When the 3.1 patch landed, most warrior tanks like myself were excited about the prospect of finally being able to pick up a solid dps spec without having to sacrifice our tanking ability. This was a fun notion for awhile, and through the course of running a good deal of 10 and 25 man content, I had amassed a decent fury and arms gear set. I have been able to shift to my present fury offspec and deal a good amount of damage when needed.
However the grand idea about having two specs was that in some way it would make grinding quests and farming materials more enjoyable. Alas this really wasn’t the case, as all the sudden I started having to carry non-stat food and more bandages for the purpose of… healing. Gone was the ability to roll from pack to pack with no downtime and no need for any healing. No longer could I easily solo over world elites that seem to pop up from time to time in Icecrown when you least expect them.
So what do I end up doing? I end up carrying around a set of dps gear that never gets used as I continue to grind happily in full protection gear and tanking spec. Of late the fact that I have this unused second slot has begun to bother me. I have a level 80 Boomkin that is getting to be pretty well geared, and a 80 Retribution paladin who is more than ready for Ulduar dps. Trying to maintain the notion of Belghast as any form of DPSer already seems pretty defeatist compared to my other options.
Cookie Specs are fail
I’ve never been a huge proponent of the cookie cutter spec. While I generally suggest a newer player “pick” one of the general spec designs I view these like riding a bicycle with training wheels on. You use the tried and tested design until you get a feel for your own particular play style, and then after that you choose a spec that is tailored towards your own style. If you look at most of the higher end players, they make little deviations here and there from the “accepted best spec”.
In a raid I have been expected to fill two very distinct roles. I am our main tank, meaning that I need really solid single target threat generation. This role also requires that I have as many tricks up my sleeve for being able to survive those big boss hits. There are many talents available on the fringes of the trees that offer some added survival. In addition the deep wounds ability allows you to general really great single target threat.
The second role I play in a raid is tanking trash, and even though blizzard denoted that Ulduar was the crowd control instance… we still end up pulling everything and AOE tanking it down. In this role you need to general a lot of threat on as many targets as possible. The bread and butter of this process has been the glyph of cleaving. This allows me to hit 3 targets with the equivalent of a Heroic Strike, which is really great for pissing off many of targets at the same time. Combining this with Thunder Clap and Shockwave allows the warrior to have much of the same AOE tanking utility of a paladin, even if we have to work much harder to get it.
As a result of these two very different roles I have been forced to shoot down the middle and build a hybrid design that attempts to be the best of both worlds. Going with a hybrid design means that I am losing some of my survival ability, but also not maximizing my potential for AOE threat generation. I have been kicking around the idea for awhile of scrapping my unused DPS spec, for the purpose of designating two very distinct and unique builds for the purpose of being the best I can be at both roles.
Making Lots of People Angry… at once
Okay so the first design I have been kicking around is a build to attempt to maximize the warrior talents for the purpose of generating AOE threat. Several weeks back I experimented with a build that used Unbridled Wrath, and Improved Cleave in order to give me massive AOE spamming damage. This turned out to be a great build for tanking heroics and trash, but a fairly horrible build for boss tanking, as I had more rage than I could ever actually spend, and as a result had to give up some of my defensive ability. However for the purpose of building my new AOE tanking spec, this served as a great building block.
The build is much the same as my previous design with one small tweak. Since the entire purpose of my spec is to the best job at holding multiple targets I added Piercing Howl, which should do well at both adding cheap threat to a large number of targets, and dazing targets for the purpose of kiting them. I only go 5 pts into the arms tree since talents like Improved Heroic Strike are defeatist for this design. I will be using Cleave as my aggro dump, and for the most part will only ever touch Heroic Strike if I find myself taking enough damage to peg my rage.
Other major usage abilities will apply like Revenge if its available, but the above are the primary attacks. If sword and board procs we will be hitting the primary target with a free Shield Slam, but much like the revenge procs since single target aggro is not our focus I did not directly list them in the mix. The goal of the build is to be able to charge into a pack and hit as many targets hard and fast so that your AOE does not have to hold back for long. We are using the Glyph of Vigilance for the purpose of placing this on your primary AOE damage dealer. This spec design is untested at this point, but I plan on giving it a thorough workout tonight in 10 Man Ulduar.
How not to get hurt… srsly
The second spec is built around the concept of dropping some of the AOE friendly warrior talents in order to buff up some of the survivability. Since we wont be needing to AOE tank things, it allows us to drop some of the talents like Improved Thunder Clap and Shockwave, and pick up some talents like Improved Disciplines that give you more survivability. In addition to these we move down far enough into the arms tree to pick up Deep Wounds, which will give me a great threat return on rage spent.
Like most single target builds this is designed to use Shield Slam and Revenge if they are up, then I throw in the usage of Concussion Blow because it is a high threat ability with a long recycle. Last priority is to stack Devastate and use Heroic Strike as your rage dump. We are relying on Glyph of Blocking to be proccing often from the shield slams and giving us a constant flow of Revenge ability procs. Glyph of Last Stand and Glyph of Shield Wall are in the mix to give us faster recycle on our primary oh shit buttons for maximum survivability. This will play a more critical role on longer fights, where I will be able to use these more frequently to give healing a break. Again this build has not been tested fully, but I plan on giving it a work out in 10 man Ulduar tonight as well.
Well… not really, but my idea is to be able to be the best of both worlds. Sure I lose my ability to “lolfury dps” in instances, but I also add more utility to the raid as a whole. Hopefully allowing me to shift from being the best single target tank, to being one of the best AOE tanks at the push of a button. I created Belghast solely for the purpose of tanking, so its fitting that as we gain more flexibility with our classes, I turn around and use it to become a better tank. Besides, when you have 3 fairly well geared 80s, you can afford to specialize each of them for a unique purpose.
My goal as always, is to be the best tank I can be and I think this new path is going to lead me to that goal. I want to be able to generate as much threat as I can, but at the same time be easy for my healers to heal. It is all about the team effort, and I think being able to switch hit between two distinct tanking roles will give me a lot of options as we move through the content. The single target build will give me the survivability I need for progression content, and the AOE build will allow me to still tank content below my gear level easily without rage starvation.