season of discovery warrior tank featured image
  • Author: Passion
  • Date: November 25, 2023
  • Updated: December 27, 2023
  • Expansion: WoW Classic

Warriors have always been the tank of choice in Classic, but this has primarily been because of their overwhelming offensive strength, and while dual-wielding they are threat monsters. Season of Discovery brings a lot of new tools to their kit but also tries to bring Warrior Tanks away from dual-wield and into the sword-and-board world of later expansions.

Build Summary

For the most part, your moment-to-moment gameplay will be relatively unchanged from regular Classic. You want to stack Sunder Armor while avoiding over-capping your Rage by using Heroic Strike or Cleave. Your Runes are mostly passive, altering your abilities. The Devastate Rune changes Sunder Armor from a high-threat debuff generator into a high-damage and threat debuff generator, but you still use the ability the same way. Furious Thunder allows us to use Thunder Clap in Defensive Stance, giving us a bit more reliable AoE threat and damage.

We still have the option to dual-wield tank, but this may end up being both worse damage and threat, depending on how things end up looking on release.

Runes

Chest

Flagellation

Gain a 25% bonus to Physical damage done for 12 sec after activating Bloodrage or Berserker Rage.

This effectively allows us to turn Bloodrage into a damage cooldown on demand. This can be exceptionally powerful, especially with Bloodrage only having a 1-minute cooldown. Use this at the start of a pull to get an early threat lead, and then on cooldown to maintain that lead.

Warbringer

Your Charge, Intercept, and Intervene abilities are now usable while in combat and in any stance, and will all remove movement impairing effects when activated.

While we don’t actually have Intervene or Intercept just yet, this does allow us to Charge in combat, which can be an absolute game changer. Not only does Charge generate a nice bit of Rage, but this also allows us to quickly pick up stragglers, instantly engage new enemies, and any number of other uses. It is also worth noting that the ability to Charge in Defensive Stance means we can more reliably use it as an engage, without having to stance dance straight out of it.

Gloves

Devastate

Sunder Armor also deals 100% weapon damage, increased by 10% per application of Sunder Armor already on the target.

This is the key Rune for Warrior Tanks in Season of Discovery, changing our Sunder Armor from a simple debuff into a heavy-hitting powerhouse. This allows us to deal massive damage even while building stacks and using a shield.

Single-Minded Fury

While dual-wielding, your Physical damage and movement speed are increased by 10%.

Season of Discovery brings a lot of positive effects to tanking with a shield, but if that does not end up being the best solution, we can always grab this. This gives us 10% more Physical damage dealt as long as we are dual-wielding, which directly translates into more threat generated for us.

Legs

Consumed by Rage

Enrages you and grants you a 20% melee damage bonus for 12 sec or up to a maximum of 12 swings after you exceed 80 Rage.

Despite being passive, if we want this to activate we are likely going to need to pay attention. This only activates if you go above 80 Rage, and as most Warriors are aware, you don’t want to just sit on your Rage. If we do get this up and running, it is a solid 20% damage for 12 seconds, as well as counting as an Enrage for any effect that impacts.

Furious Thunder

Thunder Clap now increases the time between attacks by an additional 6%, can be used in any stance, and deals 50% increased threat.

This Rune brings the heavily neglected Thunder Clap of Classic more in line with modern incarnations of the ability. Not only can we now use this in Defensive Stance, but it even gets an increased threat modifier! This gives us a fantastic AoE tool that works both offensively and defensively.

Talent Build

season of discovery warrior tank full protection build
Talent Calculator

This is our more defensive option, focusing almost entirely on mitigation talents. We start by grabbing Shield Specialization for both damage mitigation and additional Rage generation. We spend two points in Improved Bloodrage primarily to reach Last Stand, but the extra Rage definitely doesn’t hurt. To get to the third tier of talents, we need to spend 3 more points, and you can choose between Toughness or Anticipation for these. Both are solid defensive options and will mostly come down to preference and the gear you have available. Finally, we want to grab Defiance and Last Stand. Defiance is a flat threat bonus while in Defensive Stance, which is great to have. Last Stand provides us with our only major defensive cooldown, and could easily be the deciding factor in a fight.

season of discovery warrior tank dps option talents
Talent Calculator

This is the more offensive option, giving us more threat generation as well as a semi-reliable Enrage. This tree brings almost no defensive advantage but does function a lot better for dual-wield tanking, or simply as an off-tank.

We start with Cruelty for a very strong 5% Critical Chance. Followed by Imp Demoralizing Shout, giving us a bit of extra damage reduction. This could be swapped for Unbridled Rage, but that talent is generally underwhelming. In the third tier, we want to grab Improved Battle Shout, adding more Attack Power to our party. Finally, we grab one point in Enrage. This gives us 12 seconds of Enrage after being critically hit. We are not going to be Crit Immune at level 25, making this a reliable way to activate Enrage, which can in turn be used to use the Raging Blow Rune for a solid damage boost to our rotation.

Key Spells and Abilities

Heroic Strike & Cleave

While not your most effective ability, these two are going to be your most used. Whenever you have excess Rage, queue up one of these two to spend it on your next swing. Eventually, you will likely have so much Rage that there is no way to spend it fast enough, and in those situations, you will be pressing these buttons a lot. Heroic Strike also has a threat modifier, making it a very valuable tool for gaining and maintaining threat.

