So you want to be a prot warrior: Coming Soon
Foolishly you have sought your own demise. Brazenly you have disregarded DPS beyond your understanding. You have fought hard to invade the realm of the tank. Now there is only one way out — to walk the lonely path…of the meatshield.
Yes, I’m crazy enough to try it. I’m crazy enough to create a guide to making and leveling a Protection-spec warrior, despite the fact that somebody, sooner or later, is going to be gullible enough to actually try and use what I write here and then tell all their friends “zomg wtf that Panzercow is a nubsauce.” Well, since I am a nubsauce, that’s no matter. Let’s put some disclaimers right up front, then.
First off: Understand that 3.0 turned the warrior-leveling paradigm on its head. In “vanilla” WoW and Burning Crusade, you just did not level a warrior as Prot. Period. You leveled Arms or Fury and then switched to Prot when you started tanking heavy-duty stuff like heroics or raids. If you tried to actually grind and quest as Prot, even Holy-spec priests would look at you and think you were a masochist, that’s how bad it was. Yeah, you were pretty tough, but you did the DPS of a stuffed teddybear. And while your DPS wasn’t any worse than, say, a protadin, the prot paladin had many more tools to actually survive taking five minutes to kill anything–little stuff, like, say, heals? I ground Linedan from 56 to 60, and from 65 to 70, as Prot-spec. It sucked a golf ball through a soda straw. The only reason I did it was because my gear at the time was so bad, trying to level as DPS was actually worse.
Enter Wrath of the Lich King. The ol’ Lich King may have pretty much wrecked one continent and did his damndest to wreck two more, but his introduction to WoW gave Blizzard the chance to give Prot warriors some love. And I don’t mean the kind of love we’re used to, which generally involves references to Turkish prison bathrooms. I’m talking wine, candles, soft music, backrubs, and a good dinner that we didn’t even have to pay for. That’s what 3.0 did to the Prot tree.
So the main thing to remember is this: Protection is not just an end-game raid spec anymore, it is also a viable leveling spec. It is now quite possible to end up at level 60 with an 0/0/51 spec and not have a hugely unpleasant time getting there.
Disclaimer the second: Prot is not about big numbers. Prot leveling is about endurance. You aren’t going to vaporize mobs like a mage or rogue or Fury warrior. You’re going to stand in toe-to-toe against them and chip them down like a stonemason, one smack at a time. Your leveling speed does not come from rapid killing, it comes from minimizing downtime. This is where Prot shines. You won’t kill quickly…but you won’t stop killing all that much either. Maybe a bandage here and there, or a quick snack, but then you’ll be right back in the game.
That does not mean, however, that you don’t have to use your brain–far from it. In fact, you have to be savvier than most other classes when you’re out killing for your living, because you don’t have the escape options most everybody else does. There’s no pet to sacrifice, no feign death, no agro dumps, no blink, no bubble, no vanish. The only way you’re getting out of a fight is running away or killing what’s in front of you. So you have to be smart about picking your fights to maximize your chance for survival and avoid pesky corpse runs and expensive repairs.
Which leads me to the next disclaimer: I’m assuming that you’re leveling a Prot warrior as an alt, not a main. Leveling a warrior as a main, or even as an alt on a server where you don’t know anybody, can be tough, though certainly not as tough as when I started Linedan four years ago. There were times in his teens he literally did not have the money to repair his cheap self-crafted gray gear, and I doubt anybody today would have to deal with that. Warriors work much better as alts, and that’s because nobody scales better with gear than a warrior. It’s simultaneously our blessing and our curse: a blessing because it makes us quite powerful in the endgame, our curse because Blizzard keeps “balancing” aspects of the class, especially PvP, around the top 1-2% of players with top-drawer items and ganks the rest of us as a result. If you can slide a few gold to your warrior every now and then so he or she can visit the AH, do so, it’ll make the game go much more smoothly. If you can’t, at least pick up one gathering profession if not two. On a mature server like my Feathermoon, old-world ores, leathers, and herbs fetch very good money on the AH now.
Finally, the last part: I’m not going to go into exhaustive detail. I don’t have the time or the energy to write a level-by-level detailed diary of where you should go and what you should do. Heck, if I did, I’d probably try to actually get it printed and sold and make some money off it. I figure you’re smart enough to already know, or figure out, the basics about leveling any character. Hopefully I’ll provide the Prot-specific advice that can help you create the next generation of warrior tank.
The posts will dribble out over the next few weeks, interspersed with the usual random snarkery and weirdness I toss up here when I’m in the mood. I’ll try to cover character creation, talents and builds, gear, leveling, and then get into some of the mechanics of tanking instances.
Just remember, the advice is worth what you paid to read it. But I do hope it’ll be helpful.