I swear I’ve got some good posts percolating. Somewhere. No, seriously. Really. But in the meantime, have another fun-size grab-bag of “oh shit I really should post something” desperation…
- Bad news, melee DPS and tanks: Nerfs are on the horizon with the latest 4.0.3 PTR patch build 13245. MMO Champion has the details…it looks like that passive self-healing took a hit across the board, but none were worse than the nerf to Blood Craze in the Fury tree. Previously it would heal 2.5% of max health per talent point over 10 seconds (so 2.5/5/7.5%); with 2/2 Field Dressing, that netted out to 9.6% of maximum health restored over 10 seconds, on a 10% chance per hit taken. Build 13245 slashes that healing to 1/2/3%. I don’t know what the final number will be with maxed Field Dressing, but I think it’ll be somewhere just north of 4%. Obviously that’s a significant cut, and it remains to be seen whether that will render Blood Craze a much less “mandatory” talent. I’ve been of the opinion that it’s a no-brainer to take it just to lessen the strain on our healers, but so far, our healers haven’t been straining, even on ICC-level content. That may change once we head into Cataclysm and see the instances there. In the meantime, I’m giving serious thought to dropping Blood Craze at least temporarily and loading those points over into maxing Shield Specialization in the hope of solving some of the occasional rage issues Linedan and Latisha are both running into.
- The Anvil, our 25-man raid, folded up shop for the duration last night with a final run through the raid weekly (Malygos). We’re now on hiatus and will be back in action for Cataclysm around January 13, 2011. Our final scorecard: Cleared Naxx, cleared Ulduar normal with a few hardmodes here and there, cleared Trial of the Wake Me Up When It’s Over, and never bothered with Trial of the Wake Me Up OH GOD MY FACE (the heroic version). We completed normal 25-man ICC with our single hard-fought and emotional Arthas kill, and did get two heroic encounters in there done, Lootship and Rotface. It’s not exactly a record that the Paragons or Ensidias of the world would find impressive, but it’s by far the best we’ve ever done for an expansion, and I wouldn’t trade the fun and hilarity we had for all the world-firsts in the, uh, world. It was a hell of a ride, kids, and I’m glad I was along for it.
- That doesn’t mean I’m quite done with raiding, though. I tank a 10-man that runs for three hours each Saturday afternoon, and with The Anvil shutting down temporarily, that means we’ll be going back into ICC for more heroic modes (we’re currently 7/12 HM) and a crack at those tasty proto-drakes. Of course, that means heroic Putricide…and heroic Sindragosa…and what I know is going to be the bane of my existence, All You Can Eat. Oh God.
- There was a minor kerfuffle in the WoWosphere over the past couple days when Frostheim, WoW Insider hunter columnist and main guy over at the Warcraft Hunter’s Union blog, posted a story about running heroic Old Kingdom and what happened therein. (It’s too complicated to rehash here…go read Frostheim’s post and the rest of this will make sense.) Most of his commenters backed him up on it, or at least thought it was funny (and honestly, I can see that). Well, Amber at I Like Bubbles offers the counterpoint, in which she brings up the valid (and, IMO, accurate) point that when you’re a higher-visibility member of a community, you really shouldn’t go around acting like a penis. Not that you ever should anyway, but you get the idea.
And, here’s a few random gems from the Interwebs:
- Syl at Raging Monkeys gives us non-healy types a lesson on the Good to stand in come Cataclysm.
- WoWPhiles Podcast, episode 47. I’m on it, Liala is on it, Bliky is on it. You go listen. NAO.
- Liala gets the twofer this week with a post over at Disciplinary Action about how to work dat booty and get phat loots at the same time.
- Galertruby has a few issues being a cultist at Need More Rage.
Y’all have a good weekend, and remember, it’s all fun and games until Deathwing puts somebody’s eye out.
(Did you see what I did there with the title? Damn, I’m smooth. Hurr hurr.)
OK, kids, it’s finally time for Uncle Panzercow to take a look at Prot warriors in the Cataclysm beta. Both of mine are over there now. Linedan is casually slaughtering his way through Mount Hyjal in his usual efficient, taciturn Panzercowing manner. Latisha, on the other hand, threw on her bikini and took a little vacation…she went on a “three-hour tour” booze cruise toward an island off Stormwind, but instead of chatting up the hunky SCUBA instructor, she found herself, well, drowning. Then she woke up at the bottom of the Great Sea in the bilge of the SS Poseidon, surrounded by dead Alliance soldiers, beautiful coral, and pissed-off naga. She’s done the first few Kelp Forest quests in Vashj’ir; unfortunately, after taking her back to Stormwind to train Mastery, a bug has stuck her in limbo between Stormwind and Moonglade, and she may be out of action until I can either re-copy her (giving her the T9 shoulders she picked up last night) or wait for a fix. I may just wait for a fix, I want to retain the option to copy another character over at some point.
I’ll do another post talking about the actual Prot leveling experience once I do more of it–Lin’s only 2/3 of the way through 80, and Latisha’s barely done anything at all. What I want to look at in this post are the warrior trees, from a Prot standpoint of course. I’m not even going to suggest specific builds, because really, I haven’t absorbed all of this stuff yet, and I’m sure I’ll be wobbling back and forth on builds constantly over the next couple months. Instead, I’m going to look more at the talents and abilities that you’d see at level 80.
DISCLAIMERS: This is all based on beta build 12759 as of 19 August 2010 and is subject to change anytime Ghostcrawler wants to change it. Your mileage may vary. Void in Middle-Earth and where prohibited. Side effects may include dizziness, nausea, hair loss, carpal tunnel syndrome, hot warrior groupies throwing themselves at you, frequent death, high repair bills, and hearing “not enough rage” in your sleep. Any rebroadcast of these talents without the express written consent of Major League Baseball is prohibited.
Cutting Down the Trees
So that having been said, let’s take a look at the talent trees. The first thing you’ll notice upon hitting “N” for the first time in the beta is that there’s a new first screen where you are shown the various masteries available. (The three Mastery abilities only seem to kick in when you train the Mastery skill.) We’ll be looking at Prot, of course, so you see there’s one ability exclusive to us–our old friend Shield Slam, no longer baseline, sorry Arms and Fury–and three Masteries; Vitality, Vengeance, and Improved Block.
Vitality replaces the old Vitality talent; it’s just a flat 15% boost to Stamina, nothing fancy here. Vengeance is a mechanic that I’m still trying to get my noggin around. The tooltip says: “Each time you take damage, you gain 5% of the damage taken as attack power, up to a maximum of 10% of your health.” Does that mean that my 50,000 health Linedan can get up to 5000 bonus attack power? Well, not practically. Any bonus you get from a particular hit seems to roll off after 15 seconds. So the AP boost seems to fluctuate up and down. During normal questing on Lin, it seems to wobble around +100 to +200 AP, but I imagine it will be considerably more useful on instance fights, especially bosses. Finally, Improved Block is just what it says it is, +15% to shield block chance. Except I noticed something odd on Latisha. When she first arrived and spec’d out, she had exactly 20.00% block chance, which I thought odd. When I trained Mastery, that chance went down to exactly 15.00%, which is what Lin has. I don’t know if that’s a glitch or what. But now both their character sheets show only a 15% chance to block. That indicates to me that either this is a bug, or warriors have a base non-Mastery block chance of zero…which should be a bug.
