A Warriors' Guide to pre-Outland Tanking (WoW)  

A Warriors' guide to pre-Outland tanking.

Recently a lot of the newer warriors in my guild have been asking me for input on their talent specs, abilities, and general info about what goes into being a level 60 warrior with endgame aspirations. Other warriors have asked me what I suggested for the most damage output. I figured I would just go ahead and write a guide for them and anyone else who is leveling a warrior and wants to know what to shoot for.

Contents [hide]

I will start with talents

For a warrior, talent spec is as important as good gear. What you really have to ask yourself is, "What do I want to do?". Do you want to be a Main Tank in high end instances? Do you want to be a total DPS warrior with a focus on Damage (PvP warrior for example)? Or... do you want to be a well rounded warrior who can tank well, but not excellent, and do damage well, but wont excel in DPS like another warrior with a more aggressive spec might.

Let's look at the "New" Main tank spec of choice that I have used before. This Spec is really good for the "beginner" main tank.

"Tank" Spec

Arms - 11 points

Talent Points
Deflection 5/5
Tactical Mastery 5/5
Anger Management 1/1

Fury - 5 points
Talent Points
Cruelty 5/5

Protection - 35 points
Talent Points Talent Points
Shield Specialization 5/5 Anticipation 4/5
Toughness 5/5 Improved Shield Block 1/3
Improved Bloodrage 2/2 Last Stand 1/1
Defiance 5/5 Improved Taunt 2/2
Improved Sunder Armor 3/3 Concussion Blow 1/1
One-handed Weapon Specialization 5/5 Shield Slam 1/1

At a certain point most tanks won't really "need" defiance but when combined with a one-handed spec it can make tanking for beginners much easier. Combine that with the fact that most of the other talents in the protection tree aren't really that great for a tank anyway and doesn't look like such a waste of points. Later on, when you are more comfortable with yourself, you can take those other 5 points and invest them elsewhere such as in more arms talents. Improved Heroic Strike is a good choice for this as Heroic Strike is a great tanking ability as it is. There is a caveat to defiance though. As you progress into high-end Places such as BWL, the extra 5 points in defiance seem more worth keeping, as many of those enemies have aggro wipe abilities and are immune to taunt. Something to keep in mind.

A few points in Anticipation, while not necessary, will definitely help you now that the +def items on all items has been nerfed.

Obviously one of the keys to good tanking is having rage, and in this regard, your arms talents are some of your most important tanking talents. In MC, rage is never really a problem as you are always being hit for 500-1000 damage. However, in lower End instances you may sometimes have trouble with aggro control early in fights due to lack of rage. The solution to this is Tactical Mastery and Anger Management.

With Tactical Mastery you retain rage points when you switch stances. This makes it possible to start a fight off in battle stance and charge at your enemy, then you can switch to defensive stance quickly and you get to start out with 15-25 rage to play with. This will help you immensely in grabbing initial agro and makes certain classes (such as stun-lock rogues) less of a problem in holding agro. Anger Management speaks for itself in this regard. When do tanking warriors often times have the most amount of rage? After a fight of course and Anger Management helps you conserve this for use on the next battle.

"DPS" Spec

Arms - 31 points

Talent Points Talent Points
Improved Rend 3/3 Deflection 5/5
Tactical Mastery 5/5 Improved Charge 1/2
Improved Overpower 2/2 Deep Wounds 3/3
Impale 2/2 Axe Specialization 5/5
Sweeping Strikes 1/1 Improved Hamstring 3/3
Mortal Strike 1/1

Fury - 20 points
Talent Points Talent Points
Cruelty 5/5 Unbridled Wrath 5/5
Improved Battle Shout 5/5 Enrage 5/5

This build is the classic 31/20 Crit/Mortal Strike/Enrage build. It is perfect for PvP and Solo Grinding. Get your hands on an Arcanite Reaper and you will be a force to be reckoned with using this build.

The best reason to invest points in fury is for Enrage. Enrage can turn an unlucky Crit landed on you into MASSIVE damage output that could end a fight/duel very quickly. With the increase in the debuff limit, this build is now a great choice for the raiding DPS warrior. Deep Wounds is a great talent to have for increasing your DPS, and it is required for Impale which I consider to be one of our most important talents in the arms tree.

