How I’m playing Protection in 4.0

I’ve been experimenting a bit with Protection in the current patch. We’re done with raiding until the expansion and my desire to tank in PUG raids is approximately zero, so I’ve been running a few heroics. (Also mad props to Ele who said, “Lets try some heroics” and queued us straight up for HoR. This is what we call the ‘in at the deep end’ approach.)

Summary: The sky is not falling. AE threat is down across the board for all tanks, but warriors play hasn’t changed greatly. It’s mostly a few tweaks rather than a complete overhaul. Plus you can get some pretty amazing numbers out of Shield Slam. I’m still adapting but definitely still finding it fun.

The only way I adapt to less AE threat is by apologising for poor threat in random instances. But I don’t mean it 🙂 And in Cataclysm when mobs start hitting harder I’ll get back into marking and requesting CC.

Live by the shield, die by the shield

The protection spec is now very oriented towards shield type moves, with lots of boosts for shield block and shield slam. It is now possibly to get some insanely large shield slam crits, especially if you tank in dps gear which you can also do now that we get crit proof from talents. Tankspot has a shield slam bragging thread so I know I’m not the only one who’s dazzled by the big numbers! If you want to test this then wait for a Hold the Line Proc, hit Shield Block and any of your dps trinkets, and then Shield Slam.

Feedback from healers is that I’m easy to heal. Feedback from dps is gogogo. Feedback from me is that threat is more of an issue, but I’m not finding it a major deal except in special cases such as the event in HoS where there’s no real time to build rage up – I think with more practice in managing rage I’d handle this better.

My current spec and thoughts on talents

This is my current spec. (The goal of this spec is to generate huge shield slam crits.) Many of the talents I discuss below are still being discussed in the community at the moment.

Blood and Thunder: I’m not enthralled with this one. Rend doesn’t generate a lot of threat anyway, maybe this would work better for Arms specs or in a raid but trash mobs in instances don’t stay up that long and Thunderclap + Shockwave plus some cleaves and glyphed revenges will be better bang for your buck than slinging rend around.

Incite: Heroic Strike is no longer spammable (thank goodness) and I’m still getting the hang of how to manage rage, but I still think this is more useful than blood and thunder.

Hold the Line: Parry is now your very best friend. Shame it doesn’t work on spells.

Shield Mastery: Reduced timer on shield block is nice. The rest is a bonus. Bear in mind you now use glyph of shield wall to increase the cooldown and increase the amount absorbed.

Shield spec: Not really finding rage to be an issue but need to put the points somewhere.

Bastion of Defense: This is your new anti-crit ability. Compulsary.

Impending Victory: I tried it and wasn’t really impressed with the numbers. Sounds cooler than it is.

Vigilance: Probably mostly a raid talent now, to be put on off-tanks. I find it useful to stick on the most aggro-y dps in heroics at the moment and then make good use of all the free taunts.

Thunderstruck: Way better for AE threat than blood and thunder imo. Note that it stacks three times but you have to spam Thunderclap to do that.

Arms: Field Dressing — this is why healers find me fairly straightforwards to heal at the mo.

Fury: Cruelty — Moar shield slam crits!!

(Blood Craze will probably be ace for levelling and I may swap points from cruelty to blood craze when the expansion drops. Unless I decide to level in Arms spec, which seems really really fun atm from my first forays.)


Warrior glyphs are pretty lame and you won’t get a lot of choice.


Shield Slam (yay for more shield slam damage!)
Devastate (will be your main filler)

Heroic throw: Heroic throw applies a stack of sunder.
Shield wall: Shield wall cooldown increases by 2 mins but it reduces a lot more damage (60% instead of 40%)
Long charge: charge range increased
You might want to glyph for cleave for better AE threat. Thunderclap (increases range) is another possibility but I’ve avoided that because of issues with breaking CC.


Berserker rage: adds 5 rage whenever you use it. Handy for emergency rage generation

Battle/ Command/ Demo — increase range and duration of shouts. Pick whichever.

Warriors do however have the best named glyph in the game which is “glyph of bloody healing”, sadly it’s for fury though.

Rotation/ Priority

Very similar to usual except with less heroic strike. That is to say, protection uses a priority attack system and not a fixed rotation. I’m sure as we all get more practice we’ll get a feel for where it’s worth trying to fit HS in but generally use it when you have a full rage bar.

Shield Slam –> HS –> Revenge -> Devastate (single target)

Shockwave->Thunderclap-> Cleave (AE) (if you use blood and thunder you’ll want to weave rend in as well. Remember if you have thunderstruck you can stack the thunderclaps for more of a shockwave buff.)

Rage — shouts now give rage. Demo shout also still has some threat attached so you can shout and then charge for some starting rage. I like the berserker rage glyph for some extra emergency rage too.

