How I’m playing Protection in 4.0

I’ve been experimenting a bit with Protection in the current patch. We’re done with raiding until the expansion and my desire to tank in PUG raids is approximately zero, so I’ve been running a few heroics. (Also mad props to Ele who said, “Lets try some heroics” and queued us straight up for HoR. This is what we call the ‘in at the deep end’ approach.)

Summary: The sky is not falling. AE threat is down across the board for all tanks, but warriors play hasn’t changed greatly. It’s mostly a few tweaks rather than a complete overhaul. Plus you can get some pretty amazing numbers out of Shield Slam. I’m still adapting but definitely still finding it fun.

The only way I adapt to less AE threat is by apologising for poor threat in random instances. But I don’t mean it :) And in Cataclysm when mobs start hitting harder I’ll get back into marking and requesting CC.

Live by the shield, die by the shield

The protection spec is now very oriented towards shield type moves, with lots of boosts for shield block and shield slam. It is now possibly to get some insanely large shield slam crits, especially if you tank in dps gear which you can also do now that we get crit proof from talents. Tankspot has a shield slam bragging thread so I know I’m not the only one who’s dazzled by the big numbers! If you want to test this then wait for a Hold the Line Proc, hit Shield Block and any of your dps trinkets, and then Shield Slam.

Feedback from healers is that I’m easy to heal. Feedback from dps is gogogo. Feedback from me is that threat is more of an issue, but I’m not finding it a major deal except in special cases such as the event in HoS where there’s no real time to build rage up – I think with more practice in managing rage I’d handle this better.

My current spec and thoughts on talents

This is my current spec. (The goal of this spec is to generate huge shield slam crits.) Many of the talents I discuss below are still being discussed in the community at the moment.

Blood and Thunder: I’m not enthralled with this one. Rend doesn’t generate a lot of threat anyway, maybe this would work better for Arms specs or in a raid but trash mobs in instances don’t stay up that long and Thunderclap + Shockwave plus some cleaves and glyphed revenges will be better bang for your buck than slinging rend around.

Incite: Heroic Strike is no longer spammable (thank goodness) and I’m still getting the hang of how to manage rage, but I still think this is more useful than blood and thunder.

Hold the Line: Parry is now your very best friend. Shame it doesn’t work on spells.

Shield Mastery: Reduced timer on shield block is nice. The rest is a bonus. Bear in mind you now use glyph of shield wall to increase the cooldown and increase the amount absorbed.

Shield spec: Not really finding rage to be an issue but need to put the points somewhere.

Bastion of Defense: This is your new anti-crit ability. Compulsary.

Impending Victory: I tried it and wasn’t really impressed with the numbers. Sounds cooler than it is.

Vigilance: Probably mostly a raid talent now, to be put on off-tanks. I find it useful to stick on the most aggro-y dps in heroics at the moment and then make good use of all the free taunts.

Thunderstruck: Way better for AE threat than blood and thunder imo. Note that it stacks three times but you have to spam Thunderclap to do that.

Arms: Field Dressing — this is why healers find me fairly straightforwards to heal at the mo.

Fury: Cruelty — Moar shield slam crits!!

(Blood Craze will probably be ace for levelling and I may swap points from cruelty to blood craze when the expansion drops. Unless I decide to level in Arms spec, which seems really really fun atm from my first forays.)

Glyphs

Warrior glyphs are pretty lame and you won’t get a lot of choice.

Prime:

Shield Slam (yay for more shield slam damage!)
Revenge
Devastate (will be your main filler)

Major:
Heroic throw: Heroic throw applies a stack of sunder.
Shield wall: Shield wall cooldown increases by 2 mins but it reduces a lot more damage (60% instead of 40%)
Long charge: charge range increased
You might want to glyph for cleave for better AE threat. Thunderclap (increases range) is another possibility but I’ve avoided that because of issues with breaking CC.

Minor:

Berserker rage: adds 5 rage whenever you use it. Handy for emergency rage generation

Battle/ Command/ Demo — increase range and duration of shouts. Pick whichever.

Warriors do however have the best named glyph in the game which is “glyph of bloody healing”, sadly it’s for fury though.

Rotation/ Priority

Very similar to usual except with less heroic strike. That is to say, protection uses a priority attack system and not a fixed rotation. I’m sure as we all get more practice we’ll get a feel for where it’s worth trying to fit HS in but generally use it when you have a full rage bar.

Shield Slam –> HS –> Revenge -> Devastate (single target)

Shockwave->Thunderclap-> Cleave (AE) (if you use blood and thunder you’ll want to weave rend in as well. Remember if you have thunderstruck you can stack the thunderclaps for more of a shockwave buff.)

Rage — shouts now give rage. Demo shout also still has some threat attached so you can shout and then charge for some starting rage. I like the berserker rage glyph for some extra emergency rage too.

Stats and Reforging: If you’re raiding it will probably be worth indulging in some reforging (if needed) to cap out expertise and hit. If you’re not, I wouldn’t bother, all the equipment will shortly be moot anyway. I haven’t done any reforging myself to gain extra mastery — not inclined to mutilate my gear until some number crunchers have worked out the optimal strategy first.