Sunder Armor

While this ability would be fantastic just for the Armor Reduction component, Sunder Armor is also one of our best threat generators, despite it not doing damage. Combining this already powerful threat generation with the Devastate Rune gives us an absolute powerhouse of an ability, and our #1 priority for spending Rage.

Thunder Clap

By default, Thunder Clap isn’t very useful for us, simply because it requires us to be in Battle Stance, and we generally don’t want to spend a lot of time there. Fortunately, the Furious Thunder Rune changes this, turning Thunder Clap into an outstanding tool for AoE damage and threat, as well as a defensive mitigation tool thanks to the Attack Speed Reduction it provides. Use this whenever it is off cooldown.

Revenge

This is a very low-cost ability that you can only use after Dodging, Parrying, or Blocking a hit. As a tank, we are going to be doing at least one of those fairly regularly, making this more often than not simply something you can press every 5 seconds with very little penalty.

Taunt & Mocking Blow

These two abilities are key tools in your arsenal. Taunt forces the target to focus on you for 3 seconds, as well as placing you (just barely) on top of the threat table. Mocking Blow functions similarly, forcing the target to attack us for 6 seconds instead of 3. The downside is that Mocking Blow can only be used in Battle Stance, making it a difficult-to-justify option in most situations.

Disarm

A very niche ability, but against bosses that aren’t immune to it, Disarm can be incredibly powerful. Removing the enemy’s weapon generally reduces their damage to laughable levels.

Shield Bash

At level 25, this is our only option for a reliable Interrupt. Even while dual-wielding, you should make sure you have a macro ready to go that will instantly swap to your shield, and smack the enemy.

An appropriate macro may look something like this

#showtooltip Shield Bash
/startattack
/equipslot 17 SHIELDNAME
/equipslot 16 1HWEAPONNAME
/cast [form:3,worn:Shields] Battle Stance
/cast Shield Bash

Defensive Stance

This is going to be your primary stance, reducing your damage taken by 10%, your damage caused by 10%, and giving you a bonus to all threat generated. By default Defensive Stance does heavily restrict your character, locking you from key abilities like Charge, Mocking Blow, Thunder Clap, and more, Season of Discovery gives us ways to get around a lot of those restrictions. Most importantly though, Devastate only functions while in Defensive Stance!

Charge

Historically, Charge isn’t all too vital for a Classic Warrior Tank, but the addition of the Warbringer Rune brings it firmly into the forefront. Charge allows us to quickly engage an enemy, as well as giving us a little boost to our starting Rage, which can be a vital headstart in a fight.

Battle Shout

For a relatively small Rage cost, this provides our party a very strong boost to Melee Attack Power. The main caveat is it only lasts for 2 minutes, meaning you will need to refresh this often and actively.

Demoralizing Shout

While this isn’t exactly the most fun button to press, Demoralizing Shout reduces the Attack Power of all nearby enemies. This simply reduces the damage they deal to us, and should always be maintained.

Shield Block

In Phase 1 of Season of Discovery, we have very few defensive cooldowns. Shield Block functions as a fairly weak defensive option, especially without Improved Shield Block. That being said, if you have more Rage than you can spend, or really need to reduce the damage of the next hit, Shield Block can be a lifesaver.

Bloodrage

A bit of a boring spell, Bloodrage spends 20% of your base Health in order to generate a total of 20 Rage. This also locks you in combat for the duration, preventing your Rage from decaying. This is vital to making sure you can start using abilities immediately upon entering combat, but the worse your gear is, the more significant the Health cost is.

Example Best-in-Slot

BiS lists can vary drastically from fight to fight, even more so as a Tank. There is rarely a one-size fits all solution for any given dungeon or raid, so you will need to find what suits your needs best.

Below is an example of an all-round Best-in-Slot list that you can tweak to fit your individual needs.

Armor

Weapons

Jewelry

Noteworthy Items

Commander’s Crest

This is a very easy Shield to get your hands on. This is available from the fourth boss in Shadowfang Keep, and can be reliably farmed.

Heavy Dynamite

Dynamite is an iconic tool for Classic WoW, and Season of Discovery is no different. Make sure you stock up, at this level the damage is higher than any of your spells.

Minor Recombobulator

While this isn’t a fantastic item, it is one of the few options available in the slot. Grab it if you want, no one will notice if you don’t.

Green Tinted Goggles

At level 25 we are very limited in our choice of Helmet. This may not be the very best option, but it should be readily available to most players. Other options such as Ringed Helm or Humbert’s Helm are better if you can manage to get your hands on them.

Race Choice

Warriors are the only class that is available to every race, so this will only contain the standouts.

Orc

Blood Fury is mostly a no-no for tanking, as reducing your healing received by 50% can very easily be a death sentence. On the other hand, Axe Specialization is fantastic, and Axes are one of best weapon types we can use. There is also a very distinct lack of Hit or Weapon Skill increasing items by level 25, meaning Axe Specialization is even more valuable.

Troll

My personal favorite, Trolls deal 5% increased damage to Beasts. They also have access to the very powerful Berserking racial, scaling with your current health. As a tank, you may be able to activate this after a heavy hit to take advantage of the full 30% boost.

Human

Humans lack any big power boost racial like Berserking or Blood Fury, but instead get the incredible value of both Sword Specialization and Mace Specialization, allowing them a very diverse pool of weapons to choose from.

 

About the Author

Passion

I love MMOs of all shades, especially the nitty gritty numbers parts of them. You might recognize me from the Shadow Priest discord, otherwise I play a little bit of everything, especially games with support roles available.
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