"Rounded" Arms Spec

Arms - 31 points

Talent Points Talent Points
Improved Rend 3/3 Deflection 5/5
Tactical Mastery 5/5 Improved Charge 1/2
Improved Overpower 2/2 Deep Wounds 3/3
Impale 2/2 Axe Specialization 5/5
Sweeping Strikes 1/1 Improved Hamstring 3/3
Mortal Strike 1/1

Fury - 5 points
Talent Points Talent Points
Cruelty 5/5

Protection - 15 points
Talent Points Talent Points
Shield Specialization 5/5 Toughness 5/5
Improved Shield Block 1/3 Defiance 4/5
Improved Bloodrage 2/2 Last stand 1/1
+ 1 Wildcard point

This spec is becoming quite common amongst my warrior friends as it is probably the best bang for your buck talent wise if you really want to be well rounded. It allows you to still retain Axe Spec and Mortal Strike to be viable for PvP or solo grinding, but it gives you enough talents in Protection to not gimp yourself too bad for tanking. I personally use this spec and I main tank BWL. I do however notice a huge difference in PvP with this spec over Arms/Fury. The loss of enrage really does reduce our overall effectiveness in PvP, but with this spec you are still quite viable.

Fury "DPS" Spec

Arms - 14 points

Talent Points
Deflection 5/5
Tactical Mastery 4/5
Improved Overpower 2/2

Fury - 37 points
Talent Points Talent Points
Cruelty 5/5 Unbridled Wrath 5/5
Piercing Howl 5/5 Imp Battle Shout 5/5
Dual Wield Specialization 5/5 Enrage 5/5
Death Wish 1/1 Improved Intercept 2/2
Improved Berserker Rage 2/2 Flurry 5/5
Bloodthirst 1/1

Fury is a real funny tree. There is no "cookie cutter" Fury build as far as I am concerned because there are a lot of very different yet very viable paths you can take. This is the spec that I chose and I really dig it. I admit that I didn't play with it for too long (got myself an Untamed Blade and had to go back to 31/20 :P), but in the time I spent with it I really, really liked it. One of the cool things about Fury specs is talents like Flurry. Flurry grants you a 30% increased attack speed for your next three swings after dealing a critical strike. When you get up to around 25-30% crit rate and you get some good weapons, you will find yourself in perma-flurry and that extra 30% speed will put out some sick damage. Another good talent in here is Deathwish. Deathwish is somewhat dangerous as it gives you immunity to fear and boosts your damage, but makes your more susceptible to incoming damage. Use with caution, but it is great for a big damage boost in a pinch. Depending on what you do more (PvE or PvP) you may want to consider a slight deviation from the above spec. What I might change for a PvE-centered warrior is taking 2 points out of Tactical Mastery and putting them into improved execute. If you are playing PvE execute is a great talent that will land you very high up on the damage charts. The less base rage it costs to use, the larger your hits and crits will be with it. Also, the loss of points in tactical mastery is not game-breaking as with a dual wield spec you will gain lots of rage very fast.

The last thing to keep in mind is that when wielding two weapons a warriors miss rate goes WAY up. At times this might make the game "Feel" wrong. It might feel like you miss every other hit and it can be frustrating. I was 31/20 or 31/5/15 for the entire time I have been 60 (~60 days /played @ 60) so it was a big adjustment for me to get used to it, but, over time, I saw some really impressive numbers. A good way to counter the insane miss rate is to stock up on +hit items. They are not terribly common in the game before level 50 or so, but as you approach max level there are just TONS of +hit options available to you.

There are a few talents that are important not matter which spec you choose

The first of which is Cruelty. Warriors live and die by crits. You could get your warrior up to 1100 attack power unbuffed, but if you had a 10% crit chance it wouldn't do you any good against a warrior with 675 attack power unbuffed with a 32% crit chance. Crits are always good and no matter which spec you choose, it behooves you to invest 5 points in this.

The next is Tactical Mastery. The ability to quickly switch between stances and carry rage over will save you and your parties life someday. Without this talent you will be forced to waste valuable seconds to generate rage for your abilities and I think we can all attest that in both PvP and PvE a few seconds is sometimes the difference between a dominating victory and a long run.

Another talent that is worth a close look is Deflection. This talent increases your Parry percentage by 5 when fully specced out and its benefit is fairly self-explanatory. The less you get hit, the better off you are. Not to mention that when you parry it enables you to use Revenge, which is probably one of our best abilities for holding aggro.

Some goals for End-Game tanking warriors

How much Armor should I have to tank MC? How much HP should I have? What is a good How much Def should I have?

These are all questions that I have heard asked and as far as I am concerned it's really all about balance. 475 Def isn't going to help you much if your AC w/ a shield is only 6k and your HP is 3800. Basically all warriors should try to shoot for having as much balance as possible in their gear and believe me it can get tricky.

I usually tell warriors that for tanking they should shoot for 7.5k AC, 4.7k HP, and 335 Def unbuffed before they hit up Molten Core. These numbers can be obtained relatively easily with pre-MC gear. Also, you should shoot to get your Parry, Dodge, and Block as High as you can, but try not to sacrifice too much defense or AC in pursuit of it.

