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Build Shop: Warrior 8/5/48

Chris Jahosky

Hey folks! This week on Build Shop I'm examining another Warrior build, but this time it's not about dealing damage with the spec -- it's about taking damage. That's right, it's time for a Protection Warrior build! This one is focused on raid tanking, and maximizing your damage reduction. It's not the most rage-efficient Protection spec out there, but 8/5/48 (and its variants) seems to be pretty popular these days. This build does skip some of the talents that make grinding and solo play easier, so I wouldn't use this one for anything but main tanking a raid instance.

With that said, let's take a look under the hood and check out what makes this build so great at damage reduction and threat generation.

As I said before, this is a heavy Protection build that sacrifices many talents useful for solo play or tanking dungeons, like Tactical Mastery, Improved Bloodrage, Improved Revenge, and Improved Shield Bash. While it is very possible to grind using a Devastate build, this is not the ideal build if you need to do so -- so be forewarned. In return, you get all the damage reduction talents as well as a few rage reduction talents that allow you to spam skills like Devastate (which only costs 9 rage with this build).

Speaking of Devastate, there is no longer any reason to use Sunder Armor, as the rage cost is now the same and Devastate also causes the Sunder Armor effect. Also of note is that I'm keeping Anticipation for this build. Although some tanks like to drop Anticipation and put those 5 points somewhere else once they've reached 490 defense with gear alone, the 20 defense that it gives you equates to an additional 3.2% avoidance (+0.8% chance that you'll dodge, parry, block or be missed by the enemy), even if you're already crit proof. Since this build focuses on maximizing damage reduction, we're still taking Anticipation.

Arms (8 points)

  • Deflection (5/5) - Increases your chance to Parry by 5%. This is 5% of pure avoidance, so this is essential.
  • Improved Thunderclap (3/3) - If you have another Warrior in your raid who has this, you can skip it and put the points in Improved Heroic Strike for more rage efficiency. If not, pick this up -- it reduces the attack speed of anyone affected by 20%.

Fury (5 points)
  • Cruelty (5/5) - Increases your chance to crit by 5%. I can't think of a single build that doesn't pick this up, and for good reason -- even though you're not focusing on DPS, your threat generating abilities can crit, which means more threat for you.

Protection (48 points)
  • Anticipation (5/5) - Increases your defense skill by 20. As stated before, this is 3.2% avoidance and a 0.8% chance to not be crit.
  • Shield Specialization (5/5) - Increases your chance to block by 5%, and generates 1 rage when you block. Also a requirement for Improved Shield Block. Although Block isn't pure avoidance like Dodge or Parry, it will stop a crushing blow and reduce the damage you take.
  • Toughness (5/5) - Increases your armor value by 10%. Theorycrafters have showed that this scales with your life expectancy in a linear fashion (i.e. you'll live 10% longer with this talent).
  • Last Stand (1/1) - Grants 30% more health for 20 seconds. This is a fantastic panic button, but thanks to a much lower cooldown than your other panic buttons (like Shield Wall) can be used more often.
  • Improved Shield Block (1/1) - Your Shield Block skill now blocks an extra attack, and the effect lasts 1 second longer. With this talent you can always have Shield Block up, which is very important for avoiding crushing blows.
  • Defiance (3/3) - Increases your threat generation in Defensive Stance by 15% and gives you 6 expertise. The expertise portion will reduce the chance your attacks are dodged or parried by 1.5%, which is quite handy.
  • Improved Sunder Armor (3/3) - Reduces the rage cost of Sunder Armor and Devastate by 3. When combined with Focused Rage further down in the tree, Sunder Armor and Devastate will only cost 9 rage total.
  • Improved Taunt (1/2) - Kind of a filler talent. You can place this one somewhere else if you wish, but I like a reduced cooldown on Taunt just in case.
  • Improved Shield Wall (2/2) - Buys you an extra 5 seconds on your Shield Wall ability. This is a long cooldown, so 5 seconds may not seem like much, but when you've used Shield Wall you're normally pretty close to death -- just think about how many heals your raid can get off in 5 seconds.
  • Concussion Blow (1/1) - Stuns your target for 5 seconds. It's of limited use, but has its moments. It's also a prerequisite for Shield Slam, which we absolutely want.
  • Shield Mastery (3/3) - Increases the amount of damage your shield absorbs by 30%. You'll be blocking a lot, and this lets you take less damage when you do.
  • One Handed Weapon Specialization (5/5) - Increases the damage you deal when you have a 1 handed weapon equipped by 10%. That means more threat when you Devastate, Shield Slam, Heroic Strike, etc, so pick this one up.
  • Improved Defensive Stance (3/3) - Reduces spell damage taken by 6%. Not always useful, but against certain bosses works quite well.
  • Shield Slam (1/1) - Slams your target with your shield, causing damage modified by your shield block rating, dispels a magic effect, and creating a massive amount of threat for you. Use this whenever you can.
  • Focused Rage (3/3) - Reduces the rage cost of all your offensive abilities by 3. This covers almost every ability you'll use for tanking -- Devastate, Heroic Strike, Revenge, Shield Slam, Thunder Clap... the list goes on.
  • Vitality (5/5) - Increases your stamina by 5% and your strength by 10%. More health means you live longer, and more strength means more attack power and shield block rating (and thus increased threat and damage reduction).
  • Devastate (1/1) - Causes 50% weapon damage plus 35 (at the highest rank) for each stack of Sunder Armor you have on the target. Also causes the Sunder Armor effect, which has a lot of inherent threat on its own. Now that the two are combined, you get the threat from Sunder Armor and the threat from Devastate all for 9 rage a pop.

As with any spec, there are many ways to distribute the points. I feel this is the strongest damage reduction build you can get, but that doesn't mean it's the best build out there. Depending on how you spend your time, you may want to invest your points differently (in fact, if you're looking to do anything other than Main Tank a raid, I'd check out a different build).

That wraps up this edition of Build Shop, but I'll be back again next week! What do you want to see on Build Shop? Send me an email with your questions or comments, and we'll talk shop.

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