Protection Warrior guidelines and FAQ
I'm Mest, a die-hard Warrior who enjoys smashing faces with a shield. While protecting my allies. Or something.
This thread consists of two sections. The first section of this thread is intended to provide introductionary basic guidelines for new Protection Warriors, with the second Q&A-format section discussing more advanced topics. I want to stress that I leave everything in this thread up for discussion and criticism, I'm a firm believer of that everybody can teach somebody else something.
Please do help me improve the guidelines and FAQ with anything from corrections, alterations or additions.
Table of contents
Protection Warrior guidelines
#1. Talents & Glyphs
#2. Ability usage
- 5-man dungeon tanking talents
- Raid tanking talents
#3. Gear and how to treat it
- Offensive ability usage
- Thunder Clap and Demoralizing Shout
- Defensive ability usage
#4. Protection Warrior FAQ
Protection Warrior guidelines
1.) Talents & Glyphs
5-man dungeon tanking talents
As 5-man dungeons usually primarily consist of AoE tanking and short-lived mobs, some talents become more attractive when tanking 5-man dungeons than when tanking raids. Many Protection Warriors dedicate an entire spec solely to tanking 5-man dungeons and doing so is certainly recommended to new tanks.
The picture above displays talents and glyphs suggested for a 5-man dungeon tanking spec.
Talents with a yellow border are very strong picks, talents with an orange border are decent, but optional, talents. Talents without a marked border are straight up uninteresting, very weak or too situational to be included in a basic spec for tanking 5-man dungeons. The build displayed in the image is what I believe would provide the best basic spec, but major variations to the build can occur.
For more information, see the FAQ below.
Raid tanking talents
In raids, survivability, some sorts of utility and occasionally also tank damage output are of more importance than in 5-man dungeons. Most raiding Protection Warriors have a talent spec containing talents helping them with their current progression encounter.
The picture above displays talents and glyphs suggested for a raid tanking spec.
Talents with a yellow border are very strong picks and can, in most cases, be considered mandatory. Talents with an orange border are good, but optional, talents. Talents without a marked border are straight up uninteresting, very weak or too situational to be included in a basic spec for tanking raids. The build displayed in the image is what I believe would provide the best basic spec, but major variations to the build can occur.
For more information, see the FAQ below.
Prime and Minor glyphs are straightforward to Protection Warriors. Major Glyphs, however, are not. Consider your raid and what encounters you see in the current content when you chose glyphs. Also keep in mind some glyphs can have major impact on your utility when you discuss tactics for new boss encounters.
The picture above displays the Prime Glyphs used by Protection Warriors.
The picture above displays all Major Glyphs viable to a Protection Warrior.
While there are many viable glyphs, there few you can consider baseline. The only glyph I always include is highlighted with yellow, Glyph of Shockwave. Among these glyphs some are stronger than others, but all are situational. Pick whichever glyphs you feel has the best impact on the content you currently tank, be it 5-man dungeons or a specific raid encounter.
The picture above displays the Minor Glyphs used by Protection Warriors. Out of these, only Glyph of Demoralizing Shout is a must-have.
2.) Ability usage
Offensive ability usage
The Protection Warrior rotation is based around our ability Shield Slam and our talent Sword and Board.
We want to use Shield Slam as often as possible and therefore use Devastate or Revenge when Shield Slam is on cooldown to attempt to proc Sword and Board. If Sword and Board doesn't proc for two Devastates/Revenges in a row, you use the last GCD before Shield Slam comes off CD with a filler move, or another Devastate or Revenge if no filler is available.
In practice it can look like this:
Whenever Sword and Board procs
you immediately start over from the beginning of this rotation.
On the "filler
"-marked GCD there's little to no point in attempting to proc Sword and Board, since Shield Slam will be available to use anyway. Instead we use a high-damage ability like Shockwave
, or refresh either the Thunder Clap or Demoralizing Shout debuff. Keeping Thunder Clap and Demoralizing Shout up at all times is your highest priority, but ideally you want to refresh them during this filler GCD. If you chose to spend talent points in Blood and Thunder
, this is when you ideally want to refresh your Rend.
