic Strike, Cleave will hit your target and one next to it for weapon damage plus some. This is handy for multi-target tanking or mob grinding, but since it costs 15 rage like Heroic Strike, use it judiciously.
Retaliation (level 20): An “oh shit” button for Battle Stance only. Any attack coming at you from the front will give you a free swing back, for 12 seconds or 20 attacks, whichever comes first. This is primarily designed for the guys with the big two-handers, but there’s no reason why you can’t use it too.
Stance Mastery (level 20): A passive ability that lets you retain 10 rage when moving between stances. Prior to level 20, stance-shifting completely zeroes out your rage.
You may be feeling overwhelmed by new skills at this point. Don’t be. For normal day-to-day slaughter, you’ll only use a few. You can stay in Battle Stance for most fights, or use Defensive if you’re going to try a big pull or a really tough mob. (Just remember that changing stances dumps all your rage at this level.)
For Battle Stance fights, hit Charge (or pull with a ranged weapon and hit Bloodrage if you need rage to start with), use Thunder Clap, then just beat the mobs down with white attacks, Heroic Strikes, and Cleaves. Keep reapplying Thunder Clap, and Rend too if you can, and hit Overpower every time it lights up. For Defensive Stance fights, use a ranged weapon to pull or just run in, and use Bloodrage to get initial rage if needed. Shield Block when it’s up, use your normal damage attacks (Thunder Clap, Heroic Strike, Cleave, Rend), and hit Revenge every time it lights up. Having Shield Block up guarantees you at least one Revenge, maybe two if the timing is right. On any fight, use Demoralizing Shout if you can to reduce your incoming damage. If you’ve got your shield on, use Shield Bash to slow runners and interrupt casters. Know where Retaliation and Last Stand are if things get dicey.
At level 20 you can practice with stance-shifting, so you can, say, start in Battle, Charge, shift to Defensive (keeping 10 rage) and then go from there. This is the preferred way of handling exceptionally tough fights like elites…but fair warning, elites are a BIG challenge at this point in your career unless you’re really twinked. For any fight, you’ll have to learn as you go about managing your rage. This is something you’ll pick up through experience…but trust me, play a Prot warrior enough, and you’ll hear “not enough rage” in your sleep after a while.
This turned out way longer than I thought, and I’m sorry, but there’s a lot of stuff in these 10 levels! Before moving on to levels 21-30, I’m going to look at two other things in subsequent posts. First will be general thoughts on gearing, including glyphs. Secondly, we’ll talk about basic tanking 101–threat, agro, and 101 different ways to tell Edwin Van Cleef that his mother was really good in bed last night. Ta!
There are a lot of things I want to do in WoW. I’d like to get some factions to Exalted, get the various Dungeonmaster titles, drop Sarth + 3 drakes and win the roll on a spiffy new proto-drake.
But you could give me every level 226 epic in the game and every single achievement in the list, and none of it would compare to the joy of lying under the covers in bed with my wife on a cold, rainy Saturday morning, with our three-year-old daughter in between us “reading” us a story from a book of dog pictures.
I have made no mystery about how yawn worthy I think Achievements are. I have even recommended that guilds (and the players that want to be part of them) need to build achievements into their charters and core concepts because they be downright divisive. This is a design issue. Achievements should be an assessment of your skill as a player, but far too many of them depend on luck or persistence or both. Raid achievements are particularly pithy and either represent more of a gear check, or a ping count. Some of them outright require that you piss off your fellow raiders. The new measure of dedication to your WoW buddies must be if you’re still friends after you’ve gotten your Proto-drake.
The thing that I think is perhaps most laughable about this situation is the pursuit of achievements can fly in the face of what, by more practical considerations, are actual achievements. Did the raid get an upgrade in terms of gear? Did you finish the raid quickly with minimal deaths? Did you make efficient use of consumables? Did you run every raid you could? Including Archavon? Did you find a new raider to add to your raid team?
Is your raid stronger today because of what you have done?
1. Get assigned to tank one of the two Death Knight Understudies in the back of Razuvious’ love shack while the priests mind-control the other two.
2. Kill Razuvious with the Understudies still up.
3. Watch both Understudies get the debuff they get when Razuvious dies.
4. Hit Shield Slam on the one you’re tanking, and then charge the other one and Shield Slam him too…
So. Now that certain people are actually taking me seriously (oh, the silly, silly geese!), I’m under a bit of pressure to actually deliver some good stuff here. No worries. I am, after all, der Panzercow. Compared to the horrors of getting teabagged by an Eredar for months on end, this whole writing-a-guide thing should be easysauce, right?
With your shiny new warrior at level 1 and standing in front of their first little yellow exclamation point in their newbie zone, it’s time to take those first few tentative steps down the path toward saronite-covered studliness in a mere 79 levels. These first few steps are, in fact, not a whole heck of a lot different than the first few steps that any new character takes, of course. You don’t have to start thinking too much until level 10 when your talents open up (which is next post). But even in the single digits, there’s a few things you can do to prepare, and things that you can start doing now so you’ll engrain them as habits as you move forward.
