Classic Warrior Tank Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities

Last updated on Sep 12, 2019 at 06:07 by Seksixeny 9 comments
General Information

On this page, you will learn how to optimize the rotation of your Warrior Tank Tank, in order to survive damage and build up threat while doing PvE content in WoW Classic. We also have advanced sections about cooldowns, procs, etc. in order to maximize your survivability and DPS.

1. Foreword

If you have not already, please read the spells summary page. Knowing how each spell and ability works in detail will greatly increase your understanding of the topics discussed on this page.

2. Rotation for Warrior Tanks

We will present the skill rotation of a Warrior tank as a priority list. This is not an exact sequence in which abilities should be cast. Instead, what it means is, whenever you must choose between using different skills, try to use the one at the top of the list first.

Our list assumes you are running one of the recommended builds from the talents page and are playing a max level character. If you are still leveling, please refer to the leveling page for a leveling-specific rotation.

While they are extraordinarily powerful, explosives such as Goblin Sapper Charge Icon Goblin Sapper Charge will not be detailed in the rotation. Usually, you will want to use them on pull to generate threat on the target. The main exception is when you are facing multiple or particularly dangerous (such as enraged) enemies at some point in the fight. Saving explosives to carry you and your group through these moments, especially when you need to gain AoE threat, is very much worth it. The usage (on cooldown) of potions, such as Greater Stoneshield Potion Icon Greater Stoneshield Potion, will not be specifically detailed in the rotation, either.

The goal of our proposed rotation is to generate as much threat as possible, while ensuring you always have enough Rage for essentials, such as Shield Block Icon Shield Block.

2.1. Pre-Pull Strategy for Warrior Tanks

  1. If at all possible, gather a full bar of Rage from the enemies you faced before this pull (by stopping all Rage ability usage, once they are nearly dead).
  2. Activate Bloodrage Icon Bloodrage up to ~10 seconds before engaging in combat, to generate initial Rage and put yourself into combat, conserving any Rage you had beforehand.
  3. Use Charge Icon Charge to initiate combat whenever possible. Immediately swap to Defensive Stance Icon Defensive Stance and begin your rotation as advised below.

2.2. Single-Target Rotation for Warrior Tanks

  1. Use Shield Block Icon Shield Block whenever it is off cooldown, if you are wearing a shield. Exceptions: tanking enemies that do not use blockable attacks (casters), or whenever you are falling dangerously behind on threat.
  2. Activate Bloodrage Icon Bloodrage to generate extra Rage if you are currently healthy.
  3. Apply stacks of Sunder Armor Icon Sunder Armor until the maximum 5 are reached.
  4. Cast Battle Shout Icon Battle Shout if missing its buff, Demoralizing Shout Icon Demoralizing Shout if the enemies are missing its debuff and consider using Thunder Clap Icon Thunder Clap on the hardest hitting enemies.
  5. Cast Revenge Icon Revenge whenever you block, dodge or parry.
  6. Use Shield Slam Icon Shield Slam (or Bloodthirst Icon Bloodthirst, if talented) as your main attack.
  7. Spam Sunder Armor Icon Sunder Armor to build extra threat.
  8. Queue Heroic Strike Icon Heroic Strike whenever you have excess Rage. Keep in mind that Heroic Strike and Cleave replace your next auto attack, which will not grant you any Rage. So their real Rage cost is much higher than what is stated in the tooltip.

2.3. Multi-Target Rotation for Warrior Tanks

If you are facing only a small (3 or less) amount of targets, you should manage them with the single-target rotation. Alternate between targets or crowd control a few, so you can focus more threat on the rest.

Demoralizing Shout Icon Demoralizing Shout was bugged at the start of WoW Classic and generated too much threat, according to this Blizzard post. Its September 11th fix, as well as Battle Shout Icon Battle Shout now generating threat equally on all enemies, rather than splitting among them, causes Battle Shout to be the superior skill to spam in order to gain and keep AoE threat on enemies, as it cannot be resisted like Demoralizing Shout can.

Therefore, against a lot of targets, casting Battle Shout Icon Battle Shout as much as possible while in range of both the enemies and your party is your best bet (make sure to still debuff them with Demoralizing Shout Icon Demoralizing Shout for damage reduction), but it will require DPS (and healers, as heals now no longer split their threat among enemies, which makes healers much more likely to pull aggro) to be very careful not to pull aggro. Dump excess Rage with Cleave Icon Cleave.

3. Cooldown Usage for Warrior Tanks

As a Warrior, you have various offensive and defensive cooldowns at your disposal. Using your defensive cooldowns properly is often the difference between life and death, and as such, you should always be watching your health and be ready to use them if necessary.

3.1. Last Stand

Last Stand Icon Last Stand should simply be used whenever your health drops so low that the next hit, if not avoided, will kill you.

3.2. Shield Wall

Shield Wall Icon Shield Wall should be used in a similar fashion to Last Stand Icon Last Stand, but keep in mind that it is much more powerful, which is compensated by having a cooldown three times as big.