Whenever your rage permits you to (which will be often), use Heroic Strike
. Heroic Strike is off the GCD
so it has no impact on your regular rotation. Just press make sure to only use it when you know you won't drain your rage.
If your raid or group lack the stamina buff or the STR/AGI buff you will want to make sure to keep Battle Shout or Commanding Shout up at all times. As both of these abilities also generate rage it's generally a good idea to use either just prior to pulling a boss or a pack of mobs.
There's no rotation set in stone for AoE-tanking. The optimal way to tank multiple mobs changes depending on your group, what type of mobs you tank and where you've spent your talent points.
The basic idea is to Charge
and/or Heroic Leap
in, then get Rend up as soon as possible and spread it through Thunder Clap, use Shockwave whenever possible and prioritize Revenge over Shield Slam
, but still use Shield Slam when nothing else is available.
When your rage is high (which may be even more often than in a single target scenario), use Cleave
. Cleave is off the GCD
so it has no impact on your regular rotation. Just press make sure to only use it when you know you won't drain your rage.
As most multi-target pulls are trash mobs, do not forget to use the many utility abilities Warriors have. Pummel or Spell Reflection as often as possible, consider stunning with Concussion Blow, disarming with Disarm or even fearing with Intimidating Shout when you suspect damage intake may be high. Also do not underestimate the how much Demoralizing Shout impacts your damage intake. It's almost always a good idea to get it up even if mobs are short-lived.
Thunder Clap and Demoralizing Shout
Two abilities well worthy their own header.
Thunder Clap increases the time between your target's attacks by 20%. All tank specs, and some damage dealers, can apply this debuff and the effects do not stack, but it's extremely important to make sure this debuff is up at all times.
Demoralizing Shout decreases the damage dealt by your target's attacks by 10%. All tank specs, and some damage dealers, can apply this debuff and the effects do not stack, but it's extremely important to make sure this debuff is up at all times.
It's highly recommended to track Thunder Clap and Demoralizing Shout somehow. Not only to see when you may want to refresh those debuffs, but also since other classes can apply them too. For tips on how to track these debuffs efficiently, see the FAQ below.
Defensive ability usage
Protection Warriors have plenty of defensive CDs. I'll list the major ones and suggest how you may want to use them.
Shield Block is our basic defensive CD. With a 30 second CD you can reach a 33% uptime if you use it whenever possible. In most scenarios you will want to use it on CD, but it's sometimes worthwhile to delay Shield Block to draw benefit from the magical damage reduction from Shield Mastery
Shield Wall is our classic major defensive CD. With a 2-minute CD, this ability is best saved and used just prior
to major damage spikes to you (or to your raid) to reduce the amount of healing your healers must push. If no burst damage is going to occur for the coming 2 minutes, don't hesitate to use it to allow your healers to conserve some mana.
Last Stand is your primary "Oh shit"-cooldown. It instantly increases your current health by 30% of your max health and increases your max health by the same amount. When the effect expires, the health gained is lost, so consider it a temporary healing spell. It can naturally also be used prior to a major damage spike just like Shield Wall.
Rallying Cry is a raid-wide version of Last Stand, but slightly weaker and it doesn't last for as long. Use this to save one or many of your raid members who are at low health from dying, but use it with care since it also places Last Stand on CD. You may want to use this ability to counter raid wide boss mechanics, but bear in mind this is one of the weaker raid wide CDs and is probably best used as an "Oh shit"-cooldown but for your raid members.
Best used coupled with either Rallying Cry or Last Stand for an increased amount of healing. Unlike other defensive CDs, Enraged Regeneration uses the GCD. Use it whenever you want to help your healers with healing, be it healing on you or healing on the group. Keep in mind you must be enraged in order to use Enraged Regeneration, so you may want to save your Berserker Rage ability if you know you'll have to use Enraged Regeneration soon.
3.) Gear and how to treat it
With talents and glyphs covered, let's take a quick look at which stats a Protection Warrior wants. The short answer is "all of them", but no, not like those odd guys, but all stats present on gear itemized to Protection specs.
