4.0.1 (and 4.0.3) Prot Warrior Tanking (Updated)

((Note: This information is still valid for 4.0.3. The only additional information I can provide post 4.0.3 is to tweak your lag tolerance setting to better match your actual latency. Default appears to be 400 ms, and that’s way too high for a lot of people.))

Well, it’s been a while since 4.0.1 dropped, and I think I’ve done enough testing to determine a few things about the best ways to get your tank on in this new, weird world of level 85 balance with a level 80 cap.


After spending incredible amounts of gold trying out different specs, looking at things both logically and empirically, and conferring with fellow tanks (both Warrior and otherwise), I’ve settled on this build…


Incite is picked up for extra threat on single targets. For keeping ahead of the abnormally high DPS on boss fights right now, this seems just about mandatory. However, three points into it is not. Two is just fine for now, and possibly at 85 as well.

Toughness is an obvious pick, and I went with Blood and Thunder because, when used correctly, it really is a large AOE threat gain. You just need to get use to making full use of it, and your DPS needs to get use to a post-4.0.1 game where they can’t open up with AOEs the second they see you within 3 yards of the mobs. Plus, for boss fights, you basically get a small DPS/Threat gain from the Rend for free since you’ll be keeping Thunder Clap up anyway.

Shield Specialization is skipped now. Once you get use to the new rhythm of ability uses, it doesn’t feel at all required. If you cut this out of your spec and still run into rage problems, take a close look at how well you’re actually timing your Heroic Strikes. You may find you’re using it too often. Don’t forget, even on most boss fights, you can’t really indiscriminately spam HS anymore with a clear conscience.

Shield Mastery is capped out because, if you plan to do anything challenging, you’re going to want that shorter Shield Wall cooldown. The Shield Block cooldown offers a great deal of mitigation, assuming you don’t forget to use it.

Hold the Line is both a Threat and Mitigation gain. Where some specs such as Cruelty only boost the crit chance of one ability relevant to tanking, Hold the Line’s proc boosts the crit chance of everything you do *and* your crit block chance. Plus, you’ll likely to be parrying a lot as a Prot Warrior, but we’ll get into that later.

Gag Order is taken because not having a ranged silence is a pain in the ass. Last Stand is a bread and butter cooldown. Concussion Blow is needed to take Vigilance and also as an interrupt for mobs that are immune to interrupts but not to stuns (Nerubian casters in ICC for example). Bastion of Defense is obvious, as is Warbringer.

Improved Revenge is a threat gain, Devastate is a signature move, and we leave out Impending Victory because it’s just not that good. When we have more points to spend, perhaps we’ll return to this, but for now it’s simply not worth it.

Thunderstruck is a straight up threat gain and plays very nicely with Blood and Thunder. It’ll help most with AOE tanking, but since you’ll be hitting bosses with Thunder Clap and Rend anyway, it’ll boost threat there too.

Vigilance is a weird animal now, and it’s going to become more so. If the current Beta build goes live, the only two things Vigilance will provide is a Taunt refresh and Vengeance gain. However, this is extremely important for tank swap boss fights. If you aren’t taking damage (and in many tank swaps you won’t be), then you aren’t keeping your Vengeance up. Without Vigilance on the OT, you could end up taunting back without Vengeance and therefore be doing less Threat Per Second (TPS) for the first part of your tanking turn. This could lead to DPS having to back off mid fight, and no one wants that. They’ll be ramped up to full DPS by then, and you’ll need to stay ramped up to full TPS as well… thus, Vigilance.

Heavy Repercussions is a straight up DPS/Threat gain and, with early use of Shield Block, can let you frontload a little more threat at the start of a fight. It also plays nicely with the reduced Shield Block cooldown from Shield Mastery.

