Tank like a girl
Nov 05 2008

Prot Warrior DPS

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The title of my current post would have been pretty lol-worthy just a couple weeks ago. It took some exceptionally geared warriors in DW fury gear to top the charts with Devastate spam, but all in all protection warriors were considered a liability on all one-tank fights and provided little utility aside from interrupts. That’s what made feral druids so very attractive as off-tanks, the ability to provide DPS in a pinch.

But things have changed, and it’s not unusual to see the main tank really up there. In my last raids, I have been number 3 in ZA several times, and was number 2 for our last Kara run, with a DPS high of 751 on Maiden (where I provided the highest damage on that fight). In 5-mans, I usually top the DPS by a good margin or end up second at least. A couple posts back I be-moaned the lack of the threat mini-game, but you know, I am liking the DPS game by now. I am not an exceptional tank. I know my stuff, but what I do every tank should be capable of. I am not running around in T6 or insane SBV gear sets.

And yet, I see protection warriors who are not doing so great on DPS since the patch. Protection warriors of the world, hear my words: don’t be satisfied with being lowest DPS as in the old days. You can put out competitive DPS and still tank like a star.

The single target rotation:

Here’s where the first mistake happens. Forget about the rotation of the past. Push it from your mind. Remap your keybindings if necessary. Don’t think in SS -> RV -> DV, DV anymore. That rotation is dead. If you still use it like this (and my fingers will still wander that way at times), you are sacrificing DPS and ergo threat. The threat you don’t notice at the moment, but by the time 80 rolls around, the threat game might see a comeback.

Instead you must prioritize. A good sequence would be to pull, Charge, Shield Slam and then take it from there. If Revenge lights up, great! Use Revenge every time you can and Shield Slam is on cooldown. Getting a Glyph of Revenge is an absolute necessity. If neither Shield Slam nor Revenge are available, Devastate. Watch for Sword&Board procs, you don’t want to miss them. Seriously, I mean it. If you are not keeping an eye on procs, you are not playing in the most optimal way. Being a protection warrior is not about the perfect threat rotation anymore. It’s become a lot more reactive.


Shield Slam > Revenge > Devastate

After every GCD, you quickly need to check which ability you should use next, and still weave in stuff like Shouts, Thunderclap, Cleave etc.

Addons can be a great help when it comes to being aware of cooldowns and procs. I highly recommend Mik’s Scrolling Battle Text for awareness of S&B and Revenge procs. It comes with triggers for warriors without having to set anything up. I moved the static area for cooldowns to the center, to be more aware of them (though no cooldown popped while I was taking screenshots).

Works great. Another addon I love for keeping track of class-related buffs and debuffs is Classtimer. In the latest version it will track both Glyph of Revenge and S&B. At a glance I can see when it’s time to reapply Shouts, TC, and other such things. I use the All in One bar, but you can freely place timer bars for yourself, target and focus.

The AoE rotation:

Veneretio has posted about this not too long ago, how to approach AoE tanking and the best ‘rotation’ for that. I won’t repeat what he’s said, go read it yourself! :) He nicely illustrates what you should do to build threat on multiple targets without sacrificing survivability skills. His overall point is that we should remember we’re tanks, not DPS and do our part. I agree with this, but also think that if you disregard your damage output, you’re doing your group a disservice.

I basically use the same abilities he describes, but make sure that my primary target gets Shield Slammed whenever the ability is available. If you have rage, there is no reason why you shouldn’t add Cleave to the mix. Do not neglect your defensive abilities, but do not forget your offensive options either. Concussion Blow does great damage now, and minimizes your damage taken, e.g.

At the end of the raid when I look at my abilities, Shield Slam is the vast bulk of my damage output, at 25-30%. This is followed by white damage at 13-15%, Revenge with the same percentage, and if there were a lot of trash pulls, Thunderclap and Damage Shield are usually up there as well.

If Shield Slam is not your top damage ability, then you’re not reactive enough. If your white damage far outweighs any other damage you do, then you really should try to step it up. Our new priorities for ability use should be clearly reflected in the damage breakup.

In the end, it’s not about topping the meters. Successfully tanking and keeping mobs away from the raid while staying alive is still the highest priority of any protection warrior. Providing good DPS is just another perk we’ve received in 3.0 and it would be a waste not to use it.

32 Responses to “Prot Warrior DPS”

  1. Spine says:

    Another great post, Andrea. I love MSBT. Just wondered though, if anybody has figured out how to add Item Cooldown Notifications to it. I’m using an SBV trinket and even though I got it macro’ed in with SS, I wouldn’t mind a big shiny notification saying that it’s ready.


  2. Xtian says:

    Really cool write-up. I’ve been amazed at tank DPS in general post-patch. I’m starting to feel it’s unfair to summarily execute raid members who don’t top a tank’s DPS. Also, yay for the new banner – looks fantastic!

