Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Cataclysm Prot Warrior Guide

Welcome to my guide on how to tank with your warrior. I will take you through different talents, skills, glyphs and stats and also how you could go about tanking things with a suggestion on ”rotation”. This guides focus lies in being an easy access to what warrior tanking is all about, and what changes have been made in Cataclysm so that you can feel comfortable with getting started with your warrior tank right away. 
If you're only interested in getting started at level 15 with some easy pointers on what to think about, you could check out my guide on that matter here.

This is an ongoing project that will be updated as changes occur. Last update on 15/6-11.

Table of Content
  1. Introduction
  2. Talents (15/6)
  3. Skills (15/6)
  4. Rotation (21/5)
  5. Glyphs (2/3)
  6. Stats (6/2)
  7. Reforging (6/2)
  8. Gems (3/3)
  9. Addons (15/6)
  10. Resources

Some changes in 4.0 were to tanks in general and some to warriors specifically. Generally, all tanks have noted a significant loss in aoe-threat, and also a ramp-up time in threat-generation. That means that if you used to tank pre-patch you'll now notice a definite change in the easiness to keep aggro. It has been considerably nerfed. Pre-patch a Thunder Clap often sufficed to keep good threat for the first couple of seconds while you started spreading your threat-love around. This is no longer the case. In fact you'll probably have trouble keeping aggro even after using most of your threat-skills, especially when tanking several mobs. One-two skills per mob is not enough to hold aggro anylonger.

Single target threat has taken a blow too, but not as much as aoe-threat. Warriors have a good initial-aggro skill in Shield Slam and keep good initial threat in raids as compared to Paladins and Dk's.

All tanks have also seen the implementation of something called Vengeance. Vengeance does ”Each time you take damage, you gain 5% of the damage taken as attack power, up to a maximum of 10% of your health. ”. This is mostly what people are talking about when they say that tanks now have a ramp-up time for getting to their maximum output of threat. Not until you've stacked full Vengeance do you do the most threat with your skills. Warriors have less trouble with this than for example Prot Paladins, since we can use Vigilance to stack Vengeance faster (also Paladins have to stack Holy Power for optimal threat which further increases their ramp-up time).

Warriors specifically have seen their rage going through some changes. Blizzard have done a ”rage normalization” which is what they call anything that changes the way you generate threat basically. Before 4.0, rage was generated based on the amount of damage you did with your weapons and the amount of damage you took from being hit by mobs. For tank warriors this didn't work very well, because the better your gear got (aka the less damage you took from being hit by mobs) the less rage you got. Post 4.0 rage instead gives a fixed amount on each auto-attack swing when you're doing damage, and an amount based on your max hp when you're taking damage. This means the better your gear becomes (aka the more hp you get) the more rage you will get from being hit. You can read more about these changes here. Overall rage works better now. We generate it easier and most importantly it doesn't seem to decay as fast.

Right now we see ourselves in a tricky position because we are still in the borderline between two playstyles. The old playstyle where threat was fairly easy and dpsers could just nuke their brains out, and the new playstyle where dpsers actually have to mind their threat. Many dpsers haven't understood what state the new threat is in, and will nuke just as before. Hopefully they will learn sooner rather than later that that is a playstyle of old and that it won't work in Cataclysm.

The differences between raid- and instance-tanking are small, the main difference being choice of gear generally. For instance-tanking you can go with dps/threat-stats a little more, for raid-tanking you'd mostly want to go with survivability-stats. Overall however, and this is especially true for heroics, survivability will be the best way to go. Things are alot tougher than they used to be. Since the talent trees have been consolidated we mostly use the same talents when leveling and in end-game as well. For more information check the ”Talents” and ”Glyphs” section.

To get some general pointers on how to tank an instance nice and smooth, you could check out this post I wrote on the matter.

True & False about warrior tanking
Warriors are the only true tanks.
If you still think this, you live in the middle ages. All tank classes (dk, paladin, druid and warriors) have their strength and weaknesses, but in current content they all perform very equal. It mostly comes down to the skills of the player.

Warrior tanking needs stance dancing.
A long time ago alot of useful skills used to be available to tanking warriors only if they switched stance momentarily to either Battle or Berserker Stance. Blizzard eventually realized that this made warrior tanking unecessarily difficult, especially when compared to the other tanks and have made most useful tanking-tools available in Defensive Stance as well. One example is Charge. Nowadays, stance dancing is basically never used anymore.

