So yeah, turns out I should probably have shut up and not told you guys that prot was actually good at PvP. Sorry about that. I'm not going to actually freak out until I see how they plan to balance prot so we're not good at PvP anymore, since I barely even PvP and am far more concerned with prot as a PvE spec, that is to say, tanking with it. If they make a bunch of changes and my threat stays the same and my survivability stays the same and I'm not seeing any major hits to my tanking, then whatever, I'm sure there will be enraged prot warriors still but I won't be one. If, however, I see a 2k threat loss and I'm dying like a chicken trying to tank a bloody heroic, then yeah, I'm gonna be upset.
I'll probably skip 'fevered pet' and move straight into 'enraged mouth breathing' territory. I can think of all sorts of ways to tweak prot in PvP that wouldn't have much of an effect in PvE, and I know the folks at Blizzard are better at class design than I am, so waiting and seeing is the order of the day. That being said I do find it irritating when we get told over and over again that we're fine until suddenly we're not. Just saying, some consistency would be nice.
I should probably also share something I admitted on Twitter the other day: yeah, I went ahead and race changed to draenei. Yeah, after writing a long post about how I probably wouldn't, I did. Effectively all of my alliance toons are now space goats. I didn't do it for the racial, mind you: ICC tanking gear is positively ridiculous in terms of hit, I'm swimming in hit. I did it purely because I wanted to play a draenei.
But that leads me to a discussion of ICC gear, gearing in general, and intimations of future design for warriors after patch 3.3 has passed and we're heading towards Cataclysm.
So far, ICC gear (and T10 tanking gear) is pretty sweet. When I originally typed that sentence there was a swear in it, but I went back and backspaced over it. How sweet, you may ask? Well, in the past weeks of ICC 10 and 25, I've reached almost 46k health unbuffed, my dodge, parry and even block have reached ridiculous levels, and the 2 piece Tier 10 bonus is so good that I don't even notice how my actual block value has dropped. The four piece bonus? It makes angels cry in joy.
I have spent absolutely no time in ICC doing anything but tanking. This week we cleared out Rotface and Festergut, but I missed our Putricide attempts (stupid me) so I have to wait for this weekend to get to see him. Festergut (who I always mistype as Festerguy) was an interesting race fight with some tank trade offs and managing cooldowns to keep from getting your face pushed in as Fester inhales and buffs himself, I actually enjoyed it rather immensely. Plus, he handed me a really nice belt that makes me look like the Heavyweight Champion of the Raid.
Festergut was a fun tanking challenge. Rotface can be a fun tanking challenge, or a boring tank and spank depending on what role you're playing. I got to play "Stand in one place and play patty-cake with a huge, pustulent fat corpse who will jam his ulcerated prolapsed hernia in your face at every opportunity." As my guildmate Kol put it, "this is an interesting fight for everyone who isn't you." The ooze kiting, avoiding the flooding and otherwise managing Rotface's Grobbulus + Twin Valkyr style is pretty engaging and I'm looking forward to trying it out this weekend. He didn't drop the chestplate, but that's what furture raids are for.
Seriously, even with Chill of the Throne my avoidance/mitigation stats are damn solid (we're talking almost 14% dodge, close to 22% parry, and around 18% block with raid buffs even after CotT yanking out 20% of my dodge) and I'm looking forward to getting my hands on that sweet proc mace from Putricide. I would like to see the proc get a buff to put it on par with Bryntroll (wow, was I wrong about the value of that proc, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa) but if it's got uptime even remotely comparable that +100 str proc by itself should be a nice threat boost and the healing bonus will be nice for high damage fights. I'm already tanking with a high DPS axe a lot of the time because I simply don't need any more avoidance or mitigation on my weapon (I'm at 580 defense already) so I think a proc is actually kind of welcome at this point.
Again, that's using a DPS axe from TotGC. Tanking gear in ICC is some of the absolute best gear I've ever seen, even the non set pieces (I agonize over which of them I'll stop using for my 4 piece T10 set bonus, believe me, the idea of not wearing my Broken Ram makes me unhappy) and it only gets better as we will eventually get heroic modes down. (Please note I mean relative here: I am aware that Onslaught was a set designed for level 70 and this is level 80 gear. But the itemization here is proportionately better, I believe, and that's saying something, as both BT and later Sunwell gear was well itemized.)
At first I was kind of surprised to see how high the strength values can get, but that just seems to be part of a move to get tanks to pick up some threat stats and it's working fine for me (I haven't even missed the block value from my old TotC Set legs) as threat's gone up as steadily as everything else. At present, I don't even bother to wear a threat set to heroics anymore, I just use my current stam/avoidance set and that first shield block hits just as hard thanks to the set bonus on T10, and the shockwaves hit even harder.
I find myself wondering where tanking design will go in Cat: clearly there won't be defense on gear. For the moment I'm assuming Dodge and Parry will remain unchanged and Block will become a pure percentage stat (you have a 20% block chance that shears off 20% of incoming damage on a successful block) which leads me to think that stat values on tanking gear will be going more and more towards parity. Instead of seeing, say, 1500 str and almost 4k stam, you'll see 2k str and 4k stam, and that str will provide a more meaningful contribution to how Block (and perhaps Parry) works for warrior tanks.
One of the reasons I think this way is their continuing discussion of getting Fury and Arms warriors to tank in five mans. At present, most DPS warriors I know pass on tank gear unless everyone already has it and that's often due to the fact that they don't want gear they'll only wear to tank unless they have a tank offspec they really like using. I expect in Cat we'll see some itemization changes to muddy the waters between DPS and tanking plate: high strength gear with hit and expertise on it, for instance, could pretty easily serve in either role in a system without Defense. (I also expect to see even more homogenization in plate tanks as a result.)
ICC itemization is, to some degree, the absolute pinnacle of Wrath's design philosophy, and while we know it's changing in Cataclysm the designers aren't working in a vacuum: they're designing the new paradigm while working with the old one, and I think the rise of high strength tanking gear and proc based weapons is a sign that we're going to be shifting away from super stat stacking for specialized roles (tank or DPS) and towards a more fluid system where you'll tank in the gear you have, and talents and mastery will help make it more suitable to a role. (This is clearly what I've believed before ICC, but I find ICC a confirmation of it.) I expect, for the first time, that Cataclysm will actually make warriors feel hybrid rather than like two classes (a DPS class and a tank class) jammed together at the hip.
Next week: tanking Rotface. Festergut and Putricide, unless something else happens.
Patch 3.3 is the last major patch of Wrath of the Lich King. With the new Icecrown Citadel 5-man dungeons and 10/25-man raid arriving soon, patch 3.3 will deal the final blow to Arthas. WoW.com's Guide to Patch 3.3 will keep you updated with all the latest patch news.