Protection Warrior Tank Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities (MoP 5.4)

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Protection Warrior Art Image
General Information

On this page, we list your Protection Warrior core abilities and how they should be used together (rotation) in World of Warcraft MoP 5.4. We also explain when to use your various cooldowns. Then, we go deeper and present all the subtleties that you will need to know if you want to excel at playing a Protection Warrior.

The other pages of our Protection Warrior guide can be accessed from the table of contents on the right.

About Our Reviewer

This guide has been reviewed and approved by Poyo, Guild Master and Warrior tank of Envy.

1. Single Target Rotation↑top

This rotation does not take into account usage of your survival abilities (we cover this important topic in a subsequent section). It only shows you how to maximise your threat and rage generation.

  1. Use Shield Slam Icon Shield Slam on cooldown
  2. Use Revenge Icon Revenge on cooldown
    • Its cooldown is reset each time you dodge or parry an attack.
    • If you are at maximum rage, then delay using Revenge until you have used some of your rage.
  3. Use Devastate Icon Devastate as a filler (it does not cost rage). Use Devastate 3 times at the start of the fight (or when a new mob spawns), to apply the Sunder Armor Icon Sunder Armor debuff. If there is a Druid in the raid, this is not needed.
  4. Use Thunder Clap Icon Thunder Clap once every 30 seconds, if no one else is providing the Weakened Blows Icon Weakened Blows debuff that it applies.
  5. Use Battle Shout Icon Battle Shout or Commanding Shout Icon Commanding Shout (depending on which of the two you have chosen to provide for your raid) in order to generate rage when nothing else is available.
  6. Heroic Strike Icon Heroic Strike to dump rage and increase your DPS and threat
    • It is imperative that you only do this when you do not need to use rage for survival abilities in the foreseeable future.

2. Multiple Target Rotation↑top

  1. Use Thunder Clap Icon Thunder Clap on cooldown. This will spread Deep Wounds Icon Deep Wounds to all enemies around you thanks to Blood and Thunder Icon Blood and Thunder.
  2. Execute your normal rotation (Shield Slam Icon Shield Slam, Revenge Icon Revenge, and Devastate Icon Devastate), and use Cleave Icon Cleave instead of Heroic Strike Icon Heroic Strike if you have extra rage to spend. Alternate your attacks between the different targets, in order to maintain even threat on all of them.
  3. Use your tier 4 talent of choice.

3. Active Survival Abilities↑top

Your rotation is simply the framework into which you must actively incorporate Shield Block Icon Shield Block and Shield Barrier Icon Shield Barrier.

Shield Block causes you to block all attacks made against you for 6 seconds, while Shield Barrier provides you with a large damage absorption shield. Due to their exorbitant rage costs, Shield Block and Shield Barrier are difficult to use simultaneously.

We cannot stress enough how important it is to understand how to properly use these abilities. We remind you that we give them ample treatment in a subsequent section.

4. Cooldown Usage↑top

4.1. Defensive Cooldowns

  • Shield Wall Icon Shield Wall should be used before you receive a large amount of damage.
  • Last Stand Icon Last Stand should be used when your health drops to a dangerously low level, or in preparation for receiving a large amount of damage.
  • Demoralizing Shout Icon Demoralizing Shout should be used as many times as possible during the encounter. Try to use it when bosses are dealing particularly high amounts of damage or when you have no other means of improving your survival.
  • Spell Reflection Icon Spell Reflection reflects the next spell cast against you back to the attacker. Note that this ability will not work against the vast majority of spells cast by raid bosses. It usually works against Shadowbolt-type spells cast by adds. Experiment with it in the encounter, to see if it will benefit you against any spells.
  • Demoralizing Banner Icon Demoralizing Banner should be used as many times as possible during the encounter. Use it when bosses are dealing particularly high amounts of damage or when you have no other means of improving your survival. Note that, unlike Demoralizing Shout (which only affects damage to you), Demoralizing Banner reduces the damage that targets deal to all raid members, making it a somewhat useful raid cooldown.
  • Rallying Cry Icon Rallying Cry is a raid cooldown and it should be used in a rotation that is pre-determined by your raid leader.

