How To Improve As Protection Warrior — Shadowlands 9.1
On this page, you will find out how you can improve at playing Protection Warrior in World of Warcraft — Shadowlands 9.1. We list the common mistakes that you should try to avoid and the small details that can greatly improve your performance.
Not Using Defensive Cooldowns Reactively
Using defensive cooldowns effectively means planning ahead, before you take a big hit. Being proactive with your cooldowns means the most dangerous part of the spike is being reduced, thereby giving yourself and your healers plenty of time to react to the damage in a controlled manner. If you are just reacting to damage as it comes in, not only are you taking the full force of the original hit (and probably being brought very low in health), but once your defensive cooldown is running, often it is only reducing the smaller, non-threatening damage and you are getting far less value out of it.
That is not to say you will never use cooldowns reactively. Sometimes unexpected things happen, and in order to save yourself you will need to use a cooldown where you did not plan to.
Using Cooldowns Often
Occasionally, there are periods in encounters where there are no obvious points at which to use your defensive cooldowns. In these cases, you should be using your cooldowns liberally to reduce your overall damage taken as much as possible to make it easier on your healers. As long as your cooldowns are available for when you truly need them, you should be trying to fit in as many casts into a fight as possible.
Making Use of External Cooldowns
Healers (and some other specializations) have access to powerful, targeted defensive cooldowns, which are normally referred to as external cooldowns or externals. You need to remain in communication with your healers and be ready to call for them to use their external cooldowns on you when necessary. These cooldowns can and should be incorporated into your cooldown plan. Use an addon such as Exorsus Raid Tools to keep track of the external cooldowns available in your raid.
Not Stacking Cooldowns Unnecessarily
In a similar vein to the above, while planning your cooldowns, make sure you do not stack cooldowns unnecessarily. Generally speaking, you want to use as few cooldowns as possible for a particular mechanic as long as you are left with a reasonable amount of health to allow the healers enough time to react. Using too many cooldowns at once will leave you with little to use for upcoming mechanics.
Another mistake that can arise from being too focused on boss timers and defensive cooldowns is delaying casts. Protection Warrior has a lot of short cooldown abilities meaning that there should not be many situations where you have nothing to cast. This is very important, as small delays between spells can add up over the course of a fight and can cause you to lose a large number of additional casts, and therefore damage and Rage generation.
You should be proactive and aggressive in your casts. The game allows for a small window right before the global cooldown has finished recharging for you to "queue" your next ability to be cast with no delay as soon as it is possible to do so.
Casting the Right Things
As has been stated in this guide many times already, the Protection Warrior rotation is there to generate Rage, which is then used for mitigation. Therefore, it is especially important that you cast the correct spells in order to maximise your Rage generation. One of the biggest mistakes that can be made is over-using Devastate. This ability deals minimal damage and provides you with no Rage gain. Instead the priority list from Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities page should be followed.
Always Face Enemies
Often when tanking a boss or a pack of enemies in a dungeon, you will need to reposition yourself or your attackers to deal with some mechanic, give your DPS a better position from which to attack, or to avoid pulling additional packs.
If you need to run directly away from your attackers, you should never turn around and run straight forward. You are unable to block attacks from behind, increasing your damage intake and your risk of death.
Instead, you should turn 90 degrees and strafe away from your enemies. This allows you to move in the same direction as you would have if you had turned all the way around, while not exposing your back to attacks. As long as the enemy attacks come from "in front" of you (defined as an arc of 180 degrees centered at the direction your character is facing), they are blockable.
Maximizing Damage Output
A mentality that is very common among all tanks is that your damage output is irrelevant and that only your tankiness is important. While it is true that survivability is your number one priority, the idea that "tank damage does not matter" is a misconception at best for a few reasons.
The first and most relevant reason is that damage is threat. You generate threat by dealing damage, and the more damage you deal, the more threat you generate. If your co-tank is pulling off of you, it is because they are dealing a lot more damage than you are. If you are ignoring your damage output to the point where your co-tank is pulling threat from you, you are also hindering their play by forcing them to lower their damage.
The second reason is that damage is damage. Whether it comes from the tank, a DPS, or a healer, all damage contributes equally towards killing the boss. If you are neglecting your damage, you are hindering your raid's chances at a kill by lowering the overall damage output. Often, by prioritising offensive stats and a damage-oriented rotation, the amount of survivability you sacrifice pales in comparison to the amount of damage you gain.
If you are stacking as many defensive tools as possible and completely neglecting your damage output, you and your raid are worse off. Occasionally there are situations where you do need to stack survivability as much as possible, but those situations are few and far between. There is a balance to be had. You should not go for damage so much so that you are dying or making it difficult for your healers, but once you are surviving comfortably, the rest of your effort should go into dealing as much damage as possible.
Timing Active Mitigation Correctly
In the case of Shield Block, it is important that you maximize its effecitve uptime. That means having it up when you are actually taking blockable damage. It is okay to use a charge when you are not tanking for damage purposes if it will not impact your overall success, but if you know you are about to tank the boss, you should start saving your charges. It is also important to watch out for mechanics such as channels and casts. If the boss is about to spend 5 seconds casting a spell, you are probably better off waiting on that Shield Block charge.
Proper Ignore Pain usage is important as well. During most encounters, you will use it as you have the Rage for it to smooth out damage as much as possible. However, it is very important to know when to pool your Rage so you guarantee you have an Ignore Pain up for a mechanic.
Not Capping Ignore Pain
Ignore Pain has a cap. That is, you cannot stack its absorb up forever. Currently, that cap is 2 times Ignore Pain on cast. See the spells page for more info on how Ignore Pain's cap works. It is important to keep track of your current Ignore Pain size (via a WeakAura like this), so you are not casting it when you are at, or are close to, the cap. If you do, you just wasted 40 Rage.
Not Capping Rage
It is important to be mindful of your current Rage amount so you do not max out on Rage and lose whatever you would have generated in that time. In raids, there will not be many situations where you will cap Rage, but in heavy AoE situations, such as dungeons, it can be very easy to quickly gain Rage and cap. In rare situations, you may generate so much Rage that it is impossible not to cap. The point is, make sure are using Revenge and Ignore Pain as needed to bleed off Rage to avoid capping, using one or the other depending on if survivability is needed. This means putting them at the top of your ability priority when necessary.
With Ignore Pain specifically, if you are at Ignore Pain's cap, either spend Rage on Revenge, or if you know you are about to take a good amount of damage, simply wait (wasting a bit of Rage), then cast Ignore Pain. You are better off losing 15 Rage to capping then 40 Rage to an Ignore Pain that did nothing.
- 28 Jun. 2021: Reviewed and approved for Patch 9.1.
- 23 Nov. 2020: Updated for Shadowlands.
- 12 Oct. 2020: Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
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