Stats don't work quite the same to tanks as they do for other roles; it's difficult to give a stat a specific number portraying it's worth. Secondary aspects like consistency in damage taken, mechanics being countered by certain stats, stats changing in relative worth depending on the state of your other stats or the type of content you play.
Long story short: I'm going to present to you the most commonly accepted stat priority and gemming schemes, but alternate approaches may be just as viable. For more information on this topic, see the FAQ below.
Always look for items with mastery. Mastery does often reduce the most damage of all stats avaible, and it reduces damage in a very smooth way compared to the more spiky dodge and parry.
Dodge and parry ratings should be kept fairly equal due to diminishing returns, with slightly more parry rating than dodge rating.
Our talent Hold the Line does make parry a somewhat stronger stat than dodge, but not as much as one may think at first. If you want to know the details, please read the FAQ below.
Armour cannot be stacked and it's also rather weak. No armour trinket has been released this expansion that is worth using. Even lower ilvl trinkets are often far stronger than the armour trinkets available.
There's also resistance which, sadly, is quite rare. It's pretty much only found on a handful of trinkets, but when it's found it's very desireable. One of the strongest trinkets available is the Tol Barad trinket Mirror of Broken Images because of its resistance.
It's generally recommended to avoid the offensive stats hit and expertise. You do not need them to perform your role as a tank, and your primary interests should lie in reducing as much of your damage intake as possible. Do note, however, that tank damage output is far from irrelevant and you may face a scenario where you as a tank having slightly more expertise is the final push you needed to kill a boss. It may also be worthwhile to gather some hit and expertise for tanking 5-man dungeons, as tank damage output has a much larger impact in a small group.
Stamina is very difficult to give a value. It doesn't reduce damage, it doesn't need to be stacked - but it's still very useful. Stamina vs. other stats is an advanced topic and even Warriors among the top disagree on how to value stamina. Some claim stamina to be the best stat, some claim they'd rather use offensive stats than stamina.
Whichever the case, don't worry too much about your stamina. Appreciate when it's increased from new items and bonuses, but don't necessarily go out of your way and stack it.
If you want to read more about stamina and when it can be desirable to stack it, see the FAQ below.
The commonly recommended gemming scheme is as follows:
Which gemming scheme you should use changes depending on how you value stamina. It can be that you need more stamina for a certain encounter or because you reached a certain point of gear (or perhaps simply because of personal preference).
For your meta gem slot you want to use either the Eternal Shadowspirit Diamond or the Austere Shadowspirit Diamond. With dungeon-level gear, both meta gems are more or less equal in terms of damage reduction. Some may prefer the Austere gem to reduce spikyness from non-blocked attacks, but the Eternal gem will reduce more damage as you reach higher levels of gear.
When you reforge your gear, simply follow the stat prioritization above, and reforge the weakest stat on a piece of gear into the strongest available.
In practice, this means you'll always reforge out of offensive stats like hit or expertise, and always reforge into mastery, or dodge/parry if there's already mastery on the item.
If an item has mastery and parry, you may want to reforge the parry into dodge in order to equalize the two stats and minimize the loss to DR - just keep in mind it can be the other way around too. Again, for more information on this topic, see the FAQ below.
If you face an encounter where tank DPS is of grave importance - perhaps through a mechanic like Alysrazor's hatchlings or because of a tight enrage timer - do keep in mind that increasing your expertise and hit can be a good idea.
The following is a list of the basic enchants a Protection Warrior should/could use. Keep in mind certain professions provide additional or alternative enchants for some slots.
There are plenty of consumables available to us.
As most spike damage is created by magical damage - and since spike damage is the most deadly kind of damage - I personally recommend the setup with Resistance, but choose whichever setup you think will help you the most for the encounter you're about to tank.
Protection Warrior FAQ
In this section of the thread we're going to discuss more advanced topics than what we did in the guidelines above. If you see anything listed here which you do not agree with fully - or think of something you want to add - please don't hesitate to make a post about it.
Protection Warrior FAQ
- What is this CTC I've heard about?
- "Combat table"? How does that work?
- What happens with my stat priority when I'm block-capped? Do I still want to increase my mastery?
- What is this DR or Diminishing Returns I've heard about?
- Is parry and dodge really equal in value? What about our talent Hold the Line?
