Protection Warrior Quick-Start Guide For WoW Patch 5.4 – Stats, talents and spec, glyphs, rotation, reforging and gems, priorities and tanking strategies

by on August 27, 2012

Come the Siege of Orgrimmer, WoW patch 5.4, warrior tanks are finally getting some much needed DPS buffs; it’s a bit late in the game for them, but they’re still going to be might handy as you dish the pain to Wardouche Garrosh Hellscream. And as luck would have it, the Quick Start Guide is here to help you out without needing you to read War And Peace before your LFR queue pops. So, if you want to know how Protection Warriors work in MoP 5.4, what this Active Mitigation thing is, what our tanking priorities are, what talent spec to use, or how you should choose reforging, gems, or glyphs (and what stats underlie that) – we’ve got you covered.

Updated 17th September 2013 for WoW Patch 5.4

Thanks to Zellviren for this fantastic update to our guide! Much appreciated!

Protection Warrior Changes in WoW Patch 5.4

Riposte is the biggest change. This passive buff converts avoidance from gear into critical strike rating, giving warriors a gearing and playstyle choice to make for the final raid patch of the expansion. Warriors can also now get Enrage procs from Shield Slam and Devastate critical strikes, as well as also receiving substantial damage buffs to Deep Wounds and Thunderclap. Ultimatum now activates from a Shield Slam critical strike and will always be a critical strike and, lastly, Enraged Regeneration and Impending Victory have both had their healing buffed. There’s a lot to love in this patch if you’re playing a Protection warrior.

Protection Tanking “Rotation” and Priorities

There are two parts to our tanking now. Our threat generation, which also generates Rage (yep, we don’t get Rage from being hit any more), and our Active Mitigation, which prevents us from going splat.

Single-target Tanking Threat/Rage

Our single-target priorities are pretty simple.

  • Top Priority: Use Shield Slam if it’s off cooldown. If not, use Revenge if it’s off cooldown. If you’re at maximum Rage, burn some rage before using either of these.
  • Second Priority: Use Thunder Clap if your target isn’t debuffed with Weakened Blows. Use Demoralizing Shout if it’s off cooldown.
  • Third Priority: Use Battle Shout or Commanding Shout if they’re off cooldown – whichever you prefer (see Buffs). Otherwise, use Devastate.

AOE Tanking

  • Top Priority: Use Shield Slam if it’s off cooldown. If not, use Revenge if it’s off cooldown. If you’re at maximum Rage, burn some rage before using either of these.
  • Second Priority: Use Thunder Clap if it’s off cooldown. Use Dragon Roar or Shockwave (depending on your choice) if it’s off cooldown. Use Demoralizing Shout if it’s off cooldown.
  • Third Priority: Use Battle Shout or Commanding Shout if they’re off cooldown – whichever you prefer (see Buffs). Otherwise, use Devastate.

Active Mitigation

You have three abilities that can be used whenever you want (they don’t trigger the Global Cooldown). Use them as often as possible – don’t let your Rage stay at maximum – according to the fight you’re on.

  • If you’re currently taking heavy damage and it’s predominantly physical, use Shield Block.
  • If you’re taking lighter damage, or are predominantly taking magic or Damage over Time damage, use Shield Barrier.
  • DPS Option: Always prioritize Shield Block, as the Glyph of Heavy Repercussions puts a lot more wallop into your Shield Slam. Using rage on Heroic Strike is a waste.

There’s a lot more to Active Mitigation, but this guide should see you through! See the Links section for links to much more detail if you want or need it.


Protection Warriors have a LOT of cooldowns.

  • Last Stand – Use it when you’re about to die, and you’d prefer not to!
  • Shield Wall – Powerful damage reduction cooldown – use it when you’re about to take very heavy damage.
  • Rallying Cry – Increases the health of your whole party or raid. Use it when the entire party is taking heavy damage, or when your raid leader tells you to.
  • Demoralizing Banner – Reduces the damage taken by your whole party or raid. Use it when the entire party is taking heavy damage, or when your raid leader tells you to.
  • Berserker Rage, Recklessness – Use on cooldown or otherwise as often as possible; these are for effectively DPS, and you should only use Recklessness when Riposte is up.


Stay in Defensive Stance. If you’re raiding, coordinate with your Raid Leader as to whether you should be using Battle or Commanding shout.

Protection Warrior Talent Builds

There are no “cookie-cutter” talent builds any more, and we heartily encourage you to try out different talents in different situations.

However, if you want a quick, solid, easy-to-use, general-purpose talent build, we recommend:

  • Tier 1: Juggernaut (just because Double Time is more complicated)
  • Tier 2: Second Wind
  • Tier 3: Disrupting Shout
  • Tier 4: Dragon Roar
  • Tier 5: Safeguard.
  • Tier 6: Bloodbath. Gives you a DPS cooldown.

Stats, reforging and gemming for Protection Warrior

It’s pretty clear at this point that “Control” and Active Mitigation gearing is better in Mists of Pandaria. That means our stats are very different to the old days of Cata and before where we avoided “threat stats”.

