Protection Warrior Tank Starter Guide - Shadowlands 9.2.5
Table of Contents
Welcome to our Protection Warrior starter guide, which covers everything you need to start playing a new character in Shadowlands. While our other guide pages go into more individual detail, this simple starter guide covers all the basics in one place, whether you're a new Protection Warrior, a returning player to Shadowlands, hardcore, or casual alike, it's the best place to get a beginners overview on the class. Included are basic talent builds, simplified rotations, stats, legendary recommendations, and more to get you started as quickly as possible.
Please keep in mind that this page is meant to get players started quickly as an introduction, and does not contain much in the way of detailed explanations, mechanics, competitive options, gearing, simulation comparisons, or nuance. For more in-depth information, including all those optimizations and more, check out the complete Protection Warrior Guide pages linked in the navigation on the left-hand side of the page, and if you're leveling up in Shadowlands, you can take a look at our
S2 Season 2
S2 Cheat Sheet
S2 Primordial Stones
S2 Raid Tips
S2 Talent Builds
S2 Tier Set Bonus
Abilities & Talents
Macros & Addons
About the Author
This guide was written by Llarold! I’ve been tanking since Vanilla. During Mists of Pandaria, I saw an opportunity to begin writing guides, and I took it with the hopes of making myself a better tank and making the community into better tanks with me. I hope it’s working!
I am active in all of the tank class Discords but primarily contribute to theorycrafting discussions in
Peak of Serenity
(Monk and Warrior). I’m active on
, where I mostly talk WoW (and basketball), and I’m half of the team responsible for the YouTube channel
WoW at Night
, which focuses primarily on tank guides and previews.
Best Covenants for Protection Warriors
As a quick recap, we've created the table below to highlight the notable differences between covenants. Don't hesitate to click the headers to go to their respective guides!
Best Protection Warrior Covenants and Soulbinds for Raid
Plague Deviser Marileth
Best Protection Warrior Covenants and Soulbinds for Mythic+
Plague Deviser Marileth
Necrolord is the best Covenant for all content once you have double Legendary powers and the full 4-piece tier set bonus.
It is a more active playstyle than Kyrian, but it is substantially stronger, both offensively and defensively. The reward for playing Necrolord is worth the increased difficulty.
Kyrian is an easier playstyle that is better than Necrolord prior to acquiring double Legendary powers and 4-piece tier set bonus.
Best Protection Warrior Covenants for Raiding
Necrolord is the strongest Covenant choice for Protection Warriors once you have unlocked 4-piece tier set and double Legendary bonuses.
provides a massive amount of Rage generation, stat budget, and a good movement speed bonus, and
(Necrolord Legendary) grants near-permanent uptime with good Rage and cooldown management. It's fun and extremely strong, but it is more complicated and physically demanding than Kyrian.
Playing Necrolord requires using
effectively to function correctly. Other Protection Warrior Covenants play around 60 actions per minute (APM), or roughly one per second. Necrolord is in the range of 80-90 APM. That may be a walk in the park for Starcraft veterans, but compared to most specs throughout WoW's history, it is blisteringly fast-paced.
Kyrian is a simpler Covenant that has good burst damage and performs very well. It's less popular than Necrolord due to having weaker Rage generation and less versatility -- basically just being worse, but it's still decent.
Night Fae largely overlaps in value with Kyrian, but it's even less versatile and weaker in the majority of situations.
Best Protection Warrior Covenants for Mythic+
Necrolord is the best Covenant for Protection Warriors in Mythic+ dungeons, and it has the same issues as it does in raids: It's extremely fast-paced. That can be fun, or it can be overwhelming for players who aren't experienced. When played well, Necrolord Protection Warriors are
tanky and deal tons of damage, especially during the Execute phase. They're fun, fast, and frantic. They are a workout for your wrists, so be sure to take breaks and stretch periodically.
Spear of Bastion
is simple and consistent. It will keep enemies that try to leap around or run away locked in place, and it's on a relatively short cooldown. It also continues dealing damage to enemies that leave its area and are immune to its grip effect, so as long as you hit with the initial shot, you never lose value due to enemy movement. Kyrian Warrior is good. It doesn't have the defensive upside or the satisfying, fast-paced playstyle of Necrolord, but it's a solid choice for establishing comfort with the spec.
Night Fae is a very distant third-place option. It's not bad, but it largely overlaps in value with Kyrian, but doesn't have the same degree of consistency due to
having a much longer cooldown than
Spear of Bastion
Best Protection Warrior Covenant
Kyrian Protection Warrior GuideNecrolord Protection Warrior Guide
Night Fae Protection Warrior GuideVenthyr Protection Warrior Guide
Best Legendaries for Protection Warrior in Patch 9.2
Protection Warriors have had two main Legendary options during Shadowlands.
has been the best overall option since it was redesigned in Patch 9.0.5. It’s very good, both offensively and defensively, but it can be a bit of work to use effectively.
is much simpler and more forgiving, but it doesn’t offer as much value, and it doesn’t interact with the new Tier Set bonuses, so it really is not a good option. Some people may suggest it to newer players as a simpler option, but it leaves a major source of player power unutilized, so it's really never a good option. You're better off struggling slightly to use the class' full toolkit than mastering a playstyle that's considerably weaker.
is simply the best! Better than all the rest!
Best Single Legendary for Protection Warrior in Patch 9.2
Best Single Legendaries
Best Double Legendaries for Protection Warrior in Patch 9.2
Eternity's End allows players to wear two Legendary items at once, with a restriction. One of the two Legendaries must be your Covenant Legendary. This causes the balance of Covenant Legendaries to play a role in your choice of Covenant.
Necrolord is the recommended Covenant for raid and Mythic+.
