Leveling As Protection?!? (Warrior) – Part 1

November 17, 2008

speccingIs everyone leveling as protection?  To be honest, since the expansion went live on Thursday, I have yet to see many dps warriors roaming around the frozen (and not so frozen) wastes of Northrend.  It seems that many warriors have got protection to level.

A lot of tank sites out there are dealing out their ideas on how to level.  How to spec, where to go, what to do when you get there.  I would be remiss if I was to not weigh in on the subject.  Especially since my person choices in speccing differ greatly from some of the other prominent tanking writers out there.

Speccing To Level: 

Some of the things we do not pick up will be counter-intuitive for a seasoned tank however.  My leveling spec is one that I had to really think about. At 70 there are a few things you can do and many people have said many things.  I looked at everything carefully from a stand point of pure efficiency in killing and moving on.  I came up with my level 70 leveling spec.


First off, the protection talents are easy.  These are the talents we all pick up if we are protection. 

Protection Tree:

Improved Bloodrage (2/2):  This is a no brainer.  Get it, I know many of us specced out of this early on in TBC because it simply was overkill.  Well its back with a vengeance now.  Especially if you bothered to get the Minor Glyph.  Leveling is all about efficiency and rage = a warriors efficiency.

Sheild Specialization (5/5):This talent is one where I differ with a lot of people in terms of a leveling spec.  Once again, I am all about efficiency.  With our new-found shield block values, raising our block rate is the best way to mitigate damage while leveling.  Put it simply I never have to sit to eat or stop to bandage (unless I pull something that I really shouldn’t.  Hello to you Miss Abbendis.)

Improved Thunderclap (3/3):Another no brainer.  Once again we are going for efficiency here.  Our ability to AoE larger multipacks without taking huge damage is our strong point.  The more damage you can push out of Thunderclap the better off you will be.

Incite (3/3):  No explanation needed.  Incite > Cruelty any day.

Anticipation (0/5):  Here is where die hard tanks have a problem with things.  To put it simply, we don’t take anticipation for two reasons.  1) We need the points elsewhere for damage and efficiency, and 2) We want to get hit.  Damage Shields only proc when we block or take damage.  Thus efficiency dictates we take Shield Spec and drop Anticipation.

Last Stand (1/1):No brainer.

Improved Revenge (2/2):You will be surprised how often the stun goes off.  Its a wonderful tool while leveling and grinding.  Most all of the so called “Wanted” and group quests currently found in the game have monsters that hit fairly hard but almost all of them can be stunned.  Giving us at least 3 stuns is worth the 2 points here.  Not to mention the added damage.

Shield Mastery (2/2): More shield block value equals more damage and more mitigation.

Toughness (5/5): Another point of contention between leveling specs.  Personally I take this because mitigation > avoidance while leveling.  Not to mention the new movement impair reduction is quite nice to have since a good number of leveling mobs have some kind of snare.

Improved Spell Reflection (0/2): While I level with a pair of friends, I would not touch this.  This is just a lackluster talent for leveling.

Improved Disarm (0/2): No way, no how, no turkey.

Puncture (3/3): Some may avoid the 3 rage cost reduction on Devastate, I however will never do so.  There are both times when I am rage starved and times where I am full bar.  Its just not worth not taking.

Improved Disciplines (0/2):While stance dancing to use Retaliation or Recklessness are options, a 60 second reduction on their cooldown is not going to help overall efficiency enough to put 2 points here.

Concussion Blow (1/1):It crits for more than 2k with lackluster gear and stuns.  What’s not to like?

Gag Order (2/2):A 3 second silence and 10% damage increase.  Again, What’s not to like?  Some may overlook this as points that can be spent in other places.  I would say that the 10% damage is going to be better than any of the talents you could foreseeably obtain with these 2 points elsewhere.

One-Handed Weapon Specialization (5/5): duh!

Improved Defensive Stance (2/2): One of the best talents we got in the expansion.  It only gets better once you hit 75 and get Enraged Regeneration.

Vigilance (0/1):It was not worth it at 70, its not worth it while leveling to 80.  The only foreseeable way I could believe taking this would be worth it would be if you were under geared and leveling with a bunch of Sunwell mages.  Even then I would probably refuse to take it.

Focused Rage (3/3): Efficiency, enough said.