Our stat priorities are Hit to cap (7.5% / 2550), Expertise to cap (15% / 5100), then Mastery if you want to be smoother to heal, or avoidance if you want to make the most of Riposte.

Reforging: Reforge for Hit to cap, then Expertise to cap, then Mastery or avoidance. Reforge from excess Hit and Expertise first, then Haste and Crit.
Gems: Use Guardian’s Imperial Amethyst (Stamina/Expertise) gems in red slots unless you’re Expertise capped, in which case use Defender’s Imperial Amethyst (Stamina/Parry gems). Use Fractured Sun’s Radiance (Mastery) or Regal Wild Jade (Stamina/Dodge) yellow gems, and Puissant Wild Jade (Mastery/Stamina) or Regal Wild Jade gems in blue sockets.
Meta Gem: Use the Indomitable Primal Diamond if you’re far enough on with Wrathion, otherwise the Austere Primal Diamond is the best choice.
Getting one- or two-shot? If you’re dying before healers can heal you, you need more Stamina. Gem blue sockets with Stamina gems until it’s no longer a problem.

Prot Warrior Glyphs

Major: Glyph of Heavy Repercussions and Glyph of Hold the Line are mandatory. After that, you should choose from Glyph of Bullrush, Glyph of Unending Rage or Glyph of Death From Above.
Minor: Glyph of Intimidating Shout is useful. Others are your choice and have no effect on your, erm, effectiveness.

Protection Warrior enchants and item enhancements

You should almost always use a profession enhancement item if it provides appropriate stats instead of a general enchant.

  • Shoulders – Greater Ox Horn Inscription
  • Back – Enchant Cloak – Greater Protection
  • Chest – Enchant Chest – Superior Stamina
  • Wrist – Enchant Bracer – Mastery
  • Hands – Enchant Gloves – Superior Mastery
  • Belt – Ebonsteel Belt Buckle
  • Legs – Ironscale Leg Armor
  • Feet – Enchant Boots – Pandaren’s Step
  • Weapon – Enchant Weapon – River’s Song
  • Shield – Enchant Shield – Greater Parry


The Icy Veins guys win the prize for speedy updating, as they’ve already got a 5.4 Prot Warrior guide out there.

  • Icy Veins are threatening to take Elitist Jerks’ crown as the de facto source for detailed theory. They have an extremely detailed guide for Prot Warriors in 5.4 – particularly worth reading for the Active Mitigation discussion.
  • Finally, as a WoW player, you should really check out the latest and greatest from the blogosphere on World of Warcraft, here at the Melting Pot.

If you enjoyed this article, check out our other posts from these categories: Archives

{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Omega August 27, 2012 at 4:35 pm

On Shek’zeer fight, tanks taunted every 36 seconds.

Lets look at prot warrior with 120 rage glyph who’s pooled 120 rage for his taunt. at very least with that 120 rage you have a pool of 12 seconds worth of shield block, you still need to make up 24 more seconds, or 4 more shield blocks.

You taunt, hit shield block dropping to 90 rage, then immediately hit shield slam to regenerate 15 rage back to 105. then revenge, then shield slam or procs or whatever. point being. I pulled this boss 30+ times. ANY pull i did not miss a single revenge or shield slam, based on the pooling of 120, and the factoring of taunt trading, i could keep shield block up the ENTIRETY of the 36 seconds tanked, which was key because she melees like a frigging truck. During ANY pull where shield slam missed, i’d have insufficient rage generation to maintain that 100% up time and take a really hard hit to face that caught healers off big time. Revenge misses if only 1 i could MAYBE counter but shield slam was a bust almost every time unless lucky as hell with procs.

This fight, and other fights in general, where taunts come every 30-40 seconds, coupled with the advantage of non tank time rage pooling, showed me it is possible to calculate and plan for 100% up time on shield block if all your hits connect every time. This to me placed hit/expertise at the highest stat value above all else. Now granted, you hit a boss like lei shi and block is completely useless and irrelevant then, but generally speaking, melee damage was significant. Also bear in mind that in 25 man raids, bosses melee TWICE as hard as 10 man, making block just that much more meaningful to 25 man raider then 10 man. On 10 man, you probably could get away with the hit/expertise irrelevant scheme, but on 25 man, I fully believe it is a non option and key to active mitigation up time to do hit/exp> all

In a situation where you tank 100% of time on a target the scenario may also shift as well since you will lose that buffer that lets you start every taunt with a 12 second lead of rage generation time, so on certain fights other stat priorities may also be stronger as well, but i do believe the majority of encounters are just tank swapping majority of the time. Since warriors have pretty pitiful magic cd (cause lets phase it, barrier was nerfed too hard). I also believe stam is way to go as second stat. If we are doing perfect on our block up time and tank swaps, then we should mitigate melee good enough that our next stat just needs to mitigate everything else (the big nasty breaths, sprays, etc)


Omega August 27, 2012 at 4:41 pm

bah, 60 rage after first block, not 90, but you know what i mean, i had other numbers right (2 blocks with pooled rage).