Warrior tanking is the most difficult.
Whether something is difficult or easy depends alot on the player. It also depends on situation. Difficult in what area? Threat or survivability? Aoe threat or single target? Warrior tanking is probably the most complex of the four tanking classes (paladin being the easiest), but this also means there are several ways to solve a tanking situation. Some find this to make the class more dynamic and easier to use, some find it more difficult. Warriors do lack in some areas that may make tanking feel more difficult at times, most notably ranged threat.

What's so lovely about speccing a prot warrior is that you can tailor it a lot to suit your tanking style. If you prefer doing dungeons, pvp or raids, if you want more aoe or single target threat, want to focus on survivability or threat - there is a talent for you. Here is a rundown on my thoughts on each talent and what they're best used for. I've written a little more in depth about some of the interesting talent choices in the secondary talent trees here. 

Protection Tree
Incite: Heroic Strike isn't as important as it was before, and in instances we'd probably rather use Cleave than Heroic Strike. If you'll do instances I'd go with Blood & Thunder instead, for raiding you'll probably have better use of Incite.
Toughness: Armor has been nerfed in 4.0, making it less valuable than post 4.0. This is still a decent talent, and definitely better than the alternative (Blood & Thunder, see below).
Blood & Thunder: Whether you like this talent or not is mostly up to you. Tanking works absolutely ok without it at max level. B&T is mostly situational so that when you do need to keep aggro on a lot of mobs, this is very handy handy (as is the case in some few raid fights). I do actually recommend this talent for lower levels and for instancing in general since it deals a good amount of damage and is good aoe threat, until you eventually might decide on doing raids where aoe threat is of less importance.

Shield Specilization: Rage will probably not be an issue in raids,  but can still be in heroics, so this talent is as useful as you think it is. If you have big problems with rage starving, this will be one of your best talents to solve that issue. If you don't think you have much trouble with rage, it could be worth moving some points from this talent to things that seem more worthwhile.
Shield Mastery: Shield Block and Shield Wall are among our most important tank cooldowns (Shield Wall mostly for raiding however), lowering the cooldown on these skills are definitely something we want to do. The lower the cooldowns on these skills, the more survivability you'll have (as long as you use the cooldowns of course). This means you can use Shield Wall even if you're not on the brink of death, just to ease up for the healers. The less they have to focus on you, the more they can focus on someone else. There is no such thing as too many cooldowns.
Hold the Line: Block is something of a defining property of warrior tanking, and something Blizzard always want us to use as much as possible. Before Cataclysm block was inferior because it never worked as well as pure avoidance. Blizzard have made some tweaks to how block works however, and this is a good talent since it also increases your threat somewhat after a parry.
Gag Order: A great talent for when leveling and instance-tanking. Less useful when raiding since the tank rarely is responsible for silencing anything. Reduced cooldown on Heroic Throw is nice, but also something that is used more in Instances than in Raids.

Last Stand: A good tanking cooldown, especially when combined with Enraged Regeneration (which you won't get until level 76 however).
Concussion Blow: Currently our highest threat skill, and also a prerequisite for Vigilance. Any tank should take this talent. Should be used on each cooldown when tanking bosses.
Bastion of Defense: Has replaced defense as a stat against crit immunity. This means you're not a tank without this talent.
Warbringer: Allows us to use charge, intercept and intervene in Defensive Stance and in combat. This is great for utility tanking and should be talented by all tanks.

Improved Revenge: Revenge is one of our most important threat skills and it wouldn't be half as useful or good if we didn't take this talent.
Devastate: Devastate had its glory days back in Burning Crusade. Since then its usage has dwindled from being the bread and butter skill to being a filler skill when everything else is on cooldown or you are low on rage. Honestly I think you could do just fine without it, but for one talent point it is still a fairly strong and useful talent (and it does deal more threat than Sunder Armor).
Impending Victory: More useful when raiding than when doing instances, but generally a pvp-talent. As a lowbie tank you can expect to get the killing blow occasionally, and use Victory Rush as a way to get some extra health or threat. In raids we don't switch targets as often so this talent could be our best shot at getting to use Victory Rush but even on a well-geared tank this extra health would make a minor difference and these talent points are better spent elsewhere.

