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Protection Warrior in Battle for Azeroth (BfA)

Last updated on Jun 02, 2018 at 17:10 by Marok 212 comments

Table of Contents

General Information

On this page, you will find information on how to play your Protection Warrior in Battle for Azeroth. Because the new expansion is still in beta, this guide is simply here to help you perform better in the beta or to give you a sneak peek into what the new expansion has in store for your class.

The other pages of our Protection Warrior guide can be accessed from the table of contents on the right.

About Our Author

This guide has been written by Marok, a Protection Warrior theorycrafter, owner of the Skyhold Warrior Discord, and owner of skyhold.gg, a Warrior community website. He raids in Potent on Mal'Ganis-US. You can follow him on Twitter.

1. Foreword

This page is an introduction to Protection Warrior in Battle for Azeroth. It goes over the changes to Protection's abilities, mechanics, talents, and rotation to give you an idea of how the spec will function and feel. Development of the new expansion is still ongoing, so this page is subject to change and will be updated as needed.

At its core, Protection Warrior in Battle for Azeroth plays more or less the same as it did in Legion. However, due to the changes to Protection's Rage generation model, the pace of the spec has been significantly slowed down. The spec has gained some baseline utility, and talents have received some significant changes as well.

2. Mechanical Changes for Protection Warrior in BfA

  • Tank threat generation has been significantly reduced. In Legion, tanks received a +900% bonus to threat generation, which is now +300% in Battle for Azeroth.
  • Armor mitigation has been changed such that Armor will be less effective against relatively more difficult content.
  • Some abilities that were not on the global cooldown in Legion now are: Intercept Icon Intercept, Ignore Pain Icon Ignore Pain, Demoralizing Shout Icon Demoralizing Shout, and Avatar Icon Avatar.
  • Rage from Damage Taken (often referred to as RFDT) has been removed. In its place, Rage is gained when the player gets meleed, and Rage is gained when the player melees.
  • Protection's Mastery, Mastery: Critical Block Icon Mastery: Critical Block, has changed slightly in that a Critical Block is no longer simply double the damage reduction compared to a normal block. It instead doubles your block value.

Further detail on Rage generation and Mastery/block value is provided below.

3. Ability Changes for Protection Warrior in BfA

  • Demoralizing Shout Icon Demoralizing Shout is now on a 45-second cooldown, down from 90 seconds.
  • Shield Block Icon Shield Block's recharge time is now 18 seconds, up from 13 seconds. It costs 30 Rage, up from 15 Rage. It still has 2 charges despite what the tooltip says.
  • Ignore Pain Icon Ignore Pain's Attack Power ratio has been significantly nerfed, and it now removes 50% of damage instead of 90%.
  • Spell Reflection Icon Spell Reflection reduces magical damage by 15%, down from 50% (with Artifact).
  • Thunder Clap Icon Thunder Clap now reduces enemy movement speed by 20%, down from 50%.

3.1. Removed Abilities

3.2. New Abilities

  • Avatar Icon Avatar is now Protection's baseline damage cooldown and it also generates 20 Rage.
  • Battle Shout Icon Battle Shout
  • Intimidating Shout Icon Intimidating Shout
  • Rallying Cry Icon Rallying Cry
  • Shockwave Icon Shockwave is now baseline. The cooldown reduction when you hit 3+ targets has been moved to a talent.
  • Vanguard Icon Vanguard is a passive ability that provides a 30% Stamina increase and causes Armor to be increased by 40% of your Strength.

4. Rage Generation for Protection Warrior in BfA

Rage is no longer gained based on damage taken. There are two sources of Rage besides what is generated from abilities.

  1. 2 Rage is gained from the player's auto attacks. Note that this scales with attack speed. Equipping daggers, for example, is not for better Rage generation.
  2. 3 Rage is gained from enemy auto attacks. This can only occur once every second.

Rage is not gained from avoidance events (i.e. if the enemy parries/dodges or if the player parries/dodges).

This means that Rage generation will likely be more or less consistent throughout the expansion, and overall, passive Rage generation has been significantly reduced.

There is a fairly significant difference in Rage generation when tanking one target compared to tanking multiple targets. On single-target, Rage may seem a bit lacking. When tanking a significant number of targets that melee, Rage comes in quite quickly, forcing the player to "dump" their Rage into Rage-costing abilities.

5. Mastery / Block Rating for Protection Warrior in BfA

In Battle for Azeroth, there is now a "Block" stat on shields. The character sheet now has Block rating, and all of that rating comes from the Block on shields (besides potential bonuses from Azerite and such). So if a shield has 2000 Block, the character sheet will show 2000 Block.

