Hello. I'm here to take a stab at a tanking guide for warriors in Classic WoW. Warrior tanking is anything but simple, and requires lots of research, effort, farming, gear and eXperience. I'll split this up into sections to make it easier to read.
Tanking isn't for everyone. It takes a certain personality and flair to be an amazing tank. Tanks are the center of a raid. If the tank dies in a boss fight, it's most likely a wipe. Tanks have a great deal of responsibility and as such is not a very "chill" role. If you like to be important in a group dynamic and be the center of attention, you should be a tank.
Tanks also have a lot of responsibility outside of raids. In a group setting the tank will more often than not be in charge of marking enemies, setting the pace and look out for things that you might need to deal with. If you have a wide attention span and have a lot of general awareness, you should be a tank.
Lastly tanks are also really fricking cool. If you like to look beefy in awesome looking gear with a huge shield and a poky weapon while tanking enemies 20 times your size, you should be a tank.
There are a few talent trees a warrior can use to tank, and thats not only protection based builds. IMO you should use different talents for different parts of the game, as you progress and get more geared. Talents for farm raids should be different versus talents for progress raids etc.
It takes full usage of the protection tree, getting shield slam, concussion blow, last stand and the passive defensives, while also getting access to increased threat from the impale talents in the arms tree, as well as the juicy 3% extra crit in the fury tree. This is a very standard prot build that shines as main tank and dungeons.
This is a deep fury build with the most important protection talents like last stand, defiance and improved shield block. This will be very useful as an offtank in the first few tiers, where you sometimes need to tank something, and sometimes you don't. You can slap on your DPS gear and do some decent DPS, or stay in your protection gear and provide some good, basic tanking abilities.
This will also be a very strong build once you get more gear and access to world buffs, due to bloodthirst scaling from attack power, and flurry uptime increasing with crit. Additionally you will also be able to kill mobs and do your farming easily with this build.
This is a mostly defensive build with some neat utility spells that are very useful in dungeons and as a primary offtank where threat isn't an issue. Improved taunt and shield bash silence is lovely in dungeons for control. NOTE: This build will not be the best option for main tanking due to the lack of offensive talents.
Gear is a massive subject for tanks. There is no "BIS" list for tanks because you are going to be changing your gear from fight to fight, depending on what is needed or useful. The basic set of gear for tanks is a mostly defensive one. You need to have a certain amount of armor, defense and health to be able to survive. Staying alive is more important than doing a lot of threat. Here is the list I intend to go by for pre raid, pre dire maul BIS:
Ring 1: Naglering, Golem Lord Argelmarch in BRD 50 armor, 10 stam, 5 def, +3 reflect dmg
Ring 2: Band of Flesh, Rammstein in Stratholme 16 stam, 6 str, 3 agi
Trinket 1: Force of Will, General Angerforge in BRD 7 def, procc to reduce dmg
Trinket 2: Blackhand's Breadth, LBRS quest 2 crit
Weapon: Mirah's Song, Scholomance questchain Sword, 1.8 speed, 40 DPS, 9 agi, 9 str I intend to farm Ironfoe after gaining this weapon
Shield: Draconian Deflector, General Drakkisath in UBRS 2153 armor, 40 block, 7 stam, 10 fire res, 10 def
Ranged: Gorewood Bow, "Order must be restored" quest in EPL 9 stam, 3 agi, 2 str
As you start getting some fat epic loot in MC and BWL, you can build more armor sets for different purposes. You will need: -A full defensive set for the absolute most survivability. This should have 440 defense to be capped and as much armor and health as you can get. -A threat set which will sacrifice some defense and health for +hit, +crit and agility. This is easy to achieve later on if you can get your hands on a lionheart helm with ZG enchant on it. -A reflect set for AOE tanking (yes, we have to do that too some times). This should include the AOE trinket from Rammstein in Stratholme, Naglering from BRD, eventually Razor Gauntlets from DM:E and the trinket from Ragnaros. -A fire resistance set with approximately 275 fire resistance for tanking Ragnaros.
Eventually as you get more geared, you can keep your defense cap and build more threat into it. This is possible around AQ40 with T2.5 and other items.
4. Rotation There is no rotation for tanks. We have a list to go by, where we prioritize what to do and when. But I can explain how useful some of our abilities are. The most bang for your buck comes from revenge and shield slam. These should be on cooldown always. They deal the most threat per rage spent. Heroic strike and sunder armor are close together, and then it's really just using what's available. Single target tanking isn't hard.
Berserker rage-battle stance-charge-defensive stance-blood rage-shield slam-demo shout-battle shout Using berserker rage will increase the amount of rage you get from being hit. Don't use it if you need to negate a fear or gouge effect in the fight
Tanking multiple mobs is hard. You need to do a lot of tab-targetting and unless a solid threat meter like Omen is introduced in classic, you need to remember how many times you've hit a target, and look at how much damage it's receiving from your allied DPS. Usually you can start a fight with an ability like sunder on each of your enemies and then cleave/shield slam on your main target.
AOE tanking is pretty easy in the sense that there isn't much you can do. Pull your enemies, battle shout for threat, demo shout for threat and then tab/cleave away.
Also make sure your hard hitting enemies have thunderclap, possibly ask an offtank or a fury to do it.
A good tank will use a lot consumables. It's not cheap but it's definitely worth it. The first real "consumable" you should worry about is becoming an engineer. Goblin sapper charge and grenades are your best friends for controlling enemies in dungeons. They are really good and all tanks should be engineers.
As you get into raiding you will most likely do an okay job without elixirs, but there's a few that I would never go without: -Elixir of the Mongoose: 25 agi and 2% crit. This is a super strong elixir and should always be used in raiding. -Crystal Ward or Elixir of Superior Defense: A couple hundred bonus armor. Just a flat decrease in physical damage taken. Not too expensive and pretty good. -Elixir of Fortitude: 120 extra HP at a really low cost. No reason not to use it. -Great Rage Potion: +50 ish rage. This is probably the most important of them all. Popping one of these bad boys while moving into a boss fight will give you a head start on threat, and its pretty cheap too. Always carry a handful of them for big boss fights, or if you're rage starved in the middle of a fight. -Greater Stoneshield Potion: +2000 armor for 2 min, can be up permanently. This is a slightly more expensive potion but is definitely useful on progress fights where you might be in danger of dying to a hard hitting boss like Nefarian or The Twin Emperors later on in AQ40. -Flask of the Titans: Of course this is on the list. You can't deny the gain of 1200 extra HP for 2 hours. Although it is very expensive, most guilds will usually collect gold to make sure the main tank(s) always have on up on progress fights.
Here's a few macros I can't live without:
/cast mocking blow /cast battle stance
/cast berserker rage /cast berserker stance
/cast intercept /cast berserker stance
/cast charge /cast battle stance
These are mostly quick stance dance macros for snap taunting or similar.
And that's it! Get out there and do some dungeons. The more you tank, the better you get at it. Just like everything else in life. You'll quickly learn how to make the right judgement call in a split second.