Note: This is intended to be used as a guide prior to stepping foot inside of a raid instance. I will be writing another guide once all of the loot has been finalized for raid instances. Take this as “what I need to do to be prepared for my guild’s first raid.”
With Mists of Pandaria around the corner I figured I would go ahead and provide a good resource for Protection Warriors to know both WHAT and WHERE to get the items they need to be ready to begin their first raid.
If you don’t know by now: warrior rage has been completely redesigned. No longer are Protection Warriors going to be full of excessive rage to dump whenever we want. I will leave my personal opinion out of it, but for better or worse — they had an intent with this. Among the obvious ones was they felt that we really did not have the task of managing our resource (at least as much) as others. The other, however, was a more systematic one. If you recall a number of months ago there was a blog post by Ghostcrawler who addressed the issue of tank itemization. The primary issue was tank gear having expertise and hit on them, in what appeared to be “just because.” His response to this was something along the lines of “we want tanks to value expertise and hit, and will eventually implement a way to make this happen.” And, that is exactly what they did. As of the date of this post the only ways a Protection Warrior can obtain rage are the following:
- Battle or Commanding Shout (20 rage)
- Defensive stance generates 1 rage per 3 seconds while in combat
- Shield Slam (15 rage)
- Revenge (10 rage)
- Entering Battle Stance to gain rage from white attacks (higher gain from white attacks than Berserker stance)
- Entering Berserker Stance to gain rage from white attacks and damage taken (lower gain from white attacks than Battle stance, but additionally gain rage from damage taken)
Keep in mind, leaving Defensive Stance subjects you to being critically hit from a boss, among the other significant meanings of being in this stance as a tank.
With the changes to rage generation also came changes to the rage cost of abilities. The majority of our abilities are now free to use, meaning they cost 0 rage. Below are the abilities that cost rage, and their correlating costs:
- Shield Block (60 rage)
- Shield Barrier (20, 40, and 60 rage) [usable at those thresholds; the greater the rage you have when used -- the greater the absorb shield]
- Heroic Strike (30 rage)
- Cleave (30 rage)
- Impending Victory (10 rage) [talented ability; replaces Victory Rush if chosen]
- Shattering Throw (25 rage)
- Hamstring (10 rage)
I stated all of that above to outline the rationale of almost all of my gear choice selections, which is seemingly counter-intuitive. I will explain this later.
What gear is there? Where does it drop?
I am going to organize first by WHERE, and then by SLOT. Click on the instance name to toggle the item and armor slot attributed to it.
Now, click on the item slot to toggle the item and heroic dungeon attributed to it.
Helm of Rising Flame (Scarlet Monastery)
Sap-Encrusted Legplates (Siege of Nivzao Temple)
Ook’s Hozen Slicer (Stormstout Brewery)
Ok, now that you know where to get things, and what’s available to you — it’s time to delve deeper into what specifically you should be getting, and why.
In the preface I went over, in detail, the rage changes and what abilities actually generate rage. The most important factor to remember here is that in order for your Shield Slam and Revenge to give you rage, they MUST hit. That means if you have 0% hit and expertise, you are not going to see optimal rage gain.
Until this point, Protection Warriors have greatly ignored Hit and Expertise, and for good reason: they were essentially useless. However, after participating in the raid testing thus far I have to say that I STILL don’t value using these stats over our other “tank” stats. There were only several occasions that a non-hit resulted in not being able to use Shield Block or Shield Barrier by choice. Additionally, both of our primary avoidance stats, dodge and parry give us the ability to use Revenge — which gives us rage. So, if you have taken a look at the gear available from heroic 5 man dungeons you can see a relative trend. And they are:
- Mastery is notably absent, there are several pieces with it present, but not many.
- There are substantially more pieces with both Dodge AND Parry.
- The vast majority of gear has an avoidance stat (dodge, parry) and Hit or Expertise
That being said, Blizzard has inadvertently (or intended, but I doubt it) given us a choice, and an easy one in my opinion.
Option 1: We can select our gear directly to generate rage and maximize our active mitigation via not missing Shield Slam, but substantially reducing the number of Revenge proc’s we get by selecting one Hit or Expertise secondary stat combined with one Mastery, Dodge, or Parry stat. All the while we take more damage over the course of the entire encounter from the reduced Dodge, Parry, and Mastery loss we sustain from choosing Hit or Expertise.
Option 2: We continue to aim for maximum avoidance and mitigation stats. While we do miss the occasional Shield Slam, but overall we get more Revenge proc’s. Contrary to option #1, we take less damage across the duration of an encounter due to the added dodge, block, and parry.
With that being said, below is the list of items I believe to be best-in-slot prior to stepping into your first raid. Keep in mind, there is not much variety in gear selection so picking up some Hit and Expertise is non-avoidable.