(You’ll notice that I have zero interest in gear optimisation but that I do quite enjoy experimenting with new talents and specs on my own. That’s my gameplay preference, and I’m glad for anyone who prefers things the other way around because I can steal their gear cribsheets later.)

What announcements would you like to see from Blizzcon?

So how is patch 4.0.1 treating everyone? I had to do a complete reinstall so haven’t had a lot of time to check out the actual patch itself.

I did wander into Thrall’s throneroom in time to catch a conversation between Thrall, Garrosh, Vol’jin and Eitrigg in which Thrall informs them that he’s going to Nagrand to investigate elemental issues and leaving Garrosh in charge.  I was too dozy to take screenshots, but a poster on mmo-champion captured more of the event.

In any case, Blizzcon is next  weekend (Oct 22-23), which is the traditional venue for Blizzard to make any large announcements about upcoming expansions and products. I think it’s expected that they’ll unveil the launch cinematic for Cataclysm and at least one more class for Diablo III (paladin perhaps).

But is there any other announcement that you would like to see?

I’m hoping for a lot more information about the online/ battle.net side of Diablo III. I’d like to see some kind of an auction house, and to see whether they are going to deliberately converge it more with MMO type playing styles. After all, hanging around in battle.net chat until you find a group for Scene X isn’t all that different logistically from hanging out in Dalaran while you wait for LFG to zone you into an instance …

[WoW] How to play your class in the 4.0 world

So it’s patch week, and this patch contains all the Cataclysm class changes. And if you’re wondering how to spec or glyph in this brave new world, plenty of bloggers have chipped in to help out.

Jaded Alt has a compilation of class guides here.

MMO Melting Pot has also gone through a similar exercise and picked out their favourite guides for each class and spec.

There have never really been many active DPS warrior bloggers so it’s not surprising that Arms/ Fury specs are not well represented in the lists. I imagine most Fury warriors will stick with Titan’s Grip (since they already have two 2-handed weapons) for now though.

[Cataclysm] On being replaced by a pet

The Public Test Realms are now up with patch 4.0.1, which means that even slackers who aren’t in the Cataclysm beta will get an early chance to see the new class and talent tree designs.

If you find this PTR and patch 4.0 business puzzling, all you need to know is that before each previous expansion there have also been many class changes. Blizzard patches the class changes into the live game before the expansion. And no, we don’t know when although November 2nd is the current hot guess for Cataclysm. (Not saying this is set in stone, although I don’t think Boubouille has been wrong before.)

One of the more interesting changes is that the hunters’ pets have had a revamp. Each different type of pet will now be able to provide a different raid buff. And that raid buff will be exactly the same as a player of appropriate class could provide. This includes Bloodlust/ Heroism (which could be provided in future by a Corehound, available to Beastmaster specced hunters.)

Even a trained corehound could do that!

It’s ironic that one of the standard complaints about raiding (usually from non raiders) is “Even a trained monkey could learn to do that!” in a game where the actual trained monkeys are often more useful and easier to control than the players. A pet doesn’t have to worry about getting out of the fire in WoW, for example – they automatically take much much less AE spell damage.

You can probably even set the new pets to automatically renew their buff when the timer runs out. Which would put them way ahead of … well me for example! I do try to keep shouts (warrior buffs) up but sometimes if I’m busy it may be a few seconds late.  A pet won’t do that. And some of the ‘skill’ goes out of the game.

So there will be advantages to having pets along to do the buffing.

I don’t actually think giving hunters access to all the raid buffs is overpowered. Although it does give them a privileged position in regards to raid invites. Having one in your raid means a very flexible buffing class. If I played a different dps, I don’t really know how I’d feel about that. It’s not as if the class lacked utility before.

I think it’s a mixed blessing for the actual hunter player. Forget being able to choose which pet you bring to a raid, the raid leader will consult a spreadsheet and tell you. And if that means a tenacity pet which does less dps, then enjoy slipping down the damage meters in order to provide more utility. Look forwards to the joy of feeling obliged to go catch and tame a copy of every type of pet in the game if you are a keen raider, just in case. Enjoy having Beastmaster as an offspec, even if you hate it, just in case one of those exotic buffs turns out to be necessary.

Tanks however, are used to being replaced by pets. The pet’s entire purpose is to tank solo content, and if they can also tank instances and even raid bosses, well it’s just a matter of scaling. What I really want to know is why I can’t have a pet that heals or does ranged dps. I’d look after it and make sure it didn’t get eaten! (Or at least, I’d take better care of it than I do most of my mates in game, where I’d be more likely to point and laugh if they got themselves chewed on by mobs due to doing something daft.)

The strange lack of healing pets

In many ways, the most interesting of the new pet abilities is the heal which Spirit Beasts will be able to provide. Blizzard have shied away hard in the past from healing pets. I never really understood why this was. What’s the problem with a pet that can heal, given that they’re OK with letting them tank the occasional raid bosses? It could be tuned to never heal as well as a player, and to require lots of micromanagement if that’s needed as a balance.

Still, it feels odd to see abilities which used to be signature to a class turning up on a pet. It is a pretty good indication though that the days in which a player might expect to  be wanted in a raid just for one buff are over.