Stats and Reforging: If you’re raiding it will probably be worth indulging in some reforging (if needed) to cap out expertise and hit. If you’re not, I wouldn’t bother, all the equipment will shortly be moot anyway. I haven’t done any reforging myself to gain extra mastery — not inclined to mutilate my gear until some number crunchers have worked out the optimal strategy first.

(You’ll notice that I have zero interest in gear optimisation but that I do quite enjoy experimenting with new talents and specs on my own. That’s my gameplay preference, and I’m glad for anyone who prefers things the other way around because I can steal their gear cribsheets later.)

11 thoughts on “How I’m playing Protection in 4.0

  1. Nice post – I’m pretty similar to you so far.

    I have blood craze, and it seems to be ticking quite a lot of the time. I quite like it. Completely agree with you on blood and thunder and impending victory. I’ll need to be convinced that these are worth it.

    Major glyphs I’ve taken are cleave (because I love cleaving things really – I feel like a proper warrior, taking a big wild swing of a heavy mace) and the -5 rage on thunderclap.

    Since most of our shouts are now overwritten by other buffs I’ve gone for the minor glyph of demo shout, because I’m really bad at noticing when this debuff drops off the boss.

  2. Pingback: Killed in a Smiling Accident. » Blog Archive » I am a man of many talents. But I’m only allowed to use these ones.

    • Costs seem to depend on the size(?) of the change.
      Paid up to 32G for a change, but normal price is around 10G. Maybe it increases when you reforge, reset and reforge again, did that when I had to pay the bigger amount.

  3. For the endgame as presented now, blood and thunder might not be that strong, but for leveling, it is great:
    I’ve started a new warrior tank on a new realm, doing rnd dungeon most of the time. Blood and thunder is MY portable warrior consecration now: Rend one target, thunderclap and infect others, move into next group, taunt more, clap, shieldbllock and 5 to 10 mobs stick to my shield, waiting to be punished. One rended mob within range seems to be enough to infect all others. Great fun atm. Until now (lvl40) only few dd where able to top me on the meters, top dps yesterday in uldaman: ~520.
    Selfheal on victory rush is great and helps much in forcing the healer to ask me to lay off some equipment because he’s bored.

  4. Pingback: The week after | Tank like a girl

  5. “And in Cataclysm when mobs start hitting harder I’ll get back into marking and requesting CC.”

    I will be interested to see if tanks can make this stick in pugs. I’m guessing you’re planning mainly to tank in guild groups. If it becomes a requirement however there’s likely to be a period when cross-server pugs are utter hell to tank for.

    • It depends how hard the dungeons are. The heroics look pretty brutal, so cross server PUGs for the “daily heroic” might be something to avoid. Normal levelling dungeons might not be too bad though.

  6. As long as the group sticks to my marks, I’ll take care for all of them, if they don’t, I’ll reduce it to two chars: my own and the healer. I’ll see, how far this behavior will bring me/us.
    When pugging now while leveling, many people I meet, think, they don’t need a tank at all, just to complete group composition.
    At the moment I’m very fast in deciding, that fighting my own group isn’t fun for me and leaving, I should remember [link=]this[/link] more often.

  7. I tanked post-patch for the first time last night in Dire Maul, and it was fun tho there are several things I noticed…

    Rage generation was an absolute breeze. Charge in for initial rage, then it just shot up… I couldn’t knock my rage down to 50% for all I was worth! Even with a retarded DK who couldn’t keep his finger off of the Death Grip button, I had MUCH rage to spend.

    Threat seemed tougher to maintain, that could have been the group I was with, but I was losing adds left and right. Then I died at one point, and the idiot DK just kept charging into more mobs while the rest of the group tried to res me… ended up having to run; ultimately this was probably due to a poor group plus me being unfamiliar with the new mechanics

    Builds: With 31 point trees, there are only like 2 or 3 talents that you don’t use, with 5 points left over for another tree, meaning there are a lot less possibilities to these builds. Come Cata there will be another few points to spend, but it seems Blizzard has idiotproofed the talent trees. I’m ok with that, i imagine those more hardcore than me will not be…

    Defensively, I was AWESOME. Shield Slam for big damage, Revenge was nearly always procced, Victory Rush with the big healing, i felt really beastly tearing through the plant monsters and demons!

  8. You never really know you can swim until you jump off the ferry an hour from port. This is the method by which I learned to tank, and it’s served me well!

    For reference, you’ve not seen Shield Slam numbers until you’ve gone back to Ulduar. Festergut and Hellscream’s War Song be damned, Steelbreaker (hardmode only) is the guy to go and see. But even in heroics, I’ll admit, the numbers are more than a little satisfying in comparsion to before the patch.

    The numbers we’re seeing in raids, even putting aside enjoyable debuffs like Gaseous Bloat or Overwhelming Power, say to me that Vengeance is probably going to get nerfed, and not lightly, either.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s