Thunderstruck: Best for aoe-threat which mostly means instance-tanking. Since aoe-threat is what we're currently having issues with, we'll like anything to help us out in that area. Less useful when raiding.
Vigilance: Vigilance has seen some changes. It no longer reduces threat on the target (and it doesn't reduce damage taken anymore either) but instead mainly works as a source of Vengeance for you. It also refreshes your cooldown on taunt when your Vigilance target is being struck, which will be a nice aid for tank-switching bosses. As such it is a well spent 1 tp and should be used on a fellow tank. Some tanks are (and always have) questioned the usefulness of Vigilance, and for instances you wouldn't be wrong to move this talent point elsewhere.
Heavy Repercussions: Great for extra threat, and we can never get too much of that.

Safeguard: The situations where this is useful are rare, on the other hand when used correctly this talent can make alot of difference. The best way to use it is on a target that you know will take a big blow (mostly another tank in a raid situation). It's not very useful for instances and it's tricky to use for raids, so you have to decide for yourself if this talent will have any use for you.
Sword and Board: Works basically the same as it did pre-patch and as such it is one of our best talents for extra threat.

Shockwave: Best for instancing, but a good tanking skill overall.
Arms Tree
War Academy: War Academy is a typical threat skill, and if you really want to boost your threat you could go for this. Personally I prefer a good mix of threat and survivability, and wouldn't choose this talent over other I think more useful.
Field Dressing:  6% extra healing taken is great, because it is a straight up buff to all and any healing received by you from someone. I'd only skip this if I knew I was in an environment where survivability really wasn't an issue, ever.
Blitz: This is a "comfy"-talent, meaning that it makes your pulls slightly more convenient and manageable in dungeons. You won't see much use for this in raids. If you like those extra rage at the start of a pull and being able to make sure a couple more mobs stand still for your initial skills, this is a great talent. It depends on how you tank, personally I like it.

Fury Tree
Blood Craze: Blood Craze works best when you expect to take alot of blows, since it increases its uptime significantly. This means that it is less useful on slow, hardhitting bosses, but quite useful in dungeons where you can expect to be hit from several targets quite often. It actually does provide a fair amount of extra healing.
Battle Trance: The rage gain from this talent is very low, and you should only take this talent if you're desperate for more rage.
Cruelty: Also a slight threat increase, but very slight.
Deep Wounds: The extra damage from this is unfortunately quite low, only around 1-3% depending on gear (more in raids where you can expect to have higher crit). If extra threat and damage is all you're after, this will still give you some extra oomph.

Raid Spec

For an instance spec I'd move points from Cruelty, Incite and Safeguard to Gag Order and Blood & Thunder and Thunderstruck. Could also move one point from Vigilance to Blitz.

Threat Skills
Challenging Shout: You don't use this often, but when you do you'll be damn glad you have it.
Cleave: No longer on-swing. Works exactly like Heroic Strike but on several targets instead, and should be used accordingly (aka Cleave as rage-dump when fighting several targets, Heroic Strike when fighting one). This is your new best aoe threat skill and you will find yourself using this alot in random instances.
Devastate: Has a rather low threat in itself, but does have a chance to proc Sword And Board, which means using it will increase your threat overall. Nonetheless it's not worth using if you have Revenge or Shield Slam off cooldown and a Sunder Armor stack (or equivalent) already applied to your target (stacking sunder armor debuff is only worth doing on raid bosses). This means we don't use Devastate all that often, especially not in endgame, but it is nice to have around for when you're waiting for everything else to come off cooldown.
Heroic Strike: No longer on-swing. A rage-dump skill and also a good single-target threat skill. As soon as you find yourself with alot of rage (+60-70) you should use this. As it has its own gcd you can use it while using another skill, which is important to keep in mind.
Heroic Leap: This is a great skill to get inital aggro on a bunch of mobs (unless one of them is being ccd, in which case you should avoid this). Use this instead of Charge if it safe to do so.
Rend: Not worth using while tanking at endgame. Too slow and low threat to be worth it. At lower levels this is a decent damage dealer for when questing however and especially useful on runners. Before Revenge this is our best aor-threat.
Revenge: One of your best threat-skills, should be used every cooldown whether you're fighting one or several targets.
Sunder Armor: Before you get Devastate, this is a good skill for single-target threat. Once you get Devastate, you have no need for Sunder Armor anymore.
Taunt: Works exactly like before, but you'll probably have to use it more often. Can also be used as a means of pulling mobs, especially before you get Warbringer. This talent can not miss any longer!
Thunder Clap: Although this has been significantly nerfed, this is still one of our most important aoe threat skills. In lower levels this used to be all you needed to use to keep aggro, basically all the way up to 80. This is no longer the fact, but when tanking several mobs this is still worth using every cooldown. Since it also reduces attack speed on the affected targets by 20%, this is good to keep up on any boss that isn't already affected by this kind of debuff.
Victory Rush: Could be counted as a survivability skill, but you'll mostly use this either when questing or when tanking as a lowbie before you've gotten any of the real threat skills. This becomes less and less useful as you level on.

