WoW Protection Warrior Tank Guide
Table of Contents
WoW Protection Warrior Introduction
Protection Warrior is the OG tank, sword and board fantasy that specializes in not taking damage (in comparison to other tanks). The spec is in a solid spot going into 10.1 the talent tree is in a great spot with lots of utility, choices between damage and defensives (that doesn’t feel bad to choose from, very important!) and lots of little playstyle changes that you can choose from depending on your needs.
Protection Warrior is one of two tank specs that relies on rage generation to utilize your defensives and damage. The spec has many ways to generate rage both actively and passively making it an all around force to be reckoned with. This tank spec requires a very proactive use of your defensives and mitigations, using a defensive after a tank buster has crushed your health by 50% is almost useless to protection warriors, it’s all about stopping as much incoming damage as possible before it hits.
WoW Protection Warrior Strengths & Weaknesses
WoW Protection Warrior Stats
Protection Warrior stats are very important to its gameplay and making it feel fluid, reducing CD’s and the total GCD (global cooldown) of some abilities as well as empowering your defensives. It must be said, but Strength takes priority over any secondary stat as your gearing, once you’re a level of min maxing, take ilvl other secondaries, especially if the upgrade is significant.
- Haste: Haste is your most important stat in any scenario, it reduces the total cooldown time of Thunderclap, Shield Slam and Shield Block, your 2 main rage generators and your active mitigation, talents like Into the Fray do a LOT of work in the early stages of gearing and remains a solid option in endgame gameplay.
- Versatility: As noted above, Protection Warrior is great at not taking damage, Versatility decreases damage taken and increases damage and healing done, making it an all around great stat for Protection warrior to have.
- Critical Strike: Like any other game, this stat increases your critical strike chance equaling more damage done, but for protection warrior, your parry rating is a direct reflection of your Critical Strike rating(the stat, not the %, increasing your CS% will not increase your parry rating). Now warrior is a block spec and most of your mitigation will come from Blocking incoming damage, adding another source of mitigation as well as increasing your damage. Not a stat to prioritize but not one to dump either.
- Mastery: Mastery for prot increases your base block chance(good!) and your chance to critically block(also good!) but the latter does rely on RnG more than is cared for. It does also increase your attack power, more damage and bigger Ignore Pains(Great!). Due to the RnG nature of the stat it’s not as prioritized as the others but also remains a stat you don’t want to dump either, since critical block combined with Spell Block shores up a major weakness that protection warrior has had for a long time!
In season 2 we’re going to be achieving our diminishing returns more quickly than in previous expansions, since we already like to stack versatility quite a bit, critical strike is next in line, adding a decent source of damage increase and parry. For new Protection Warriors, focus on Versatility first, then add onto your crit afterwards. For the seasoned vets, you can opt for more critical strike much quicker.
Haste > Crit > Vers = Mastery
WoW Protection Warrior Tier Sets
How 10.1 Tier bonuses change our playstyle
2pc – Shield Slam damage is increased by 15% and reduces the cooldown of Last Stand by 2s. During Last Stand there effects are doubled.
4pc – For 20s after Last Stand ends, Shield Slam unleashes a wave of force dealing Physical damage to enemies in front of you and reducing the damage they deal to you by 5% for 5s.
This is a fairly strong tier set bonus that has multiple layers to it.
First off it reduces the cooldown of Last Stand significantly, at a base of 2 minutes(with Bolster) you’ll be able attain a 1m10s total cooldown. Paired with Bolster giving you a 15s of Shield Block per use, having full uptime is going to be a much simpler task. You’ll be able to opt out of certain Shield Block talents once you feel you’ve mastered 100% uptime.
Secondly, Shield Slam is a major portion of our damage for a single target ability, even in AoE, increasing its damage by 15/30% is really solid, then add the AoE component after Last Stand ends, 20s, where Shield Slam deals a frontal cone of AoE damage, we’re looking at something incredibly strong. This is obviously going to shine in mythic plus alongside talents like Violent Outburst.
