Wading fearlessly into the horrors of battle, the Protection warrior stands firm to defend comrades against whatever savagery their foes can muster. Armed with a stout shield and indefatigable will, Protection warriors can barricade themselves against all manner of spells, swords and claws whilst retaliating with earth-shaking force.
Unique to Protection, offensively, Intercept functions in much the same way as Charge does for Arms and Fury. The main difference is that Intercept can be used to rush to an ally as well, taking the damage of the next attack made against them. In the midst of combat, an eagle-eyed warrior can use this to save a comrade from a tricky dungeon mechanic or their own folly. It also has superb utility as an extra mobility tool as you can quickly cover ground by charging to allies. This can prove invaluable when responding to hazards and as a way of maximising presence (or aiding retreat) in PvP.
A no-nonsense smash to the face, Shield Slam connects to targets with a satisfying clang. It is the strongest of Protection’s damaging abilities and its primary rage generator. With this in mind, Shield Slam should be used whenever it’s available to keep the rage simmering and to maximise damage dealt to opponents. As an added incentive, Devastate, Revenge and Thunderclap have a 30% chance to instantly reset Shield Slam’s cooldown, bolstering its position in the Protection rotation.
A simple strike that doesn’t quite match the ferocity of the name, Devastate is a filler ability that hits for low damage and inflicts Deep Wounds on the target. Not dissimilar to the Arms Mastery, Protection’s Deep Wounds causes a high percentage of attack power in damage over 15 seconds.
Revenge is one of two abilities available to Protection warriors that strike multiple targets. Lashing out in a vindictive rage, Revenge strikes all targets in front of the warrior for moderate damage and causes Deep Wounds. With a rage cost of 30, Revenge requires careful use lest a warrior be left with no rage to fuel their defensive abilities. Yet with its wide, Deep Wounds-triggering swing, a well-placed Revenge can cause some respectable damage and help keep enemy eyes on the warrior.
With a mighty stomp, the warrior slams the ground to damage surrounding enemies and reduce their movement by 20% for 6 seconds. Thunderclap is a Protection Warrior’s primary means of inflicting area damage and maintaining threat on multiple enemies. Its snare effect is also excellent for hampering the advance or retreat of enemies, a common encounter feature in many dungeons and raids.
The warrior hammers the earth causing a violent tremor to surge forth, dealing damage and stunning enemies caught in its path for 2 seconds. Thundering outwards from the warrior in frontal cone area, Shockwave is a short range stun that has the potential to affect multiple targets. Highly effectual when faced with clusters of enemies, Shockwave can instantly disrupt them, setting them up for your allies’ onslaught. Alternatively, if used defensively, it can efficiently shut down marauding foes and give your group some breathing space.
A fundamental part of Protection’s defensive arsenal, this ability allows the warrior to block incoming physical attacks for 6 seconds. It is worth noting that blocking an attack doesn’t nullify it, it just absorbs a percentage of the damage with a critical block absorbing twice the amount. Yet whatever the demands of the content, a large proportion of damage a tank will endure is physical in nature. Therefore, Shield Block should be deployed regularly in order to mitigate against the various weapon swings and thrashing limbs the warrior will face.
A display of iron will or perhaps dulled nerve endings, Ignore Pain enables a warrior to disregard the murderous power of their enemies. It absorbs up to 50% of incoming damage up to a maximum value based on the warrior’s attack power. With a rage cost of 40 and a cap on total damage absorbed, this is an ability to be used sparingly. Ignore Pain requires prudent use because overlapping it with other defensive abilities wastes resources and leaves the warrior vulnerable, either without rage or with other defences on cooldown.
Roaring an unnerving challenge to attackers, Demoralising Shout acts as an additional form of mitigation against enemy damage. When used, it reduces the target’s damage dealt by 20% for 10 seconds, taking the sting out of their attacks whatever form they take. Although an effective all-purpose ability, Demoralising Shout can also provide useful spot protection against phases of sustained damage or when alerted to a massive incoming strike.