When you start looking at the trees themselves, you’ll see some familiar talents about where you expect them. Last Stand, Concussion Blow, Improved Revenge, Devastate, Shockwave, Gag Order…old friends, like the crew at Cheers. You just expect Devastate and Shockwave to stand up and yell “NORM!” when you pick talents from this tree. But even old dogs learn a few new tricks, so we need to go through this one talent at a time. Strap in, it’s going to be a long ride…
Incite (3 points): Increases the critical strike chance of your Heroic Strike by 5/10/15%, and your Heroic Strike critical strikes have a 33/66/100% chance to make your next Heroic Strike also a critical strike. This effect cannot occur more than once every 6 seconds. Veneretio had a good discussion of Incite over at Tanking Tips a couple weeks ago. I think the jury is still out on this one largely because Heroic Strike isn’t what it used to be. Remember, it’s no longer an on-next-swing with no cooldown. Now it’s instant and off the global cooldown, but it costs 30 rage with a three-second cooldown. How our rage generation works out will make or break this talent.
Toughness (3 points): Increases your armor value from items by 3/6/10%. Straightforward, and necessary as always because bonus armor and armor on trinkets get removed in Cataclysm. Lin’s down 6000 armor from live right off the bat.
Hold the Line (2 points): Increases your critical strike and critical block chance by 10% for 5/10 seconds after a successful parry. This just in: PARRY GETS LOVE. About damn time. Veneretio covered this talent as well and did a thorough job of covering the good and bad of it. Bad: Not all that great against bosses. Good: Useful against multiple targets, and when your crit percentage is as horrendous as ours is, you take whatever help Blizzard throws to you. Probably a keeper.
Shield Specialization (3 points): You generate 5/10/15 extra rage when you block an attack. You generate 20/40/60 rage when you Spell Reflect a magic attack. Hmm. Note that Shield Spec now doesn’t give you a better chance to block, it’s just about rage generation. Right now, in build 12759 of the beta, prot warrior rage generation is actually very good, almost too good. I’m getting full rage bars on Lin while only fighting mobs two at a time without anything to Spell Reflect…with his ICC-level avoidance, that’s shocking. (It also means I’m not Heroic Striking enough.) If rage generation is not an issue, then this isn’t necessary. If we get as rage-starved in Cataclysm as we did in Wrath of the Lich King when grinding, then it becomes much more useful. Time will tell.
Shield Mastery (3 points): Reduces the cooldown of Shield Block by 10/20/30 seconds, Shield Wall by 60/120/180 seconds, and Spell Reflect by 1/2/3 seconds. Why on earth would you not take this? It’s better than the old Improved Disciplines because it affects three of our best defensive cooldowns. You end up with being able to bump your block up for 10 out of 30 seconds, reduce all incoming damage by 40% for 12 out of 120 seconds, and reflect a spell every 7 seconds. (Also? Shield Block now costs 10 rage, unfortunately, but Spell Reflect only costs 15, down from 25 in live.)
Blood and Thunder (2 points): When you Thunder Clap a target affected by your Rend, you have a 50/100% chance to affect every target with Rend. OK, maybe I’m missing something here, but…do Prot warriors keep Rend on their bars? Seriously? I think I’ve got it shoved off in a corner somewhere bound to ctrl+shift+6+standonmyhead or something. I haven’t used it in years. Are they expecting us to start? I don’t think I got that memo.
Gag Order (2 points): Gives your Shield Bash and Heroic Throw abilities a 50/100% chance to silence the target for 3 seconds. Also lowers the cooldown of your Heroic Throw by 15/30 seconds. It doesn’t have the +5/10% damage to Shield Slam that it used to, sadly, but this is still a useful talent for pulling. I think it may have gone from “must have” to “nice to have” depending on the composition of instances.
Last Stand (1 point, cooldown 3 minutes): Temporarily grants you 30% of your maximum health for 20 seconds. After the effect expires, the health is lost. Nothing’s changed here, this is our reliable old ass-saver from live, right down to the three-minute cooldown.
Concussion Blow (1 point, cost 15 rage, cooldown 30 seconds): Stuns the opponent for 5 seconds and deals (38/100 * AP) damage (based on attack power). Again, no functional change here, even the cooldown remains the same at 30 seconds. It’s just been moved down to Tier 3 in the tree.
Bastion of Defense (2 points): Reduces the chance you’ll be critically hit by melee attacks by 3/6%. In addition, when you Block, Dodge, or Parry an attack, you have a 10/20% chance to become Enraged, increasing physical damage done by 10% for 12 seconds. Exit stacking Defense, enter Bastion of Defense. This is how warriors become uncrittable now. It also takes the enrage from the old Improved Defensive Stance talent, although instead of the chance being 50/100%, now it’s only 10/20%. If you don’t take 2 points in this talent, GTFO my class and roll a rogue.
Warbringer (1 point): Your Charge, Intercept, and Intervene abilities are now usable while in combat and in any stance. In addition, your Intervene ability removes all movement-impairing effects. No change from live, this is another near-mandatory talent; it’s what gives us our legendary pinball-of-death mobility. When I’m in Lin’s Fury spec, honestly, this talent is the biggest single thing I miss.
Improved Revenge (2 points): Increases the damage of your Revenge ability by 30/60% and causes Revenge to strike an additional target for 50/100% damage. No functional change from live on this one either, it’s a big DPS and threat boost so I think it’s mandatory. But that’s just my opinion.
Devastate (1 point, cost 15 rage): Sunders the targets armor causing the Sunder Armor effect. In addition, causes 120% weapon damage + 58 for each stack of Sunder Armor on the target. The Sunder Armor effect can stack up to 3 times. Other than the overall reduction of Sunder Armor stacks from 5 to 3, there’s no change at all to Devastate. Even the damage is exactly the same.
Impending Victory (2 points): Using Devastate on a target with 20% or less health has a 25/50% chance to allow the use of Victory Rush, but that Victory Rush only heals for 5% of your health. Now this is an interesting little talent. On low-health mobs, this talent gives you the opportunity to trigger Victory Rush, gaining a single rage-free attack that will give you a mini-heal of 5% of your max health (instead of the 20% from a normal VR). Even with mobs now having 30k+ health in the 80-81 areas, I can’t see this being useful during level-grinding. But how useful might this be at the end of a tough boss fight, when he’s sub-20% for a couple minutes? You’re hitting Devastate all the time anyway, why not have a 50% chance to give you a free attack and heal yourself for several thousand health? It’s better than Enraged Regeneration by a long shot.
Thunderstruck (2 points): Improves the damage of your Cleave and Thunder Clap by 3/6%. In addition, your Thunder Clap improves the damage of your next Shockwave by 5/10%. Stacks up to 3 times. All I can think of for this one is “meh.” The damage boost is nice, but spending two points on it in Tier 5 doesn’t seem like a very good return. Maybe someone can prove differently to me.
Vigilance (1 point): Focus your protective gaze on a group or raid target, reducing their damage taken by 3%. In addition, each time they are hit by an attack your Taunt cooldown is refreshed, and you gain Vengeance as if 20% of the damage was done to you. Lasts 30 minutes. This effect can only be on one target at a time. Sharp-eyed readers will notice something missing from that blurb…that’s right, the 10% threat transfer is gone. Is it worth putting a point into this for a small AP boost and the taunt refresh? I’m not sure yet. For grinding, definitely not. For instancing or raiding, maaayyyybe.
Heavy Repercussions (2 points): When Shield Block is active, your Shield Slams hit for an additional 50/100% damage. Pretty straightforward, although it’s a little disappointing to have to spend two points in Tier 5 for what we used to get for free with Shield Block.
Safeguard (2 points): Reduces the damage taken by the target of your Intervene ability by 15/30% for 6 seconds. Uh…yeah. Somebody please make a case for this talent, because I’ve never seen it to be useful. Then again, I know I don’t use Intervene nearly enough.
Sword and Board (3 points): Increases the critical strike chance of your Devastate ability by 5/10/15%. When your Devastate or Revenge abilities deal damage, they have a 10/20/30% chance of refreshing the cooldown of your next Shield Slam ability and reducing its rage cost by 100% for 5 seconds. Good old Sword and Board, basically unchanged. DING!