One of the things you’ll have to get used to is the rage mechanic. Rage is our mana. Without rage, we stand there and auto-attack (much like paladins). Rage starts at zero and goes to 100, no more, and decays fairly quickly out of combat. Rage is generated from normal auto-attacks through a complex formula that I can’t even hope to accurately quantify–basically, the harder you hit, the more rage you get, and crits give you even more. You also gain rage from being hit. Rage management is key, especially for Prot warriors, because of the three warrior types, we generate the least because we have far and away the lowest “white” auto-attack damage. You’ll get a feel for it as you work through your newbie quests. Too little rage in the bank is bad because it limits what you can do; too much is bad because it’s wasted. If you find yourself consistently with 80-100 rage, it’s time to throw in more special attacks to burn it off, called “rage dumping.”
Another thing I would emphasize strongly is keeping a broad spectrum of weapon skills leveled as you level up. Don’t just pick one thing and stick with it. Yes, orcs love them some axes and get benefits with them. What happens if you’re using the [Axe of Crap] and you get a nice [Hammer of Pwnliness] off some mob…but the icon’s red because you haven’t trained maces? Bad warrior, no biscuit. If you are able to pass your baby warrior a few gold from your other characters, do so, and then visit the weapon trainers in your faction capitals and train everything. Yes, daggers and crossbows and thrown weapons too, everything. I’m a firm believer that a true warrior needs to be able to kick ass with whatever’s to hand, be it a sword, a mace, an axe, or a gnome. (They make decent clubs if they’re armored.)
If you are a race that doesn’t start with a shield, like Tauren, that’s OK. You’ll loot one soon enough. Keep it, and get a 1H weapon (you’ll get those soon enough too) and start using them early on. Get used to the lower rage generation of 1H + shield versus 2H weapons. Always have your best weapon handy for tougher quests, but if you get some quests that are easier, swap your less-used weapons in and level your skills. And, even if you’re planning to be a tank, level those 2H weapon skills too. You may decide to go DPS instead for a while, and that’s OK. Again, flexibility is the key. I’m a big booster of it.
It goes without saying–buy your baby warrior some bags. If I twink nothing else on my alts, I at least go and get them some store-bought 8- or 10-slot bags if I can’t get my wife’s tailor character to whip them up some nicer ones. We don’t have the bag space problems hunters do, but still, more bag slots = less trips back to town = more time pwning face and getting xp.
You’ll start to get your first warrior skills in these first 10 levels, and they will serve you from now on. This is building-block stuff; you’ll be friends with these skills for 80 levels and beyond. They are:
Battle Shout (level 2): Increases your attack power. You yell, you hit harder. Just imagine your troll making Bruce Lee noises as he whomps on things. Keep this up as much as you can, it only lasts 2 minutes. This is one of the very few short-duration abilities (like Blessings, Seals, etc.) that Blizzard has never extended the duration on and has no plans to.
Heroic Strike (level 2): Hitting this will cause your next attack to do extra damage and generate extra threat, but instead of generating rage, it will cost 15 rage. A rule of thumb is to use this if you’ve got more than about 30 rage in the bank. Remember that Heroic Strike does not activate instantly, it’s an “on-next-attack” spell. You hit it, it lights up, and your next swing makes a “whump” noise and gains the bonus damage and costs you the rage. If you do something in the meantime to get below 15 rage, you get a “not enough rage” message and the melee swing is just a normal “white damage” swing.
Charge (level 4): You charge the target, generate rage, and stun it for 1 second. This should be your opener whenever possible. Generating rage is ALWAYS a good thing.
Rend (level 4): A damage-over-time bleed effect. It used to be a complete joke and useless after about level 20 except to keep rogues from stealthing in PvP. 3.0 changed it so that it does reasonable damage all the way up. Not something you’ll be using a whole lot as a tank; Arms warriors, however, use the heck out of it now.
Thunder Clap (level 6): This is a meat-and-potatoes move for any tank. You slam the ground with your dainty little foot (or hoof, if you’re a Draenei/Tauren), causing all enemies in about 8 yards to lose 10% off their attack speed and doing damage to them as well. Do this. A lot. It’s not rage-effective in terms of damage on a single target, but the slow effect reduces your incoming damage, and against multiple targets, it’s reasonably hurty. Plus, it’s good practice for when you start actually tanking, because on multi-mob pulls, this is one of your primary abilities.
Hamstring (level 8): Doesn’t do any damage, but it slows the mob down. Since you have very little ranged capability, this is how you stop runners from going to get their friends.
Bloodrage (level 10): Takes a percentage of your base health and gives you 10 rage, with one additional rage each second for 10 seconds. It’s a way to build rage on those fights where you can’t use Charge.
At level 10 you’ll get a quest from your friendly local warrior trainer. Do it immediately. This will give you Defensive Stance, which is your tanking stance (and your leveling stance at the higher levels). For now, when grinding, stay in Battle Stance (the default). Defensive Stance reduces your incoming damage by 10% and increases your threat generated by 45%, at the cost of reducing the damage you do by 10% (possibly to be 5% in 3.1). Certain of your abilities can only be used in certain stances.
