Protection Warriors After the Cataclysm


What Everyone Needs To Know About Warrior Tanks

For those who don’t associate these words, this is a post about World of Warcraft warriors, ya’ll can probably stop reading right about here. For those who keep on reading, a few disclaimers. First off, I don’t pretend to know everything, and you should certainly feel free to take my thoughts with a grain of salt. This is going to be Warrior Tanking according to Bûbba, if you are looking for the best in slot, uber theory craft, you probably already know where to find the Elitist Jerks or Tankspot – I am not them. Second, I approach the topic with a great respect for individuality. This is what works for me, if it doesn’t work for you, I don’t reckon that means my approach is broken, nor does it mean you aren’t a good player; we likely have significantly different play styles, run instances or raids with significantly different teams, or something along those lines.

I’m primarily documenting this for the fifty to sixty people that I regularly enjoy running with, of which the majority tend to ask me the same question, “How do you do it?”; or some variation of the same. I’m not a hardcore raider, and might only see one raid a week, if time permits. I spend a lot more time investing in Player versus Player with my brother, my kids, and two or three other close friends. At best, that probably makes me a mediocre raid tank; but I can guarantee that I don’t run a 5-man instance, heroic or normal, without managing to impress it upon the group that I know what I am doing and capable of shrugging off the punishment without my DPS or Heals wondering if they can rely on the tank.

Something Changed

Truth be told, a lot of things changed in this expansion, and it doesn’t appear that all of the dust has fully settled quite yet. That being said, there are some specific things that changed that everyone in a group with a Warrior tank needs to be aware of. Threat generation tends to be the most significant change. Back in the day, I could walk up, hit the bad guy, and never again concern myself with whether someone would pull agro off me, even when pulling multiple mobs, I rarely worried about one getting bored with me and walking off. These days, if you are looking for group agro, you just can’t beat a Deathknight or Paladin, them boy’s have all the tools and do an excellent job of it! Warriors can still manage a crowded battlefield, but it take a bit more more and focus to do so.

This is due to the way Vengeance works in tandem with our threat generation; over time, we generate some absurd threat. So warrior’s tend to excel more at single target agro – that means I need to hit the mob once or twice to establish a solid agro base. DPS needs to be careful to use misdirection initially, and not fully open up in the first few seconds of the fight. It also means focusing fire, don’t exhaust your warrior tank on the trash pulls because you don’t have the time or willingness to find the SKULL and just tabbed over to the next target. Work together, not against your tank. Heals also probably need to be a bit careful in the first few hits not to pull agro from healing; I’m a tank .. I can take a few hits … if I can’t, we weren’t going to survive this battle anyway.


Another significant impact has been the changes to stat priorities. Defense is gone, Armor Penetration is gone, Stamina is cheaper than ice in Alaska, hit and expertise rating don’t mean much (to a warrior tank), and stamina is cheaper than ice in Alaska. The short version, if you have a warrior tank that is gemming or enchanting for stamina, you probably want to politely look for another tank – avoidance and mitigation are where the tanks bread and butter are for survivability. Here’s a quick look at Bubba’s priorities, and then I will go into a little bit of detail on why it is so.

Mastery > (Dodge or Parry) > (Agility or Strength) > Hit > Expertise > Crit

What about Stamina?

It is cheap. It is on every piece of gear you will ever possibly pick up. There is no need to prioritize Stamina, you will have plenty, more than you need in comparison to our other stats. Stop stressing about it, this is no longer Wrath of the Lich King.


For the Protection Spec warrior, Mastery converts directly into BLOCK, with no worry about diminishing returns. Every time I block, I avoid 30% of the incoming damage. Couple a high Mastery rating with Shield Block and you can get very close to ensuring that 30% damage reduction for 10 seconds out of every 30 seconds and I still get a lot of damage reduction during the other 20% of the time. A quick way to think of damage reduction – it is health I don’t need and mana that my healer doesn’t have to use.

Dodge or Parry

The theory crafters continue to play with how Hold the Line affects the balance between Parry and Dodge, so a tank who is favoring Parry over Dodge is right out there on the cutting edge, and you can probably assume he has a grasp of how to play. I’m of the opinion that they are currently equally valuable. This is primarily due to the effect of Diminishing Returns, which restated in laymen’s terms means something along the (hypothetical) lines of “If it took 100 Dodge rating to get 1% dodge, it will take an additional 200 Dodge rating (for a total of 300 dodge) to get 2% dodge.” As you can see, itemizing, gemming, enchanting, or reforging gets exponentially more expensive as you get more of one or the other. So, if my Dodge is lower than my my Parry, it is more cost effective to get more Dodge, and if my Parry is lower, it becomes the most cost effective.

This leads directly into our next conversation, where you want a tank that has both Strength and Agility! Why? I’ll let you read below, where I treat it in more detail.


Tanks desire to be unhittable, or at least, as close to unhittable as they can possibly get. We don’t have the nifty little Defense stat to track any longer, but we do have an “unhittable” target, which is basically found by adding up % chance to Block + Parry + Dodge. It is easy, just open up your character sheet, look under Defense, and add them up. The soft cap is 72.4% for protection warriors (because we have cool abilities that stack into this for us) … the tougher number to reach is 102.4% to compensate for the three level difference between you and level 88 raid boss.

Here is a handy macro that will quickly tell you where you stand:

/run b=GetBlockChance() d=GetDodgeChance() p=GetParryChance() m=5 if UnitRace("player")=="Night Elf" then m=m+2 end a=m+d+p+b 

Agility or Strength

Agility provides the Protection Warrior with additional Dodge (and crit), while Strength gives us additional Parry. Sure, some attack power comes with Strength of us as well, but I get my Attack Power from Vengeance, I don’t need more of that. So, based on how the gear progression is going, a protection warrior will likely break the old rules that believe Agility is of no use to Tank, and shoot for a piece of gear with Agility on it in order to better manage his Dodge and Parry. To reiterate, your decision to equip a piece based on Agility or Strength needs to be informed by your Dodge/Parry needs as opposed to making the decision based on anything else.

Hit / Expertise / Crit

Once you have everything else sorted out, you can worry about threat generation. The short story here is that way have plenty of threat generation abilities and tools available to us. A competent warrior working with a competent team will have no issues managing threat. However, it is nice to ensure those interrupts hit, and more threat is always nice. So shoot for the soft caps here … if you have everything else taken care of. I don’t even know what the soft caps are .. you would have to go Google them yourself.


Things have changes significantly. I’m not even sure how these changes affect other tanks (Deathknights and Bears can’t equip a shield, they don’t block, I have no clue how they survive) – but I am fairly certain of how the Warrior has been affected and if you run with a warrior, you need to be aware of that too. If you are a warrior, and that Agility piece is an upgrade, roll on it – don’t take any grief for it either. You should certainly encourage your team to get educated, and invest in them … but if they refuse to come to terms with a new world, post Cataclysm, they probably aren’t the crew that you want to be running with.


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