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

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 [guideupdated] for WoW Patch [patchnumber]

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

Protection Warrior Changes in WoW Patch [patchnumber]

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.
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Patch 4.3 Protection Warrior Guide – Stats, talent spec, glyphs, reforging and gems, priorities and tanking strategies

Protection Warriors – the first, the greatest tanks. If you’ve got a shield, you’ve got a sword, and you’re about to persuade something taller than a small office block that it wants to try to pound your face in, we salute you. So, welcome to Patch 4.3, where you’re going to be waving a shield around and shouting at things with lots of apostrophes in their na’mes. Erm, I mean, names. So, here’s a quick-start guide to protection warrior tanking in Patch 4.3, including talent specs, glyphs, gems, reforging and stats, and tanking mechanics and rotations. Now you’ll be able to get to the insulting gods, greater elementals, and stray Deathwing body parts bit of your job faster!

Updated 11th May 2012

Protection Warrior changes in Patch 4.3

This one’s quick – there aren’t any, except for the global Melee DPS buff, which will also affect you.

The 2-piece Tier 13 set bonus, which makes Revenge also give you a damage shield, doesn’t appear to do a lot of mitigation – however, if you want to squeeze out every last ounce of mitigation, you could use Revenge as top priority once you have it, after you have established solid threat. It’s not going to be a game-changer either way.

The 4-piece T13 set bonus is fantastic, and changes your cooldowns – if you have it, remember, you have TWO raid-affecting damage reduction cooldowns.

Prot tanking “rotation”

No, of course we don’t have an actual “rotation” – instead, we have a couple of different priority lists. Use the highest ability on your priority list that is currently available.

Single-target tanking

  • Top Priority Use Shield Block if it’s off cooldown. Use Shield Slam if it’s available.
  • Second Priority Use Revenge if it’s available. Use Rend if it’s not currently on the target.
  • Third Priority Use Devastate. Use Heroic Strike if your Rage is over 60.

Multi-target tanking

  • Top Priority Use Rend if it’s not currently on your target.
  • Second Priority Use Thunderclap if it’s available, and Shockwave if it’s not, but Shockwave is available.
  • Third Priority Use Revenge if it’s available, Inner Rage if it’s available and Cleave if your Rage is above 60.

Inner Rage is technically only useful if you have enough Rage for the additional Cleaves it generates, but with a 30 sec CD and a 15 sec duration, it’s basically worth spamming it whenever it’s up if you have nothing more important to do.

Buffs: Use Commanding Shout, make sure you’re in Defensive Stance.

The Pull: Use Commanding Shout, then Charge, and either Shield Block followed by Shield Slam on single-target or Rend followed by Thunderclap on multi-target. On a boss, use Heroic Throw before Charge to gain more threat.

Cooldowns: You’ve got 4 cooldowns: Shield Wall, Last Stand, Enraged Regeneration and Rallying Cry. Last Stand and Rallying Cry share a cooldown – do remember you can use Rallying Cry to save anyone, not just yourself! Save them for tight spots. Enraged Regeneration works well with Last Stand – you’ll get more health back if using it under Last Stand.

Mobility: Protection Warriors are the most mobile tanks. Remember you have Heroic Leap, Charge AND Intervene – in particular, using Intervene can be a make-or-break for the party. Remember you can also use these to get away from damage if needed for a few seconds.

Interrupts: If an ability can be reflected, use Spell Reflect rather than an interrupt. Remember that a lot of your abilities can be used as interrupts – not just Pummel, but also Shockwave, Concussive Blow, Charge, and Heroic Throw.


Protection Warrior Talent Spec

Protection warriors have a lot of optional talent points resulting in significantly different builds for different roles.

This is a good basic Protection talent spec for 4.3 dungeons and AOE tanking.

This is a good basic Protection talent spec for 4.3 single-target tanking. Note that the AOE rotation skips Rend with this talent tree, because you don’t have the Blood and Thunder talent.

Stats, reforging and gemming for Protection

Mastery is probably our most important stat – whilst Stamina is also nice, we’re no longer in WoTLK, and high HP totals aren’t everything. If you are starting out tanking at 85, or if you are getting one-shot by bosses, prioritise Stamina – otherwise, Mastery is best.

After Mastery, Dodge and Parry should be roughly equal and are the second most important stats.

If you’re having threat problems, which is unlikely, Expertise and then Hit to cap (aim for 8% hit and 26 Expertise) are our best threat stats.

Reforging: Reforge everything you possibly can to Mastery, threat stats first. After that, reforge to Parry or Dodge unless you are having threat problems. Reforge Haste and Crit first, then Hit and Expertise, then Parry and Dodge to Mastery only.

Gems: Everything With Mastery!. If a single non-Yellow socket can give you +20 to Mastery, Dodge or Parry, use a combination gem – Puissant Dream Emerald for Blue sockets, and Fine Ember Topaz for Red sockets. Otherwise, use Fractured Amberjewel.

Meta Gem: Austere Shadowspirit Diamond. Needs Yellow gems, so no problem there.

If you’re getting one-shot: If bosses are killing you before healers get a chance to react, try re-gemming some of your sockets – preferably blue sockets – to Stamina until you have a high enough health pool to take a few hits.

Combat Table Coverage: If the total of your parry, block and dodge are above 102.4%, start reforging out of Mastery and into Parry and Dodge (aiming to keep Parry 1% higher than Dodge). Commenter “Ysosrs”, below, has some excellent further advice on this.

Protection Warrior Enchants

You should almost always use a profession enhancement item if it provides appropriate stats instead of a general enchant – Inscription of the Earth Prince on shoulders from Inscription, for example.

Head Arcanum of the Earthen Ring
Shoulders   Greater Inscription of Unbreakable Quartz
Back Enchant Cloak – Protection
Chest Enchant Chest – Greater Stamina – not Peerless Stats!
Wrist Enchant Bracer – Superior Dodge
Hands Enchant Gloves – Greater Mastery
Belt Ebonsteel Belt Buckle
Legs Drakehide Leg Armor
Feet Enchant Boots – Lavawalker (or Earthen Vitality if your Stamina is very low)
Weapon Enchant Weapon – Windwalk
Shield Enchant Shield – Mastery

Prot Warrior Glyphs

Prime: Shield Slam, Revenge, Devastate

Major: Shockwave, Thunder Clap and Cleave are good – choose other Major glyphs if they look more useful for your playing style, though. Don’t use Victory Rush or Intervene.

Minor: Demoralising Shout, Intimidating Shout, and one other of your choice.

Guides are a bit thin on the ground for Prot Warriors.

You also might find the rest of MMO Melting Pot interesting – we look for the best articles about WoW and other MMOs and deliver them straight to you. Check out the latest articles.

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