With Shield Block providing protection against physical damage, Spell Reflection is a method warriors can use to defend against magical projectiles. When activated, for 5 seconds thereafter all incoming spells are returned to their point of origin. Highly valuable against enemy spellcasters, care is still advised when using Spell Reflection as not all spells can be reflected.
Reducing all damage received by 40% for 8 seconds, Shield Wall represents the warrior putting all their focus into defending themselves. On a 4 minute cooldown, this ability is intuitively suited to those rarer moments of extreme pressure and intense damage. Improper use on trivial or otherwise manageable threats will simply create problems for the later stages of a fight. Therefore, a sound knowledge of the dangers ahead is vital for Shield Wall to be at its most effective.
Through grinding teeth and grave wounds, Last Stand makes the warrior fight on in a final burst of defiance. The ability temporarily increases maximum health by 30% and instantly heals the warrior for that amount. Tailor-made for impending doom (also known as “OH SHIT” moments) Last Stand is often used to avoid certain death. From lethal instance mechanics to faltering or deceased healers, Last Stand can provide the means to escape what seemed inevitable. Though with a 5 minute cooldown, it should be used wisely.
Mastery: Critical Block
Central to Protection’s defensive capabilities is their ability to block damage with their shield. It’s no surprise then that Protection’s Mastery amplifies this, increasing the chance to block and to critically block whilst also boosting the warrior’s attack power. Although it is a purely passive Mastery, it should always be a consideration where stats are concerned because of the integral role of blocking in Protection’s defence.
Tier 1 – Into the Fray / Punish / Impending Victory
A variety of options are presented in Tier 1; self-healing, enemy damage reduction and Haste boosts are all on offer, with each being a strong choice in its own right.
Into the Fray increases the warrior’s Haste by 3% for each enemy within 8 yards. Haste is a sought-after stat for Protection because it decreases the cooldown on abilities like Shield Slam and Shield Block. For this reason, Into the Fray is an excellent choice for packed dungeons and hectic raid encounters. However, by design its benefits are diminished against single targets so in these situations, Into the Fray may not be the most optimal choice.
Punish directly increases the damage of Shield Slam by 20% and when your intrepid warrior batters someone across the head with it, the enemy’s damage is reduced by 3% for 9 seconds. Overall, these effects make Punish a dependable talent in any situation. Damage increases are always welcome, but the enemy damage reduction is the real star. As its duration aligns with Shield Slam’s cooldown, Punish can be used to impose a consistent reduction to the target’s damage. This is a valuable tool against bosses and similarly dangerous single targets.
A familiar feature of the Protection talent tiers, Impending Victory converts Victory Rush into an active ability that heals for the same amount and puts it on a 30 second cooldown. All tanks have some form of self-healing and this is it for Protection warriors. Underwhelming perhaps when compared to the baked-in healing prowess of other tanking classes, Impending Victory shouldn’t be overlooked. In terms of self-sustain and resilience, Impending Victory can provide a reliable means of defence when used to offset heavy damage.
Tier 2 – Crackling Thunder / Bounding Stride / Safeguard
Another mixed bag of effects, the choices available in Tier 2 are all enhancements to existing abilities, with each augmenting the warrior in a different way.
Crackling Thunder is a simple talent that increases the radius of Thunderclap by 50%. Although it sounds relatively prosaic, the utility of this talent shouldn’t be underestimated. As Thunderclap is Protection’s primary means of area damage and threat retention on multiple targets, the expansion of its radius can make the handling of enemy groups a lot easier.
Identical to the Arms and Fury talent, Bounding Stride lowers the cooldown of Heroic Leap by 15 seconds and increases movement speed by 70% for 3 seconds after it is used. The ability to move quickly is of great use to Arms and Fury and especially so for Protection. The demands of tanking often necessitate quick movement whether that’s to avoid danger or to address new threats. For these purposes, Bounding Stride excels and should be a serious consideration for any Protection warrior planning to face down the assorted horrors of dungeons and raids.
