It’s D-Day, kids. We’re getting patch 4.0.1 today (or tomorrow for you folks on EU servers), which means we’re getting most of the mechanical changes that come with Cataclysm. This includes the new trees, new skills, new glyphs, reforging, the removal of armor penetration and Defense…in short, think of it as its own little Cataclysm of how we play the game.
Well, I’ve never been one to avoid rolling with the crowd on a momentous day like today. I’m a good little lemming, so let’s throw some information and opinions out there on Prot warrioring in the new and (hopefully) wonderful world of 4.0.1…
First of all, let me give you two awesome resources as you start scrambling around. First, as I linked previously, Naithin at Fun in Games has put together a fan-damn-tastic Prot warrior 4.0.1 guide that will give you everything you need to get started. There’s really not all that much I can add except to give my own opinions on a few things, which is what I’ll be doing in this post.
Second, the lovely (and freshly Kingslayerish!) Kadomi over at Tank Like a Girl has a great list of 4.0.1 warrior (and other) resource links. These will get you up to speed on setting up your spec, glyphs, and reforging.
Now with all that linked and at your fingertips, you probably don’t need me durping around giving my half-baked opinions on things. But, I’m going to do it anyway, because (a) it’s my blog, and (b) I’m out of town for a week starting on Thursday and need a blog post up before I go. Suck it.
What things you can expect to see when you first log in, other than an assload of LUA errors and “SERVER: Restart in 5:00”? Well, your health will go up a bit thanks to a flat +15% from Prot mastery, and your armor will go down a bit, especially if you’re rocking bonus armor pieces like Pillars of Might or the Cataclysmic Chestguard. The changes are probably within about 10% in both cases. Defense is gone, and unlamented if you ask me. Defense gems will change into…uh…something else. Defense rating on items will change into straight dodge and parry. There is no more shield block value; successful blocks now block 30% of that hit’s damage, or 60% on a critical block. Shield Slam damage now scales off attack power like everything else. You will have a base 30% chance to block, given by your Prot mastery; the only way to raise it is by adding Mastery rating, which will require us to use Reforging to add it to our gear. And your mastery will give you Vengeance, which takes 5% of damage that you suffer and adds it to your attack power for 10 seconds. All tanks get this mastery; it’s designed to crank up our damage, and thus threat, while tanking.
The talent tree changes are, obviously, probably the biggest single change we face. (Hey, at least they didn’t change us over from rage to focus.) To do a quick recap: Talent trees are now 31 points deep instead of 51. At level 10 you must pick a tree, and you are locked into that tree and only that tree until you take the 31-point talent…at level 69. Only then may you pick things from the other two trees. Talent points now come one every two levels (one at 10, one at 11, and one every odd level thereafter). This means that your level 80 warrior tank will have 36 talent points to spend, 31 of which have to go into the Prot tree. The days of any sort of hybrid build are over.
Now looking at the two-month span between now and the release of Cataclysm, it’s obvious that you won’t be leveling if you’re already 80. You probably won’t be doing much if any solo questing or grinding (again, if you’re 80), unless you’re doing something like going for Loremaster. So by elimination, you need a build that’s focused on tanking.
This is my first shot at one. It gives up some talents that would increase DPS–talents that I’d consider taking in a build where I was doing more simple running-around-and-killing-shit–and leans toward multiple-target threat, damage mitigation, and self-healing. Looking through the Prot talents tier-by-tier:
Tier 1: Incite just doesn’t grab me real hard. It looks like a bit of a damage (and threat) boost but I don’t know that we’re going to need it with Defensive Stance giving us +200% threat on everything we do. Toughness, that’s a no-brainer, especially with “bonus armor” taking the nerf bat in a big way. Blood and Thunder is actually a fairly effective AOE threat mechanic. I still think the dear departed Damage Shield was better, but B&T has seemed, in the beta, to be reasonably effective at holding threat over top of healgro. It won’t save the DPS if they focus the wrong target, but it’s not meant to. The one disadvantage to B&T is, obviously, you can easily stick a Rend on a CC’d mob if your placement is poor. So make sure you fight well away from sheeps and saps and such.
Tier 2: Lots and lots of points here. 3/3 Shield Mastery is a no-brainer, as is 2/2 Gag Order. The jury is still very much out on Hold the Line; I’ve got it on Lin in the beta because his crit is basically non-existent, he’s stacked a bit of parry to help this proc, and the crit boost helps his damage while grinding. I don’t know how much use it will be in dungeon and raid tanking, though. As for Shield Specialization, it hasn’t proven to be a “must have” talent. Rage has not been a huge issue for Linedan in the beta once I learned to back off constantly hitting Heroic Strike like I was tanking Arthas. My opinion is this: put 7 points in this tier. Five of them go into Shield Mastery and Gag Order. The other two can go either 0/3 Shield Spec and 2/2 Hold the Line for a bit of a damage boost, or 2/3 Shield Spec if you think you’re rage-starved. For now, I’ll go with Hold the Line here until I get a better feel on rage.
