Prot Warrior Tanking 101

I’ve seen a lot of horrible tanks in pugs lately. And by horrible, I mean that I can watch the way they move, realize that they are milliseconds from catastrophe, and start planning my escape vector. They’ve been so bad, what they’re planning to do is so obviously foolhardy that prophesying the doom of the group is like predicting the color of the noon sky on a clear day.

Aside from horrible judgment, lack of knowledge, and bad play style, I’ve also seen plenty of tanks behaving well but dying constantly or having absolutely no threat. A quick inspection shows the problems… you really have no business tanking a Heroic with 300 Defense. Also, your lack of threat may have something to do with you having about 1% hit and less than 10 Expertise.

Yes, I realize a lot of people don’t know about these stats. I realize it’s not spelled out anywhere in game, and that it takes first knowing that there is a cap to know that you need to research or ask what it is.  That’s why I’m going to spell out some very basic information about how to tank a Heroic in Wrath. Most of this information is aimed at Prot Warriors, but some of it is universal for all tanks. Even if you don’t play a tank, some of this may help you spot bad tanks so you can run for your lives… or try and help. Up to you.


Defense: 535 is the cap needed to be uncrittable by Heroic 5-man bosses. 540 is the cap for raid bosses, and the target you should hit. Trust me, you really don’t want to be crit by Festergut. This stat is non-negotiable. If you do not have at least 535 Defense DO NOT QUE FOR A RANDOM HEROIC AS A TANK! It’s irresponsible… plus you can hit this cap pretty easily through player made and BOE blues, so you really have no excuse to not reach it.

Hit: 8% is your target. As a Prot Warrior, this means the only thing that can miss is your Taunt (it’s on the spell hit cap for whatever stupid reason) and even that won’t miss very often. If your attacks don’t land, they don’t generate threat. If you don’t generate threat, you can’t do your job. 8% Hit is not mandatory for entry level tanking of Heroics, but it is strongly advised that you get there as quickly as possible. Yes, even if you have to gem for it.

Expertise: This one’s a little tricky. The more Expertise you have, the less often your attacks will be Dodged or Parried. For Heroics, the cap for both is the same. An Expertise rating of 22 or higher on your character sheet will mean that you will never be dodged or parried by anything in a Heroic 5-man or less. When you move up to raids, it gets more complicated. Dodge falls off the table at 26 Expertise, but Parry doesn’t fall off till 56. 26 is what most tanks go for in raid situations due to the threat gain that comes from not being dodged (ever) and the reduced chance to be parried and, thus, “Parry Haste” the boss. When a boss parries, it resets its auto swing cooldown and speeds up its next swing by between 0% and 40% depending on the boss. Arthas hits quite hard enough without help… but 56 is really a stretch goal for most of us, and absolutely out of the question for a tank just breaking into Heroic 5-mans.


Commanding Shout: This is something you should be doing as a Prot Warrior… it’s more HP for you and your group/raid. I see so few Warriors use this in Heroics, and while many folks don’t NEED it at this gear level, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good habit to maintain. More HP is always good.

Vigilance: At its most basic, this is a threat transfer. It moves a portion of all threat generated by the person you put the buff on to you instead. The vast majority of the time, this should be put on the highest threat DPSer in your group or raid. However, in some situations it’s handy to put it on other people. For example, if you have to Prot Warrior kite the big slime on Rotface, put this on your highest threat HEALER because they’ll be generating threat on the big slime through healer aggro.

The other part of Vigilance is that when the person with the buff gets hit, your Taunt’s refresh gets reset. Remember how I said that with 8% hit, Taunt can still miss? Well, if the mob’s target has Vigilance, it doesn’t matter as much. You can spam Taunt till it lands. How do you make sure it’s on the right party member though? Well, generally the person pulling off of you will be the person with the highest threat, so if you watch your threat meters and put Vigilance on that person ahead of time you’ll be right more often than not. There is, however, a much better way to handle this little failsafe…

/use [target=targettarget][] Vigilance
/use Taunt
/run UIErrorsFrame:Clear()

This will put Vigilance on the current target of your target and then Taunt. So let’s say you’re in a tank switch situation like the ice boss in VoA. It’s time to taunt off the other tank… your Taunt misses. What do you do? Well, sure, you could Mocking Blow but that’s for normal people. You can hit this macro, put Vigil on them, and spam Taunt till it works. Congrats, you now look like a badass. You can use a very similar macro for Intervene, but honestly, I find very few cases where Intervene is actually needed for anything but mobility.


