What I want for warrior tanking design in Warlords


Frankly, the warrior tanking design in Cataclysm was just about perfect. High mobility with Charge, Intervene and Heroic Leap, solid AoE threat with the rend/TC combination of Blood and Thunder, a solid balance of offense and defense. What happened in Mists wasn’t even so much that the basic paradigm changed as that it became obsolete. Other tanks exceeded us in every aspect of the game from mobility to damage output/threat, and even after 5.4’s changes and the introduction of Riposte, warriors are hardly the powerhouses some would make them out to be.

Is it possible to do high DPS as a protection warrior? Yes. You need the following:

  • A mix of BiS tanking gear with high avoidance and BiS DPS gear with high crit.
  • Very high Vengeance stacking.
  • The ability to completely ignore using Shield Block or Shield Barrier for extended periods of time to convert your rage into damage.

In other words, to do high tanking DPS on a warrior, you have to sacrifice active mitigation for Cleave and HS spam. You also need the Curse of Hubris, which you might as well macro into Shield Slam so that it gets used on cooldown, or an actual DPS trinket. If you’re ludicrously geared and at or near the very top of gearing possible in the game, these rules will relax to some extent – especially if you’re effectively single tanking.

I find the idea that warriors are designed around making this kind of trade off solid in theory, but less so when other tanks don’t have to make the choice – they can generate solid damage while still staying alive. So I’d like to see this idea of all tanks needing to choose between damage output and survivability imposed on others, but that’s not really an answer to what I want for warriors. Also, with Vengeance only working on defensive abilities and tank DPS retuned based on the fact that we’re all going to be wearing the same gear as DPS anyway, hopefully tanking DPS can be balanced out and we won’t be so ludicrously crit dependent.

So, what do I want to see for protection warriors in Warlords of Draenor?Mistakes03

For starters, I’d like to see a Riposte redesign. I don’t mind if protection warriors still get a lot of use out of crit, but something more active than the current “When you dodge or parry any attack, you gain 75% of your Parry and Dodge as additional Critical Strike for 20 sec” would make me happy – turn Riposte into an active mitigation that guarantees a parry and converts the incoming attack into damage for you, a literal riposte. I’m leery of adding too many attacks considering we’re in the era of ability bloat pruning, but right now warriors have two active mitigation abilities, both of which revolve around shields and just taking a hit – one that instead was about returning a hit would be welcome.

Similarly, Shield Block and Shield Barrier should be folded into one ability that does the work of both. Put up your shield, next two melee attacks are blocked, and you absorb the next X amount of damage for that period. So if it’s physical damage or magic damage, it’ll work either way, it’ll cost less rage (leaving some for the improved version of Riposte) and it means we’re not having two philosophically identical moves with different mechanics to remember.  This combined Shield Block/Barrier ability should also get the Tier 16 2 piece tank bonus folded into it, because it’s ridiculous how limited protection warrior self healing is. While we’re at it, making Victory Rush useful for prot by giving us the Tier 15 2 piece set bonus and Impending Victory not as a talent, but as a protection ability would also be a good quality of life improvement for protection, putting us on par with other tanks.

I’d also like to see protection get the ability to use Heroic Leap a lot more often. With monks out there completely usurping the mobility tank role, it’s time for warrior tanks to get some of it back. Let us leap every 15 seconds or so. If you were worried about it doing too much damage, let us glyph it to trade the damage for increased use.

I also keep saying this, but warriors should move away from the 1h weapon – at this point, balancing between Arms, TG fury, SMF fury and now Gladiator Stance Protection DPS is going to be annoying anyway. Give protection a form of Titan’s Grip that lets them mainhand a 2h weapon and shield and you can give up on SMF and have both Gladiator Stance and Tanking Prot use 2h weapons and balance around that. Quite frankly, SMF doesn’t work for us – it either dominates TG (as it did in early Mists) or it gets blown away (as it did in Cataclysm and in current Mists) and the benefit to protection of getting off of the 1h tip would be helpful when considering how low our DPS always ends up being compared to other tanks. Give protection a real chance and let them use polearms and shields, big monster 2h’s and shields.

I don’t think that all of this is likely – I’m hopeful for a Barrier/Block consolidation and the folding in of set bonuses, but the other ideas are more wishes than expectations. But it’s called what I want and not what I think is likely, right?

