I am sitting at level 49 now on my Warrior waiting for level 50 so I can get the ability to use Charge in Defensive Stance. I can't rightfully say as I do not know about others and it is not end game yet at only level 49 but that is the make or break of Warrior tanking in my opinion. I've been waiting for the time where I no longer need to stance dance my life away.
I've got an end game Druid and DK both with tank specs. I have not used my DK much at all being it is my bank character really but I have used my Druid more then enough to know the ins and outs of it more then in just a passing. With that in mind it makes me think about all the tanks out there and what I think of them.
I have a level 40 Paladin (yes, knocked out up to 40 this weekend) that I plan to duel spec once I hit 80 into either Protection or Holy. That still remains to be seen. I want to keep it's Retribution spec because that character is going to be a pure gatherer for me, mining and skinning but I can see how Paladin tanking can be fun.
Paladins have it easy with only needing to do what they need to do with mana and that can reasonably be nearly unlimited. When specced correctly with a knowledgeable healer you will be regaining mana. You have your judgment as well as so many other mana regeneration abilities of other classes, you can pot, you can drink between fights, so basically you have a nearly endless supply of mana and only have to worry about your global cool down holding you back. Or really bad DPS which could turn a 2 minute fight into a 20 minute one that will surely drain you of your mana. With a choice of resources, this is the one I would want to tank with. More control for me and when it comes to being a tank it is all about control.
Death Knight tanking is nearly as good with the rune system. The runes seem to recharge very fast but the cool down on some of the skills you need seem a bit long for tanking needs and developing high threat on many target, while extremely easy, takes a small bit of time to develop. With death and decay needing one of each rune and its long cool down you really need to plan two moves in advance to be effective, which with practice should not be much of a problem. I have not really done it enough to be good to that extent but on paper it looks really nice when it works.
Druids are my favorite because of something that has nothing to do with tanking what so ever. I love the bear dance and there is nothing I love more then dancing on the dead bodies of the bosses as I beat them. Is that really wrong to love bear tanking because I like the dance? My biggest gripe about bear tanking has been the same since I started. The DPS that is behind me. I need to do something to get some aggro. I can't do anything until I get hit a few times and get some rage built up. DPS does not like the wait that long and go after the mobs the moment I make contact with them. Unlike my bear's tanking counterparts that can D&D, Consecration, or Tunder Clap to get some instant aggro to start working with the bear can do nothing but look at the mobs going all over the place. Smart DPS makes the job a ton easier.
To bad that there are so many stupid players and being there are more DPS then there are tanks and healers you see more stupid DPS around. It is a numbers issue, DPS are not worse then tanks or healers, it is just you notice them more. In a 5 man there will be one tank, one healer and three DPS. So if I am the tank I never see stupid tanks, only my own stupidity. With only one healer there is only one chance to grab an idiot out of the masses but there are three DPS in a group which means three chances to grab a total moron and being more then 50% of the people that play the game can not even walk and chew gum at the same time the odds are against you. You will, without doubt, always have at least one retarded DPS in every 5 man you enter. Which is why I no longer run 5 mans on my druid and it is stuck in ToC level gear for eternity.
Now Warriors, and my soon to be 50 Warrior, they are something like bears, in human form at least. They both have a charge, they both have a 360 degree AoE threat grab that costs rage. The difference is that with the Warrior their charge generates rage and the bears charge costs rage to use. That makes the Warriors charge 100 times better. Both the bear and the warrior have a way to generate quick rage. The bears makes their armor go down some and the warriors sacrifices some health. Again, warriors get the better here, the warrior has a glyph that keeps them from losing the life. The bears are still stuck losing the armor.
While the Warrior has charge for a while you can not use it in defensive stance until you put 40 skill points into the protection spec and then get the Warbringer skill. Once you get that you can use charge in defensive and you no longer need to stance dance and you no longer have to worry about taking a shot before you switch or the idea of losing some of the rage that the charge generated. To me, that is what completes the warrior.
My take on tanking is most likely not right at all. I have not tanked much and I only know from the world of LK where everything is an AoE fest and DPS go out balls to the wall the second a battle begins so I am in no way an expert of any sorts. I am only learning from what I see around me and, based on that, being able to grab AoE threat is the most important part of tanking. On the grand scale of things charge makes a big difference for a warrior for that very reason. Also being able to use charge in combat will help a ton too. Have a runner, charge him. Will stun him long enough to kill him most likely and will at least stop him from running. Need some range. Side step and charge, got some rage now. There are so many uses for charge that I have noticed being I've been playing the stance dance game for a while now. I think when it comes to it I will really enjoy tanking as a warrior because of that ability only. For many classes there are signature moves or what people will call a make or break moves. For me it seems like charge is the make or break for warrior tanking. At least for now. I have a long way to go before I get any of the other skills.