Utility Skills
Battle Shout: Has replaced Bloodrage as our out of combat rage generator, and is also a really nice buff. You should keep it up at all times (until you get Commanding Shout). For instances, depending on that buffs the rest of your group provides, Battle Shout is probably more worth keeping up than Commanding Shout.
Berserker Rage: Mostly used in the same way as before, that is as a means to remove any fears/saps or incapacitating effects that may come our way when tanking. Can also be used as a way to get some extra threat if you really find yourself needing that.
Charge/Intercept/Intervene: Although they don't do exactly the same thing, they will be used for basically the same purpose – your positioning. Your goal is to be where the action is so you can prevent people from dying, these will be your main tools to achieve that goal.
Commanding Shout: Has replaced Bloodrage as our out of combat rage generator, and is also a really nice buff. Depending on whether you want survivability or threat, you could alternate between this and Battle Shout.
Demoralizing Shout: Has never been especially good for threat (although back in Vanilla this was considered a half-decent aoe-threat skill), but provides an awesome debuff. Less important in instances where things die so quickly anyway, but in raids this should be up all the time as long as no one else in the raid already applies this buff.
Disarm: Blizzard occasionally designs bosses around the need of disarming them. Unless that is the case, disarming isn't very useful (many bosses aren't even disarmable). But it's not a wasted gcd, so if the boss is disarmable, disarming will lower his damage somewhat for a short time.
Intimidating Shout: Aka Intimate Dating Shout. Very situational since fearing is something you rarely want to do in instances/raids. Mostly used for pvp.
Heroic Throw: Best used to get threat on something standing too far away for you to hit on, or to silence a caster.
Shield Bash: Whenever you need to silence/interrupt something, Shield Bash is your way to go. A great skill for collecting casters, and should be used as often as needed. Silencing casters usually gives good threat as well.
Spell Reflect: I've always said tanks use this way too little when tanking, and I'll say it again. Pve tanks use this way too seldom when tanking. This is a great way to get initial aggro on some caster while taking care of another caster or otherwise handle hardhitting spells. Use this more often than you need just for the heck of it, just to get into the practice of using it when you really need it.

Survivability Skills
Enraged Regeneration: Because of how this works, it is best used in combination with Last Stand. It's not wasted on its own however.
Last Stand: Because of how this works it is best used in combination with Enraged Regeneration. It's not wasted on itw own however.
Shield Wall: With the proper talents, Shield Wall has a measly 2 minute cooldown and should be used any time you know you will take more damage than usual, or at every cooldown if you know you'll take about the same damage the whole fight. In raids, reducing your damage taken is never wasted. When instancing, using Shield Wall is usually a little overkill unless you just did a humongous overpull.

