Happy Winter Veil!

•12/23/2010 • Leave a Comment

The Glaivecow is heading back home for the holidays and will return on the 26th. Here’s wishing everyone a happy Winter Veil, Christmas, Hanuka, Kwanzaa, Wookiee Life Day, Gnomish “Not eaten by a Troll yet” day, or whatever you prefer to call the last days of the year.


Where’s the Cow Been? A Brief Cata Update

•12/22/2010 • 2 Comments

Hey, folks.

Well, it’s been a whirlwind of leveling, heroics, and rep grinding since Cata went live. It really should be a whirlwind of PvPing too but I can’t seem to wedge that in just yet.

Level 85 was reached after a nonstop 25-hour questing session with Ailinea… barely missed server first Warrior 85 too.

So, a quick rundown of my experience thus far in Cata…

Initial impressions of Prot Warrior at 85 were very poor. I felt very flimsy and seemed to die on trash a lot, even trash with half the pull CCed. Then I realized that most of the issue was with undergeared healers and CCers who weren’t use to, well, CCing. The one thing I wasn’t having a problem with was threat, and with Blood and Thunder I was usually topping the DPS meter on any pull where I held 3 mobs at once.

When you have no issue at all with threat, and your healers aren’t geared yet, what do you do? You drop threat talents for survival talents, that’s what. I did exactly that, and suddenly heroics were a lot easier. They also got easier when I started making sure I had a decent amount of CC to go around, and once everyone got use to using all the CC available to their class. We have resto druids healing, hibernating, and rooting. It’s great. I haven’t ask our hunters to both trap and wyvern sting two different things yet, but believe me I intend to.

As folks have geared up and shaken the Wrath fuzz from their heads, heroics (and tanking) has gotten easier and easier. I’m not sure I’d drop my survivability talents just yet, but if I had to swap to pick up more threat, I don’t think it would be an issue.

One thing I can say for both tanks and healers… just because the random dungeon finder says you can do heroics, doesn’t mean you should. If you’re kicking around with more than a couple of pieces of gear under 333 iLevel, then please do everyone a favor and farm normals first. DPS can get away with doing heroics as soon as the game lets them. Tanks and healers really can’t, unless it’s a barely geared tank carried by a geared healer or vice-versa.

In relatively short order, heroics turned from frustration to a great deal of fun. The challenge is fantastic. The problems persist in some boss fights where lack of a particular ability is debilitating. For example, the croc in Lost City without a poison cleans is doable, but remarkably harder. The worm in Stonecore is also much harder without an efficient AOE to kill the shard spawns. Hunters excel at it, and having two Hunters makes it entirely trivial, but Mages burn nearly their entire mana pool just dealing with a few waves of the crystal shards. I’m really not sure how you’d do the fight without any ranged AOE at all. Something to look into in the inevitable event that it happens.

Oh, and by the way… if you aren’t making extensive use of heroic leap, you really should be. Trapping behind ground hazards? Leap. Throngus jumped on someone in the mace phase and now your kite’s cut off? Leap to safety. It’s amazing.

I’ll work up an updated tanking guide for folks soon, and I also plan to do a series of heroic boss strategies, since most of the ones I’ve found leave out rather vital information. Over all, Cata’s been a lot of fun so far and I look forward to the start of T11 raiding for my guild in January.

So how’s your first couple of weeks been?

A Quiet Farewell to the High Chieftain

•11/23/2010 • 1 Comment

Rest in peace, dear High Chieftain. It was a pleasure to serve our people under you all these years, and I will defend your son as staunchly as I defended you. Ish-ne-alo por-ah…

4.0.3a Prot Warrior Nerfs

•11/22/2010 • 18 Comments

Well, this is a surprise. Just when you figured there’s no way Blizzard could possibly nerf Prot Warrior threat since it’s just barely hanging on as is, they do. And hard. Let’s list everything that’s changing tomorrow (when 4.0.3a drops) that’s going to mean less threat for us.

  • Cleave damage has been reduced by approximately 17%
  • Rend base damage has been reduced by approximately 17% and percent of weapon damage per tick lowered to 25%, from 30%.

Well our AOE threat really did need a nerf, right? I mean, it’s not like anyone with an AOE had any chance at all of pulling off of us ever… right? Yeah, not so much. The one place we really need a buff, and they give us a nerf. The funny thing is that this simultaneously makes Blood and Thunder less desirable *and* more essential. It’s an even weaker talent now than ever, but with what little AOE threat we have further slipping away, we need it to remain competent.

  • Heroic Strike damage has been reduced by approximately 17%.
  • Victory Rush damage has been reduced by approximately 17%.
  • Devastate no longer provides bonus threat.

Wow… hello, single target threat nerf. I’ve included Victory Rush in here for those folks who take Impending Victory, and hey, that might be all of us now. It may only be viable at the end of boss fights, but it’s at least another threat move to compensate for these other changes.

