In preparation for the updates to our guides for Mists of Pandaria Patch 5.0.4, we are releasing articles such as this one, explaining what has changed for a particular class and spec, and what the new rotation is likely to be.
Keep in mind that this is still a work in progress (both from Blizzard's side and from our own) and that this article assumes you are at least somewhat familiar with the Cataclysm version of the Protection Warrior rotation and playstyle (such as from reading our guide).
We will first list the most important changes to the Protection Warrior Cataclysm abilities, and then we will proceed to explaining the (likely to be) optimal rotation. Keep in mind that we do not document every single change or new ability, only those that impact the rotation.
Finally, we will give you some information about the most useful talents and glyphs you should choose.
- Shield Barrier is a damage mitigation ability which absorbs a reasonable amount of damage, based on your attack power. Currently, it scales extremely well. It costs 20 rage, but if you have up to 60 rage available, it will consume it, increasing the amount of damage absorbed. It does not have a cooldown - instead, it has 2 charges (which regenerate once every 15 seconds), and Shield Barrier can only be used twice within a 15 second window.
- Deadly Calm is a cooldown that reduces the rage cost of your next 3 Heroic Strike or Cleave attacks by 10.
- Demoralizing Banner summons a banner that reduces the damage done by all enemies within 30 yards by 10% for 15 seconds.
- Mocking Banner summons a banner that taunts all enemies within 30 yards, forcing them to attack it for 6 seconds.
- Skull Banner summons a banner that increases critical damage by 20% for 10 seconds.
- Execute is a damaging spell that can only be used on targets that have 20% or less health. Previously, this spell was not usable in Defensive Stance.
- Tier 2 talents offer a choice between Enraged Regeneration, Impending Victory, and a passive ability, Second Wind. We discuss these talents in greater depth in the Talents section.
- Tier 4 talents offer a choice between Bladestorm, Shockwave, and Dragon Roar. We discuss these talents in greater depth in the Talents section.
- Tier 6 talents offer a choice between Avatar, Bloodbath, and Storm Bolt. We discuss these talents in greater depth in the Talents section.
Changes to Existing Mechanics
- Shield Block has been heavily redesigned and turned into a much more interesting ability. It blocks all incoming attacks for 6 seconds. It has a high rage cost of 60 rage, but it has no cooldown - instead, it has 2 charges (which regenerate once every 15 seconds), and Shield Block can only be used twice within a 15 second window.
- Shield Slam generates 15 rage instead of costing rage.
- Revenge now generates 10 rage instead of costing rage. It now has a 9 second cooldown, and dodging and parrying attacks resets the cooldown.
- Thunder Clap no longer costs rage.
- Deep Wounds is automatically applied each time you cast Devastate.
- Deep Wounds is now automatically applied each time you cast Thunder Clap. This is the equivalent the old way of spreading Rend (now removed) through the Blood and Thunder talent.
- Weakened Blows (the new version of Demoralizing Shout), is applied each time you cast Thunder Clap.
- Sword and Board now increases the amount of rage generated by Shield Slam, instead of removing its rage cost.
- Devastate no longer costs rage.
- Commanding Shout now increases the Stamina of raid members by 10%, instead of by a fixed value.
- Battle Shout now increases the attack power of raid members by 10%, instead of increasing Strength and Agility.
- Demoralizing Shout is a minor personal cooldown. It has a 1 minute cooldown, and for 10 seconds, it causes nearby enemies to deal 20% less damage to you.
- Recklessness no longer increases damage taken.
Rotation and Spell UsageThe way in which you will play your Protection Warrior will change rather considerably. The core abilities have remained the same (with the notable addition of Shield Barrier), but their usage is now different.
The main reason for this is that rage is no longer a highly fluctuating resource. Most abilities in your rotation no longer cost rage, and, in fact, some even generate it. Rage's most important uses now are your two active damage mitigation abilities, Shield Block and Shield Barrier.
Your rotation will resemble its Cataclysm version, which we detail in our guide, along these lines:
- Shield Slam and Revenge will be used on cooldown.
- Devastate will be used as a filler spell.
- Thunder Clap will be used at least once every 30 seconds, to maintain the Weakened Blows debuff.
- Heroic Strike will be used for increasing your threat output.
At the same time, you have to make sure of the following.
- You avoid being at maximum rage, since this wastes your rage.
