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Protection Warrior Tank Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities (Legion 7.1)

Last updated on Nov 02, 2016 at 05:57 by Vlad 155 comments

Table of Contents

General Information

On this page, we list your Protection Warrior core abilities and how they should be used together (rotation) in World of Warcraft Legion 7.1. 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 Treckie, one of the best tanks in the world, who raids in Nihilum. You can watch his stream on Twitch and you can follow him on Twitter.

1. Single Target Rotation

The Protection Warrior rotation is based on the priority system presented below. This does not take into account usage of your active mitigation abilities (we cover this important topic in a subsequent section). It only shows you how to maximise your damage, threat and Rage generation.

  1. Use Shield Slam Icon Shield Slam on cooldown.
    • Its cooldown has a chance to be reset by Devastate Icon Devastate, so watch out for these procs.
  2. Use Devastate Icon Devastate to try to reset the cooldown of Shield Slam Icon Shield Slam.
  3. Use Revenge Icon Revenge only if Shield Slam Icon Shield Slam has under 1.5 seconds left on its cooldown.
    • The Rage gain from Revenge Icon Revenge is so low that it is worth fishing for Shield Slam Icon Shield Slam cooldown resets instead of using Revenge unless Shield Slam is so close to coming off cooldown that the reset would not matter anyway.
  4. Only use Focused Rage Icon Focused Rage if you do not care about survivability, since Rage should otherwise only be used on active mitigation abilities.

In addition to this, you should use Intercept Icon Intercept to generate Rage throughout the fight. If you are actively tanking, use this on a melee DPS player, and only do so if you can avoid turning the boss around or moving it from its position. If you are not actively tanking, you can use Intercept on the current tank to help reduce some of the damage they are taking. If you will need to use Intercept for movement, make sure to save at least one charge for that time.

2. Multiple Target Rotation

Against multiple targets, the single target rotation listed above generates the highest amount of Rage, and if you wish to maximise Rage (and thus survivability), then you should use that rotation). Otherwise, use the following priority to increase your damage output. Note that in addition to this you still have to use your active mitigation abilities.

  1. Use Revenge Icon Revenge on cooldown.
    • Its cooldown can be reset up to once every 3 seconds from dodging or parrying attacks, so watch out for these procs.
  2. Use Thunder Clap Icon Thunder Clap on cooldown, if you do not need Rage and there are 3+ targets.
    • You can delay Thunder Clap a few seconds if new adds are spawning soon and you need to pick them up.
  3. Use Shield Slam Icon Shield Slam on cooldown.
    • Its cooldown has a chance to be reset by Devastate Icon Devastate, so watch out for these procs.
  4. Use Devastate Icon Devastate as a filler.
  5. Use Focused Rage Icon Focused Rage if you are not actively, or if you have taken the Vengeance Icon Vengeance talent.

Use Intercept Icon Intercept to generate Rage, just as you do against a single target.

3. Active Mitigation Abilities

Your rotation is only there to generate Rage for you, which you should then invest into your active mitigation abilities, Shield Block Icon Shield Block and Ignore Pain Icon Ignore Pain.

Shield Block Icon Shield Block causes you to block all attacks made against you for 6 seconds, while Ignore Pain Icon Ignore Pain reduces a certain amount of incoming damage by 90%.

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

As a Protection Warrior, you have a number of defensive cooldowns.

  • Shield Wall Icon Shield Wall should be used before you receive a large amount of damage. Since it lasts for a reasonably long time, you should try to use it for longer periods of high damage intake.
  • 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. Note that until the effect is consumed , all magic damage you take is reduced by 30%.
  •  Icon Neltharion's Fury should be used whenever you anticipate you will take considerable damage from blockable attacks. Make sure to use it as many times as possible throughout the fight.

We cover your one offensive cooldown, as well as the various abilities granted by talents in a dedicated section.

5. Taunting

Taunt Icon Taunt is your single target taunting ability. Using Heroic Leap Icon Heroic Leap resets the cooldown of Taunt.

6. Mastering Your Protection Warrior

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.

6.1. Rage Generation

Warriors use a resource called Rage (Guardian Druids are the only other class in the game to use it). For you to properly master your Warrior, you must understand how Rage works.

