The Twink Tank

The Dungeon Finder tool is really great for twinking. Instances with their great loot are readily available, the Satchel of Helpful Goods contains great loot for a 19 twink, and you don’t have to walk to get there.

The problem, usually, is finding a group that can run the dungeon without falling apart. Cynwyn, my Mage twink, has yet to run Wailing Caverns all the way through.

Cynderblock, my twink Warrior tank, however, has no such problems.

I didn’t expect to turn Cynderblock into a full-time tank. My original goal was to make a PvP warrior for WSG. But after running several dungeons with Psynister, the value of having an at-level Protection Warrior optimized for tanking became clear.

And man, is she awesome fun to play.

The early instances – RFC, VC, WC, SFK – are fairly forgiving on new tanks. There are some difficult pulls in each, especially WC’s caster mobs, but a decent tank can manage.

A twink tank, though? A twink tank can chain pull like you see in heroics.

Warriors have the best time of it at level 19 because of their AoE threat generation through Thunderclap and deep tanking toolkit. Paladin tanks suffer without Consecrate, and Druids don’t have much beyond Swipe and taunt, though at least they have Swipe and Taunt!

Let’s look at how Cynderblock is set up.

TALENTS

I’m still experimenting a lot with Cynderblock’s talents. Right now she’s got 10 points in the Protection tree:

  • 5/5 Shield Specialization
  • 3/3 Improved Thunder Clap
  • 1/3 Incite
  • 1/3 Anticipation

I’m considering moving the point of Incite over to Anticipation to get more Dodge, and from more Dodge more Revenge. I’m also considering putting two points in Armored to the Teeth, just because she’s so loaded with armor… but for now I’ll stay 0/0/10.

PLAYSTYLE

If you look at Cynderblock’s glyphs, you’ll see I set her up with the Glyph of Resonating Power and Glyph of Thunder Clap. That should give you a clue what her primary weapon is when tanking — Thunder Claps, and lots of them.

Low-level warrior tanking is somewhat straightforward.

  1. Trigger Bloodrage to build up some Rage.
  2. Run (don’t Charge, you’ll lose your Rage) over to the mobs.
  3. Thunder Clap ‘em, and their friends too!
  4. Yell a bit with your Demoralizing Shout if you’re dealing with melee.
  5. Tab-target Sunder Armor on everyone in range.
  6. Thunder Clap on every CD.
  7. Hit Revenge every time it’s up.

To do #7 I use the relatively straightforward expedient of binding Revenge to my Thunder Clap and Sunder Armor keys, like so:

#showtooltip

/startattack

/cast Thunder Clap

/cast [stance:1] Overpower; [stance:2] Revenge

This lets me use the same macro in both Battle and Defensive stances and trigger the appropriate ability.

The constant AoE threat generated by Thunder Clap helps keeps mobs focused on you. (You’ll also do a huge amount of damage, because not many classes have AoE skills at 19.) Keep the Sunders flowing out, and hit Revenge when you need. Keep Taunt and Mocking Blow ready if someone gets uppity, and Heroic Strike in those rare cases Revenge is not available.

One note about Revenge — it is only available after you Dodge, Parry, or Block an attack, making it the perfect counterattack since you’ll be avoiding a lot of attacks. It holds a mob’s attention as well as Sunder Armor, if not a little better, and it dishes out the pain.

There are things I miss about playing a DPS warrior — Charge, Heroic Strike, Victory Rush, Overpower. But the Prot style is a lot of fun, and the more mobs you pull, the more buttons you get to push.

GEAR

Gearing a twink tank is pretty straightforward. You want Stamina for a big health pool, Armor and Agility for damage mitigation/avoidance, and Strength for threat production. You can get Defense from the Satchel with …of the Champion gear, and while you’ll never be Defense-capped, it helps out a lot.

Keep in mind that Dodge and Parry are important not only to lessen damage taken, but also to proc Revenge. Revenge is very important as your Rage dump. Use it instead of Heroic Strike. Seriously.

Here’s a quick rundown of the gear I think you should get.

HEAD

Lucky Fishing Hat (+15 Stam) is still the best you can get. 150 health from your hat is awesome, but you will need to fish in STV to get this. Otherwise, the Green Tinted Goggles (+8 Stam, +7 Spirit) should be considered standard equipment.