  • Shield Slam: Contribution of attack power reduced to 60%, down from 75%, and base damage brought up so that a level 85 warrior in Heroic dungeon gear deals the same damage with no Vengeance, but Vengeance has less impact. In addition, Shield Slam no longer generates 30% bonus threat from its damage

Now this one’s weird. It’s kind of a buff, in that we are going to be doing more damage with it right off the bat rather than after Vengeance stacks up. However, we’re also losing the 30% threat bonus, and Vengeance is going to improve Shield Slam less than it does now. Over all, will this be a net gain or loss in threat? I’m not really sure right now.

In other news of nerfs to things you like… let’s talk survivability nerfs.

  • Blood Craze now heals for 1/2/3% of total health, down from 2.5/5/7.5%.

Does this make it even worth it to take Blood Craze anymore? It’s hard to say. That’s a huge reduction in self-healing from a boss fight standpoint. With this and the nerfs to Heroic Strike, Victory Rush and Cleave, it’s probably better in 4.0.3a to go into Field Dressing and War Academy than to spend precious talent points for 3% self-healing.

As for our Mastery and Shield Block changes, I’m not really upset. I don’t see them as a nerf, but rather as a buff that we’ll not really fully benefit from till we’re 85 and getting Mastery in great meaty gobs.

  • Shield Block now only increases block chance by 25%, but excess block that pushes avoidance plus block to over 100% is now converted to critical block chance.
  • Critical Block now grants an equal amount of block chance and critical block chance (1.5% each per point of Mastery).

Over all, this is a good change. But, as I said, not till 85… for now, it’ll likely feel like a nerf, so be prepared.

So how about our other tank classes? Are they also getting nerfed across the board? Just taking a glance at Pally changes, it seems like they’re getting a mix of nerfs and buffs, but overall their threat looks like it’ll come out slightly buffed. My OT is a Prot Pally. I can tell you straight up, they do not need a threat boost any more than we needed a threat nerf. As for Blood DK and Bear, I don’t even know what I’m doing on those alts past 4.0.1 and I hold threat just fine by flailing at what ability I think might be a good, logical thing to hit.

So, Blizzard, what gives? I was under the impression your intent was to even out the tanks in both threat and survivability. As it stands, Prot Warriors are looking to become the worst threat tanks for both single target and AOE threat. I could accept this if we were outshining everyone else in survivability, but we aren’t. Where’s the upshot exactly? Is there one? You’re setting us up to be the hardest to play tank with the least to offer our groups. You’re even taking away Vigilance’s damage reduction, giving us one less thing we can offer other more threat heavy tanks in a raid.

  • Vigilance no longer provides 3% damage reduction, but still refreshes Taunt and provides Vengeance.

Seriously,what is your plan for us, Blizzard? Other than making us hate Prot Rofldins even more…


(Update: Looks like we got another one…

  • Shield Slam’s damage has been reduced by about 28% at level 15, with less, but still noticeable reductions at higher levels.

Well, I’m still hopeful that the net change to Shield Slam will be a threat gain at 85. Really I am.)


4.0.1 (and 4.0.3) Prot Warrior Tanking (Updated)

•11/07/2010 • 15 Comments

((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!

A Quick Update on Expertise

•10/28/2010 • 10 Comments

So the devs apparently forgot to tell us something…

“Due to recalibrating expertise for Cataclysm, level 80-83 creatures (which includes bosses) dodge and parry less, so you need less expertise, 23, to be exact. Sorry we didn’t announce this. I would classify it as an unintended consequence (though not unknown) and not a desired change on our part.

At level 85, you will need 26 again.”

Woops! Looks like we only need 23 Expertise till Cata launches and we hit 85. That’s 177 Expertise from gear. Good to know! Go forth and reforge, folks. Again.

(( UPDATE: Based on testing from EJ pointed out in the comments below, it looks like the blue wasn’t exactly correct with the 23 Expertise. It looks like we actually only need 172 to remove Dodge from the table now, which is slightly under a displayed 23 on the character sheet.

That said, I didn’t see information on removing Parry from the table, but I would have to guess based on the difference between pre-4.0 and post-4.0 that Parry should be removed at 403 rating now. This may actually be worth going for if you’re a raid tank, since it’s just getting easier to achieve.))

Blizzcon 2010!

•10/19/2010 • 2 Comments

Hey, folks.

Just a heads up/reminder that I will be attending Blizzcon this week, arriving Wednesday evening and departing Sunday night. I will be posting updates on what I see there via my Twitter (you can follow me there as Ktok), and I’ll make a wrap up post to the blog about anything particularly interesting that’s WoW related.

I’ll be wearing this shirt the first day of the con, so if you happen to spot me, say hi!

Special thanks to Baenhoof / Karnokoto for the amazing job she did with the artwork. If you need a Tauren (or other WoW character drawn) she’s a prime person to see about it.

To everyone going to the con or watching from home, have a great time! It’s really an amazing experience, and I feel extremely blessed to be attending for my third consecutive year.

For the Horde!