So you want to be a prot warrior: Levels 21-30
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!