Block simply functions as Armor that is only active when the player actually blocks an attack. Say someone has 4000 Armor (on top of the 2000 Block mentioned above), when they block it is like they had 6000 Armor for that attack. A Critical Block is what you would expect; when you critically block, your Block is doubled, so it would be like they had 8000 Armor for that attack.

This means Shield Block Icon Shield Block functions more or less the same as other tanks' active mitigation, in that it is simply an Armor increase (the difference being that it only works on blockable attacks). However, the player can still of course get random blocks as well when Shield Block is down.

This system aims to incentivize Shield upgrades. Getting a good shield will likely be a significant increase to survivability, way more than a similar upgrade to another armor piece would.

Protection's actual Mastery is still the same in regards to what it improves: block chance. It is just the damage reduction from blocking has changed (it is not a flat % reduction like it was before).

6. Protection Warrior Talents in BfA

Protection Warrior BfA Talent Tree

The most significant changes to Protection are to the talents. In Legion, there is more or less a single "best" talent build. In Battle for Azeroth, it is looking like Protection will have much more variation in what talents are picked, particularly when it comes to single-target vs AoE.

6.1. Level 15

  • Into the Fray Icon Into the Fray is now useful in many more situations compared to Legion. It counts allies as well, making it much easier to keep up the buff at full or close to full stacks.
  • Punish Icon Punish is also a fairly good talent. It is essentially a permanent 3% DR on single-target (it can also have 100% uptime on 2-3 targets with good Shield Slam Icon Shield Slam procs). The debuff is applied to the enemy, not the player. In other words, when Shield Slam is used on an enemy, that enemy deals 3% less damage to the player for 9 seconds.
  • Impending Victory Icon Impending Victory is not competitive from a damage or survivability standpoint when compared to the other two talents. Its niche use as a reactive heal will rarely turn out to be useful.

Likely the choice between Into the Fray Icon Into the Fray and Punish Icon Punish will come down to whether or not the situation allows for near 100% uptime on 5 stacks of Into the Fray. Punish also has some increased value on magic damage heavy fights compared to Into the Fray, since Haste does not improve magic damage reduction all that much.

6.2. Level 30

What is best on this row entirely depends on the situation and personal preference. All three talents have their uses.

6.3. Level 45

  • Best Served Cold Icon Best Served Cold is the same as it was in Legion. 5% increased damage on Revenge Icon Revenge per target, up to 5 targets (25%).
  • Unstoppable Force Icon Unstoppable Force is a damage and survivability increase. More Thunder Clap Icon Thunder Claps mean more Shield Slam Icon Shield Slam resets, which means more Rage, etc.
  • Dragon Roar Icon Dragon Roar for Protection is a 6-second, 50% slow on a 35-second cooldown. This can be either very powerful or essentially useless depending on the situation. Currently, if the enemy is immune to the slow, they also do not take the damage. In high Mythic+ where kiting is sometimes necessary, this can be extremely useful.

With the amount of Rage generation the spec has in Battle for Azeroth, constantly casting Revenge Icon Revenge is not feasible, so Best Served Cold Icon Best Served Cold will really only be good on sustained, heavy AoE where Revenge is constantly getting reset. Not only is Unstoppable Force Icon Unstoppable Force more consistent in its strength, but its a survivability increase, where Best Served Cold is not. There are very few situations where you would take Best Served Cold over Unstoppable Force. Dragon Roar Icon Dragon Roar is very powerful in situations where you can actually make use of its slow, but otherwise the go-to here is Unstoppable Force.

6.4. Level 60

  • Indomitable Icon Indomitable is down to a 10% health increase from 20%. It is not bad, but it will likely only ever be used in situations where the raw health is needed to survive, or if the other two talents in the row are simply not competitive.
  • Never Surrender Icon Never Surrender is the same as it is in Legion. That is, the player needs to be at basically 0% HP to get the full 100% increase out of it. Because of this, a better, more consistent talent from this row should be picked.
  • Bolster Icon Bolster reduces Last Stand Icon Last Stand's cooldown by 60 seconds (a 33% reduction), and causes all attacks to be blocked for the full duration of Last Stand. This turns an already powerful cooldown into an even more powerful cooldown. With Last Stand lasting 15 seconds, it essentially gives the time to gain a full Shield Block Icon Shield Block charge back as well. Compared to the other two talents, this is absolutely the go-to.

6.5. Level 75

Similar to the level 30 tier, the choice here depends on the situation and personal preference.

6.6. Level 90

Booming Voice Icon Booming Voice is slightly nerfed compared to Legion, but functions in the same way.