Safeguard adds a new effect to Protection’s Intercept ability. When used on a friendly target, Safeguard also causes 30% of all damage taken by them to transfer to the warrior for 6 seconds. The transference of damage can be a life-saver for a beleaguered ally such as the second tank in a raid. In addition to PvE, the talent is particularly relevant in PvP where ally healers will frequently come under sustained attack from your opponents.
Tier 3 – Best Served Cold / Unstoppable Force / Dragon Roar
For this tier, the choices available are passive augmentation to damage and utility with a new ability on offer as well.
Revenge is the beneficiary of the Best Served Cold talent, increasing the ability’s damage by 5% per target hit up to 25%. Against packs of enemies, the talent can markedly increase the damage of Revenge. If the objective of the warrior is boosting area damage output, then Best Served Cold will adequately fulfil that need.
Unstoppable Force is unique in that it affects one ability but creates an interplay between two. Whilst Avatar is active, Unstoppable Force increases the damage of Thunderclap by 100% and reduces its cooldown by 50%. As a staple ability of the Protection arsenal, any augmentation of Thunderclap is worthy of attention.
The increase in damage is considerable and when combined with a reduced cooldown and the damage bonus from Avatar, Thunderclap becomes a sledgehammer of an ability. Brilliant for PvE encounters, it might seem less useful for PvP due to Avatar’s cooldown but in the right situation (crowded chokepoints or taking out single targets for example) it’s a still strong choice.
Dragon Roar is an area effect damage ability that slows affected targets by 50% for 6 seconds and generates 10 rage when used. The slow affect can be handy when trying to keep control of multiple enemies and the damage inflicted is undeniably strong.
The issue confronting warriors is whether this additional slow and periodic burst damage is necessary as Best Served Cold and Unstoppable Force perform similar functions and to a higher degree. In PvP environments however, Dragon Roar excels. The area damage is very effective in amplifying overall damage and the slow effect is superb for controlling and frustrating opponents.
Tier 4 – Indomitable / Never Surrender / Bolster
Protection’s fourth tier is all about survivability with each talent choice presenting a different way of enduring the onslaught of enemies.
Indomitable is a simple talent that grants the warrior an extra 10% health. It’s basic as talents go but is still an effective choice for all situations and skill levels. As a tank’s role is to take damage so their allies don’t have to, extra health is always helpful.
Never Surrender increases the amount of damage absorbed by Ignore Pain by up to 100% based on the current health of the warrior. The lower the warrior’s health, the more Ignore Pain absorbs which fits well with low health situations where desperate defence is needed. The way this talent operates certainly nudges Ignore Pain in that direction as its benefits are minimal when health is high.
Bolster has a dramatic effect on one of Protection’s core survival tools: Last Stand. Reducing its cooldown by 60 seconds, Bolster also causes Last Stand to block all melee attacks for its duration. Combined with the ability’s 30% health increase and equivalent heal, Bolster turns Last Stand into a formidable defensive tool. Whether squaring off against a raid boss or gurning opponent in PvP, a bolstered Last Stand provides tremendous defensive power whatever the situation.
Tier 5 – Menace / Rumbling Earth / Storm Bolt
Whilst the previous tier focused on survivability, Protection’s fifth tier is exclusively centred on crowd control, giving warriors a familiar blend of passive enhancements and new tricks.
Menace turns Intimidating Shout into a potent disrupting ability. Instead of causing the target to cower in fear and others to flee, Menace causes all enemies to cower in fear and increases the duration of Intimidating Shout by 4 seconds. Although Intimidating Shout has situational uses, the uncontrolled panic of fleeing enemies can lead to disaster if they attract the attention of others. Menace solves that problem by causing all to cower before the might of the warrior, making it a more viable option for crowd control. Damage still breaks the fear effect though, so co-ordination with allies is necessary to make best use of this talent.
Shockwave is the beneficiary of the Rumbling Earth talent, taking a previous effect built-in to the ability and converting it to a talent. Rumbling Earth decreases the cooldown of Shockwave by 15 seconds if 3 or more targets are hit by it. Naturally, this is only of useful if you are regularly facing off against groups of enemies. In situations where this occurs, Rumbling Earth can be highly effective in keeping foes locked down.
