Protection Warrior Problems

Battle for Azeroth Class Development
Why Prot warriors don't feel good as tanks?

Reliability is important for tanks.

Tanks need to be able to be survive every time the encounter throws “nuking strike” at them, whether this be be through CD rotations, taunt swaps, etc. This was why Defence rating stacking was so important back in WotLK. Yeah there might have been only a 0.5% chance the boss would crit you, but that crit would kill you and almost certainly end that attempt. And 1 in 200 is on avarge going to happen every 6-7minutes of active tanking (with a 2second swing time for the boss). So with 2 tanks that's pretty much every other pull you would lose a tank. Whilst def rating is a thing of the past, Reliability is still super important and it's seen in other ways, such as trinket use for legion, tanks loved the Arcanocrystal despite a 20-30 ilvl disadvantage to on-use trinkets from a tier or 2 later. Or (warrior specific) getting to the 40-50% haste needed for 100% shield block uptime with heavy repercussions..

Reliable damage intake is what makes tanks survivable and feel good to heal, Healers like it when they can plan, when they can feel safe, they do not like it when your “fine, still fine, that didn't even touch you, still fine, fin-OH MY GOD WHAT THE THRALL'S BALLS JUST HIT YOU?!!, HEALING FLASH SURGE LIGHT! Okay we can HoT for a bit, cool, nearly there, grea-LEEROY BLOODY JENKINS NOT AGAIN!”. Protection does not feel reliable right now, and without some pretty steep haste scaling it's not going to; Shield Block needs about 75% haste, and 5 stacks of Into the Fray, to get back to that point. That doesn't feel like it's going to be thing. This is further compounded by our lack lustre self healing. We're fine when shield block is up but even with a decent amount of haste it's only going to be up maybe 50% of the time, and when it's down the our block chance is garbage, maybe 25% after boss level suppression, and parry is ~15%, so a 60% chance of taking the melee to the face, and 36% chance of taking 2 in a row, and 21% of taking 3 in a row. That's too damn high and happening too damn often.

Ignore pain is another problem, it's an awful ability in it's present form, I get at the end of legion it was spammed and always up and meant warriors were not ever really conscious of the active mitigation checks, because we always had them up. In BFA Protection's rage generation has been massively nerfed, I can recall simming myself at over 20 rage per second, and vaguely remember 9-11 rage per second at the start of the expansion, looking at my most recent MOTHER log, I'm averaging 2-3, that's a 70-80% decrease for the start of the expansion. That's pretty huge. Shield block used to cost 10 rage and had a 12 seconds baseline CD so cost about 0.8 RPS to keep rolling in legion, in BFA it cost 1.6 RPS. In legion this left at least 8RPS to spend on spamming IP, in BFA it leaves at best 1.4 RPS. There just isn't the Rage to spam it like we used to. But wait! There's more! IP used be nigh infinitely stackable by gaming the “Dragon Scale”proc, without it it capped out at 3 casts. In BFA the maximum absorb amount is 1.3 casts. In conclusion, IP is just to expensive now to spam, and there's no point even if it wasn't. Either of these “nerfs” would have been enough to put a stop to IP Spam, both is just redundant.

Other tanks like Pallies and Demon hunter's csn't have their AMs up all the time but they seem to be doing OK so far why are warriors different? Firstly both Demon Spikes and Shield of the Righteous Increase Armour rather than block chance, and more enemy attacks are mitigated by armour than are blockable, conversely almost everything blockable is also mitigated by armour. But they also have much more consistent tertiary defensive abilities, Demon hunter's can and frequently do have Frailty up ~100% of the time and this constant small heals contributes a lot to feeling smoother (relatively they are still squishy), and Paladins have Blessed hammer nerfing every 3rd melee hit, and a much higher baseline block than warriors, Or they have the Redoubt talent which effectively give them shield block for 7 seconds after each Avenging shield, except it last longer, and AS procs Average to about a 12s CD.....okay that's just not fair, and pallies don't take that talent?

TL;DR other tanks always have “Something” to prevent them taking a hit to the face or to pick their teeth back up afterwards.
Why Prot warriors don't feel good to play.