NECK

The Agility on the WSG Sentinel’s/Scout’s Medallion (+2 Stam, +6 Agi) edges it over the Thick Bronze Necklace (+3 Stam), even though you lose 10 health in the trade. The additional Dodge makes up for it while tanking, though I’d keep the crafted necklace around for when you want to Stamina stack and impress your friends.

SHOULDERS

I prefer the BoA Strengthened Stockade Pauldrons (+5 Str, +7 Stam, +5 Resilience) from Wintergrasp for tanking. The PvE BoA Polished Spaulders of Valor (+6 Str, +6 Stam, +6 Crit) give you Crit instead of reducing your chance to be critted, and are slightly weaker for tanking.

If you don’t have access to BoA equipment, I’d go with Serpent’s Shoulders (+9 Agi), Rough Bronze Shoulders (+3 Str, +4 Stam), or Double-Stitched Woolen Shoulders (+5 Stam). Have something there, at least!

BACK

The new Tumultuous Cloaks dropping from the Satchel of Helpful Things are great. You may need to run a lot of dungeons to get the ones you want, but hey, you’re the tank, right?

For tanks, I’d go with … of the Champion (+4 Str, +4 Stam, +4 Defense) if at all possible. The Defense contributes to your Parry and Dodge chances and offsets the lower Stamina and Strength contributions of this cloak.

Other great satchel cloaks include … of Stamina (+8 Stam), … of the Monkey (+5 Stam, +5 Agi) or …of the Bear ( +5 Str, +5 Stam).

The previous BiS cloak, the Sentry Cloak (+5 Agi, +4 Stam) isn’t really worth the money you’ll have to spend to get it, given that the Monkey cloak is superior. The Subterranean Cape (+4 Str, +4 Agi) and Glowing Lizardscale Cloak (+6 Agi, +2 Stam) are good drops, but not your end goal as a warrior tank.

Enchant it with +70 Armor or +3 Agi. I prefer Armor, personally.

CHEST

I’m torn here. I think the Blackened Defias Armor (+4 Str, +3 Agi, +11 Stam) is probably the best tanking chestpiece, even though it’s leather and lower armor than some of the other options.

But it looks so UGLY on my dwarf!

Armor of the Fang (+8 Str, +8 Stam) and the BoA Polished Breastplate of Valor (+7 Str, +7 Stam, +6 Crit) are both good options for PvP and for looks. The BoA brings the most Armor of any piece listed here, 197. That’s more than 100 more Armor than the BDA and AotF.

I’ve seen the Tunic of Westfall (+8 Agi, +3 Stam) listed on some Warrior gear lists, but you should never get it. It’s a quest reward from the same Alliance quest as the one that gives you the Chausses of Westfall, which you should definitely take instead. More on that later.

The only other piece to consider is Toughened Leather Armor (+13 Stam), but those extra 20 health will cost you 4 Strength and 3 Agility. These are better for druid tanks or if you’re trying to win a health pool contest. Otherwise, skip ‘em.

For tanking you’ll want the +100 health enchant. The +4 All Stats one is a decent secondary option – possibly better for PvP, but probably not for tanking.

WRISTS

While the Cavedweller Bracers (+3 Str, +4 Stam, 71 Armor) are good all-purpose bracers that drop in RFC and will serve you well in both tanking and PvP, two quest rewards – the Beetle Clasps (+5 Stam, +2 Agi, 83 Armor, Alliance) and Steel-clasped Bracers (+6 Stam, +1 Spirit, 85 Armor, Horde) – surpass them as tanking bracers. I think the Beetle Clasps edge out the Steel-Clasped Bracers by a very narrow margin.

The +9 Stamina enchant is the tanking enchant to use here; the +9 Strength is very good for PvP, but it’s hard to justify the loss of 90 health.

HANDS

Thorbia’s Gauntlets (+8 Str, +3 Stam) are the clear winner here. These are great gauntlets that are a random world drop and often sold on the AH. There are some quest rewards (Hulking Gauntlets, Sandspire Gloves, Corin’s Handguards) that are adequate replacements while leveling but don’t come close to Thorbia’s attack power.