The Rage bar has a maximum capacity of 100, and is empty by default. Rage decays at a rate of 1 per second when out of combat. In combat, Rage does not decay. Rage is generated in the following ways:

6.2. Mastery: Critical Block

Mastery: Critical Block Icon Mastery: Critical Block increases your block and critical block chance, as well as your attack power. The exact increase amounts depends on how much Mastery you have.

This means that the more Mastery you have, the smoother the damage intake will be, making you much easier to heal as the damage you take will be very predictable.

6.3. Procs

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

  • Each time you use Devastate Icon Devastate, you have a 30% chance to reset the remaining cooldown of Shield Slam Icon Shield Slam.
  • Dodging or parrying an attack resets the remaining cooldown of Revenge Icon Revenge, but this effect cannot occur more often than once per 3 seconds.

Moreover, if you chose the Ultimatum Icon Ultimatum talent (tier 3), your Shield Slam Icon Shield Slam critical strikes are going to cause your next Focused Rage Icon Focused Rage (used within 10 seconds) cost no Rage.

Finally, the tier 6 Vengeance Icon Vengeance talent causes your Focused Rage Icon Focused Rage casts to reduce the cost of your next Ignore Pain Icon Ignore Pain by 35%, and your Ignore Pain casts to reduce the cost of your next Focused Rage by 35%.

6.4. Active Mitigation

As a Protection Warrior, you have two abilities that are essential to staying alive: Shield Block Icon Shield Block and Ignore Pain Icon Ignore Pain. 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.

6.4.1. 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 13-second recharge time (reduced by Haste), 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 low Rage cost of 10, so you should be able to use it whenever you need it. 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 and Shield Block charges in reserve so that you can use Shield Block at the appropriate times.

Note that the higher your Haste is, the higher your uptime of Shield Block will be (up to even 100% in theory, depending on your gear), which can make this ability insanely strong.

6.4.2. Ignore Pain

Ignore Pain Icon Ignore Pain places a damage absorption shield on you, which absorbs 90% of all incoming damage up to a fixed amount (based on your attack power, Versatility, and Rage spent on Ignore Pain). Ignore Pain has a 1-second cooldown, and it costs 20 Rage. However, if you have more than 20 Rage, then Ignore Pain will consume up to a total of 60 Rage. Additional Rage past 20 will increase the amount of damage absorption that it provides. The maximum amount of damage absorption that Ignore Pain can reach is the equivalent of 3 60- Rage Ignore Pains if you have chosen the Best Served Cold Icon Best Served Cold or Indomitable Icon Indomitable, or the equivalent of 6 60-Rage Ignore Pains if you have chosen the Never Surrender Icon Never Surrender.

Just like Shield Block Icon Shield Block, Ignore Pain does stack with itself. Its duration is refreshed each time you cast Ignore Pain, and the absorption amounts stack up.

While not actively tanking, you should strive to build a massive Ignore Pain absorption for when it is your turn to Taunt, since each new application of Ignore Pain extends the duration back to its original 15 seconds.

Unlike Shield Block, Ignore Pain works against all types of damage (excluding fall damage).

It is also worth noting to avoid using Ignore Pain Icon Ignore Pain when you are at full health, since this prevents any HoTs you may have on you from actually healing you.

Finally, it is important to note that Ignore Pain Icon Ignore Pain does not count as active mitigation for boss abilities that require active mitigation to be in effect.

6.4.3. Shield Block or Ignore Pain?

The amount of damage that Shield Block Icon 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 Ignore Pain Icon Ignore Pain is independent of the incoming damage. Ignore Pain will absorb the same amount of damage, regardless of whether the attack made against you deals 100,000 or 500,000 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 Ignore Pain.
  • 30% of the attacks received over 6 seconds.

When facing magic damage, bleed damage, or otherwise unblockable damage, Ignore Pain is the superior choice.

It is also possible to use both Shield Block and Ignore Pain at once, if you want to maximise the damage mitigation when facing damage that can be blocked. Doing so means that, as some damage is blocked, the Ignore Pain will also be used up significantly slower (remember that Ignore Pain only stops 90% of the remaining incoming damage).

