So You Want to Be a Prot Warrior: Levels 71-80
OK, gang, this is it. The last 10 levels. You’ve hung with me this far, and I appreciate all the great feedback and comments that I’ve gotten over the last few months of writing the various chapters of SYWTBAPW. (And it’s not over yet, more on that later.) So let’s get down to it, and start grinding through Northrend to get you those last 10 levels and arrive at your ultimate destiny–the endgame.
When we left you back at level 70, your build looked like this: 5/5/51. For this guide, we’re taking all 10 of your last talent points into the Arms tree to reach the “cookie-cutter” 15/5/51 build that’s the most popular prot warrior build right now, and for the foreseeable future. As we go through the talents, I’ll explain why we’re going 15 deep into the Arms tree, which might seem surprising considering we’re, y’know, tanks. There’s a reason behind it, don’t worry.
Levels 71-73: 3/3 Improved Heroic Strike. One of the more messed-up mechanics of the warrior class (IMO) is that when tanking, in order to maximize your threat, you will be spamming Heroic Strike every time your rage permits it. If you’re tanking heroics or raids, there’s a very good chance that your rage will always permit it, hence you’ll literally be smashing that button on every weapon swing. With that in mind, having it take 3 points less rage can’t hurt, and it will let you spam it more in situations where you have decent, but not unlimited, rage.
Levels 74-75: 2/2 Improved Charge. This is a tossup. We’ve got to put these two points somewhere in the Arms tree in order to open up the third tier of talents. You can make a case for putting them in Iron Will instead for the stun and charm resistance, especially if you PvP a bit on the side. (Note that a dedicated Prot PvP spec is very different from what we’re working with here.) I put them in Improved Charge because I rarely PvP on Linedan anyway, and the ability to generate 10 extra rage on a Charge, for a total of 25, gave me more options when initiating combat. Improved Rend would be a waste; it doesn’t do a lot of damage with a one-hander anyhow.
Levels 76-77: 2/2 Impale. Increases the critical strike damage bonus of all your “abilities”–i.e., yellow-damage attacks, really anything but a normal melee swing–by 20%, giving you +120% damage on crits instead of +100%. You don’t have the high crit percentages of a DPS class as a prot warrior, but with several talents giving you +15% crit chance to some hard-hitting abilities (Shield Slam, Heroic Strike, Devastate, Thunder Clap, and Cleave), you’ll crit enough to where this talent adds noticeable damage output. Plus, it’s required for…
Levels 78-80: 3/3 Deep Wounds. I covered in a prior post several months ago why a prot warrior can get good use out of Deep Wounds. The quick recap: ANY crit will make your target bleed for 48% of your mainhand weapon’s damage over 6 seconds (3 ticks 2 seconds apart), and it “rolls,” basically stacking as the 6-second durations of several Deep Wounds applications overlap. The numbers don’t seem huge at first. Linedan, in largely Ulduar and Naxx-25 gear, puts about 280 to 290 extra damage on a target with a single Deep Wounds while raid-buffed, in three ticks of 95 or so points each. But, remember, Deep Wounds activates off any crit, and warriors throw out a LOT of attacks…including the passive damage from Damage Shield. So you will be able to keep Deep Wounds on your targets quite a bit, and over a fight, the high uptime means that the damage adds up to surprising numbers. Looking back over the last four Ulduar raids I’ve had him on, Deep Wounds is between 6% and 10% of Linedan’s total damage output. That’s a lot when you consider that he’s doing between 7 and 9 million damage output on a three-hour raid night. And it’s all bonus. More damage = more threat. More threat = the other DPS being able to push hard without fear of me losing agro. More DPS = stuff dies faster. It’s win-win-win all the way around.
And hey, there’s three new spells you get to play with!
Level 71: Shattering Throw. You throw your weapon at the target, doing some damage, reducing their armor by 20% for 10 seconds, or removing any invulnerabilities. Basically, it’s a ranged five-stack Devastate. The trick is that it removes invulnerabilities–yes, folks, Shattering Throw will literally burst bubbles. Or Ice Blocks. It’s primarily a PvP move as far as I’ve seen, and I don’t think I’ve ever used it in anger, but I might going forward, because it hits harder than firing a gun or bow, and while I haven’t been able to confirm it, it may apply the silencing effect that Heroic Throw does due to the Gag Order talent. I’ll have to check into that.
Level 75: Enraged Regeneration. Yes, you, a warrior, now have a self-heal. You have to be Enraged to use it, but with 2/2 Improved Defensive Stance and decent defensive stats, you’re Enraged most of the time anyhow. Hit this, and it burns the Enrage (and prevents reapplication of an Enrage for the duration), and heals you for 30% of your total health over 10 seconds. Protip: If you really want to get the most out of this, pop Last Stand and then pop Enraged Regeneration. ER uses whatever your total health is at the moment you hit it, so it will calculate that 30% heal including the extra health from Last Stand, making it more like a net 40% heal. Three-minute cooldown.
Level 80: Heroic Throw. This is Shattering Throw’s more useful cousin. It does a reasonable amount of damage, silences the target for 3 seconds (if you have Gag Order), and generates significant bonus threat, which Shattering Throw doesn’t. It’s an awesome pulling maneuver, and something I use frequently. Bloodrage for initial rage, and Heroic Throw to pull, and pulling casters is now no big deal anymore. It does, unfortunately, have a one-minute cooldown.
As for how you do your leveling from 70 to 80, it hasn’t really changed. You are at the peak of your survivability. You are one hard mofo to kill. Grinding entire camps of Northrend mobs should be a non-issue, if you’re keeping your gear up to date. You can easily hammer down some of the wussier elites solo. But again, let me emphasize–the point of this spec is to tank. You should be tanking instances every chance you get. I’m a broken record, I know. (Or a “skipping CD” to you younguns.) But if you’re not going to tank, there’s very little reason to go prot and stay prot. Keep tanking instances to keep your skills sharp–warrior tanking is a lot more than just hitting “969.”
Your tanking rotation does not change between level 70 and level 80. You will have more pulling options with Shattering Throw first and Heroic Throw later, and Improved Heroic Strike makes your Heroic Strike spam easier, and you’ll have new ranks of your same old friends, but the foundational basics of how you gain and hold agro, and the priority of your attacks, haven’t changed. What you’ll find in the Northrend dungeons is, mercifully, a move away from the godawful huge five- and six-mob mixed melee/caster groups in Outland instances like Shattered Halls and Shadow Labyrinth. You’ll still have casters and melee mixed up, but rarely more than four at a time, which makes handling them much easier because you’ll need to stack less crowd control in your groups. Maybe even none, once you get more confident.
Just because we’ve dinged 80 and gotten our special present from Rhonin in the mail, though, doesn’t mean the grind is over. Ohhhhh no. Far from it. In the next installment of SYWTBAPW, our talk will move from talents and skills to gear and enchants and gems, as we talk about your progression toward being ready to tank Northrend heroics and raids. In another installment down the line, we’ll talk about alternate warrior specs–why dual-spec is a fantastic thing for many tanks, whether you should use that second spec for DPS or not, and possible other tank specs besides 15/5/51. We’ll also be looking at the differences between raid tanking and instance tanking, which are bigger than you’d think.