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Tank Spec Shadowlands Outlook and Pre-patch Rankings

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It's the final week of the pre-patch and we're taking a look at the tank prospects in Shadowlands, as well as one last look at the current raid tank DPS rankings! The main focus is on the Shadowlands performance, as our class writers look forward and give us some a brief look into what the specs will look like/their potential.

But let's start with the current raid DPS rankings, and despite them not being the best gauge of tank performance, they're still relevant to spec choice. We're looking at this last week of pre-patch and starting with the 95th percentile:

Data by Warcraft Logs.

And moving on to the overall stats, which are actually significantly different:

Data by Warcraft Logs.

And now the part that we're all much more interested in, the future and Shadowlands overviews/performance!

Protection Paladin by Panthea:


Protection Paladin in Shadowlands is a great all-round tank. It will fare well in the upcoming Castle Nathria raid as the historic weaknesses of Paladin have come from gaps in mitigation from Shield of the Righteous Shield of the Righteous which is now not as severe with the change to using Holy Power as a resource.

Likewise, in Mythic+ the higher amounts of DPS the spec can put out, in combination with increased defensiveness, means that it will be a very versatile tank choice.

Overall Protection Paladin is starting off the expansion in a very healthy spot, the changes to the resource system make it so that gameplay feels more intuitive and rotational impact of each spell is higher (because of Holy Power generation).

Guardian Druid by Pumps:


Guardian is in an excellent overall position heading into Shadowlands. Defensively, we are one of the strongest tanks for all types of damage. The rework of Pulverize Pulverize and cooldown reduction of both Barkskin Barkskin and Survival Instincts Survival Instincts alongside an extremely powerful legendary in The Natural Order's Will IconThe Natural Order's Will has drastically improved our self-sustain and defensive capabilities in general. In addition, the Kyrian covenant gives us access to another strong short cooldown defensive to rotate through our robust toolkit. Offensively there is still some stuff to be desired, a small Thrash Thrash or Swipe Swipe buff would go a long way in the future, but our single target with the Necrolord + Catweaving combo is still quite decent.

Overall, Guardian is extremely viable in all content and will have a great time in the Shadowlands expansion.

Blood Death Knight by Panthea:


From a spec perspective, Blood Death Knights will be very strong in the upcoming Castle Nathria raid as their toolkit lends well to the encounter styles for the most part, and have the added raid cooldown of Anti-Magic Zone Anti-Magic Zone.

Self sustainability is still very much a cornerstone of the Blood Death Knight playstyle and this is emphasized in Shadowlands with more tools at our baseline disposal to aid with this. These include Ossuary Ossuary and Rune Tap Rune Tap, both baseline which were previously talents, and Covenant abilities which add to the flow of Runic Power or mitigation.

In Mythic+, their low tank DPS may become an issue in very high keys (not your weekly 15 key) where you are kiting mobs.

Protection Warrior by Mwahi:


While Protection Warriors usually start off each expansion fairly weak, this is not the case in Shadowlands. Due to the new talent tree we have access to multiple builds instead of one clear  “cookie-cutter” one. We are also still very sturdy against physical damage as Shield Block Shield Block is extremely powerful against Blockable attacks and Vanguard Vanguard provides us with a massive passive armor boost. We will be having some very clear gaps in our Shield Block uptime due to having lower Haste, so using our other defensives to cover these gaps is crucial.

On top of having multiple Rage generating Talents like Ravager Ravager and Booming Voice Booming Voice we will also have access to 2 very powerful Covenant abilities in Kyrian’s Spear of Bastion IconSpear of Bastion and Night Fae’s Ancient Aftershock IconAncient Aftershock. All of these together will provide us with prominent Rage windows to work with.

Offensively we are also in a solid place. Avatar Avatar paired together with Booming Voice and Covenant abilities provides us with decent burst windows where we can dish out a lot of damage. The only issue with these various cooldowns is that they can easily be de-synced, making using them a bit awkward and less effective. The addition of Execute will help increase our mediocre single target damage but it comes at the cost of using Rage offensively rather than defensively.

We also have access to two very strong Legendaries. The Wall IconThe Wall and Thunderlord IconThunderlord both perform really well in Raids and Mythic+, respecively. They provide us with a lot of extra Rage / Damage and uptime on Shield Wall Shield Wall / Demoralizing Shout Demoralizing Shout when played together with the correct talents.

While the insane synergy of multiple Azerite traits, Essences and talents that we had in BfA might be gone, Protection Warrior is still in a good place and we will be only getting stronger as the expansion continues.

Brewmaster Monk by Sinzhu:


Moving into Shadowlands, one can expect to see no shortage of Brewmasters. They were a dominant tank for progression raiding in Battle for Azeroth and they will certainly not be getting any worse; just the opposite, in fact! With baseline Stagger Stagger receiving a slight buff and Ironskin Brew Ironskin Brew becoming the passive effect Shuffle Shuffle, more damage than ever can be wiped away with Purifying Brew Purifying Brew. In addition, creating a large absorb on demand with Celestial Brew Celestial Brew adds even more defense to what is already an incredibly sturdy tank. The return of Clash Clash also means Brewmasters now have an additional tool to help reposition enemies!

However, these benefits can sometimes come at the cost of dealing a little less damage than other tanks. But, it also means Brewmasters are more likely to use offensive effects when other tanks need to be defensive. Overall, if you were a fan of Brewmasters in Mists of Pandaria, you may find their Shadowlands playstyle familiar and their defensive power is as strong as ever.

Vengeance Demon Hunter by Excidias:


Vengeance will be sitting in an overall decent position in Shadowlands. Survival in Raid will remain the same due to the lower mitigation up time being negated by taunt swaps. Damage will be carried by borrowed power in the way of Covenant abilities. Kyrian is reigning supreme as the main Covenant choice due to Elysian Decree IconElysian Decree damage output in both Single Target and AoE. Any other Covenant will hurt the player, and the choice is an illusion if players care about performing to the classes potential. Vengeance is sitting near the top of Mythic+ due to our damage output and utility, but kiting may still be needed in higher keys due to our low up time of active mitigation.


Shadowlands arrives in just over a day, so get your tank spec picks in! You can also check more opinions on performance in Shadowlands for DPS specs in last week's rankings.

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