Last, adding the 5% damage reduction component is a nice little bit to add to the tier set. While 5% isn’t anything crazy, its obviously not bad, giving you a little bit of tankiness.
The Onyx Annulet from the Forbidden Reach is going to be one of our better options for the foreseeable future given its damage and defensive bonuses.
Best setup: Infused Storm Stone, Desirous Blood Stone, Prophetic Twilight
WoW Protection Warrior Enchants, Gems & Consumables
Note: I will be updating this section as further testing occurs after the tuning passes has finished. New embellishments have arrived in 10.1, perhaps changing our Best in Slot embellishment items. Its best to use caution in the first couple of weeks of a new patch to wait on tuning passes before crafting some items. Be aware.
Until you reach a more than comfortable level of haste, enchant your rings with Haste and Gem Haste wherever possible.
- Howling Rune is a 2 hour consumable that increases your haste, best in all forms of content.
- Frozen Devotion(Enchant) – Best for damage
- Sophic Devotion – Best defensively since the Strength proc won’t out damage Frozen Devotion but will provide you with more defensive benefits.
Cloaks & Bracers
There are now solid Leech enchant you can acquire to be placed on those pieces of gear, with our talent build we start out with 10% base leech, and since our weakness is consistent self sustain, leech helps to shore that up, combined with the Indomitable talent, we have very consistent healing to keep us going, meaning even if we’re at 50% hp, we’re still incredibly difficult to kill.
- Tepid Versatility is my all around go to phial of choice, while it may not be best in all scenarios, it’s a solid option in every scenario. A nice stat increase of a stat we already like to stack.
- Eye of the Storm is a Strength increase based on the number of enemies that have hit you to a max of 5, this is a solid phial to be using in Fortified weeks of Mythic plus, but loses value on bosses(only 1 target is hitting you), unless you pull trash onto them (not always recommended or possible).
- Glacial Fury is a damage proc phial which can see its best use in AoE pulls. Unfortunately it offers no defensive benefits but does do nice damage.
Lastly, our pants! Fierce Armor Kits replace the Shadowlands consumable into a full “enchant”, which now increases our primary stat and stamina permanently.
WoW Protection Warrior Basics
Active Rage Builders
- Thunderclap & Shield Slam are your active use rage builders. While there are other abilities and talents to increase your rage these will be your main forms of rage. Bloodsurge bleeds and Auto attacks both generate rage passively.
- Shield Block, Ignore Pain and Revenge
- The Strength of Protection Warrior lies in its active mitigation, Shield Block does a lot of work in blocking incoming physical damage while Ignore Pain absorbs 50% of all incoming damage. These two abilities will be doing the brunt work to keeping your HP bar as full as possible.
Off The Global Cooldown
- Shield Block and Ignore Pain are both off the GCD, meaning you can press one of them with your main rotation simultaneously. This makes Protection Warrior a high Action per Minute spec that requires aggressive play. The more rage you build and burn the more health you regenerate and are able to keep up your active mitigations.
Defensives on Protection Warrior are to be used proactively, its of very little use to you to use it after you’ve taken a big tank buster hit as an oh shit button, at that point its best to rely on your healer to top you off or Impending Victory to top you off.
- Shield Wall: Reduces all incoming damage by 40%(variable CD, 3m30s baseline). This is your big defensive, combined with Shield Block and a couple stacks of ignore pain, you’ll barely feel a tank buster.
- Demoralizing Shout: This is to be used frequently, best at the start of pulls while your still setting up your position and gaining threat since with selected talents you’ll apply a 20% damage taken debuff(by you) to the affected targets.
- Spell Reflect: A 6 second Magic damage reduction can reflect or deflect a large number of spells for big damage.
- Spell Block: Grants you the ability to block spells, in the past this has been a huge pain point for Protection Warrior. This defensive ability is a huge ability added in Dragonflight.