Warrior tanking has never been about using a certain rotation of skill to acquire the most threat. Instead we have to keep track of which skills generate the most threat, and use those skills whenever they come off cooldown or proc. Since 4.0 threat is more based on the amount of damage your skills do, than some hidden theat modifier, which makes it slightly easier to figure out which skills are most worth using. Simply put we could use our recounts to find out what does the most threat. Some skills are used not because they do high threat, but because they have some utility use, like demoralizing shout. The skills not worth using aren't mentioned in the list, like Rend. I don't have any hard numbers on which skills generate the most threat after 4.0, but based on experience a rough guess would be; Satrina over at tankspot.com has provided us with the threat-values for 4.0, and Porcell was nice enough to dig it out for us;
  1. Concussion Blow
  2. Shield Slam
  3. Heroic Throw
  4. Revenge
  5. Devastate
  6. Heroic Strike
  7. Cleave
  8. Shockwave
  9. Thunder Clap
  10. Demoralizing Shout
My old guess was;
  1. Shield Slam
  2. Concussion Blow
  3. Revenge
  4. Devastate
  5. Heroic Strike
  6. Cleave
  7. Shockwave
  8. Thunder Clap
  9. Demoralizing Shout
This means that Heroic Throw is supposed to be part of our rotation.
In raids;
  1. Keep Commanding Shout up (unless someone else is already providing that buff)
  2. Keep Demoralizing Shout up (unless someone else is already providing that debuff)
  3. Keep Thunder Clap up (unless someone else is already providing that debuff)
  4. Use Shield Slam on each cooldown/proc
  5. Use Concussion Blow on each cooldown
  6. Use Revenge on each cooldown
  7. Use Heroic Throw on each cooldown, (unless you know there will be extra mobs coming that you want to apply a fresh stack of Sunder Armor to, in which case you might want to save this).
  8. Use Heroic Strike inbetween to dump rage when needed
  9. Use Devastate to proc new Shield Slams (and to keep Sunder Armor up)

In instances;
  1. Keep Commanding Shout up (unless someone else is already providing that buff)
  2. (Use Rend if you have Blood & Thunder Talent)
  3. Use Thunder Clap on each cooldown
  4. Use Shockwave on each cooldown
  5. Use Shield Slam on each cooldown/proc
  6. Use Revenge on each cooldown
  7. Use Cleave/Heroic Strike inbetween to dump rage when needed
  8. Use Devastate to proc new Shield Slams
  9. Demoralizing Shout and Concussion Blow can be used when needed.
A typical instance pull for me looks like this;
  1. Use Commanding Shout
  2. Make sure you have a plan for how to handle the group without breaking cc. Here is a guide on how to do that.
  3. Charge in
  4. Cleave and Rend (since Cleave is off gcd, it can be used simultaneously with Rend)
  5. Thunder Clap
  6. Shockwave
  7. Demoralizing Shout
  8. Shield Block
  9. The above priority list of skills
As for most classes, the choices of tanking glyphs are fairly easy.
Devastate: Although we don't use this skill that much, there isn't many other prime glyphs to choose from.
Revenge: Buffing one of our best tanking skills is never a bad idea.
Shield Slam: As with Revenge, buffing another of our best tanking skills isn't a bad idea either.

The major glyphs are more situational, here we might have to make some choices.
Shockwave: Best for instancing, but also good for handling trash in raids.
Cleaving (INSTANCE): Cleave is one of our best aoe-threat skills, now that Thunder Clap really doesn't cut it anymore. Glyphing it is highly recommended if you intend to do alot of instances.
Long Charge: Some raid bosses will aggro on you before you get into normal charge range, this glyph could remedy that. It's also nice in instances to get to the mobs a little bit sooner than the dpsers.
Shield Wall (RAID): For fights where you know you're going to take big hits occasionally, and rather would want a long cooldown dealing with those properly, than a short cooldown dealing with those weakly.
Thunder Clap: (INSTANCE) Great for collecting mobs in instances. Less useful in raids.
Heroic Throw: Good starter threat, especially when raiding.
Sunder Armor (INSTANCE): Useful for when tanking instances, less useful when raiding.

Nothing really interesting here.
Battle: Best for instances and lowbie tanking/questing
Demoralizing Shout: If you're the one expected to put up this debuff, this glyph is a must have.
Berserker Rage: Because there isn't much else to choose (which means if you prefer another glyph over this, go for it).
Command: Increased area of affect is useful when raiding, although this buff will most likely be provided by someone else anyway.

So to conclude;
Prime: Devastate, Revenge, Shield Slam
Major: Long Charge, Cleaving (Instances), Heroic Throw (raids), Thunder Clap (Instances) Shield Wall (when needed) otherwise Shockwave
Minor: Demoralizing Shout, Berserker Rage, Command

Prime: Devastate, Revenge, Shield Slam
Major: Shockwave, Thunder Clap, Sunder Armor
Minor: Battle or Demoralizing Shout, Berserker Rage, Command

Since defense was removed as a stat and we now get our beloved crit immunity through a talent instead, we're a little more free to choose stamina and avoidance stats than before. Hit and expertise too can get more love than before. So which stats are more important?