During these early levels, being a warrior is simple. Charge your enemy or enemies, build up enough rage, then Thunder Clap. Rend for the extra damage, and then once you have extra rage, work in a Heroic Strike every now and then. If the mob you’re fighting is a runner, Hamstring it when it gets to about 30-40% health. Loot, lather, rinse, repeat.
Next time, we’ll look at levels 10-30, including the first 20 points of talents, and how to level with them if you decide to go hardcore Prot. It used to be crazy to do it, but now, it’s quite viable. Have fun!
TOO SOON, EXECUTUS! YOU HAVE PULLED THOSE MOBS TOO SOON!
Now that you’ve made the decision to head down the Way of the Meatshield, you’re probably sitting at your handy-dandy old Blizzard WoW character creation screen, and might be thinking, “OK, Panzercow, which race makes TEH BEST Prot warrior?”
Answer: All of them.
Seriously. I had this big long post written comparing each race’s racials and which ones were good for a warrior and which ones weren’t…and after 800 words, I deleted it all because it simply doesn’t matter. No racial is so good that it really makes one race over the other. Play what you like. Pick something that you don’t mind staring at on your screen from now until whenever. If you want to be a big studly orc, then a big studly orc you shall be. If you’d rather fap to some Draenei /waggle action…I sincerely hope I never group with you, but, hey, it’s your character, go nuts.
(As always, there’s one exception to the rule. Humans have what I believe to be the single best racial in the game…Diplomacy. Does it make you hit harder? No. Does it give you more health? No. Does it make every stinking ridiculous rep grind in the entire game 10% shorter? Hell yes.)
As for male vs. female, again, it doesn’t matter stat-wise. But you do need to know that the platemail that makes your male human look studly is probably going to be a metal bra on your female human. Yes, that’s right, a 30-armor cloth robe will give you burqa-like coverage; a 600-armor piece of platemail is two steel pasties and a piece of piano wire to hold them together. Hey, I appreciate a well-populated chainmail bikini as much as the next guy, don’t get me wrong. But when the same piece of armor looks like this on a dude, and this on a chick…yeeeeah. Mercifully, for female avatars tired of being harassed by the Beavis and Butt-Head crowd, this sort of look is somewhat less common in Outland, and goes away completely in Northrend, probably because platemail Wonderbras and titanium thongs don’t keep you very warm when standing on a glacier.
Faction-wise, again, it’s down to what you like. I’m primarily focusing on PvE here because I don’t PvP very much; there’s a whole different set of faction dynamics where PvP is involved, where racials like Every Man for Himself and Will of the Forsaken become a little more important, the smaller “footprint” of a gnome can be an advantage (little bastards are HARD to target when they’re in full-on scuttle mode), stuff like that. In PvE, there’s not much difference in the long run between Alliance and Horde. Things vary too much by server type and individual server to make blanket statements about one being “better” than the other.
Now, professions. Start on your professions early, and keep leveling them as you go. Otherwise, you’ll be level 80 and running around the Barrens punching hyenas in the face to skin them. Not fun. To get the obvious out of the way first–keep your First Aid leveled. You command no green sparkly goodness, therefore, bandages are your friend. As for Cooking and Fishing…honestly, I should have leveled these on Linedan, but I never did. Don’t make the same mistake. Take a little effort to level them as you go along and you’ll thank yourself when you’ve always got tasty stat-boosting food in your bags. A couple stacks of bandages and food, combined with the natural resilience and toughness of the Prot spec, will keep you out and grinding for a very long time.
Before you pick your “main” professions, ask yourself–do I just want to make money to get things on the AH, or do I want to actually make stuff I can use? If the former, you might consider a double-gatherer setup, say, Mining/Skinning or Herbalism/Skinning. (Mining/Herbalism might be the best moneymaker of the double-gatherer type, but since you can only search for ore or plants at one time, not both, it’s slower.) If the latter, you’ve got a few obvious options for self-sufficiency: Mining/Blacksmithing, Mining/Jewelcrafting, Herbalism/Alchemy, Mining/Engineering. It gets easier if you’ve got other characters, of course, because they can help your warrior out. I went Mining/Blacksmithing on Linedan; the problem is, in “vanilla” WoW, there’s very few things you can craft that are actually better than you can loot or buy. Engineering has some really, really nice toys, but leveling it is hellish.
The other consideration is, do you have alts that can twink out your warrior? If you’ve already got a 450 Blacksmith, obviously your new character doesn’t need Blacksmithing. For alts, I tend to like the double-gatherer setup, so they can feed my higher-level crafting characters (or my wife’s).
Next: Starting out, and leveling as Prot instead of DPS.
Tarsus over at Tanking for Dummies has a great post about the offtank and why he’s important. As somebody who’s been an offtank for, eh, 90%+ of my raiding career, it’s nice to see somebody appreciate what the other guys in plate and shield (or fur) are doing while the MT dances with Big Nasty.