WoW Protection Warrior Talents
The new talent trees for Dragonflight offer us two trees, a spec tree and a class tree. The class tree is a more general tree which sees all three warrior specs with the same options, the spec tree is Protections and Protections alone, both of these trees are stupid strong for protection and offer a lot of flexibility in talent specializations based on encounter scenarios. Below is an all around solid build combining offensive abilities and strong defensives useful in most encounters, that being said you can tweak it as you need of course, sometimes you just don’t need 2 charges of Shield Wall, etc.
The most important thing any new protection warrior needs to know and focus on is Shield Block, the power of this active mitigation is genuinely insane and best out of all the tank specs. While building up your warrior, focus on having full combat uptime on Shield Block and prioritize rage dumping into this defensive, DO NOT LET IT DROP!, under any circumstance.
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WoW Protection Warrior Class Tree
The class tree offers a lot of great utility and some of our core abilities we’ve had since the dawn of WoW.
There is some flex you choose from if you want to tweak your utility based on what you need. The nice additive of these trees to Dragonflight and how warriors was specifically made, is there are no cookie cutter builds to be made here, if you want more interrupt CD, more healing, total rage pool or damage, you can tweak it here which offers the player a good choice based on encounter profiles.
In this guide I’ll first take about staple talents you’ll almost never swap away from, then Flex talents, talents you can choose to opt away from for something different. I won’t be breaking down every talent option here, since some are self explanatory (5% movement speed…) or are simply there for pathing reasons.
Stance Dancing is back! The class tree gives protection warrior Battle Stance and Defensive stance back! The tldr, battle stance gives us 3% increase crit, defensive stance reduces incoming damage by 15% but also reduces our damage by 10%. 95% you’ll be in battle stance, only using defensive stance when you’re in trouble, or you know you just need a bigger defensive. Defensive stand is nice because it’s an on demand (3 second cooldown to swap), 15% damage reduction. Below is a macro to make swapping stances one button (incredibly useful) since protection warrior does suffer from minor button bloat.
Battle Stance Change Macro
#showtooltip /cast [stance:2]!Defensive Stance;!Battle Stance
- Impending Victory (default): This is our more consistent form of “big” healing. A 25 second(resettable if you get the killing blow on a target) 30% Max HP heal. This doesn’t sound huge, but trust, while the overall healing this ability provides isn’t going to reflect well on the meters, it comes in clutch when you desperately need attention.
- War Machine (default): Auto attacks generate more rage, killing an enemy gives you 5 rage. Not much else to be said aside from you like rage, rage is good.
- Spell Reflect (default): Probably one of the most OP abilities than protection warrior has(seriously!), a 6 second magic defensive that can reflect or deflect the spell altogether. Each spell against you has a different ID, some are reflectable, will do damage back to the enemy, some are only deflectable, won’t damage them but won’t damage you either. This requires proactive attention and some planning, but this ability comes in clutch and can deal some serious damage. Dark Claws from the Minions of Doubt in Temple of the Jade serpent are fully reflectable for example and can easily be 35-40% of my damage on that pull.
- Rallying Cry (default): This ability is very powerful for large incoming group damage, while it can be used as a personal, its best used to help your raid or party overcome large portions of incoming incoming damage, meaning you’ll mostly use it to benefit others more than yourself.
- Thunderclap + Blood & Thunder (default): We’re going to take about these two talents options together(for good reason) because Thunderclap is an integral part of your rotation. It’s one of 2 of your active use Rage Generators, the other being Shield Slam, it now automatically applies Rend(a talent in the spec tree) on up to 5 targets(which also generates more rage, to be talked about later in the spec tree). Thunderclap itself deals good damage and will consistently be in your top 5 damaging abilities, add the synergies you gain for rage gen, rend damage and the slow(20% applied to enemies), this ability is core to your functionality as a Tank. On the spec tree side of things this will also reduce the CD of Demoralizing Shout by up to 3s, which I’ll elaborate further in that section of the guide.
