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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Why you should tank in 5.4

Matthew Rossi

Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Care and Feeding of Warriors, the column dedicated to arms, fury and protection warriors. Despite repeated blows to the head from dragons, demons, Old Gods and whatever that thing over there was, Matthew Rossi will be your host.

Sometimes, you just want to write a simple column with an easy to answer premise. The idea for today's column came when I was tanking LFR early this morning, something I do to keep my hand in tanking now that I'm a DPS warrior. We had an extremely hairy moment on Lei Shen when the other tank mis-timed the hammer throw and got gibbed and I had to move Lei Shen to the other pillar very quickly. So I intervened out to a caster, then heroic leaped to the next pillar while hoping someone would battle res the other tank (they did). We got Lei Shen down, which was nice, but it got me thinking about tanking for warriors in 5.4.

There are quite a few adjustments for protection in 5.4, which we covered last week. So this week I asked myself a simple question: should warriors who have given up tanking, or who have never tanked, give tanking a shot in 5.4? And the answer is yes, they should. Now, we could just say "Great, glad to have that answered" and go about our days, but then we'd be stuck with the smallest column ever, and those of you who've gotten used to me are probably aware that I don't do small columns.

Besides, I have multiple reasons why you should give tanking a chance if you are a warrior.

The Care and Feeding of Warriors Tanking in 54
So, why should you take up or return to tanking in 5.4? Here are a few reasons.

Some of our issues have been fixed

I say some because it's impossible to say all of them are - we're still tanking in the Mists of Pandaria landscape, when some classes have ludicrous self healing and/or the ability to totally avoid certain fight mechanics. But it should still be noted that we're looking at the following positive changes for protection warriors:
  • Revenge will now be generating 20 rage, up from 15.
  • Shield Slam and Devastate will now also be able to proc Enrage. That means a chance for an extra 10 rage on each of those abilities.
  • Ultimatum now activates from critical hits with Shield Slam instead of a flat 20% chance, and the ability will make the next Heroic Strike or Cleave be a critical hit in addition to costing no Rage.
  • Riposte is a new passive ability learned by Protection Warriors at level 76. When the Warrior dodges or parries any attack, they gain 75% of their Parry and Dodge as an additional bonus to Critical Strike for 20 seconds.
  • Deep Wounds damage is increased by 65%, which is good for us because of Blood and Thunder. B&T applies Deep Wounds with our Thunder Clap.
  • Blood and Thunder will now also buff Thunder Clap damage by 50%. So TC will do more damage directly and it will do more periodic damage with Deep Wounds.
What this adds up to for protection warriors is two fold. First off, at a time when Vengeance scaling on multiple mobs is being toned down, our AoE is going up. In addition, since we should be enraged more often (not just when we critically block, like now) we should see a DPS increase from Enrage's 10% damage buff. Finally, with the extra rage from Revenge and the potential of extra rage from the Enrages off of Devastate and Shield Slam, we'll have more rage to spend on Shield Block and Shield Barrier, which should increase our survivability in the active mitigation, rage is life world we find ourselves in now.

I don't expect we'll prioritize dodge or parry much higher than we do now - hit and expertise still offer better survival options since they mean smoother rage flow and thus more active mitigation. But we were already the tanks who got more active mitigation out of those stats thanks to Revenge anyway - we don't have to curse when we see dodge or parry on gear, compared to other plate tanks.

It's indisputable that we are going to do more damage in 5.4. Will it be enough to lift us out of the basement of tanking damage? I don't know yet, but that leads to my second reason you should tank in 5.4.

The more warrior tanks we have in 5.4 the better for warriors

We need warriors in 450 gear tanking, warriors in 463 gear tanking, warriors in 476 gear tanking. We need warriors trying out weird crit-heavy tank gear options. We need warriors playing around with the redesigned Enraged Regeneration and Impending Victory talents at all levels of gear. We need warriors soloing as protection, tanking flex, doing heroic modes, and especially tanking normal modes and LFR. We need this because it is in all these levels of play that specific flaws shake out, and those flaws are important because the echo chamber of the community will leap on them as a reason not to bring a warrior tank to a dungeon or raid.

As important as sims are, real players playing their warriors at whatever gear and skill level they happen to be at is very important for the health of the class as a whole. The absolute top players aren't really good indicators because they will find ways to maximize their class advantages and compensate for their weaknesses - it's in seeing how the class does from the highest to the lowest that we can determine what's good and what's not good. This means we need people doing the role, or you can't really say what's great or not great about it.

And this leads us to the third reason you should tank as a warrior in patch 5.4.

People need to see warriors out there tanking

When I tank an LFR, I get "Huh, a warrior tank" or "Warriors still tank?" fairly often. I have only ever once been in an LFR with another warrior tank. When I tank heroic dungeons, people are often surprised to see a warrior tanking - several times now, if there was a paladin or DK DPS in the group, someone has asked if they were going to switch and tank because warriors are terrible tanks. I've done what I could to stop that kind of talk (I've never had to let anyone tank for me, or had even a remotely hard time tanking a heroic, not even back when my gear was poor) but the fact remains, the game community has a problem with letting perception trump reality. People hear that warriors aren't as good at tanking H Horridon, and start thinking that warriors can't tank Gate of the Setting Sun, which is absurd.

We need warriors out there tanking to trump that perception. There are still a reasonable amount of protection warriors, and with the buffs to our rage income and damage output, this is probably a good time for you to start tanking again if you've let yourself drift off for other classes. Tank heroics. Tank LFR. If your guild needs a fill in tank, let yourself be that fill in tank. If you're already tanking, of course, you don't need to be told any of this.

Warrior tanking is still going to be what it has been in terms of how it plays, which is still fairly solid (it could use some quality of life improvements in terms of mobility, since we've lost a step in that department) but it should be interesting to see how these changes play out. And now is the time for you to help us all make that discovery, by strapping on a shield and hitting things in the face with it.
At the center of the fury of battle stand the warriors: protection, arms and fury. Check out more strategies and tips especially for warriors, from hot issues for today's warriors to Cataclysm 101 for DPS warriors and our guide to reputation gear for warriors.

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