Tier 3: Take it all. Take ALL the talents. Last Stand, duh. Concussion Blow, duh. Bastion of Defense, duh. Warbringer, duh. Fill this tier.
Tier 4: Again, I would take everything here. 2/2 Improved Revenge makes Revenge hit like a truck on fire driven by angry burning bears, plus lets it hit a second target–very important for multi-target tanking. Devastate is a no-brainer, it’s our major spammable everything-else-is-on-cooldown attack. Impending Victory doesn’t buy you much against non-elites, but it helps on bosses, and trust me, anything that will take a load off a healer right now is going to be appreciated. Healers have a brutally tough job in 4.0.
Tier 5: I’m not completely sold on Thunderstruck. It does synergize very nicely with Blood and Thunder, though, so I’d probably take both points in it if I took B&T. Vigilance doesn’t transfer threat anymore, instead it gives you the refreshed taunt if the recipient gets hit and gives you a small bit of AP from the Vengeance mastery (you get 5% of 20% of the damage they took as attack power…hence, “small”). The Taunt refresh is the main use of it now. Heavy Repercussions doubles your Shield Slam damage whenever Shield Block is up. I think it’s an inefficient use of points, but we’ve got to put them somewhere, and I think it’s just barely a better deal than Incite. Granted, I have no numbers to back it up, just a gut feel and an inordinate love for giant Shield Slam crits.
Tier 6: Safeguard still doesn’t seem worth it to me. Sword and Board is a no-brainer.
Tier 7: It’s OK. I’ve got Shockwave.
That gives us precisely 31 points in Prot, with five points left to spend. The last five points are spent on things that help take the load off our overworked healer brethren: 2/2 Field Dressing in Arms and 3/3 Blood Craze in Fury.
This 2/3/31 layout is probably going to be pretty cookie-cutter, but there is a tiny bit of flexibility there in the Prot tree. If you don’t think you need as much AOE threat but need more raw damage output you can drop the points from Blood and Thunder and Thunderstruck to put them into Incite. If you’re rage-starved, load up 3/3 Shield Specialization at the expense of Hold the Line. The thing to remember is that you won’t be able to get any second-tier Arms or Fury talents until Cataclysm comes out, you won’t have the points…and even then, you’ll have to plan ahead.
Now, glyphing. Glyphs come in three flavors now: prime (things that increase your primary function, DPS, HPS, threat, etc.), major (useful and helpful things), and minor (“fun” or small semi-useful things). Prime glyphing a Prot warrior is easy because there’s only three pertinent ones for you to pick: Devastate, Revenge, and Shield Slam. For major glyphs, you’ve got more choices…but one of your three must be the Glyph of Victory Rush. It supercharges your heals from Victory Rush and Impending Victory, and again, in the 4.0 world, you’ve got to do everything you can to make your healer’s job easier. There are several useful major glyphs to pick from, including Heroic Throw (puts a Sunder Armor stack on the target), Cleaving (Cleave hits 3 targets instead of 2), Resonating Power (-5 rage on Thunder Clap), Spell Reflection (-1 second cooldown on Spell Reflect), Shockwave (-3 second cooldown on Shockwave), or Sunder Armor (Sunder a second target). You can make a case for any of them, so pick whatever you want. (I’m so decisive, aren’t I?) For your minor glyphs, a common suggestion seems to be to stack all three Shout glyphs (Battle, Commanding, and Demoralizing); but don’t ignore the Enduring Victory glyph, which increases the window for Victory Rush use from 20 to 25 seconds.
Your tanking rotation really doesn’t change very much. You no longer frantically hammer Heroic Strike to get 100% uptime on it (mousewheels everywhere rejoice!); instead you hit it every three seconds if you’ve got rage. You will leave yourself massively rage-starved if you don’t back off that HS key and use it as the rage dump it’s intended to be instead of just mashing it every time it lights up. I will also be curious to see what the damage relationship is between Revenge and Shield Slam. In the beta, Revenge is consistently hitting harder than Shield Slam unless Shield Block is up with 2/2 Heavy Repercussions. When tanking packs of trash, you’ll hit Rend once on one mob at the start of the fight, Thunder Clap to transfer it to everyone, and then make sure you Thunder Clap at least every fifteen seconds to keep Rend refreshed on all targets.