Tobold's Blog
Thursday, January 06, 2011
Warrior tanking in Cataclysm?

My "main" in Cataclysm is supposed to be my holy priest. I do like healing in dungeons. I'm just not currently getting anywhere with that priest: I'm 85 and all decked out in the best possible gear one could get from running "normal" dungeons, but my guild has a serious tank shortage, and I haven't finished a single "heroic" dungeon yet. I could try to pug heroics, but from all I hear that isn't really a good idea right now.

My warrior is already level 84, and that without questing. I only did a few Vashj'ir quests to get the seahorse, and some minor quests for opening the portals to the other new zones. I made some xp with collecting herbs, but the large majority of my xp came from doing archeology. I'm only skill level 300, but I have already nearly a thousand troll fragments in reserve. The idea is to level to 450 using only the other fragments, and then use all the troll fragments in the hope of getting the epic 2H sword, Zin'rokh - Destroyer of Worlds. And yes, I know, even with a thousand fragments I'll still need a good amount of luck to get that one. But hey, at level 84 with rest XP every time I find fragments I get 30k xp, so in 100 dig sites I'll be level 85.

At which point the question poses itself of what I want to do with that warrior. I hadn't really planned to run dungeons with him, but if tanks are in short supply, tanking might be my best option if I ever want to complete a heroic. I'm just not sure whether warrior tanking is any good in Cataclysm. In WotLK I always felt as if my warrior tank had a big red floating label over his head saying "GIMP", because tanking was so much easier for druids and paladins. But as my druid and paladin are still level 80, I can't yet say how this works out in this expansion.

Do you have any experience in warrior tanking in Cataclysm 5-man dungeons? Is it still horribly inefficient compared to paladins and druids? Or has Blizzard balanced warriors better in this expansion?
I haven't tanked a cata dungeon yet but I've run quite a few. I'm about 60/40 maybe even 70/30 on good vs. bad ones. It helps to have a raid mindset at this point. Meaning be ready to die but do what you can to win. Some groups are really great. Some, not so much.

Don't be timid Tobold, my friend. Sieze the day! I have no doubt that you are capable of not just healing a heroic but dealing with any lunatics that might come with such a situation. After all you have a highly visible blog on the web and as John Gabriel's greater internet d-wad theory states they're going to be out there no matter what you do. You can't avoid them.

Seriously though, I've had a couple of really great groups and it makes all the bad ones worth enduring to try and have a great group like that again. I hope you give it a try.
I have no experience with druid or paladin tanking, so can't really give you a comparison, except that I know that paladin rotation got more complicated and bear rotation got much more complicated. However, as far as warrior tanking is concerned, the Cata heroics really let you make use of the vast prot warrior toolkit to great effect, our mobility and the many clever things we can do (stuns, spell reflect, silence) can make quite a difference. Also, block as a mitigation mechanic and Shield Block the ability are quite powerful now and we got quite a respectable amount of self healing effects which help a lot. Plus you get to dish out some seriously serious damage.

In my opinion, warrior tanking in Cata heroics is great. Then again, I never had an issue with warrior tanking in Wrath either, which may be partly due to not being overly concerned with what's "easier" but with what's more fun (hey, I think there's this Tobold guy who wrote something on the topic recently!). So, YMMV, as always :)
I have been tanking heroics as a warrior. I don't feel particularly gimped but I haven't tanked with other classes.

The one real imbalance I can think of is that Paladins are great a pulling around CC with Avenger's Shield and we don't have anything equivalent.

Its a small thing and with the need for CC, at least for now, I don't fell really picked on by AE stuff.

Charge + Rend + Thunder Clap + Shock Wave is quite effective at AE tanking, the tanking cool downs are quick (2 Shield Wall and 3 minute Last Stand and ), Victory Rush, while unreliable is a huge heal when you can get it off (I believe mine is 36% of health after a kill, as its glyphed and I have self-healing specced), there is often enough room to use Intimidating Shout and you can work closely with a healer to conserve their mana adding another level of interest to the game.