Shockwave (1 point, cost 15 rage, cooldown 20 seconds): Sends a wave of force in front of the warrior, causing (75/100 * AP) damage (based on attack power) and stunning all enemy targets within 10 yards in a frontal cone for 4 seconds. Interestingly, Shockwave, our top talent, hasn’t changed.
Blood Craze (3 points): After taking any damage, you have a 10% chance to regenerate 2.5/5/7.5% of your total health over 5 seconds. Wow. This is big, gang. 7.5% of your total health over 5 seconds…in beta!Linedan’s case, that’s about 3500 to 4000 health. This talent is almost like having an inattentive druid trundling along behind, occasionally pulling himself away from watching “Dancing with the Stars” and dropping a Rejuv on you. Between this, Victory Rush, and Enraged Regeneration…kids, if you’re a well-geared Prot warrior, and this stuff stays close to the way it is now? You will have to work to die while grinding. If you thought we had good survivability before, it’s beyond insane now.
Battle Trance (3 points): Your Bloodthirst, Mortal Strike, and Shield Slam hits have a 5/10/15% chance to make your next special attack consume no rage. Again, the usefulness of this talent will depend on rage generation. Right now, our rage generation is very good. I don’t expect that to continue. I don’t know if spending 3 points is worth it to get a 15% chance of rage reduction on an attack we only fire off every four to five seconds (averaging in S&B procs) anyway.
Cruelty (2 points): Increases the critical strike chance of your Bloodthirst, Mortal Strike, and Shield Slam hits by 5/10%. Gee, you’d almost think they don’t want our white attacks critting anymore. A 10% crit boost on Shield Slam only for two points…not sure the math on this one works out any better than Battle Trance, to be honest. We’ll have to see.
Rude Interruption (2 points): Successfully interrupting a spell with Shield Bash or Pummel increases your damage by 5/10% for 15 seconds. This is a Tier 2 talent that’s gotten more press for the alleged political incorrectness of its icon than its actual use. You can make an argument, as often as we interrupt spells, that the damage boost might be worth having to put 5 points into Fury to get it. Well, I can’t, but maybe you can.
Piercing Howl (1 point, cost 10 rage): Causes all enemies within 10 yards to be Dazed, reducing movement speed by 50% for 6 seconds. The fact that this is now a Tier 2 Fury talent puts it, potentially, within reach of Prot warriors. I’m not sold on its usefulness for a PvE tank, but I can sure see Prot PvPers all over it.
War Academy (3 points): Increases the damage of your Heroic Strike, Cleave, Victory Rush, and Slam abilities by 5/10/15%. Hmmm. That’s actually pretty tempting. HS and Cleave won’t get spammed as much as they used to (well, Cleave might, HS, not so much). But when you see other talents in this tier, it definitely becomes second fiddle.
Field Dressing (2 points): Increases your self healing abilities by 10/20% and all healing effects on you by 3/6%. It doesn’t take too many brain cells to see this being mandatory for tanks, and quite honestly, good for grinding as well. Right now, normal level 80 trashy quest grind mobs hit a lot harder than they do on live–try three times as hard. Any boost to the considerable self-healing we’re now provided (Blood Craze, Victory Rush, Enraged Regeneration, even bandages) is a big plus.
Blitz (2 points): Your Charge ability generates 5/10 additional rage and stuns 1/2 additional targets. I’ve always liked the old Improved Charge talent, and this is its successor. But with only 41 points to spread around, I’m not sure we’ll have room.
Phew! Well, that’s the tree changes…but we’ve still got to get to the major changes to some of our abilities…
On-next-attack abilities are gone. Cleave and Heroic Strike are now instant attacks with short cooldowns. This means the (probable) end of having to bind HS to your mouse wheel and spinning while tanking.
Shout mechanics have changed. Battle and Commanding Shout are much more like death nuggets’ Horn of Winter. They generate rage now instead of costing it, but have long (1-minute) cooldowns. Since our rage decays so fast out of combat, they’re actually more useful to hit in combat as a backup to Bloodrage, which breaks my old technique of hitting whichever Shout I’m using after I kill something, to keep it refreshed.
Victory Rush. As currently implemented in build 12759, Victory Rush has suddenly become your best friend ever. It’s now usable in Defensive Stance, and as always, gives you a single rage-free attack. Oh, and now in the beta, it heals you. For 20% of your maximum health. You heard me right, kids. Between this, Enraged Regeneration for emergencies, and the Fury talent Blood Craze, a well-geared Prot warrior simply never stops killing. You need to keep killing to get that tasty multi-thousand-point heal from VR. And since Victory Rush has no cooldown…you can pull big and hit VR after each mob in the pack dies for a big shot of health. I will actually be surprised if this goes live the way it is now, because it’s that awesome and I’m that big a pessimist.
No more Shield Block Value. When you block, you block 30% of the incoming damage. On a crit block, you block 60%. The Shield Block ability still basically lets you block everything for 10 seconds, but it’s no longer the total immunity against trash that it was in Wrath.
The order in which you get abilities is scrambled. I’m not even trying to figure it out. I haven’t leveled a Prot warrior in the beta, and probably won’t try it until after Cataclysm goes live and I have some time to work on my mains and existing alts.
Shield Wall isn’t as effective. The damage reduction in the beta is down to 40% from 60% in live…but with three points in the excellent Shield Mastery talent, the cooldown is only 2 minutes. Basically, you can talent into what is now the glyphed version of Shield Wall. Less absorption, more often.
OK, that’s enough for one day. Hell, that’s more than enough for one day. If you’ve made it to the end of this wall-o-text, congratulations!
Soon I hope to have more posts up on the Prot leveling experience in Cataclysm’s beta…both from the point of view of a highly-geared raid tank (Linedan) and a fresh 80 with relatively minimal gear (Latisha). Stay tuned.
At roughly 7:15 pm Eastern Daylight Time last night, the Latisha Experiment reached the conclusion of its first stage when Miss Latisha Morganson, twenty-year-old disowned rich daughter of a noble and unscrupulous Stormwind merchant family, hit level 80. She did it while talking to a dead gnome (Arly, the gnome DK questgiver at Blackwatch in Icecrown). Despite being level 80, Latisha is still squicked by dead gnomes, and still washes her hands frequently after interacting with them. (She’d totally be carrying around a giant bottle of Purel, if the stuff had been invented by fellow dead-gnome-germophobes yet.)
Regular readers of Achtung Panzercow know that I rolled Latisha last year as an experiment to use my own So You Want to Be a Prot Warrior guides to actually level a warrior as hardcore Protection all the way from 1 to 80. The goals were to validate my own guides; to prove that it was not only viable, but fun, to level solo as Prot; and so I had a tank Alliance-side on Feathermoon just in case I ever needed her.
Based on the results, I’d say all three goals were fully met and then some. I used my own talent suggestions with only two minor variations (taking Improved Disarm early and not shifting out of it to pick up Vigilance until the mid-60s, and shifting the two points in Cruelty over to Shield Specialization to end up with a 15/3/53 build instead of 15/5/51). She actually required virtually no outside money from Beltar while leveling. I gave her some gold for bags to start with, and funded one 30-40 gold AH buying spree in her 20s, but other than that, she’s been completely self-sufficient, getting by on quest rewards, drops, and the money from mining and skinning auctions. She arrived at level 80 with about 2600 gold to her name, and that was without really trying to stop the leveling process just to make gold. She’s still only got a slow flying mount, and no dual-spec, but those were personal choices–I could’ve easily ground the money for either one, but I wanted to save the maximum amount to kit her out once she got her special present in the mail from Rhonin Sue.
