I thought I'd pop in here because there are a lot of Prot Warrior Qs on stream lately (and I saw some posts in here with reference to me/stream too).
First, I'm not claiming to be a Prot Warr master or anything, and any disclaimers or speaking out of turn (or too soon about facts) on stream I loosely verified with some napkin math after in front of everyone and took back what I misspoke over (more on that later). Buzzing with the community is how people learn and improve.
The obvious argument at the moment is crit vs avoidance. I'd also like to preface this by saying I don't think there is a wrong or less viable build really when you consider all the facts. Also, until heroics really hit, you won't really see a big difference between the two builds, except some more damage on crit.
I'm a pure crit advocate, but always consider both sides of the story before making choices. I'm curious to see what else the community has to say about the issue. The way it looked to me after doing that rough math based on my Warriors ilvl etc (and keeping Mastery levels constant) is that the trade off between pure crit and avoidance was +~7% more crit or +~10% more avoidance, and the crit differential is including riposte calculations.
But as we all know I'm sure the analysis isn't that easy, you have to consider many other factors when making the choice. Aside from avoidance having diminishing returns which we all know.
Do you really want that much mastery in an avoidance build since they don't share a positive relationship? probably not
Is your uptime on Riposte 100%? not usually
Keeping mastery levels constant, which will generate more rage? I'm tempted to say crit over avoidance, regardless of revenge spam in an ideal world. And as we know more rage = more AM (or DPS). This is because of the relationships between devastate, shield slam, and them critting too.
Which smooths damage more? Usually not avoidance, as traditionally it has been a binary stat (you either get hit or you don't). This point is obviously more complicated than that with riposte, and with the positive scaling between absorbs and avoidance, but at the end of the day, more rage and mastery will smooth damage more than avoidance, again, it might not be noticeable when the bosses are hitting you for a threatening amount so far.
Which does more DPS? crit. I understand people always say "well who cares about DPS, we're here to tank", but if two builds are similar, and one outputs more DPS, then tank DPS isn't something to be ignored in today's game.
There's probably some more facts I've omitted, but that's a good start.
So while there's a fairly level playing field between them now, we have to actually say where the downsides are, if any. And there are indeed some with the avoidance build, what happens with no riposte? What happens with unavoidable mechanics? Crit is always there in these situations. These have to be analyzed on a boss by boss basis, because that's what we care about for current content. Ultimately what you see is that some builds are better or worse on some bosses, and sometimes they are even.
- Aside for P1, you're spending time helping kill adds in P2 with no riposte, since nothing is really attacking you. You also have tank swaps in P1, so no Riposte there really unless you Vengeance swap well, and even then you might need to wait a few swings to get riposte. P1 has casting parts too with swirl and breath.
- Most likely will have Riposte most of the time here, the two builds seem pretty equal to me.
- You will have some periods of no tanking, but not often. also pulsing aoe magic damage prefers some more barrier spam with excess rage, which you will get more of from crit.
- Tank debuff forces periods of no tanking, no riposte, nothing to avoid. crit still outputs dps during this.
- If you're doing waves, riposte will always be up, and avoidance will be strong here with multiple mobs.
- However, if you're in the tower, avoidance won't be as strong, since the mobs don't melee often.
- P2 Galakras casts fireball fairly often but has a normal swing timer, no particular strength for either build.
- Heavy magic damage, a lot of time spent not tanking on this fight. Meaning no avoidance proccing riposte. Most of the time when not tanking it seems that you have some AoE or DoT on you. A crit build will continue to generate more rage in this situation to help you barrier more (especially when mine hopping).
- You'll have riposte up with haromm always, but will have gaps sometimes with kardris when she summons adds/casts.
- This is a very magic damage heavy fight, with not much threatening melee, aside the wolves, which are bleeds mostly. Pretty Barrier friendly fight and you generate more barriers with more crit, furthermore there isn't as much to avoid on this fight due to magic damage, aoe etc. crit again, is always there/
- When on nazgrim, avoidance is advantageous since it doesn't feed him more rage when he misses his melees.
