- Author: Nevermore
- Date: August 20, 2022
- Expansion: WotLK Classic
In the world of Azeroth, almost every race can be a disciple of the Warrior path, with a small exception — the Blood Elves.
Thankfully, aside from slight performance-enhancing effects and minor advantage, race does not matter. So, our advice would be, pick whichever looks coolest to you.
Orc is the strongest race you can choose as a Horde Protection Warrior, with the other races significantly weaker. This is primarily because two of their racial benefits are extremely strong, namely, Hardiness, which reduces the duration of crowd control effects, and Axe Specialization, which is quite powerful, since most of the best weapons in the game are axes.
Being the majority of the Horde’s population, it is no surprise that the proud and honorable Orc race holds the highest position when it comes to the Warrior class — probably because of their sturdy, incredibly oversized bodies. Their racial effects grant them higher resistance to crowd control and increased expertise while wielding axes.
- Axe Specialization increases your expertise by 5 when using axes or fist weapons. Throughout your journey, you will find a significant number of great axes, which is what makes this racial so powerful.
- Blood Fury is an on-use spell that increases your Attack Power, scaling with your level. At level 80 it will provide +322 attack power for 15 seconds, on a 2-minute cooldown. It no longer reduces healing received in WotLK, making it a great cooldown for tanks to use early on, helping you build a solid threat lead.
- Hardiness provides you with resistance to crowd control effects, which is better suited for PvP scenarios, but it can also help you during certain PvE encounters. In fact, when you are a tank, this racial effect can really shine in PvE scenarios.
- Command is usually a very powerful racial that can enhance your pet’s damage. Unfortunately, Warriors do not have access to any pets, thus they cannot benefit from this effect.
Taurens are big and beefy (heh, heh), which is why they’re usually associated with tank specs. Unfortunately, their racials aren’t the best, even for tanking. However, they’re still decent, hence their #2 position among Horde races.
- Endurance increases base health by 5%, meaning, your natural health at level 80, without your extra health or stamina from equipment, buffs, etc. Health is an incredibly powerful stat for Protection Warriors (duh), but this bonus just isn’t very major, unfortunately.
- War Stomp gives you an on-use AoE stun with a 2-minute cooldown. While it’s mostly useful in PvP situations, it can also offer a quick crowd control effect — especially potent against caster mobs. Beware: you cannot dodge or parry during the 0.5 seconds you’re casting this spell, so use it only when you aren’t actively tanking a melee mob.
- Nature Resistance reduces the chance you will be hit by Nature spells by 2%. This is a mostly negligible racial for PvE.
- Cultivation increases your starting Herbalism skill by 15. This doesn’t have a gameplay impact besides minor convenience.
Even though, lore-wise, Trolls are extremely resilient creatures, they are better fitted for the role of damage dealers rather than being the first line of defense for their allies.
- Berserking is an on-use spell that offers +20% increased attack speed for 10 seconds, on a 3-minute cooldown. Attack speed isn’t the greatest stat for Protection Warriors, but they will gain a slight benefit from it!
- Beast Slaying increases your damage dealt to Beast-type enemies by 5%, which would be quite powerful. Unfortunately, there aren’t a whole lot of Beasts in Wrath of the Lich King, especially inside raids, making this racial not too impressive in practice.
- Da Voodoo Shuffle passively reduces the duration of movement-slowing and immobilizing effects on you by 15%. While this is more of a PvP racial, it can also occasionally come in handy for tanking in PvE. This can be extremely useful when you are dealing with caster mobs that have slowing spells.
- Regeneration increases health regeneration by 10% and allows you to regenerate health during combat at 10% of your normal regeneration rate. Unfortunately for us, our self-healing effects are classified as “healing” and not as “health regeneration”, so they don’t benefit from this racial, meaning it’s only actually relevant while questing or leveling.
- Bow Specialization and Throwing Specialization increase your critical strike chance with bows and throwing weapons by 1%. While Warriors do benefit from this effect, it won’t provide you with any impactful gameplay change.
Undead are the last available choice for playing a Protection Warrior, utterly outmatched by their Alliance counterpart, Humans.
Unfortunately, Undead have no PvE-relevant racials whatsoever, particularly for tanking. You could choose to go Undead just for the sheer peculiarity of the concept, or because you think they look cool; but, know that you’ll be handicapping your character in the process.
- Will of the Forsaken removes charm, fear, and sleep effects. While this is situational in PvE content, this will be the most beneficial racial for PvP, as it will aid you in mitigating considerable amounts of crowd control. The issue with this racial effect is that it has low applicability in PvE content as you will realistically not encounter the Charm, Fear, and Sleep effects often. You can consider this racial effect to be entirely situational.
- Cannibalize allows you to feast on the corpses of your slain enemies to restore your health. This does not have big implications for PvE content, but does come in handy while doing solo content.