As for leveling her, it was easy. Yes, there were bumps, and yes, I’m still hearing the female human “not enough rage!” in my sleep, but quite honestly, I found it much easier leveling her than I did leveling my enhancement shaman Sakula last year. I don’t know if that means I’m really good at Prot warriors or that I’m utter fail at enhancement shamaning (more likely the latter), but getting Latisha to 80 was really pretty unspectacular. I borrowed some help from friends at times to hammer out group quests like the ones in Dragonblight (teaming with my wife’s 80 Draenei enhancement shaman to do every group quest in Dragonblight, Grizzly Hills, and Zul’Gurub in one run) and used the LFD tool extensively once she got into Northrend. In terms of leveling, it’s still far faster to grind quests than dungeons, but the dungeons are where the loot is.
Actually, by level 79, thanks to the LFD tool and some trips to the AH, she was pretty well set for tanking normal instances. She had several pieces of Tempered Saronite crafted armor off the AH, a Riot Shield from Violet Hold, various other blue bits from dungeons, topped off with a Crusader’s Resolution from questing in Icecrown, and the Crescent of Brooding Fury from killing Ragemane in Zul’drak. She could get herself over 21,000 health with Commanding Shout up and had around 505 Defense. I never had any significant issues with her tanking a Northrend regular dungeon.
Heroics, however, are quite another matter. So as soon as she dinged 80, I immediately headed to Ironforge on a spending spree…and spend I did. A Titansteel Shield Wall. A Tempered Titansteel Helm. A Tempered Saronite Belt to replace her Cobalt Belt. Some gems (and thanks a ton, Arrens, for sending me those Enduring Eyes of Zul–a big help!) and enchants. Then I flew around and picked up all of the faction tabards I’d need and did more shopping–grabbing the Special Issue Legplates from the Argent Crusade, and swapping that very slow (speed 2.60) axe for a nice fast (speed 1.50) Fang of Truth from the Wyrmrest Accord; even though it cost me Defense points, I’m far more used to tanking with a fast weapon and very much prefer it in instances. (Plus, she desperately needed the +hit.) By the time I was done, she’d gone from 2600+ gold to less than 10…and still only 527 Defense. Not the 535 she needed to be crit-immune in heroics.
Accepting her non-heroic status, I ran a normal Utgarde Pinnacle to get some money. Interestingly, from doing the quests in there, I picked up the Silver-Plated Battlechest. Between that, and her raw Defense skill finally hitting 400…she had 537 Defense. Y halo thar, magic number.
Unbuffed: 21,251 health. 22,450 armor. 537 Defense. 17.1% dodge, 15.46% parry, 14.48% block. A Gearscore well south of 2900.
So of course, I queued to tank a heroic.
And the Wheel of Suck came up…Halls of Motherfucking Stone. Oh great.
Now I freely admit, I expected what sometimes happens when a low-geared fresh 80 tank shows up at an random instance…a chorus of “wtf?? u tank?” from DPS or healers with 6000+ Gearscores and egos to match, followed by some insults and group-dropping (or kicking). Instead, to my utter astonishment, I found that my group was perfectly cool with me being there. I had more health than everybody but the death nugget, and he only beat me by about 1200. We were all roughly around the same gear level, give or take a bit. For once, the LFD tool actually matched five people who realistically belonged in the same instance!
And thus, we ended up taking a 45-minute jaunt through Halls of Stone…but we did it. Killed all four bosses with just one wipe (totally my fault when I screwed up a pull and got three groups) plus one extra death on Sjonnir. No deaths on the Tribunal of Ages. Let me tell you, I don’t work that hard when Linedan is tanking Arthas. It was crazy, it was hard work, and it was stupidly fun to tank that place on a character that could’ve rolled need on half the loot that might drop.
So there you have it. A tank, with no heroic or badge loot whatsoever, who bought her own gear and got herself to the point where she could tank heroic dungeons with very little outside help. The only “gift” in all that loot are two of those Eyes of Zul from Arrens. The rest, she’s earned via questing, drops, or bought on the AH with her own gold.
I know that life is harder for a tank at 80 than for a DPS or healer. DPS can walk straight into heroics and get carried to an extent and gear up that way (I’ve done it, several times). A healer needs to work a bit harder at it but can still move into the world of badge collection with not a huge amount of effort. But a tank, at least a warrior tank, takes a lot of effort to get ready for heroic tanking. But here’s the proof, guys, you can do it. Don’t despair if you’ve got a baby tank in the 70s and you don’t know how you’re going to get her into Badgeland. I’ve done it. Here’s proof. It takes a bit of a judicious eye about loot, minimal faction grinding, and some gold (or friends willing to help you out).
At this point, life for Latisha diverges into two separate paths. On Feathermoon, I will continue to tank with her, probably normals and heroics, and gear her up a bit. In fact, she’s got 28 Badgers of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, so she’ll be able to get a piece of T9 very soon. (Had I run more instances while leveling in Northrend, she’d already have at least one.) Her “other” life will soon find her on Lost Isles, in the Cataclysm beta, just as she is right now as I write this, with no tier gear, no badge gear, and nothing over ilevel 200. I already know how leveling is over there with a highly-geared raider…let’s see how it is with a fresh-faced 80 who’s never set foot inside a 10- or 25-man.
Maybe I can slow down and even get some roleplay in with her now. We’ll see. One thing’s for sure, I’ve grown attached to my six-foot-one poor little rich girl. She may be my sixth character to level 80, but she’s definitely a keeper.
Soon I’m going to start putting up some Cataclysm beta stuff on the blog, hopefully every few days, as I get time to play. I’ll keep the actual content spoilers in terms of plot, story, art, etc. to a minimum, and try to focus instead on the mechanics of playing a Prot warrior while leveling from 80 to 85 in the brave new sundered world we’ll all be facing.
In order to do that, I’ve re-copied Linedan over so instead of being level 82, he’s back to level 80. I was going to level him through Vashj’ir, but a couple of nasty quest bugs blocked progression there, so he’ll be grinding along in Hyjal. This also gives him the solid raid gear that he’s accumulated over the three months since I got in the alpha. So he’ll be leveling along with four-piece Sanctified T10, and most everything else ilevel 251 or higher. Nothing so far has given him any significant trouble, although not being able to run addons means that I can’t really determine if his damage is really down, or if it just feels down because everything has so much more health now.
What I’m also going to do is, as soon as she hits 80, copy Latisha, my other prot warrior, over. Latisha is the polar opposite of Lin. She is going to hit 80 (hopefully tonight!) in a mish-mash of blue and green quest and dungeon drops, barely scraping 20,000 health in her tank gear. And I’m going to keep her that way. I want to see how bad it might be for a character who hasn’t spent well over a year at level 80 accumulating raid goods…what will it be like for somebody who just hit 80 in their quest greens and didn’t stop, but immediately headed back from Northrend to EK or Kalimdor and started dealing with the new zones where mob health is 30k instead of 12.6k and stuff hits much harder. Their builds will probably be similar, but their items are worlds apart. It should be an interesting experiment.
I’ve got other stuff on my mind with Cataclysm, though, and it involves Linedan. I play on Feathermoon, a roleplay server, and I frequently admit that I should be doing a lot more roleplay than I do, especially with Lin. He’s my main, after all, my beloved Panzercow, but he doesn’t get the RP love that he should, and it’s my fault.
I had a defined idea in mind that slowly developed over Lin’s first year or two. He’s basically a decent cow–not particularly bright but not stupid, stoic, loyal, honorable as his culture sees it, dedicated to excelling in his chosen art of combat. When I decided I didn’t like the clan name I’d given him (“Granitehoof”), I ended up ditching it by inventing a little bit of Tauren culture and making him clanless, something of an outcast from Tauren society. He transferred his clan loyalty to his guild instead; he refers to the other people in Noxilite, regardless of race and without irony, as his “brothers and sisters.” Yes, even the blood elves, albeit reluctantly sometimes.