As a talent ability, Storm Bolt is identical across all warrior specialisations. A ranged stun that takes out a single target for 4 seconds, it’s not the most powerful stun out there but it’s still a reliable control tool. For Protection, the main advantage of taking Storm Bolt is having two stuns in your arsenal.
Although it has its uses in PvE, for locking down ranged or elusive targets for example, Storm Bolt is an excellent pick for PvP. Having a multi-target and ranged stun greatly increases a Protection warrior’s utility and flexibility in PvP,, making Storm Bolt a laudable pick.
Tier 6 – Booming Voice / Vengeance / Devastator
For Protection’s sixth tier, an assortment of utility effects are available that have different impacts upon Protection’s ability rotation and gameplay.
Making that thundering voice more powerful, Booming Voice affects Demoralising Shout. The talent makes the ability generate 40 rage and increase the damage the warrior does to the target by 15% for its duration. The important facet to this talent is the rage generation, something it’s always worthwhile increasing wherever possible. The added damage is a generous addition to the Demoralising Shout’s effects. Although, as it only affects the warrior’s damage, this would have greater applicability to DPS race encounters and PvP than other content.
Vengeance is dual effect talent that causes Ignore Pain to reduce the cost of Revenge by 33% and Revenge to reduce the cost of Ignore Pain by the same amount. The added rage efficiency of Ignore Pain strengthens the ability and makes it more of a desirable choice for defending. However, each ability’s reliance on the other means this is more of a niche talent that is best deployed in situations where Revenge will be heavily used.
Devastator has a pronounced effect on the Protection rotation by removing Devastate entirely. It is replaced by a stronger auto-attack which also has a 20% chance to reset Shield Slam. The main advantage of choosing Devastator is the added chance to reset Shield Slam. The potential extra uptime on Protection’s core ability makes Devastator an attractive choice and one that suits all content through its sheer simplicity
Tier 7 – Anger Management / Heavy Repercussions / Ravager
Protection’s final tier offers up some quite impactful passive effects and introduces a new area damage ability.
Another talent shared across warrior specialisations, Anger Management reduces the cooldown on Avatar, Last Stand Shield Wall and Demoralising Shout by 1 second for every 10 rage spent. As passive effects go, Anger Management is extremely strong for Protection warriors as it increases the availability for some of their most powerful abilities. With the glut of rage burners in Protection’s toolkit, Anger Management is reliable choice as it directly improves the warrior’s durability.
Heavy Repercussions is a second talent that connects two Protection abilities. The talent causes Shield Slam to extend the duration of Shield Block by 1 second and Shield Block to increases the damage of Shield Slam by an additional 30%. Heavy Repercussions is a unique talent in that it boosts both the defensive and offensive capabilities of the warrior. This talent is a solid choice as it enhances one of Protection’s primary defensive tools. The added Shield Slam damage can also greatly assist with open world content and those encounters that require quick kills.
As the only warrior specialisation that doesn’t have access to the inimitable Bladestorm, Ravager is a talent that can provide Protection with an ability that deals targeted area damage. As an extra bonus, whilst active Ravager, it also increases the warrior’s parry chance by 35% for its duration. It is this latter part that is the main appeal of Ravager.
Protection is well equipped to deal consistent area damage and whilst Ravager can increase that output, it doesn’t drastically improve Protection’s ability to dish out punishment to multiple targets. The extra parry chance however, is a workable (though not essential) addition to Protection’s defensive capabilities. As a parry negates damage whilst a block will only absorb a percentage of it, Ravager can offer on-demand defence when the warrior is being overwhelmed by melee attacks.
With an array of defensive and offensive abilities at their disposal, the Protection warrior is a versatile tank who can endure the most brutal of onslaughts and still fight on to win the day. Grasping the mechanics and nuances of Protection is no easy feat, but with care and shrewd timing, they are able to hold the line against whatever is thrown at them.
Knowing when and how to repulse enemy assaults is, without question, the most crucial skill to learn for any aspiring Protection warrior. But with some dedication and a keen eye for danger, they can become a formidable obstacle to your enemies and an invaluable bulwark for your friends.