Monday, January 04, 2010

Low Level Warrior Tanking

With the new Dungeon Finder, I've found that I really enjoy running the old, low-level instances. There's something pure about a group of lowbie characters facing old-school challenges like Deadmines and Shadowfang Keep in greens and blues. Before talents really make a major difference, where people use the old meat-and-potatoes abilities instead of the fancy-shmancy expansion abilities. Where drops are actual upgrades instead of pure disenchant fodder. Where you enter Wailing Caverns, get lost, and finally finish several hours later, defending a tauren healing a night elf from a giant murloc.

After a couple of runs with dual-wielding or two-handed tanks, I decided to make a warrior and level and gear strictly through the Dungeon Finder. A warrior that, further more, would tank properly with: 1) a shield; and 2) Defensive Stance. The DPS warrior tanks did a lot of damage and didn't really die, but they couldn't hold aggro at all. My rogue kept pulling off them and she doesn't even have any heirloom gear.

So far, my warrior has made it level 19, and I've tanked Ragefire Chasm, Wailing Caverns, and Deadmines.

The thing I've found with low level warrior tanks is that they are really dependent on getting hit once at the start of the fight. Once I get enough Rage to Sunder or Revenge even just one time, the mob is stuck to me, and no one can touch me in threat for the rest of the fight.

However, many DPS like to hit the mob before it hits the tank. That makes it much harder for the warrior to recover and you have to start burning taunts. So far, the main culprits have been paladins. I think it's because Judgement has a slight range on it, and because they have mail armor so they're not scared of the mobs. It's terribly enraging to see a mob running towards me, my finger hovering over the Sunder button, and then see a golden hammer hit the mob's head and "Changed Target" flash on my screen right before the mob reaches me.

Now I truly understand the fuss warriors made over Rage and priest shields. It must have been extremely annoying to them to be shielded right before the start of the fight and not be able to get any Rage at all.

I wonder if the warrior experience would have been slightly better if the "rest level" of Rage had been twenty instead of zero. (It seems appropriate that Warriors get to be slightly angry all the time.) If out of combat, Rage rose or fell to 20 rage. This would give warriors enough rage to use one or two moves at the very start of combat and make them not so dependent on getting hit right off the bat.

That's one of the advantages of Paladins and Death Knights when tanking. Their resource starts at full, so they aren't dependent on getting that initial hit.


  1. Here here. I've leveled my warrior using the dungeon finder exclusively from 33 to 45 so far, and I can't say how annoying it is when I have NO RAGE and I just pulled a group of mobs -- and the DPS starts AoEing them down before I can even hit Thunder Clap.

    I have to use Bloodrage so much that half the time, it's on cooldown when I pull. And then I can't hit Thunder Clap at all, because nothing is hitting me, and I have to depend on melee hits for a couple of seconds before I can grab things.

    Your suggestion makes me think of the Champions Online resource system. You regen it through auto-attacks, and spend it on special attacks, but between fights it doesn't go to zero, it resets to some mid level. That would be quite preferable to the current Rage situation.

  2. It is extremely annoying, yes. Just burn the taunt though, if any of them pull aggro after that they'll just have to cope.

  3. You can overcome some rage problems if you start fights by charging + thunderclapping.

    Or try and stop using rage consuming abilities when the fight is half-over and you are going to hold aggro anyway - this will build up a rather large pool of rage and if your healer isn't too slow on drinking you will be fine.
    (Given that you don't have to take a long break after every trash pack)

    Talk to your group members. Ask them to wait for your first sunder/thunderclap. Might work. Probably not though ^^

  4. My bear tank is very interested in your ideas and wishes to subscribe to your newsletter, good sir.

    I really like the idea of a 20 rage OOC limit.

    It's very frusterating to not be able to use feral charge to close distance with mobs and swipe, becauwse I start the fight with 0 rage.

  5. Don't burn through all your rage in most fights. If you have Omen then you can keep an eye on your threat level. Once you have a comfortable lead, just use auto-attack until you are about 3/4 full. Even with short breaks to let your healer drink, you should probably have enough rage remaining at the beginning of most fights to pick up early aggro, and the cycle continues. Longer breaks will drain you, but that's when you fire bloodrage. Basically you should aim to end most fights with most of your rage meter full.