4.2. Offensive Cooldowns

Regarding your offensive cooldowns, it is important to note that, whenever possible, you should try to stack as many of them as you can. You should also use your Tier 4 and 6 talents with cooldowns active, whenever possible.

We cover the various abilities granted by talents in a dedicated section.

5. Taunting↑top

Taunt Icon Taunt is your single target taunting ability. Note that if you are using the Vigilance Icon Vigilance talent, Taunt will have no cooldown while Vigilance is active.

Mocking Banner Icon Mocking Banner is your AoE taunt.

6. Stance↑top

You should always be in Defensive Stance Icon Defensive Stance.

7. Mastering Your Protection Warrior↑top

The guidelines given above will enable you to play your Protection Warrior with good results. If you want to push things further and master your character, then we advise you to continue reading.

7.1. Rage Generation

Your rage is generated from three sources:

7.2. Vengeance

Vengeance Icon Vengeance is a passive ability which you receive for choosing the Protection specialisation. Essentially, it increases your attack power for 1.5% of the unmitigated damage you receive. It takes the form of a 20-second buff, which you should have no problem maintaining 100% uptime on.

Vengeance also has diminishing returns, in that each additional target attacking you generates less Vengeance than the previous one.

7.3. Enrage

Each time you critically block (thanks to Mastery: Critical Block Icon Mastery: Critical Block), you become enraged, dealing 10% increased physical damage for 6 seconds. This will happen passively, so you do not need to concern yourself with it. Being enraged doubles the healing effect of Enraged Regeneration Icon Enraged Regeneration (if you have taken this talent) so it is advisable to have a way of monitoring this buff.

7.4. Procs

There are two procs you need to watch out for while executing your rotation.

  • Sword and Board Icon Sword and Board (a passive ability) gives your Devastate Icon Devastate a 30% chance of resetting the cooldown of your Shield Slam Icon Shield Slam, and increasing its rage generation by 5. The buff lasts for only 5 seconds.
  • Ultimatum Icon Ultimatum (a passive ability) causes your Shield Slam Icon Shield Slam critical strikes to make your next Heroic Strike Icon Heroic Strike or Cleave Icon Cleave cost no rage, and to be a guaranteed critical strike. The buff lasts for 10 seconds.

Sword and Board in particular is a crucial proc for Protection Warriors, and this is the reason why, whenever Shield Slam Icon Shield Slam and Revenge Icon Revenge are unavailable, Devastate Icon Devastate is the go-to ability.

7.5. Riposte

Riposte Icon Riposte is a passive ability that procs when you dodge or parry an attack, increasing your Critical Strike chance by 75% of your total avoidance (your chance to dodge and parry combined), for 20 seconds.

In most cases, this just means that you will have a near-permanent buff to your Critical Strike chance while you are tanking a boss, and it does not require any management from your part. This also indirectly increases your rage generation, since you will score more critical strikes with Devastate Icon Devastate and Shield Slam Icon Shield Slam.

If you are not tanking any mobs, then you will not have a chance to proc Riposte. There is a trick that you may be able to use in certain situations, however, in order to maintain a high uptime on Riposte. Namely, you can taunt the boss (or other target) off of the current tank and wait until you parry or dodge an attack before having them taunt it back. By doing this every 20 seconds, you could maintain relatively high uptime on Riposte, gaining a sizeable damage boost. Note that if you are attempting this trick, you must be very careful for your taunting not to interfere with any tank-switching mechanics in the fight. Given the fact that most encounters have such tank-switching mechanics, we imagine the usefulness of this strategy to be quite limited.