- Shadow Resistance reduces the chance of being hit by Shadow spells by 2%. This is a mostly negligible racial when it comes to PvE.
- Underwater Breathing helps you survive for a very long time underwater. Most raids are, unfortunately, above water.
Human is the strongest option for Alliance Protection Warriors, thanks to their Sword Specialization and Mace Specialization, which increase their expertise by 3 when using these weapons. Every Man for Himself is also an excellent racial effect, especially for PvP.
There is no other race from the Alliance that can show as much discipline and compatibility with the Warrior path than Humans. They are in the first spot when it comes to Protection Warriors, having powerful racial effects that enhance their weapon expertise while also enjoying other powerful quality-of-life effects.
- Sword Specialization and Mace Specialization increase your expertise by 3 when using swords or maces. This is lower than the 5 expertise that other races get with equivalent racials, but you have more versatility in picking different weapon types, while other races are generally forced into one.
- Every Man for Himself is a crowd-control removal ability, just like the one the Undead race has, but with universal applicability. It is practical in PvE scenarios, but has much more use in a PvP encounter, where Humans are typically considered to be the strongest race in the game.
- Perception passively increases your stealth detection level by a small amount. Since there aren’t a lot of stealthed mobs in PvE, this benefit is largely not too useful.
- Diplomacy increases the rate at which you gain reputation by 10%, a major boost for your reputation grind. While a beneficial quality-of-life racial, it doesn’t impact actual gameplay.
- The Human Spirit increases your Spirit by 3%. This is, unfortunately, nearly useless for Warriors.
Powerful and extremely resilient, Dwarves have practiced the art of war in the valley of Khaz Modan for many generations, training ever deep in the halls of Ironforge.
Seen as the second best option for playing a Protection Warrior, Dwarves come with two strong racial effects that greatly enhance your gameplay, while also having a gimmick-type of an effect.
- Mace Specialization increases your expertise by 5 when using maces. Most of the strongest weapons you will be able to use tend to be axes and swords, making this racial better on paper than it is in reality. Regardless, it is incredibly powerful if you are using maces.
- Stoneform is an on-use spell that gives you +10% increased armor for 8 seconds, on a 2-minute cooldown. For a Protection Warrior, this racial effect is extremely powerful, especially since it also gives you a small offensive boost, thanks to the Armored to the Teeth talent.
- Frost Resistance reduces the chance you will be hit by Frost spells by 2%. This racial isn’t used much when it comes to PvE.
- Find Treasure is a very cool racial from a roleplay point of view, allowing you to see treasure on the minimap. This is very fun to use while questing and leveling up, but it, sadly, has 0 relevance in raids.
- Gun Specialization increases your critical strike chance with guns by 1%. This racial effect can be useful, especially early in the expansion, nevertheless, it won’t truly impact your gameplay.
Ancient and enigmatic, Draenei have had a long history of fighting several wars with the Orcish race, resulting in fairly strong Protection Warriors. They possess two powerful racial effects, one of them allowing them and their allies to min-max their stats more effectively, while the other provides them with a much-needed sustain tool.
- Heroic Presence increases the chance to hit with spells and physical attacks by 1% for you and all party members within 30 yards. Every single DPS group will want to have at least 1 Draenei because of this effective buff, meaning, your raid needs 5 Draenei in total. However, those 5 Draenei will ideally be casters or healers, as they don’t gain much of a benefit from any of the other races.
- Gift of the Naaru places a heal-over-time effect on a single target that lasts 15 seconds, with a 3-minute cooldown. You cannot parry or dodge while casting; however, compared to the TBC era, this spell is now an instant-cast, usable even while tanking. Moreover, the heal amount scales with your attack power, which means that it scales perfectly well with a Protection Warrior!
- Shadow Resistance reduces the chance you will be hit by Shadow spells by 2%. This is a mostly negligible racial when it comes to PvE.
- Gemcutting increases your initial Jewelcrafting skill by 5. This doesn’t have a gameplay impact besides minor convenience.
For an entire civilization that prides itself on a powerful matriarchal military, Night Elves, disappointingly quickly, prove themselves to be terrible Protection Warriors. Their racials are extremely weak for damage mitigation, with only one racial effect that shows some potential.
- Quickness reduces the chance you’ll be hit by melee and ranged attacks by 2%. This effect is surprisingly nifty, helping patch up your defensive stats early on. Nonetheless, its value diminishes dramatically after your gear has become good enough that you are naturally immune to critical strikes — it’ll simply be better to go Dwarf if a defensive boost is what you’re after.
- Nature Resistance reduces the chance you will be hit by Nature spells by 2%. This is mostly a negligible racial for PvE.
- Shadowmeld can be used in order to escape combat and become stealthed once every 2 minutes. It will also cause you to drop all threat on every target you’re currently engaged in combat with, but all threat will be restored the moment you leave stealth — which will happen the moment you move or take any action. The moment you use it, the boss will turn around and kill a random DPS player, meaning its only value comes from trolling your raid — and, if that’s your plan, you might as well pick a Night Elf.
