Protection Warrior Leveling in WoTLK

It has been a week since my last post, but I’m not going to apologize. Like you I have been leveling and enjoying what I believe to be the best World of Warcraft expansion to date: Wrath of the Lich King. I am also proud to announce that I was the first person in my guild to hit 80. What I am even prouder of is the fact that I leveled from 70 to 80 as a Protection warrior. That’s right I said Prot!

In actuality, I really believe that Prot specced leveling is the way to go. I talked to both Arms and and Fury warriors while I was leveling and they were all very intrigued by the fact that I was leveling up with sword and board. In fact, they all acknowledged the benefits in survivability it gave and mentioned a few downsides to leveling in their current specs.

I also saw several other Prot warriors who very happy with the speed and ease in which they were able to level. All who stated comments like “I just won’t die, I am too survivable.” And this was referring to both the PvE grind and the occassions in which they came into contact with someone trying to gank. The truth is in my whole time leveling I died 6 times in total. Two of those deaths can be attributed to stupidity on my part, falling off a cliff, etc. Another two were in PvE situations and the last two in PvP situations where I was outnumbered heavily.

Another added advantage was the fact that I had zero down time when trying to run instances to complete quests. Because I was Prot specced the entire time I simply needed to show up and blow up. Where as DPS warriors were shunned in a lot of cases because tank specs are rare due to people switching specs to level. So I could go into an instance, tank it like a pro and then go right back to the quest grind without a second lost.

There are numerous other advantages to Prot spec leveling as well. Being able to test your spec while leveling gives you the ability to figure out what is good and what needs to be tweaked once you hit 80. It allows you to get used to the new talents so when you start to raid they are already second nature. It also gives you the right to need on tanking gear in instances without being spammed and labeled a ninja from another plate wearing class.

If you are a prot warrior who switched to Arms or Fury to level, then I would invite you to switch back to Prot and try it out. Or if you are a DPS warrior and you are getting frustrated with the hard hits that the mobs are dealing and the lower health than why not try out leveling as a Prot warrior. Who knows you might find out you love tanking.

So here is the spec I used while leveling. It might not be a cookie cutter build that you’ll see on WoWWiki but I can speak from personal experience that it works well. It has all of the core talents to allow you to tank and a few to help with the PvP along the way. Feel free to comment on what you would change or submit the build you used.

Level 80 Warrior (3/14/54)

Arms (3 points)

Improved Heroic Strike – Rank 3/3
Reduces the cost of your Heroic Strike ability by 3 rage points.

Fury (14 points)

Armored to the Teeth – Rank 3/3
Increases your attack power by 3 for every 180 armor value you have.

Cruelty – Rank 5/5
Increases your chance to get a critical strike with melee weapons by 5%.

Unbridled Wrath – Rank 5/5
Gives you a chance to generate an additional rage point when you deal melee damage with a weapon. Effect occurs more often than Unbridled Wrath (Rank 4).

Piercing Howl – Rank 1/1
Causes all enemies within 10 yards to be Dazed, reducing movement speed by 50% for 6 sec.

Protection (54 points)

Improved Bloodrage – Rank 2/2
Increases the rage generated by your Bloodrage ability by 50%.

Shield Specialization – Rank 5/5
Increases your chance to block attacks with a shield by 5% and has a 100% chance to generate 2 rage when a block occurs.

Improved Thunder Clap – Rank 3/3
Reduces the cost of your Thunder Clap ability by 4 rage points and increases the damage by 30% and the slowing effect by an additional 10%.

Incite – Rank 3/3
Increases the critical strike chance of your Heroic Strike, Thunder Clap and Cleave abilities by 15%.

Last Stand – Rank 1/1
When activated, this ability temporarily grants you 30% of your maximum health for 20 sec. After the effect expires, the health is lost.

Improved Revenge – Rank 2/2
Increases damage of your Revenge ability by 20% and gives a 50% chance to stun the target for 3 sec.

Shield Mastery – Rank 2/2
Increases your block value by 30% and reduces the cooldown of your Shield Block ability by 20 sec.

Toughness – Rank 5/5
Increases your armor value from items by 10% and reduces the duration of all movement slowing effects by 30%.

