Originally Posted by AriedanHi, welcome to Tankspot's guide to the protection warrior. My name's Ariedan, and in this video I will be covering the basics of protection warrior mechanics and abilities.
Warriors have three stances: battle, defensive, and berserker stance. Defensive stance is the stance warriors tank in, as it decreases damage taken by 10%, damage caused by 5%, and increases threat generated.
Warriors rely on rage in order to use our abilities. Unlike mana, we start out with an empty bar which caps at 100, and - simply put- gain rage from hitting things, being hit by things, or using special abilities (such as bloodrage or charge). If you spec into Shield Specialization, you will gain 5 rage every time you block, parry, or dodge.
Let's talk about our rage dumps. Heroic Strike is what we call a rage dump- an ability that doesn't share a global cooldown and exists solely to expend the extra rage you aren't using. What that means is we can- and should!- use Heroic Strike while simultaneously going through our normal rotation. During boss fights in raids, you will almost always have a full rage bar, so you getting used to spamming it while hitting other abilities is a key skill required for a protection warrior. If you are tanking more than one mob, you will turn to Cleave as your rage dump.
One thing to keep in mind is the nature of rage. A lot of the time, you have more rage than you know what to do with. But at times, you will find yourself having a difficult time gaining rage. In those situations, you need to be careful so you do not rage starve yourself. People refer to rage dumps as a "gas pedal," where you must learn to let it go every bit or so to gain rage. You should never rage starve yourself to the point of lacking rage for your rotation.
Now before I delve into rotations, let's talk about talented abilities we'll need for said rotations. The first ability you can find in the third tier of the protection tree, which is Last Stand. When used, Last Stand grants you 30% of your maximum health for 20 seconds.
The next ability is Concussion Blow, which can be found in the fourth tier of the protection tree. Concussion Blow is a stun that lasts for 5 seconds, and is required to get Vigilance. Vigilance is a crucial threat ability, which has many uses and makes warrior tanking easier in many aspects. It's a buff that you put on a selected raid member that reduces their damage taken by 3%, transfers 10% of the threat they cause to you, and if they pull aggro, refreshes your taunt ability.
In a typical raid setting, you will most likely want to put vigilance on the player who will transfer the most threat to you. One thing to keep in mind for threat-sensitive fights is that you don't always keep it up on a single player the entire duration of the fight. A good example is Hodir- especially on hard mode difficulty. Due to a combination of the damage buffs and the mobility required of a tank, it's difficult to hold aggro against everyone without making use of several tricks, one of which is vigilance-swapping. Just keep an eye of the threat meter and be ready to switch targets on the go.
The second major use of Vigilance is for taunt-refreshing. Fights such as Sartharion with three drakes, warriors shine tanking the little adds due having taunt refreshed in an AoE setting.
And last of all, it's especially good in situations such as Faction Champions, where the threat factor is hardly existent, but the damage reduction is very appealing. I personally put it on a healer who tends to take a lot of damage, and coupled with intervene, it makes protecting that healer a manageable feat.
Moving on to the next ability, we have Warbringer in the 9th tier of the protection tree, which allows you to charge and intercept in defensive stance.
Next to that, we have Devastate- a primary ability used in tanking rotations as well as being an essential debuff for melee players.
Below that is Sword and Board, another must-have talent. It increases the critical strike rating of your Devastate for one, but when you use devastate or revenge, it has a 30% chance of refreshing your Shield Slam ability and reducing its rage cost by 100% for 5 seconds. This talent is a defining threat ability for protection warriors.
And last, just below Sword and Board, we have Shockwave, which is an AoE stun but also one of our two AoE tanking abilities.
Protection warriors have no specific rotation we follow, but instead have a priority system for our abilities. Our primary threat abilities, in order of priority, are: Shield Slam, Revenge, Concussion Blow, Shockwave, and Devastate. Our rotation is more of a priority system because all of our cooldowns eventually overlap each other, as well as Sword and Board proccing, making it difficult to follow any set rotation. When you are boss tanking, however, Devastate actually gets bumped up the list and becomes top priority until you get sunder armor stacked to five, as it's a major buff for your melee DPS.
With that said, warriors are very flexible in terms of rotations. We have many abilities we must weave in between cooldowns. When tanking a boss encounter, I typically begin with a Shield Block and then Shield Slam for burst threat, then put up Demoralizing Shout and Thunderclap, and immediately followed by sunder to five. You also need to be prepared to weave in things such as interrupts, Berserker Rage, Vigilance target switches, shout and debuff refreshes.