Sunder/Devastate: This shouldn’t need to be explained. Sunder and Devastate (its replacement) cause high threat and stack an armor debuff on the mob. This lets your physical DPS cause more damage, and it should be kept fully stacked at all times.

Thunderclap: This is a slow that, on any mob with a melee swing, will reduce how much damage you take over time. Obviously, this is vital, and like Sunder you should be keeping this up at all times even if you’re the OT on a raid and not currently tanking the boss.

Demoralizing Shout: This is an Attack Power debuff on all mobs within range, and is also vital for not only bosses, but also entry level tanking of Heroics. Heck, I’m doing Hard Mode ICC and I still use this on trash in HoR H to make the healer’s job easier. There’s no reason not to other than laziness.

Retribution Paladins are sometimes specced into a similar effect, and they don’t stack, so if you have a Ret Pally hitting the boss and your Demo Shout isn’t landing, that’s why. One less thing for you to worry about! This shout may also be provided by a DPS warrior in group, or a Bear, so coordinate to see who’s keeping the debuff up in a raid situation.

Disarm: Most raid bosses can’t be disarmed, but you should always try it once on a new boss to find out if it’ll work (some common sense applies… you can’t disarm someone who isn’t holding a weapon). Most trash *can* be disarmed, and it really does reduce their damage output if they’re a melee type. An example of a raid boss that can be disarmed is Gormok the Impaler on normal difficulty. Disarming him not only lowers his damage output, it also prevents him from stacking his bleed so long as he’s disarmed. Back in the day, this made Beasts a much easier encounter.

Silences: This is more of a general statement than a specific debuff. As a Prot Warrior, you should be specced into Gag Order. This gives both your Heroic Throw and Shield Bash a silence effect that can be used to position caster mobs in situations where line of sight is not practical. Heroic Throw, of course, can be used at range while Shield Bash has to be used close up. Let’s go over an example…

You have a pull with five mobs, three of which are casters. There’s a pull in Forge of Souls like this. Here’s how you make this pull easy as a Prot Warrior.

1)      Charge one caster that’s in the front of the pack.

2)      Shield Bash just as the Charge stun ends

3)      Move to the other caster in the front… the silences caster will follow.

4)      Target the third caster in the back, and hit it with a Heroic Throw

5)      Now all mobs in the pull are within melee range.

6)      Wait for noob Boomkin, Fire Mage or Elemental Shaman to run up and use a knockback.

7)      Find where they live and break their hands.

That’ll do it for now, but there’s still a lot to go over. Threat  openers for AOE pulls, the specific points in each 5-man where tanks usually wipe their groups, and the importance of key bindings and mouse turning as a tank among other things should all be touched on, not to mention spec and glyph choices and some thoughts on enchants you may have not considered.

Hope you’re enjoying it so far. I’ll get more written up soon.


~ by Udiyvli on 07/02/2010.

6 Responses to “Prot Warrior Tanking 101”

  1. Awesome. You just helped me out a ton, as I am still learning prot as a warrior, which is different from prot as a paladin.

    Even when I DPS, I want to break the hands of other DPS that can’t wait 3 seconds to let the tank get aggro.

  2. When I saw the title, I assumed this would be a low-lvl tanking guide but ah well! :] Still, very informative for when my ickle Gnome Prot Warrior, Shortfuse, reaches 80.

  3. My prot warrior just hit 80 and this is very helpful, thank you for writing it. I didn’t re-read the Gag Order talent after learning Heroic Throw, I’ll certainly pick that up now. I hate, hate, hate the Forge of Souls pulls and that should make them much easier to handle.

  4. This is fantastic. I just forwarded this along to a tanking friend of mine who has been trying out a warrior as their first tanking experience. Their largest problems seem to be DPS who want to AoE before the tank is fully engaged, but I think she got a lot of insight out of your write up. I know I’m looking forward to more.

  5. Thank you for writing this. I have had a few bad experiences with those multi-caster pulls in Forge of Souls. Your advice will help me a lot!

    • You’re welcome. Happy to help. If you have any specific questions feel free to let me know!

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