Kyrian is a decent alternative. It's not as good, but it is easier to play.
Best Double Legendaries
Patch 9.2 Legendary Changes & Tuning
Players may now equip two Legendaries, but one must be
Best Protection Warrior Talents
Protection Warriors use the same talents for a lot of content, although there are several spots where you can and should switch talents.
Best Served Cold
is a simple, passive DPS increase that considerably boosts your AoE DPS.
adds a lot of offensive value and Rage generation onto
, but it also adds another cooldown to monitor and use effectively. It's the go-to talent once you have the 4-piece tier set bonus, but it's very optional until that point.
is an excellent Mythic+ talent, but it requires a little more effort than
Into the Fray
to maximize its value.
has higher potential when used well, but
Into the Fray
is still a terrific option while you're learning.
Into the Fray
is generally the best option in raids even for experts. A free 10% Haste is very good!
The damage and cooldown increase of
is great for any content that isn't too challenging, but when you're tanking something difficult, or still learning the spec, the extra defensive value of
can be helpful. Once you have the 4-piece tier set bonus,
becomes the go-to talent in all situations.
This talent build is primarily focused on raiding for players getting started with end game activities, but our Protection Warrior Talent Guide goes into more detail for each talent, as well as providing specific builds for questing, Mythic+, and Raids.
Protection Warrior Talents Guide
Protection Warrior Stat Priority
Unlike previous expansions, primary stats such as Strength are much more important than they used to be, and secondary stats are close enough together that item level is typically a larger factor when it comes to choosing gear. You can find out more about how stats work, including sample stat weights and scaling plots in the Stats Guide, or get an overview of the best-in-slot gear to look for from dungeons and raids in the Protection Warrior Gear Guide.
Strength > Haste > Versatility >> Mastery = Crit
: Increases all damage done by native class spells, abilities, and auto attacks, and increases the value of your Ignore Pain. Overall the best stat available to Protection Warriors, which makes raw item level important. When in doubt, wear the highest item level piece available. Warrior strong! Warrior smash!
: Compresses the rotation by reducing both the GCD and the cooldown of main rotational abilities Shield Slam and Thunder Clap. Also reduces the cooldown of Shield Block. Increasing your Shield Block uptime is immensely valuable to improving your survivability. It is the preeminent secondary stat.
: Increases damage done and reduces damage taken by half the amount. It’s simple, but it’s reliable. It's boring, but good.
: Increases damage done by abilities, auto attacks, and trinkets, and increases your chance to parry enemy autoattacks. The defensive value of parrying attacks is actually quite high, and historically Critical Strike has been one of the best stats for reducing total damage taken,
that’s not nearly as important as it may seem, and the moment-to-moment smoothness provided by Haste and Versatility is much more reliable and valuable. It’s pretty good offensively, for what it’s worth.
: Increases your chance to block and Critically Block. It’s good for passively reducing your damage taken, and it’s more reliable than Critical Strike, but it’s still less reliable than Haste or Versatility, and it has less offensive value. It’s not a great stat.
Protection Warrior Stats Guide
Protection Warrior Enchants and Consumables
: Increase stamina and tertiary bonuses. Avoidance is good for reducing unavoidable AoE damage, and Speed can help make dodging boss effects easier -
Enchant Cloak - Fortified Avoidance
Enchant Cloak - Fortified Speed
: Strength -
Enchant Chest - Eternal Stats
: Hearth cooldown? -
Enchant Bracers - Shaded Hearthing
: Increases Strength -
Enchant Gloves - Eternal Strength
Enchant Gloves - Strength of Soul
: Reduced fall damage -
Enchant Boots - Soul Treads
: Increases Haste -
Enchant Ring - Tenet of Haste
Enchant Ring - Bargain of Haste
: Strength proc -
Enchant Weapon - Celestial Guidance
Protection Warrior Enchants Guide
Best Protection Warrior Rotation
This is a typical Protection Warrior DPS rotation. More detailed information can be found in the Protection Warrior Rotation Guide.
Defenses & Cooldowns:
while tanking --
This is by far the most important thing on this entire page!
to spend Rage (if you need defense)
when available (if
Use Covenant skills when available
to dump Rage (if you don't need defense)
to dump Rage (if you don't need defense) outside Execute phase
as filler (if not using Devastator)
Holding Threat In Dungeons
Establishing threat on the pull is one of the most important aspects of tanking dungeons, and it can be one of the biggest challenges for new players.
Holding threat on bosses is fairly straightforward, just do the normal max DPS single-target rotation and taunt if you lose threat. On AoE pulls, it can be a bit more complicated, and sometimes the best playstyle for establishing initial threat may be slightly at odds with the best approach for maximizing DPS.
Ideally, your opener will look something like this:
Charge & Conqueror's Banner (if Necrolord)
Avatar & Thunder Clap
Spear of Bastion (if Kyrian)
This is usually enough to establish initial threat in AoE. If a pack is spread out far enough that you can't get all the enemies with the opening Thunder Clap, then try to swap between targets on the outskirts of the pull and hit them with high-damage skills like Shield Slam and Revenge to establish threat, and drag them into the rest of the pack. If you're playing Kyrian, try your best to hit every enemy you can with each cast of Spear of Bastion, and be sure to have as many other cooldowns rolling at the same time as you can. Holding it a few seconds to hit the entire pack is usually the right idea.
Protection Warrior Rotation Guide
Back to Top
Our Protection Warrior guides are always updated with the latest information from in-game experience, simulations, and logs; make sure to check our changelog to this page, by clicking on
at the top of the page. If you are interested in more in-depth Protection Warrior guides for , make sure to browse the
below, and our list of
just beneath the
Table of Contents
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