- You use Shield Block and Shield Barrier often enough to make use of their very low cooldowns (two uses within a 15 second window for each).
In AoE situations, your only options are Thunder Clap, Cleave, and your tier 4 talent of choice.
TalentsTier 1 talents offer a choice between 3 talents that affect your Charge:
Tier 2 talents offer a choice between 3 self-healing talents: Second Wind is mostly a PvP talent, so it is unlikely that you will choose it often, if ever.
We believe that Impending Victory will be the default choice in the vast majority of situations, due to its low cooldown, which allows you to use it precisely when needed.
Enraged Regeneration may be better in situations where you need a bigger heal at a certain moment of the fight.
Tier 3 talents offer a choice between 3 crowd-control talents:
Tier 4 talents offer a choice between 3 important, gameplay-altering abilities: Dragon Roar is a clear winner.
Shockwave is very useful, especially in heroic dungeons and against adds, because it allows you to better control mobs, thanks to its stun component (and low cooldown).
Occassionally, you may choose Bladestorm if you wish to benefit from its properties that ensure you do not lose control of your character.
Tier 5 talents offer a choice between 3 abilities that help you protect raid members: Mass Spell Reflection is unlikely to be very useful in PvE raiding, since very few boss abilities can be reflected.
Safeguard is excellent if your raid is lacking in external damage reduction cooldowns, as it reduces damage taken by the target by 20% for 6 seconds (on a very low, 30 second cooldown).
Vigilance is also a sort of external damage reduction cooldown, although the damage is not reduced - instead, 30% of the damage the target takes over 12 seconds is redirected to you. This ability also has a higher cooldown than Safeguard, namely 2 minutes.
The choice between these 3 talents will depend on what you need most in the encounter.
Tier 6 talents offer a choice between 3 powerful threat and damage-increasing cooldowns: Avatar gives you a 20% damage increase and 30% increased rage generation for 20 seconds. It also makes you immune to movement-impairing effects for its duration. Currently, we feel that, in terms of DPS (and threat), this talent is best.
Bloodbath is a rather lackluster talent that causes your attacks to place a bleed on the target, for 12 seconds. It has a 1 minute cooldown.
Storm Bolt is, in a way, very similar to the old Concussion Blow ability. It is a single target stun that also deals some damage, with a 30 second cooldown. In case the target is immune to stuns (most bosses are), it deals a much higher amount of damage.
We believe that the choice of talents will depend on what the encounter requires. If you are simply looking to do more DPS and threat, then Avatar is the right choice. If, however, you wish to control various adds better, then you should choose Storm Bolt.
GlyphsThere are several Major Glyphs that are worth considering:
- Glyph of Heavy Repercussions increases the damage of Shield Slam by 50% while Shield Block is active. Given the high uptime of Shield Block, and the frequent usage of Shield Slam, this glyph will probably be nigh-mandatory.
- Glyph of Hold the Line increases the damage of Revenge by 50% after you parry an attack. Again, this glyph will probably be nigh-mandatory.
- Glyph of Unending Rage increases your maximum rage pool by 20. We believe this glyph will be an important element in helping you better pool rage. Pooling rage and saving it for moments when you need to use your mitigation abilities will be a central part of the Protection playstyle.
- Glyph of Incite causes your Devastate to reduce the rage cost of the next Heroic Strike or Cleave by 20, when used during Deadly Calm.
- Glyph of Gag Order causes your Pummel and Heroic Throw to also silence the target for 3 seconds. This glyph could be useful on fights where you need to deal with caster adds.
- Glyph of Enraged Speed increases your movement speed by 20% while you are enraged. You become enraged each time you score a critical block, so the uptime of this effect should end up being quite high.
- Glyph of Death From Above reduces the cooldown of Heroic Leap by 15 seconds, and increases its damage by 100%. This glyph could be useful on fights where mobility is a very important factor.
- Glyph of Bloody Healing increases the healing you receive from bandages by 20%, while Deep Wounds is active. The effect of this glyph is going to be minor at best, but since it is a theoretical benefit, we chose to list it.
- Glyph of Intimidating Shout causes the targets of your Intimidating Shout to cower in fear (standing in place) rather than to run around. This is useful especially in dungeons, when you wish to use crowd-control on the mobs without having them run into other trash packs.