(Edit: As this post was 'going to press' some big, huge news broke in the Paladin world. I'll have my post on it tomorrow!)
So the Warrior hit 80 last night. I'd have a screen shot but my game froze up just as he hit it and I couldn't log back into him.
I find it remarkable how similar the Warrior is to my Paladin.
As my Warrior gears up, I’m looking for the exact same gear on him that I wanted on my Paladin when I was gearing him up many moons ago. About the only difference is that I care more about Expertise on the Warrior than I do on the Paladin. The main stats I want, Stamina, Armor, Defense, Dodge, Parry, Strength and Hit, don’t change at all. Block Value, and Block Rating are about equally (un)desirable between the two classes. To be fair, I think that Death Knights go after pretty much the same gear as well sans the block stuff, but for my own ignorance of their mechanics, I won’t be commenting on them.
One of the pervasive myths in the Tanking world is that Paladin’s are 3 button tanks, versus a Warrior’s 5 button priority queue. An optimal ‘969’ rotation is actually 6 buttons (Avenger’s Shield, Judgment, Shield of Righteousness, Holy Shield, Hammer of the Righteous, Exorcism, and Consecrate). The only difference I see between the two is Warriors have to manage Heroic Strike. I’m really, epically bad about managing Heroic Strike on my Warrior.
It is true that Warriors have more of a priority queue and dynamic rotation based on Sword and Board procs. Paladins are probably one of the last classes that have a true rinse and repeat rotation. I would love some of the interactivity that Sword and Board and Revenge give Warriors in my Paladin rotation.
Warriors have a set of buffs and debuffs they manage, mostly through their Shouts. These are shorter in duration than Blessings and have to be managed more in battle. One of the skills I’m slowly learning on my Warrior tank is keeping my Shout up properly and not letting it fall off. Blessings are much more ‘fire and forget’ unless someone dies and is resurrected mid encounter. I do find groups more excited about getting Blessing of Kings than either a Battle or Commanding Shout.
I found that I can understand Warrior skills by thinking of them as their Paladin counterparts.
Shield DPS/TPS move: Shield of Righteousness, Shield Slam.
Single Target Taunt: Hand of Reckoning, Taunt.
Special (“yellow”) Attack: Judgment, Devastate/Revenge
Damage on Being Hit: Holy Shield, Damage Shield
AoE Threat: Consecrate, Thunderclap/Shockwave
Multi-target Taunt: Righteous Defense, Challenging Shout
Multi-target Attack: Hammer of the Righteous, Whirlwind/Cleave
Health Buff: Blessing of Kings, Commanding Shout
AP Buff: Blessing of Might, Battle Shout
Pull with a Silence: Avenger’s Shield, Heroic Throw
Ranged Pull: Exorcism, Gun/Bow
Primary Cooldown: Divine Protection, Shield Wall
Reduce Friends Threat: Hand of Salvation, Vigilance
Global Damage Reduction: Improved Righteous Fury, Defense Stance
Take Damage for a friend: Hand of Sacrifice/Divine Sacrifice, Intervene
Interrupt: Hammer of Justice, Shield Bash
Shield Bash is infinitely more useful simply because it’s off the global cooldown. To interrupt something on my Paladin I have to stop my rotation, and therefore my threat generation, and wait for the Boss to cast it, unless the cast is longer than 2 seconds (global cooldown plus reasonable latency). Shield Bash also has a shorter cooldown, but not as short as I had thought it would be.
There are tools the Warrior has that Paladins can’t approximate in any way.
Spell Reflect is an amazing tool for Warriors, and I would love to have something like it on my Paladin. It’s both very useful and a lot of fun. Warriors have a great Fear break that Paladins can’t touch. Though to be fair, the Fear Break not a game breaking difference like it was in Burning Crusade (hello Archimonde), as I tank Auryia every week and she’s the only Boss in the current Tier with a major Fear mechanic.