Puncture – Rank 3/3
Reduces the rage cost of your Sunder Armor and Devastate abilities by 3.

Concussion Blow – Rank 1/1
Stuns the opponent for 5 sec and deals [0.75 * AP] damage (based on attack power).

Gag Order – Rank 2/2
Gives your Shield Bash and Heroic Throw abilities a 100% chance to silence the target for 3 sec and increases the damage of your Shield Slam ability by 10%.

One-Handed Weapon Specialization – Rank 5/5
Increases physical damage you deal when a one-handed melee weapon is equipped by 10%.

Improved Defensive Stance – Rank 2/2
While in Defensive Stance all spell damage is reduced by 6% and when you Block, Parry or Dodge an attack you have a 100% chance to become Enraged, increasing melee damage caused by 10% for 12 sec.

Vigilance – Rank 1/1
Focus your protective gaze on a group or raid target, reducing their damage taken by 3% and transfers 10% of the threat they cause to you. In addition, each time they are hit by an attack your Taunt cooldown is refreshed. Lasts 30 min. This effect can only be on one target at a time.

Focused Rage – Rank 3/3
Reduces the rage cost of your offensive abilities by 3.

Vitality – Rank 3/3
Increases your total Strength and Stamina by 6% and your Expertise by 6.

Warbringer – Rank 1/1
Your Charge ability is now usable while in combat and in any stance. In addition, your Charge, Intercept and Intervene abilities will remove all movement impairing effects.

Devastate – Rank 1/1
Sunder the target’s armor causing the Sunder Armor effect. In addition, causes 50% of weapon damage plus 101 for each application of Sunder Armor on the target. The Sunder Armor effect can stack up to 5 times.

Critical Block – Rank 3/3
Your successful blocks have a 30% chance to block double the normal amount and increases your chance to critically hit with your Shield Slam ability by an additional 15%.

Sword and Board – Rank 3/3
Increases the critical strike chance of your Devastate ability by 15% and when your Devastate or Revenge ability deals damage it has a 30% chance of refreshing the cooldown of your Shield Slam ability and reducing its cost by 100% for 5 sec.

Damage Shield – Rank 2/2
Whenever you take damage from or block a melee attack you cause damage equal to 20% of your block value.

Shockwave – Rank 1/1
Sends a wave of force in front of the warrior, causing [0.75 * AP] damage (based on attack power) and stunning all enemy targets within 10 yards in a frontal cone for 4 sec.

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20 Responses to “Protection Warrior Leveling in WoTLK”

  1. Did you lvl with dps gear or total tanking gear when grinding?

  2. Very good question Deedly. I actually leveled in full Prot gear with the exception being my weapon. I kept a dps sword, mace or axe, with Greater Potency (+50 attack power) that I picked up from a guildy leveling their enchanting, the whole way through. The DPS weapon plus shield slam and damage shield kept me moving at a fast pace and killing mobs as fast or even faster than the next guy.

  3. Dimitri Chagares Says:

    As you were leveling did you stick to Battle Stance or Defensive?

  4. Well as a warrior I switched up for different situations, but with that said I can still safely say that I was in Defensive stance 90% of the time. With the build listed in this posting I was able to pull off 4-5k Shield Slam crits pretty often. That is 50-75% of the health of the majority of the non elites in Northrend.

    So 90% of the time I was basically using the following rotation in Defensive Stance:

    Charge (if CD up) > Shield Slam > Devastate > Devastate > Shield Block > Revenge > Rinse and Repeat

    Not much different from tanking an instance.

  5. Dimitri Chagares Says:

    wow this post was really great. it helped a lot thanks.

  6. How about your Prot gear? do you really go for lot of SBV? or doesn’t really matter? cause I currently only have around 650 on my prot gear without going into prot spec yet

  7. SBV is not something I actively tried to raise while leveling. Stats were something I focused on as I got up to around 78. And that was because I wanted to hit 80 as close to heroics and raid ready as possible. Still you want to always try and have the best shield you have access to equipped for your shield slams. Once you hit 73 or 74 head over to Grizzly Hills and start up the Ursoc the Bear God quest line. This quest line is a bit tricky to follow because it is not exactly linear to start with. But the first quest that begins to unlock it is called “Local Business” and you can pick up from Amberpine Lodge. The reward for the final quest is an awesome pair of legs and a very nice shield that replaced what I was using from BC.

