TBC Guide for Shaman Tank Spec “Warden”
So, question is - can shamans tank? Yes, but with some restraints.
Of course, shaman tank never was and never will be meta in TBC, due to it being less developed than other tank classes. So who needs this guide?
Basicly it's for all people who want to try something new in this 15 yo game, someone who would like more hardcore gameplay, or everyone who prefers to go into dungeon and not wait for tank for 30+ minutes.
Disclaimer: DON’T USE WARDEN ON MAIN TANK POSITION IF YOU WANT TO PROGRESS AND SPEEDRUN RAIDS, THAT’S NOT EFFICIENT.
Idea of shaman tanking isn’t new. First signs of shamans being developed for tanking can be seen in early vanilla patches, due to shamans having pretty tanky features:
A) Mitigation talents (parry, block, dodge, armor)
B) Abilities with extra threat (Rockbiter weapon, Earth shock)
C) Mail and shield access (Shield alone having more armor than rogue has in total)
But in development process Blizzard abandoned the idea, over time simply removing shamans ability to tank.
Although good news are it took them 5 expansions to do so.
Throughtout Classic Warden community has done:
MC Full MT, ZG Full MT, AQ20-40 Full MT, Naxx OT most bosses (including Patchwerk).
In TBC Wardens are still pretty viable.
3. Tanking role.
Your job as tank in a group or raid contains from four aspects:
A) Soaking damage from mobs, sustaining your party survivability.
B) Establishing proper threat on mobs, avoiding them spreading.
C) Leading your party by choosing where and whom to fight.
D) Marks for Crowd control (CC) and prioritized targets are expected from you.
Tanking role in WoW is one of the hardest due to your mistakes surely leading to bad situations. Although in dungeons all you need is to look at party status before pulling (everybody is fully healed, healer has enough mana, no mobs near who can aggro) and be careful with your pulls.
4. Threat mechanics.
In World of Warcraft mob target preference is decided by threat table, which includes every character who is on combat with mob.
Placement in table is decided by whoever has the most threat generated.
Threat is mostly generated from damage dealt to mob, by basic rate of 1:1, thus attacking mob with 100 damage attack will place you in threat table with 100 threat and you will get aggro (mob will attack you).
Ways to generate threat:
A) Via damage inflicted.
B) Through bonus threat abilities (like Frost Shock for shaman, or Druids Maul)
C)By healing (Half of heal goes into table, divided by number of mobs in combat, overheal doesn’t count).
D) Placing buffs and debuffs (Smaller threat).
E) Restoring resources (Mana, rage).
Resists, misses, parries, dodges, blocks don’t generate extra threat both when hitting and getting hit. Critical strikes don’t induce extra threat.
Also several mobs and bosses have their own abilities inducing or reducing threat on player target.
Some classes have their own threat modifiers, like warriors in battle or berserker stance deal 80% of their usual threat, while in defensive stance it’s 130%.
Rogues have innate 80% generation. Shaman class doesn’t have active modifiers, your only extra threat ability is Frost Shock, but it should be enough.
Mobs change target when threat exceeds threshold of 110% when in melee range and 130% if further away. Example:
Shaman pull mobs with FS (Frost Shock), dealing 100 damage. Do to it’s 2x threat modifier, shaman is placed in table with 200 threat points.
Druid attacks mob with a basic attack, dealing 210 damage. Due to it being in melee range, he wont get aggro until he has 220 threat.
Priest heals shaman for 500 hp, 200 being overhealed, producing 150 threat.
Hunter decides to attack mob right away and deals critical damage of 300. Because it’s more than 130% of shamans threat on mob (260), mob starts attacking hunter.
Now shaman has to produce 330 threat while being in melee range of the mob or 390 while being in range to get aggro back.
Always try to make sure mobs wont attack somebody else before they die. Spreaded mobs are much harder to focus on and they will disrupt your healer and damage dealers from their job.
5. Melee mechanics.
WoW uses single-roll attack table to determine outcome of auto-attacks.
It looks like this:
How it works – every type of outcome has a %, when attack starts, all % are calculated together and assigned to table respective to their original position.
If you have 5% miss, 5% dodge, 5% parry, 0% glancing blow (they only work for player attacks attacking mobs), 5% block, 5% crit, 15% crushing blow (only occuring for mob attacking players of lower level) then on roll:
1-5 = attack missed. (0 damage)
6-10 = player dodged attack. (0 damage)
11-15 = player parried attack. (0 damage)
16-20 = player blocked attack. (damage – block value)
21-25 = player gets critically hit. (2x damage)
26-40 = player gets crushing hit. (1,5x damage)
41-100 = player gets hit. (usual damage).