  6. Macro your Bloodrage to your Charge, makes life a lot easier.

  7. It pains me to see the comments like "Just charge and thunderclap"

    Obviously these people haven't run low level dungeons in awhile.

    Mobs are NOT spread out, and they run away when they're almost dead. You really really really *want* to pull them to you.

    Pre-warbringer (charge can be used in combat) it was really, really tough to be a warrior in instances, and I learned to use omen a LOT.

    My advice: Mark every pull. Make sure your dps is focus firing, if they refuse to, stop trying to aoe threat and let them die. They'll learn.

    That will let you get a good bit of rage built up, and you'll be over-threat on the last mob so you can auto attack only it's last 50% or so, and leave your rage bar full for the next pull.

  8. It's just as annoying at 80.

    And it's still usually the ret pallys driving me batty (and warlocks...oh, warlocks).


  9. In addition to floating rage (making sure you end combat with rage for the next pull), save your bloodrage for whenever you're Out of combat. The 10 seconds of rage gain will stop your rage from decaying while the healer drinks.

    And if DPS keeps pulling skull off of you, let them tank it while you get the other adds to hit you for rage. Don't blow your taunt until you have enough rage to hold the mob or the mob is attacking the healer.

  10. I have a level 49 warrior. Before level 20, I was speced Protection, I remember it being a pain to come up with some rage to tank. This was before they made the change to Bloodrage, where you couldn't use Charge and Bloodrage at the start of a fight because Bloodrage put you in combat. At level 20, I speced to fury and I tanked as fury and I remember not having problems on tanking. ...I had no problem getting rage at the start of the fight.

    Of course, Protection has more advantages of tanking so I dual speced her at level 49. I haven't gotten to tank on her since but I am excited to see how it goes.

    Can you imagine the PVP uproar if warriors started out on 20 rage? O_o I don't pvp but I do know warriors hurt.

  11. I like this idea for pve. Would be nicer than having to constantly pop bloodrage.

  12. Bear tanks actually do have something like this already. With 5 points in it, the talent Furor gives a bear tank 10 rage when they shift into bear form.

  13. Unfortunately, Charge + Bloodrage isn't a very simple option for me, since "low level tanking" generally means "too low level to use Charge in Defensive Stance" and I haven't yet mastered the ability to switch stances at will. That and the fact that I'm often pulling casters around corners to get them all clumped up together.

  14. Alright, I will try floating more rage between encounters. See if that makes life easier.

  15. Interesting post...though I admit part of me was hoping for an actual little mini-guide. I was toying with the idea of leveling a warrior tank solely through LFG, but whenever I go to read up on ideas, specs and suggestions for leveling I am crit for 9000 by calculus equations and paragraphs of doom.

    I am quite interested to know the spec/glyphs/attacks etc that you are using as a low level warrior =)

  16. As an old-time warrior from vanilla, here's my advice: mark your targets, charge, switch to defensive and no dps attacks until the warrior sunders on any given target. My original guild actually had a three-sunder rule before dps was allowed to open fire for all instances and raids and it was strictly enforced. You can also pop a rage potion right before you charge in as well to help with the switch from battle stance to defensive.

  17. Ah, I remember the days when people actually waited for sunders. I still have Sunder on my bar right now at level 45, but I can't remember the last time I used it on purpose.

    I glyph for Cleave and Thunderclap and spam them whenever I can. It's enough to hold aggro on a group of mobs, unless a particularly zealous DPS is focusing on something to the side that I haven't hit with anything more substantial yet. But at that point, Shield Slam is more than enough to get that mob stuck to me like glue.

  18. Berserker Rage gives you extra rage for getting hit. Unless there's a reason to save it for a stun/fear you might as well use it to build up some more extra rage while floating from pull to pull.

  19. i was reading this this morning so i decided to try out this dungeon finder as a tank. my warrior whent from level 32 to 34 in the space of an hour...definatly a good choice for leveling. As long as you have good communication with the other party members you should be fine. just let them know that u have to pull first of they are screwd. it generally works.

