Key warrior tank abilties: the short version

December 28, 2009 § Leave a comment

I was inspired by a post Big Bear Butt made where he described the key bear tanking abilities with a simple one line explanation, and decided I’d make my own version of this for warrior tanks.  There are plenty of great in depths guides out there, and most of them can be found over at Tankspot, but this little guide is meant to be a quick reference.  A way to orient yourselves to the vary basics of warrior tanking.  This quick-reference doesn’t involve any theory crafting, number crunching, or long winded discussions of the combat table.  It’s just a quick and dirty explanation of the ability and where/how to use them.

Key abilities (i.e. regular rotation):

  • Shield Slam: Causes damage (increased by your block value), and a very high amount of threat.  It should be used as a part of every rotation.  SS can also dispel one magic effect on a target.
  • Revenge: Causes a very high amount of damage, and should be used whenever it’s ready.  However it can only be triggered by a successful block, dodge, or parry.  So, if you increase those avoidance stats, you increase your change to trigger Revenge.
  • Sunder Armor: Reduces targets armor and generates a high amount of threat.  Stackable up to 5 times, and should be a part of every rotation, and 5 stacks should be maintained until the enemy is dead.
  • Devastate: Applies the sunder armor effect and does damage.  Because devastate includes the Sunder Armor effect, it should replace it in the rotation.  Devastate is one of the best ways to get threat on a target early on especially with glyph of sunder armor (applies affect to nearby target) and/or glyph of devastate (applies two stacks of sunder armor).

Secondary abilities (i.e. every other rotation or so):

  • Shield Block: For the next 10 seconds you will have a 100% chance to block x amount of damage. (x=100% times your current block value).  Will always trigger Revenge.  Having shield block up will increase the damage of Shield Slam.
  • Demoralizing Shout: Reduces the melee attack power of every enemy within 10 yards for 30 seconds.  Against some raid bosses this can be as much as a 20% reduction!  Every rotation should open with a Demo Shout, and should be used every time it is about to expire (2 min normally, up to 5 min talented).
  • Heroic Strike: This ability causes damage and a high amount of threat.  This ability isn’t on the global cooldown so it can be used in conjunction with other abilities (it’s often put in a macro with shield slam, revenge, or devastate so that it’s always used).  HS is a great way to burn off extra rage and keep building threat without using a global cooldown.
  • Cleave: Usually I only use cleave when I’m tanking multiple mobs and need a way to keep lots of threat on them.  Cleave does melee damage to the target and nearest ally.  It can also be a good way to burn extra rage.  Cleave isn’t on the global cooldown either, but cannot be used at the same time as Heroic Strike and vice-versa.
  • Thunderclap: Thunderclap is awesome.  It’s a great way to build quick threat on multiple mobs (every mob within its range).  Not only does it do damage and significant threat, it reduces the enemies swing timer.  Slower swing time=less incoming damage=happy and living tank!  Be careful though because it will break crowd control if the CC’d mob is in range.

Situational abilities:

  • Charge: I open most pulls with charge.  It generates 15 rage and stuns the target momentarily. With the Warbringer target, Charge can be used in combat (great for getting back after a knock back).  I don’t know how many tanks know this but since charge can be used while you are moving, it can be used while you are in the air.  If you are tossed into the air, a well timed charge will prevent fall damage.
  • Shockwave: I love Shockwave.  It is absolutely my favorite warrior ability.  It sends a ‘wave of force’ in a cone in front of you.  It causes damage and stuns any enemy caught in its path.  I use it to stun melee mobs when I get them positioned properly, especially when I need the extra 4 seconds to get off a heroic throw to interrupt the spell caster.  Shockwave is also one of my many spell interrupts.
  • Taunt: I’m tanking mob x. Mage decides to unload on mob y.  I taunt mob y, mage goes on living.  Taunt is great because it instantly increases the warriors threat to match the threat of whomever that mob is going after.  Be careful though, because taunt is subject to diminishing returns (which means it gets less effective over time).
  • Shield Bash: Dazes, interrupts, and silences.  Save it for the casters.  Especially the healers.  When there aren’t any casters it can be used on melee mobs because it does generate a fair amount of threat and does a little damage.  Plus it dazes them.
  • Concussion Blow:  Does damage and stuns.  Re: Interrupt a caster.  We warriors have a ridiculous amount of ways to interrupt an enemy.  Keep those suckers spell locked!  Concussion Blow can also be useful on a melee mob for the stun.  If they can’t hit you, you don’t take damage, you stay alive, the group is happy, etc etc.
  • Bloodrage: If you are raged starved, Bloodrage is your answer.  It gives you 20 rage (at the cost of health), and then gives you 10 more over 10 seconds.  If you need rage at the beginning of a pull and can’t use charge, use Bloodrage.  With glyph of bloodrage the health cost can be reduced.
  • Spell Reflect:  Good old shield.  So useful.  This time it’s sending those nasty spells right back an whoever cast them!  When triggered it will reflect the next spell cast on you within 5 seconds.  With Improved Spell Reflection it will reflect the next spell cast on you, or the 4 closest party members (not sure if that means it effects an entire raid group or not).
  • Disarm: Disarms the enemy’s main hand and ranged weapon for 10 seconds. Fairly straight forward.  Note that it can be used on some bosses (like Scadi the Ruthless).  If you can anticipate an ability like whirlwind, then a well placed disarm will nearly negate the effect.
  • Mocking Blow: I like to picture when I use this ability that I’m slapping the enemy across the face with the hilt of my sword and then laughing at them.  Mocking Blow will force your target to focus on you for the next 6 seconds.  It’s not a taunt though, so if you don’t continue to build threat on them, when it wears off the mob will go right back to whomever you just tried to save.  Usually the mage.

“Oh crap” abilities (i.e. when your mage tries to tank):

  • Shield Wall: Reduces all damage taken by 60% for 12 seconds.  The cooldown is 3 minutes so it can’t be used very often, but if you know there is a large amount of damage incoming, you should pop this.  Also, if you notice that your healer is low on mana, or if a lot of people in the raid are taking damage, using Shield Wall can be a great way to give you healers a little buffer.
  • Challenging Shout: Forces all targets to attack you for 10 seconds.  Make sure to build up threat on them during this period or they will scatter back to their original target.  This is very useful when multiple mobs are going off after many different targets.  It’s on a 3 minute cooldown (down from 10 thank heavens), so be careful when you use it.
  • Heroic Throw: Interrupts spell casting.  Yet another spell interrupt, except this one is at range!  I use this most often during a multi-caster pull.  Typically I will charge one caster, let the melee come to me, hit a thunder clap, then a shockwave, and then use heroic throw on the caster to get them to come to me.  But make sure you do it when they are actually casting or they won’t come to you.
  • Last Stand: Increases  your health by 30% for 20 seconds.  After the 20 seconds all that health is lost.  There are two ways to use this.  One as an ‘oh crap’ ability when the boss is nearly dead and so is your healer and if you can just outlast the boss two seconds then he will die and you will live.  But you can also use this in conjunction with Enraged Regeneration and a trinket lick Ick’s Rotting Thumb.
  • Enraged Regeneration:  A quick way to regenerate 30% of your health (over 10 seconds).  You need an Enrage effect to use it though, and in addition to consuming all currently active enrage effects, it will prevent any enrage effect from affecting you during those 10 seconds.  Since it increases a % of your health rather than a fixed number, if you use things like Last Stand and a health trinket like Ick’s Rotting Thumb to increase the overall size of your health pool, Enraged Regeneration will give you more health overall than it would without the use of those extra things.
  • Intimidating Shout: You will almost never use this.  It will fear 5 mobs (within 8 yards), and stun your target; lasts 8 seconds.  I can almost guarantee that you will think it’s a good idea to use this, and as soon as you do, that one random mob will run straight down the hall and pick up that pack of 20 extra guys that you thought were far enough away.  So seriously, just don’t use this.
  • Intervene: Runs at the target party (or raid) member, intercepting the next melee or ranged attack (but not spell I think).  It will also reduce their total threat by 10%.  This is a great way not only to protect clothies from heavy hitting melee but it can be used as an alternative to charge if you need to quickly get across the room one side to another.
  • Berserker Rage: Back in the day you had to switch into Berserker Stance to use this ability.  But no more!  B-Rage will remove any and all fear, sap, and incapacitate effects, and grant you immunity to said effects for 10 seconds.  You’ll also generate extra rage when taking damage.