Warriors also have many tools for moving around the battlefield, but what I find is that when I’m on my Paladin I don’t feel the need for those tools because of all the ranged tools I have like Avenger’s Shield and Exorcism. I often find myself running to the mobs even when I’m on my Warrior instead of using Charge/Intercept/Intervene simply because I haven’t developed the habits of using them yet. I do Charge on my Warrior to start combat quite a bit. It's a really fun skill.
Likewise, there are tools the Paladin has that Warriors can’t approximate. Despite its long cooldown and its reactive nature, Lay On Hands is still as colossal a ‘save me’ button as you are going to find. At best, Enraged Regen is 40% of your heath back over 10 seconds. It’s a great tool, but it doesn’t quite measure up to filling up your whole health bar instantly.
I think Cleanse is a much underrated utility. There are several places in the current Tier where I feel like Cleanse can make the fight easier for my Raid Group, most notable Steelbreaker and Yogg Saron. Like a Fear break, it’s not gamebreaking, other classes can and should be providing the same benefit to your raid, but I really like having it in my own toolkit.
Probably the biggest difference between the two classes is their threat resource. Paladins start with a full mana bar, while Warriors have an empty Rage bar. I find that my Warrior fills up his Rage bar pretty quick, and I haven’t had any trouble keeping threat off of DPS on either toon. On either tank, I can usually hit whatever button I need to hit and have sufficient resources for it.
Paladins are hurt far worse by running out of resource. It’s much harder to refill an empty mana bar than it is an empty rage bar. Also Paladins really struggle when you introduce mana burns or mana blocking effects like General Vezax and some of his trash, and the mana burning poison on Yogg can have me dry in a hurry.
In addition, my Paladin is basically crippled by silencing effects which would have very little effect on my Warrior. I have a grand total of one move that works while I’m silenced, Hammer of the Righteous. That is countered by the fact that my Warrior is really crippled by disarm, while my Paladin is largely unaffected. The only problem is that I haven't seen a mob disarm since Burning Crusade.
The other major difference is the entire Stance mechanic of Warriors, but I find I don't tend to 'stance dance' very often as my Warrior. If I'm tanking, I'm in Defensive. If I'm DPSing, I'm in Battle.
Is it ‘harder’ to play a Warrior tank? I’m really not one to ask just yet. It certainly feels harder to me, but I attribute that to Tanking on my Paladin for two years and my Warrior for about 2 weeks.
While I've discussed mainly their tanking abilities, there are similarities in the DPS specs as well, especially between Arms and Ret. I do miss the ability to throw a quick heal on myself when soloing on the Warrior.
Why Did You Level The Warrior?
The Warrior exists as an insurance policy against the Developers messing up the Tanking balance to such a point that I would be holding back my Raid Group to be a Protection Paladin Tank. I don’t believe they would do that maliciously, but they are not immune from making mistakes. If that happened, I could see myself asking my Raid Leader to switch. I care about those guys too much to let my own stubbornness get in the way.
The other scenario I had in mind for leveling the Warrior was the Developers coming out and saying that balancing four tanking classes has proven too hard, so they are going back to tank niches with Paladins as Trash/Off Tanks. I think it's highly unlikely, as the Developers had to admit that anything they take on is too hard. I'm also cynical enough to know that even if they decided to do go back to niches, there’s no way they would just come out and tell us.
It’s no small matter to get the Warrior geared up enough to take the Main Tanking duties I use Honorshammer for in my raids, and I’m no where near as proficient Warrior tanking as I am with Paladin Tanking. I’m sure I could get there, but it would take some time. Many fights in Ulduar, there is just so much going on that there isn’t time to think about the basics like your rotation, or what key to hit. Those have to be automatic.
Tanking on my Paladin just comes naturally to me. As Nibuca said to me during my interview, I am one with my toon. When something goes wrong I know instinctively what button to hit and my fingers are already headed for the key before the thought is complete in my head. It’s all muscle memory and reflex, a level of proficiency you can only truly understand once you get there.
The truth is I can and will play both and blog about both because both are fun for me to play. The Paladin is taking on the biggest challenges in the game in Ulduar, the Warrior is just starting out with Gear upgrades everywhere.