- I need a BiS list for my Protection Warrior, is there one available?
- I just entered a 5-man dungeon [...] Help!
- I'm new to tanking and there are many things I'm not sure about.
Q: What is this CTC I've heard about?
A: CTC is an abbreviation for Combat Table Coverage. Your CTC is your chance to be missed, your chance to dodge, to parry and to block added together.
People often discuss "full CTC" which means you've filled the entire combat table with avoidances, creating a state where no attacks made towards you from a raid level boss will result in anything worse than a block. The entire combat table is covered at 102,4% CTC.
This state is also often referred to as "unhitability" or "block-cap". When you talk about your CTC you usually talk about your values before the reduction from boss level differance (see below).
Q: "Combat table"? How does that work?
A: Whenever an NPC attempts to attack you, WoW rolls on the combat table to check the outcome of the attack.
Assume you're an Orc with 14% dodge, 14% parry and 50% block who specced Bastion of Defense. When a boss-level mob makes a swing towards you, the possible outcomes of the attack are these:
Now assume you increase your chance to block by 25% with Shield Block, now the possible outcomes of the attack are these:
As you can see, increasing block by 25% completely removed the 19,4% chance to be hit. The boss is now unable to hit you. As a matter of fact you even overcapped block; since you only had a 19,4% chance to be hit your chance to block was increased by 19,4%.
Why did I subtract 0,6% from each stat, you ask? For each level a mob exceeds your level, all of your avoidances are reduced by 0,2% each. As raid bosses are considered to be three levels above you, each stat is reduced by 0,6% - or a total of 2,4% less CTC.
This is the reason why you only reach full CTC at 102,4% and not 100%.
And where is Critical Block on the combat table, you ask? It's not there because it's not directly relevant to how the combat table works. When a block occurs, you have an X% chance to block twice the amount. It doesn't have an impact on the CTC.
Q: What happens with my stat priority when I'm block-capped? Do I still want to increase my mastery?
A: Yes and no. Mastery loses more than half its value past full CTC, but it's not worthless as it still increases critical block.
Past 102,4% CTC you'll want to prioritize parry and dodge over mastery. Parry and dodge also lose value past unhitability, but not as much as mastery does.
As all our defensive stats lose relative value at this point, many Warriors decide to change their stat priority. In practice, this means you may want to consider changing gemming schemes, change consumables or even gather some offensive stats. You'll eventually also reforge into parry or dodge instead of mastery.
Q: What is this DR or Diminishing Returns I've heard about?
A: Diminishing Returns - DR for short - is when you get progressively less value out of something even if you increase it by similar amounts. In World of Warcraft, parry and dodge are subject to DR, meaning each rating point of parry and dodge is worth less than the previous.
Confused? Don't worry, it's quite simple once you wrap your head around the concept. Let's use some fictional numbers:
Pretend you have 5% dodge. To increase your chance to dodge by another 1% you'll need 100 dodge rating.
Now pretend you have 15% dodge. To increase your chance to dodge by another 1% at this point you'll need 200 dodge rating.
In practice, this means you never want to stack either parry or dodge. Instead, you want both your parry and dodge ratings to be equal in order to minimize the loss to DR.
Do note that:
Diminishing returns does not mean that you can't dodge/parry many times in a row. It has no impact on anything but your total avoidance.
Diminishing returns does not "kick in" at a certain point or come in intervals; it's always there and affects every single rating point.
Q: Is parry and dodge really equal in value? What about our talent Hold the Line?
A: Yes and no. Our talent Hold the Line does increase the value of Parry, but because of diminishing returns it quickly loses its advantage in value if you stack it.
In practice this means that if you have, say, 18% parry but only 12% dodge, you lose so much parry to diminishing returns that the gain of increased Hold the Line uptime doesn't make up for it.
So how much parry and dodge should you have? Most Protection Warriors want to have roughly 20% more parry rating than dodge rating when fully buffed, but the ideal amount changes depending on your chance to block and how many swings you suffer per second.
User Kolmagorov created this graph below, on which you can find your ideal ratio of parry and dodge (see this thread for more information).
