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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Transitioning your role

Well, I've been thinking about doing this for almost half a year, ever since Titan's Grip was announced, and now I have. I'm a raiding fury warrior again. My job is to hit things until they are dead, or in some cases to hit them until they are dead and have the common decency to stop moving around like that.

It was a decision made harder by the glory of prot spec in its current form, but as Adam's post this week pointed out, fury is getting some nice changes that will make it even more viable, and when you come down to it, I have wanted to dual wield 2h weapons for years now. When an old friend of mine 'put the band back together', so to speak, and told me that the guild I'd raided all the 40 man original raid content with was back and that they were looking for a fury warrior for Wrath, it took a lot of time for me to decide what to do. Changing guilds was hard, as the guild I'd raided with in TBC was an excellent one and i know they'll have lots of success in Wrath, but in the end I felt like this was a move that would help keep the game fun and interesting for me.

Last night was my first 25 man as fury. We raided Sarth and Naxx. My DPS was tolerable, but not where I'd want it to be and the fault mostly lies with my gearing, as I'd been focusing most of my attention on tank gear and have lackluster DPS gear for the moment. My hit rating is adequate, but my crit and AP both need to come up. I knew that going in, though. I also need to relearn my rotations so that I'm makingt the best use of Bloodsurge (especially when the changes come in) but that will come in time. The primary task before me now, and one that faces any warrior, raider or not, who decides to change from DPS to tanking or tanking to DPS is to unlearn my habitual playstyle and learn a new one, and in some cases to make sure you don't assume that you can just jump in and do what worked for you before. Both DPS and tanking have been changed pretty significantly for warriors, and trying to revive my old style of DPSing would be absolutely futile.

The first task is, of course, to relearn gearing. (Well, okay, the first task is to determine if your current guild is willing to let you switch or if you have a place to go that is, but we'll just assume that is the case.) While I plan to still collect a set of tanking gear in case things change down the road (since every single time I've 'gone DPS' I've ended up tanking again) my priorities for badge gear and what I roll on is now DPS gear. I also have to relearn what's good: Armor penetration has been heavily nerfed which was a change from the last time I was paying attention to DPS gear while picking up offset gear while raiding in SSC and TK, something I stopped doing once we moved into Hyjal, BT and Sunwell because I was never DPSing, only tanking. At present my goals are to maintain 360 hit rating while increasing my AP and crit rating, looking to badge loot like the Mirror of Truth and the Bladed Steelboots for the most immediate bang for my emblems now that I have a solid set of 2h weapons to build around. I might go for the Death-Inured Sabatons instead, the problem being that I was grinding Kirin Tor rep for the tanking gloves which I now no longer require, but that's what dalies and tabards are for. If I were arms instead (which I've considered) my priorities would change... the same stats, but I'd weight hit less as the amount of hit I have right now would absolutely remove misses entirely. In either case, while I'm focusing on crit and AP right now, I also need to start finding expertise to try and get to 148 expertise rating as soon as I can arrange it.

If I were going from DPS to tanking, my problem would be the same but the specifics would differ. Are you gearing for threat or for survival? Do you want to gear for survival through high stamina or high avoidance/mitigation? Most tanks I know assemble at least two sets (closer to four in some cases) to balance all of these factors, and if you're moving to tanking from a DPS role where you probably have one set of gear for that role which contains your highest stats, moving to the role of tanking where your 'best' set might not be the set you want to wear for a specific fight can be a bit of a paradigm shock. I've seen tanks new to tanking become overwhelmed by the options on gear and wonder why you'd want certain stats. It takes a while to learn about things like parry gibbing for example, which I don't think is as much of an issue in Wrath as it was. Nothing you're tanking can crush you and you should be uncrittable, meaning that a hasted counterattack simply isn't going to hit all that hard... if a boss' normal swing is for 6k on plate, being parried will still be pretty bad, but when your tank has 32k or more health it's simply not as critical as it was back when you could cause a crushing blow for 10k and you only had 20.

Outside of the gearing issue, the major issue is simple and yet takes some of us (including me) a while to get used to. We both have to unlearn our current skill set and prevent our current habits from creeping in. I'm not saying forget how to DPS if you become a tank, but when you're tanking you shouldn't be constantly trying to get behind the mob, you shouldn't be in berserker stance, and more importantly you should be making sure you know what your cooldowns are and what they do for your current role. Don't miss a Shield Block because you've not yet familiarized yourself with how it works now. LIkewise, as DPS you need to get used to moving around a lot more even on fights like Patchwerk (we were using the strat where the melee DPS runs in and out of the goo next to him in order to ensure that the soak tank takes the hatefuls.) I'm not used to being behind a mob, so I had to stop myself several times from crossing in front of them or even worse, standing in front to attack. I also had to learn that abilities like Death Wish and Recklessness are to be used whenever possible, especially on bosses, as more damage is exactly what I'm there to do. Meanwhile, seeing my name at the top of Omen? It's bad now! I actually wiped us on a drake because I instinctively tried to go balls out on threat. DPS meters, yes, I want to be high on those. Threat meters? Bad warrior! Wicked, naughty warrior!

So we have gearing to relearn (and to be honest, all warriors should try and be familiar with tanking and DPS gearing in case you need to fill one of the roles you don't normally) and change our playstyle. With Dual Specs constantly looming on the horizon, it can only benefit any warrior to start looking at being up to date on more than one role in order to maximize the benefit we get from it. Also, and this is something that older players like myself really need to watch out for, don't just assume you can jump back into a role because you used to play it extensively. All three warrior specs have an extra 10 talent points in Wrath from the BC days, and if you were a tank back in vanilla WoW but have been DPS ever since, you cannot just slap on tanking gear and go. You need to familiarize yourself with your new abilities... prot in particular plays nothing like it did in the old days... and don't just assume because you tanked C'thun that you can just tank anything that's coming your way now. (Also, tanking a tentacle doesn't really count as 'tanking' C'thun, nor does wailing away from inside his stomach, and you were probably 31/5/15 or 31/0/20 back then, admit it. There was no Devastate, no Shockwave, things were very different.)

When all of it falls into place, though, changing your role can really help you enjoy your class more. While I still love tanking and expect to go back to it eventually, I'm absolutely thrilled to death to be throwing myself into packs of mobs and throwing cleave and whirlwind around, and can't wait to see how fury looks when the changes go live. It's a good time to be a warrior.

Next week, gearing for raids, I promise.

Check out more strategies, tips and leveling guides for Warriors in Matthew Rossi's weekly class column: The Care and Feeding of Warriors.

Filed under: Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Guilds, Odds and ends, Expansions, Raiding, Talents, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors

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