I know I shouldn’t be looking but I couldn’t help myself. And when I gazed upon the as yet unfinalised, reduced talent tree available to tanky warriors, my heart did know gladness. If anyone has not yet heard about it, Blizzard have decided that come Cataclysm, the talent tress for all classes will be greatly reduced as well as certain other restrictions. I won’t repeat what has been publicised elsewhere all over the place so feel free to read the WoW.com article summarising it

Suffice it to say I used the wow-champion talent builder for the latest Beta build of Cataclysm and I came up with a Protection spec I think looks pretty damned handy. But before I reveal what I have slapped together, feel free to go gaze at them yourself

Back? Awesome, so lets discuss things a little. Firstly I LIKE these changes. They really are awesome in my opinion and make being a Protection Warrior far more distinctive early on in levelling, especially with the bonus that comes as you ding 10 and pick Protection as your specialization.

Secondly, there is one thing that caught my eye; Blood and Thunder. A new talent we have not seen before and looks like it can be something that will help equalize a Warriors AoE threat capabilities without making it OP or sacrificing other aspects of the class. It also seems to point to Blizzard trying to make being a Protection Warrior more of a thinking game. Lets look at a scenario on a trash pull as it stands now:

  1. Charge first mob, preferably a caster, silence any other casters with Heroic Throw, and if there is another out of range caster, Shield Bash current target and run to the third caster.
  2. Queue Cleave, Thunder Clap, Shockwave, Demoralizing Shout, hit Revenge and Shield Bash procs as they pop and then pretty much, Thunder Clap, Cleave until they are all down.

Now lets consider adding Blood and Thunder into the mix. Where in that sequence above would you insert it? How about:

  1. Charge first mob, preferably a caster, silence any other caster with Heroic Throw, and if there is another out of range caster, Shield Bash current target and run to the third caster. No change here.
  2. Queue Cleave, REND a target, Thunder Clap, etc etc as before.

Or should that Rend come after the first Thunder Clap or just before your second one to give you a chance to build more insta threat on the mob pack? Or are we going to Shockwave first to stun, then Rend, then Thunder Clap? The possibilities are endless and it will be an interesting experiment to see what works best. I can already see the Elitist Jerks crew having a huge amount of fun with this

Then there are the added self heals available at relatively low levels in the other two trees. Field Dressing I can see being a must have. Increase all heals done to you by 6% as well as all self healing effects by 20%. Yes please! And then there is Blood Craze in the Fury tree which is a proc based self heal. Add the effect of Field Dressing to that and you essentially have a 10% chance to heal yourself for almost 10% of your total health on getting hit. And we get hit a LOT. That’s the point. So the chances of this proccing are actually quite high. Personally the Blood Craze talent would have made more sense in the Protection tree, as I cannot see many DPS Warriors (who shouldn’t be getting hit all that much) taking it, but for Protection it can be a big help.

All this seems to point to Blizzards goal of “bring the player not the class”. By extending the AoE threat of Warriors with Blood and Thunder and extending the self heal capabilities of the class with Field Dressing and Blood Craze, it looks similar to things Paladins and Death Knights can do (NOTE: I have never tanked extensively with those classes so I may not be entirely accurate but at face value that is what things seem like).

So here is my own talent build:

http://talent.mmo-champion.com/?warrior#IOv1sVcU,,12479

First let’s discuss what a Tank should focus on as far as spec is concerned. Tanks in general are not overly concerned with DPS. That being said, enough damage needs to be done in order to keep threat high. In addition, tanks need to be concerned with survivability, so anything that can mitigate or avoid damage is important. I know many people reading this already understand these aspects of speccing a tank but I like to outline it to help justify my talent build from the Beta.

So, going through my talent selection, I’ll mention why I did/did not spec into a certain ability:

Tier 1:

  • Toughness: This is a given. If any tank argues that increasing your base armor value is a bad decision is just Doing It Wrong ™.
  • Incite: Putting all three points into Toughness you need at least two more in another talent to get to Tier 2. While I said that Tanks are not necessarily worried about overall DPS, Incite adds a nice crit bonus to three of our most-used aggro generating abilities (well, maybe not Heroic Strike). Having crits hit on AoE abilities like TC and Cleave is a good bonus threat generator.
  • Hold the Line: This is the reason Incite is a better choice. Increased critical strike and block for all of 2 seconds after a parry? Does not seem to be that much of a bonus when compared to Incite’s crit bonuses for us and there are better talents those points can be used on.

