The Warrior’s Charge: Tanking nerfs and Prot Warrior DPS
By now we’ve all seen that Blizzard is going to nerf tank damage across the board. I’ll just flat out say it: Warrior AOE is pretty good (not nearly as good as Monks or Demon Hunters, but pretty solid) but our single target DPS is, at best, adequate. It shines compared to a DPS spec at low gear levels, but once you start getting above 800, it simply doesn’t keep up at all — not with other tanks and certainly not with DPS Warriors.
So what I’m saying is: Don’t nerf Protection Warriors. You want to nerf Demon Hunters? Monks? Death Knights? (Please don’t nerf Death Knights, I love my Death Knight tank, but I get why you’d want to.) Sure, go for it. But Prot? No, don’t nerf Prot.
Now let’s talk about why they’re going to nerf Prot.
The Protection Advantage
It’s no secret that I’m trying to level several Warriors right now. As a result, I’m nowhere near as well geared as it’s possible to be on my first Warrior to 110. She’s at ilevel 812 as of last night, held back by two trinkets in the 770s and generally terrible luck on loot rolls. As in, loot just doesn’t drop for her. If not for the Warrior set from the class hall, I’d be a lot lower.
As a result, some world quests can get pretty hairy, even for Arms with Victory Rush and Second Wind. But any time I’ve hit a road block or a stumbling point in a DPS spec, I know — and I mean I know — that I can go Prot, switching to a practically untouched Artifact with no AP spent on it and no relics at all and complete the quest. No matter how hard it was for my DPS specs. Because at the gear levels I had, Prot hits harder.
That’s not a mistaken italic there. That’s just a fact. When I’m trying to kill an elite for a Wardens quest and I can’t even think about doing it as Arms or Fury, Prot can solo it. Will it take me awhile? Absolutely. But not only will I stay up (thanks in no small part to Impending Victory every 30 seconds) but if I get adds, the fight actually gets easier since I’ll heal more often and my AoE DPS is much better than my single target. Between Revenge, Thunder Clap and Shockwave, I actually smile when I get adds while tanking one of these mobs.
Meanwhile Shield Block and Shield Slam are hitting as hard as Mortal Strike and significantly harder than Bloodthirst. I admit, both Arms and Fury do more damage. I’m not saying that Prot actually has higher DPS than they do. But between ilevel 780 to 810, its survival is much better with comparable DPS. As a leveling/soloing spec, Protection is probably even better than Arms, which is my current favorite. I still like Arms better because it’s just more fun for me personally to use a big 2-handed weapon rather than a sword and shield. That’s why I love Death Knight tanking so much.
Now, all that being said, I’ve tanked my first Heroic as Prot and I have to say, it’s definitely not as imbalanced as other tanking specs I’ve had tank for me. My Death Knight is only level 103 so I can’t speak to how it tanks compared to Prot, but having had every other kind of tank imaginable while DPSing and having tanked myself, I feel comfortable saying that Protection has solid AoE tools, but nothing like the brokenly strong Vengeance DH or Windwalker Monks.
Frankly, I think Prot is the baseline that Blizzard should look to when balancing other tanks. We’re not brokenly OP, but we have enough situational tools to get out of most situations and we generally stand up to a beating. Ignore Pain is a strong button to push but I often use Shield Block anyway just to buff my Shield Slam thanks to Heavy Repercussions. I enjoy Impending Victory and really miss it for Fury. Protection is a spec that feels like it can do just about anything any tank needs to do, but doesn’t dominate in any field. We’re not the best boss tanks, not the best AoE tanks, not the best at anything, but we tend to be strong enough in a wide enough range of options that we might actually be the best generalist tanks — the tank you never have to worry can do job X, whatever that job happens to be.
The boss fight that really comes to mind is Amalgam of Souls. I had enough mobility with Heroic Leap to get out of the purple, could keep the Amalgam pointed so people had places to run around when they had to, and did enough mitigation that the healer could focus on other people from time to time. Despite my gear not being ideal for a Heroic, I felt like I had the tools needed to do it. And I absolutely didn’t feel OP at any point in that dungeon — not brokenly bad, but never like it was easy mode. Just the right amount of effort, I’d say.
One thing I dislike isn’t even specifically a tanking issue. I dislike that I can’t switch talents on the fly with the ease of buying books from a vendor because I simply can’t get my hands on tomes right now. It’s annoying. At one point I had to leave the dungeon, port to Stormwind, change my spec and port back in because I really wanted more mobility after a Heroic Leap.
What adjustments may come
If I were the one in charge of reducing tanking damage across the board, I’d look purely at AoE DPS. I don’t think any tanks are hitting so hard on pure single target that they need a nerf, and I absolutely don’t think Warriors are. Once everyone’s gear is at 810 or above, DPS players see much greater returns on their DPS than tank players do. We’re absolutely not even close to the days of Vengeance here.
As for Protection, it’s a solid meat and potatoes tanking spec that might be a little too good for soloing and leveling. Maybe it could scale more with gear, have lower base DPS but get more from its itemization so that at 780 Prot doesn’t do more DPS than Arms or Fury, but keeps getting better DPS as it levels in a more recognizable progression.
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