For years Protections warriors rotation has been 2 things, On the GCD rotational Proccy rage building, and off the GCD spammy Rage dumping. Even before Active Mitigation was a thing, Prot was up there on the APM, Ancient Warriors reminisce over getting Carpal tunnel form pressing Heroic Strike all the time. We questioned if Broken Promise was worth using because it meant we could press HS 40% less often, and it was like that until Cata. When we had some weird inner Rage thing, which I actually rather liked, but apparently that's just me, then pandarai came along and we had Active mitigation so now we could either Heroic strike for damage or shield barrier for an absorb, still off the GCD, we were mostly happy, until pallies soloed Durumu and then we felt bad. Then Warlords happened, and suddenly Heavy repercussions extended shield block and we were very happy, and haste now affected things it was awesome,. Bloodlust actually mattered to Protection, I think we forgot how to heroic strike, but I forget. Then Legion transmuted Shield barrier into Ignore pain, which was pretty much much just the same thing, and focused Rage came and went, and Vengeance meant using IP gave us a practically free Revenge. 10 years shield slam still procs off pretty much every GCD, Revenge is actually limited by it CD now rather than not proccing because the boss is casting. It all feels good.

Then Legion happened. Suddenly IP is on the GCD and suddenly a 10-15%of our GCDs can't proc Shield Slam, but it's not just IP, Avatar and Demo shout are also on the GCD. Ok so now a whole fifth of our GCDs can't proc Shield Slam, and off the GCD rage dumping is just gone.

Add to that when we do actually want dump rage it can be complicated we only have 2 tools to do it IP and Revenge. And sometimes Revenge is free, and sometimes IP has just been cast. We can be sitting at 70 rage a good place to start dumping. So we put IP up, back down to 30 rage, pop Avatar (because CDs) back up to 50 rage, shield slam, thunderclap back up to 70 rage. But we've had a parry in the last 5 seconds the so Revenge is free and since we've had a parry IP is hardly been scratched, what do you do? You can't dump with Revenge, IP caps at 1.3x base value so feels bad and overcapping on Rage also feels bad. Revenge! I can dump after and maybe IP will have been consumed, Oh crap it procced Shield Slam, now I can either waste it on a stacked IP, delaying shield slam, or shield slam and overcap.

Delaying shield slam feels really bad. It's been something that has been wrong to do since I started playing 10 years ago, over stacking IP feels like a waste, delaying shield slam to do it feels atrocious (it might be theoretically sound game wise). If an ability is on the GCD it needs to proc Shield Slam. If Ignore Pain is meant to be a strategically used defensive ability it can not be a Rage dump and on the GCD and not stack. If Revenge is meant to be rage dump it can not be sometimes Free, hit for less than our Rage Builders, and have a CD.

Our Talents are Pretty all over the place.
Row 1; Impeding Victory is meh, another ON the GCD ability, in an already cluttered rotation. Punish is good, but doesn't synergise as well with Anger Management as Into the Fray.

Row 3: Dragon Roar again another on the GCD ability, more clutter. Best Served Cold, fine except doesn't see much use in Single target, and Unstoppable force is better in AOE and Single target, even though it clutters the rotation even more, and synergises with anger management.
Row 4: Indomitable is only of real use if you need more health. Never surrender is not fun or strong. And Bolster synergises so well with Anger management.

Row 5: Vengeance is gutted from Legion thanks to the nerfed Rage generation, and IP being on the GCD and not stacking. Devastator should be the go to choice with how cluttered the rotation feels, but because shield slam gets procs get pushed back so much and Booming voice synergises so well with anger management that it's just hand down better, Devastator take a back seat.

Row 6: Has anyone ever used Ravager when pushing content? It's another on the GCD CD, but it's damage is pathetic, on thunderclap does more, and +35% chance to avoid a melee, which might not even happen. This was awful when it debuted and is still awful 4 years later. Quite possibly the single worst talent in the game.

Heavy Repercussions is lovely, I want to use this, I want to smack people in the face with my shield and it feel good and make me safer. The longer CD on shield block and the fact we keep having to delay shield slams for CDs or dumping rage, or user other active mitigations means this just isn't as useful as it was in the past. Not taking this talent makes me feel like I cheated on my partner to not die. I hate it, they hate, and everything is worse now.

Anger management: This should not the talent of choice, but it is. It takes our already cluttered rotation and makes it even more cluttered. It synergises so well with so many talents it pigeon holes Protection into nigh a single spec. Why take punish when into the fray means more rage, why take Best Served Cold when when you can get 30% more Unstoppable Forces. As for Booming Voice, well why would you not take a Talent that makes CDs give you rage, AND a talent where spending rage shortens your CDs.