  20. I am starting a warrior to do just what you're doing, so this is helpful.

    Also, as for the DPS that start right away and pull mobs off you... I am leveling a resto Druid, and when I see DPS do stupid crap like that and I constantly heal THEM way more than the tank, I will occasionally let them die until they learn their lesson. I sympathize with you.

  21. I've just started leveling a warrior (and a paladin) to tank using the dungeon finder. At level 15 once you can use the new finder it is much easier to tank with a warrior (def stance, thunderclap for aoe, etc.) however it is a little easier with a righteous fury at level 16. Anyway, I read some comments about rage issues and heard people saying charge and thunderclap or don't charge and mark and pull from range. I found it really easy to just macro some nice stance changes and charge/taunt. So Battle Stance > Charge one macro and Defensive Stance > Taunt on the other. It is much easier at level 20 where you can retain 10 rage through stances but before then just charge, thunderclap and switch to def stance and taunt or what ever need be. Thunderclap is your best friend at this low level imo. At 15 you can already have specced into Imp. Bloodrage and Imp Thunderclap.

    Just my recent observations.

  22. If dps start hitting mobs before me I just ask for them to wait for thunder clap. Its a very visibly bright spell cast so there's no question as to when they should start shooting.

  23. This is a really good idea, I was interested when I first started reading because you said you didnt like warriors who tanked in Battle stance (or not in defensive stance) because rage is virtually impossible to generate in defensive the way DPS are these days. At low levels I start all pulls in battle stance and stay in it for most of them. It may not be the best way to tank but its the only way that doesnt make the experience completely painful.

  24. i think that it should be solved if the warrior loose less rage when is out of combat.

  25. What i can say about low lvl is that my tank with full Gold items (what ever is possible) still has rage issues. the biggest problems is palis and hunters. most of the time the hunters use bears and the pet keeps pulling HUGE amount of my threat. what i do when i get to dun with pali or hunter i ask the hunter; USE MARK so i can single target his target and aoe the rest. to palis i give them the leader so they can mark the prime target. but this is true. run in front and aoe all the mobs to keep the agro and use only one skill Thunderclap. this us my choice and it works well for now!

  26. I've had a similar thought to level and gear my warrior simply through the dungeon finder. I've leveled my mage from 60-65 pretty much through some questing in Hellfire and mostly running the dungeons and it provides a breath of fresh air from the usual quest grind. I've never tanked before and I found this page through the search "low level warrior tanking" because I've never warrior tanked a day in my life, but I think that it might be fun and again give me another fresh take on the game. Not that it is getting boring or old, but I need constant reinforcement.

    Anyway, having never tanked before, I can't speak on the rage issue. However, having played since the beginning of Burning Crusade and running some dungeons on my druid in the 30-60 range, I remember the tank virtually screaming at DPS to not DPS until a few sunders have been thrown down. Too many of these noobs have been AoEing their way through Wrath and they think that's the way the game is played. Though, it seems as if Blizz is getting back to the old style of tanking/DPSing with some of the new Cata dungeons. Then again, I haven't run any of those, so I can't say for sure.

    Either way, thanks for what may be a great resource and I'll catch you around.

  27. Most of the time there is an enemy at the start of the dungeon that you can rage farm with. For example; at the start of Ragefire Chasm, as soon as I teleport there i go down and attack that worm thing. This works well because most of my team are starting quests or generally getting settled in, so i have a good 5 to 10 seconds of rage building. Then it's just about keeping pace with your rage.

    Secondly, as said above, as long as I keep TC'ing to keep aggro, you do not need to spend massive amount of rage inbetween. Damage doesn't matter to me so for most of the time I just auto attack. This should help solve more rage issues.

    Finally, sometimes you cannot help but be rageless going into a tough scenario. Taunt is my friend (I have it binded to middle mouse click) to get one enemy attacking me, which can give you like 2 seconds of rage building time before the whole mob needs to be controlled. Generally though, the lower level monsters aren't going to KO your team THAT quickly, so you have some time.