4:Active Mitigation, Action Priorities & Resources
The main priority of a Tank beyond keeping aggro is staying alive (in fact it's very hard to keep aggro whilst dead, so hard i've only managed it once), Blizzard doesn't believe that struggling to hold aggro is compelling game play and so have made holding aggro against DPS and healers trivial. This means they have had to make something else compelling, and they came up with three ways of doing that; either by making tank DPS matter, making DPS buttons provide mitigation, or make DPS buttons provide resources which can be spent on mitigation. Protection Warrior gameplay is mainly formed of the latter in MoP.
A slightly more complicated rotation can built by weaving longer CD abilities (basically anything other than Rev/Dev) into the last GCD before Shield slam comes off CD. so you rotation becomes;
- Use Shield Slam
- Use Revenge
- Use Thunder Clap to keep the Weakened Blows debuff up.
- Use Battle Shout or Commanding Shout, whichever your raid wants more
- Use Devastate otherwise to fill eempty GCDs
- Use Heroic Strike on Ultimatum procs
- Dump excess rage with Shield Barrier or Heroic Strike as long as it won't delay your next Shield Block
Which would reset back to shield slam any time you get an SnB proc. Like mentioned earlier under 20% health warriors gain access to execute, a very expensive ability, generally it should only be used is you aren't presently tanking something
Shield Slam > Rev/Dev > Rev/Dev > X
The AoE rotation is essentially the same except when you have 2+ targets you want to substitute HS with Cleave and want to be using TC on CD. Tab round the mobs trying to get SS's and Rev on all Targets. You will also want to be using HL as much as possible. Falling into the following rotation offers the best compromise between maximising RPS and maximising Threat on the maximum number of targets;
SS>Rev>TC>RevThis allows you to Keep both SS and TC on CD, but gives you the biggest windows for Revenge Procs,
Pre-pull you will want to use a Shout and then Charge. Mid-Charge you will want to HL and Zerker Rage, you should then either Shield Slam (single target) or Thunderclap (AoE). Unless you specifically need your offensive CDs elsewhere its probably a good idea to use them on the pull. I know from a dps standpoint it would be better to wait until you built some vengeance, but your Raid's DPS should not have to wait, their pre-pots are expiring. The more Threat you can burst out in the first 5-10 seconds is the more DPS they can pull.
Taunt has undergone some changes in 5.4, mainly to alleviate tanks taunting off tank s with high vengeance and losing aggro; All Taunt type abilities increase all threat generated against the target while the taunt is active by 200%. This is a bit misleading as its actually triples our threat modifier (to 2100% damage done), so if you lose aggro whilst your taunt is on CD you are doing something really wrong.
IF AT ANY POINT YOU ARE SPAMMING TAUNT ON COOLDOWN ON A TARGET YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG. Taunt is there to save lives, not as a means to maintain aggro. If everyone is performing their roles correctly you should never need to spam taunt. As a tank you should only Taunt off another tank to prevent them from dying, if they have all the aggro and are not falling over, they do not need you to taunt off them. It's not only bad tanking its bad tanking etiquette, you are being a dick. If a healer has aggro you could taunt but in most cases you should be using one of your primary rage builders to get snap aggro, or perhaps a charge/heroic leap to the mob. If DPS get aggro same deal, or if they're not using their threat dumps, don't, just let them die.
If you feel you cannot actually tank without spamming taunt you may find this more suited to you,
So now you have the red bar filling up nicely what do you spend it on? Prot has 5 abilities on which it can spend rage the first 4 are off the GCD, so don't have “hidden rage costs”
Active Mitigation Strategies
- Heroic Strike: Prot typically uses one handed weapons so weapon damage isn't really all that great. Its a little extra damage for a lot of rage, Use if you really must, but it is incredibly inefficient
- Cleave: Even more inefficient than HS on single targets, should only use when you are sure it will connect on two targets and you have more rage than you can spend
- Shield Block: As it increase your chance to block it also increase your chance to critically block, thus this also increase your RPS and DPS. This should be your go to rage dump for encounters where the dangerous (Spike) damage will be form Melee attacks
- Shield barrier: Generally Shield block is better, but if that’s on CD or if the incoming attacks are unblockable this is the only other defensive option. Has some panic button functionality.