    I know that your specialty is prot warriors, but have you heard anything about Arms tanking? Arms survivability is lower, not so many tricks, gear needs to be better to make up for it, etc., which I think we all understand. But in terms of threat generation, where does a 3/3 Tactical Mastery Mortal Strike fit into the rotation? And if the fights in the dungeons on the way to 80 aren’t tough enough to demand prot’s suite of abilities, does Arms’ higher DPS make it an even better choice of specs?


    admin Reply:

    I have an excellent Arms warrior friend, I’ll ask him to to test numbers with me. :)


    tPaste Reply:

    Xtian Said:
    I’m starting to feel it’s unfair to summarily execute raid members who don’t top a tank’s DPS.

    I still can’t agree. Prior to the patch someone who couldn’t beat a tank simply had to go on the spot, post patch you can cut someone some slack (a fight here or there), but if a DPSer is consistently behind a tank they need to go. They’re doing something wrong, period. Now, naturally this depends a lot on gear levels (as the separation between tanks and dps gets larger at higher levels of gear). For example, the best I’ve ever managed as a tank was just under 1300 DPS on Teron Gorefiend. Not record breaking, but decent. Thing is I wasn’t in the top 10 on the damage meters…nor should I have been.

    Personally, I think in the xpac you’ll be able to tell a lot about a tank based on their DPS (damage is going to matter now and it’s more directly correlated to threat), but it also raises the bar for DPSers. They still NEED to be higher for your raid to be successful.


  3. Einstijn says:

    Impressive post :)

    The breakdown of my abilities is different tho.
    Well tanking a boss. Throughout an instance shieldslam and revenge tends to be high.
    But on a boss it more looks like this dmg wise.
    1 Heroic strike (depends on rage but always top) from 20% higher and more (double was my best on archi)
    2 revenge & shieldslam depending on crits (50% crit on revenge once :O
    3 devastate, to many s&b procs t use it often
    4 other small thingies like thorns, dmg shield, white dmg should be as low as poss on a boss. Usually unlimited rage :)

    I have to agree prot dps is OP, shockwave gets me up the charts in 5 mans and CC is overrated :)
    Tanking a boss fully buffed in a 5 man raid dps has been upto 1k and 1.1k dps wich is what a decent dpser pre 3.0 used to do. So me myself, I like it so far altho I hope the threat minigame returns. I always tanked because dpsing is fun but tanking is just this little bit more for me.
    Having all the dps pushing you to the limits is just cool :)


    admin Reply:

    The numbers I have looked at were always raid total, so that’s why Shield Slam is up there. But you’re absolutely right, white damage shouldn’t be up there at all. I just keep seeing it from other tanks, so I had the urge to post this primer. :)


  4. Hornsaw says:

    Excellent post as always!

    Do you have any advice for prot warriors who wind up being second tank in a 5-man or such? On bosses I feel pretty useless, because since you’re never parrying/dodging/blocking Revenge never procs, so you lose out on that, Glyph of Revenge and potential S&B procs. Rage is also seems to be an issue for me, and I can’t constantly spam Devastate as a result.

    I know I’m undergeared, but would gearing up solve my rage issue?


    admin Reply:

    If you’re rage-starved but want to go the sword and board route, all you can really hope for is gear that offers you more attack power than you currently have. Makes you hit harder, makes your yellow attacks hurt more, and you produce more rage. I generally wouldn’t recommend two tanks in any 5-man though. You’d probably do better doing old-style prot DPS if you’re not the MT: dual-wield Devastate spam in berserker stance.


    mavfin Reply:

    Depending on gear, you may need that 9-rage devastate from puncture to get the rage machine going if you’re not getting hit.


  5. Hornsaw says:

    This is also a problem for me in PvP, after I charge in and shield slam I sometimes find myself swatting ineffectually at my target while he proceeds to ignore me and target someone else – again because of rage starvation.


  6. Hanago says:

    as a full prot that’s been stuck in Off tank duties, I disagree. (well, PVP is another story). Sword & board is still the way to go.

    Switch to beserk stance (if you don’t need to grab agro), devastate and SS when S&B procs.
    This assumes you have the Armed to the Teeth talent. The extra armor from the shield translates to more AP. Also, don’t forget to use recklessness (5 min CD ~ every other pull)

    Only disadvantage to being in beserk stance: if you do need to pick up the mob/boss for whatever reason, you’ll be low on the threat meter. for this reason i stay in def stance while offtanking a boss.


    admin Reply:

    Then I would recommend Hornsaw follows your advice rather than mine. I don’t OT very often, though I might do that more often in WotLK.


  7. Hanago says:

    honestly; i’m guessing things will shake down differently at 80 anyway :) We got 1 week left before the Xpac, so who cares?


  8. Hanago says:

    BTW: love the new banner !


  9. Gothyelk says:

    Classtimer is great, I have been using it for sometime. I’ll look into the combat text you mentioned. As a pally tank, we have some new rotations and cooldowns to manage now as well and I need a way to track them all easily.

    I’m liking my improved DPS as well… :)

    Gothyelk´s last blog post..The Failing of a Guild Merger


  10. Caboose says:

    I’ve been running instances/raids non-stop whenever I have a chance and spent all last weekend running instances… However, I’ve seen my dps per run I average around 550-600 DPS. I run recount just through the whole instnace and dont reset it at all. But I have NEVER seen my dps as high as 700+. I’m going to be getting classtimer aswell to keep an eye on everything and Miks Combat text is wicked for procs I use it all the time!