That loyalty and stoicism is layered over a lot of built-in rage…yes, he’s a Cow with Issues. He pushed harder and harder as he trained to earn the respect of those around him, and sometimes, he’s felt like he hasn’t when he should’ve. As a warrior, he’s constantly walked a tightrope between the protector of his people and the berserk reaver of his enemies. In fact, when I tried him out Fury for a bit, I wrote up a whole storyline about how he’d been possessed by what he thought was one of the troll spirits around Warlord Mandokir in Zul’gurub–remember the ones that would auto-rez you?–and it taught him the ways of how the trolls fought, furious, with total abandon.
My problem is, as the years have ground on, I’ve let the stoicism take over. I’ve painted myself into a corner with him. He’s gone from having a quiet personality to having no personality. He’s fossilized. That’s due to two problems not with him, but with me, the player. First, despite having this blog and vomiting forth too much information on a regular basis, I’m actually quite shy when it comes to real-time interactions in-game. I can roleplay within my friends, but around strangers, I lock up for fear of any sort of mockery that I’m convinced will come my way.
The second is the amount of mental energy it takes for me to stay in-character. The past three and a half years have been…well, let’s be polite and call them “demanding.” Moves, job changes, deaths in the family, mental health issues, financial stress, a high-energy daughter, so many other things…they all combine to leech my focus and energy, what my wife and I jokingly call “noodle,” right out of me. There are many who view RP as a refreshment, a rejuvenator. I don’t deny that, I know how fun it can be. But staying in-character for me takes a particular kind of concentration that I simply haven’t had. Paradoxically for somebody who claims to be a roleplayer and has been called an “RP nazi” more than once…it’s easier for me to focus on mashing buttons in the right order while tanking Arthas for three hours than it is for me to work out how Linedan would interact in a simple five-minute conversation with a guildmate.
This has left me with a main that I basically don’t RP anymore. And I don’t want that. I want to get my Hordeside RP back, with Linedan. The buildup to and release of Cataclysm seem like a perfect time for it. I’m just not sure what to bloody do at this point. I’m toying with the concept, once The Anvil finally kills Arthas (ohpleaseletitbesoon), of Lin simply deciding that he’s done with all the slaughter and death and retiring back to Mulgore, just in time for all Deathwing to break loose. Or maybe I can come up with something else to happen that will crack his shell a bit. Right now, though, I don’t know what’s under that shell yet. Is he stable? Is he unbalanced? Is he good? Is he bad? Will he stay loyal to the only home he’s known for the better part of five years? I don’t know, and that’s a bit frustrating, and I can only hope that it will come to me over time now that I’m thinking about it. Character changes like that, I’ve found, aren’t something that can be forced. At least for me, they tend to blindside me when I’m thinking about something else.
In the meantime, how are you planning for your characters’ roleplay to change come Cataclysm?
I’ll admit, I’ve been slack about reporting on the progress of the Latisha Experiment–my attempt to use my own So You Want To Be A Prot Warrior guides to level a Prot warrior all the way from 1 to 80. That’s largely because I’ve been slack about leveling her in the first place. Latisha, sad to say, is not yet 80. She is 75, but on the upside, she’s a veteran of the Wrathgate, is mostly done with Dragonblight outside of a couple of the dragonshrines and group quests that I’m not worrying about for now due to lack of help, and best of all, is getting xp at a solid clip from a mixture of questing and random dungeons.
Now, this is where I admit I’ve disregarded my own advice in her spec, just a little. I’ve swapped her spec to be more like Linedan’s…x/3/53 instead of the x/5/51 I originally stated in the SYWTBAPW guides. See, as I was leveling her, I skipped Vigilance, because I started her before the LFD system, and she didn’t get many chances to tank. Likewise, it was quicker through the old world and Outland to just quest and grind along. But now in her 70s in Northrend, she can take advantage of the near-instant queue times that even normal-dungeon tanks get. So I decided to tweak her spec to be more “tanky” as opposed to “grindy”. This involved dropping the two points out of Cruelty in the Fury tree, picking up Vigilance, and basically setting her Prot side up to be a carbon copy of Linedan, who is himself fairly cookie-cutter. There really isn’t that much difference performance-wise between 15/5/51 and 15/3/53 Prot specs right now, but the two extra points over in the Prot tree allow for a little flexibility–in my case, that usually means two more points into Shield Specialization. Right now, she is 10/3/53, with her last five talent points going to fill out Impale and Deep Wounds in Arms. I also picked up a Glyph of Cleaving in her second major slot, which is a big help in tanking instances.
Gear-wise, she’s better than I expected she’d be at this point. She’s got a few pieces to swap back and forth for questing versus tanking. With her “tank” set in place, she’s got 464 defense at level 75, reasonable avoidance, and about 14.5k health. So far, it’s been enough to tank any normal instance up through Drak’theron Keep without too much trouble. I’ve actually been surprised by how well she can hold agro with a level-appropriate group against even large groups of trash. Having a few years of experience on another Prot warrior helps, of course, but she is proving to be a very competent tank. I just make sure I go back to the AH every so often and keep an eye out for crafted pieces like cobalt, or later on, saronite.
Tanking normal random PUGs is refreshing, in a way. I rarely tank heroic PUGs on Linedan anymore. I use them to practice his Fury spec…and quite honestly, after raid tanking two or three nights a week, I’m happily content to find something to do around the house during the 13-15 minute wait as DPS, and then just merrily roflcowpter my way through an instance as Fury. Tanking heroics, at this stage in the game where Lin needs nothing more than Frost badges, is just usually not worth dealing with the durpdurp. But Latisha has to tank…I haven’t bought dual-spec on her yet, and don’t plan to right away, since I save her money for prowling for upgrades on the AH.
So we know heroic PUGs are all about the “gogogogogo,” where nobody talks, tanks pull before everybody’s zoned in, any thought of strategy or skill goes out the window and it’s a straight-up bulldoze toward the end boss at the highest possible speed so everybody gets their two frost badges and gets on with their lives, right? Well, normal PUGs can be a totally different animal. I’m on my seventh character over level 70, so I have a bad case of “been there done that”–and I’m surprised at the number of people in normal PUGs who are setting foot inside Utgarde Keep or the Nexus for the very first time ever. People actually talk. They apologize when they make a mistake instead of screaming at somebody else. They make jokes and are even *gasp* social. Pacing is slower. There is occasionally even…wait for it…crowd control. Running Drak’theron Keep with a 75 tank and four 74s in the party is a far cry from steamrolling it with five 80s in T9 or T10 gear, that’s for sure. And I really like it.
Of course, sometimes she does get groups like the one with the two level 80 death nuggets who would’ve had no trouble running it on heroic. (Tanking for DKs doing 3k dps, at level 75…not fun.) Or the one with the 74 rogue who did 250 dps for the entire run because she was alternately working up her gun skill and her sword skill…and attacking mobs from the front while doing it. But for every one of those, there’s been at least one where everybody is pleasant, we move at a nice steady pace, nobody loses their cookies when we wipe, and we have a fun time doing the instances the way Blizzard intended them to be done originally. It really is a nice change from the typical heroic PUG.
I’ve had people tell me I must be crazy for leveling a second Prot warrior. Why? I have a character who, while she doesn’t kill things at breakneck speed, kills them quickly enough to quest efficiently, has tremendous survivability, gets into randoms almost instantly, has a fairly interesting backstory even though I haven’t had a chance to RP much with her yet, and, best of all, uses a playstyle that I’m already fairly good at. Yeah. I’m crazy. Like a fox, baby.
