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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Prot PvP

Matthew Rossi

The Care and Feeding of Warriors is's column about how to weave colorful flower arrangements. We may also talk about warriors, to be honest I woke up this morning after about four hours of whacking gigantic undead spider things with a shield and I had no idea what my name was anymore or what I was doing. I think I may be the Kwisatz Haderach... or maybe just William Lee.

Okay, this time let me just say that the past two weeks have been kind of a small revelation for me, in that I have reluctantly done things like play a lot of Warsong Gulch and done 2v2 and 3v3 arena matches. I did these in my prot spec, which I usually consider a full PvE spec, I didn't even tweak it for PvP.

I crushed fools. Please, keep in mind I am not good at PvP. I'm not one of those warriors who will brag often about how awesome he is in Arenas (because I'm not) and as far as battlegrounds are concerned, well, I enjoy them but I don't really think going to Alterac Valley and tanking Drek and his Warmasters counts as PvP. Fun, yes. Lots of fun. It's sort of hilarious when people keep asking "Who's tanking?" in AV and someone else will notice my health and the shield I have on and volunteer me for the job.

Prot offers you a means to survive against casters, to shut down an enemy player for a solid amount of time, to withstand gib attempts and it even has solid burst damage potential if properly geared for.

Now, my Arena experience with prot is limited to a few dozen matches at this point, mostly in 2's with a few 3's thrown in. However, in Arena PvP I'm noticing I get better results when I gear for strength via a mix of PvP and tanking gear, and block value doesn't hurt at all. I generally PvP with between 2600 and 3000 BV buffed, which isn't too hard to arrange since my regular tanking set already has 2100 SBV anyway. Slap on the T9 tank legs, a couple of Ulduar tank pieces and a lot of high STR gear and you're ready to go.

My purpose in arenas seems to be shutting down the DPS. When doing 2's I usually run with a mage, so his job is to keep the healer incapacitated long enough for me to work on the DPS, although sometimes this switches around and I'm assigned the healer to harass. While my damage output isn't terrible when geared for strength, I'm still not actually there for killing power, but rather to serve as a general incapacitator/irritant. To a degree the past months working on Faction Champions have helped sharpen my awareness of my silences and stuns and how best to use them: turning myself away from the sheep to hit Shockwave is almost second nature to me now.

What I really like about PvPing as prot is the control the spec has. Even with a very heavily stacked strength/block value set (which I don't recommend) you're never really going to match the damage output of an arms or fury warrior (although you could get some nice burst from a Shield Slam crit) but with Warbringer, Shield Bash with Gag Order (Heroic Throw that silences? Yes please.) Spell Reflect, Shockwave and Concussion Blow you have a warrior spec that's finally capable of dealing with casters. No longer are warriors basically a free kill to anything in a dress that wanders by. In my opinion 80% of the crying of a warrior ability being OP comes from people who are used to being able to see that warrior icon and immediately cackling in glee at the idea of being able to boil you like a poached egg inside your own armor. It's fair to say that a caster who comes up against a prot warrior who is even remotely paying attention to what he or she is doing will no longer have quite so fast and amusing a time... as the warlock who jumped me outside of Wintergrasp discovered.

Prot's strength in PvP is in combining all of the tools to keep enemies locked down/incapacitated. It's basically the ultimate manifestation of tanking as a form of CC, because you basically tank your opponents. You don't have taunt, so you can't force them to attack you, no, but you have so many other forms of silence/stun that you can keep them from attacking anyone else. (Two ranks in Improved Spell Reflection are magical in PvP. In fact, while I don't always bother with Imp SR for tanking, for PvP the talent is almost mandatory for a prot spec.)

Again, I'm no expert, I'm just starting to get serious about PvPing as prot. (In fact, expect to see a more detailed post in a few weeks as I get my 5's team together and start working on that aspect of the game.) But while for arenas prot is certainly viable now, for BG's and Wintergrasp I find prot to be by far my most satisfying game experience, so much more so than arms or fury (and yes, even taking Bladestorm into account) I'd recommend prot to all warriors who can get a decent set of high strength gear together. For most BG's, I wear my full prot set (occasionally I swap in a PvP trinket but honestly I prefer having my two tanking trinkets instead most of the time) and just make a nuisance of myself. Things prot warriors are very, very good at in BG's:

  • Defending any sort of clickable objective. Is it the flag at the Lumber Mill, Iceblood Tower, or even the great big titan relic in WG? Put yourself in front of it and use Thunder Clap, Shockwave and Intimidating Shout liberally. Spell Reflect as often as you can, pop all your defensive cooldowns once you see your health dropping. People will swear, curse your name, and sometimes even create a toon to bitch you out on your home server. (The Titan Relic is pretty easy to click, though, so don't be too disappointed if they get it anyway.)
  • Stealthers. You have access to shouts, AoE's and Rend. Make use of all of them. Flush out those cowards and then sit on their butts. Don't be afraid to switch stances to Hamstring. Hope the rogue doesn't dismantle before stunning you, though. That hurts.
  • Tanking anything that needs to be tanked. You mostly see this in AV, but there's annoying mobs in Wintergrasp as well.
  • Creating a bottleneck. Against smart players this is much harder, but if you can catch a group of zerging players and get them annoyed enough with you, you can eat a lot of damage (especially if you're being healed) and keep them away from an objective. That's right, prot warriors, occasionally it's good to fight on the road. Be smart about it, though, don't let the enemy cap things while you're messing about. The goal is to force them to play dumb, not to play dumb yourself.
  • Flag carrying. Doesn't really need a lot more details, does it?
  • Anti-melee capacity. With the exception of a well played rogue (who can take away your shield and weapon and make you stand around and let things hit you, negating dodge and parry) there's pretty much no melee class in the game that you can't completely mess with. Try to avoid another tank, though. You'll both just end up feeling silly. But go after ret pallies, DPS DK's and arms/fury warriors with abandon. (And please remember to try and SR pally and DK spells - it is extra hilarious to see a DK Chains of Ice himself.)
The next time I discuss prot PvP (depending on when patch 3.3 starts) I'll talk in more depth about gearing (for now, think a mix of PvP and tank gear aiming for high strength if possible) and tactics I see working.

Check out more strategies, tips and leveling guides for Warriors in Matthew Rossi's weekly class column: The Care and Feeding of Warriors.

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