Needless to say, all of these classes and likely, the role of tanking as a whole will undergo a significant amount of changes come Cataclysm but the core principles behind what makes one tank different from another tank will remain the same and it will be those differences that we focus on in this series to help you choose which class you want to tank with.
The warrior has been an absolute staple tanking class right from the start and back in vanilla WoW, the warrior was THE tank.
Recently, there’s been a big push by Blizzard to establish a measure of parity among all four tanking classes but you’ll find that a lot of raiding guilds still use a warrior as a main tank.
The warrior is a tank with an awful lot of tools at his disposal that makes him suited to cover almost any emergency situation. The warrior is uniquely suited to handle all the manner of abrupt accidents that can occur over the course of a raid or a dungeon run.
Access to a skill such as Vigilance lends them an unlimited Taunt as long as it’s placed on the correct target beforehand while they bring to the raid one of the most important debuffs in the game to place onto the mob being killed. While it can be argued that a fury warrior can bring the Sunder Armor loving as well, as anyone that’s played a fury warrior can tell you, it’s a country mile easier to apply and keep up the sunders as a tank than as a DPS.
The thing that really separates a good warrior tank from a bad one though is the proper use of the Warbringer talent. Mobility during a battle is where a warrior really shines and it is a feat that is unmatched by any of the other tanking classes at the moment. A good warrior can use the separate cooldowns on his Charge, Intercept and Intervene abilities to constantly zip around the battle from one mob to the next and chaining off of his own raid members when needed. The cooldowns to these three abilities is often short enough that at any given point in the fight, at least one of them is up and ready to go while the secondary functions of each ability only help to give this unparalleled mobility an extra little something that it doesn’t really need.
However, all of these benefits don’t come without some sort of cost. In this case, it’s a simple fact that while warriors are remarkably well suited for the role of main tank, they suffer greatly as an off-tank in the current game due to the issue of rage. Warriors are given the fuel for their abilities by hitting but the majority of it comes from being hit instead. So if a warrior isn’t getting hit, they aren’t getting the rage needed to do their job.
While the rage system is on the chopping block for big changes come Cataclysm, there haven’t been any solid details or numbers regarding that yet so we’ll have to wait and see how that turns out.
In the current iteration of the game, this does develop into a fairly large problem (consider fights like the untauntable heroic Lady Deathwhisper) and should be factored into your decision when you’re choosing what class you want to be a meat shield as.