Everything feels worse now. The on the GCD change means the rotation feels cluttered, but lowered Rage gen means you need to take the talents that clutter it further to survive. There are talents like Devastator, like Heavy Repercussions that I want to take, but I feel I'm letting my raid down if do. Legion's Play style felt good. I liked gaming Dragon Scales with vengeance, I liked having bloodletting manacles, I liked Prot's tier Set bonuses. I like that we had multiple ways to play and that I could do Heavy repercussions the whole way through, or anger management the whole way through the expansion, I like that Thundergod's Vigor was fun,

All that's gone. Instead I now have spenders and builders clammering for GCDs, And even Intercept is on the GCD, are you trying to make this feel obnoxious? Roll isn't on the GCD, infernal Strike isn't on the GCD. The rotation was fluid, it was proccy, it was exciting, Warriors felt Crunchy, now it's now the only thin that feels crunchy is our rotation. Spell Reflect was bad at the start of legion so the shimmering scales talent was added, with it gone in BFA, Spell Reflect is back in the bad place it was at the start of Legion. A literal step backwards.

Also why does Rocket Jump put Heroic Leap on a 10 second CD, but Heroic Leap not put Rocket Jump on CD?
Literally you could just do this and it would be better:

Revert Shield Block back to 12s CD
Bake IP into Revenge.
Replace Anger Management with Thunder god's Vigor
Replace Booming Voice with The Walls Fell
Replace Impending Victory with Bloodletting.
Replace Ravager with Ararat Bloodmirror
Replace Vengeance with Sephuz

All the spells are in the game already, have art, etc.
I know absolutely nothing about protection warrior's issues and problems as I didn't play at the end of legion or during BFA's beta (which is apparently ongoing). But this seems a mature and sober post relating to the issues that prot faces.

(The Uldir / M+ stats don't lie).
I am Neither mature nor sober.

It's also worth keeping in mind that Blizzard can't just nerf Anger Management or Booming Voice, as with how crowded the Protection rotation is Devastator suddenly becomes awesome becuase of the following

The on GCD ability priority order for protection (the rotation) can be though of repeated cycles of trying reset Shield Slam's CD lasting anywhere form 2 GCDs to 6GCDs, and we can plan out the various probabilities of each using Markov chains, fairly simply since the chance of resetting is constant(0.3). The following is rounded to 0.1%

  • 30% of the time the cycle is 2 GCDs:the First Dev procs the reset and you use it.
  • 21% of the time the cycle is 3 GCDs as the first Dev doesn't proc, but the second does.
  • 14.7% of the time the cycle is 4 GCDs as the first 2 Devs don't proc, but the fourth does.
  • 10.3% of the time the cycle is 5 GCDs as the first 3 Devs don't proc, but the fifth does.
  • 24% of the time the cycle is 6 GCDs as the First 4 Devs don't proc, .and we don't care about the fifth Dev because even if it does proc, Shield Slam CD is naturally back up anyway.


If we know how long the GCD is (1.5 seconds divided by 1+haste%) we can work out the average CD of Shield Slam. At 0% haste it's 5.7 seconds(10.6 GCDs a minute are spent on Shield Slam). At 50% it's 3.7 seconds (15.9 a minute).

We also need to know how many GCDs (per minute) we spend on Revenge Assuming we only use Revenge when it's free (lets assume we don't need to dump rage with). For this we need to know our Revenge proc chance (the effective avoidance) and swing time. We'll use 2.0 seconds as a swing timer as most bosses tended to be about that last time I checked, essentially giving us 30 swings per minute. The effective avoidance is your parry (minus 4.5%) added to your dodge -4.5% (or 0%, whichever is higher), This is because Raid bosses are 3 levels higher and mobs suppress your parry, dodge, and block chance by 1.5% for every level they have over a player (good for us as we can treat dodge as being non-existent!). I'm going arbitrarily use 10% and 30% as my Parry chances because it turns out Parry has a big effect on the value of Devastator, and I don't imagine Blizzard letting us get Parry much higher than that before “Chill of Throne” type effects are added. At 10% Parry we end up getting about 1.65 (and a bit) Revenge!'s a minute. At 30% Parry this jumps up to 7.65 Revenge! PPM. That's ~4.5 times the as many. Realistically 20% parry is better for our comparison: 4.7PPM

We also need to know how many Thunder Clap per minute we use. This is much simpler as TC doesn't have a variable CD, it merely scales with haste, from 6 seconds (10 per minute, @0% haste) to 4 seconds (15 per minute, @50%haste).

