So you want to be a prot warrior: Levels 51-60
What you aspire to be.
Hey kids! Are we ready to get out our prot warriors and level some more?
I thought you little rugrats were up for it! Come on, let’s go!
OK, now that I’ve finished channeling my bad cable access kid’s TV show host…on with the grind! We last left off SYWTBAPW at level 50. Our build was this 0/0/41 setup right here, and we’d just picked up tasty, tasty Devastate. Well, let me tell you, if you thought Devastate was good, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. These last 10 points in the Protection tree are going to give you some new and very creative ways to dish out pain in amounts that Prot warriors could only dream of prior to patch 3.0’s release. So grab your talent pane and come along, and let’s see where these last 10 points go…
Level 51: 1/1 Warbringer. Say hello to mobility. Warbringer is one of those talents that you won’t think about after a while, but if you ever change specs, you’ll miss it so damn much. It lets you Charge, Intercept, or Intervene in any stance–and any time you use any of those three abilities, you’ll remove all movement-impairing effects. The simplest application of this talent just lets you Charge in combat (that’s mainly what I use it for). But with some macro fu which is beyond the scope of this guide, you can stagger the use of those three abilities and become a steel-covered pinball of death. And needless to say, the PvP applications of this are pretty staggering. Master the use of this, and you become a mage’s worst nightmare.
Levels 52-54: 3/3 Critical Block. This gives you a 30% chance to block double your normal amount on any successful block. It also increases the critical strike chance on Shield Slam by 15%. Remember last time how I said that Shield Slam is your big whammy? It just got a metric crapton bigger. And yes, Critical Block stacks with Shield Block when it’s up, occasionally allowing you to block obscene amounts of damage. (At level 80, raid-buffed, my record block is well above 5000.)
Levels 55-57: 3/3 Sword and Board. Free things are always good, right? Well, Sword and Board gives you free things. Most importantly, whenever you connect with a Revenge or Devastate and deal damage, you have a 30% chance of “refreshing the cooldown of Shield Slam and reducing the rage cost by 100% for 5 seconds”–in effect, giving you five seconds to get off a rage-free Shield Slam. This is a very important ability, and in fact, becomes top dog in your priority system due to the short window of use. You’ll know it procs because of the “clunk” noise and swirling band of shield icons that pop up around you.
Levels 58-59: 2/2 Damage Shield. Warrior thorns, basically. Any time you’re hit, or block, a melee attack, you reflect back 20% of your current Shield Block Value as physical damage, which the target then mitigates normally. And yes, it can crit. (The fact that Damage Shield can crit becomes important later on.) This ability only works if you’ve got a shield on, as far as I can tell…and it is affected by Shield Block, so popping Shield Block gives your Damage Shield damage a noticeable boost. It can have some interesting side effects; for example, if you get attacked by a PvP-flagged mob, even if you don’t do anything, your Damage Shield will do damage to it and thus flag you.
Level 60: 1/1 Shockwave. And here’s the Pinnacle of Prot, Shockwave. It’s a frontal cone attack with an alleged range of 10 yards; in actuality, it’s more like 7 to 8 yards because the cone starts slightly behind you. The base damage is 75% of your Attack Power, and it also stuns anything it hits for 4 seconds. This is a really handy tool, in addition to being a decent source of damage. It provides reasonable AOE threat, it can stun to buy your healers a couple of seconds to patch you up, and it’s great for positioning mobs. On a pull, just gather them all in front of you, and kapowie. It does have a 20-second cooldown, so pick your shots with it.
In terms of new spells…there are none between 50 and 60. You gain new ranks of a lot of your old friends, some of them twice during this period. But there’s nothing shiny and new until Victory Rush at level 62. Your only new active toy will be Shockwave at level 60, plus any reconfiguration you do of your bars and keybindings to take advantage of Warbringer.
The addition of Warbringer, Sword and Board, and Shockwave lays another level or two of complexity on your tanking priority system, and also gives you much more flexibility on pulling and positioning. You now don’t have to worry about changing stances if you want to Charge-pull, which is nice. A typical initial pull might go something like this: Charge one mob, immediately Thunder Clap. As you’re positioning the mobs, hit Shield Block; in addition to mitigating damage (thus reducing the healing you need, thus reducing healing agro) this will increase the amount of Damage Shield damage you’re reflecting back on the bad guys. Perform your usual dance, spreading the love around as much as you can, until 10 seconds is up and Shield Block is down…then make sure everybody’s in front of you, and Shockwave.
Why do it this way? Because you’re getting rage from being hit. When you Shockwave, you aren’t being hit. Getting beaten on for the first 10 seconds of the fight while you’ve got Shield Block up gives you more rage, puts more Damage Shield damage on the off-targets, and lets you drop two Thunder Claps for AOE agro in addition to everything else you’re doing. If Shield Block is up, and you Shockwave and stun all the targets, you’re just wasting four seconds of your precious 10-second Shield Block uptime.
Your normal tanking priority system looks like this now:
- Is Sword and Board up? This comes first due to the short uptime and high damage potential. For some gear configurations Revenge may hit slightly harder than Shield Slam, but Shield Slam has the +15% crit from Critical Block.
- Is Revenge up? Revenge is now your solid #2 move. As always, 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, and for damage mitigation by the 20% attack speed slow.
- Is Shockwave off cooldown and I’m facing multiple targets stacked in front of me? Go for it. Just don’t do it if you need rage from taking a few hits.
- Is Shield Slam up? Give ‘em the pimp hand.
- 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? Devastate, for threat and extra physical damage.
- Debuffs: Don’t forget to drop Demoralizing Shout if you have a spare global cooldown.
- Long-cooldown attacks: If Concussion Blow is off cooldown, and you don’t need it to stun casters or runners? Heck, use it if nothing else is handy. It’s extra damage and a stun, why not?
Also, remember, you will certainly have to target-switch and spread the love among the multiple targets you’re no doubt tanking. One trick I find helpful is, when possible, to orient myself so that I have no other mobs than my tank targets in my screen view. Ye olde TAB key is notoriously weird about tabbing to a mob 20 yards away when you’ve got four nomming on your face, so only having those four mobs on the screen helps prevent that.
For instancing, the old world is your oyster by the time you hit 60. You leave behind the piles of suck that are Mauradon and Sunken Temple and head into the Blackrock instances, Stratholme, Scholomance, or Dire Maul. Strat and Scholo in particular will challenge your multi-target tanking skills and push you to improve. Not that many people head into BRD, LBRS, or UBRS anymore, but go if you get the chance. Even though they’re too damn big and too damn long, personally, I still like them just for the look. One thing I wouldn’t do is tank Outland instances until you’re about 61 and have replaced most of your gear with Outland items–then you can look into Hellfire Ramparts and Blood Furnace.
Your gearing priorities start to shift subtly in the high 50s. At 58 you head to Outland, and don’t worry about whatever you’re wearing at the time, it’ll be gone by the time you hit 61–you’ll replace everything in short order. You should start looking, in addition to strength and stamina, for pieces with some +hit and +defense on them. We’ll talk more about this in the next post in the series, which is about tank gearing for the 60-80 stretch.
Now go forth and Shockwave, my minions!