- Heroic Leap (default), Bounding Stride (flex) and Double Time (default): These are your big movement abilities that allow you to zip around the battle quickly and efficiently. When beginning a pull its important to open with Charge, NOT Heroic leap(i know it’s fun but it doesn’t generate rage). Since the opening Charge will provide you with your first bit of rage to get started on keeping up your active mitigation.
WoW Protection Warrior Capstones
- Avatar & Unstoppable Force (default): Avatar provides us with a strong 20% damage increase for 20 seconds, combined with UF, decreases the CD of Thunderclap by 50% and increases its damage by 50% as well, making this combination a no brainer pick for rage generation and damage. Its original CD is 1m30s, but is easily reduced down to 45-50s with Anger Management in the Spec tree.
- Thunderous Roar & Thunderous Words (default): While this is a strong offensive CD, it also provides us with yet another means of rage generation while active through Bloodsurge. Thunderous Words synergises nicely with this by increasing all bleed damage by 15% at all times, this includes Deep Wounds, Rend and of course Thunderous Roar.
- Shockwave (flex): AoE stops in Dragonflight are incredibly valuable, while its damage without the selected nodes below it isn’t great, just having that stop in Mythic Plus makes this a powerful ability on a 40 second cd, one of the shortest AoE stops in the game and easily grabbable. This is a node you gain easily opt out of in raid since AoE stops see their most value in m+ vs raid.
WoW Protection Warrior Class Tree Flex Points
- Berserker Rage (flex): While there are little forms of content at the moment where an immunity to fears and incaps are unavoidable, if you’re struggling in a form of content by fears or incaps, Berserker Rage is a solid pick up to deal with it. In Season 2, Brackenhide exists, the first boss Incapacitates you as a mechanic, you can immune it with this ability, go to pick up for that dungeon.
- Concussive Blows (flex) vs Sidearm (flex): This ability reduces the cd of your kick by 1 second and increases damage dealt to that target by 5%. This obviously sees its best use in Mythic Plus giving you optional priority damage and allows you to get more kicks off in a key run. In pugs I opt for Concussive Blows due to the amount I usually need to be kicking a lot more, this ability loses value in more organized groups. Sidearm is a passive extra damage dealing talent that deals ok AoE damage, great in all content.
- Crushing Force (flex): Shield Slam does 10% more damage and its critical strike chance is also increased by 10%. All around solid choice but will only help with single target(bosses and prio mobs) but Shield Slam slaps, it will consistently be one of your highest damaging abilities throughout a keystone run AND it literally only hits one target. Since Shield Slam is your other primary active rage generator, it’s never to be ignored rotationally, making this a solid pick for both damage and pathing.
- Storm Bolt (flex): Single target 4 second stun on a 30 second CD? Yes please! This use to be very difficult to get with the old talent system, now it’s easily grabbed under Thunderclap and Furious Blows, this provides Prot warrior with more stops.
- Honed Reflexes (flex): Further reduces the CD of pummel(interrupt) by another second, combined with Concussive Blows this gives Warrior one of the shortest kicks in the game allowing you to solo kicks many priority kick abilities in mythic +, whenever I talent out of these two, I’m praying the others have their kicks to do what I could do solo, never a fun spot to be in. This talent also reduces the Cd of Shield Slam by 1 second, but you will rarely benefit from this since Shield Slam resets are so frequent it will uncommonly reach its full CD duration.
- Pain and Gain (flex): A returning Shadowlands tank conduit, will heal you for 4.5% of your max HP when you take damage on a short internal CD. All around strong and provides solid healing when you’re taking lots of little hits that peck away at your health. In beginner endgame content you won’t see a ton of value from this pick, but as the key levels get higher this will provide more and more value.
- Intervene (flex): Charge but for allies, this ability is insanely useful in scenarios where mobs or bosses actively target one of your party members since you can simply choose to just eat that damage for them. Also allows you to zip out of trouble by targeting a range and getting out of dodge quickly. If you’re actively tracking spell targeting as well, you can Intervene Spell Reflect your targeted ally and Reflect damaging spell back to the attacker, this requires active tracking and quick reactions to pull off, but wh