Safeguard is skipped for now, but is a great possibility for point expenditure at 85. It basically gives you a Pain Suppression to use one others, such as the OT, which would then free up a Disc Priest’s Pain Suppression for use on *you*. Time will tell if this sort of thing will be really needed in T11 raiding (or beyond), but it’s a good talent to keep in mind if things do take a turn toward the use of damage reduction cooldowns more so than now.

Lastly, Sword and Board is taken, obviously, as is Shockwave. For the last five points, we go full into Blood Craze, which is going to be nerfed, yes, but will probably still be worth it. We put two into Field Dressing, as it basically gives a Last Word-esque boost to all incoming heals, and we all remember how nice Last Word was.


Your Prime Glyphs shouldn’t take any thought. They’re the only three that make any sense for Prot at all. Devastate, Revenge, and Shield Slam.

Major is more up for debate, but since there really isn’t an outstanding single target threat set of glyphs here, I went for a set of three to help with trash and 5-man tanking. Resonating Power, Thunder Clap, and Cleaving.

For Minor, I went with the two obvious ones, Command and Battle, and picked Berserker Rage for my third. Why? Because it turns it into a rage cooldown with a relatively short refresh time that you can use as often as possible any fight without a fear mechanic. Obviously, if you expect fears, you’ll want to keep it off cooldown for that.


Head, leg, and shoulders are unchanged. You want the STAM/AGI epic leg enchant, the helm enchant from the Argent Crusade, and the shoulder enchant from Sons of Hodir (assuming you aren’t a Scribe). For the cloak, stick with the +Armor enchant.

For chest, you’re going to want Enchant Chest:  Powerful Stats. It gives 10 Stamina for more HP, 10 Agility for more Crit and Dodge, and 10 Strength for Attack Power and Parry.

Gloves should be Armsman. Why? Because Parry is suddenly quite important for us, and the bonus to threat, though small, can help fight off those wacky high DPS numbers some classes are pulling now. Armsman hasn’t been the best choice for a long time, if ever, but I really feel that it is now.

For bracers, stick with Stamina. Boots, stick with Tuskar’s Vitality (you *are* using Tuskar’s right?).

For your weapon, I strongly suggest you try out Blade Ward. The bonus to Parry is a big deal right now, and plays into Hold the Line, which plays into both Threat and Mitigation. Congratulations, Blade Ward… you no longer suck. Here’s a cookie.

For your shield, you’ll want to pick up a Titanium Plating from a Blacksmith. I bet some of you didn’t even know such a thing existed, right? Well, it does, and once again due to Parry being suddenly great, it’s now your best bet for your shield.


Next, you’ll want to do some reforging. If you need Hit or Expertise (8% Hit, 172 Expertise rating), then you should reforge for those first. I’m going to assume you’re using tank gear, and therefore do not have gear with Haste or Crit on it. If by some chance you do, reforge those first. If you have gear with Spirit on it, please leave your tank card at the door or submit a very good excuse.

Every scrap of your gear should be reforged. Here’s what you should take away in order of most desirable to sacrifice to least…

Hit in excess of 8%
Expertise in excess of 172

Here’s what you should reforge for…

Hit to 8%
Expertise to 172

In a perfect world, you’ll be hit and expertise capped from gear, and will reforge everything you have for Mastery. That’s not likely, however, so just see how far you can get with the above guide. If somehow you reforge everything for Hit or Expertise and still aren’t capped, you can gem for what you’re missing.


You now have to make a choice… if you’ve gotten Hit and Expertise capped, reforged all your gear, and your Parry and Dodge are still somewhere between 18% and 20%, then you can just gem straight Stamina with one Stamina/Parry gem (Defender’s) in whatever red or blue socket will reward the highest +Stamina socket bonus (to turn on your Stamina/Armor meta).

If, however, you still need Hit or Expertise, your first priority is to reach those caps. Afterward, if either your Dodge or your Parry is under 18%, start gemming for those. Don’t forget that Parry is still red, but Dodge is yellow now. If you only need a little bit, use the half Stamina gems. If you need a lot, use pure gems. If you fill all your red sockets with Parry and still need more, put Parry/Stamina gems into your blue sockets. If you still need more, try Dodge/Parry gems in your yellow sockets. Also, don’t forget to factor in your Blade Ward proc. It’s got a pretty good up time from my experience.