Blizzard has released the patch notes for the next minor content patch, v3.3.2, over on the Korean WoW site, and wow.com picked them up. For those of us of the Prot warrior persuasion, here’s the changes we’ve been waiting to hear about:
- Concussion Blow: Damage decreased by 50%. Threat level remains unchanged.
- Devastate: Damage increased by 20%.
- Shield Slam: Damage modifier from block value decreased, and scales worse at low block value levels. Players in high-end gear shouldn’t notice the change. In addition, threat generated by Shield Slam has been increased by 30%.
- Warbringer: This talent no longer allows Charge and Intercept to break roots or snares. Intervene remains unaffected. In other words, you can still Charge and Intercept in any stance and while in combat.
Basically, there’s nothing here that we didn’t expect. The Warbringer change is a straight-up PvP nerf, which will have limited effect to those of us who hang out mostly on the PvE side…although let’s just say I’m not looking forward to dealing with Faction Champions without my snare breaks. The Concussion Blow nerf was one I hadn’t heard about, and I assume that’s a PvP nerf as well, because honestly, I don’t think we were exactly blowing the top off the charts on Festergut with our l33t 30-second-cooldown Concussion Blow deeps. Actually, while Concussion Blow can hit for a few thousand damage, I can’t see why it’s getting nerfed at all considering the 30-second cooldown.
The Shield Slam change…now that’s interesting. “Damage modifier from block value decreased, and scales worse at low block value levels.” But weren’t Prot PvPers stacking huge amounts of +block value? Or, were they stacking huge amounts of +armor penetration instead? In any case, I’ll be tracking how this affects things not just on Linedan, with his full rack of T9/T10-level epics and 2600 SBV in his block set…I’ll also be looking at how it effects Latisha, my 71 Alliance-side Prot warrior, with her level 70ish quest greens and King’s Bulwark. If Blizzard’s found a way to fix the problem with Prot PvP burst damage (and you have no freaking idea how weird it is for me to type that) and not significantly lower Shield Slam damage in PvE, I’ll be mightily impressed. In fact, if they didn’t lower Shield Slam damage by 30% at the high end–which would be a massive damage nerf–they’ve just increased its net threat, which may mean our snap threat, which was already excellent, is even better. We’ll have to see once it goes into place and people can run some tests.
Finally, Devastate continues to get buffed. Everything I’ve written on Prot warrior priority systems last year looks like it may be out the window now, because +20% more damage on Devastate will move it way up the list. It may not be the “do it if everything’s on cooldown” move anymore. It already hits quite hard once fully stacked at 5, so +20% may move it above Revenge in terms of sheer damage output. Goody, yet more keys to frantically spam every GCD!
(EDIT: I’m also wondering if yet another Devastate buff will drag the Puncture talent off the scrapheap. Very few of the “conventional” 51- or 53-point Protection builds take Puncture right now, preferring the more general boost from Focused Rage instead.)
The always-readworthy Spinks has an outstanding post up over at Welcome to Spinksville about why people love their warriors. She quotes responses from a post on the Blizzard warrior forums where warriors talk about why they love the class.
There’s a common thread through most of the four pages of replies over there, and as Spinks notes, it’s not the game mechanics:
Here’s a few snippets, sorted into categories. The most interesting thing to me is that no one has mentioned the mechanics — not a single person said that they liked the rage mechanic. I bet hunters and warlocks would have mentioned their pets, death knights would have mentioned runes, rogues would have mentioned the energy ticks and finishers, shamans would have mentioned the totems, etc. But nope, mechanics are not part of the warrior appeal.
Truer words have never been spoken. Yes, the warrior class in general has some cool mechanics–Charge and Intercept do keep getting mentioned–but overall, the warrior players that I know that are “hardcore” about the class, including yours truly, aren’t in it for the button-pushing. Yes, warrior tanking is probably the most active and engaging of all the tank classes, because we don’t have a fixed rotation like paladins and we have more buttons to hit than beardruids. But there’s significant problems too…Heroic Strike spam for threat is just silly IMO, and Shield Block has morphed into a neither-fish-nor-fowl bastard of an ability that Blizzard has no clue what to do with to balance it.
No, the appeal of the warrior is much more visceral than “o hai, cool stuph.” It seems to strike an emotional chord in people that provokes an attachment few if any other classes have. It’s about the look and feel and sound, how the toon looks in high-end armor wielding two two-handed weapons or a giant shield. It’s about watching and hearing your character use their shield to backhand some poor bastard straight into the graveyard, or Bladestorming their way through a pile of enemies. It’s the thrill of tanking, standing in against large numbers of foes and surviving, about being the focal point of the entire encounter…about being The Man (or The Woman). About having no magic, no pet, no range, no Light…it’s just the character, their items, and their own ability keeping them alive and getting the job done.
I’ve never heard other classes’ players get as rawly emotional about what they play as warrior players do about their characters. (Hunter players, in my experience, have been the closest, with priests in third place. I think the pets draw hunter players, and hardcore players of priests just love healing.) It’s odd, but I understand it. Some people “get” it, and some don’t, and that’s cool.
Besides, any discussion where I get to drag out this little piece that I wrote many years ago, back in my Everquest days circa 2000, is a good one. Behold…”The Warrior.”
I am the Warrior.
When you see me, I will, most likely, not be attired formally. I will be encased in my steel. It will be dirty, bloody, and battered. I do not have a quick tongue or eloquent speech. I know nothing of the manners of the King’s court, or the ettiquette of the formal ball.
I am known by many names. Tank. Meatshield. Fighter. Brawler. Corpse.
I am the Warrior.
I have not the capability, nor the inclination, to hide. I cannot strike from stealth with devastating blows, then fade into the darkness. I cannot incinerate a foe from twenty paces away. I cannot deal death from a distance, safe from the return attacks of my enemy. In order to kill, I must close with the enemy. I see his eyes. I smell his breath. I taste his fear. And he tastes mine.
I cannot bend Nature to do my bidding. I cannot tap into the Nether and force it to do what I command. I cannot study the arcane and master it to my control. I command nought but my mind, my body, and my will. It is by those, and those alone, that I stand or fall.
I have no friends on my journey. No walkers of the void, summoned from the Nether as servants and bodyguards. No loyal beasts of the plains or woods, to defend me and comfort me in my pain. My sole companion is my weapon. I must care for it better than any hunter has ever cared for his beast. I must master it more than any warlock has ever mastered his demon. Without me, it is useless. Without it, I am nothing.
I cannot heal. I cannot shield. I cannot call upon the gods and see my prayers answered. I call to the spirits of my ancestors in the heat of battle, and they are silent. My only ability to protect is to offer myself, my blood and bone and sinew, as a sacrifice. To draw the attacks of our foes. To take the blows that would kill a lesser being, and continue to fight on.
I cannot kill with the speed and grace of the rogue, the suddenness and shock of the hunter, or the flamboyance and power of the mage. When I kill, it is a slow business. Slow and bloody for all concerned, myself included. I fight on, pummeled and battered so that my companions may receive the glory of the kill and the wreaths of victory. If I die and they yet live, it is an expected sacrifice.
I come in all races, all sizes. I fight under a thousand flags, on a million battlefields. I am dismissed by the highborn, scorned by the noble, lectured by the priest, and forgotten by the peasant. Until the time when the trumpets of battle sound, and those who would destroy them come forth. And then the cry goes up…”Where, oh where, is the Warrior?”
Pray to your gods that I continue to answer that call.
Few do answer the call. Fewer still survive. It is a long and hard road, this way of the Warrior. Along it lie pain, and fear, and death. Scant rewards and scanter gratitude. At the end, for most, is an anonymous grave on some windblown battlefield. If they are lucky.
