Home > Eldoric's Blog, Player Blogs > Picking A Tank: Warrior

Picking A Tank: Warrior

When All Magic Fails, Rely Upon Three Feet Of Steel And A Strong Arm

I will be writing a series of articles geared towards helping a new player pick the tanking class that is right for him or her.  With that idea in mind, I will be attempting to keep them simple, accessible and as balanced as I possibly can while covering the two critical areas of the ‘feel’ of the tank and the play style. With this, we will begin with the first tank in the World of Warcraft, the granddaddy of them all: The Protection Warrior.

Ask yourself on simple question: Do you want to be Batman? If the answer is ‘Yes’ then the way of the warrior might be for you.

I will now explain.

Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF):

I AM BATMAN

Batman is the one classic superhero that has no powers but is somehow relevant. He matches wits with far more powerful enemies while only relying on his honed skills, intelligence and personal metal to carry him through to victory. Strangely enough, a warrior tank is exactly the same way. They are not guarded by the holy light like a paladin. They can not call upon the forces of death to protect them, nor transform into a magical beast of destruction. They have a weapon, a shield, and that is about it. And it is enough.

The ‘FEEL’ of the Protection Warrior.

The Positive: Protection warriors have a very unique feel among the tanking classes.  It is a very heavy visceral feel.  When you hit shield slam you do get the sense that your character is taking a 30 pound piece of metal and hitting his opponent across the face with devastating effect.  When you hit charge you rush along to see your target get pounded by the full weight of your armor.  When you hit revenge or heroic strike the idea that your chosen class is actually hunting for an opening in their counterparts defenses in order to land a crippling blow is satisfying. The general point I am trying to get to here is that a Warrior tank is simply a man (or orc, dwarf, worgen, ect) executing battle tested well trained and practiced moves.  Only thunderclap really moves away from the idea of not having any ‘magic’ abilities but that ability still falls into the realm of a pure blunt force like almost all of the Warrior’s toolkit.  The Warrior really has the feeling that what they are doing could actually be done in the real world (more or less).

And Boom Goes The Dynamite

The Negative: The only real issue you have with the feel of the warrior tank is that you get very little ‘eye candy’ when playing as one when compared to most other tanks.  When a warrior tank hits shield wall as their big save-me-cool-down you get four little shields circling you for about three seconds and that is it.  Unlike a Paladin, which summons a glowing king that bathes you in protective light.  When you hit shield block your shield will put out one little pulse of light in comparison to a Death Knight getting in circled by whirling bones.  Your primary threat move (revenge) is the same animation as heroic strike.  Devastate, another primary threat move, does have a sword pop over your opponent’s head and makes the most annoying sound in the game.  All-in-all, if you like visional flare, you will not be getting it from the Warrior.

The Play Style:

The play style of the warrior tank is best described as: GO GO GO GO GO!!!!!  There is always a button to push.  You are in a constant state of leveling out threat, damage, survivability, and mobility.  This creates a very satisfying feeling when you are tanking.  You are the man (or woman) on the move.  This also makes for some great timing choices for the warrior.  A global cooldown is a global cooldown.  Do you hit this button here or that button there.  Do you wait to do x or go ahead and forget about y.  This functionally makes the protection Warrior very fun to play.  You will not have to wait for something to do.

I would be remiss if I did not mention one of the most iconic aspects of being a protection Warrior: Mobility.  You can move more as a warrior than any other tank.  Need to get to a mob over there, no problem.  Now you need to get back here, too easy.  Got to kit a boss, simple.  Charge, intervene, intercept, heroic leap make the Warrior tank feel like he or she can be in all places at once and control every facet of the encounter.  When I play any other of my tanks I always miss the utility the warrior has with movement.  Only the druid comes close, and it is not even half as mobile as the Warrior.  If you want to move then a warrior is the way you want to go.

The Negative:  The downside is that you have to do a lot to add up to what other tanks are doing using a few less buttons.  Also, you sometimes feel like you are hitting a whole lot for not much reason at all.  Does hitting devastate 3 minutes into a fight really matter?  I mean, the sunder debuff has been up since about 20 seconds into the fight and you are extremely far ahead on threat.  You could just forget about that sword and board proc because it is just damage (not saying damage from a tank is not important but that is the stomping grounds of other roles).  You can get this feeling of running in circles at times as a Warrior tank.  This can become very noticeable during longer boss fights.  It is the price the Warrior has to pay in order to have so many buttons at his or her disposal.