When attacking mobs of same level with similar stats roll is:
1-5 = attack missed. (0 damage)
6-10 = mob dodged attack. (0 damage)
11-15 = mob parried attack. (0 damage)
16-25 = glancing attack (penalty depends on attack-defense ratio)
26-30 = mob blocked attack. (damage – block value)
31-35 = mob gets critically hit. (2x damage)
36-100 = mob gets hit. (usual damage).
Glancing chance depends on level difference:
10% for mobs of your level.
20% for +1 lvl.
30% for +2 lvl.
40% for +3 lvl.
Outcomes higher in table can delete ones below.
If you have 5% to be missed and 95% dodge, then only dodges and misses will occur upon attacking you in front.
Although there are also so-called yellow attacks. They occur on Windfury procs and Stormstrike use.
Yellow attacks use two-roll system: first roll for avoidance, second for crit.
If boss has 50% avoidance, ( 40% miss+dodge+parry and 10% block), and we have 25% crit:
1-40 - no dmg.
41-47 - block.
48-50 - crit block.
51-62 - crit.
63-100 - hit.
Those attacks can't be glancing blows.
You can’t dodge/block/parry when attacked from behind, your only avoidance is mob misses. That severely decreases your tankiness.
When you attack mob from behind, he can't block or parry your attacks, but still can dodge and you can miss hits. That’s why you should always turn mobs back to your party so your melee damage dealers will have higher chances of landing a hit.
Ranged physical attacks can't be dodged or parried, only misses and blocks can occur.
Stunned characters can't block/dodge/parry.
6. Spell mechanics.
Spells works different from melee attacks.
Only way for mobs to defend from your damaging spells is resisting them, fully or partially.
Mobs of your level have 4% to resist, +1 lvl – 5%, +2 lvl – 6%, +3 lvl -17%.
You can aquire spell hit stat to increase chances to land a spell, but you will always have 1% to miss.
Some mobs have increased resistance to nature damage or are
outright immune to it. It doesn’t apply for most bosses tho.
Spell critical strikes deal 1,5x increased damage unlike melee attacks.
You can get gear and buffs which provide resistance stat. It increases your chances of resisting enemy spell, fully or partially. Resistance cap depends on mob level: 5level = Cap. Capped resistance statistically reduces damage taken by 75%.
Raid bosses have 735 = 365 resistance cap.
Note that "debuff" type spells can only be resisted fully.
7. Core abilities.
Long story short – Warden is spell-using melee spec, thus most of the time you will attack in melee range and sometimes use magic.
Stormstrike (SS) boosts Windfury Weapon value by increasing attack frequency, FS has double damage as threat. Those abilities are used on cooldown with mana prio on FS.
Shamanistic Rage (SR) reduces all incoming damage by 30% and makes some of your attacks restore mana, scaling with your attack power. Lasts 15 seconds and has very small 2 minutes CD. Best used in clutch as defensive or mana inducing ability.
It’s also worth mentioning common buffs.
Best use WF as weapon imbue (Giving extra attacks to proc your passive abilities more often) and keep up Lightning shield (LS) – deals damage whenever you are attacked, up to 3 reflects. If you are short on mana, it’s a good idea to use Water Shield instead.
As a shaman, your most iconic abilities are related to totems, elemental infused idols which boost you and your party.
There are 4 types of totems, named by element: Earth, Fire, Water, Air.
You can only place one of the type at once, up to 4 different totems.
Totems are separated from you in threat table, thus you won’t get any threat by placing them.
You have to use different totems depending on current encounter, but your most common buddies will be:
1) Strength of Earth totem – Earth. Gives strength buff.
2) Mana Spring totem – Water. Regens mana.
3) Grace of Air totem – Air. Gives agility buff.
Other totems have more niche usage, like increasing resistances for certain encounter, using windwall totem to reduce enemy ranged damage, placing tremor totem to dispel sleep from party, fire nova totem for occasional AOE damage, etc. There are almost zero useless totems.
It's also worth mentioning Earth Elemental Totem, it can help in clutch by summoning big rocky guardian with AOE threat and high HP pool, scaling with stamina.
It's recommended to have certain consumables for your raid and dungeon runs.
