The patch is coming.
We all know this. We don't know exactly when it will be here, but will know it's coming. (Edited to add - okay, it's today.) What will it change? What will warriors have to be concerned about, what will we look forward to, and what gear can we get from the unlockable vendor on the Sunwell island?
Well, for starters, at least so far as has been revealed on the PTR, warriors are seeing remarkably little in the way of changes. Imp Hamstring is now subject to diminishing returns, Cleave won't hit a CC'd target, and supposedly they're going to fix the bug that has led to flurry not proccing off of off-hand weapon strikes. This is not a huge laundry list of changes. The entire warrior section of the current patch notes is as follows:
- Cleave: This ability will no longer strike any secondary target which is under the effect of crowd-control spells that break on taking damage. i.e. Polymorph, Sap, etc. (Edited to Add - Hortus clarifies that this change was rolled back on live.)
- Endless Rage will now give the correct amount of rage as intended from damage dealt by a Warrior.
- Improved Hamstring (Arms) effect is now subject to diminishing returns when used in PvP.
- Stances: It is no longer possible to accidentally change into a stance you are already in via macros (resulting in a global cooldown and loss of rage).
- Whirlwind: Critical strikes with the off-hand weapon from this ability can now trigger Flurry and Rampage.
- Flurry will properly refresh if a crit occurs with 1 charge left.
I have to admit, I'm underwhelmed, and also a little relieved.
Yet there's still much to look forward to. A new dungeon of the five man variety to tank, a new raid, and loads of badge gear for the DPS or tanking warrior, as well as the return of PvP blues for your newly 70 warrior heading into BG's or the arenas. MMO-Champion posted this screenshot detailing what the gear looks like, what the stats are, and where you can get it. Statistically, it's identical to the old blue Horde/Alliance PvP sets you could earn with honor from the Battlegrounds, but now that the BG's give you a chance at the season one epic sets (and soon to be season two) it makes sense that they wouldn't want to have these inferior pieces up for honor purchase. It's smart to release them as a blue 'set' to make surviving in the battlegrounds or arenas long enough to get your new gear more likely.
Of course, I will say this: graphically, it's a boring set. It's just the old Bold/Doomplate skin recolored. Heck, it's almost identical looking to the PvE tanking epics that drop in Karazhan. I mean, take a look at this screenshot from the Mantle of Abrahmis entry. The Kara gear is a little bit darker, that's all. Honestly, I mostly expect new tanking warriors at 70 who are having bad luck getting a set of shoulders to drop to pick up these and socket them for tanking. High stamina, some resilience for reduced crits, and with two sockets and a tanking enchant you could get your defense up to make these a reasonable option. Of course the season 1 shoulders are better, but those will still take some time, you could pick these up the second you hit 70 since it's not that hard to hit honored with Lower City.
Before I move on to gear from instances and vendors I have to say that I'm of mixed feelings about this 'non patch' in terms of its changes or lack thereof to warriors. On the one hand, no changes means no nerfs. Since I hate nerfing with the fiery intensity of an IMDB discussion thread, I can't say I'm disappointed about that. I also recognize that there is a lot of content in this patch. A new five man, a new raid and lots of new daily quests. So the fact that warriors saw little change is understandable. But I can't help but be a little disappointed that no attempt was made to modify some of the class' really annoying issues (prot warrior leveling/soloing/questing, fury warrior viability in PvP and five man dungeons, balancing prot DPS and offspec tanking viability without interfering with each other's primary viable role) in some way. Still, the 31 point arms ability has survived another patch intact, which considering any rogue can apply it to his weapon and a Marksman hunter can do it at range, that's a relief to me. Especially since fury is hardly a viable PvP spec anymore.
Anyway, what gear should warriors be looking forward to? Well, before we get into badge gear, here's a heck of a drop for tanks: the Commendation of Kael'Thas from Heroic Magister's Terrace. Be your tank a warrior, a paladin or a beary bear, this trinket is for anyone who stands up in front of horrible warty monstrosities and tells them, well, that they hit like little gnome girls. 57 stamina and a chance for 152 dodge rating when you go below 35% maximum health? I'll take one. I'd take two if they weren't unique. 57 stamina! Look upon it and tremble!
Now that we've seen why T5/T6 tanks will be running Magister's Terrace on heroic a lot, let's look at some of that sweet, sweet badge gear. It's badgetastic.
Sunguard Legplates: Now, I have the Unwavering Legguards and love them. As a tank, I would still get these, but not as an upgrade... rather, I'd get them for expertise sensitive fights or fights where I want more avoidance and less Shield Slam threat. Both are lovely pants, and the high defense on the Sunguard's means that if you get a nice trinket (like, say, the Commendation of Kael'Thas) which doesn't offer any defense at all, you can wear it without fretting. Any good tank is going to have multiple gear sets anyway, and these pants make for a heck of an avoidance/defense combo.
Ring of the Stalwart Protector: Thankfully this isn't an instance drop so you won't have to endure the endless arguments as to which tank it's better for. This ring is an excellent choice for warrior tanks because of the high stamina and pure avoidance via dodge rating, making it an excellent part of an avoidance set you may be constructing. (Yes, it's better for druids. But they can spend their badges however they like and not worry about what you spend yours on.)
Legplates of Unending Fury: Hi, DPS warriors. Here's some shiny haste pants for you.
Girdle of Seething Rage: This seems like a solid enough belt to me, but a lot of warriors think the high stam and haste without crit and only one blue socket makes it inferior to the Red Belt of Battle. That might be the case, to be fair, but I think for PvE DPS this belt's superior due entirely to that large dose of haste rating. I honestly think that between this belt and the Legplates of Unending Fury, you're looking at a really nice haste set.
Breastplate of Ire: Part three of the Badge Haste Set. The high stamina on it does start to confuse me after a while, but we'll see if these three pieces combine well or if they end up needing some tweaking.
Angelista's Revenge: She's back, and this time she's hurting people! Crit, stam, AP, some dodge (if you cared about that) and armor penetration all in one ring. It's very similar to Signet of Primal Wrath from ZA, which is nice if you hated that it was unique and you couldn't wear two of them.
Chestplate of Stoicism: Another piece of high defense tanking plate from badges in 2.4, this piece is simply lovely. By having high defense it not only allows you to use trinkets, rings and necks that have other awesome tanking stats but lack defense (like the Brooch of Deftness) but it also has excellent armor, high stam, a good dollop of total avoidance in dodge rating, and shield block value for Shield Slam aggro. Combined with the Unwavering Legguards for pure Shield Slam threat or the Sunguard Legplates for their avoidance and expertise, this is an excellent tanking chest. And if you're really looking to throw on even more expertise, there's always Girdle of the Fearless. It has hit, expertise, high defense and high stam, so it's an excellent threat belt for prot warriors.
As for badge weapons coming in the patch, well, there's a few daggers if you're into that kind of thing, but I personally don't like daggers for either DPSing or tanking (especially not for tanking, as they don't have as good a coefficient as swords, maces and axes do), there's a two handed axe I can't get excited about (it actually seems to whisper 'hunter weapon' at me when I look at it) and there's three fist weapons that give me absolute chills I love them so much, but I think most warriors would be less impressed. I currently use a fast fist for my DPS set because I like the rage generation, so I'd probably get the Slow MH/Fast OH set if I was going to spend badges on weapons, myself.
To wrap it all up: we didn't get buffed, we didn't get nerfed, and there's lots of nice badge gear incoming for warriors. See you on the other side of the patch.