While Heroics are hard on a level we haven't seen in WoW in a long time there are many opportunities to use all the tools in out kit.
Currently all the tanks are pretty well balanced.

I haven't heard of healers preferring any tank type in a heroic, except sometimes an aversoin to bears, since they really take more damage than other tanks when tanking multiple mobs.

In Cataclysm, warrior AoE threat has been buffed, fewer pulls are AoE (since you should be CCing), and Paladin tanks (my main) are incredibly jealous of their mobility and interrupts. Interrupting casts is *huge* in cataclysm 5 mans and raids, and both paladin interrupts are on the GCD and on long CDs, whereas to my knowledge warriors have the best interrupts of any tank.

If you play a warrior tank in 5 mans, your class will not gimp you in any way, provided you are open to using all of your abilities and tricks (since the warrior has a huge toolbox) to get the job done.
I haven't yet done heroics on my warrior but in tanking normals, it feels like pretty much the same as wotlk. Which to me doesn't mean anything bad.

On a target threat isn't an issue, on group pulls, threat isn't an issue unless some dps goes all out on some random unmarked mob.

Oddly on most group pulls I'm 2 or 3rd on damage done too. Which once again was how things were at the start of wotlk for me.

However, I can't compare it do any other tank classes myself. Really, the only thing that ever bothered me as a warrior was the cooldown on thunderclap. Made wave fights and even basic LoS pulls annoying. I think druid's swipe has a cooldown now too? (it did during one beta build). If not I am still jealous of druids. As far as pala and DKs? They have nice AE pluse, but can't control when it ticks, I like the control.

I think warriors have the most control of any tank class.

Heroic throw, and charge/leap>shield bash/disarm>intervene to pull in casters/archers to the group.

Taunt>spell reflect to keep agro on a ranged caster.

Concussion blow, shield bash, heroic throw, shockwave as casting/channeling interrupts

Disarm, concussion blow, shockwave, glyphed intimidating shout, shield block to reduce burst damage

Demoralizing shout, thunderclap, commanding shout to increase overall survivability of the entire group.

Shield block, Inner Rage to burst threat

Vigilance (which you can recast during combat!) to give near infinite taunts – Vigilance to me is like a priest’s lightwell, if used 100% effectively is overpowered.

Warbringer for quick charge back to combat if knocked back, or snared.

Intervene, Leap to quickly get out of damage zones

Berserkers Rage to remove CC

There are other boons like the synergy between regeneration and last stand and such but those are really “control” factors.

To put it into an example in Hall of Reflection most groups LoSed everything behind the walls, many people didn’t like taking warriors to HoR. Well LoS behind a wall in a place like HoR takes away a lot of a warriors control, and with a 6second cooldown on thunderclap it was easy to miss a mob as they were “running in.” Whenever, I went into HoR I stood in the entrance, at which point I could toss axes and zips around all over the place like a warrior is suppose ;p.
Consensus seems to be 'all the tanks are fine'. Paladins edge ahead on self-heal, but they lose a lot of mobility, so they win small, and lose big.

Damage reduction cooldowns. Use them, use them lots. Your healer is, without loss of generality, struggling for mana, and anything you can do to keep them from having to break out the expensive spells is going to mean mana to keep you alive in 1-2 minutes' time.

Personally, I like to see tank cooldowns the most in periods of high *group* damage, but that may be druid-specific.
I've been tanking a lot of heroics for my guild, although I only actually finished two, I think. My gear is about an even mix of 333 and 346 right now, and nicely gemmed and enchanted, which makes a big difference.

My favorite thing I learned about warriors is that you can make a macro which does charge/intercept on enemies and intervene when targeting friendlies. Warriors have strong single target aggro and are crazy good at moving around.

The main thing you need to learn about heroics is that this ain't Wrath (but you knew that already). As tank, you're expected to take the lead in figuring out what CC options you have available to you, and mark up the targets on each pull. Don't just charge in and expect to AOE tank the whole group -- actually dying is a bigger threat than losing aggro right now. But as long as you can CC one or two mobs out of the fight, everything's fine.
Warrior tanking has been pleasant compared to Wotlk. Although threat was apparently "nerfed," it feels easier to me. Especially with the Blood and Thunder talent, AOE threat is really not much of a problem anymore.
My main is a level 85 Warrior and I tank quite a lot of heroic dungeons with him and don't find it a problem. I think the class is actually very well balanced and some great abilities. I've never played a Druid, DK or Paladin tank though so I don't know how it compares but I've certainly never had anyone call me gimp or felt inadequate.

