So You Want to Be a Prot Warrior: Endgame Gearing, Part II
Yeah, I know, I know. I’m not exactly the fastest in the world at cranking out these things, but, hey, quality takes time, right? And if I ever produce something that’s high enough quality to justify taking this much time, I’ll let you know!
Anyhoo…in the first part of our SYWTBAPW treatise on endgame gearing, we talked about stamina and Defense and why they’re your priority stats, at least at first–and why “540” is the first magic number you need to remember when getting ready for tanking heroics and raids. There are two other magic numbers that we’ll blow through very quickly, because we already talked about these months ago in the SYWTBAPW post on tanking stats:
263 – this is the amount of hit rating you’d like to get. You have a base 5% chance to miss a mob of your level on any attack, assuming it’s the same level you are and you’re swinging a single weapon. (When dual-wielding, it’s more like 24%.) That goes up by 1% for each level higher that the mob is. Since bosses are always considered as your level +3, you need 8% hit to push misses completely off the table; at level 80, that translates to 263 hit rating. If you’re a Draenei, or have managed to graft one to your back, you only need 7% hit, or about 230 rating, thanks to the Draenei racial Heroic Presence.
26 – this is the amount of expertise you’d like to get. Mobs have a base 6.5% chance to dodge you, and each point of expertise reduces your chance to be dodged or parried by .25%. In order to push dodges completely out of the picture, you thus need 26 expertise points; that translates to about 140 expertise rating. Note that I was wrong when I wrote months ago; the chance for a mob to parry is actually a lot higher than 6.5% (I don’t remember the exact number, but it’s around 12-15%); it’s probably not feasible to stack that much expertise without crippling yourself somewhere else, so don’t worry about it. Just remember that any expertise over 26 is definitely not wasted.
Which one you should prioritize? That’s a tough call. I’ve heard opinions expressed both ways. What I’ve found on Linedan is that it seems to be easier to stack hit rating than it is to stack expertise. You probably won’t have either of these maxed out when you start tanking heroics, and that’s OK. In general, stacking expertise will increase your threat by the greater amount; stacking hit will too, to an extent, but it’s more helpful in preventing catastrophic failures like a missed Taunt or a missed Shield Slam as an opener.
One thing to remember–expertise over the “magic number” is not wasted. Hit rating over the “magic number” is wasted. It’s not an uncommon malady among tanks or melee DPS at the Ulduar level of content to have excessive hit rating, because Blizzard put +hit on everydamnthing in Ulduar. Linedan, ironically, only has 215 hit rating as I write this, though he is set on expertise (28). But in his DPS gear, he’s got 300 hit rating. That’s wasted stat points, but I haven’t been able to get his gear switched around to fix it.
Now, speaking of gear…you may think that a given class and spec only needs one set of gear. Generally, that’s true. I can’t think of a circumstance where a marks hunter would need two distinctly different sets of gear to be, well, a marks hunter. Oh, you may switch trinkets for certain fights, yeah. But all your stuff? Nah, that’s crazy talk.
It’s not crazy talk for a warrior. As a prot warrior, you’re going to find that you need two near-complete sets of gear for your prot spec by itself. To shorthand things, I’m going to call them the “trash” set and the “boss” set.
A trash set (sometimes called a threat set) is optimized for two functions–large amounts of relatively light-hitting trash, and situations where you’re forced to DPS in prot spec because you may have to either offtank later in a fight, or be ready in case of emergency. It is a more offensive-minded set of gear, which gives up effective health (stamina and avoidance) to concentrate on stats that give you more damage and threat output.
Trash sets tend to lean heavily on shield block rating and value, because we as prot warriors lean heavily on Shield Slam as one of our two big nukes (Revenge being the other). Plus, the entire concept of block value is as overpowered against trash as it is underpowered against bosses–you’ve noticed that as you leveled, hitting Shield Block can all but make you invulnerable for 10 seconds against many mobs. So look for pieces that have high +Strength and/or high +block rating or value. Pieces with +block value aren’t hard to find. By the time you hit T8-level gear, a single piece of armor can carry over 150 block value.
A boss set is the opposite. Boss sets are designed for tanking single, hard-hitting bosses. They are built around maximizing your effective health, through a combination of high raw health (via +Stamina) and high avoidance (block rating, dodge, parry, defense). They do this at the expense of DPS and threat.
There’s two ways to build a boss set. Some go for brute force by maximizing stamina; others try to be slippery and maximize avoidance by stacking +dodge and +parry. I try to steer a balanced middle ground, but in general, I tend to slide toward the +stamina side of things. Part of that is with Lin being a Tauren, I just can’t picture him as the most, y’know, agile thing on two hooves. But I can sure picture him shrugging off a hit that’d cleave a gnome into gnome chops. The random number generator can always find a way to screw up your dodge and parry, but big health numbers are always there for you.
Now, one caveat here–of course, your trash set still needs 540 defense and enough stamina to survive while tanking (or avoidance to avoid getting hit). And your boss set still needs a reasonable amount of +Strength so you can crank out enough DPS and threat to actually keep agro. But within that, you will, after a while, find that having these two sets of tank gear, and being able to switch quickly between them, helps your flexibility…and flexibility, IMO, is a hallmark of a good tank.
Here’s what I mean by that. Linedan has a boss set and a trash set. In his current boss set, he’s got a bit north of 550 defense and about 34k unbuffed health, but only 1700ish shield block value even with raid buffs. In his trash set, his defense drops to 543 and he gives up over 2000 health, but his block value catapults up to a very tasty 2593 with a full rack of 25-man raid buffs. I even swap in two crit trinkets on the trash set, just for higher DPS output. When running up against a slightly gimmicky fight like the Nerubian Burrowers on Anub’arak in ToC, all I have to do is swap my two tank trinkets back in but keep the rest of the +block set on, and now I’m only down 1400 health from my boss set, still above the defense floor, still rocking almost 2600 SBV, with a 60% chance (due to Crit Block) of that doubling, and able to double it again 10 seconds out of every 40 with Shield Block–which makes tanking the block-sensitive Burrowers easysauce. The ability to mix-and-match gear for any situation is a huge help to any tank. It means you’ll never have any bag space anymore, especially if you’re like Lin and have to lug around a third set of gear for your dual-spec, but hey, bag space is overrated, right?
Now you may feel overwhelmed when first starting out–“wait, I don’t even have one decent set of stuff yet and you’re telling me I need two?” Well, no, not at first. Having two sets of gear is something that you tend to end up needing when you raid. For heroics or regular five-mans, one good, solid set of items that give you the basics–540 defense, 20-21k health for regulars and 23-25k for heroics, as close to 263 hit rating and 26 expertise as you can get–will serve you just fine. As you work your way up through heroics and maybe get a crack at raids, you’ll find that you can pick up pieces that will serve as the foundations of trash or boss sets. Don’t sweat it, the gear will come naturally…especially now that Badges of Conquest drop out of each heroic, and the heroic daily gives 2 Badges of Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog. Run heroics regularly, which you should be doing to keep your tanking chops up, and you’ll have yourself one (hopefully more!) nice set of gear soon enough.