I've said a million times that there are a ton of sites that do a much better job than I ever could as far as Protection Warrior theorycrafting and number-crunching...I'm not even going to pretend to throw my hat in that ring.
What I can do, however, is hastily throw together a list of answers to the questions I usually get. I'm going to dumb this down, not because I believe my readers are dumb, but, on the contrary, because I'm an idiot who can't explain it in anything but a simple manner.
Here goes nothing:
What is the defense cap? For raids, it's 540. For heroics, it's 535. Why the difference? Because raid bosses are level 83 and heroic bosses are level 82.
Do I have to be at the defense cap to tank a heroic? The answer to that one, from a purely technical standpoint, is no. The defense cap is there to make sure that you don't get crit by a boss because boss crits hurt. If you take a couple of crits in a row, even in a heroic, your healers probably won't be able to keep up with the burst damage and you'll die. So no, you don't have to be at the cap to tank a heroic or a raid, but you should be.
I'm at 520 defense, and this upgrade has 40 additional defense on it, won't that put me at 560 and shouldn't I go for something that won't put me that far over the cap? I get this one a lot, and don't feel bad if you've asked it. The defense targets of 535 and 540 refer to defense skill. The defense number on items refers to defense rating. Every point of defense skill, at level 80, will give you roughly 1/4 a point of defense skill. It's not exactly 1/4, but if you're trying to calculate it on the fly, it's a good way to eyeball it. For the example above, you'll wind up at about 530 defense skill after the upgrade.
The higher your level, the less skill you get for each point of rating. Back at 70 when I was eyeballing upgrades the number was closer to .4 skill/rating, so I generally just cut the amount of rating in half and knocked off a point or two to guesstimate it.
Veneretio has some helpful calculators that will give you the exact numbers. There are also addons that can help you out by giving you the true increase/decrease in defense of an upgrade. Bottom line: if you're guesstimating on the fly, assume it's about 1/4.
What should my rotation be? It's not a rotation, it's a tiered priority system.
First of all, take Sunder Armor off of your Defensive Stance bar. Devastate does that and does damage/threat, ergo, it's better.
Also, please, for the sake of all that is good and sexy, take Rend off of your Defensive Stance bar. You want every point of rage you spend to generate threat, and from that standpoint Rend is a grotesque waste of perfectly good rage.
Here's the priority sytem, assuming a single target:
- Shield Slam/Revenge/Devastate
- Concussion Blow/Shockwave
- Thunderclap/Demoralizing Shout
While you're doing all of this, you're going to be spamming Heroic Strike. By spamming, I mean seriously spamming...like emails offering you Canadian Viagra spamming. Keep it up all the friggin' time. Heroic Strike generates a good deal of threat, and it also serves the purpose of making sure that you're not wasting rage.
How does HS keep you from wasting rage? If you're at 100 rage points and the boss dings you for 8k, that's a ton of rage you could have used to keep pumping out threat. Heroic Strike is an expensive ability that offers a good threat return, which makes it great at dumping threat so every time you get smacked you end up with rage you can use.
Hopefully somebody got some use out of this wall of text. If you have questions, ask. I don't recommend asking in General or Trade chat because you'll probably not get anything constructive. Instead, ask a guildie if one is available. If there isn't, shoot me an email or, if you're on Bloodhoof (US) just whisper me. I'll be glad to help.
Happy Friday. Happy Tanking.