Tier 2:

  • Improved Revenge: Must have. Increased damage and additional target. Can’t do without for some nice TPS boosting as well as more AoE viability.
  • Shield Mastery/Specialization: I bundled these together cos they had me umming and aahing a bit. They both can take three points. One makes mitigating damage easier, the other helps with threat generation. This can only be summarised as a “if you need it take it” combination. Since we don’t know what threat generation is going to be like come Cataclysm, if it is nerfed, SS might be the required spec. If, however, it isn’t, big reductions in cooldowns on our always-off-cooldown Shield Block and our “Oh Shit” Shield Wall might be fantastic, allowing us to give healers a break more often. So really, come Cata, these two might be swapped around depending on if you find yourself too squishy or rage blocked.

Tier 3:

  • Last Stand: If you need to ask why, you need to rather pick another role. Tanking ain’t for you.
  • Blood and Thunder: Oh hell yeah. The additional fire-and-forget AoE threat this provides is unquestionably worth it. The only way this might not be “required” is if the number crunchers after Cataclysm releases decide it isn’t worth it, but Rend once, one Global Cooldown and then it gets spread and maintained across ALL mobs that get Thunder Clapped … how much easier do you want it?
  • Gag Order: A must have as well. Us Warriors need our silencing abilities for those 3+ caster trash packs.
  • Concussion Blow: Now that its not a requirement for getting Vigilance this talent is debatable. Definitely great for PvP with its stun but its long cooldown, high rage requirement and not all that high damage does not make it awesome for PvE. Having said that, it turns out that its better than alternative talents further down the tree that are needed to get later tiers so I took it pretty much only for that reason.

Tier 4:

  • Improved Defensive Stance: Another one of those compulsory talents that no self-respecting Warrior tank would be without. But hang on, it has some changes. Reduced crit by 6%? There’s Blizzard trying to make up for the fact that Defense Rating is being removed from the game come Cataclysm.
  • Devastate: A sunder armor effect with additional damage and with the right glyphs can hit multiple targets and/or add multiple sunder affects onto a target. Definitely worth it for that extra threat generation.
  • Safeguard: A debatable ability. If you are doing your job right as a tank, you really shouldn’t need to use Intervene all that much if ever. So not taken in this build. This is why Concussion Blow was taken in Tier 3, as that is definitely better than Safeguard and lets us get into the next tier.

Tier 5:

  • Warbringer: Yes, yes, yes. The increased mobility makes tanking a pleasure. And if you are into PvP, it allows your Intervene to break movement impairing effects.
  • Sweep and Clear: Pretty much a default talent to help get to next tier. It also looks to be a great Rage generator making that Shield Specialization seem paltry in comparison. So yes, took it.
  • Vigilance: I like Vigilance. Some Warriors don’t. Its a matter of personal preference really. What that Vengeance ability is, as described in the tooltip, is unknown, but that could make this talent killer and unquestionable as a Warrior talent. We will have to wait and see

Tier 6 and 7:

From this point on you pretty much max out all the talents. Damage Shield for added AoE threat, Sword and Board for those yummy, rage free, Shield Slam Procs and Shockwave as the defining Protection Warrior ability and another AoE threat generator.

Fury and Arms:

Going to run down these point by point as well but briefly:

  • Armored to the Teeth (Fury): Increase your ability to hit based on how much armor you have (and Protection should have oodles of it) is a definite plus. Nothing worse than no threat generation because of misses.
  • Cruelty (Fury): Mostly just to get to Tier 2 of Fury but additional Crit on Shield Slam is handy.
  • Blood Craze (Fury): A debatable talent for a Fury specced Warrior but combined with Field Dressing in Arms is a nice way to make yourself less squishy.
  • Fields Dressing (Arms): Really the only talent shallow enough in the tree to be useful. While currently the Deep Wounds spec for extra bleed-on-crit is quite popular, with Blood and Thunder this is not necessary anymore, hence the Fury slant in the talents.

This is actually my first analysis post on upcoming changes and builds. I do need to mention, as Blizzard has countless times, that these talent builds are a “first pass” and not necessarily what Cataclysm will launch with. That being said, I already like this preview build and hope they don’t change too much.

What would you change in your own build assuming it stays this way? Are there perhaps any guys in Beta right now (I’m not sadly) that can shed some light on how it all works? Looking forward to any debate.

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