Vitality (3/3): Further Reference.

Warbringer (1/1): The best thing that ever happened to Warriors period.  The ability to become mobile as a tank has been something we all never actually realized we missed until now.  No more clunky intervene, no we got Charge. (The rage gain is nothing to sneeze about either.)

Devastate (1/1): Once again. duh

Critical Block (3/3): Efficiency and mitigation all wrapped into one.

Sword and Board (3/3):Once you get used to this, you are golden.  I will have to say that it does take a bit getting used to though.  Our old Rev-SS-Dev-Dev rotation is over and replaced with a much more fluid one based on SnB procs.

Damage Shield (2/2):Remember that avoiding damage actually means less threat, and less damage output.  While AoE grinding, we want to get hit.  Remember that.

Shockwave (1/1):This is a great tool for us, period.  The caveats are numbered though.  Remember that we do want to get hit by mobs for Damage Shield procs as well as rage and Shield Spike procs.  There is a downside to Shockwave.  Also remember using a SW while inside a Shield Block is actually lowering damage output while AoE grinding.

Fury (14):

Armored to the Teeth (3/3): Attack Power from my 20k armor?  How can I say no?  I can’t and I won’t.

Cruelty (5/5):Easiest 5% crit you will ever get.  The biggest thing to remember here is that as you level your crit will plummet.  Keeping it artificially inflated via Cruelty is a wonder.

Post 70 Speccing:

Post 70 talent choices are great.  However, I have chosen points for myself based on my personal idiosyncrasies and some utility.  The talent spec will differ slightly than others and will change again at 77.  From 71-76 however, it will be this.

Booming Voice (2/2) [Level 71-72]:  While I would not take this as a fresh 70 starting to level, its definitely worth 2 points after you hit 71.  Battle Shout simply should never be down.  I am not the best person to remember to put it back up, so this is a phenomenal talent.

Before you say, “But we can glyph it to 3minutes already, why talent it with 2 points?”  There are much better glyphs to pick up for leveling than the Battle Shout one. 

Piercing Howl (1/1) [Level 73]:The best utility point you will ever get.  Remember back in 2.4 where it was extremely difficult if not impossible to daze a protection warrior in their tank gear?  Those days are gone.  Being able to toss up a Piercing Howl while gathering your AoE group is a wonderful tool to keep some damage off you and keep you going longer.

Blood Craze (3/3) [Level 74-76]: The very last 3 points I put into my current build.  These do help with down time increasingly more.  You will get crit.  It will happen alot. You will enjoy the minor heal this brings to the table. 

At 76, you have enough points to validly change it up a bit and go deep enough into Arms to be worth the trouble.  In essence we are going to go back to the starter build with a few changes and re-add the points we have added since then.  Our final build at 76 will look very different than our 71-75 build.

Improved Heroic Strike (3/3): Rage efficiency is one again paramount.  This is a decent talent on its own, but honestly, we are using it to get down the tree.

Deflection (5/5): A little avoidance never hurts.  Yet, once again we are using these points more as a means to an end.

Improved Charge (2/2): One of the best talents in the tree for protection.  Gaining 10 more rage every 12 seconds while grinding/questing is just plain worth losing what abouts to Blood Craze and Piercing Howl.

Impale (2/2) [Level 77-78]:  Impale is going to give us a bit more spike in our punch.  While we are waving goodbye to 2% crit to pick this up, we are counting on the damage to outweight the loss of the RNG crit %.  Passing up Impale and capping out Cruelty at 5/5 is an extremely valid choice.

Cruelty (4/5) [Level 79]: Picking up a final point in Cruelty here only helps us.  If you chose to by pass Impale at 77/78 and cap this out, you can use your final point just about anywhere as no one talent is going to make or break the build for a single level before you go back to a full tank spec.

I am not going to go too deep into the discussion here.  I know that there is great debate over using a build such as this while leveling.  Deep Wounds fails to impress me more while further lowering my already dwindling crit rate by a further 3% to get the talent. 

Next: Glyphing and Gearing

One comment

  1. Well, I have a lvl 73 warrior and wat i do to get most of my exp is run stuff
    and yea ill do quest but ot as much as runing things.
    It isnt as good as dps questing but it works.
    I have 2 80s so i kno wat chane quest to do for some good gear and ect.

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