Protection Warrior Tank Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities (WoD 6.0.3)

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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 WoD 6.0.3. 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.

6.0.2 Transition Guide

If you want to read all about the Patch 6.0.2 changes and learn how they affect your character, make sure to read our Warrior Transition Guide!

1. Single Target Rotation↑top

The Protection Warrior rotation is based on the priority system presented below. This 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 Dragon Roar Icon Dragon Roar if you have taken this talent.
  2. Use Shield Slam Icon Shield Slam.
  3. Use Revenge Icon Revenge.
  4. Use Execute Icon Execute.
    • If it is a Sudden Death Icon Sudden Death proc (assuming you are using this talent).
    • If the target is below 20% health. In this case, only use it to burn excess Rage.
  5. Use Storm Bolt Icon Storm Bolt if you have taken this talent.
  6. Use Heroic Strike Icon Heroic Strike if you have taken the Unyielding Strikes Icon Unyielding Strikes talent and you have 6 stacks of the buff.
  7. Use Devastate Icon Devastate.
  8. Use Heroic Strike Icon Heroic Strike to burn excess Rage.

Heroic Strike Icon Heroic Strike is not on the same global cooldown as your other abilities, which means you can use it at any point of your rotation. The reason why we put it in the priority is to show its importance in your rotation. You want to avoid spamming Devastate once you already have 6 stacks of Unyielding Strikes, and use them on Heroic Strike.

2. Multiple Target Rotation↑top

  1. Use Ravager Icon Ravager, if you have taken this talent.
  2. Use Shockwave Icon Shockwave or Dragon Roar Icon Dragon Roar (depending on your talent choice).
  3. Use Thunder Clap Icon Thunder Clap to apply and maintain the Deep Wounds Icon Deep Wounds bleed.
  4. Use Bladestorm Icon Bladestorm if you have taken this talent.
  5. Execute your normal, single target rotation when the above abilities are not available (or, in the case of Thunder Clap, do not need to be used). Alternate your attacks between the different targets, in order to maintain even threat on all of them.

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.

4.2. Offensive Cooldowns

Berserker Rage Icon Berserker Rage should be used on cooldown. It will buff your DPS and threat generation.

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. If you are using the Vigilance Icon Vigilance talent, Taunt will have no cooldown while Vigilance is active. Using Heroic Leap Icon Heroic Leap resets the cooldown of Taunt.

Mocking Banner Icon Mocking Banner is your AoE taunt.

Heroic Throw Icon Heroic Throw is worth a mention. This ability can be used at range, generates a high amount of threat, and it has no cooldown or mana cost. While the damage and threat generated by Heroic Throw are not high enough to justify a place for it in the normal rotation, it is an excellent way of picking up distant adds.

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. Resolve

Resolve Icon Resolve is a passive ability which you receive for choosing the Protection specialisation. Essentially, it increases your self-healing and your own absorption effects based on the amount of unmitigated damage you have taken in the last 10 seconds, including contributions from avoided melee attacks. Its value fluctuates with your damage intake during an encounter, and decays away over about 10 seconds if you stop taking damage. It has a built-in diminishing returns effect which limits the increase to 240% of the base healing or absorption value. In other words, at maximum Resolve your heals do 340% the amount they would do with zero Resolve.

7.3. Enrage

Each time you score a critical strike with Shield Slam Icon Shield Slam or Devastate Icon Devastate, or when you critically block (thanks to Mastery: Critical Block Icon Mastery: Critical Block), you become enraged, receiving 10 Rage and dealing 10% increased damage for 8 seconds. This will happen passively, so you do not need to concern yourself with it.

You can force an enrage state by using Berserker Rage Icon Berserker Rage.

7.4. Procs

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

  • Each time you use Devastate Icon Devastate, you have a 30% chance to get a proc of Sword and Board Icon Sword and Board. This resets the cooldown of your Shield Slam Icon Shield Slam, and increases its Rage generation by 5. The buff lasts for 10 seconds.
  • Critical strikes with Shield Slam Icon Shield Slam grant you a 10-second buff called Ultimatum Icon Ultimatum, which causes your next Heroic Strike Icon Heroic Strike to cost no Rage and be a guaranteed critical strike.

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. 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.

7.5.1. 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 12-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.

7.5.2. 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).

7.5.3. 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.

7.6. More on Cooldown Usage

7.6.1. 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 30% of your maximum health (10% instantly and 20% over 5 seconds) that is free of cost.

Impending Victory Icon Impending Victory is a self-heal for 15% 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 is active.

7.6.2. Tier 4 Talents

Shockwave Icon Shockwave and Dragon Roar Icon Dragon Roar are 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, using it on cooldown is quite doable.

Storm Bolt Icon Storm Bolt and Shockwave Icon Shockwave 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 consider using them in this way. Otherwise, Storm Bolt should just be used on cooldown or for burst threat.

7.6.3. Tier 6 Talents

Avatar Icon Avatar and Bladestorm Icon Bladestorm will help you better deal with roots and snares, and this is definitely something you should keep in mind. Otherwise, Avatar can be used for a burst of DPS and threat (perhaps under the effects of other cooldowns such as Heroism Icon Heroism or Bloodlust Icon Bloodlust), while Bladestorm can help with AoE threat.

Bloodbath Icon Bloodbath should be used on cooldown.

7.6.4. Tier 7 Talents

Ravager Icon Ravager is the talent of choice in this tier, unless you are going for Gladiator's Resolve Icon Gladiator's Resolve, but this latter option is not for tanking.

The optimal Ravager use has been explained as part of the rotation sections at the start of this guide.

8. Changelog↑top