The Warrior’s Charge: Protection talents in Legion
While I’m in the alpha for Legion, at present that means playing a Demon Hunter. So for now we’ll be working based on the recent huge datamine of Legion information, which means we’re even more in a ‘don’t panic, none of this is set in stone’ area then we’d be if it was a live beta. Still, we can talk about what we have. There’s the new talents for each spec, a new PvP talent system, and new class abilities to discuss. Let’s get started. This week we’ll be covering the new Protection talents, getting some Arms and Fury talents when they’re shared.
For starters, we can compare and contrast the Arms, Fury and Protection talents. We can immediately see that there’s a lot more variation between specs than there is in Warlords. Some talents are available to all three specs, like Second Wind and Overpower, while others are restricted to two, such as Into the Fray or Bladestorm. Some talents bear familiar names but aren’t quite the same as we remember them — for example, Arms and Fury both get access to Sweeping Strikes, but it only modifies Execute and either Raging Blow or Mortal Strike, depending on spec.
Let’s take a look at Protection, going talent by talent.
The Protection Talent Locker
The first talent tier gives you a choice between Shockwave (all three specs get access to this), Siegebreaker (Prot only, despite the tooltip listing Fury and Prot versions) and Warbringer (also Prot only). I’m not sure why they changed Intervene’s name to Intercept, outside of nostalgia for back in the day when we had both, but that’s what the talent is now modifying, and it’s a pretty beefy upgrade for it. As it is, Intercept now acts like old Intercept plus Intervene, and the buff from Warbringer is substantial. Siegebreaker is unchanged, and Shockwave is as you remember it. These are all very situational talents, and I don’t think choosing between them will be as easy as ‘what gives me more damage/threat.’
The next tier is two Protection only choices and a third shared. Vigilance is unchanged from live, and Crackling Thunder increases the radius of Thunder Clap. Bounding Strike, the shared talent, reduces the cooldown on Heroic Leap and increases run speed by 70% for 3 seconds after using it. These are all quality of life choices — do you want to be able to taunt more often, hit further with your Thunder Clap, or use Heroic Leap more often and get a benefit from using it?
Less of a wind, more of a breeze
The level 45 tier shares two talents with Arms and Fury, so I’ll likely talk about them later. The Protection only talent is Renewed Fury, which makes your Ignore Pain active mitigation ability Enrage you, adding 10% damage to your attacks. It’s an interesting contrast to Overpower, which is an attack, and Avatar, a DPS cooldown, allowing you to customize how you increase your damage output.
At level 60 all three talents are shared across all three specs, so I’ll just cover them all now. Second Wind is completely redesigned and effectively useless for a Protection Warrior now — when are you going to need this talent and not be taking any damage for five whole seconds? I’m not sold on it for Fury or Arms, either — it’s essentially just super fast healing when out of combat, or if you can get away from various splash raid/dungeon encounter damage — but for Protection it’s abysmal. Double Time is basically the same as it is now, but the fact that it modifies Intercept makes me think that Protection replaces Charge with Intercept instead of just having both. Imposing Roar meanwhile just adds a flat 20% Leech when you use Commanding Shout. While it’s an anemic amount of self healing for a Protection Warrior it’s better than Second Wind, since it will work whether or not you’re taking damage. I’d like to see Second Wind given some more design, as it stands that’s not a compelling talent choice.
The level 75 tier is all Protection talents, and they’re actually pretty compelling. I’m a little sad to have to choose between them. First up is Best Served Cold, which causes your Revenge to generate 2 additional rage for every target it hits. In the new scheme where Protection generates a lot of its rage from damage taken, the ability to increase the amount you can generate independently is very compelling. It’s really only good for AoE situations, but it’s still interesting. Indomitable isn’t a mathematically complex talent — you take it, you get 25% to your maximum health. It may not be flashy, but as a tank more health is hard to say no to. And finally there’s Never Surrender, which approaches the same problem as Indomitable in a different way, increasing the damage ignore ability of Ignore Pain by an additional 30%. So it comes down to whether or not you want more rage to hit your mitigation with, more health to soak damage with, or more damage ignore when you hit your mitigation.
Vengeance of the Voice
At level 90, we have two Protection only talents and one shared with Fury. Vengeance makes your Ignore Pain give you a rage discount on Heroic Strike, and your Heroic Strike give you a rage discount on Ignore Pain. So each encourages you to use the other. Part of me likes this, and part of me thinks ‘why not just give a flat discount to both and call it a day’ but we’ll see how it plays out live. Booming Voice buffs your Demoralizing Shout to not only grant you a big chunk of rage, but also to increase the damage you deal to those that you hit with it. Different ways to encourage you to be more active in your cooldown usage, and get some offense in return. Into the Fray just gives you more Haste the more enemies you have, up to five for a flat 25% haste boost. Since Haste still doesn’t do much for Protection, it’s a DPS boost but not much of one. Fury would get more out of it.
The level 100 tier for Protection sees us choosing between two talents shared with Arms, and one purely Protection talent. Anger Management reduces the cooldown of Recklessness for Arms and Last Stand and Shield Wall for Protection by one second for every 10 rage spent. I kind of feel like it needs more, like Ignore Pain could be on this for Protection and Colossus Smash for Arms, get some real value out of your talent choice. Ravager is the other shared talent, and it’s a good AoE DPS cooldown with a decent mini-tanking cooldown built in. If it weren’t exclusive with Anger Management I’d want it put on that talent as well, and perhaps it could be moved a tier. Finally Protection gets Heavy Repercussions, which is mechanically similar to Vengeance, but to my eyes works a lot better in terms of encouraging synergy between offense and defense. You’re going to use both anyway, but this way both hit harder in their specific field, Shield Block now providing more defense while Shield Slam will do more damage.
In the end there’s a lot to unpack here. It definitely feels like we’ve gone a ways towards making talents less of a ‘makes you stronger/do more damage/take more damage’ choice and more about what you prefer, or what’s situational. And that’s a good thing. I’m sure there will eventually be talent choices that are numerically better most of the time. Into the Fray and Second Wind seem extremely weak for Protection right now.
Next time we’ll try and cover DPS talents, if we can do that in one column.
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