- Elusiveness reduces the chance to be detected if you are stealthed. The only way to go stealth as a Warrior is through Shadowmeld, making this racial irrelevant in PvE content.
- Wisp Spirit increases your movement speed by 75% while dead. You generally don’t want to be dead.
Gnomes are, without a doubt, the weakest race for an Alliance Protection Warrior. However, you can choose to pursue the path of a Warrior for the simple hilarious aesthetic of having a very small creature deflect and block every single attack of multiple massive and monstrous creatures. Trust us on this one: ignore the comments listed below and follow your dreams as a Gnome tank.
- Escape Artist instantly removes all movement-slowing and immobilizing effects on a 1-minute cooldown. While this can occasionally be useful in PvE, it’s generally better in PvP (where Humans are far better anyway), so this is overall not amazing.
- Engineering Specialization increases your initial Engineering skill by 15. This is slightly more useful than other profession-boosting racials, as Engineering has guardian-type summoned pets which scale with your Engineering skill. This racial makes your summoned pets level 83, which makes them a decent bit stronger, but as there aren’t many useful guardians, this racial isn’t really groundbreaking.
- Arcane Resistance reduces the chance of you being hit by Arcane spells by 2%. This is mostly a negligible racial for PvE.
- Expansive Mind increases your total Intellect by 5%. Warriors do not gain any benefit out of Intellect, and if you actually picked a Gnome Warrior, then it’s probably for the best that you lack the intellectual capacity to think more about it anyway.
Race is so wrong. Dwarf have racial Stoneform 10% more armor on 8 sec, that is amezing for tanking. For tanking reduce of stun fear, charm is 0 in raids, only for dungeons what is unimportant. So Horda Tauren 100%, he have war stomp, good for bosses with adds like LK and Lady. Plus tauren have 5% more HP, like 500-600 more then any other. So race here is more for PVP written not for PVE tank
So far the issue in Wrath is very rarely the survivability of your tank, and the extra expertise from being Human or Orc can be a significant boost to threat generation, opening up alternative gearing options.
Of course, your choice of race as a tank is actually not going to matter very much and you can tank all content as any race.
If we break it down by phase, we’ll see the following BiS weapons:
#1 – Last Laugh (As an axe, Humans see absolutely no benefit from using this)
#2 – Sorthalis, Hammer of the Watchers (As a mace, Orcs see absolutely no benefit from using this)
Judging the “best races” based on the additional expertise is not the best way to go about it since in Phase 1, Humans didn’t benefit from anything in terms of BiS gear, and in Phase 2, Orcs don’t benefit from anything.
In Phase 3 onward, we’re likely to see a much more diverse choice of weaponry on Warrior tanks since the rest of our gear will already have too much Defense on it, so we’ll be free to choose DPS weapons instead (Granted, most guilds won’t jump at that, but it is possible) However, if we’re looking solely at BiS tanking weapons:
#3 – Orgrim’s Deflector or Silverwing Defender (Both are swords, and thus, Orcs receive zero benefit)
#4 and #5 – At face value, we’ll see both Mithrios, Bronzebeard’s Legacy and Troggbane, Axe of the Frostborne King, granting both races a viable choice that is dependent on their race – however, the mace provides a minimum of 8 Expertise, while the axe would only provide 5 to Orcs, making the mace remain the better choice. So, realistically, Orcs don’t benefit again.
Just as a note…
“Unfortunately, Undead have no PvE-relevant racials whatsoever, particularly for tanking.”
“This will be the most beneficial racial for PvE, as it will help mitigate certain raid mechanics.”
Ignoring personal preference, how would one pick the absolute best race for Warrior tanks?
Based purely on racials, there’s only one that is not situational – Endurance.
“So far the issue in Wrath is very rarely the survivability of your tank…”
Umm…what? You’re screwing with me, right?
Hey! I do agree with the reasoning that depending on the phase itself, some racial effects will not be as beneficial since the actual BiS may not work with the racial itself. However, that doesn’t mean it won’t be beneficial throughout the progression of said phase. It all comes down to overall optimization.
In regards to the Undead Racial, that is a typo that I am thankful that you pointed out. Once again, I do continuously update the guides and try to reply to comments as best as I can. It does depend on my schedule as well so I do apologize if it does take considerable time.
When we’re looking at a “Best Races” guide, we’re not looking at progression – basing “best” of anything guides on progression is inherently risky because everyone progresses in different ways, and at different rates.
If we WERE looking at this in terms of progression, though, we wouldn’t come to the conclusion that Orcs/Humans are the best choices.
The same applies to overall optimization – the main driving force behind claiming either of these are the best race is the additional expertise they receive for wielding an appropriate weapon, and since Orcs got shafted with the release of Phase 2 in terms of BiS gear, the optimal choice would be to play another race.