6.5. Other Notable Abilities

6.5.1. Intercept

Intercept Icon Intercept can be used both on enemies and on allies, and it generates 10 Rage in either case. When using it on an enemy, you need to be at least 8 yards away from them, while there is no minimum range for using it on allies.

When used against an enemy, Intercept root them (if applicable, does not work on raid bosses) for 1.5 seconds. When used against an ally, it redirects the next melee or ranged attack made against them within 10 seconds to you, provided that you remain within 10 yards of them.

Intercept is off the global cooldown, meaning it should be used frequently, even though it does not deal any damage, simply for the additional Rage it generates. You want to make a macro for this, such as this one.

Remember that if you are actively tanking and taking high amounts of damage, you should use this on a target that is not taking any direct melee or ranged attacks, to make sure the redirected damage will not kill you.

If you are not actively tanking, you should use this on your other tank to help soak up damage, since most of the damage redirected to you is going to be absorbed by Ignore Pain Icon Ignore Pain.

If you chose the Safeguard Icon Safeguard talent, you should communicate with your tanking partner and set up times where you use this ability, since it transfers 20% of all their damage taken over 6 seconds to you. This acts as a reasonably strong external cooldown. Once again, it is important that you are actively using Ignore Pain when not tanking to make sure you are not taking unnecessary damage.

6.5.2. Heroic Leap

Heroic Leap Icon Heroic Leap, when used, makes you leap through the air towards a target location. Since you are travelling through the air, you can use this ability to jump over stuff you normally had to run around, making this one of the best mobility abilities in the game.

Heroic Leap also resets the remaining cooldown on Taunt Icon Taunt. This means that you can easily Leap towards a new add that spawned and immediately use Taunt to grab aggro even if you had used Taunt a second ago.

6.6. Detailed Cooldown Usage

6.6.1. Battle Cry

Battle Cry Icon Battle Cry is your only offensive cooldown (apart from the Avatar Icon Avatar talent) and should be used differently depending on what talents you chose to pick up.

If you chose to go for a single-target build (including Ultimatum Icon Ultimatum, Vengeance Icon Vengeance, and Heavy Repercussions Icon Heavy Repercussions), you should aim to use it in combination with Shield Slam Icon Shield Slam, Focused Rage Icon Focused Rage, and Shield Block Icon Shield Block to maximise the damage output.

The rotation might look something like this:

  1. Focused Rage Icon Focused Rage (to buff your Shield Slam Icon Shield Slam);
  2. Shield Block Icon Shield Block;
  3. Battle Cry Icon Battle Cry;
  4. Shield Slam Icon Shield Slam;
  5. Focused Rage Icon Focused Rage (which is free);
  6. Devastate Icon Devastate (and hope that it resets the cooldown of Shield Slam Icon Shield Slam).
  7. Shield Slam Icon Shield Slam (if reset by Devastate) or another Devastate Icon Devastate.

More testing is required to determine if this is the perfect rotation.

If you chose to go for a more AoE-oriented build (including Renewed Fury Icon Renewed Fury, Into the Fray Icon Into the Fray, and Ravager Icon Ravager), you should use Battle Cry in combination with Ravager, Revenge, and Thunder Clap Icon Thunder Clap.

The rotation might look something like this:

  1. Ravager Icon Ravager;
  2. Battle Cry Icon Battle Cry;
  3. Revenge Icon Revenge;
  4. Thunder Clap Icon Thunder Clap;
  5. Revenge Icon Revenge (assuming its cooldown was reset thanks to the increase parry chance from Ravager);
  6. Shield Slam Icon Shield Slam.

Ideally, you want to be able to fit in 4 global cooldowns during each Battle Cry; this requires 27-28% Haste, depending on your input lag and your latency.

If you chose the tier 3 Avatar Icon Avatar talent, you should look to pick up Anger Management Icon Anger Management to be able to use Battle Cry in combination with Avatar each time it is ready.

More testing concerning this needs to be done to find the overall best solution.