7.6. Survival Abilities

As a Protection Warrior, you have two abilites that are essential to staying alive: Shield Block Icon Shield Block and Shield Barrier Icon Shield Barrier. In the following sections, we will tell you everything you need to know about them. Then, we will explain when it is best to use one over the other.

7.6.1. Shield Block

Shield Block Icon Shield Block grants you a 6-second buff that causes you to block all incoming attacks. It does not have a cooldown. Instead, it works on a system of charges. Each charge has a 9-second recharge time, and you can have a maximum of 2 charges.

You can use Shield Block twice in a row (provided that you have enough rage) without wasting any part of it. Indeed, using Shield Block while the buff from a previous Shield Block is still active will simply add their durations together. For example, if you use Shield Block when you had 3 seconds left on a Shield Block buff, your new buff will have a 9 second duration.

Shield Block has a high rage cost of 60, so you must learn to use it wisely. To know how to best use Shield Block, you must understand what it is and what it is not effective against.

  • Shield Block works against physical attacks, but it does nothing against magic attacks (spells cast at you, AoE spells, DoTs).
  • Shield Block does not work against all physical attacks. Some attacks, such as specific encounter mechanics (Impale-style abilities), and abilities that apply bleeds cannot be blocked.
  • Shield Block is particularly useful when you are being attacked by multiple targets.

What all this means is that you want to use Shield Block to mitigate powerful boss melee attacks. If the boss you are fighting attacks in a steady and predictable manner, then using Shield Block is easy. If, however, the boss sometimes attacks faster or harder (going into a Frenzy), then you need to have rage in reserve so that you can use Shield Block at the appropriate times.

Keep in mind also that thanks to Glyph of Heavy Repercussions Icon Glyph of Heavy Repercussions, which we advise using, Shield Slam Icon Shield Slam deals increased damage while Shield Block Icon Shield Block is active.

7.6.2. Shield Barrier

Shield Barrier Icon Shield Barrier places a damage absorption shield on you, which absorbs an amount of damage (based on and scaling with your attack power). Shield Barrier has a 1.5 second cooldown, and it costs 20 rage. However, if you have more than 20 rage, then Shield Barrier will consume up to a total of 60 rage. Any additional rage past 20 will increase the amount of damage absorption that it provides.

Unlike Shield Block, Shield Barrier does not stack with itself. In fact, you cannot cast Shield Barrier while a previous Shield Barrier buff is already active, unless the amount of damage absorption of your new Shield Barrier is greater than the remaining damage absorption of your old one.

The absorption effect lasts for 6 seconds, but in practice it will almost always expire within the first one or two attacks you receive.

Also unlike Shield Block, Shield Barrier works against all types of damage (excluding fall damage). It is also interesting to note that the efficiency of Shield Barrier is based on your Attack Power, so the ability scales with your Vengeance Icon Vengeance level.

7.6.3. Shield Block or Shield Barrier?

Due to their exorbitant rage costs, Shield Block Icon Shield Block and Shield Barrier Icon Shield Barrier are practically mutually exclusive. In any case, this is not a problem, since every situation is always ideally suited to one of them, but never to both.

The amount of damage that Shield Block mitigates is based on the power of the attacks it is mitigating. Blocked attacks have 30% of their damage reduced (60% of it is reduced if your Mastery, Mastery: Critical Block Icon Mastery: Critical Block, procs). Therefore, a very powerful attack will result in a much greater damage reduction from Shield Block than a weak attack will.

On the other hand, the damage absorption of Shield Barrier is independent of the incoming damage. Shield Barrier will absorb the same amount of damage, regardless of whether the attack made against you deals 10,000 or 100,000 damage.

Therefore, when deciding which of the two abilities is better to use against blockable attacks, you need to look at which of the following two values is greater:

  • The absorption amount provided by Shield Barrier.
  • 30% of the attacks received over 6 seconds.

When facing magic damage, bleed damage, or otherwise unblockable damage, Shield Barrier is the superior choice.

