Llarold, our Protection Warrior guide writer, has given more extensive thoughts on the Protection Warrior Tier Set bonus!
Great News, Everyone!
As I said in the last writeup on Protection Warrior’s Patch 9.2 tier set bonuses, most of the upcoming tank bonuses offer situational power suited toward Mythic+ and AoE. Protection Warrior is the only tank to receive two valuable, interesting bonuses that are great in all situations.
Prior to the recent redesign, the Protection Warrior bonus had serious issues with their functionality, from the Ignore Pain component being mathematically never worth using to a bug that caused the 2-piece bonus to consume charges without doing anything. There was even a bug that would make the bonuses completely stop functioning until you relogged!
Fortunately, all of the bugs appear to be fixed, nearly all the concerns that Protection Warriors have had about this set of bonuses have been dealt with, and better than all of that, it got a humongous buff!
How It Works
Basically, as you spend Rage, or if you cast Avatar, your next Shield Slam or Thunder Clap does triple damage and generates triple Rage and casts a free Ignore Pain. You virtually always want to use this on Shield Slam, as it will always be worth more damage and Rage. The Thunder Clap use is generally a loss and should ideally never be used, but sitting on a proc for more than a couple of seconds is never worth it, and Thunder Clap can provide an extremely strong AoE slow and good burst AoE damage, so there’s at least some useful niche for it.
Assuming you would have spent any Rage generated on Revenge, the Thunder Clap combo can potentially be worth ever-so-slightly more damage than the Shield Slam combo at 5+ targets, but it still provides less Rage for the Anger Management feedback loop, so it’s typically a weaker option even in large-scale AoE.
What Has Changed?
Because of the 2-piece rework, the 4-piece now immediately grants Outburst upon using Avatar.
You can apply Outburst by using Avatar without losing the Seeing Red stacks you’ve generated by spending Rage.
You can still generate Seeing Red stacks if you have Outburst granted by casting Avatar.
This is all very good.
Math + Testing: The Ultimate Combo
Alright, let’s dive into the numbers a bit, just to see how big these changes really are.
On average, a skilled Protection Warrior in single target generates about 8-10 Rage per second from their standard rotation. You also generate 1.5-2 Rage per second from enemy attacks while tanking. There’s a good bit of variance thanks to Shield Slam resets, taunt-swapping, caster mobs, and good old RNG, but 8-12 Rage per second while tanking is a decent estimate.
Note: I want to stop here and note that all of this data assumes you will be tanking – and that’s a reasonable assumption. Who cares what a tank bonus does while you’re not tanking? Not me!
The 2-piece triggers every time you spend 240 Rage. This means it triggers every 20-30 seconds. If used on Shield Slam, as it nearly always should be, it grants an extra 1-1.3 Rage per second, and an extra ~300-400 dps. For a top player, that’s 4-5% more single target DPS. Pretty good for a 2-piece.
Because of the changes, the 4-piece bonus substantially increases the value of the 2-piece – and that’s without even considering the added damage and damage reduction during Avatar. Thanks to the positive feedback loop with Anger Management, this bonus winds up easily doubling the Outburst proc frequency, to a proc roughly every 11-12 seconds while actively tanking. As a result, the combined bonuses offer roughly 2.6 Rage per second. That’s a 20-25% total Rage generation increase. It is extremely good.
Doing a few sets of single-target training dummy tests confirmed my on-paper estimates. I was averaging an Ignore Pain proc every 11-12 seconds, which is worth roughly 900 HPS of free Ignore Pain casts at 252 item level. Thanks to Anger Management, I was able to cast Avatar every 40 seconds. This results in upwards of 50% Avatar uptime. It’s not quite the Season 4 BFA Protection Warrior dream, but it’s still extremely nice.
This also did not include any raid buffs, Bloodlust/Time Warp, or Windfury Totem. A tank can dream.
But wait, there’s more!
The other component of the 4-piece bonus: “Avatar increases your damage dealt by an additional 10% and reduces your damage taken by 10%” is terrific. With an average uptime over 50% on Anger Management, this half of the 4-piece bonus is worth about 4-5% more damage in all situations. It also adds an extra defensive layer with really good uptime. This is absolutely the kind of bonus that Protection Warrior needs.
Will The Necrolord Dream Finally Come True?
I found that the Kyrian setup pretty much adhered to all of my expectations, and everything was normal. Great, but normal!
As for the Necrolord setup, it exceeded expectations. Sacrificing Reprisal is tough to justify on live servers right now, but Glory is a tremendous bonus, and easily the most interesting Covenant-specific Legendary available to Protection Warriors. Between the 4-piece bonus and Glory, I was effortlessly able to maintain Conqueror’s Banner uptime of over a minute for every cast – I made one Conqueror’s Banner last over 90 seconds.
Once I was able to test with both Reprisal and Glory, my mind was absolutely blown into a million pieces. 100% uptime on Conqueror’s Banner is realistically achievable. It’s wildly good. Rage generation is over 17/sec on non-tank dummies with Windfury. Avatar uptimes are over 55%. Outburst procs every 9-10 seconds. It rocks.
Because of the need to generate and spend Rage constantly, this setup gets penalized by downtime. It won’t be optimal for every raid boss or every Mythic+ dungeon, but for situations where you will be able to maintain at or near 100% uptime, Necrolord Protection Warrior with full tier set and Reprisal and Glory looks extremely fast-paced and powerful.
These bonuses are really good now! Protection Warrior has needed a boost for a while, and this fits the bill. Will this new tier set be enough to make Protection Warriors popular again? Probably not on its own.
Protection Warrior’s defensive capabilities have been fairly competitive throughout Shadowlands, at least when dealing with blockable damage. It doesn’t give them the group utility of Pallies, the terrific defensive cooldowns of Monks, or the constant self-healing of Blood Death Knights. In terms of damage output, Warriors are pretty decent in Mythic+ but weak in raids. Although this set of bonuses is helpful, it’s still not enough to actually make them competitive in raids with the majority of other tanks. As for Mythic+? Yeah, probably!
To be frank, community perception of Protection Warriors at this point is that they are the worst tank in the game, and there’s some truth to that. Although the class isn’t far behind, it is the least popular tank in both Mythic+ and raiding. That’s not great.
These tier bonuses are a terrific start, but they’re probably not enough on their own to make Protection Warriors popular. They succeed at the more difficult part of making the class feel stronger and more fun, especially once combined with the amazing synergy of a second Legendary (double for Necrolord), but they will probably still need some basic numerical buffs to push the community back towards Protection Warrior.
Even if class buffs don’t happen, this is still a really good set of bonuses that add a ton of power, and it gives Protection Warriors something to look forward to in Patch 9.2!