Here is a short list of easily obtainable gear that will get you close to this goal:

Parry and Dodge or Defense?

When you tank UBRS the thing that will get you killed more often than not is when you get mobbed by 3 or 4 enemies that each hit relatively quickly for 100-200 dmg per swing. This fast damage will basically whittle you down before you can get enough heals to survive. When you get to places like Molten Core and BWL you will notice that it isn't taking lots of quick small hits that kills tanks, it is damage spikes from crits and crushing blows. Crushing blows are basically large critical hits that only AI mobs have and these are the things that will kill a tank whom isn't properly prepared. This is where +parry, + dodge, and a high AC comes in handy. The higher your higher your parry and dodge is, the more you will outright avoid attacks. I used to swear by stacking myself tons of +def items, but after the rather vicious nerf to +def items, it is more valuable than ever to have lots of dodge and parry.

However, a high defense skill is still something you want to strive for. If you have 20% dodge and parry and ZERO extra defense you will find yourself avoiding a lot of attacks but still taking large spike damage from enemy crits when you don't avoid it. Def skill decreases the enemies chance to crit you, so it is still extremely valuable to a tanking warrior.

Some goals for DPS warriors

Weapons, weapons, and weapons. The cornerstone of any DPS warriors' gear and spec choice is his weapon choice. Fury warriors aren't as restricted with their choice of weapons as Arms warriors are. A fury warrior can very easily go with a slow or fast mainhand or vise versa or both slow and both fast. Go with what you like if you go the fury road. Arms/MS warriors on the other hand, will want to get the hardest hitting 2hander that they can find such as an Arcanite Reaper. The main goal of an MS arms warrior is to get the highest top-end damage they can on their weapon, and this usually goes hand in hand with a slow speed. Before 1.8 the weapon speed directly affected the attack power bonus applied to our instant attacks (MS, Whirlwind). Now however, when calculating the attack power bonus all 2handers use a speed of 3.3. It works something like this:

Base Weapon Damage+((attack power/14)*3.3) = New Base Damage

So, for example... Arcanite Reaper user w/ 800 Attack power 256 (top end) Weapon Damage 256 + ((800/14) * 3.3) = ~445 top end damage per hit

You can use this formula with any weapon to figure out what the top end damage will end up being.

The only constant that applies to nearly all DPS specs is that we live and die by crits and attack power. Personally, I have always shot for an unbuffed attack power of roughly 750-800 with at least a 27 or 28% crit chance (in berserk stance). Some will argue that maxing out crit to 32 or 33% is the most important thing, and some will argue that having a larger base attack power is the key to success. My line of thinking is somewhere in between. I believe that they key to have a good balance. I wont bother to make a list of recommended gear, because frankly it would take me all night to list it all as there is no “standard uber DPS gear set”. I will leave your DPS gear choices to you, all I will recommend is that you expirament… Try some new things out. Try to farm a gear set that focuses on attack power. Then try and farm a set that focuses on a high crit chance. See which one you like better, or better yet go back and see if you can mix and match to get a really good balance of “the best of both worlds”.

Defense is a good offense?

I will admit that I don't PvP much being the hardcore PvE junkie that I am, but when I do, I have noticed that I live a LOT longer when I am wearing some pieces of my Might set than when I am wearing my straight up DPS set. It is debatable how much affect AC has in PvP, but I can say with full confidence that a high def, dodge, and parry skill WILL help you live longer. Def in PvP seems to work the same as in PvE in that it helps to reduce the chance for an enemy to land a critical strike. I have noticed a marked difference in my survivability wearing full DPS gear with a 300 def, 8 dodge, and 10 parry vs. when I wear a few of my Might pieces and def items and can pull a ~330 def 15 dodge, and 18 parrty skill. With the proper mixing and matching of gear I can generally speaking still retain a 27% crit chance with 4900 life with the above boosts in dodge/parry/defense.

This guide is starting to look a little more complete, but something to keep in mind is that this is all my take on the warrior class. If you don't agree, rock on, that's the beauty of the way blizzard designed us, we have lots of options. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me via e-mail at


Note: Changes made to v1.1 include a few more suggested tanking item listings and Headings for a suggested fury spec and a suggested DPS item listing

Note (part deux): Changes made to v1.2 address fury spec, and address the changes to instant attacks and +defense values made in recent patches. Game mechanics have changed, so has my outlook on certain things.

Parts of this page were originally written by Evilmonstar.

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This page last modified 2009-07-01 13:41:14.