However, HCs are tough though and tanking comes with a huge amount of responsibility so expect people, especially from PUGs, to question your ability and gear quite a lot :(
If anything, it feels like warrior tanks are overpowered right now. I had the most skilled and fantastic warrior tank in heroic Shadowfang Keep last night. He generally pulled nearly 20k DPS on groups of mobs, had fantastic interrupts and spell reflects, control, threat and aggro management. And he "only" had heroic gear, no raid gear. Clearly he was a skilled individual, but I can't say I've seen any other tank come close to that level of DPS and control.
From what I've seen so far Paladin is the most simple class to tank with while a warrior needs someone who really knows the class and all it's abilities.

That means the "gogogo" warriors fail miserably if the rest of the party isn't severely overgeared.
I don't find a significant difference in healing the different tank classes. Probably my least favourite to heal is Death Knights because their health is more swingy than the others, but ultimately the balance seems pretty good.

As for healing random people through heroics, good play from one healer cannot carry a group anymore, so it's quite possible to find yourself in an unwinnable position. A great number of heroic bosses have mechanics that one-shot people if they don't play right. That being said I've found random groups to be successful more often than not. The easiest dungeons to carry as a healer (that is, force your group to win whether they want to or not) are Lost City and Vortex Pinnacle. By contrast, if your group plays wrong then no amount of good healing will get you through Stonecore.
Warrior tanks are seemingly very strong. Playing a holy priest I've found that there mitigation and ability to stay mobile and ontop of alot of trash mobs makes them extremely valuable to a group. I also prefer them becauese there mastery avoids dmg rather then awarding taking dmg(i.e. dk blood mastery).

Only downside to warrior is that there ability to maintain threat on targets at range is rather abysmal when compared to the other classes do to the longish cd's on a few of there abilities(however heroic throw when specced is a silence and has some pretty decent threat on it as an ability)
I've found warriors the hardest to heal. They seem to just take more damage than DKs and Paladins, and there are more fights where the warrior's DTPS is greater than my HPS, and there's nothing I can do but hope the DPS wins that race.

Death Knights can be spikey but they compensate by keeping aggro even when the mages and rogues are being naughty. Paladins are a breeze, and I haven't run into a bear yet.
It seems like all the tanks are currently viable. I would say that DKs have the hardest time tanking at the moment, in my experience they seem to be having trouble holding aggro.

I haven't run into any particular problems with warrior tanks in Cataclysm.
i suggest you queue with one or two dps from your guild (hopefully with TS for CCs), it will smooth the run to no limits.

As for tanking, i did most (only GB now) HCs, and it's really the player and not the class. As long as you mark and your DPS mind the marks, smooth runs. with gear you can even start to aoe trash like wotlk.

What is new (warrior or not) is that you HAVE to learn some bosses (like Ozruk or the dragon in vortex).

Go ahead and try, but i recommend strongly to use guildies in that run if you tank :-)
Don't take too much time with that Archaeology, they're changing it so you can't have more than 200 fragments per race.
I think it's on the PTR now, so it will be going live soonish.
I'm actually having a completely different experience. I've tanked for years but took a long break right about the time ruby sanctum came along. I'm finding keeping threat is a bit of a nightmare, I charge in, rend and mobs go everywhere before I can get a tclap off, I got dps doing 25k and on trash they pull off me alot. I tank bosses ok and have tanked in raids but I have yet to have a good experience tanking in 5 man heroics so far. Mind you latency is a bit of an issue being in Aus and transferring to a US server and I'm gemmed and reforged for survivability not threat but I find after being a dependable tank in BC and Wrath I'm back to being a noob tank again like I was in vanilla. It's really putting a damper on this new expansion for me.
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