The mighty warrior wielding a weapon and shield makes for the best tank class in all of WoW Classic. Tanking is certainly the toughest and most-demanding role in the game, but the warrior class makes this role much easier. With excellent threat generation and top-notch survivability, protection warriors are always in high demand.
Tanking is a role that requires several hours of practice and experience to truly master, but this guide can help you understand the basics behind playing and optimizing a protection warrior!
There are plenty of things you might want to know when it comes to a protection warrior. Things like your race choice, talent tree options, and even stat priorities! You’ll definitely also need the help of enchants, consumables, and even professions to help you stay alive longer.
We’ll also cover what your rotation should look like, including how to pull enemies and hold threat. Between staying alive, grabbing any new enemies, and holding threat, tank warriors certainly have many responsibilities to juggle. This gives plenty of opportunities for error, but it also gives you a great chance to shine!
Best Races for Warriors
Unlike any other class, warriors actually have the option of being played by any race in the game! If it weren’t for racial abilities, you’d be able to choose your race based solely off which you like the most. Instead, there are distinct leaders when it comes to race for protection warriors. If you need a refresher of the racial abilities each race has, take a look here. Otherwise, take a look below to see the best race for each faction!
When choosing a race for a protection warrior, the most important factor for raid situations is threat generation. Racial abilities that increase damage indirectly boost threat generation, which makes damage based racial abilities very valuable. Night elves aren’t an awful choice as they have Quickness, offering +1% dodge, but lack anything outside of that. Alternatively, you can try a dwarf to use Stoneform, giving +10% armor and immunity to bleed, poison, and disease effects for 8 seconds.
While night elves and dwarves are decent choices, humans are actually the best choice. Humans have a passive boost to their sword and mace skills, which results in better threat generation. This does mean that you’ll need to prioritize wielding a sword or mace in order to benefit from this racial passive.
When it comes to picking a Horde protection warrior race, the argument of which race is best becomes much more controversial. All four races offer valuable racial abilities that have great situational benefits.
Arguably the least helpful race are orcs, as Blood Fury actually reduces incoming heals by half for a whopping 25 seconds despite boosting attack power by 25%. They also have access to Axe Specialization for a passive boost with axes, but none of the better end-game weapons are axes.
After orcs, undead are probably just above them. Their racial ability, Will of the Forsaken, grants immunity to charm, fear, and sleep while also removing any of those effects. This isn’t as useful for a warrior because Berserker Rage almost does the same thing, but Cannibalize may be situationally useful for extra healing if humanoids are around.
This makes the true best horde race a debate between tauren and trolls. Tauren have a passive +5% health bonus from Endurance, while also having an area-of-effect stun lasting 2 seconds with War Stomp.
Some prefer trolls because of the threat generation from Berserking, which offers between 10-30% attack speed depending upon how much health you’re missing. As tanks are always taking damage, this gives a troll protection warrior excellent opportunities to receive the full 30% attack speed bonus. This lets you generate a large amount of threat in a short time frame, useful for fights like Onyxia.
Prot Warrior Talent Builds
When it comes to talents for a protection warrior, you’ll obviously spend most of your points in the protection tree. There are two distinct paths you can take as a protection warrior, one that focuses on survivability, and another that will provide you with more damage, resulting in better threat generation. Your talent choice will ultimately depend on your gear, skill, and comfort level, but a build for survivability is often a safe choice and good for those new to tanking.
While the talent trees shown below are recommendations, you can swap points around as you see fit. Your tanking experience is unique to you, so what you need may be different from another tank.
This build is great for protection warriors that are lacking good gear. This offers you several key protection talents, while also including key threat generating abilities. This build is also good for running dungeons, benefiting from a reduced cost for Thunder Clap. One thing you’ll notice is only a single point in Improved Shield Block, which is because only one point is required to block an additional attack, with any extra points only extending the duration.
This is a good starting point if you have decent gear and need to focus on threat generation. There are several points that can be swapped around, most notably the 3 in the fury tree. You can easily put more points into Deflection if you need more survivability, or even Improved Thunder Clap for better area-of-effect threat generation. The damage from Deep Wounds and Impale are what make this build so effective and building and maintaining threat throughout a lengthy boss encounter.