Vengeance Icon Vengeance is very good for Rage efficiency in theory, but if all the player's Rage is spent keeping up the Vengeance rotation, it does not leave a lot of Rage to cast active mitigation abilities. Or, on the flip side, if Rage is spent keeping up active mitigation, the player will not get much benefit out of Vengeance. It is hard to say right now whether or not this talent is worth taking on single-target. This talent has significantly increased value on AoE due to the fact that more Rage is generated and because Revenge resets more. From a pure survivability standpoint, Vengeance is likely the best talent on this row in AoE.

In Legion, Devastator Icon Devastator only "works" because of the large amounts of Rage that is generated, so the player is able to fill what would be empty global cooldowns with Revenge Icon Revenges. That way, the player gets Devastator casts on top of everything else, leading to more Shield Slam Icon Shield Slam procs, etc. In Battle for Azeroth, at least on single-target, Devastator is likely both a DPS and survivability loss (compared to not taking Devastator). There are times where 3-4 seconds will go by without any ability casts. There are so many spaces where Devastate Icon Devastate can be cast, that not taking Devastator is better. However, AoE is a different story. On AoE, not only are there more Revenge procs, but there is also a lot more Rage being generated. This allows most global cooldowns to be filled, and thus the benefit of Devastator is gained.

6.7. Level 100

This row is pretty much exactly the same as it is in Legion. Due to how Rage generation is though, Anger Management Icon Anger Management has greatly reduced value. Heavy Repercussions Icon Heavy Repercussions will likely be the go-to choice. Anger Management is likely the better choice where the cooldown reduction is needed.

Ravager Icon Ravager is still significantly weaker compared to the other two choices on this row. It does not provide a consistent survivability increase, but rather it relies on the RNG nature of parry. Heavy Repercussions and Anger Management both provide a consistent, "guaranteed" survivability increase.

7. Ability Priority for Protection Warrior in BfA

7.1. Opener

  1. Cast Intercept Icon Intercept.
  2. Cast Avatar Icon Avatar.
  3. Cast Demoralizing Shout Icon Demoralizing Shout only if Booming Voice Icon Booming Voice is selected.
  4. Cast Shield Block Icon Shield Block.
  5. Cast Shield Slam Icon Shield Slam.
  6. Proceed with the normal ability priority.

Opening with Thunder Clap Icon Thunder Clap instead of Shield Slam can be useful when there are multiple targets to pickup.

7.2. Ability Priority

The basic ability priority for Protection remains the same. The ability priority is the same on single-target and AoE.

The goal is to generate as much Rage as possible by casting Rage-generating abilities, so that Rage can then be spent on active mitigation.

  1. Cast Shield Slam Icon Shield Slam. Watch out for resets from Devastate, Thunder Clap, and Revenge.
  2. Cast Thunder Clap Icon Thunder Clap.
  3. Cast Revenge Icon Revenge to dump excess Rage only if Rage is not needed for Ignore Pain Icon Ignore Pain.
  4. Cast Devastate Icon Devastate.

Revenge can also be used to pickup targets if Thunder Clap is on cooldown.

With Devastator Icon Devastator, simply omit Devastate from the ability priority.

7.3. Vengeance

When playing with Vengeance Icon Vengeance, the above ability priority is still followed, except where Ignore Pain Icon Ignore Pain would normally be cast, simply cast a Revenge Icon Revenge right before it.

In AoE, cast Revenge as needed, just make sure to follow it up with an Ignore Pain.

Essentially, with Vengeance, never cast Revenge or Ignore Pain twice in a row unless casting Ignore Pain is necessary for survival.

7.4. Active Mitigation and Cooldown Usage

7.4.1. Defensive Cooldowns

  • Cast Shield Block Icon Shield Block when up against any blockable damage, or to pass Active Mitigation checks.
  • Cast Ignore Pain Icon Ignore Pain as an additional buffer, or to mitigate magical damage.

Generally speaking, Shield Block always takes priority. Ignore Pain should be used on top of Shield Block.

  • Cast Demoralizing Shout Icon Demoralizing Shout during periods of high damage, or as a damage cooldown if Booming Voice Icon Booming Voice is selected.
  • Cast Last Stand Icon Last Stand to mitigate spike damage, or, if Bolster Icon Bolster is selected, during periods of high damage where the vast majority of the damage is blockable.
  • Cast Shield Wall Icon Shield Wall during periods of high damage or to mitigate spike damage.
  • Cast Spell Reflection Icon Spell Reflection to mitigate magical damage.

7.4.2. Offensive Cooldowns

8. ChangeLog

  • 02 Jun. 2018: Minor formatting and typo fixes. Reworded a few sentences in the talents section.
  • 01 Jun. 2018: Page added.
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