Helm: Helm of Rising Flame (Scarlet Monastery)
Neck: Armsmaster’s Sealed Locket (Scarlet Halls)
Shoulders: Spaulders of Immovable Stone (Siege of Nivzao Temple)
Cloak: Soulrender Greatcloak (Scarlet Monastery)
Chest: Canine Commander’s Breastplate (Scarlet Halls)
Wrists: Bubble-Breaker Bracers (Stormstout Brewery)
Gloves: Gauntlets of Resolute Fury (Shado-Pan Monastery)
Belt: Sparkbreath Girdle (Shado-Pan Monastery)
Legs: Sap-Encrusted Legplates (Siege of Nivzao Temple)
Boots: Wraithplate Treads (Scholomance)
Ring 1: Lime-Rimmed Signet (Stormstout Brewery)
Ring 2: Crystallized Droplet (Temple of the Jade Serpent)
Trinket 1: Iron Protector Talisman (Mogu’shan Palace)
Trinket 2: Heart of Fire (Shado-Pan Monastery)
Weapon: Ook’s Hozen Slicer (Stormstout Brewery)
Shield: Shield of Blind Hate (Shado-Pan Monastery)
Here are the raw (purely gear) stat gains you’ll be looking at with this gear (pre-reforging, which I will get to next):
Mastery (%): 2481 (4.12%)
Dodge (%): 4645 (5.25%)
Parry (%): 4752 (5.37%)
Hit (%): 254 (0.75%)
Expertise (%): 279 (0.82%)
And, for those interested — below are the base stats for Protection Warriors at level 90. (I am unsure of the algorithm’s to calculate the final stats, or even if they have been changed — so I did not bother to predict it.)
Mastery (%): 0 (17%)
Dodge (%): 0 (5.01%)
Parry (%): 0 (3.21%)
Hit (%): 0 (0%)
Expertise (%): 0 (0%)
Unless the math has changed dramatically since Cataclysm, and considering my explanation of gear selection earlier — this is going to work almost identically as before. Stat priorities being:
- Dodge or Parry (the removal of Hold the Line means it no longer matters that Parry be higher)
- Hit or Expertise
With that, when you have a piece of gear with both Dodge and Parry — you take the highest stat and reforge it to Mastery. If they are the same, choose whichever stat you currently have more of. If a piece has Dodge and Mastery, and your Parry is higher than your dodge: do nothing, and likewise with a piece with Parry and Mastery. If an item has Hit or Expertise combined with any Mastery, Dodge, or Parry stat you will always choose the Hit or Expertise and reforge it based upon the stat priorities listed above.
This is still up for debate. During the initial Cataclysm cycle, we gemmed pure avoidance and mastery, or even pure mastery. This may be subject to change in Mists of Pandaria with the introduction of Shield Barrier. I’m going to explain in greater detail in the next section as to why. The options though, would be to continue the same style of Cataclysm, or gem pure stamina. The answer to this, in my opinion, is going to come down to a per-encounter basis.
Shield Block versus Shield Barrier
The change to Shield Block was a very strong change. If you are unfamiliar with it, it’s quite simple. Shield Block now blocks every incoming attack for the next 6 seconds with the ability to critically block as well, and is usable twice within 15 seconds. Alternatively, you have the new ability, Shield Barrier. Shield Barrier acts much like the Death Knight ability Blood Shield. It is an absorb shield that absorbs damage based on two components: first, the amount of rage you have when used (the maximum being 60 rage, the cost of Shield Block), and second, your attack power.
This all ties into the gemming dilemma I was discussing earlier. As of this post, in full 476 gear (LFR item level) and a maximum stack of Vengeance (relative to your stamina), you are looking at an approximate 140,000 absorb shield (more if gemmed full stamina). Bosses in 10-man normal mode are currently hitting on average for around 50,000-80,000 damage in 476 item level gear, at varying speeds depending on the boss. So, hypothetically if you are tanking a boss — Shield Barrier is going to be superior for damage reduction. If a boss melee attacks you for 60,000 damage every 2 seconds, and you opt to use Shield Block (and assume you critically block [60% mitigation] all 3 swings) you mitigate a total of 108,000 damage. Alternatively, if you used a 60-rage Shield Barrier, you are going to mitigate (absorb) 140,000 damage. So, the only situation in which Shield Block is going to be more appropriate is going to be on an encounter where you are getting hit by multiple targets, or very quickly from one target. Otherwise, Shield Barrier is your go-to.
I will be releasing more guides as time goes on, but I figured this would be a great starter guide for those whom have yet to do their homework, or do not yet have access to the beta. Feel free to comment below with any questions, comments, or errors.