PvE Protection Warrior Tank Rotations & Cooldowns

wotlk pve pve protection warrior tank rotations & cooldowns

Protection Warriors don’t actually have a typical “standard rotation,” but rather a priority list of abilities they should use! This is mainly because most of their abilities have similar cooldowns, overlapping each other.

Simple Rotation

Abilities Overview

  • Devastate is one of your most beneficial abilities, allowing you to generate threat while also applying your most powerful utility debuff to your target. This ability becomes more powerful after each application of Sunder Armor. You will generally want to use this ability at the beginning of a fight and stack Sunder Armor as soon as possible!
  • Concussion Blow is a great crowd control tool that will stun your target for 5 seconds while also inflicting damage. This ability is best used on raid adds or throughout dungeons, as raid bosses cannot be stunned!
  • Heroic Strike is one of our core bread-and-butter abilities. It inflicts high threat and moderate to high amounts of damage while also benefiting from not being affected by GCD. A good Protection Warrior will manage to use this ability constantly!
  • Charge is your main initiation tool! It allows you rapidly reach your target while also providing a 1.5-second stun. This ability is absolutely amazing for both initiation and overall mobility, all thanks to the Juggernaut talent!
  • Intercept allows you to “charge” an enemy, damaging them and stunning them for 3 seconds. Thanks to the Juggernaut talent, we can use this ability even in Defensive Stance! This ability is great for both crowd control and mobility.
  • Shield Slam is one of our core abilities, being heavily influenced by our block value. This ability also dispels 1 magic effect from the target while generating high amounts of threat. Shield Slam is the only ability in our arsenal influenced by a proc, which means you can cast it multiple times in a row, as long as the proc keeps happening!
  • Heroic Throw allows you to throw your mighty weapon at the enemy, generating a high amount of threat. This ability is not impacted by GCD, so feel free to use it at the beginning of an encounter together with charge, or even later with your other abilities — all without suffering any penalty to your rotation!
  • Revenge is an ability that allows you to generate high threat while also dealing high damage to a target. However, it requires a prerequisite in order to be used. Revenge is your most powerful offensive ability, besides Devastate!
  • Shockwave allows you to crowd control massive amounts of enemies at the same time! This ability is best used for AoE combat, as it has little use in single-target fights.
  • Mocking Blow is one of our three taunt abilities, allowing you to deal moderate damage and threat while also forcing your target to attack you for 6 seconds.
  • Thunder Clap is one of our most useful offensive abilities that can also afflict a large number of enemies with a rather nasty debuff. This ability is extraordinary, whether we talk about single-target fights or AoE fights, as it can reduce your opponent’s attack speed by 22%.
  • Cleave is your main AoE spammable ability, which allows you to attack two opponents at the same time. This ability can be even further enhanced by a glyph. Keep in mind that this ability is not subject to GCD, thus making it available to be used at the same time with any of your other offensive abilities!
  • Enraged Regeneration is the only regeneration ability in your arsenal. However, it allows to recuperate up to 30% of your max health over 10 seconds! This effect requires an enrage effect to work.
    • You have two choices when it comes to using this ability — you can either keep it for situations where your healers will become OOM, or you can use it in tacky situations where your healers are not doing their best job. This ability is extremely good for solo content.
  • Shield Wall is a long cooldown ability that can reduce all incoming damage by 60% for 12 seconds. Thankfully, we can severely reduce its cooldown with our talents and a special glyph, with the penalty of reducing the damage reduction by 20%. This ability is best kept for dangerous boss abilities or enrage situations.
  • Last Stand can increase your total health pool by 30% for 20 seconds. However, after its effect expires, the bonus health will be lost. This ability is best used in combination with other defensive abilities. On the other hand, it can become a lifesaver even on its own, depending entirely on the situation you find yourself in.
  • Shield Block is by far the best defensive ability in your entire arsenal, having a low cooldown. It allows you to increase your block chance and block value by 100% for 10 seconds — this means that you will have this ability available for you every 50 seconds! You can use this ability in conjunction with a large number of your abilities, with the added benefit of severely improving Shield Slam.
  • Spell Reflection allows you to reflect the next spell cast against you in the next 5 seconds after its activation. You can further enhance this ability through your talents, providing the same effect to your entire party! This spell is extremely beneficial against caster mobs or bosses.
  • Taunt, as the name implies, allows you to force a target to attack you. This ability has a long cast range, which makes it possible to taunt enemies from far away! This ability is generally used for either picking off enemies from afar, or for switching aggro with your main-tank/off-tank.
  • Sunder Armor is the most important utility ability in your arsenal, allowing you to massively reduce your enemy’s armor. You can stack this ability up to 5 times, reducing a total of 20% armor on the target! As a Protection Warrior, applying this ability is easier than with any other Warrior specializations, especially thanks to our amazing Devastate ability!
  • Commanding Shout increases your entire raid’s health for a limited amount of time. This is the best buff you can give to your allies, considering it can stack with Paladin and Priest buffs!
  • Demoralizing Shout allows you to dampen your enemy’s attack power by a considerable amount. With the added benefit of being an AoE ability, it lets you severely weaken massive numbers of enemies at the same time. You should always use this one as soon as possible after engaging in a fight!
  • Battle Shout increases your entire raid’s attack power by a considerable amount. Still, this buff does not stack with Blessing of Might, making it generally unusable.
  • Berserker Rage is an amazing ability that allows you to remove and become immune to effects such as fear, sap, and incapacitating effects. The beautiful part of this ability is that it can simply be used as a rage generation tool, as it increases the rage generation while taking damage when it’s active.
  • Challenging Shout allows you to taunt all enemies within 10 yards of yourself for 6 seconds. This ability is especially useful for “tricky” pulls, allowing you to secure threat in case enemies are coming one by one, instead of all at the same time.
  • Intimidating Shout is a utility ability that has situational uses. You can use this one to force up to 5 enemies to cower in fear for up to 8 seconds. It can be applied in the beginning of an AoE fight, which helps you to much more easily position yourself.
    • However, this ability is better suited for aiding your allies in case they manage to get aggro, allowing you to either crowd control the mobs you are currently fighting or Intervene for an ally and instantly use this ability.
  • Bloodrage is an ability that allows you to generate 20 instant rage while also generating 10 additional rage over 10 seconds. This ability is pretty straightforward, helping you perform the rotation more easily at the beginning of the fight!
  • Intervene allows you to rush to your ally’s side, fully transferring the next melee or ranged attack they receive to yourself. This ability is amazing for both mobility and utility, as it allows you to quickly reach your allies if they pull some dangerous mobs. However, in a single-target raid boss fight, this ability will rarely prove to be useful.
  • Vigilance is the second strongest utility ability, allowing you to keep an ever-watchful eye over your allies! This ability grants them a 3% damage reduction while also transferring 10% of any threat they generate to you. You should always use this ability on the highest damage dealer in your party or raid. If your healers happen to generate more threat than your damage dealers, which should never be the case, you should keep an eye out for them!
  • Shield Bash is an amazing ability, allowing you to daze your enemy while also interrupting any ability that they may attempt to cast. There is not much else to say about this one, other than that it is an extremely convenient interrupt!
  • Disarm is a pretty straightforward ability that allows you to temporarily disable your opponent, rendering them without their favorite weapon! Yet, keep in mind that even if you remove their weapons, they will keep attacking — with much less force, but still hurtful.