6.6.2. Last Stand

Last Stand Icon Last Stand should be used in two different scenarios. The first one is if you drop dangerously low on health and do not have any Rage for Ignore Pain Icon Ignore Pain. If you chose Impending Victory Icon Impending Victory, you should use it right after you used Last Stand. After this combination is done, you should see yourself with 45% more health.

The second scenario is to use Last Stand pre-emptively, meaning that you are preparing to receive a large amount of damage. The increase in maximum health should allow you to survive it.

6.6.3. Shield Wall

Shield Wall Icon Shield Wall is best used pre-emptively. This means that you should use Shield Wall before taking a large amount of damage (generally due to a boss mechanic). Additionally, you can use it to prolong your survival if your healers are dead or incapacitated and you have Last Stand Icon Last Stand on cooldown.

It is not advised to wait until you are low on health to use Shield Wall, since you will probably die before it has had a chance to benefit you fully. In this case, we recommend using Last Stand instead.

Generally, it is best to make use of Shield Wall as many times as possible during the fight (it is better to have wasted it than to have died with it available). Keep in mind, though, that you may be required to use it a very specific time, so make sure you save it for that moment.

6.6.4. Demoralizing Shout

Demoralizing Shout Icon Demoralizing Shout works like a weaker version of Shield Wall Icon Shield Wall, so the same usage guidelines apply. The only difference is that Demoralizing Shout's cooldown is much lower, meaning that you can use it more freely.

A good example of liberal Demoralizing Shout usage is to use on the pull, or when you taunt the boss from another tank. These periods when you suddenly start taking damage can sometimes cause your healers to be off-guard, so having a (light) damage mitigation cooldown up can help.

If you chose the Booming Voice Icon Booming Voice talent, you gain 50 Rage and deal 20% increased damage against affected enemies, giving this ability an offensive perspective as well.

Normally, Demoralizing Shout Icon Demoralizing Shout should be used defensively, but if you find that you do not need it to survive, you can use it (coupled with Booming Voice Icon Booming Voice) offensively, although we do not generally recommend this.

With the  Icon Might of the Vrykul artifact trait, Shield Slam Icon Shield Slam and Revenge Icon Revenge generate 50% more Rage while Demoralizing Shout Icon Demoralizing Shout is active.

6.6.5. Spell Reflection

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.

Spell Reflection also reduces all magic damage you take by 30% for 5 seconds or until consumed, meaning you should use this ability if you are taking heavy magic AoE damage. The  Icon Reflective Plating trait makes it so that Spell Reflection can reflect an unlimited number of spells, effectively turning it into a 5-second, 30% magi damage taken reduction.

6.6.6. Berserker Rage

Berserker Rage Icon Berserker Rage is a cooldown that makes you go berserk, removing and granting immunity to Fear, Sap, and Incapacitate effects for 6 seconds.

If you are facing enemies that can interrupt you with those kinds of abilities during your burst (Battle Cry Icon Battle Cry combination), we recommend you using it right before you use Battle Cry.

6.6.7. Artifact Ability

 Icon Neltharion's Fury is an ability with a 45-second cooldown and a 3-second duration. During this time, you critically block all attacks made against you, and you also deal damage every second to enemies located in front of you. Since Neltharion's Fury is a channeled ability, you cannot perform any actions while it is active, although you can still use defensive abilities.

You should use this ability to reduce the damage you take, although against multiple targets, the damage it does is also worth taking into consideration. Use it as often as possible to reduce damage taken from blockable attacks, but keep in mind that it does not stack with Shield Block Icon Shield Block (so using Neltharion's Fury to cover a gap in Shield Blocks is a good idea). Given its lower cooldown and shorter duration, this is a better ability to use for short bursts of damage than Shield Wall Icon Shield Wall, which should be saved for lengthier periods of increased damage.

6.6.8. Tier 1 Talents

Shockwave Icon Shockwave and Storm Bolt Icon Storm Bolt both have the ability to stun adds, which can turn out to be a very important damage reduction if the adds are hard-hitting, so you should always be using them in this way. The damage they offer is lower than your normal rotation spells (Revenge Icon Revenge for AoE / Shield Slam Icon Shield Slam for single target), so using them to cheese extra damage is not worth it.