Yes. Warriors Look And Feel Awesome

Continuing, the warrior tank has very little feedback into their own survivability.  I am not talking cooldowns.  All tanks have those.  What I am talking about is that the warrior has the least amount of active/reactive mitigation in the game when it comes to tanking.  I will explain this a bit more so it is clear.  A Paladin can build holy power and use it on a timely Word of Glory to heal him/herself for a good amount.  A druid builds lacerate stacks then consumes them to get a strong crit buff, which feeds back into their absorbing shield called Savage Defense.  A Death Knight uses Death Strike (alot) to heal and create an absorbing shield.  The Warrior does not really have anything like this.  So the vast majority of the time you are just hitting buttons because you have buttons to hit.  To be fair, the Warrior does have things like disarm and spell reflect, which can be used to increase survivability, but you will find they are lacking when compared to the other tanks.  This is going to changing in the next expansion since Blizzard has announce that they want all tanks to move up in the active mitigation department.

Wrapping Up:

Protection Warriors are a fun, mobile and classic class to play if you want to dive into the world of tanking.  If the idea of relying on yourself without the aid of magic or other forms of abnormal power combined with a fast paced play style appeals to you.  Well, grabbing some armor and a one-hander may be in your future.  Go get them, Batman!

Eldoric

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  1. November 15, 2011 at 11:30 am

    Excellent as always Eldoric. As a Dk tank thats gone through T11 and T12 content, I can honestly say there are times when I wish I could “move” better. I still love my orc DK but am leveling a Belf warrior just to mix things up. At some point I will be going prot but I really want to level as much as I can as a DPSer (I dont intend to run dungeons and would rather quest if I can help it). Thing is, I cant for the life of me decide between arms and fury. The idea of dual wielding 2 handers is appealing but it comes so late in the game that I wonder if its even worth the effort. Arms on the other hand does seem to have a tactical feel that I admire. Which of the two would make the leveling process quicker?

    Keep up the great work.

    PS: If it helps,I have all heirlooms save for the weapons.

  2. November 22, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    Hellstrider,

    I hate to do the lazy answer by saying pick the one you think you will like the most, but that really is the answer to the question. To be fair, here are the main differences between the two. Arms is all about timing. Getting the right strikes off at the right time and managing the cooldowns. Fury is about maintaining an enraged state as much as possible and maximizing dps when in that state. Think about what you would like to do and go for it.

    Eld

  3. November 26, 2011 at 3:10 am

    Very well-done post, Eld. You summarize what it means to be a warrior very well.

    I have to say that I, for one, think the “push ALL THE BUTTONS” mentality of the warrior is one of the upsides. Not only because I like to push buttons (a lot!), but also because the play style matches the feel of the warrior. You will try everything and anything to come out of combat victorious. It is extremely satisfying to really FEEL your warrior go all out on an enemy (because YOU do the same with your keyboard).
    An example for this would be tank switching (I especially see it with Ragnaros…probably because there’s not much else to do). I get my debuffs rolling (only Sunder because I tank with a pally, who lazily can put the necessary debuffs on the target while doing a normal “rotation” — maybe another downside to the warrior is that you have to apply everything actively?) and bunker my rage (another “downside” of warriors and druids, at least while leveling, is rage management) until it’s my turn. Once the boss is taunted, I hit EVERYTHING I can to surpass the other tank (who most of the time has Misdirect or Tricks rolling at that point — poor planning of DPS), using every possible way to hurt the enemy while charging around the battlefield (Intervening the other tank is pure gold).

    Another thing that might be viewed as a downside is AoE tanking. Thunderclap and Shockwave have to be planned more so than the other tanks’ AoE tanking abilities due to their cooldowns and restrictions (a large group will not be held by Cleave, Inner Rage or no). While I personally like this, I catch myself snarling when I think “how easy it is for the other tanks.”

    The only thing that’s missing is, as you mentioned, the active mitigation part. While you feel very active on the aggressive, you really don’t seem to be doing a lot for your defense. Shield Block CAN be macro’d to Shield Slam (and if you use it smartly, even without any detriment) and the only other defensive ability that feels involved is Rallying Cry (which is hilarious to use on Baleroc to kill the other tank, btw). But you mentioned that this will be somewhat remedied in MoP (and I’m looking forward to our equivalent of involvement to Death Strike).

    TL;DR: I love the feel of my warrior and would never trade it for any other tank. I’ve tried them. They won’t do.

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