Use this graph to find your ideal parry:dodge ratio, then log onto your character in game, get raid buffs and reforge your parry and dodge ratings accordingly.
Also no, you shouldn't account for dodge procs like various trinkets, Windwalk etc. when balancing your parry and dodge. If such buffs were up for more than 50% of the time it'd make some sense to account for them, but they aren't.
Q: I need a BiS list for my Protection Warrior, is there one available?
A: No there is not. Because, long story short, it's not possible to make a true BiS list for a Protection Warrior.
Long story long: It's not possible to define what "best" actually is. Minimizing damage taken is our ultimate goal, but how and [i]when[i/] we decrease it may – in some cases – be far more effective than by how much we decrease it. I believe most agree that many blocked attacks are easier/more efficient to heal than few avoided attacks even if neither approach reduces less damage than the other.
The complications begin when you start to consider bosses with on-hit mechanics which can increase the value of dodge or parry. There are also the occasional burst phases which can increase the value of dodge and parry temporarily. In some cases, increasing tank damage output through hit and expertise can be a key to beating an encounter either due to mechanics or tight enrage timers.
Furthermore, reaching unhitability has a rather large impact on your relative stat weights. Warriors reach unhitability at very different levels of gear depending on race, gemming schemes and trinket setup, and past unhitability Warriors may chose different approaches to gearing.
A final thought must also be given to trinkets. A trinket that's absolutely outstanding on one encounter can be borderline worthless on another encounter.
Bottom line: Follow the general guidelines for what gear you want and bear in mind you may want to carry multiple pieces of gear – especially trinkets – to be able to equip the stats you really need for a specific scenario.
Q: I just entered a 5-man dungeon using the dungeon finder for the first time and the damage dealers are all "GOGOGO" but I don't know how to tank a trash pack so I tabbed out of WoW to check this guide for tips so what shall I do?!
A: First of all: Take a deep breath and relax. It's not as difficult as it may seem at first. While there is no scientifically proven best way to tank any trash pack, I'll do my best to give you a few general guidelines below.
The pull is always the most difficult scenario, and what you must realize to make a successful pull is that your primary threat isn't the mobs you just charged; your primary threat is the group of players you're in the dungeon with. To allow the players you're in the group to perform their role (because they will!) you must know what they do, how that affects you and how you should act.
As you pull a group of mobs the first threat you must counter the threat your healer does, or mobs will start running all over the place. Countering a healer's threat is as simple as to make sure to hit all mobs with an AoE ability for your first or second GCD.
My personal favourite opener would be to both Charge and Heroic Leap (at the same time, just because I'm a Warrior) and Rend the target I charged. Since the target is stunned from Charge my Rend has a very high chance to hit; just like playeres, mobs are unable to avoid attacks while stunned. For my second GCD I use Thunder Clap to spread Rend. Even in the worst of cases where mobs instantly starts running towards the healer, a glyphed Thunder Clap will almost always hit all of the mobs and instantly get you aggro. Note that even if the inital Rend misses I still use Thunder Clap as my second GCD, unless I know for sure I have some sort of strong misdirect active.
Concerning damage dealers
After countering the healer's threat you must counter your damage dealers' threat, and this is where things become complicated. Most damage dealers want to deal as much damage as they possibly can, and you should allow them to.
The key to countering damage dealers is to know what they are about to do. If you're in the same group as an Arms Warrior you know he's dying to press his Bladestorm button as soon as possible and for that reason you should generate as much AoE threat as you possibly can. If you're in the same group as an Arcane Mage, however, it's more likely that you will need to generate a lot of threat on one specific target. Join a group with both an Arcane Mage and an Arms Warrior and watch problems arise.
To make your life a tad bit easier I recommend you open your Key Bindings menu and bind Assign Skull to Target to an easy to reach button. If you assign a skull to the mob you charge on every pull chances that your damage dealers will focus that mob are high. With a skull target assigned, all you need to do after spreading Rend is to fall back to the regular Sword & Board-rotation on your target, mixing in Thunder Clap and Shockwave as often as possible. Don't bother with assigning signs to multiple mobs, however, as once the first mob is dead you'll have more than sufficient threat on all other mobs.
