"I [heart] Shockwave." That's what the bumper stickers on the back of most Warrior tank's proto-drakes read.
Shockwave is such a simple ability that you'd think it doesn't really need a lot of explanation. Push the button, pile on the Win. Like everything else for Warriors in a WotLK-world, though, using an ability well is another matter entirely. It's a straightforward talent, but I'll ramble on about it with my experiencing way more than necessary, anyhow.
Standard dingy redheaded warrior disclaimer applies: All just in my limited experience. Throw in corrections, suggestions and soft, but appropriate flames where necessary. :)
At first I was disappointed with Shockwave 'cause it didn't have the visual effect I was expecting. I was looking for ground shaking, rolling terrain forced out in an awesome wave of destruction before the Warrior. Instead we got a pop and a dust cloud. I kept looking around for the spot were Wile E Coyote landed. K, so the FX need a little work. But the effect itself?
Shockwave blasts forth in a cone in front of the Warrior for ten yards causing a pile of damage and threat to anything caught in it and stunning the crap out of 'em for four seconds.
That's it. Pretty simple. There's a few fine points to that description, though.
First, the damage is based on Attack Power. More AP is better for this ability, obviously. But... I read recently (don't remember where) that, for Warriors, Strength is a better stack. I'm guessin' that this is because you get two points of AP for each point of STR, as opposed to a straight up +AP from items with that stat. So, for example, +50 AP is +50 AP, whereas +50 STR is 100 more AP. Strength also increases the amount of damage you can Block, so you get double duty from that stat. +AP gear isn't gonna hurt, of course, but if it's a choice between more +STR or more +AP, you go with the Strength. Which stacks a big pile of Awesomesauce on abilities like Shockwave.
That's about all the maths I'm inclined to do.
Second, the stun is awesome but it is only four seconds. And it doesn't work on bosses. Using the time the stun gives you is terribly important. We'll get into that below.
Third, the cone is a bit tricky and it only has a ten yard range. Which is ten yards more than we had prior to Wrath, of course. It is a cone, though, so the area it affects is greatest the further away the mob is, and less the closer the mob is. (The effect itself, by the way, is the same regardless of where the mob is inside the cone.)
From experience, though, I can say that if the mob is one pinky-toe outside that area, there's a better than even chance that they won't stun. OTH, sometimes you're pretty sure the mob is outside the cone, and it stuns anyway. The whole effect may need a little tuning. For tanks, though, ya gotta get 'em in the cone. If this were an Arms ability, we'd take the "chance" with a sigh and a shrug and carry on. Protection Warriors, though, like sure things. If a Prot pushes a button, it better happen... or someone's gonna die.
Because of that, Shockwave takes a bit more practice than would first be apparent. With a pile of elite mobs running at you, pop it too soon and you'll miss the whole bunch. Pop it too late and you'll miss half of 'em. Either way is an ouch. So, practice to get the feel of it. In most cases, you need to know when to hit Shockwave automatically. Muscle reflex, as it were. For me, thinking too much messes everything up. (Shaddup.)
* Shockwave and Thunderclap go hand and hand. Most Prot Warriors I've read or talked to agree it's Shockwave first, then Thunderclap. I'll go with that to an extent, but with a warning that it doesn't always work out that way. When the monsters are coming from different directions and you need to grab aggro fast, there's plenty of times where you'll Thunderclap first, to get their attention, line 'em up and then Shockwave. Course, if you set up your pull properly it shouldn't be an issue, but (especially if you've got someone shooting AoE too early) it's definitely a situation that comes up often enough.
* Shockwave is a cone. Can I say that enough? Probably. If the mobs aren't in it, letting it rip will just make a messy dust cloud and get dirt all over your pretty armor. Gah!
* When mobs are rushing at you, hitting them with Shockwave will stop them dead in their tracks. Okay, so this is where planning is actually necessary. Make sure the mobs are where you want them before you stop them. Sometimes you'll have to wait for the poky last mob to catch up with it's fellows before you blast 'em. Patience is a tanking virtue.
* Standard caster cautions apply with this one. If it isn't in range, it isn't gonna generate any threat on that target. Beware.
* You should, in most cases, use Shockwave all the time. Even in the middle of a fight. Four seconds of not getting hit is... well. Just put it in your rotation. It's ready every 20 seconds. This isn't a save it for when you need it ability. This is a blast the crap out of 'em as often as possible ability.
* At the same time, if it's available, it makes a handy "Awshit" button, as well. While there's certainly others you're most likely to use (Taunt, Challenging Shout, Intimidating Shout, Shield Wall, Intervene) depending on the situation, because this one becomes automatic it can save your bacon in a pinch. Pile O' Mobs too close and you're taking too much damage? Pivot left, Shockwave, and take two or three out of the equation for a moment. Mob breaking for your healer? Build more threat on him and stun him stupid with a pile o' dust. It's not much, but it a) generates a pile of threat, and b) buys a moment for everyone to get their heads on straight.
* It's even a finishing move. The damage is very strong on this ability, particularly if your AP is up and boosted. Shockwave the last of that mob's health off, watch him fall over dead, and stun the second one behind him at the same time. Then introduce your shield to his face. Now mob number two is stunned, hurt and obsessed with you. Nice.
* While questing/running dailies I use Shockwave constantly. Pull a big pile, shockwave 'em, and start tearing 'em apart. Between Shockwave, Concussion Blow, Improved Revenge, Demoralizing Shout, Thunderclap, Spell Reflect and Shield Block, your health bar will barely move. It's lovely to be nearly invincible.
* While the stun doesn't work on dungeon bosses, it still does a healthy (well, not so much for the boss) dose of damage and generates plenty of threat. This isn't terribly handy in a tank 'n spank, you'll probably be busy using other abilities, but it's wonderful on bosses with annoying adds. Pivot, Shockwave, pivot, back to boss. Rinse and repeat.
* Since it's AP based, guess what you'll wanna have up at all times? Yup, Battle Shout. Great reason to take a DPS Warrior along with you. :)
Shockwave is just an awesome and essential Prot Warrior tool. Learn to love it and will love you. And it'll help keep your head on your shoulders, as well. Now that's love.