I strongly believe that one of the worst things that ever happened to leveling tanks was WoWpopular.com. Not just that particular site, of course, but it and all its ilk. Sites that recommend specs, glyphs, talents, even high-profile bloggers who are working on top-tier, hardmode content, and thus provide a cookie-cutter raiding spec with discussion of maybe the one or two talents they consider controversial or interesting.
The problem with this is that these are the results that Google comes up with when the level 10 nub, looking for where to spend his first talent point, searches “Best [class] tank spec.” These are the results that the DPS who doesn’t actually care about tanking finds 5 minutes before he slaps on a shield and queues for randoms with the coveted Tank Queue.
Shortly after the Frozen Throne wing was released I remember seeing a spike in obviously new warrior tanks, tanks who could barely handle H FoS, much less H ICC, maxing out Safeguard at the expense of Focused Rage, following Veneretio’s venerable example, though in most cases probably second- or third-hand. Months later, when my own guild was working on LK 10 30% easymode and I specced Safeguard for the OT utility, I got to see this phenomenon first-hand: not a month later a guildy dusted off an old warrior alt, copied my spec point for point, and complained that he was having a hard time with threat in heroic dungeons.
I was baffled. Apparently, a significant portion of the five-man tanking population completely misses the point. (Not that raid tanks are necessarily any better; just that I don’t see many of them.)
What is the point? The point is that talent trees exist for exactly one reason: customization. If you’re not looking at your talents and thinking, “How will this work when I’m using it?” you’re doing it wrong.
That’s not to say that all the discussion that goes on in the tanking community, on blogs and forums and in private conversations, isn’t valuable. Quite the contrary – do you intend to calculate each talent’s usefulness on your own? Will you catch every implication, crunch every number? Never overlook a potential gain in performance because of your prejudice against the previous version of the talent/ability? Of course not. But ultimately, all of the theorycraft in the world should only inform your choices in talents. To make the best choices, you need to also consider yourself, and the content you’re running. The question should never be, “What are the best talents for tanking class x y or z?” The question should be, “What are the best talents for me in my situation?”
On December 7th, tanks who had formerly been doing nothing but 25-man raiding, concentrating themselves on bosses bosses and more bosses, will have to shift gears all the way back down to 5-man content. Plate DPS who queued as tanks for instant heroics and let the overpowered DPS and healer carry them through instances tuned for 20k health blue-geared tanks will have to step up or stop tanking. And all of the speccing recommendations and principles to live by which we’ve used for raiding will be out the window.
So let’s practice thinking about our new priorities.
Diseaseless blood tanking has come up once before, and with Death Strike no longer scaling with diseases, it’s looking awfully attractive again. My cotank in our HICC 10 run, Uth, ran diseaseless last night; here are our impressions.
The basic idea of Diseaseless is that 1 Death Strike takes the same runes as 1 Frost Fever and 1 Plague Strike. By Death Striking instead of applying diseases, you gain a significant amount of self-healing and absorption throughout a fight. Naturally, without diseases you lose a decent chunk of threat; it’s up to you whether the tradeoff is worth it. (Don’t let the name of the spec fool you, though: you can still apply diseases in situations that call for them, most notably on trash.)
By the way, you should only run diseaseless if you are absolutely sure that a) your cotank is willing to apply the attack speed and -physical damage debuffs, and b) your cotank knows you’re running diseaseless, so they know to apply the debuffs. A slight increase in healing does not compare to a large reduction in damage taken.
Anyway, here’s my cotank’s Diseaseless build.
I probably would have gone with Blood-Caked Blade instead of RP Mastery, since Glyph of Death Strike tops out at 100, but whatever.
You probably don’t want to see my ramblings on tanking. You probably just haven’t been keeping up with 4.0 developments and are now scrambling to find resources on how to become uncrittable. Here you go.
The only way to become uncrittable in PVE in 4.0.1 is to fully talent Bastion of Defense (warrior), Improved Blood Presence (death knight), Thick Hide (bear druid), or Sanctuary (paladin). The defense stat has been removed from the game, and resilience no longer reduces your chance to be crit. Read more…
While waiting for my final (hopefully) download to complete on my ridiculously slow connection, I finally simmed out Incite like I’ve been meaning to. Please note that this particular sim is only applicable to Prot and Fury, because simming Deep Wounds requires taking into account possible overwrites from other abilities and that’s really more hassle than I want to go to at the moment.
This is part 5 of a 5-part series on tanking specs in 4.0.1. I recommend you view the introduction to the series first.
I’m very sorry for the long delay in this post. The paladin post took longer than I expected, eating up my free time on Tuesday and forcing me to postpone further blogwork until this weekend; when, of course, I was busy preparing myself for the patch. So here it is, the DK post.
EDIT: Please see the comments for discussion on a couple places I went wrong.
The usual disclaimers apply: my death knight is not yet 80, I do not play as blood and I do not tank on him. These recommendations are based on my knowledge of tanking and my research into death knights, not on experience. Shaker-full of salt and all that.
Yes, I know my DK tanking article is way overdue. It’s partially completed – it’s been partially completed for over a week now, though it has crept along in fits and starts – and I hope to have it up before the servers are tomorrow. A combination of real life and laziness has conspired to keep it from you. But these thoughts about warriors are on my mind right now, and I think I’ve got to get them out in order to get down to the DK business. Read more…
This is part 4 of a 5-part series on tanking specs in 4.0.1. I recommend you view the introduction to the series first.
I’ve never played a paladin. These are my best guess predictions/recommendations based on what I know of protadins, but take them with about a shaker-full of salt.