While damage dealers must optimize their character with the intention of boosting their damage, protection warriors have more of a focus on survivability. This makes optimizing a tank warrior quite different from a DPS warrior, but some basic concepts still remain true.
Minor enhancements and boosts may seem insignificant, but when they are all combined together, they noticeably improve your performance. If you’ve ever noticed you have a tough time staying alive and you haven’t optimized yet, that’s likely why.
One nice thing about protection warriors in raiding guilds is the guild understand the difficult protection warriors have at farming materials for consumables. Because of this, they’ll often fund and supply consumables for their tank. Without a guild to help you, you might have a better time farming for materials on a different character.
Prot Warrior Stat Priority
Before you even start picking out enchants and consumables, you’ll want to know what stats matter for a protection warrior. These are primarily defensive, but your stat priorities will likely shift towards offensive stats once you acquire better gear. There are several benchmarks you need to hit, after which you can focus on other stats for a better rounded performance.
Considering all those concepts, here are stat priorities for a tank warrior:
- Defense Cap of 440 – As a protection warrior, you must acquire enough defense to reach the “cap”. The cap isn’t actually a limit, but actually represents the figure needed to avoid being critically hit by bosses. Without being at the defense cap, you cannot reliably predict damage output, which makes you a risky choice of tank. Defense also boosts your parry, block, and dodge, all of which make up the avoidance stat.
- Stamina (until 4000 health) – Stamina is a fairly straightforward stat. You actually only need enough to reach around 4000 health, after which you won’t benefit from having a larger health pool. At that point, more avoidance or better threat should be the focus. If you’re struggling to stay alive with 4000 health, having a few hundred more won’t help.
- Block Value/Chance – Protection warriors use a one-handed weapon and shield to protect their allies. Their use of a shield comes with two stats, block value and block chance. Like their name suggests, block value affects how much damage your shield will block, while block chance affects how often that happens. Both values aren’t common to come by, but can go a long distance in helping you stay alive.
- Armor – While you won’t ever prioritize armor, the value it adds certainly speaks for itself. Armor reduces the damage that attacks deal to you, which directly increases the effectiveness of your health pool. The more armor you have, the better!
- Parry/Dodge – Two key stats you should also keep an eye on are parry and dodge. In combination with block, these stats make up avoidance. When being attacked by an enemy, you have the chance to block, parry, or dodge these attacks. Completely avoiding an attack is much better than taking reduced damage from one, but it is hard to get avoidance values to a number high enough to consistently rely on it.
- Strength – Most gear you find will also have strength on it. Not only does strength boost the power of your attacks, but it also gives you a slight boost to the value of your shield block. This makes it double as effective, and even more valuable if you already have good gear. If you’re using a threat generation talent build, strength and crit will quickly top your list assuming you meet defense and health requirements.
- Agility – Agility is also fairly useful, but not as much as any other stats already listed. Agility boosts a protection warrior’s armor and their dodge chance. This becomes especially useful in a threat build.
- Critical Strike – Similar to strength and agility, you’ll become a big fan of critical strike if you need to build threat. The more damage an ability does, the more threat it generates. That means that critical strikes generate more threat! What’s not to love?
- Others – With so many stats in the game, there are plenty that benefit protection warriors. You likely won’t have any room leftover to prioritize them though, so it is much easier to just focus on the ones listed above!
While it might not seem like a priority initially, protection warriors also need to concern themselves with weapon skill. Every weapon type in the game has a corresponding skill level, broken down even more into one and two-handed variants.
The main concern with weapon skill is usually reduced damage, but this has double the effect for a tank warrior. Not only are you dealing reduced damage with a low weapon skill level, but you’re also generating less threat because of it. This makes weapon skill level a necessity for generating threat!
In addition to helping you hit and ensure maximum damage, each weapon skill point gives you:
- 0.04% reduced chance to miss.
- 0.04% reduced chance of opponent blocking attack.
- 0.04% reduced chance of opponent parrying attack.
- 0.04% reduced chance of opponent dodging attack.
- 0.04% increased critical strike chance.