Most notable are Ironshield potions (highly boosting your armor), Flask of Fortification (Giving HP and Defense for 2 hours), Healing potions, Gurdian elixirs, Engi grenades, buffing food and Warlock Healthstones.
10. Pull abilities
For pulling your most used abilities are Lightning bolt (LB) and Chain lightning (CL), depending on amount of targets. Thanks to those spells and FS you can gather high threat on main target and continue to build on others. Don’t forget to use LS pre-pull.
11. General stats.
Strength gives 2 AP per point + 1 block value per 21,4 (at lvl 70) points.
Agility gives 2 armor per point + crit and dodge chance (1% per 25 on lvl 70).
Stamina gives 10 hp per point.
Intellect gives 15 mana per point and spell crit chance (1% per 41,1 on lvl 70).
Spirit increases your mana and health regeneration.
Armor reduces damage taken from physical attacks.
Attack power adds 1 damage per second (dps) to your attacks per 14 points.
Spell power increases damage of your spells, depending on scaling.
Hit rating reduces you chance to miss an attack.
Spell hit rating reduces your chance to miss a spell.
Dodge rating increases your chance to completely avoid attack.
Parry rating increases your chance to fully negate attack and decrease next attack cooldown.
Block rating increases your chance to block attack, reducing it’s damage by your block value.
Defense rating increases your chances to parry/dodge/block, decreases chance to be hit/crit.
Resilience rating reduces your chance to be critically hit.
Expertise rating reduces your enemies' chance to dodge and parry your attacks.
Your most efficient way of leveling is using 1h+shield. Make sure RB is applied to weapon, LS is up. Pull with LB, then use Flame shock and just attack with your weapon. Heal yourself when needed. Conserving mana is very important for faster leveling due to reducing downtime. At lvl 20 you will get access to Ghost wolf, which will greatly increase your mobility.
You can join groups while leveling for every dungeon, performing any needed role in party, although tanks are mostly demanded.
Leveling stat priority:
Health>crit>armor>mana>parry>dodge>attack power>mana regeneration.
There aren’t many good items who offer spell power or defense while leveling.
Also be aware that if item has high amount of low priority stat, it may be worth using.
For talents you start in enhancement tree:
- Shield Specialization
- 4/5 Thundering Strikes
- Ghost Wolf
- Shamanistic focus
- Thundering Strikes
- 2/5 Anticipation
- Elemental Weapons
- 3/5 Anticipation
- 3/3 Mental Quickness
- 5/5 Anticipation
After level 40, you can either go into Elemental tree for better solo experience or stay Enhancement for easier dungeon tanking.
13. Tanking build
Most efficient Warden build is 16/45/0.
That build gathers all mitigation talents, has highest threat per second, and allows to occasionally DD in raids.
There is also option to withdraw from parry and DW to get more threat as tank at cost of some mitigation and DPS.
- Shamanistic Focus reduces manacost of next Shock spell by 60% after you land a melee crit. Highly reduces your mana usage, futher empowered by WF, SS and fast weapons.
- Flurry increases your attack speed by 30% for next 3 swings for every melee crit. Highly increases generated threat.
- SS is one of two main buttons. Allows for extra attack every 20 seconds, increasing chances to get a crit, SR proc or WF proc. Slower your weapon is, more impactful SS gets.
- Spirit weapons allows you to get 5-7 avoidance for 1 point, but reduces threat generated by your physical attacks. Usage of this talent depends on whether or not you need extra mitigation/threat.
- Dual Wield specialization – allows one-handed weapons to be placed in off-hand slot. Must-have talent for occasional DD role and extra threat (may be risky).
- Unleashed Rage – aura talent, giving 10% melee ap to all party members for 10 seconds each time you crit. Very powerful, this talent alone can secure you place in raids for melee group.
- Shamanistic Rage – your main defensive CD, also serves as mana regen tool. Good damage reduction+mana regen+tiny cooldown makes this button very important for Warden.
- Reverberation — decreases cooldown of all Shock spells by 1 second. Costs 5 point, but this talent alone increases your Shock threat per second by 20%.
- Elemental Focus – After landing crit with a spell, reduces manacost of next two offensive spells by 40%. Hugely nerfed after Classic, its still fine for 1 talent point.
14. Stat priority.
You have to pursue certain balance in your gearing due to raid and heroic bosses hitting pretty hard. It’s highly advisable to become uncrittable by stacking resilience and defense rating up to 5,6% decrease to be crit.
It’s 221 resilience rating and 336 defense rating. Can be balanced around, like 110 resilience and 170 defense rating.