What you want to end up with is…

8% Hit
172 Expertise
18%+ Dodge
18%+ Parry (including Blade Ward proc)
As much Mastery as possible with any remaining Reforging

Keep in mind that this is a general guide. For me personally, if I use a Stamina/Expertise gem to turn on my Meta, then I’m Expertise capped with no other reforging or gemming. Thus, I went with that option. Use common sense and aim for the most beneficial path for your unique situation.

So there you have it. From my testing, that’s how you spec, glyph, enchant, reforge and gem for Prot Warrior in 4.0.1. I hope this helps you folks out. Comments and questions are more than welcome!


~ by Udiyvli on 11/07/2010.

15 Responses to “4.0.1 (and 4.0.3) Prot Warrior Tanking (Updated)”

  1. Great post! Found it extremely useful! Thanks!

  2. great
    helped a lot

  3. Cleared things up quite a bit for me. thanks

  4. thx for your post. restored my faith in tanking on my warrior.

  5. I understand most of the decisions and logical thought has gone into it. I do, however, question the reforging of Mastery as there is currently too little of it to make a significant difference. I also question desperately going for both hit and expertise caps, as Vengeance takes care of any and all threat issues once it’s stacked up.

    I’m not saying you’re wrong, merely that I doubt your priority.

    • Well, consider this… Vengeance may boost your attack power, but that doesn’t mean anything if your best threat moves miss their target. It’s so easy to get 8% hit and 172 Expertise right now that there’s just no reason to not do it. What do you gain for *not* getting it? A couple hundred more HP? A percent more dodge? How can those even compare, remotely, to knowing that your interrupt is always going to land? Or knowing that your taunt will, the vast majority of the time, work when used? No, 8% hit does not make taunt a sure thing, but it makes it very close to one. You also need to factor in that any boss that can parry (very nearly all of them) and who deal large amounts of auto-swing damage will do a lot less damage to you the less they parry you. 172 will not remove parry totally vs raid bosses, but it does greatly reduce the rate of occurrence and therefore your damage taken over the length of the fight.

      TL;DNR version… Hit and Expertise have been staples of being a good tank for as long as they’ve been achievable with gear, gems and enchants. They’re more achievable now than ever with the addition of Mastery and the ninja change to required Expertise, so there’s just nothing you can gain from ignoring them that justifies not reaching for them.

      As for Mastery, your mileage may vary. For my gear though, I saw vastly better performance vs ICC hard mode bosses after doing the reforging I outlines in my post. To be fair, I doubted Mastery too… then I committed to it, gave it a try, and the difference was night and day. I am, however, stacking enough Mastery now to boost my Block and Crit Block chances by 14.5% while maintaining 20% dodge and 19% parry unbuffed. If you’re well under that, it may not appear as useful to you. Of course if you’re well under that, you may also not be testing the results vs the same encounters I have been. That could play into it as well, as mitigation (then via Armor, now via Block) was built into ICC normal and hard fights as the primary survivability stat. Festergut H is * supposed* to hit you, a lot, and your Armor and Block is supposed to keep you alive (along with high HP of course). A fight like, say, Algalon, probably still favors dodge more highly. To be honest, ToGC still kinda feels like it would rather I have a hair more dodge too. RS and ICC though, the Mastery stacking feels far superior, and that’s where it matters for us these days. It’s also a better gauge of Cata bosses, as it seems Blizzard has gone more with the T10 philosophy in T11 (get hit often and mitigate it) than T8 or T9 (if dodge fails, you’re probably dead).