Best Professions for a Tank
Unlike DPS warriors, professions play much more of a role for a protection warrior. This is mainly because tanks benefit greatly from utility based professions and crafted items. Engineering is an absolute necessity for a good protection warrior, offering great ways of collecting quick area-of-effect threat. You can choose anything else to pair with it, but you’ll benefit most from mining or enchanting.
Here are the professions you’ll benefit from as a tank warrior:
- Engineering – The engineering profession is essential to fully maximize your tanking capabilities. This is mainly due to the use of Goblin Sapper Charge, which is great for quickly generating threat on a large number of enemies. You’ll also gain access to the Force Reactive Disk, a shield that is fantastic for generating and maintaining area-of-effect threat.
- Mining – To pair with engineering, mining is a natural combination. Not only can you gather most of the materials you’ll need to level engineering through mining, but you can also stockpile ore to have a blacksmith craft weapons and armor for you.
- Enchanting – If you want another crafting profession, then enchanting is a great choice. Being able to disenchant and collect your own enchanting materials goes a long way in actually acquiring enchants.
Enchants you’ll need as a protection warrior are quite different from a DPS warrior. You’ll notice that many armor slots include options, as you might need a few extra defense points to reach 440. Swapping out an enchant for a Core Armor Kit is one way of keeping your gear setup without sacrificing your defense cap. Combining all these enchants is a great way to ensure you’re well on your way to optimization!
Here are the best enchants to have as a tank warrior:
- Helm – Lesser Arcanum of Constitution, +100 Health or Arcanum of Protection, +1% Dodge
- Cloak – Superior Defense, +70 Armor or Lesser Agility, +3 Agility
- Chest – Greater Stats, +4 All Stats or Core Armor Kit, +3 Defense
- Bracers – Greater Stamina, +7 Stamina or Deflection, +3 Defense
- Gloves – Greater Agility, +7 Agility or Core Armor Kit, +3 Defense
- Pants – Lesser Arcanum of Constitution, +100 Health or Arcanum of Protection, +1% Dodge
- Boots – Greater Stamina, +7 Stamina or Core Armor Kit, +3 Defense
- Weapon – Crusader, Chance on Hit to Give +100 Strength and a Minor Heal
- Shield – Lesser Block, +2% Blocking or Greater Stamina, +7 Stamina
The use of consumables also play a huge role in helping you mitigate damage and survive longer as a protection warrior. There are several consumables available to you as a tank, but that doesn’t mean you need all of them. The more you do use, the better off you’ll be. Hopefully your guild is assisting you with gathering and/or crafting these consumables, leaving only soulbound consumables for you to acquire.
Here are the most helpful consumables you’ll need as a tank warrior:
- Elixirs – Just like DPS warriors, you’ll want Elixir of the Mongoose, which gives you +25 agility and +2% critical hit chance. You’ll also want Elixir of Superior Defense, which will add 450 armor!
- Flasks – A flask is almost essential for any tank class. You’ll want Flask of the Titans, which adds a whole +1200 health for 2 hours. If you have 4000 health already, this will put you well over 5000 not counting any other bonuses.
- Potions – Tanks have two good options when it comes to potions. You can use Greater Stoneshield Potion for +2000 armor for 2 whole minutes, or you can also use Major Healing Potion for roughly a 1500HP heal in case of emergency.
- Food – If you have access to them, Dirge’s Kickin’ Chimaerok Chops are great for +25 stamina. Alternatively, Smoked Desert Dumplings will give you +20 strength.
- Juju – In addition to damage-based jujus [Juju Might (+40 Attack Power for 10 minutes), Juju Flurry (+3% Attack Speed for 20 seconds, 60 second cooldown), and Juju Power (+30 Strength for 30 minutes)], tank warriors also benefit from Juju Escape (+5% Dodge for 10 seconds).
- Crystal – Another interesting consumable for tanks are crystals gained from Un’Goro Crater power crystal quests. You can use Crystal Ward for +200 Armor for 30 minutes and Crystal Spire to help gain area-of-effect threat by dealing 12 damage to attackers for 10 minutes. Both of these are soulbound, meaning you’ll need to go and collect them yourself!