Lastly we need to know how many GCDs per minute we actually have total so we can subtract all of the above from it, which leaves how many GCDs per minute we spend of Devastate and 30% of that is the number of Shield Slam Reset we give up if we take Devastator. At 0% haste we have 40 GCDs per minute with the GCD time of 1.5 seconds, at 50% haste, we have 60 GCDs at 1 second each.

So we can see the following;

HASTE |0% | 50%
Total GCDS| 40 |
SS GCDs |10.6 | 15.9
REV GCDS |4.7
TC GCDs | 10 | 15
Dev GCDs | 14.7 |24.4

Unsurprisingly Haste scales our SS and TC usage per minute linearly: 50% more haste means 50% more shield slams, and 50% more Thunderclaps. All together this means at 0% haste we have 14.7 devastates per minute. At 50% haste we get 24.4 Devastates. 30% of that is 4.4PPM@0% haste and 7.3PPM@50% haste.

Next we need to work out how many Devastator Shield Slam resets we get per minute. This is pretty easy to work out, we know most 1 handed strength weapons have a swing speed of 2.6 seconds, and each swing has a 20% chance of proccing. And we can just multiple Swing time, 1+haste and proc chance. 4.6PPM@0% haste and 6.9 PPM@50% haste.

So devastator is actually slightly better at low haste and slightly worse at high haste. mainly becuase you have more GCDs than white swings and as both scale linearly with Haste However with the change to Avatar and Demo shout we actually lose 1.9 GCDs per minute to use them on CD, which on a tank'n'spank makes sense and drops the number of GCDs we spend on Devastate. Now we only have 12.8/22.5 Dev GCDs or 3.9PPM@0% haste and 6.8 PPM@50% haste. Devastator Wins hands down, more so at lower haste levels.

And this is ignoring the GCDs eaten by increased CD usage thanks to Anger Management or having to use IP at all or having to use Revenge to dump rage. Whatever row Devastator is on the other 2 talents need to be crazy powerful just to balance how ridiculously crowded our Rotation now is.
Just to follow this up (in case anyone not bored of Prot math yet) Booming voice adds 40 rage every 45 seconds, or 53.3 Rage per minute. For Devastator to compete rage wise it needs to give you an extra 3.6 Shield Slams per minute.

Using my same math above we can work out how many non-Devastate GCDs you need to Spend on IP/DS/Av, ignoring Anger management. Essentially when does [20% of you white swings per minute]-3.6=[30% of your Devastate GCDs]

It's about 12- 16 GCDs a minute scaled with haste.considering we only have ~40-80 GCDs that's a petty large amount, even if we spend about 2 GCDss a minute on Demo and Avatar that 's still 10 IPs (or more) a Minute.
By the same token Vengeance, saves you 13.3 rage per IP. Assuming you only use it defensively (i.e only cast revenge when revenge is free) you'd need exactly 4 free Revenge procs per minute to break even , assuming a 2 second boss swing timer 0% dodge, and 20% parry ( before boss level suppression) you need about 17.8% parry to achieve this.

And about 120 rage per minute just spend on the 4 reduced cost IPs.

And BV still gives you a nice % damage increase on top of the over the top Rage gen
Active mitigation synergy and why warrior's model sucks

All tanks have one form of Active mitigation that's meant to be kept either up or rolling when they have aggro

Warriors have Shield Block (SB)
Paladins have Shield of the Righteous (ShotR)
Demonhunters have Demon Spikes (DS)
Monks have Ironskin Brew (IB)*
Bears have Ironfur (IF)
DKs have Bone shield (BS)

And a second form which is there to recover from, or prevent, big spikes

Warriors have Ignore Pain (IP)
Paladins have Light of the Protector (LotP)
Demonhunters have Soul Cleave(SC)
Monks have Purifying Brew (PB)
Bears have Frenzied Regeneration (FR)
DKs have Deathstrike (DS)

Shield block, ShotR and Demon spikes are similar in Design, all are charge based, have a fairly long recharge that prevents them from having 100% uptime and can be reduced by haste, All 3 either baseline (Pallies) or through talents (Warrior's and DHs) can improve the uptime. Only One of them has a resource cost. And only one them shares a resource with it's spec's other active mitigation ability (I refuse to believe tankadins care about Mana capping).