      Things will change once again come 4.0.3, and probably *again* when Cata actually goes live on the 7th. I’m pretty sure I’ll be rewriting this guide many times over the next months. For now, what I’ve put here has given me the best results and seems to work for the majority of the fellow Warriors I’ve consulted with. Give it a shot. You might like it 🙂 And hey, you might not. Fair’s fair. I know an Ele Shaman pre-4.0.1 that gets more DPS than most by threading Frost Shock into his rotation. That goes against all the math, but it worked for him. Theorycraft is an inexact science. If it were exact, it wouldn’t have the word “theory” in it. 😉 In the end, do what works best for you.

  6. great post. thanks for sharing your results.

  7. Hello. Thanks for the post, it helped quite a bit in some areas. It’s too bad that warriors have so many good major glyphs… Anyway, i agree with everything except your talent choices. Blood craze and field dressing are just pointless before 85.

    Also, war academy is a must for the bonus damage (and 3/3 incite too). Thunderstruck is utterly pointless..6% increased damage means nothing, while the bonus damage on shockwave is kind of useless too since you use it every 30 seconds and do so mainly for the stun so you can rend+tclap, and not necessarily for the damage(mobs die anyway in less than 30 seconds so by then you either have aggro on them or you don’t, and rend+tclap+blood and thunder does the most of it).

    Hold the line is a nice talent to have but again in the current content is not needed at all. Shield specialization is a must since you also picked incite, so in order to have rage to spam HS, put 3 points in it and you won’t have any problems.

    If you generate enough threat without heroic strike (doubtful with proper dps right now, but MAY be the case in cataclysm) then you can leave out the talents for it and you can max the aoe threat (check this build: http://www.wowhead.com/talent#LhZ0bZcrGdRRodbu:0Vocsk). Also, cruelty helps quite a lot on single target dps since sword and board procs quite often 😉

    For level 85 field dressing becomes a must, blood craze is quite useless again (10% chance for 3% of max life AND over 5 seconds…you’re long dead before that). And after that it actually depends on the fight: choose second wind if there are stuns on the tank, deep wounds for more threat(aoe especially), or if the aoe threat is enough, put 3/3 incite for single target threat.

    Just my opinion 🙂 hope someone finds it useful

    • Going to have to disagree on some points here.

      First off, Field Dressing is not in any way useless at 80 if you’re doing anything above normal difficulty. More healing is never, ever useless. You could argue that if you had Last Word (Putricide 25) then its boost to healing received could cover what Field Dressing is intended to do, and you’d have a good argument there, but if you’re not using Last Word (I’m not) then the Field Dressing boost is definitely felt over the course of a Hard Mode fight.

      Of course, your healer mix may vary from mine too. It just feels like it helps noticeably for our team 🙂

      Thunderstruck is extremely helpful if you’re trying to AoE tank at all, which I am. I’m going to guess that, based on what you’ve said, you’re mostly single target tanking. Keep in mind that the intend of the build I’ve presented here is to get the best out of both worlds (single and AoE, 5-man and raid) with the talent points currently available to us at 80. Thunderstruck doesn’t only boost the threat caused by Clap, but also the threat caused by Rend which B&T lets Clap spread. From what I’ve seen with experimentation, AoE threat is extremely hard to hold vs Heroic ICC geared DPS without these two talents.

      Hold the Line is, mathematically, a better investment than Cruelty assuming you Parry a good bit. Right now, using Blade Ward as a weapon enchant, my Hold the Line is up just about all the time on the vast majority of bosses. True, very slow swinging bosses or bosses who spend most of their time channeling casts are the exception, but for most cases 10% crit chance for all attacks and 10% critical block chance > 10% crit chance to one attack. This is especially true to tanking trash, as the multiple mobs work out to lots of parries and thus 10% +Crit for everything you’re using to hold onto multiple mobs.

      Hold the Line also has a duration of 10 seconds which matches up with the Blade Ward internal cooldown of 10 seconds. Charges of Blade Ward can stack in that 10 second window, but not proc the effect. This basically works out to your parrying at least once every 10 seconds and thus having Hold the Line up the majority of the time. True, I won’t likely be using Blade Ward at 85 (the +Dodge enchant will likely be the de facto enchant for tanks), but for now it’s worked really well for me.