  8. Did you start leveling with all epics equipped?

  9. Yes. I raided in BC and had access to a full epic set of gear. If you don’t have the same gear access I don’t think it will change the effectiveness of this build. Have someone craft you the Cobalt tanking set which I believe is an 8 piece set. It should carry you well until you can meet the level requirements of the Tempered Saronite set and pick up some nice blue quest rewards/drops.

  10. Evilbetti Says:

    What about trinkets and rings? i got trinks for avoidance and max hp and then ful dps epix dps gear. what should i wear? maybe combine some? if yes how? pretty lost, juts activated my old warrior account again 🙂

  11. Well you will find that trinkets and rings are the hardest thing to replace in LK. I didn’t replace my trinkets until 79 or 80, at least not both of them anyway. I will say that some tanking trinkets and rings mixed with some DPS gear won’t really make a difference. You’ll still be a warrior in mostly DPS gear and you won’t get the survivability and damage reduction benefits of a Prot warrior. You’ll have to decide for yourself if switching out for Prot gear is something you want to do or not. I know it can be hard initially to exchange greens and blues for epics.

  12. Pathological Says:

    This is a bit of a scrub question but I have had a warrior for 3 years and never once specced prot. The changes look exciting and I’m looking very forward to levelling prot.

    My question is, at 70 what would the spec look like. Seeing before and after specs make a little more sense. Everytime I try to take out a specific talent I feel like I need it and not having the knowledge of prot I’m certain I’ll take out something important.

    What did your spec look like @ 70 when you first started?

  13. Actually it is a really good question. Here is what my build looked like at 70:

    Then pick up the following talents as you level in the following order:

    71: Last point in Cruelty.
    72-74: Improved Heroic Strike
    75-79: Unbridled Wrath
    80: Piercing Howl

  14. What about glyphs for leveling?

    and coming in as an arms geared warrior, what 1h would you recommend?

  15. For glyphs I would recommend the following:

    Glyph of Revenge
    Glyph of Charge
    Glyph of Rapid Charge
    Glyph of Battle
    Glyph of Devastate
    Glyph of Thunder Clap

    As far as 1H weapons go it would depend a lot on preference. I have a post planned covering my process for picking a weapon and what I look for. But in an effort to answer your question, it would depend on what you had access to in BC. I used my King’s Defender and a few other level 70 epic swords for my first few levels. If you do not have access to any good ones from BC then find a BS who can make you something to get you through the first couple of levels.

  16. great guide.

    would you recommend prot leveling to a warrior who will be leveling with a resto shaman 100% of the time?

    • It will only make you job easier having a dedicated healer. Due to the changes in spellpower the shaman should also be able to help DPS when needed.

  17. How are you using charge if you’re in defensive stance most of the time? are you using up all the extra rage you can’t retain , then switching to defensive, or am I missing something really obvious? Also, does this build make sense leveling from 45? I thought I might have fun leveling prot with the revenge glyph, as I’ve done fury leveling multiple times already, and free HS seemed like a pretty good deal to me

    • There is a talent called Warbringer that allows you to charge in combat and from any stance. One could say it is THE single best, new talent point available. So when you take into consideration the Warbringer talent with the two Charge glyphs your options while tanking and leveling multiply many times over. As far as leveling from 45 with the spec that would be hard to say. You wouldn’t have access to some of the main parts of the build or some of the new gear available in Northrend. However, that doesn’t mean it would be a bad idea. I invite you to try it out and let me know how it goes.

  18. Hi. A nice thread here. A real good read too. I was a dps warrior at 70 mainly doing pvp. When WOTLK came out i struggled for the first few quests !! ( i had already got my hunter to 80 🙂 ) and i thought about going prot. I reckon its the best move i could of made. Like you said im a BS and made myself the cobolt set and things suddenly got far easier. Im still working on my rotation and i will try yours a few times to see how that works. Just dinged again so halfway there 😉

    Cheers …. and Prot Rocks 🙂

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