I’m editing this to add a link to a discussion I had with Arielle over on the twitters, which ended with me suggesting that Shield Barrier be removed and replaced with a modified Spell Reflect that reflects more kinds of magic damage, prevents what it doesn’t reflect, and is prot only. It’s an interesting idea – I still would rather see Barrier and Block folded together, but it’s a worthwhile discussion. One of my biggest problems with Shield Barrier is that I don’t feel like an absorb shield feels very warrior, while the idea of reflecting magic with a shield has been around since 2007 and makes more sense for the class. But I know I’m not always in synch with where the design is going. Arielle’s points about PvP and rage cost in general are ones that should always be kept in mind.

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13 Responses to What I want for warrior tanking design in Warlords

  1. wackydavo

    Wouldn’t removing SMF be somewhat punishing for poorly geared warriors that, for example, only do LFR/Flex and have no access to normal raid-level gear? Sure, it may be imbalanced for raiders but for most of its existence in Mists at least, the answer to “which is better TG or SMF?” was generally based on weapons that you had access to. So, instead of using limited play time to farm for specific 2h weapons, we could get either 2h or 1h.

    Other than that, I’m totally down with the idea of getting rid of SMF. Seems like TG is a way cooler ability and makes warriors unique. SMF kinda makes us rogues in plate armor (that provides the same functional mitigation as its mail/leather/cloth equivalents).

    • matthewrossi

      It’s no more punishing for them than not letting certain classes not use 2h weapons. A poorly geared warrior would ignore 1h and focus on 2h. It’d mean less options, yes, but it would be easier to balance and hopefully we could move away from the ‘warriors are terrible until BiS gear’ trap. As it stands, we’re not going to have the hit deficit as we level, so hopefully that won’t be an issue.

      • Kazekraze

        We would be at the same point we were during all of WOTLK, you used TG or you didn’t fury (I’m all for that and for tanking using a Black Ice + Barricade of Eternity. Think of that transmog!)

        What I find disturbing is that they decoupled us from rage scaling with damage done so we wouldn’t scale with gear as awesomely as we did (and boy o boy did we scale ) This had the effect that while leveling we’re stronger, lets face it right now Warriors while in leveling content are doing the BEST THEY EVER HAVE (exception is prot during WoTLK man that was a fun ride). Even if it isn’t optimal. What they did not do, is compensate us to keep us competitive once they neutered our core rage generation for higher tiers of content.

        Things I’d like to see in WoD.
        Prot – You covered alot of it here. The Ripost idea is one that makes sense and really would help out possibly make it refresh shield slam in addition or have your next block also be a critical.

        Arms – Arms is in a really good spot IMO right now, what arms needs is less RNG on CS use and to have better scaling, possibly just a buff to our mastery would bring it closer to fury.

        Fury – Replace CS with an ability that triggers enrage (100% not just on crit) and makes RB not use up charges for 6 seconds, this would free us from being REALLY hard into needing tons and tons of crit (since with that and berzerker rage we could have an assured 30seconds of enrage per 60). I think it would also free us from the Tick/Tock Save/Spend cycle we’d be hitting our abilities ALL THE TIME an additional trick to this would make it so Wild Strike had a chance to refresh this or extend the duration of it…dunno just more crazy ideas

        • Kazekraze

          So I realize the fury and arms were off topic for the post.

          More thoughts on Prot design, I have very little hope that they will bring other tanks DOWN to the level of protection warriors, so to bring us UP to their levels

          Lets bring back Damage Shield, I know we’re in the age of “We don’t like passives” but seriously make this a “30% of blocked damage is done to the attacker”

          Also lets see a Warrior method of gimping entire mechanics, I dunno call it Indomitable will. When you drop to 0hp it automatically heals you for 20% and converts all rage for the next 5seconds into 1rage – 2% HP.

          • Hounds

            Agreed on the last point. They need to make Avatar into a BoP/Bubble/Zen Med/Purgatory type cooldown, but for prot only.

  2. thesmall001

    I agree with Riposte. I wouldn’t make it an active but rather reverse the passive so that Crit grants Parry, which increases Revenges per Minute. Consolidate a button there.

    That synergises well with haste: more auto-attacks + more crit = more parries. With high end gear aiming to provide 25% parry (effectively) passively. Also the passive Rage Gen in Def Stance should be given a good Haste co-efficient. I don’t want to move down the path of CDR like Paladins have, there are better ways to make Haste attractive for Prot.