      There are some reports that Hold the Line will stay up about 95% of the time with only one point invested into it, and I’ll be doing some research on this at 85 to see if it’s true or not. If it is, great! We get a great talent that’s up all the time for only one point. Can’t beat that, right?

      I do completely agree that Blood Craze is very sadly no longer worth it. It was such a great talent till they took the nerf bat to it… now I’m not sure it’s worth it at all, even at 85. I can see a use for the grind *to* 85 if you plan to solo as prot, but even then it’s not likely to be a big deal. Almost feels like PvP/soloing centric talent now more than anything. When 4.0.3a dropped I moved those points into War Academy.

      Over all, I’m not having a problem with single target threat. Where I’m hurting is AoE and then only when our DPS gets off the leash too early. Wrath has turned the DPSers into rabid animals… if our top Frost DK jumps the gun on DPSing he’ll rip off of both myself and my Pally OT. >< Oh how I miss the threat transfer of Vigilance. If, however, people actually give us a moment to settle in with the pull and get stuff under control, threat isn't an issue at all. Well, except where it's *supposed* to be an issue. Like Deathwhisper H. 😉

      Once I hit 85, I'm going to try something like this to see how it feels:

      The idea being to dip into a few experimental ideas at once and see if I can I feel a difference from any in particular.

      Thanks for the feedback, by the way! Even if we don't agree on all points, it's always nice to discuss these things with fellow warriors. Especially in a civil tone 🙂

  8. It helped me a lot. Thank you.

  9. To start with, you dont need hit or expertise to taunt. With new class changes, Taunt wont miss. You need those stats for interrupting though. But if you have a nice setup with other viable solutions for interrupting, you wont need to stack hit or exp.

    About dodge and parry stats, why not giving prio to parry against dodge ? since parry > dodge for protection warriors, i dont see why you want those dodge/parry balanced instead of having like 15% dodge and 22% parry for example.

    so … imo ofc … priority for reforging should be mastery > parry > dodge > exp&hit

    • Well, I never said you need Expertise to hit with taunt 😉

      As for taunt not being able to miss anymore, I’ve seen this stated, but I haven’t been able to find a blue comment or a patch note confirming the change. Only statements from mid 2010 saying they might make it unmissable, or put it on melee hit cap. If you can point to an official source to confirm this, that would be great, because it would seem everyone’s basing it on their taunt not missing for a while, which simply could be a bug and not intentional on Blizzard’s part.

      Also, you actually *don’t* need Expertise for interrupts so long as you’re actually using Shield Bash as an interrupt. Mobs can’t parry or dodge while they are casting (neither can players), so all you really need is 8% hit to never miss an interrupt. Where Expertise comes in is using Gag Order and Shield Bash to silence and position a mob that’s not actively casting yet, or to preemptively silence a mob who may be about to cast an instant spell.

      As for other tank stat weight, currently it’s looking like this:

      Mastery > Stam > Parry > Dodge

      Keep in mind that this post here was made pre-Cata and was based on gearing options available at the end of Wrath. Things change, and this post is out dated.

      I still stand by 781 expertise rating, 961 hit rating though. As is, raid capped for both, I pull crazy threat, but so do some of my DPSers. It’s not hurting me to hit the caps at all, so why not do it? “Other viable solutions for interrupting” is a great idea, but if you’re part of an interrupt chain, it’s your turn, and you flub it up on a 1.5 second cast because you’re not at 8% hit… well… there’s not exactly time for someone else to realize you missed and still stop the cast. I’d rather be reliable in any roll given to me than have one more percent dodge.

  10. Could you put down a viable priority / rotation to use with this build? Otherwise thanks mate, great article.

  11. You don’t seem to know what you are talking about.

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