As tempting as it may be, do not use Shockwave early on. Make it a rule to wait until, say, your Shield Block buff is running out before you throw a Shockwave into your targets' faces. Why, you ask? There are two reasons: rage and vengeance. A stunned mob will not hit you, which by all means is a great thing, but you won't have sufficient rage nor vengeance to generate the threat you need to maintain aggro. If you delay your Shockwave it will hit for more damage and you'll generate more threat with all your other abilities early on.
There are plenty of methods to get the rage you need to successfully complete a pull. The two most obvious methods would be Battle/Commanding Shout and Charge. Always use a shout prior to pulling and pull by using Charge whenever you need rage. You can also make sure to conserve rage between trash packs; make it a habit not to use Heroic Strike or Cleave for the last 5 seconds of a trash pack so that you leave combat with a full rage bar. There's also the famous D.E.H.T.A.-disapproved kill-a-squirrel-method which may give you that little extra rage you need.
Always keep an eye open for what your party members are attacking - especially melee players - and make sure to focus most your single target abilities to whatever they are attacking. Players in melee range pull aggro easier than ranged players so you may want to put your Vigilance on the strongest melee player in your group. A ranged player pulling aggro isn't a big deal; it won't instantly attack the ranged player (it's not in range, duh), so as long as you can fit a Taunt before the mob walks over to your party member it's all fine.
Charge > Rend > Thunder Clap > Revenge > Shield Slam > Shockwave and as many Cleaves as you possibly can should work fairly fine as an opener in most scenarios, but many approaches may be just as or perhaps even more viable.
Q: I'm new to tanking and there are many things I'm not sure about.
A: If you have a very specific question, don't hesitate to write a post about it. Below I'll make a quick list with a few good basic knowledge one-liners.
- Attacks from behind can miss, but you cannot dodge, parry or block them.
- It's ok to backpedal as a tank - as a matter of fact, it's to be recommended in many scenarios.
- If you strafe away from an enemy you can run in full speed in a straight line but still not show your back to your enemy.
- Melee damage dealers will always want to attack mobs from behind to avoid the risk of parried attacks. For this reason, do your best at not moving mobs as soon as you've set your position.
- Everything in an 180° arc in front of you is considered to be in front of you. Be careful when mobs are at 90° to the left or right as even minor movement can place them in a position where you're unable to avoid their attacks.
- Reducing a lot of damage is important, but it's possible it's even more important to make sure your damage intake is constant and smooth to be easier to heal.
- Blocks reduce the damage of a melee swing by 30%, parries, dodges and misses reduce the damage of a melee swing by 100%.
- Our mastery, Critical Block, gives your regular blocks a chance to block twice the damage; 60%.
- The Eternal Shadowspirit Diamond increases the amount of damage reduced by blocks to 31% and the amount of damage reduced by critical blocks to 62%.
- It's often a good idea to use your defensive CDs when raid damage is high; if you need less healing your healers will have more time to heal the raid.
- Shield Block starts converting into critical block at 100% personal CTC, not at 102,4% or any other number. Also, contrary to what the tooltip suggests, Shield Block can convert more than 25% CTC to critical block – it converts all avoidance past 100% into critical block.
- Shield Block checks how much CTC it should convert to critical block when you cast the ability. If possible, use Shield Block just before a dodge trinket or similar runs out for some additional critical block.
- Threat and aggro are two different things. Threat is something you generate on a mob, and a mob will have aggro the player with the most threat.
- Aggro changes when a person exceeds the current aggro target's threat by 10%. If out of melee range, aggro doesn't change until the current aggro target's threat is exceeded by 30%.
- Taunt doesn't generate any threat; it instantly places you in aggro and gives you as much threat as the previous aggro target had. In other words, if you Taunt while in aggro, nothing happens.
- Damage dealers generate 1 damage = 1 threat. Healers generate 1 healing = 0.5 threat. You, while in Defensive Stance, generate 1 damage = 5 threat.
- Recklessness solves many opening threat problems.
- Delaying your first Shockwave when you tank trash can increase your threat and damage output. A Shockwave without Vengeance doesn't deal much damage, and since it stuns mobs it even prevents you from building Vengeance.