I think the +15 Agility enchantment is okay if you’re low on Dodge; otherwise, I prefer the +7 Strength enchant due to the attack power and Block bonuses.

WAIST

The belts out of the Satchel of Helpful Things again are excellent items for this slot. Warrior tanks should get Earthbound Girdle of the Champion (+5 Str, +5 Stam, +5 Defense), … of the Bear (+6 Str, +6 Stam), or … of Stamina (+10 Stamina).

The previous best in slot item, the Deviate Scale Belt (+5 Agi, +6 Stam) is still excellent (and can be crafted for you), but as a leather item it lacks the armor of the Earthbound Girdles. Cobrahn’s Grasp (+8 Str, +3 Agi) is a great mail belt but the lack of Stamina makes it less attractive than many of the other options for either PvP or tanking.

LEGS

The Chausses of Westfall (+5 Stam, +11 Str, 173 Armor, Alliance) are the best you can get, but they’re a quest reward on the Alliance side. They are superior to the leather Leggings of the Fang (+5 Str, +9 Agi, +4 Stam, 79 Armor) in due to the Strength and Armor bonuses offsetting the Agility of the Leggings.

This is the first slot where I’d say it’s worth faction changing your tank to get gear. They’re that good.

A less attractive, but still good option, are the Mighty Chain Pants (+5 Str, +5 Stam) or any of the green mail leggings … of the Bear (+5 Str, +5 Stam). All of these are BoEs and can handle a better armor enchant (Heavy Armor Kit, +24 Armor) than the BoPs (Medium Armor Kit, +16 Armor).

FEET

The Savage Trodders (+9 Stam, 134 Armor) have the edge on two key stats over the Silver-linked Footguards (+7 Stam, +3 Str, 129 Armor), but I’m not convinced that they’re better tanking boots. I don’t know, maybe I just like how they look?

Fine. I’ll go switch to the Savage Trodders. /brb.

For tanking the +7 Stamina enchant is superior to the speed enchant I’d normally recommend for PvP. Speed boosts aren’t needed in low-level instances.

FINGERS

The best tanking ring you can equip is the Seal of Sylvanas (+8 Stam, +3 Str, Horde), followed by the Seal of Wrynn (+3 Str, +3 Agility, +4 Stam, +4 Int, +3 Spi, Alliance).

Unfortunately, to get them both, you have to faction change. The Seal of Sylvanas is so good you should seriously consider it. The Seal of Wrynn is less attractive, but if you faction change for the Chausses of Westfall, you should pick this up too while you’re over there.

The next best rings you can get are the WSG PvP awards, Protector’s Band / Legionnaire’s Band (+4 Str, +4 Agi, +2 Stam). They’re identical and a good second ring if you don’t want to faction change.

The Blood Ring (+5 Stam) is an acceptable ring to use while gearing up.

TRINKETS

It’s a bit of a grind, but the Arena Grand Master (+12 Stam, on-use absorption bubble) is the best trinket at the level, bar none. But it’s admittedly not the easiest trinket to get, so here are some other options.

The BoA Inherited Insignia of the Alliance/Horde and regular Insignia of the Alliance/Horde is great for breaking out of stuns, which don’t happen very often but can be disastrous to the group if you lose aggro. The Inherited version has 6 Resilience at level 19, which is about 1% crit reduction.

The other BoA trinket option, the Swift Hand of Justice (+6 Haste, heal on killing blow) is very attractive for tanking, especially if you run with two of them. They provide a slight boost to your DPS and a small stream of healing while fighting packs of trash. They’re not nearly as impressive on a warrior as they are on a caster, but they’re still good options.

Finally, the Minor Recombobulator is an acceptable option for swapping out with your PvP trinket if you need to help out your healer or other party member. There aren’t any polymorphing mobs in these dungeons (though the Druids of the Fang and their sleep spells can bite me), so that use effect is wasted, but the health/mana restoration can be helpful. Think of it as a minor Innervate!

RANGED

You’re not going to be using your ranged weapon very often as a twink tank — occasional pulls at best — so stats should determine your choice here. The Hand of Argus Crossfire (+1 Agi, +1 Stam, Alliance) is the best to get for a tank, beating out the Thick Bronze Darts (+2 Str) and Throat Piercers (+2 Agi). Those two have definite value in PvP, but the defensive value of the Crossfire trumps them here. If you’re Horde and not willing to faction change, it’s a tossup between the other two. The Thick Bronze Darts will help your AP and Block value, while the Throat Piercers will help your Dodge. I’d give the edge slightly to the Darts.

