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.
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.