    What would I like from AM, then? Well I love the idea of scraping SBar because I’ve said since it was added that ABSORBS as a WARRIOR feels so wrong and dirty. I’m not a freaking Paladin. I’m not a Priest. I don’t do magic and shit. I am a Warrior. I like the Reflect idea; a flat 20% mitigation of all magic damage for a few seconds and a reflect when appropriate. It’d need a hefty Rage cost and would certainly have to be Prot-only

    My dream for Shield Block has always been to make it a passive that increases our chance to block and let SS cost rage rather than generate it and then have SS increase our SB Bonus Block Chance and have that decay over time (perhaps, on hit). Make it so that SS consumes variable Rage and increase the damage of it accordingly.

    Change Dev and Rev to our Rage Generators. Dev would have no CD so as to be spammable but less Rage per GCD than Rev (again, baking in some Haste scaling here WITHOUT adding a Passive) obviously. Just STEAL Diablo 3’s Revenge: AoE, self-heal, generates Rage and high Crit chance.

    I’d like a Parry Cooldown. Nothing amazing, just a 15 boost for a few seconds to change up our rotation every 30 seconds or so since I imagine spamming Dev would get dull. Bears get Berserk. Dks get literally everything. Paladins get Bubble/cancelaura/taunt. Monks get everything and more. We have… Shield… Reflect? Disarm? (Gone!) Recklessness, maybe? What’s our “cool thing we can do that others can’t”?

    And then my core belief is that Pures are finally, after 10 years, going the way of the Dodo so Warriors need some sort of supportive utility. I think Intervene will be key to this in coming expansions. I remember using Intervene and First-Aiding my Main Tank on Chimaeron. It was the COOLEST THING. Maybe give Warriors a channeled heal. I could live with that. It’s better than a bubble. It’s not like anybody uses First Aid anymore.

  3. I’ve just found your blog, and thought great! A new warrior blog. More to read, hopefully someone who cares!

    Then I got a few paragraphs into this post, and it was filled with misinformation.

    Your points here:

    Is it possible to do high DPS as a protection warrior? Yes. You need the following:

    A mix of BiS tanking gear with high avoidance and BiS DPS gear with high crit and mastery or crit and a threat stat like hit or expertise.
    You would want either high avoidance, or high mastery then crit itemization.
    Mastery or avoidance, whichever you decide on come after capping hit/expertise so that you can always generate rage for block and barrier.

    Very high Vengeance stacking. High Vengeance is required for any tank to do High DPS.

    The ability to completely ignore using Shield Block or Shield Barrier for extended periods of time to convert your rage into damage. This is completely untrue. For example, this is the top parse for prot warriors in US/Europe on Iron Juggernaut 10man Normal:
    Note that his uptime on shield block was 37%. Shield Barrier 18%. He cast 15 or so of each. What he did do was solo tank Iron Juggernaut. He took all of the stacks by spamming shield barrier to help with high vengeance absorbs. He did 67k HPS.

    In other words, to do high tanking DPS on a warrior, you have to sacrifice active mitigation for Cleave and HS spam.
    He had 18 Ultimatum Proc’s, and cast Heroic Strike just 14 times. For Free.

    At no point did he sacrifice survival to spam anything. The only thing this guy spammed was shield barrier when he had a ticking dot on himself, as he should have.

    You also need the Curse of Hubris
    This guy had a thok’s tail tip equipped. Increased Crit Damage, and Mastery.

    This is just one example.

    Now the comment that we’ve lagged behind other tanks may have been true at the beginning of the expansion, but we are definitely near the top if not THE top for raiding in wow right now. Remember the worlds top guild got all of the world first kills ( Method – EU ) with a warrior MT.

  4. Ardam

    Can I get a clearer definition of what you mean by high dps for a prot warrior? I’m currently tanking heroics, using a full riposte build, and while I’m not top dps by any mean, I do threaten a few of the lower dps in the team. And I never sacrifice my sblk/bar for HS/Cleave – I just use them whenever I have ultimatum.
    This is a far cry from Throne of Thunder, where we were doing 60% of the damage of brewmasters (still the top dps tank) and paladins (who were cheesing like ToT was on the moon).
    As for warlords, I don’t think Blizzard will change much. I do hope they manage to give us a tanking niche again, because monks came in and stole our thunder, all of it. Unfortunately, I suspect they’ll go for tuning down monks further, rather than letting warriors excel at something.