The BoA ranged weapons don’t help us much here. The Charmed Ancient Bone Bow (+1 Hit, +1 Crit, +5 AP) and Upgraded Dwarven Hand Cannon (+1 Resil, +2 Crit, +3 AP) just don’t give us the tanking stats we need.

You should still put a +2 damage scope on your ranged weapon, if it can take it.

MAIN HAND


Choosing your main hand weapon can be tricky because some races will have Expertise bonuses for specific weapon types.

My dwarf uses the BoA Venerable Mass of McGowan (+4 Stam, +3 Agi, +4 AP, +2 Crit) in her main hand, increasing her Dodge while letting her benefit from her racial bonus.

Before the Mass she used Butcher’s Slicer (+4 Str, +3 Stam), which I think was little bit better than the Night Watch Shortsword (+4 Stam) because of the added strength. The Night Watch Shortsword looks so good though, that were I playing a human I’d probably prefer it over the Slicer for tanking. These two swords are better than the WSG rewards, the Protector’s/Legionnaire’s Sword (+4 Str, +2 Stam).

Another BoA worth mentioning is the Sharpened Scarlet Kris (+4 Stam, +6 AP, +3 Resil). I know, warriors tanking with daggers? If we’re going to go down that road, we might should also look at the Horde-only Dawnblade (+5 Stamina), normally used as a caster MH.  I can’t recommend this (though I’ve seen it in the wild) because of the effects of Normalization on your DPS.

Good tanking axes are hard to find at this level. I’d go with Smite’s Reaver (+2 Str, +3 Stam, +2 Hit) or the crafted Bronze Axe (+3 Stam) if I was set on using an axe to capture the Orc racial bonus. But that bonus won’t overcome the lack of stats on these weapons.

The debate about the best twink enchant for your weapon rages on, but the contenders for tanking are: Crusader, Lifestealing, Fiery Weapon, and +15 Agility. Each has their strengths and weaknesses. I prefer Crusader on my weapons because of the massive damage bonus it gives to all of my abilities when it procs. Lifestealing can lessen the load on your healer. Fiery Weapon generates a lot of threat, and +15 Agility can push your Dodge rating nice and high.

I’ll leave it at: I recommend Crusader, but can see the point of all the other enchants, too.

SHIELD

The PvP shield of choice is the Redbeard Crest (+6 Str, +3 Stam, 547 Armor, 11 Block). It’s the only shield under consideration with Strength on it, which makes it appealing for the boost to Block in addition to attack power. Because Warriors convert 2 points of Strength to 1 point of Block Value, the Redbeard Crest has an effective Block of 14.

However, the Armor on the Crest is low compared to the Arctic Buckler (+3 Stam, +8 Spirit, +5 Frost Resistance, 642 Armor, 13 Block). And that Armor is critical. From a tank’s perspective, you’re looking at exchanging 95 Armor for 1 Block and 12 AP. For Cynderblock, 95 Armor about 2.15% damage reduction from armor or — assuming she gets hit by mobs doing 50 damage with each swing — about 1.4 Block.

So the Arctic Buckler is a better shield for damage mitigation, though not for threat generation — the 12 AP is not trivial at this level. But if your threat gen is okay, it’s definitely the better shield.

The final contender is the Horde-only Deadskull Shield (+1 Str, +7 Stam, 611 Armor, 12 Block). This is the Stamina-stacker’s shield, with good armor and block and a boatload of Stamina. The Arctic Buckler gives about 1% more damage reduction for the cost of 40 health.

I think the Buckler edges out the Deadskull Shield just barely here, but just barely, and only because Armor is so damn good. If you’re Horde, you should get both — just to be safe.

DON’T FORGET THE DRINKS
Just like in PvP, the one buff you should make sure you always have active is the food buff from Rumsey Rum Black Label. Tanking while mildly intoxicated gives you a +15 Stamina bonus.

The fact that Cynderblock is a Dwarf has nothing to do with this. Honest.