Stamina – Always a sure way to go. Stamina is by some considered the only ”true” tank-stat since it helps against both magic and physical damage, whereas avoidance such as dodge/parry/block only helps against physical damage. Druids for example long worked in this way, basically only stacking stamina. Blizzard have re-designed the raid-fights alot since then, and stacking stamina high and ignoring other stats would mean a tank with easy and huge dips in hp. Still, stamina is mostly what people go for. Actually now in Cataclysm, the way Vengeance and the rage changes work have made stamina an even better stat for warriors. Still, it is worth to note that just stacking stamina isn't a good idea anymore. You definitely want to keep your avoidance and block ratings up as well.
Dodge/Parry – Not only does dodge and parry not help against magic damage, it also suffers from diminishing returns. That mean the more you have, the less valuable it becomes. It's still an important stat, but usually any amount you get from gear (and that will be more now that all defense has been converted into dodge) suffices. Note however that Dodge and Parry aren't worth equally much. Because of the talent Hold the Line, Parry is actually slightly better than Dodge. Overall it is still best to convert the one you have the most in into mastery, because that will be more affected by diminishing returns.
Block – As mentioned block is something of a trademark skill of warriors (and paladins, but to a lesser extent). Blizzard have put alot of effort into making block a valuable stat for us, but only recently have they come anywhere near making it as useful as stamina or even dodge/parry. The reason is simple. Blocking an attack often meant reducing its damage by some fixed amount, say 3000 damage. Dodging/parrying an attack meant reducing its damage by 100% (since you avoided the attack alltogether). Blocks usually occured more often than dodges/parries to compensate for this fact, but in wotlk raids where bosses often hit for 10k-40k damage, block was just way underpowered for reducing overall damage taken. Warriors have something called Critical Block however, and our mastery is even affected by it, which means you have a chance to double the amount of damage that you block making block a more viable stat for damage reduction than it used to be. This means block is a great stat, but as with dodge and parry, stamina usually turns out to be way more reliable. Block does affect our damage with Shield Slam and as such it can be counted as a threat-stat as well. Blizzard have changed how block works in Cata, so that we block for greater amounts instead of small amounts more often, making it work more like the other avoidance stats.
Hit – Hit will mostly be a stat to increase your threat-output. Since our most important skill, taunt, can't miss anylonger, hit is alot less important than it was back in wrath (same goes for expertise). Focus lies instead on survivability. Because of this you should note that hit and expertise are good stats, but only as long as you feel comfortable in your survivability. For raids you can practically not get enough stamina and avoidance. For heroics however there might actually come a time when you feel like you can survive the content to your satisfaction and might want to work on your threat instead.
Expertise – Is a good threat stat. Having a good amount of expertise also lowers your damage taken since many bosses will reset their swing-timers if your attack is parried/dodged/blocked by them which means they will hit you more often. Exactly how much expertise you should collect depends alot on the rest of your gear. Doing alot of threat is second to being able to survive the content you want to play, just as with hit above. If your expertise is low you will have to hope your group can help you out. Just as with hit, you shouldn't start looking at these threat stats until you feel you've covered your avoidance stats.
Mastery - The current say on Mastery is that it is our second best stat, second only to Stamina. Many tanks right now will convert any avoidance stat on their gear (dodge/parry) to mastery because of this, and this is even more true for hit/expertise stats. I will thanks the guys over at tankspot and Kadomi at Tank Like a Girl for valuable information in this matter!

In order of importance;
  1. Stamina
  2. Mastery
  3. Parry
  4. Dodge
  5. Expertise
  6. Hit
The best reason to reforge something is to convert a less useful stat into a more useful one. What you want to remove and what you want to gain depends alot on your gear. If you've got alot of hit, but not so much expertise, it could be a good idea to reforge some of your hit into expertise, just as an example of how the system works. This also means that there is no exact way to reforge a gear, if you really want to min-max it you'll have to make small adjustments and see if you notice a difference to the better or worse, using the above priority list as a help. Like mentioned a good way to go is to stack as much mastery as possible by reforging hit/expertise into mastery. Remember that no tank-stat is useless however, so unless you're overcapped in some area or seriously lacking in another, your gear is probably good the way it is until you reach heroics. Once you reach heroics it's a good idea to reforge hit, expertise and dodge primarily into mastery.
When you're gemming you should try to collect the above mentioned stats. Unlike how it was in Wrath, we are now seeing socket bonused that might actually be worth our time. Unless the socket bonus is + 10 stats, you might actually be better off trying to match the color. That means Solid Ocean's Sapphire will be your best choice, or Defender's Demonseye for Parry + Stamina. If you want a yellow gem you could go with Puissant Dream Emerald, Mastery + Stamina
We have a choice between Austere and Eternal Shadowspirit Diamond. Since block has become such an important part of our tanking, simulations point towards Eternal Shadowspirit Diamond being slightly better than Austere. The differences are not huge however, so either will work fine!
Blue socket – Solid Ocean's Sapphire
Red socket – Defender's Demonseye
Yellow socket – Puissant Dream Emerald
Meta socket - Austere Shadowspirit Diamond or Eternal Shadowspirit Diamond

