Battle Stance and Defensive Stance
Stances are back! Stances were a significant gameplay aspect for Warrior for a very long time, and their return brings back a core gameplay element of Protection that has been gone for a while: Stance swapping. Battle Stance is your primary stance. The DPS increase it provides isn’t negligible, and you should strive to be in it as much as possible. DEFENSIVE STANCE IS A DAMAGE REDUCTION COOLDOWN. Similar to other defensive cooldowns like Shield Wall, you will swap to Defensive Stance before a heavy-hitting tank mechanic, then back out once you are safe. You want to be in Defensive Stance as little as possible. The 10% damage dealt effect is a considerable loss, and there is no reason to stay in Defensive Stance permanently.
Impending Victory has been a strong talent for some time, but it was previously in the same talent row as Indomitable. Now, it's easily accessible with little to no cost. The 30% heal on a 30-second cooldown is a great addition to Protection Warrior's toolkit, filling the gap of lack of self-healing capabilities. It serves as a "oh no button" when things go wrong and helps stabilize the situation.
Dragonflight brings a significant quality of life improvement to Spell Reflect for Protection Warriors. The 20% magic damage reduction is no longer consumed when reflecting a spell, making it a powerful tool for damage reduction with a short cooldown.
Blood and Thunder
The Blood and Thunder talent makes it much easier to maintain the Rend debuff on enemies and is always useful. It's a great quality of life improvement and it also provides a significant damage boost in AoE situations due to its ability to spread Rend.
Reinforced Plates and Armored to the Teeth
Reinforced Plates and Armored to the Teeth are key talents contributing to Protection Warrior's current strength. Protection Warriors already have a high base armor due to being both a plate class and a shield class. Reinforced Plates adds an extra 20% to that base armor, making it even higher. Armored to the Teeth converts 2% of that armor into strength, which is very powerful. Furthermore, the Protection Warrior passive, Vanguard, converts 70% of your strength into armor.
This creates a loop where Reinforced Plates increases armor, Armored to the Teeth increases strength, Vanguard increases armor, which is then increased again by Reinforced Plates, and so on. However, this loop does not go on infinitely. It stops at one loop.
Leeching Strikes and One-Handed Weapon Specialization
Both Leeching Strikes and One-Handed Weapon Specialization talents are powerful. It provides Protection with 10% leech as a baseline which greatly improves their survival capabilities. Additionally, One-Handed Weapon Specialization offers a further 5% damage increase when using one-handed weapons.
Thunderous Roar and Thunderous Words
Thunderous Roar is a decent addition to Protections' damage cooldowns. The real benefit of it, though, comes from Thunderous Words. The 15% permanent buff to ALL of Protection’s bleeds is powerful now that we have Rend, Deep Wounds, and Thunderous Roar. Additionally, Thunderous Roar is an additional bleed to help trigger the spec tree talent Bloodsurge, which is an excellent source of passive rage, especially in M+.
Enduring Defenses and Bolster
Maintaining 100% uptime on Shield Block was one of the major difficulties faced by Protection Warriors in Shadowlands. While legendaries like Reprisal could increase uptime, they required significant effort to use effectively. Fortunately, in Dragonflight, this pain has been alleviated. There is a multitude of talents that either extend Shield Blocks duration or grant you Shield Block for a given amount of time. Enduring Defenses is an amazing passive to aid this, as well as Bolster. These paired together, along with Shield charge talent previously mentioned, allow you to opt into Into more offensive talents without dropping Shield Block uptime.
This is a modified version of the Protection Warrior's tier set from Shadowlands seasons 3 and 4. It essentially works the same as it did in Shadowlands, but with the added benefit that it also increases additional rage-generating abilities. So, talents like Heavy Repercussions and Impenetrable Wall become even more potent due to this. Ideally, you want to spend every Violent Outburst proc on Shield Slam, as it will net you the most rage and damage.
Into the Fray vs Heavy Repercussions
In the beginning of Dragonflight we didn’t have the haste values to ensure 100% uptime of Shield Block was easily achievable so Heavy Repercussions was the go-to. As we go into our third season, this is no longer a problem. With the Haste increase from Into the Fray being much more desirable, pairing this with the many other talents that provide Shield Block uptime, you’ll find it easy to maintain the buff now and even with minimal allies providing value, the gain is still more valuable than Heavy Repercussions.
Shield Charge and Champion’s Bulwark
Shield Charge is a fantastic new ability in the Protection Warrior's toolkit. It deals a respectable amount of damage, and the additional stun is always useful. Furthermore, when paired with the talent Champion's Bulwark, it mimics the effects of the Shadowlands legendary Reprisal, providing a notable boost to both damage and survivability through increased rage generation and improved Shield Block uptime.
Spell Block is likely the most powerful defensive spell that Protection Warriors gained with the new talent trees. Protection Warriors have a high block chance due to their mastery and talents like Shield Specialization, so the ability to block spells for 20 seconds on a 90-second cooldown is incredibly powerful. With how blocking works and the Critical Blocking mechanics, Protection Warriors can mitigate up to 99% of damage from magic spells while Spell Block is active. When used correctly, it can make the player nearly invincible.
While Battle-Scarred Veteran talent may seem incredibly powerful, and it is, when played correctly Protection should never trigger it. As a Protection Warrior, you negate a lot of upfront damage and will stay at a relatively high health passively due to effects like Shield Block and Ignore Pain. If you are dipping low, that means you really messed up. So while this effect is very very strong, for the vast majority of players it isn’t needed, and I would recommend not talenting into it.
Raid Single Target
Raid Cleave / AoE
This build strikes a good balance between damage, survivability, and utility. In terms of utility, it includes two single-target stuns, Storm Bolt and Shield Charge, an AoE stun with Shockwave, and Rallying Cry to aid the group during challenging mechanics. Spell Block is notably powerful in most dungeons and Show of Force will increase your damage output by a large margin.