- Others – If you happen to run into any, Scroll of Protection IV will add +240 Armor for 30 minutes. Unfortunately they’re uncommon drops from monsters and chests. You can also use Spirit of Zanza for +50 Stamina and Spirit for 2 hours once Zul’Gurub is unlocked.
Rotation & Gameplay Tips
As a protection warrior, your ultimate goal is to direct all threat towards yourself. You’ll soak all the hits for your allies, relying on your healers to keep you alive. You’ll need to make use of all your abilities and defensive cooldowns in order to successfully tank.
When considering a protection warrior, there are two main things you’ll need to understand. You’ll need to know the rotation you’ll use to build and hold threat, while also understanding how to make use of your abilities to stay alive.
Don’t be afraid to use Last Stand if you’re in a dangerous situation. It will boost your max health by 30% for 20 seconds on a 10 minute cooldown. This is an excellent niche ability that can help give your healer a few extra seconds to cast a heal to keep you alive. Alternatively, Shield Wall is a giant emergency option that will reduce all damage taken by 75% for 10 seconds, but it does have a 30 minute cooldown.
Make sure to always stay in Defensive Stance to increase your threat generation. Another tip some protection warriors may not know is that Battle Shout actually generates more threat than Thunder Clap, making it a good choice for area-of-effect threat generation.
Protection warriors naturally build a lot of threat, but also have several useful abilities to help generate it. They have a traditional Taunt, but they also have Challenging Shout, which taunts multiple nearby enemies. If all else fails, you can also switch to Battle Stance to cast Mocking Blow. In theory, you should never have problems with threat as a protection warrior.
Proper tanking begins before you even enter combat. In order to start a fight off on the right foot, you’ll need to have all enemies attacking you.
If you’re pulling by yourself, the best way to do so is by using a ranged weapon to pull rather than charging right in. This will allow you space to move and will prevent you from accidentally pulling other groups.
Whoever initially gathers threat by pulling will be the target of all enemies in a group. If a different party member pulls, you’ll need to actively build threat on all enemies for them to switch onto attacking you. This makes it easiest just for you to pull enemies at all times.
Once you’ve successfully begun a pull, you now need to put your rotation into play. You should start with Shield Block, which will almost certainly guarantee a blocked attack. After casting Shield Block, use Berserker Rage. Generating rage also builds threat, so this is an effective way of quickly building area-of-effect threat.
Use Shield Slam on cooldown to generate threat and deal high damage. At this point, you should’ve blocked an attack, which will enable use of Revenge. Use Revenge on cooldown and whenever it is available. If Revenge is unavailable, use Shield Block to block another attack to enable it. When both Revenge and Shield Block are unavailable or on cooldown, use Sunder Armor twice on your primary target.
That constitutes the bulk of the protection rotation, but the last part of it depends upon the combat situation. If it is a single target fight, you’ll continue to prioritize Shield Slam, then Revenge, and then max stacks of Sunder Armor. If the target is still alive after that, you can use Heroic Strike.
If you’re in a multiple target fight, things are quite different. Instead of worrying about capping Sunder Armor stacks, you’ll instead want to generate area-of-effect threat. Your first course of action should be to use Demoralizing Shout. Not only will DS reduce damage you take from nearby enemies, but it will also generate a good amount of threat. You can now dump excess rage using Thunder Clap or Battle Shout. Technically BS generates better threat at half the rage cost, but it doesn’t deal damage. If you find yourself with excess rage at this point, you can use Cleave for extra threat.
One of the most important jobs any tank has is to maintain threat. Protection warriors probably have this the easiest, considering how many of their abilities generate threat and their multiple taunt abilities. If you follow the rotation and prioritize the proper abilities, you should have no issue building and holding threat.
To immediately pull single target threat, you can use Taunt or Mocking Blow in Battle Stance. For area-of-effect threat, you can use Challenging Shout. Outside of these abilities, you’ll need to build and maintain threat, which should naturally occur through proper prioritization of your abilities. Once protection warriors start to accumulate good gear, threat generation becomes even easier, which makes the class an absolute blast to play! Tanking is a complex and difficult role within WoW Classic, but successful mastery will result in a very rewarding experience!