For as long as I can remember there has always been a dilemma surrounding prot warriors. Whether shield block vs shield barrier like it was in MoP or the haste vs mastery that we have now… Many people have voiced their opinions on the matter and most of them are very well structured, but quite dispersed. This is my attempt at summing it all up.
Q: Haste vs mastery? A: Both and neither!
If you are on the front line of progression raiding and doing content while under geared, well then you probably don’t need me telling you this, but there is no cookie cutter template to follow. You have to go about it on an encounter by encounter basis. That means you should have farmed out and carry around at least 2 sets of gear or maybe even 3.
If you are not doing content under geared however, your choice becomes more trivial. Item level will provide the biggest survivability boost so you go for that first and worry about secondaries later.
How secondaries work on prot warrior
In case you did not come here for the tl;dr, let’s dive into this more deeply.
For shield block, haste increases the uptime by reducing its cooldown, the cooldown of your damaging abilities and global cooldown (GCD). This allows for more SS resets > more shield block extension thanks to HR. Haste evens out incoming damage by blocking more hits, but for a lower amount.
For shield block, mastery increases critical shield block chance. You will have less uptime, but block more damage for the time that it is up.
It is an interplay between uptime and impact. With one you will cast your active mitigation on a rotational basis with the other you might have to pool and prepare for the right moment.
Which to pick?
The popular advice is is to play whichever feels better. Haste builds offer a more fast paced playstyle with high activity pressing whatever is available. With mastery you still want to maintain the CDs rolling, but since you can’t have shield block and an IP up at any moment you will want to use them when they will be most effective. It requires a bit more planing and encounter awareness.
In a min maxing context which one wins out, what do the numbers say? I don’t have the exact metrics available, but I will try to collect the data if I get some free time on my hands.
- Encounters that require you to active tank for a long time – high uptime –> haste is favorable. E.G. Dragons of Nightmare or Cenarius
- Encounters with frequent tank switches favor mastery builds. E.G. Nythendra or Il’gynoth
- Encounters with predominant magic/unblockable damage like ticking poisons and bleeds favor versatility. E.G. Ursoc
Oh, right. Did I forget to mention? We also have versatility.
Realistically the question shouldn’t be haste vs mastery but rather haste vs versatility??
Haste vs Versatility?
If given a choice you will always want to have mastery on your gear. It does not matter if you have 100% or a 110% uptime on shield block if you are trying to block with a cardboard shield. So then, which is the other stat that you should be looking for on gear?
Haste and mastery have a similar effect on your survivability in that they interact with both shield block and IP. Versatility is different from that. It essentially doubles down on your IP method of damage mitigation. It increases your absorbs by as much as mastery does, but also offers an extra, no questions asked, damage reduction to everything. So for even overall damage mitigation go for haste and mastery build. For predominant magic/unblockable damage encounters you will need a versatility and mastery build.
Since most of us don’t have the luxury of freely switching between gear sets with different secondaries, what should we do?
Well, despite gameplay preference, the general consensus is going 25-30% haste, then mastery, then versa and critical strike is bottom of the barrel (didn’t even deserve it’s own paragraph). This is the most reliable and universally applicable build and will perform well for the current tier encounters and for mythic plus. If you don’t have very well itemized gear, you can throw on some haste enchants, gems, food and put on haste trinkets to help you out. You will already feel the difference starting at 20% haste. Overall you will want to prioritize item level in most cases since strength provides the biggest increase to your IP and the stamina safety cushion is good to have.
Once you get used to it, it might be hard to go away from the haste. Although, you will probably not have to. At higher item levels you can already reach this haste goal and get away with having mastery/versa items and in future tiers we can hopefully go back to having beefier IP, like at the start of the expansion…
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