*whistles innocently*

IT’S OKAY TO OVERGEAR THE INSTANCE

You know, I really expected the gear section to be a lot shorter than it turned out to be. I don’t know why; gear decisions at any level are difficult, and there are very few cues at level 19 as to what constitutes a tanking item versus a DPS item.

But once you build up your tank set, you’ll find that the lowbie instances become a heck of a lot of fun to run. (Yes, even Wailing Caverns.) You can be as aggressive with your pulls as your healer can handle. You’ve done your job properly in gearing for damage avoidance and mitigation. You’ve given yourself an insane health pool for the level — Cynderblock is at 1600, with buffs she’s usually around 1750-1850. Even a bad healer can keep her up and running with relative ease.

And best of all, you know that you will never have a fail tank in your group.

That’s really the best feeling of all.

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11 thoughts on “The Twink Tank

  1. When I started my paladin I decided I was going to twink-tank-level to 80. This lasted from 15-18 and then I just went ret and went questing. I almost wish I hadn’t. Maybe I’ll level my warrior this way.

    • Hey, is your druid twink ready for some hot dungeon running action? We need to get you some gear out of Wailing Caverns!

      • I’ve been focusing more on my main druid lately, my twink is still level 14.

        But we’ll have to do that some time =)

  2. Great write up, almost inspired me to pull my 26 warrior out and start hitting LFR as a tanker. Quick question: are the queues just as long for lowbie tanks as for lowbie dps (> 1hr in a lot of cases)?

    • I’ve never had to wait more than 2-3 minutes in queue, tops.

      I still have the same problem as every other tank with that 5th DPS accepting the invite, though. :-)

  3. I came across your site a couple of weeks ago and got motivated to do a Warrior Tank for the low level instances. It turned out to be a lot of fun as you suggested. I also rolled a mage and a rogue. The mage is pretty hohum but the rogue also rocks.

    Thanks for making the effort to produce such a comprehensive guide. I reallly loved it.

    Lance

  4. And to think I thought I was being original in my idea to create a twink warrior tank…Hah!

    Thank you, sir, for the terrific write up! Many things here I probably never would have figured out on my own. If you don’t mind, I would like to pick your brain on an idea.

    Regarding level 19, besides the BG reward items you mention, could you not twink at lvl 21 instead? and possibly gain better rewards?

    This still allows you to que for all the lowbie dungeons (RFC ques up to 21) and adds The Stockade into the mix. As well as two more talent points to play with on the very juicy 3rd tier of the prot tree. But wait there’s more! This would also give you access to Cleave, Stance Mastery and Retaliation.

    Gear-wise it would open access to: (probably more, here are the ones that caught my eye)

    Jimmied Handcuffs (wrist, Stockade)
    Dreamsinger Leggaurds (legs, World Drop)
    Commander’s Crest (shield, SFK)
    Ring of Silver Might (finger, crafted)

    Unless there is another reason to stay at 19? Thanks again!

    • Staying at 19 gives you access to the 10-19 WSG twink bracket. If you go to 21 you’re at a huge disadvantage if you want to PvP. But certainly if you only want to tank, 21 gives you a lot more flexibility.

  5. Pingback: A Guide To Twinking In Cataclysm « Green Tinted Goggles

  6. Hi, I was thinking of making a twinked prot warrior to rip through dungeons and stumbled upon your guide. I had a question, with 4.1 and the new tanking BoA’s, should I bother looking at other gear for these respective slots ? Or are the new tanking BoA’s that good (BiS) ?

    • The new tanking heirlooms are an interesting tradoff from the DPS heirlooms at level 19; they offer a slight increase in overall mitigation for a drop in overall threat. It’s not a huge swing either way, but if we’re talking about absolute BiS – yes, the tanking heirlooms have a slight edge unless you’re struggling with threat.

      The only reason I think you should be struggling with threat (or rage generation) is if you’re running with twinked, trigger-happy DPS (or if you’re not pulling big enough.) Having been in that situation before, I know it’s possible to have people pull off of Cynderblock if they’re going all out. Telling them to wait is sometimes futile, because you’re going to kill the mobs before they ramp up their own DPS.

      If you have the time, the tanking set is a good investment. You’ll find it useful on a lot of characters.

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