And yet, I fight on. I do not even know why. Perhaps for glory, perhaps for fame, perhaps for money, perhaps for my country, perhaps for my family. Perhaps it is simply all I know how to do. But fight I will. Whether you appreciate it or not. Whether you even notice it or not. I will be out there, on the battle lines. Fighting. Killing. Dying.
I am the Warrior.
Death is my business.
Be it yours…or mine.
So when last we left the intrepid Miss Latisha Morganson, late of Stormwind and Northshire Abbey, she had just broken level 39 and was working through various odd jobs in Theramore while resisting the crude advances of Theramore Deserters. That was a bit over two months ago.
And here is Latisha now, resplendent in her twink plate, level 59 as of this morning. (What can I say, I woke up early.) As I expected, the grind post-40 got a bit easier than the grind pre-40. She is still pure Prot, currently 0/0/50, although I did deviate from my own build advice a bit; she’s still got 2/2 Improved Disarm. My plan is to respec her at 60 to the same 0/0/51 build that I reference in the So You Want to Be a Prot Warrior series, dropping Improved Disarm for 5/5 Toughness, and then follow my own advice from there.
I haven’t quite had the guts (or masochism, take your pick) to try tanking a pickup group with her…not that anybody actually gets groups together for old-world instances anymore, sadly. She’s gotten blendered through Zul’farrak to clean up quests for xp, and other than that, she has been leveling the old-fashioned way, solo grinding. Not exactly optimal for a prot warrior, but quite workable. It’s left her gear a tick behind where I’d like it, although it’s certainly not bad. I got lucky and found some crafted Imperial Plate pieces on the AH for reasonable prices, but before that, she didn’t ditch her last piece of mail until somewhere around level 49. Why? Because anything “of the Bear” was commanding triple-digit prices, no matter how crappy it was, and her Raging Berserker’s Helm and Scarlet Leggings were very good pieces of mail armor indeed. Other than that, she’s geared up through quest rewards and a little AH here and there. She’s even rocking an honest-to-Light Belt of Valor, picked up on the AH for a mere 20 gold. Now she’s got something that Linedan never even had. (Oh, and I did break down and spend almost all of Beltar’s Conquest badges on a Polished Breastplate of Valor for her. I hardly ever get to raid on the dorf anymore so I figured why not, he can hang with his Naxx gear for now. Besides, the breastplate’s a lot better looking than the shoulders.)
Particularly past level 50, with Devastate and then Critical Block becoming available, her DPS picked up markedly. No, she’s no mage capable of vaporizing stuff, but then again, there’s certainly nothing wrong with being hard to kill and occasionally being able to produce a 1300+ Shield Slam crit. With her gear optimized for simple strength and stamina, with agility here and there, she has a respectable 12% crit. Yes, she misses a lot still, especially when fighting things over her level, but that just goes with the territory. Hit and expertise gear is almost impossible to find in the 50s (since expertise kinda, y’know, didn’t exist in vanilla).
Bringing her to Outland at level 58 has proven to be a mixed bag. She actually hasn’t died yet, her closest call being in Zeth’gor where she ended up killing two grunts, a wolfrider + wolf, a peon, and a bonecaster + skeletons and came out with exactly 23 health after blowing all cooldowns and using a potion. But she’s really being pushed to the limit. Her agro range at 58-59 means she’s always got an escort of helboars anywhere she goes, and makes working around Zeth’gor problematic as hell, because that place will unload an assist train on you in a heartbeat if you’re not very careful. She misses a ton fighting level 60-61 fel orcs, and forget getting her across the Path of Glory to burn Horde siege engines quite yet. Sure, my DK Moktor blew through Hellfire Peninsula like it was a kiddie ride…but let’s face it, a level 58 DK fresh out of Acherus with a diploma and a full set of blue gear is redonkulously overpowered compared to a level 58 prot warrior with mostly level 52ish greens. My advice to prospective prot warriors is, if you want to try HFP at level 58, go for it, but make extra-sure your gear is up to snuff beforehand. Otherwise you’ll just frustrate yourself.
So sadly, she may have to retreat back through the Dark Portal for a level. That would give me time to complete some quests in the Plaguelands that I want to do, or maybe visit Silithus. (OK, Plaguelands.) It’ll also give me a chance to catch her mining up to where it needs to be. She has picked up enough initial upgrades–sword, pants, shield–that nothing back in the Plaguelands should give her much trouble. And at level 60, I can train the huge amount of new ranks of abilities she gets, plus Shockwave, and be much more ready to face Hellfire Peninsula. Plus I need to get her rested XP built back up, I burned it all leveling her quickly between 54 and 58.
I’m looking forward to leveling her in Outland. It’s been long enough since I leveled a character there–my last was Moktor many months ago–that I’ve gotten over any burnout I suffered with it. I’m going to try and hit some areas that I skipped on Moktor, places like the Bone Wastes, and maybe head to Netherstorm and Shadowmoon instead of just immediately hopping the boat to Northrend at 68…because quite honestly, having gotten four characters through the 70-80 grind in 10 months, and with two more now at 72, I’m fried on Northrend leveling. I really want to see how Prot Warrior v3.0 carves a path through Outland content. I expect it’ll be pretty damn fun.
If you’ve got any questions about her experiences leveling as pure Prot through the 40s and 50s, fire away!
Now that I’ve gotten my silly cheesecake post for her out of the way…if you remember, Latisha Morganson is my little experiment to test how well my own So You Want to Be a Prot Warrior guides work. I am leveling her according to the guides, straight up from 1 to 80 (or until I lose interest, whichever comes first). When last we saw her, Latisha was level 22 and splitting her time in between Menethil and Lakeshire.
Now, a few weeks later, with 2 days and 12 hours played, Latisha has just hit level 39 and is, for now, going to be based out of Theramore while I rapid-fire the various Dustwallow/Mudsprocket quests to try and push to 40. She is, as per the SYWTBAPW guide, 0/0/30, and now stands 62,000 or so xp away from the big Four-Zero, the ability to wear skimpy plate bikinis as opposed to chainmail halter tops (sigh, Blizz, just sigh), and most importantly, the Holy and Inviolate Shield Slam.
I’ll admit, I borrowed my wife and her level 80 shaman to blast me through Scarlet Monastery and pick up a few things. Those are Scarlet Gauntlets and Scarlet Leggings she’s wearing, along with Herod’s Raging Berserker’s Helm, and her weapon is the SM quest reward sword, the very nice Sword of Serenity. (No, she can’t kick ass like River Tam when she wields it.) The rest of her stuff is a mixture of 30ish greens, either AH purchases or quest reward items like her Crest of Darkshire shield. I haven’t been able to keep her quite as upgraded as I’d like, mainly because of the utterly ridiculous prices that mail and plate warrior items command on the Feathermoon AH. Seriously, guys, WTF. 30 gold for a level 30 green set of boots? Two hundred and sixty gold for a level 40 plate breastplate “of the Bear?” Do people actually pay those stupid prices? Well, maybe they do, but I don’t. I’ll muddle along without, and so far, so good.
Nothing that’s happened to her so far has really caused me to change my original premises in SYWTBAPW. Yes, you can level with a full Prot spec and have fun doing it. No, you won’t kill as fast as a DPS warrior or any other class except maybe a prot paladin or holy priest. Yes, you can survive stuff that would kill those other, higher-deeps classes. But actually going through the steps myself has shown me a few things that may be helpful for anyone else wishing to walk the first portion of the Way of the Meatshield…
- Your #1 problem, if you choose to level via the sword-and-board route, is going to be rage generation. I can’t understate how horrible your rage gen is in the 20s and 30s when using a single one-handed weapon. You must learn to be extremely judicious with your special attacks because you won’t have the rage to spam anything. Going in Battle Stance and using a two-hander–pretending you’re an Arms warrior–gives you much better rage generation and higher DPS, but you trade it off against taking more damage and needing more downtime. The choice is yours. Personally I have done most of my work with Latisha using 1H+shield, and just accepted the lousy rage generation.
