Friday, January 15, 2010

How to! Warrior Tank - Level 15-29

I've finally gotten around to something I've really been looking forward to write about, a guide on how to tank as a warrior. I've had the idea to do this guide for a long time now, but I wanted to start it out from the beginning, from the first stumbling tries to tank a group at low levels up to 80. And eventhough I have leveled two warriors to 80, none have been prot all the way (one respecced at 32 or so and one at 70). And I also wanted the experience, with all the changes that's recently been done to WoW, fresh in my memory. I simply had to re-level a little prot warrior. And this time, it was gonna be prot all the way baby.

So why start the guide at level 15? Simply because that is the level needed to join the lfg-tool and therefore the lowest level at which you can be expected to tank. Now this is written from a horde tanks perspective, but that won't matter much since the lfg-tool allows everyone to do any instance nowadays. The first bracket will be 14 levels, but the plan is to make a little check-up every 10 levels to see what new skills, addons, glyphs and instances have been added that could be interesting for that particular bracket. Also this won't take boa-gear into the calculation, so if you happen to have some - congratulations, everything will be even easier and faster for ya.

The first bracket will also be a two-parter, since I think the post would be too long otherwise. Next part is for tomorrow!
First of all... prot? Can you even really level as prot or is that just for crazy people like me? There was a time when I would say; no, for the love of God, don't level as prot. But things have changed. Blizzard realized that some specs are just too bad to be viable options for leveling and questing and did some changes. More notably of course the regen changes they've done to caster classes, but prot have gotten some love too. So much love in fact that I'd not only say prot is a viable spec to start out in, but I'd even recommend using it! The few drawbacks are easily outweighed by the benefits. Here are some of the differences;

Not using a 2-hander or two 1-handers might mean a little smaller crits, or lesser damage, but it also means you'll use a shield instead. And with a shield comes alot of other opportunities. With a shield you can silence casters. And most importantly, you'll be able to use Shield Block. At low levels, your block will be so much greater than the mobs average dmg that you'll effectively block every physical damage you've got incoming, as long as you're facing the mobs of course. This actually means you'll be practically invincible during those 10 sec that Shield Block is up. And hey, it's only got 40 sec cd with the right talents. Aoe-killing has never been so easy.

Being in Defensive Stance instead of Battle Stance will lower your dmg output by some percent, but it will also lower dmg taken by even more percent. It also means you can't use some skills that are Battle/Berzerk Stance only, but instead you get some new skills that are Defensive Stance only. For solo-questing you'll mostly enjoy Revenge, which combined with Shield Block is among the best dmg skills you'll have at that level. At level 20 I had already critted approximately 300 with Revenge. This is with a 1-hander and no special gear! The biggest loss in my book was not being able to charge. That will change when you can spec into Warbringer, and until then I found out simply pulling mobs with taunt was a decent substitute.

Overall, the dmg output is about the same as when playing arms or fury, at least at the low levels. You'll see more examples of this a little further down. The possibility to take on several mobs (like 5-6) and further on even elites without much trouble definitely makes prot a winner for leveling.
I won't mention general addons, but the tank specific ones. Some tank addons aren't really useful until later on in the game, but there are some that you'd like to have from the very first instance and on.
- Target Charms: A little addon which allow you to easily mark targets. Quite handy since you don't really have time to screw around in drop down bars when things get heaty.
- EasyRage: Simply displays your current rage right on your character, but in a non-invasive way. Very handy to keep track on how much rage you've got to know which skills you can use.
You won't be able to use any glyphs that you don't have the skill for yet. For instance you can't glyph Enraged Regen until you actually have the skill Enraged Regen. With that in mind there are still pretty many glyphs to choose from when you get your first Major Glyph socket at level 15. One good glyph for tanking is of course Glyph of Sunder Armor, which allows you to plant sunder armors twice as fast, which equals awesome threat. If you don't plan to quest anything on your own, but simply stick to instancing I'd recommend this one as your first glyph. If you do intend to quest however, sunder armor isn't such a good idea. You'll rarely use sunder armor outside of instances. Instead I'd recommend Glyph of Revenge. This baby will make your next Heroic Strike free after using Revenge. This is good in both instances and when soloplaying, since Heroic Strike is costly, but still one of your main threat and dmg skills.

At level 20 you get your first minor glyph socket. For this one I'd recommend Glyph of Bloodrage, which will make your Bloodrage skill free. Since Bloodrage costs hp otherwise, this is quite useful both for tanking and soloplay. Another good glyph is Glyph of Battle which increases the duration of Battle Shout with 2 minutes. That means you save 10 rage every two minutes, so it's mostly for people who forget to recast Battle Shout or simply are lazy. Glyph of Thunder Clap is also a great glyph, since thunder clap will be one of your best skills both inside and outside of instancing. The glyph will be less useful outside of instances though, since you'll most likely be the only target of mobs anyway (so the extra range won't do much).
Next part I'll talk you through skills, what talents to spec and a little something about how to handle the instances you can expect to play between level 15-29. Welcome back then!

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