Mechanically improving the Rolling AM uptime comes in two flavours; Either it's extending the duration for warriors, and with Paladins and DHs it's lowering the CD. The latter is much easier to use because the only limitation on it is capping out on charges, Warriors need to not cap out on charges of shield block, and have shield block active and use Shield Slam (SS) in that window. If Warriors have to delay shield slam to dump rage or pop a CD, Shield block can fall off and they lose the entire value of the talent for that SS, if a paladin has to delay judgment for a CD or Hand/light of the Protector themselves , they lose some value but not all of until they've delayed judgment for it's full CD, and can talent into ShotR reducing the the CD of LotP. DH's get it even better since their CD reduction comes from consuming souls, which is done either by Spirit bomb, which is the top rotational priority, or dumping pain with Soul Cleave, walking over a Soul Fragment, or just having a soul fragment be up for a couple of minutes.

Bears and Monks are in the same situation as both their AMs share a resource, However Bears “rolling AM” isn't on charge system and is their primary rage dump, there other AM Frenzied Regeneration is on charge system and an exceptionally long CD it's rage cost is a paltry 10. Monk's Brew share a charge system, so like warriors, using one part of your AM kit means you can't use another, however this choice is nullified once you take into account that both Keg smash, and Tiger palm reduce the Brews' CD by 4 and 1 second respectively, talent into Light brewing get to about 10% haste and Ironskin Brew now has a longer duration than a single Brew charge CD, and 100% uptime is attainable and you still have 3 Brew charges to spend as you please.

Deathknight's only competition when it comes to AM is wither to spend the GCD on Deathstrike or Marrowrend, and Dks entire resource system is based on spending runes to generate runic power, so Marrow rending feeds Death strikes.

Now we get to my actual point, Warriors active mitigations don't make sense. They compete for resources, and our rotation is at odds with talents for increasing their uptime. The other tanking specs just don't have this, wither using one passively or talented buffs or enables the other Active mitigation. A tighter , well executed rotation should mean higher uptimes on AM. Bone shield grant's Haste, which means faster runes which means more Runic power which means more Death strikes, and talents into runic strike means more runes. More judgments means more ShotR, which if talents means more LotP. Better rotation for demon hunter's means more pain and Fragments, which means more soulcleaves and spirit bombs, which if talented means more Demon spikes. Monks it means more a tighter rotation means lower brew CDs which means higher IB uptime which means more damage staggered and thus more damage PB'ed away. Bears it means more rage which means higher uptime on more stacks of iron fur. Warrior's don't get more IPs as the IP cap is 1.3 casts. Clipping IP doesn't add value it just wastes up to 27 Rage, and we're hitting that point in the first tier of an expansion, sure Bears eventually might get to a point where they can get 100% on 3 stacks of Ironfur, but they aren't quite at the point where they use Maul on CD yet. Warriors are already dumping a lot of rage into Revenge. Even if we could stack IP infinitely because it's on the GCD but doesn't proc Shield Slam, it devalues Heavy repercussions. There's just not the level of synergy between the different AM's, our AM buffing talents, and our rotation.

Also who OK'ed Block Value scaling this expansion? It's super non-intuitive, You're going to get people be like “why bother getting above 50% block value?” because they don't know the the 85% Block damage reduction cap, and then when they've told they're going to be “why bother getting above 42.5% block value?” and then you have to explain that higher difficulty bosses suppress the Block value by proportionally larger amounts. It's cool when you occasionally hit these hidden caps in the wind down of an expansion, but not in the first tier.
That's a... lot of text!

But yeah something should be done about Protection warriors, other than just adding more soak or health.
10/10 post

now can we copy paste this over to reddit so blizz actually notices?
A) I'm old and and don't get these new fangled things like Reddit.
B) https://www.reddit.com/r/wow/comments/9kkwiz/why_protections_warriors_arent_fun/
Great post. The lack of synergy between SB and IP and the competition for GCD's are fundamental issues that need resolving.
Great post!
I have to say that I dont find the demo shout/TC-spam rewarding or fun from a game play perspective either. At the moment its "all we got going for us" as it does alot of dmg and I guess thats nice but I find the design lazy at best.

With the perspective from someone who havent played since WOTLK I feel like IP has to be one of the most boring spells in the game. Perhaps if you played with it for a couple years it gets more on the level with things like shield block or shield wall but at this point my guy screams a bit and somehow gets a magical bubbel-type-aura around him..

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