- One rage strategy that’s easy to learn is this: Switch to Battle Stance when targeting a mob, get in Charge range, hit Charge, and as you start moving, hit Defensive Stance. If you time it right, you’ll shift into Defensive Stance before your first weapon hit lands, preserving that rage. Even if you mistime it, you’ve closed the distance to the mob, stunned it momentarily, and bought yourself 10 rage.
- Rend is more useful than I gave it credit for being. I still have it on her bar, although it may go away when she hits 40 and gets Shield Slam. Most of your fights will last long enough for it to tick its full duration and it’s a good bunch of extra damage for the rage cost.
- Shield Block is so your friend at these levels. Basically, with any sort of reasonable gear, hitting Shield Block will give you 10 seconds of effective frontal invulnerability against all but the strongest melee mobs. In addition, it guarantees at least two, usually three Revenge chances in a 10-15 second span, and until you get Shield Slam, Revenge is your big whammy. By level 30 you’ll have it talented down to 40 seconds cooldown; since you kill slowly, you’ll have it ready almost every fight. This is an absolute lifesaver when you’re pulling an entire camp. Shield Block early and there’s a good chance, with all those Revenges, that you’ll have one mob dead or seriously injured quickly. Plus, again, since you do not kill quickly, you’ll probably have Shield Block back up later in the fight when you need the damage mitigation.
- I went with the Improved Disarm version of the Prot build, taking two points out of Toughness and moving them over to Improved Disarm. This gives a 40-second cooldown on Disarm and causes the mob to take 10% more damage while disarmed. I don’t remember to use it that often during normal grinding, but against things that are 3 levels over me, or the occasional elite, it’s very handy. I’ll probably swap the points back sometime in her 40s.
- Get used to missing. It’s hard for me going from an Ulduar-geared prot warrior who’s very close to both the hit and expertise caps, down to a mildly-geared alt with no +hit and only the human racial +expertise with her sword. She whiffs and clanks her swings. A LOT.
- Shield Bash isn’t just your primary caster interrupt. It’s also your best way to handle runners. Go upside their head when they’re at about 20-25% health, since you can’t Hamstring in Defensive Stance. And if Shield Bash is on cooldown, there’s always Concussion Blow. CB hits hard enough that it’ll probably kill a runner instead of just stopping him.
- Glyph of Revenge is awesome for leveling. With your rage so hard to come by, a free Heroic Strike after each successful Revenge is too good to pass up.
- Don’t be afraid to pull more than you think you can handle. More than likely, you’ll surprise yourself with how capable this class/spec combination is. Just scout out a good spot to pull the mobs to to minimize or eliminate getting any adds, and also a spot you can safely rez if you do indeed bite off more than you can chew. If you’re lucky enough to have a healer friend? Pair up with them and you can work on your tanking skills while tearing a path of total destruction across the landscape…albeit slowly.
- One day, I’ll figure out why Blizzard had such a boner for putting +spirit on low-level warrior gear. Spirit. On warrior mail. And it’s everywhere. So not only is she running around in some bizarre scalemail version of bondage gear, it’s poorly itemized too?
Because protecting the femoral arteries is totally not important at all, right Blizz?
I’ll have a real update on the Latisha Experiment coming soon.
This charming young lass you see before you–all nineteen years and six-foot-one of her–is Latisha Morganson, youngest daughter of highly successful Stormwind merchant and all-around dick Robert Morganson. Latisha was thrown out of her father’s house one rainy night when she refused to go along with an arranged marriage to another merchant noble thirty years and a hundred pounds her senior. She ended up on the doorstep at Northshire Abbey, where they took her in. She showed no aptitude with the Light, no ability with the arcane, and she was too clumsy to be a rogue…but she was a tall, healthy, and fairly strong girl, if a bit soft and flabby. So they taught her a little bit about how to stab people with swords and bash their heads in with maces and then sent her out into the world to do things like kill kobold vermin and decapitate Defias. Surprisingly, despite a lifetime sitting around in the Stormwind Park lusting over studly guardsmen, attending fancy balls, and generally leading a life of leisure, it turned out that she wasn’t too bad at it.
Latisha is my latest alt. And she’s also an experiment. See, when I originally started writing my guides, primarily the So You Want to Be a Prot Warrior series, I was writing them without any practical experience of leveling a Protection warrior in the world of post-3.0 World of Warcraft. Linedan leveled from 1 to 60 four years ago–he started in March of 2005 as best as I recall, and hit 60 sometime around August. For most of that way, except the last few levels, he was Arms or Fury. Then in Burning Crusade, I wibbled back and forth between a few different specs, again mostly DPS, before getting him to 70 and settling him in as a tank because friends were starting up a Karazhan run, needed an offtank, and I knew I couldn’t do it as DPS spec. The only leveling experience I have as Prot, other than 57 through 60, was 70-80 in Northrend…and as we all know, the Protection tree now is nothing like it was back in the day.
So I figured, y’know, if I’m going to tell people how to build a Prot warrior and get them to 80–and if people are going to be gullible enough to believe me–I’d damn well better make sure that I’m not full of crap. Hence, Latisha.
Latisha is currently level 21, and spec’d 0/0/12, right out of the SYWTBAPW guides. I plan to strictly follow my talent guide all the way up as far as I get her–might be 80, might not. We’ll see. She is, I readily admit, somewhat twinked, with me sending her money from Beltar as needed (hence my half-assed “rich family” RP justification). Although in total, the expense hasn’t been that bad–no more than about 40 gold, and she’s got 20 on her right now. She’s also had a lovely guardian angel paladin run her through the Deadmines (in record time, may I add) and as a result, she’s got a few very good bits of kit that will hold her for a few more levels…including Cookie’s Tenderizer (see above), Smite’s Reaver, Rhahk’Zor’s Hammer, and the quest reward pants for turning in Van Cleef’s noggin.
The biggest thing I’m having to get used to as I level her is the incredible lack of rage generation. That’s endemic to all warriors at lower levels, but it’s worse with a 1-hand + shield setup, and Charge only generating 9 rage at low ranks. I’m used to tanking on Linedan where rage is, largely, a non-issue because he’s getting rocked so incredibly hard. On Latisha, it’s more like “chop…chop…oh look, I can Thunder Clap now…chop…chop…Battle Shout…chop…chopzzzzz…”
That having been said, despite the fact she kills slowly, some of the survivability of the Prot spec is already showing through, even at low level. She can wade into camps of three or four equal-level mobs and with some luck, if there aren’t too many casters, pull it off. One thing that I knew instinctively, but is still shocking to see in action, is that it’s quite possible to do more damage in Defensive Stance than in Battle Stance, because new-and-improved 3.x Revenge hits so damn hard. At level 21, it hits for close to 100 damage, and she’s guaranteed at least one, usually two, when she uses Shield Block. With the damage penalty for Defensive Stance now only 5%, it’s even more viable to use it to grind, switching out only to Charge into combat. (This requires using Shield Bash to slow down runners, which can be tricky with the 12-second cooldown…miss or get it dodged/parried/blocked, and you’re in trouble.)
She’s now in Menethil, where she will be slogging her way through the Wetlands for a few levels before heading back south to Lakeshire and Duskwood and the level 24+ quests there that she’s not quite ready to handle at 21. All in all, I’ve found leveling her as Prot to be no worse–and in some ways better–than leveling other alts. It’s not just for masochists anymore, that’s for sure.
I’ll be giving more updates on how she’s doing out in the world as she levels.