If you chose Warbringer Icon Warbringer, you do not have that much to think about since it works passively. Just make sure you do not Intercept Icon Intercept and root / stun an add that is supposed to run into melee range.

6.6.9. Tier 3 Talents

If you chose Ultimatum Icon Ultimatum, you need to look out for when your Shield Slam Icon Shield Slam procs, since the buff it provides only lasts for 10 seconds. You never want to miss out on an Ultimatum proc, since it buffs Shield Slam's damage by 50% per proc.

If you chose Avatar Icon Avatar, you should always aim to use it in combination with other cooldowns, such as Bloodlust Icon Bloodlust, potions, Battle Cry Icon Battle Cry and Ravager Icon Ravager (if you have taken that talent) to maximise the damage and threat output. Keep in mind that it can also help you deal with roots and snares if needed.

You should choose Renewed Fury Icon Renewed Fury if you are looking to deal more sustained damage throughout the fight, since it is going to benefit you much more often than Avatar Icon Avatar. This shines when you find yourself not actively tanking all the time, since then you spend more Rage on Ignore Pain Icon Ignore Pain to build up a massive absorb and less Rage on Shield Block Icon Shield Block.

6.6.10. Tier 6 Talents

The Vengeance Icon Vengeance talent actually has some depth built into it, since it requires you to weave your Focused Rage Icon Focused Rage and Ignore Pain Icon Ignore Pain to maximise the potential of the talent. This talent especially shines when you are currently not tanking, since you can spend all your Rage on those 2 abilities and skip Shield Block Icon Shield Block, leaving you with a huge absorption when you taunt the boss back.

If you chose Into the Fray Icon Into the Fray, all you have to do is make sure that you stand in between as many enemies as possible to maximise the amount of extra Haste you gain.

Booming Voice Icon Booming Voice has already been discussed in the Demoralizing Shout Icon Demoralizing Shout section.

6.6.11. Tier 7 Talents

Anger Management Icon Anger Management is especially good in combination with other talents, for example Avatar Icon Avatar. Anger Management reduces the remaining cooldown on Battle Cry Icon Battle Cry, Last Stand Icon Last Stand, and Shield Wall Icon Shield Wall by 1 second for each 10 Rage you spend. This is roughly a 20-30% cooldown reduction and thus it makes you able to combine Battle Cry and Avatar every single time.

Since it is also reduces the cooldown of your 2 major defensive abilities, it is really important that you make use of them. If you find yourself not using any of them you should play with either Heavy Repercussions Icon Heavy Repercussions or Ravager Icon Ravager instead.

Heavy Repercussions Icon Heavy Repercussions increases Shield Slam Icon Shield Slam damage by an additional 30% while Shield Block Icon Shield Block is active, and in addition Shield Slam extends the duration of Shield Block by 1.5 seconds. This means that you essentially want to pick this talent up for single target fights, to maximise your uptime on Shield Block. You should not pick this talent up if the fight consists of a lot of magic damage, bleed damage, or otherwise unblockable damage.

Lastly, Ravager should only be picked up for AoE fights and used at the location of the mobs.

7. ChangeLog

  • 02 Nov. 2016: Added a mention that Ignore Pain does not count as active mitigation where boss abilities that check for this are concerned.
  • 22 Oct. 2016: Updated the Battle Cry rotation slightly.
  • 16 Oct. 2016: Updated the amount of Rage generated by Shield Slam.
  • 24 Sep. 2016: Updated the Vengeance Rage reduction percentages and the amount of Rage generated by Shield Slam and Intercept.
  • 20 Sep. 2016: Updated the single and multiple target rotations.
  • 06 Sep. 2016: Removed a mention of using Tier 18 Set Bonuses.
  • 29 Aug. 2016: Updated for Legion's launch.
  • 24 Jul. 2016: Added an explanation of the Ignore Pain cap.
  • 21 Jul. 2016: Removed an outdated mention of Shield Barrier, and removed an incorrect mention that Ignore Pain stacks up to a maximum based on your health.
  • 20 Jul. 2016: Removed a mention of the need for a Heroic Leap macro, which is no longer necessary.
  • 19 Jul. 2016: Updated for the Legion pre-patch.
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