For threat purposes crit is your best friend, increasing frequency of your attacks by flurry, giving more Shamanistic Focus procs and higher Unleashed Rage uptime.
It’s also a good idea to gather melee hit cap (9%, 142 hit rating) to exclude missing bosses. Note that Dual Wielding hit cap is 24%.
Spell hit is valuable, but its cap is much higher than physical one (16%, 202 spell hit rating).
Rough stat priority for mitigation looks like this:
Defense (until cap) >Resilience (until сap) >Stamina >Armor >Parry >Dodge> Defense(after cap) >Block >>Resilience (after cap).
Crit >>hit (until cap) >attack power >spell hit (until cap) >expertise >>spell power.
Objectively, there is no big difference in races for shaman tanking.
If you’re playing Alliance, there ain’t any choice for you, but draenei have pretty useful racials anyway.
For Horde Tauren is best for mitigation (due to 5% hp bonus and stun), Trolls are best for burst threat (due to berserkering), Orcs are best in pvp and DD role (Because stun resist and axe weapon bonus).
I recommend choosing Tauren, because this will make it easier to find parties (Taurens are treated as “tanky” by themselves), give yourself higher health pool and ability to aoe stun and easier renown (Because of model size. Funny, but it actually matters).
But in the end – play most liked one, you will have to look at this character for many hours.
Unfortunately, there aren’t many good mail tanking pieces in game. Some slots have good leather analogs, but in most cases armor difference reduces value of given item.
Your best friends are mail pieces with good stamina, PVP gear, and accessory items designed for tanking.
Good example is druid designed Heavy Clefthoof set – good armor, high stamina and defense.
It’s advised to have at least 9k hp and armor at lvl 70.
Prefferable weapon is slow high dps 1h with some gem slots for more flexible stat diversity.
Slow weapon has very high SS dmg, and allows you to lose less WF procs due to ICD (3 seconds).
Best choice for Warden is engineering due to highly increased AOE capabilites with grenades and stamina trinkets.
Preferably goblin because of better explosives.
Jewelcrafting can net you some good tanking items and gems.
Also alchemy is a good option for making potions yourself.
Blacksmithing and leatherworking give lesser bonuses.
For pulls it’s extremely important to mark targets and pull them to your party and totems.
Usual mark order – Skull is for first priority target, Cross for second, Moon for polymorph, others are flexible.
If you spread out threat accordingly, you will have less mana issues and mobs wont be peeling off to party members.
On skull mark it’s better to cast initial burst – LB+LB into FS + autoattack + SS.
In case of 3-4 mobs use LB into skull, chain lightning to further targets, FS and SS to others.
Try to mindfully use your mana to avoid going low too often.
To successfully gather groups I recommend to do it yourself. If you will be successfully tanking dungeons for some time, it’s possible to gather tanking reputation on your server and get invited more frequently.
Try to get into guild which is interested in trying new things. Most likely you wont be able to get into PUG raids. But with enough server reputation you may pursuade your guild or even PUGs to off-tank some adds and trash in raids. There are a number of wardens in classic that have done just this and have regular spots in server SR/GDKP runs as OT.
It’s always good idea to bring stoneshield and defensive potions.
When there is no need in tanking or if your add died, switch to DW and DPS. Collect some good DPS pieces, even leathers, so you can DPS more effectively and switch to higher threat gear if you find you need less mitigation for some encounters. More value you bring to your raid, more open they will be for your experiments.
20. Extra resources.
https://discord.gg/Qnx3vavJtB — Warden discord
https://discord.com/invite/VvBwBu2 — Classic Shaman discord
https://seventyupgrades.com/ - TBC Gear planner
https://seventyupgrades.com/set/rDafwyTXZ47he4QEdMGVV - example pre-raid set.
https://seventyupgrades.com/set/sSbZbpUYFDrbKk2S4nrYAk - P1 Raid set (No arena).
https://seventyupgrades.com/set/pc3xh7rhRYUx44nsAPfFSy - max budget uncrit cap.
https://seventyupgrades.com/set/avM6ZoXvX2AYyYVgtdCMER - Arena S1 gear.
I hope this guide gave you enough information to try a new role for your character. Feel free to ask questions in discords above. Special thanks to my colleagues from Warden discord, esp. to Jannon (Help with guide, big shaman TC contributor) and Caperfin (First biggest guide writer).
Thanks for reading, and may Ancestors be with you.