Using addons is to ease up on your tanking. Whether you want to use them or even find them necessary is up to you and your tanking style, but here are some I find helpful;

OptiTaunt: Addon that will notify your raid/party whenever you do something worth notifying. Like using a cooldown, missing a taunt (if that is even possible anylonger), or if your target is immune to taunt. Comes with a variety of settings and works for all tank classes.
TargetCharms: Gives all the raid marks in an easy to access bar, which makes it way easier to mark targets mid-combat than the default dropdown menu.
Tidy Plates - Threat Plates: The module Threat Plates to the name plate addon Tidy Plates gives you a very neat overview on your targets, allowing you to easily identify which targets you've got threat on, low threat on or no threat on among several targets. We all know how handy that can be when fighting 5 mobs. (You need the Tidy Plates addon first to be able to use this of course).

Here are couple of other bloggers who write about warrior tanking that are worth taking a look at if you'd like to know more. If you'd like to have a blog added to the list, give me a shout and I'll check it out.


  1. nice guide; figure out more about mastery though.

  2. @Anon
    Yeah I'll definitely do that, just have to level up my warrior!

  3. Taunt cannot miss anymore, game mechanic has changed.
    Source: EJ prot warrior thread.
    I reforge all hit and expertise on my gear, running with 1% hit and indeed never missed a taunt so far.
    With vengeance sky rocketing our threat on single boss fights the only reason to have expertise and hit equipped would be to interrupt, if no dps is available to do that.

  4. @Ti
    Quite right! I had updated expertise on this matter, but not hit. I kind of update this post a tad here and a bit there just as I come to think of something or read about something, so it's not entirely even yet ^^ Pointers like yours does help me even it out though, but I intend to give it a complete overhaul once I've leveled my warrior to 85. This was written pre-cata as a sort of "get ready for cata tanking" post, and now needs to be rewitten partially.

  5. no blood and thunder...fail

  6. @Anon
    Yeah some like it, some don't. I belong to those that don't. I currently tank without it and it works just fine. I don't want to use a gcd at start for rend, and I don't want rend to be up in case something has to be emergency ccd. There are some glyphs that remove dots from targets, but most people don't have them. So as long as my tanking works just as well, why should I use Blood & Thunder?

  7. I think that most all tanks that gem stamina now are gimping themselves very hard at the moment. While stamina does give you a massive sponge for damage. I have noticed that tanks that gem straight or mostly gem straight stamina take a lot more damage than a tank that gems for all defensive stats. It does no good to have a big sponge for damage. i gem almost all defensive stats and take almost half the damage my off tank takes in fights, who is gemmed for almost all stamina. that strain makes it much more costly on healers mana and makes compensating for that extra damage taken more difficult. With the current gear that is out stamina and threat in raids is not a major issue, but the amount of damage being taken is.

  8. @Anon
    Yes I agree. Unlike in Wrath where socket bonuses rarely were worth going after and tanks just stuffed themselves with pure stamina, we should consider the combination-gems alot more. Both because the bonuses are better and because like you say, a healthy mix is better now. Overall I always feel like taking a stamina+avoidance gem seems like a good idea if the socket needs it.

  9. I'd agree on all that but 52% block is wtg before heroics then maybe a bit more but also I wouldnt worry about taunt missing if you have vigil on the other tank or a vigil on the tank with adds, so taunt is 99.9% of the time up and if it misses, well his going to get hit its going to reset the cooldown on it bam.

  10. Great guide, but it's worth noting that parry haste was removed from all raid and heroic bosses as of Cataclysm, so expertise is no longer a must for warrior tanks. That being said, I still miss being hit and expertise capped -- it annoys me to see so many attacks miss!