- Might drop riposte a bit when tank swapping depending on what adds are out, but generally not often. this seems like a good avoidance fight.
- Avoidance is good for not getting the debuff stacked as high, but you will also drop riposte when the other tank is tanking for at least 10 seconds (30s debuff).
- P2 blood rage seems unavoidable from WoL, meaning no riposte or avoidance is beneficial here, but crit still is for barriers and for dps.
- Much like galakras waves, avoidance would be good here as there are multiple mobs hammering on you.
- 50/50 tank rotations, with a P2 that has no melee aside the jailer (and most guilds won't use the key until it is time), meaning not a lot of riposte uptime. But crit continues to provides barrier or dps during downtime.
- Riposte should be up most of the time here, but there are pauses in melees (such as the add doing its slam). Also you want to kill the add as quickly as possible, and more crit can help you do that. Unavoidable AoE damage goes out as well.
- Will have riposte most but not all of the time, depending on which bosses are down. Needless to say there is a lot of magic and aoe damage on this fight which more barriers helps for.
- P1 you'll see riposte up basically the whole time, if you're the 1 tank tanking it. Otherwise no bueno.
- P2 riposte only when actively tanking, there is a tank swap.
- Sha phases, you'll only have riposte up during the sha burn phases, but during the DPS garrosh part you aren't avoiding anything, and there is pulsing AoE, which barriers helps for, which you can generate more of with more crit.
So after looking at all this (and I'm sure there's things I missed here and there), it seems like most of the time either crit is better, or both builds are on par, with some rarer fights were avoidance is probably a smarter choice (although mastery will prove to be a better stat for some amazing smoothing). So the way I see it, there is no wrong or right answer and the builds are fairly close, and we need to remember that ultimately this is a game, so if one build is more fun for you, play that. Facts are facts, use them how you will. You like a high crit build like me for whatever the reasons? Go for it. Like pure avoidance? Do it. Like Mastery and then avoidance instead of crit? Go for that too. It goes without saying that ideally, Mastery levels can and should be adjusted based on how many elements of the fight are blockable (and I still stand by the fact that Mastery capping is inefficient).
There is one more thing to note. In *some* of the above tanking situations where you need to tank swap with a debuff, you can indeed (and if you're good should) rotate for vengeance, which you can also use to get a riposte buff. But that's not as simple as you think depending on the situation, as you don't want your debuff reapplied, and you aren't guaranteed riposte immediately when you taunt. Safeguard applies to this as well. The story changes slightly on some fights with some heroic mechanics, but not significantly from the above listed, for now.
Also, RE:some of the messages I saw floating in here. Firstly, just because I say something on stream that is wrong in the moment (and especially then correct myself over), doesn't mean you need to be rude and say I'm an idiot or don't know what I'm talking about. Furthermore, yes, this is my alt, and just because a toon is someone's alt doesn't mean they are dismissed as not knowing anything about it or being as knowledgeable with it, no need for negative environments. I've had tons of experiences with people in the past that are damn near masters in the 2, 3 or even more classes they played. Assuming immediately that alt = less knowledge is a bit naive.
My goal ultimately (and always) is really to bounce ideas with the community, it's how we all learn and anyone that watches my stream knows I like to do that, and I don't self-proclaim myself as the right and only answer for tanking or as some kind of bald white super tanking space christ, I don't think anyone ever should about anything. I simply enjoy putting the facts out there, and hearing it from others, as thoroughly and correctly as I can find or understand them, and it allows people including myself to make educated and smart decisions about how to gear or tank specific fights or encounters.
Looking forward to some brainstorming!
EDIT: I've purposely not discussed Stam as that is always a special case, and Stam levels need to just be constantly adjusted based on the fight.
EDIT 2: I also saw some confusion on me using Windsong, I just did that last night (and have a River's Song waiting too) for testing for WoL parses etc, though I suspect the argument will be similar to the crit vs avoidance argument above between these two. Also whoever was a naysayer to colossus earlier, colossus actually provides some of the most smooth damage intakes and absorbs ALL damage, it was a top TDR and smoothing contender up until 5.4, and even then still has its qualities.