- Execute: Unlike our other ways to spend rage this is on the GCD, so it also has a hidden rage cost since this GCD could have been used to generate more rage, however, this is the hardest hitting ability in the entire Protection Warrior Toolbox. If you're certain you're not going to die from the loss of SB/Sbar uptime go ahead and use it, but you are literally leaving yourself wide open to a killing blow, and your healers will probably hate you for it. If you have any CDs not reserved for remaining fight mechanics use them to cover yourself whilst weaving Execute in place of Devastate.
- Savage Defense: Only available if a Druid has cast Symbiosis on you, generally is inferior to Shield Block, unless you specifically need to dodge something. Balance gets Intervene in return, Guardian's get Spell Reflect (with a 2min CD and a 15 rage cost), Resto get Intimidating Roar (IS by another Name), and Feral Get Shattering Blow (Shattering Throw by another name, cost them 50 energy).
The choice between using Sbar or Sblock is a crucial part of being a prot warrior, and its rarely a case of just using one or the other. On Most encounters, your largest source of incoming damage should be Boss melee and when this is true Shield Block should be you nominal choice. Now a lot of the time Sbar will actually stop more overall damage, but because it tends to be used up before its full duration it leads a to a spikey damage profile of Absorb, partial absorb, hit, hit, hit, hit, and its those chains of hits in conjunction with either heavy raid damage, or healer movement that will usually lead to you dying. With Sblock however you might take more overall damage but almost every hit should be blocked so the longest possible full hit chain is 2 hits. Shield block also has the nice effect of increasing your enrage uptime which means more rage and more DPS, especially with the GLyph of Heavy Repercussions. Now thats not to say Shield Barrier is useless, far from it; Unlike Sblock it stops all forms of damage, so if you're not particularly worried about the melee hits, but you are worried about something like a powerful breath attack timing an Sbar just before the attack is probably a very good idea. What complicates this further is that theirs no real pattern to whether a given boss special attack is blockable or not; Tortos' Snapping Bite is blockable, Ji-Kuns' Talon Rake is aswell. Vizier Zorlock's Exhale isn't blockable despite being physical, and Garalon's and Primordius' frontal cones are blockable despite being AoEs, Jin'rohk's Thundering Throw is blockable, but will still throw and stun you. The only real guideline i can offer is if in doubt use shield block against physical attacks, and use Shield barrier against magic damage but there are exceptions.
Shield Block has a rather interesting recharge behaviour; It has 2 charges and they recharge sequentially over 9 seconds, rather like the DK's Rune system. Now on a patchwerk fight where we have the boss in our face 100% of the time we'll just burn a charge every 9 seconds and get ~66% uptime on Shield Block, however whenever we get the chance to let both charges recover and have enough rage (60 rage to start and 10rps for the next 18 seconds), you can have 24 seconds of continuous shield block uptime. this will then be followed by 3 seconds of down time to recover the first charge, and another 9 to recover the second; 12 seconds from full exhaustion to fully recharged. Now you'll notice that thats still ~66% uptime on SB. However if you only have aggro for 24 seconds at a time (or less) because of taunt swapping or boss phases you can use this to make sure you have SB up 100% of the time you have aggro and use the time when you don't to let SB recharge. It does mean you'll have to pool rage when not actively tanking, but on fights like Empress or Will it can mean that whenever the boss is actually hitting you, you're "unhittable".
Just Using SBlock On recharge is actually a fairly decent way to play, and will suffice for most situations if you can get the mechanics right, against mobs that just melee (or the melee is the dangerous bit) its probably the best active mitigation strategy you can choose. The counter point to this which may come as a suprise is that attempring to bleed off extra rage with Sbar under this strategy can be detrimental if it delays the use of Sblock. THis makes sense if you think about it; you end up stacking Sbar on top of an SBlock, which isn't really improving things much as you're not going to die to mele with SBlock up anyway, SBar or not, but to do that you're extending the the time between Sblocks, eseentially opening a window for a hit string. That said if you're not worried about melee hits but are worried about a big boss special Layering Sblock and SBar over it is a fine way to trivialise it. If you're worried about boss special combined with melee hits you should stick to keeping sblock on recharge and making sure you have enough rage to time an Sbar with the boss special.
And if you just keep one charge recycling you dump excess rage with shield block, or alterntively keep a shield block in reserve for boss mechanics.