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.
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.