    • matthewrossi

      Maybe it’s just a 10 vs. 25 man difference, I don’t know, but in my guild our tanks routinely blow ALL the DPS away. LIke, 400K, 500K on some fights. On Spoils, our DK tank is routinely #1 on DPS by a WIDE margin. When I tank for us, in comparable gear, I just don’t even come close to this, but I gear for pure avoidance (dodge/parry) with no crit gear or gems of any kind, and I put all of my focus into staying alive (I’ve had numerous healers tell me I’m very easy to heal over the years).

  5. suntiger745

    I really like the proposed changes for Riposte and folding Shield Block and Shield Barrier into one.
    As much as I like Shield Barrier I can agree that it doesn’t feel very warrior-y. Some kind of shield-related (as in your physical shield) reflect would be thematically more appealing.

    Re: Prot dps, it is a marked difference in 25-man vs 10-man, and it’s not until you get to heroic mode that tank damage starts to ramp up to match or beat DPS.
    In normals or lower tank damage tends to be a bit lower lower than dps, unless you’re a well-geared monk or DK.
    Paladins and warriors seem pretty even damage-wise in normals, though paladins have a general advantage in all the utility and (some) mechanics-cheesing they can do.
    Warrior tanks seem to be really good for Nazgrim, Malkorok and Garrosh though, in no small part because those fights are heavy on physical damage.

    Warriors are pretty decent for Dark Shamans too. Tha magic damage is definitely not our friend, but our mobility really comes in handy.
    Best tank for that fight seems to be monk though. High damage, high mobility and very good magic damage reduction. Has to be played well though. Screw up your mitigation and you’re likely to go splat in short order.
    Mind you, personally I’ve only tanked that in LFR so far.

  6. Thorrodin

    Huh, I usually agree with you Rossi, but I really disagree with your take on tanking. Cata warrior tanking was fun for 5 mans, but dreadfully boring for boss tanking. I shelved my warrior in Cata in favor of my DK because it was much more engaging.

    MoP completely made me love warrior tanking again. The addition of Riposte sweetened the deal, but it was better as soon as they added the interaction between Sbarr and Sblock. My healers routinely tell me I’m easier to heal than our other tanks (usually a pally or DK), and after the last patch I’m usually out-DPSing the other tanks as well.

    I have to strongly disagree with rolling Sbarr and Sblock together — if they do, we become DKs, which are now the boring tank class to play. Right now DKs are basically a one button spam, since Death Strike does both heal and shield. I would encourage blizzard to separate those: make Death Strike a heal and Heart Strike grant a shield.

    That would put DKs more in line with other tanks: pallys have SotR (mitigation) and WoG (healing), druids have SD (mitigation) and ER (healing), warriors have Sblock (mitigation) and Sbarr (shielding); monks have… eh, shuffle and purifying brew? I’m a tank; I’m supposed to soak damage; give me more than one button to do so. We’re not healers, so it makes sense that we substitute shielding for healing (also, it’s nice being able to throw it up whenever and being pretty sure it won’t be subject to overhealing).

    I also like the ability to turn rage into dps, if needed. I rarely hit HS/Cleave outside of Ultimatum, but once I get to trust my healers, I can start throwing in a couple Executes near the end of high vengeance fights and help beat an enrage timer. If an enrage is more likely to wipe us than my death, that’s a compelling option to have.

    I prefer Sblock and Sbarr to a parry/dodge CD. Druids have this in Savage Defense and it makes you feel powerless to the RNG gods. Any active dodge/parry rotational button would be modeled on SD; it wouldn’t grant 100% avoidance. For anybody that hasn’t tanked with a Druid, trust me that you don’t want to go in that direction.

    In all, I love where warriors are now. I’d like to see HS & Cleave get rolled into one ability, but outside that I’d be happy if everything else stayed the same (taking into account any changes needed to take advantage of multistrike and haste as stats)

  7. Retrovertigo

    I think stating the need to burn all rage on offensives in order to do high dps is a fallacy, especially given the examples that this current tier provides. For instance tank damage on spoils is largely decided by receiving the tank spirit buff. In terms of an engaging playstyle that is entirely personal preference. I much prefer the current Riposte play style to the extremely passive playstyle of the end of Cataclysm when all shield tanks had hit their CTC cap. Horses for courses I suppose. In regards to your personal experience of doing significantly less than your DK tank, is it a possible play issue on your part?

  8. Hal

    Re: Warrior DPS

    When I look at Raidbots, it looks like Warrior tanks are fending for themselves in SoO compared to the other tank classes. Perhaps there’s a population bias skewing those numbers.

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