Other Stance abilities (i.e. ones that would be useful for tanking):

  • Hamstring: Reduces movement speed by 50%. Requires Battle/Bezerker Stance.


  • Commanding Shout: Increases party and raid members health within 30 yards by 2255, for two minutes.  When you tank, basically you always want to use this buff.
  • Battle Shout: Increases attack power of all party and raid members within 30 yards of 550, for two minutes.  This will be overridden if another warrior with talented Battle Shout.  And, really almost 100% of the time you want to be using Commanding Shout anyway.
  • Vigilance: Always cast this on the mage. Unless another person in your party a) whines and moans about it until you cast it on them or b) is causing such an insane amount of threat that you just can’t keep up.  If there isn’t a mage, cast it on the healer.   Or if you don’t care if the mage dies (they’re gonna die anyway right?), cast it on the healer.  Oh right, what does it do; it “focuses your protective gaze” on a party/raid member.  It reduces 3% of the damage they take (all damage types I think), and transfers 10% of their threat to you (so not only do they have 10% less threat on them, but you gain all that threat on top of all the threat you are doing!).  And as a final fun little bonus, each time they get hit by an attack, your taunt cooldown is is refreshed.  There are some complicated situations when you might have warriors put Vigilance on each other.  Don’t.  For now, just don’t.  There are plenty of other people that might have justifications when that is a good idea.  And they may be correct.  But it’s best to leave those situations to the more experienced folks.


Hopefully this will be a useful reference for those new to the protection warrior experience.  And maybe it will act as a good refresher for those who’ve been doing it for ages.  I should note I wrote this originally in the middle of the night, and may forget to double check my work before it gets posted (because I’m gonna be real busy this week), so if something is wrong, by all means, let me know.

I’m also hoping that some of you experienced folks out there can offer your own little tidbits of advice on how these abilities can be used in combination, and what situations they’d be best in.  General and specific examples are welcome.

Here I’ll give you an example: In the violet hold there is one type of mob that will knock you back.  While I’m still flying through the air, as soon as I’m back at least 8 yards I hit Charge and not only am I instantly back in the action, but that mob is stunned!

Now for a generic example.  This is one of my typical pulls on a 2 melee 2 caster group.  Charge the first caster, Demoralizing Shout, let the melee come to me, back up a little, Shockwave, then target the 2nd caster and use Heroic Throw to interrupt casting.  While that caster is moving to me I start my rotation on target 1: Shield Slam, Revenge, Devastate, Devastate, Shield Slam, switch to target target 2, Revenge, Devastate, switch to target three, Shield Slam, Devastate, Thunderclap, queue up cleave, switch to target 4, Devastate, go back to target 1, Shield Slam, Revenge, Devastate, Devastate, back up a little, Shockwave, refresh Demo Shout, refresh Thunderclap, Refresh Devastate on each target, queue up Cleave, queue up Shield Reflect for the un-targeted caster, Shield Bash the targeted caster to interrupt their heals, watch them die, pop Shield Block, switch to target two, and start the whole thing over.  Once I’m down to just one target I replace Cleave with Heroic Strike.

Ok this post has become a lot longer than I intended it to be so I am just going to end it and go to bed.  Hopefull all my info will be correct…I promise when I have time I’ll go back and clean this up.

“[Insert clever sign off phrase here]”


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