As was the case for fury, protection has seen its share of changes.
- Stance penalties are gone. To make sure that tanks stay in defensive stance though, and not take advantage of the rage generation of battle stance many abilities vital to tanking are linked to defensive stance and will only work fully in that stance. The rage generation abilities Shield Slam and Revenge only generate rage in defensive stance as well.
- Instead of getting rage from taking damage, Defensive stance reduces damage taken by 15%, increases threat and generates 1 rage every 3 seconds when you’re in combat. Your threat generation abilities like Shield Slam, Revenge and Devastate also contribute to rage generation now, instead of costing you rage.
- The combat table has changed to a two-roll system. This means that you can no longer stack mastery to ridiculous levels in order to get your block so high that all attacks will be dodged, parried or blocked. An attack on you first checks to see if it was a miss, dodge or parry, and only if it was none of those things does it then check to see if it was a block. With this system, you are going to take unmodified hits. It’s no longer possible to avoid them all.
- Vengeance is now a rolling buff that has no cap and which only counts the last 20 seconds’ worth of damage you take. This will lower how much DPS tanks do in 5-mans and buff how much DPS tanks do in 25-man raids. It will also change how abilities like Shield Barrier, which absorb damage based in part on your attack power, will scale.
- The second patch 5.0.4 drops, you are going to see a massive drop in your block and dodge. This is because Active mitigation is here. The majority of your survivability will no longer be passively shrugging off hit but actively weakening the damage you take.
- Because of active mitigation and the way our rage generation works, hit and expertise are now significantly more valuable for tanks. Combined with the change to the combat table, you can’t just reforge all hit and expertise away to mastery and call it a day.
- Intercept is gone, let us all have a moment of silence to grieve.
You gear for survival, but now we need to be able to generate proper threat as well, because now they’re useful for generating the rage you need for active mitigation and subsequently, survival. Even with Vengeance and 500% threat, you can’t ignore threat as a tank.
- You’ll need stamina as a tank, even a blind gnome can see that. But what with needing to reach the hit and expertise soft caps you can’t blindly gem for it anymore. Thankfully, it’ll be on your gear.
- Strength again, not likely to gem for it. But it provides significant parry now as well as threat, and it’s on all the gear.
- Hit and expertise: It takes 7.5% hit to cap special attacks and 7.5% expertise to push dodges off. I doubt you’ll bother reaching the 15% you need to get rid of parries, but with missing a Shield Slam not only costing you rage but also delaying your next Shield Block or Barrier, you’re going to want to minimize those misses and dodges.
- Dodge: It’ll be harder to get, since we only get it from dodge on gear, and parry is being emphasized for us strength tanks. You’re still going to want it, but it’s going to be below parry. The relative value of dodge is intended to be about the same as parry. You don’t have to go reforging it off — just don’t expect to have as much.
- Parry Strength grants significant parry, so you’ll have more, and the DR curve means that parry will be higher even though the two stats are intended to be relatively equal.
- Mastery It’s still a good stat, but you won’t be stacking it like the old days, because it can’t push unmodified hits off anymore.
The choice here is between Double Time and Warbringer. Having that extra Charge can be useful as a tank, but I prefer the stun on Warbringer for the added CC. It’s also very handy in PvP.
I prefer Enraged Regeneration here, as it doesn’t require a target to hit for the healing and has a pretty decent cooldown.
Both Piercing Howl and Disrupting Shout are good for tanks here. I normally take Piercing.
Shockwave is amazing on a Protection warrior tank, and it’s got that 20-second cooldown that makes it my favorite option for AoE tanking, along with that cone stun. Dragon Roar is also a very valid pick, as it deals a ton of damage and completely ignores armor.
Choose Vigilance or Safeguard here. Neither ability needs a shield, and Vigilance taunts.
Storm Bolt is the best option here. Avatar and Bloodbath are very nice too, but the 300% bonus damage from Storm Bolt (since bosses are immune to stuns) mean you have an awesome nuke every 30 seconds.
Your rotation is centered around keeping up threat and rage so you can use Shield Block and Shield Barrier as these abilities are your core and cost a lot of rage. Remember folks, active mitigation.
- Shield Block causes you to block all attacks made against you for 6 seconds, while Shield Barrier provides you with a large damage absorption shield.
- Use Shield Slam on cooldown (If you are at maximum rage, then delay using Shield Slam until you have used some of your rage.)
- Use Revenge on cooldown. Keep in mind that its cooldown is reset each time you dodge or parry an attack (If you are at maximum rage, then delay using Revenge until you have used some of your rage, same as Shield Slam)
- Use Devastate as a filler (it does not cost rage). Use Devastate 3 times at the start of the fight (or when a new mob spawns), to apply the Sunder Armor debuff. If there is a Druid in the raid, this is not needed.
- Use Thunder Clap once every 30 seconds, if no one else is providing the Weakened Blows debuff that it applies.
- Use Battle Shout or Commanding Shout (depending on which of the two you have chosen to provide for your raid) in order to generate rage when nothing else is available.
- Use Heroic Strike to dump rage and increase your DPS and threat. Remember to only do this when you do not need to use rage for survival abilities in the foreseeable future.
You might notice that neither of the defensive abilities I mentioned above were included in the rotation. This is because you need to judge when to use them for yourself. I cannot predict the six seconds during a fight when Shield Block will be most effective for you.