If there’s one thing prot warriors exclusively have that other tanks don’t, it would be an arsenal of magic interrupts/stuns. We have heroic throw, which if talented, silences the target for 3 seconds. Then there’s revenge, which, again, if talented, gives us a 15-45% chance to stun the target for 3 sec. If applicable, charging a target also works. Last of all, and more reliable, are Concussion Blow, Shockwave, and Shield Bash.
Learn to efficiently make use of your cooldowns- Shield Wall, Last Stand, and trinkets. Unless healers are dead and the boss' health is low on a close kill, it's typically not a good idea to use all cooldowns at once. It's also good practice to save them for moments where bosses have increased damage, rather than a large damage spike and you overreacting. If you have to often use cooldowns because a healer isn't paying attention, it puts you in a difficult position when you actually need it for things like enrages. Trust your healers to do their job so you can do yours.
AoE tanking as a warrior is typically regarded as being a bit more work than the other tanking classes. We don't really have an AoE rotation, but more or less a few abilities situationally used in conjunction with our normal single-target priority rotation. When I pull groups of adds, such as in heroics, I thunderclap as I'm charging in, and then run through the mobs and turn out to cluster them correctly. Then I Shockwave. Mob placement is KEY to being successful at multiple-mob tanking as a warrior. Shockwave is a great snap aggro ability, but with its rather lengthy cooldown of 20 seconds, you don't want to waste it by not hitting all your targets with it.
The hardest part about multiple-mob warrior tanking is the tab targeting. With lesser geared or skilled DPS, it might not be necessary to tab-target but if you have decent to good DPS merely spamming Thunderclap and Shockwave isn't enough to hold aggro. Tab through your mobs constantly, going through your normal single-target rotation to keep good threat up on every mob.
If you're tanking adds in a boss encounter, you need to be prepared to even be more flexible than main tanking, as it's not a simple "press threat buttons and win" situation. If you need to constantly pick up adds, you need to be able to assess your tools available and respond immediately. Thunderclap is good for multiple add pick-up, but if it's just one or two adds, you have many other viable options. If Heroic Throw is down, as our Taunt is ranged, it can work as a back-up pulling tool. Never forget you can also Charge an add, or if the add is frolicking towards a healer, you can Intervene and then smack with a Shield Slam. You can also turn enemy health plates on by pressing "V," which helps in case you don't notice single adds.
As I just mentioned, Warbinger and Intervene help really define warriors in terms of utility. Beyond being a pulling tool and a source of rage, there are many other situations these abilities come in handy. If a boss has a knockback, you can charge immediately so the raid does not have to reposition. If you are backed out of range of Stormcaller Brundir due to Overload, you can time your charge back in to interrupt his next cast. You can also make good use of the stun ability in particular situations, such as Faction Champions. Last of all, don't underestimate using intervene as a means of getting out of range of nasty boss abilities or to get somewhere faster. If a mob is too far away to charge, for example, you can even Intervene someone first and then charge.
Before I end this guide, I'd like to address another major component of tanking. While it's not specific to warrior tanking, it's something I feel most most beginner tanks don't understand. You can gear correctly and press threat buttons in the right order, but that doesn't compensate for poor situational awareness and mobility. As a tank, you play a key role in your raiding team, and while you are no more important than any other single player, your raid is as only good as you are. If a damage dealer dies to standing in fire, he simply made a mistake; if you, the tank, dies to standing in fire, you've most likely just caused your raid a wipe.
Get into the habit of keeping yourself aware of your surroundings by zooming your camera out fully instead of staring at the boss' feet. That way, you have a better chance of seeing area of effect abilities and adds roaming about.
And last of all- mobility. If you've noticed a mob as it spawns, it won't do you any good if you slowly keyboard turn to go pick it up. If you see fire, slowly back-peddling out of it won't keep you any more alive. Learn to strafe while being able to tank, as the raid can't halt its functions because you can't press more than one button at once. Learn to be able to move bosses without having to turn your back to it. These are all crucial habits to get into, because all the TPS in the world won't do you any good if you can't manage your rotation as you're kiting the boss backwards. Most tanks don't hone these skills until they've tanked for a while, but it's easy to learn; practice while doing dailies, or even PvP! Your raid will thank you.
Thanks for watching, and good luck in your tanking endeavors!