    Keep up the good work ;-)


    Durnic Reply:

    Here’s what you do:

    1. Charge into the room with all of the mana worms in MGT, pull every single one.
    2. Back into a corner, TC’ing, Shockwaving and Cleaving as much as you can.
    3. Look at damage meter.
    4. See 1400dps.
    5. Giggle uncontrollably.

    Durnic´s last blog post..Tanking Etiquette, Taunting off of Other Tanks


    Caboose Reply:

    See I’ve done that… Twice in total actaully… Unfortunatly each time I’ve done that I’ve got killed because each person in the party disconected.


    The Other Half Reply:

    Haha. Step 0.5: Check your party’s computer specs to make sure they can handle it.


    Caboose Reply:

    My computer should be able to handle it, its only about 2 or 3 months old and it was mostly top end stuff.

    Its okay I’m quite content with my dps on my prot warrior although it tops out at 600 dps I still can hit 2200 dps with my mage XD


  11. Khrushchev says:

    I’d like to throw my vote in for Power Auras. I actually use MSBT, but not for my procs. I found that the text tended to get lost in the mix of everything else I had going on. Power Auras puts a customizable design right in your face (or wherever you want it) that I find difficult to miss.


  12. ARA says:

    This is a great write up thank you. Im taking more interest in warriors as I level an alt as fury (55 atm). I guess I’ll switch to prot for the last 10 levels so I can tank it up some more and compare/contrast with ferals.

    I do love the fact that abilities light up at certain times: thats a nice feature, keeps you on your toes, and is more reactive and skill based.


  13. Hornsaw says:

    Thanks for the suggestions, I’ll try all the approaches suggested and figure out which one works best for me.

    Thanks again!


  14. Ladina says:

    I have found that I can top the DPS meters on some runs but not on others. A lot depends on how frantic the pulls get. If we mess up then my DPS goes WAY up with all the AOE.

    Just a question what is the plug in you are using to track damage?


    admin Reply:

    You mean the numbers you can see in the screenshots or a damage meter?

    The numbers in the screenshots are Mik’s Scrolling Battle Text, as damage and DPS meter I currently use Recount.


  15. [...] time for blogging because I’m taking part in NaNoWriMo, as I do every year. However a post on Kadomi’s site has me wondering. She [...]

  16. Cynra says:

    I just wanted to chime in and say thanks for this post! I recently went back to my warrior after leveling up yet another priest and I made the decision to return to her Protection roots over her previous Fury build. Even though she’s in her mid-50s, I’ve been doing surprisingly well with damage and a lot of it is from this little guide. It made a lot of it easier for me, especially after not having tanked in almost a year!

    I had a lot of fun soloing in the Eastern Plaguelands this past weekend. I saw a Beast Mastery hunter fighting the same mobs as I was and I decided to try a little internal competition. I was giggling when I realized that I was grabbing large groups of mobs and downing them quicker than this hunter and his pet could. I was even killing quicker on single targets, which seemed like an anathema to me!


    admin Reply:

    I think Blizzard has gone a long way to make protection a lot more attractive even for solo players. I have absolutely zero reason to switch to a ‘leveling’ build now as I can do more than just fine DPS when solo.

    Glad to hear you were happy to use some of the info here. :)

    I actually had to eat my words, in my last ZA run our DPS went so AoE crazy that I ended up 7th like back in the day, though only like 50k damage behind one of the mages.


  17. dapredator says:

    saw what you read and yes your right. the old rotation sucks now. hands down SS is the top priority. that and revenge as you stated.

    i remember before trying to spam devastate just trying to keep up with high DPS and so forth. now i find myself not topping the charts but getting up in the top 10 in 25 man raids and least 3rd on dps for 5 mans.

    as far as aoe tanking i tried a weird build 5/15/51…. and went into piercing howl for questing and heroics and it works. now imma try with glyph of cleave and see how much more dps i output along with what ive been doing so far.

    nice post. all your info has been helpful since i just turned 80.


    dapredator Reply:

    dps wise im sitting at about 800 or so…

    another good mod to use to use is Cooldown Timers.

    it does what the name says. shows the CD countdown on the spell in a big number that covers the icon of the spell. it really helps when im trying to keep track of which spell to use and when to use it to keep a good threat rotation along with my dps.


    admin Reply:

    That’s an old post by now, so I should probably rework it sometime. To the priority I listed, I now definitely add Concussion Blow and Shockwave every time they’re up, plus good ol’ Heroic Strike spam.

    I ran WWS for a Heroic Utgarde Keep run as requested by a guildie, and did 1.800 DPS on the second boss. You can provide a nice chunk of DPS if played correctly.

    On average, I am between 1.2k to 1.4k DPS in heroics.


  18. tankforlawls says:

    going back to the arms tank spec i got a decent one at 36/8/27

    arms tree
    0/1/5/0 or whatever 2 hander you have

    fury tree

    prot tree

    i’ve tanked several heroics and im working on trying to get some 10 mans in with it i can do about 2.5k dps with it and hold on threat rather easily even with multiple mobs. let me know what you think.


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