7.7. More on Cooldown Usage

7.7.1. Tier 2 Talents

Depending on which tier 2 talent you choose, you will benefit from some form of self-healing. Second Wind Icon Second Wind is entirely passive, so discussing its usage is a non-issue.

Enraged Regeneration Icon Enraged Regeneration is a self-heal for 20% of your maximum health (10% instantly and 10% over 5 seconds) that is free of cost. Its healing is doubled if used while enraged (from Enrage Icon Enrage and Berserker Rage Icon Berserker Rage).

Impending Victory Icon Impending Victory is a self-heal for 20% of your maximum health, with a low rage cost and a rather low, 30-second cooldown. You should always be prepared to use this spell. In non-emergency situations, you can use it to simply help out your healers. If you anticipate that a very intense period of damage will happen soon, you should save it and use it then.

Note that, since all these talents heal you based on your maximum health, their effects are increased while Last Stand Icon Last Stand or Rallying Cry Icon Rallying Cry is active.

7.7.2. Tier 4 Talents

Bladestorm Icon Bladestorm, Shockwave Icon Shockwave, and Dragon Roar Icon Dragon Roar are all designed with multiple targets in mind. While they do good damage against a single target, you must consider whether or not it is better for that global cooldown to be used on a Devastate Icon Devastate instead. This gives you a chance to reset the cooldown of Shield Slam Icon Shield Slam (thanks to Sword and Board Icon Sword and Board), thus generating more rage and allowing for more frequent usage of Shield Barrier Icon Shield Barrier or Shield Block Icon Shield Block.

As such, we feel that these abilities should be used whenever you are trying to maximise your DPS, but if your survival is of the utmost importance, you should simply use a different ability. That said, given the long cooldown of Dragon Roar (our recommended choice here), using it on cooldown is quite doable.

Finally, Bladestorm protects you from knockbacks and from effects that cause loss of control of your character (such as fears), so you can use it with this purpose in mind even against a single target.

7.7.3. Tier 6 Talents

Avatar Icon Avatar should be stacked with Recklessness Icon Recklessness and Skull Banner Icon Skull Banner at all times. Additionally, you should try to make sure that you use Berserker Rage Icon Berserker Rage while Avatar is active.

Bloodbath Icon Bloodbath should be used on cooldown.

Storm Bolt Icon Storm Bolt should be used on cooldown. Due to its short cooldown, it will essentially become part of your rotation.

As you can see, these talents have mostly DPS/threat-increasing properties, although Storm Bolt can be used to stun some adds.

8. Changelog↑top

  • 28 Apr. 2014: Adjusted the healing amounts provided by Tier 2 talents (they were slightly outdated).
  • 15 Oct. 2013: Made small tweaks to the page, adding additional information and clarifying existing statements.
  • 12 Sep. 2013: Patch 5.4 update.
    • Added a small section on Riposte Icon Riposte, a new passive ability.
    • Updated the Vengeance Icon Vengeance section to account for the minor changes that this mechanic underwent.
    • Updated the Ultimatum Icon Ultimatum mention to account for the changes that this ability underwent.
  • 06 Aug. 2013: Removed an outdated mention that Avatar Icon Avatar provides increased rage generation.
  • 20 May 2013: Patch 5.3 update.
    • Modified the guide in relevant places to account for the changes to Enraged Regeneration Icon Enraged Regeneration (lower healing amount, free of rage cost, its healing being doubled if used while enraged).
  • 24 Apr. 2013: Made several updates.
    • Removed the mention that said that Shield Slam Icon Shield Slam should be delayed if you are at maximum rage. Shield Slam should always be used on cooldown.
    • Improved the multiple target rotation slightly.
    • Added mention that offensive cooldowns should be stacked.
    • Emphasised the importance of the Sword and Board Icon Sword and Board proc.
    • Improved the explanation of how Tier 4 talents should be used.
  • 04 Mar. 2013: Patch 5.2 update.
    • Removed mentions of Deadly Calm, following its removal from the game.