Just as was mentioned earlier, there is no “single-target rotation,” per se. Basically, you have a list of priority spells which will be best to maintain at all times! However, keep in mind that each situation might require a bit of alteration when it comes to your priority lists. For example, there may be fights where you will want to quickly swap the target of your Vigilance, or come to the aid of one of your healers while also maintaining aggro on the boss.


In-Depth Explanation

Since we cannot stress enough that your rotation works like a priority list instead of an actual rotation, we will once again emphasize this fact in the “In-Depth” section, just to make sure that you are getting the most out of your gameplay!

You will always want to start combat with a macro for Heroic Throw. You can simply do this by binding it to your Charge ability. Note that after using Heroic Throw in the beginning of the fight, you should also use it every time its cooldown becomes available.

Charge is your main initiation tool. It allows you to cover ground very fast and reach your enemies, ready to bludgeon or slash them to death. However, keep in mind that you should always check to see if you are still going to be in the healer’s range. Charging forward without keeping an eye on your allies can result in a quick and painful death; we want to avoid that at all costs!

Demoralizing Shout is one of the first abilities that you should use, to ensure that you severely weaken your target! You can choose to use this ability instantly or after you manage to apply 5 stacks of Sunder Armor. Generally speaking, it is way better to apply it before you apply Sunder Armor.

Thunder Clap severely reduces our target’s attack speed by 22% thanks to the Improved Thunder Clap talent. This is one of the main abilities you should use at the beginning of a fight due to its massive debuff. Also, you should always strive to upkeep the effect at all times, just like Sunder Armor.

Devastate is an amazing ability reserved only for Protection Warriors! It allows you to deal high amounts of damage while also applying Sunder Armor. Devastate is a very important tool in your arsenal, and should be your top priority at the beginning of the fight. After you successfully apply 5 stacks of Sunder Armor, Devastate will be your priority only if Revenge and Shield Slam are on cooldown, or if Sunder Armor is about to expire!