3.3. Retaliation

Retaliation Icon Retaliation can be used to help establish solid threat when tanking multiple targets or fast hitting enemies. It is typically better to save your 30 minute cooldown slot for Shield Wall Icon Shield Wall, due to its extreme impact, however.

3.4. Recklessness

Recklessness Icon Recklessness can be risky to use as a tank, because of the 20% damage taken increase effect and its shared cooldown with Shield Wall Icon Shield Wall. Still, if you know you will be safe for the duration of the effect, and the next 30 minutes, feel free to use it for a massive damage and threat increase.

3.5. Death Wish

If you are using the deep Fury build, Death Wish Icon Death Wish should be used on pull to help establish solid threat immediately, and on cooldown from then on.

4. Ability Usage for Warrior Tanks

4.1. Demoralizing Shout

Demoralizing Shout Icon Demoralizing Shout is much more powerful against most bosses than it is against players, as bosses gain damage much faster per point of Attack Power they have. If you have the Improved Demoralizing Shout Icon Improved Demoralizing Shout talent (at the request of your raid group), make sure to keep its debuff on enemies.

4.2. Thunder Clap

As a flat 10% swing speed reduction, Thunder Clap Icon Thunder Clap is weaker, especially considering its Rage cost, than Demoralizing Shout Icon Demoralizing Shout. Regardless of this, it might still be worth applying, especially to faster swinging bosses who might, otherwise, land three hits on the Warrior before Shield Block Icon Shield Block can be refreshed, opening up the possibility for a devastating critical strike.

4.3. Taunting

Taunt Icon Taunt is your single-target taunt ability. Casting Taunt instantly makes the enemy focus on you exclusively for 3 seconds, and increases your threat threshold to be equal to whoever had aggro when you taunted.

4.4. Mocking Blow

Mocking Blow Icon Mocking Blow is an alternative, higher cooldown, single-target taunt ability. Unlike Taunt Icon Taunt, it does not give you equal threat to the highest person on the aggro list, so be prepared to use Taunt Icon Taunt at the end of its effect, if you want to maintain aggro.

4.5. Challenging Shout (AoE Taunt)

Challenging Shout Icon Challenging Shout allows you to force the attention of all nearby enemies on you, for only 5 Rage. While this is inherently useful on situations where you unexpectedly lose aggro, you can also use Limited Invulnerability Potion Icon Limited Invulnerability Potion at the same time. This ensures you take no damage, while keeping all enemies on you, regardless of not being able to hit you.

4.6. Intercept

There a few important ways Intercept Icon Intercept can be helpful. Knockback mechanics can be almost entirely negated, if reacted to quickly. You can also use it to move quickly to another area or to interrupt enemies with its 3-second stun.

4.7. Intimidating Shout

Intimidating Shout Icon Intimidating Shout should be used for crowd control or survivability purposes. Be careful with this ability, however, as the fleeing enemies can run into another pack of enemies and pull them, possibly resulting in a wipe.

4.8. Berserker Rage

Berserker Rage Icon Berserker Rage is a critical ability against enemies that fear, such as Onyxia and Nefarian. While feared, you are defenseless, and your raid will suddenly be in danger of getting cleaved or tail swiped out of the encounter entirely. Once you realize the fear is coming, quickly swap to Berserker Stance Icon Berserker Stance and activate Berserker Rage to nullify it pre-emptively.

4.9. Shield Bash and Pummel

Many players simply do not use their interrupt unless specifically instructed to. Interrupting enemies can stop potentially deadly casts from going out. Identify those dangerous casts and use your interrupt to prevent them.

5. Mastering Your Warrior Tank

In this section, we will dive a bit deeper into the core mechanics and various abilities of Warrior tanks. Understanding these topics is an important step to truly mastering the specialization.

5.1. Rage Generation

Warrior's primary resource is Rage. It is important that you understand how Rage is generated, so you can effectively manage and use it.

Rage has a maximum capacity of 100, and is empty by default. Rage decays at a rate of 3 per second while out of combat. In combat, Rage does not decay and may even slowly tick up, if you have the Anger Management Icon Anger Management talent.

You generate Rage in two main ways, by hitting enemies with auto-attacks (white hits), and by being hit by enemies. The amount of Rage you generate depends on the damage dealt and the damage sustained.

5.2. Rage Management

It is important to understand that you do not have to spend Rage as soon as you get it. Pooling your Rage in order to maximize survivability or damage is an important aspect of playing a Warrior. For example, if you are in a fight and trying to maximize threat, you might be chain casting Heroic Strike Icon Heroic Strike, only to find yourself lacking 10 Rage when you need to refresh Shield Block Icon Shield Block, getting yourself killed in the process.

You can, however, also lose potential threat if you cap out on Rage. Once you hit the max of 100 Rage, any further Rage generation is lost.

5.3. Dealing with Magic Damage

Most of your defenses will not work against magic damage, making it very important that you wear appropriate resistance gear, and use consumables, which can absorb a lot of the incoming damage.

6. Changelog

  • 12 Sep. 2019: Changed the area of effect rotation based on Demoralizing Shout threat nerf / fix hotfix.
  • 04 Sep. 2019: Added Mocking Blow as an alternative Taunt button.
  • 12 Jun. 2019: Page added.
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