Omega April 5, 2013 at 8:44 pm

Just updating some comment that 15% exp is pretty much the default now for progression raiding. With shield barrier having no cd at all it’s a strong canidate for spaming as a rage dump. the more rage the more mitigation

also, a very important point to note, if you have 2pc tier 15, you SHOULD be using glyph of victory rush. the procs from the set bonus do count as killing blows and as such it makes the set bonus even more powerful (procs being worth 30% heals instead of 20%)


Zellviren September 24, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Nice work, Hugh/Rebecca, a solid start for any tanking warrior. :)

Couple of links for you, though:

Those are the better two guides to use that I’ve found, and I’d avoid using Matt Rossi as a tanking resource; a lot of his information is questionable and, in some cases, downright bad.

I’d also change the talent recommendations to Double-Time, Second Wind and Shockwave.


andy September 30, 2012 at 3:27 pm

I have found the comments here almost as helpful as the actual guide. thanks to all who have commented and also to hugh for writing the guide. great job on them all.


Hugh Hancock October 1, 2012 at 10:35 am

I agree – we have some ace commenters here, and I’d like to thank them all!


Chase October 3, 2012 at 1:22 am

I for the life of my can’t figure out why someone would choose Dragon Roar over Shockwave. Shockwave does decent aoe damage and stuns your targers for 4 seconds. That 4 seconds can often be a life saver by giving your healer time to heal you, giving you time to finish one off and use impending victory (if you are soloing a group) and has a cooldown of only 20 seconds opposed to the 60 second cooldown of Dragon Roar. Though Dragon Roar does more initial damage and would be the only consideration for choosing it, Shockwave can be used 3 times in the same span of time and ultimately tends to do more overall damage then Dragon Roar. Though true bosses can not be stunned, raids wipe just as often on large pulls of trash that can be stunned and the need for aoe tanking is just as relevant in 5.0 as it ever was.

please, if you see something i didn’t, let me know.


Hugh Hancock October 3, 2012 at 10:29 am

My experience is that most raid wipes occur on raid bosses, not trash, hence the suggestion of Dragon Roar. Last time I checked, DR also simmed higher DPS than Shockwave.

However, I’d agree that this one is a very, very situational choice – once you’re familiar with the talent system, or if you’re in a role which involves dealing with significant amounts of stunnable mobs, Shockwave is an obviously better choice. Pick whichever one fits your role! (And look impressed at Blizzard actually managing to create a truly situation-dependent talent system!)


michael January 2, 2013 at 11:41 am

its not just the dps from dragon roar its the fact if you use all 3 of those shock waves during a boss fight over a dragon roar that’s 3 globals that would have been used for devastate and a possible reset on shield slam where dragon roar is just 1 old comment though so I’m sure you already know this


Dane October 21, 2012 at 6:28 pm

How are we dumping rage? Heroic strike on single target and cleave for AoE tanking?


Hugh Hancock October 22, 2012 at 10:41 am

Yep, that’s correct. Thanks for mentioning that – wasn’t clear enough in the guide, so I’m rewriting.


Jason December 7, 2012 at 3:16 am

PSST: You left out ‘the pull’ section unlike your other tank guides, and got all excited about League of Legends instead ;)


chorne March 7, 2013 at 9:19 am

Why gem for strength?…


Hugh Hancock March 13, 2013 at 10:43 am

Because I hadn’t updated that section :) Whoops. Updated now.


hazy April 5, 2013 at 8:35 pm

15% expertise O_O where do these numbers come from, got 9% exp and ~7% hit and find it as solid as always

to get to 15% expertise you should probably gem into expertise, reforge everything into expertise and use expertise potion :/ any idea?


Zellviren July 31, 2013 at 4:26 pm

Gemming into expertise is fine, assuming you’re using the Guardian’s Imperial Amethyst. The socket bonuses are invariably worth it, and the only other choice is parry… But avoidance sucks until 5.4, so it might be worth seeing where itemization takes you come the patch.


Vicariois Prot Warrior May 3, 2013 at 6:13 am

In my personal experience, shield barrier mitigates more damage over all with high amounts of vengeance and if it is hit every time there is enough rage available to do it(20 rage+). Also to the dragon roar v shockwave debate, I personally prefer dragon roar because of the simple facts that it is only 1 GCD, it, tied together with bloodbath on an aoe pull makes a prot warriors aoe agro reign supreme, and it’s more damage on a boss that shockwaves just won’t do.


Machinelf July 10, 2013 at 10:56 pm

Deadly Calm was removed in MoP


Hugh Hancock July 15, 2013 at 4:53 pm

Thanks! I have done so.


Zellviren July 31, 2013 at 4:24 pm

This guide is looking a bit dated now, Hugh; if you’re holding out for the launch of 5.4, I’d happily draft it for you to save you some time. :)


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