Considering that Devastate procs Sword and Board, you can choose to spam it on cooldown if you are unlucky enough to not have access to Revenge procs.

Heroic Strike is one of our core abilities as a Warrior. The most beautiful aspect of this ability is the fact that it is not bound by Global Cooldown! A good Protection Warrior is able to convert most of thier basic attacks into Heroic Strikes.

Remember that you can effectively bind Heroic Strike to any of your abilities with macros. When it comes to ability priorities, constant use of Heroic Strike is absolutely mandatory as it produces high threat as well, besides its damage.

Revenge is a very strong ability that has a prerequisite in order to be used. Luckily, you can trigger it constantly due to how easily it can be triggered by our high block chance, especially when combined with abilities such as Shield Block! As far as priority goes, Revenge is the first ability that you are supposed to use after Devastate.

You should never skip a Revenge proc, especially since it triggers Sword and Board!

Shield Slam is the next ability that comes in line after Revenge: it has a special condition where Sword and Board enables you to reset Shield Slam‘s cooldown while also allowing you to use it without any rage cost. Shield Slam always comes before Devastate in the priority order after you have managed to apply 5 stacks of Sunder Armor!

Let’s talk about defensive abilities. There are two main ones that you will want to keep for critical moments, such as special boss mechanics or large groups of AoE mobs, and one ability that you should always spam on cooldown.

Shield Block should always be used on cooldown. It significantly empowers your defensive capabilities, increasing your block chance and block value to 100%. Not only does it massively boost your defense, but it also empowers your Shield Slam, to an extreme degree!

Shield Wall and Last Stand should be reserved for critical moments. You can choose to use both of them together or you can use them separately, depending on the encounter you are facing. You can also choose to macro these together, with other defensive effects, such as armor potions, healing potions, or even Shield Block, working functionally as a panic button. However, if you choose to bind Shield Block, keep in mind that Shield Block alone can grant you nigh physical immunity for its duration, as you can repel any physical attack. So, if you choose to bind it as well, you should only use the macro for bosses with hybrid damage, such as dragons!

Concussion Blow is an extremely good crowd control tool! Nevertheless, raid bosses can’t be stunned, making this an ability much more suited for mobs or dungeon bosses. So, Concussion Blow is the lowest priority spell in your rotation, being way more valuable in dungeons.


Prior to the WotLK Beta, Warriors have been known to have a tougher time with AoE situations compared to other tank specializations. However, Protection Warriors might enjoy a new era, where their AoE capabilities could actually become way better!


In-Depth Explanation

When it comes to AoE, Protection Warriors are about to see some changes with the release of WotLK, having the potential for highly increased AoE damage.

Just like with the single-target rotation, you should start with Charge and Heroic Throw, after which you should instantly apply Demoralizing Shout. Once their offensive abilities are diminished, your next priority is applying Thunder Clap while literally spamming Cleave!

Thunder Clap will generate high amounts of aggro while also severely dampening any enemy’s attack speed by 22%! You will always want to spam this ability on cooldown. However, you will not want to prioritize this ability if Revenge is available.

Cleave just like Heroic Strike, is entirely unaffected by GCD, allowing you to properly spam it even while using other abilities. This makes up for the perfect AoE tool! What’s more, you can choose to macro this ability to any of your other abilities to increase its effectiveness.

Revenge should always be used on every proc! You will not want to miss a single Revenge, especially since it procs Sword and Board! Revenge has the highest priority in your entire AoE rotation.

Since Shield Slam shares the same cooldown as Thunder Clap, you will only need to use it when you have a Sword and Board proc available.

Lastly, we will want to use Shockwave properly: you will need to group up every enemy in your proximity and make sure they are aligned first. Shockwave is a great crowd control ability, besides being a great threat generator, meaning that you should always prioritize its use whenever it’s on cooldown! If you are about to pull a small pack of mobs, you can even consider using it early on in the battle.


About the Author


Hey there folks, I am Nevermore and have been deeply passionate about WoW for more than a decade. Whether we talk about the hidden mysteries of Azeroth or the otherworldly Outland, my journey brought me here to share the things that I have experienced with you all.
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1 year ago

Isn’t it Warbringer in the protection tree that removes stance restrictions on Charge/Intercept?  🙂 

Reply to  KnightTime
1 year ago

Yes, Juggernaut has nothing to do with Intercept.

The author has a tendency of not responding, but I assume it was just a mistake, and they meant to put Warbringer instead.

1 year ago

Your Shield Wall link isn’t the right one. It shows it as a 12-second cooldown instead of a 5-minute cooldown.

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