If you've been paying attention to the latest PTR changes, you know that among them is a change to fury that alters the talent Improved Berserker Stance. Instead of providing 10% of AP, it now will provide 20% of your Strength. (It's been buffed since it was first introduced, it was 15% then.) When I saw this I thought it was the greatest change ever... until I remembered there are no strength enchants to gloves in Wrath level content, but just AP. Massacre? AP enchant. Berserking? Provides AP. Blessing of Might? AP. What about most of the rings and almost all of the cloaks and neck pieces available in current Wrath raiding? AP. And of course, what about leather gear you may have been wearing because it's the best in slot, like say the Frosted Adroit Handguards? No strength on those.
In short, I went from ecstatic to that sinking feeling you get when you realize that lovely Everglades condo is in fact just swamp. I'd just told everyone how awesome this change was, and here I stood on test with less AP than I had on live. Was it a huge loss? No, about 70 AP or so. But I still felt that lovely combination of chagrin and slight anger that comes from not only being wrong, but being wrong and finding yourself worse off than you'd been.
To be fair, the change to 20% has brought the AP back up to close to where it was. My warrior on test is lacking a couple of best in slot items that I've picked up since transfering him, which means that to compare them I have to take off bracers and neck and look at the AP from there, but we're talking a 20 AP drop now. The real issue is buffs like Blessing of Might/Battle Shout and procs like Berserking. On the other hand, Blessing of Kings, Gift of the Wild and Horn of Winter/Strenth of Earth just got better for us.
Now Ghostcrawler has waded into the fray, and what he says confirms it: this change is purely meant to force warriors away from wearing leather.
"There is a good chance we may change the Improved Berserker Stance effect from 15% Strength to 20% Strength to make up for all the AP that gets thrown around in buffs, enchants and consumables.
There are also more rings etc. in Ulduar with Strength, and more leather with Agi instead of AP.
Adding 2 more ranks to Armored to the Teeth is also possible, but that would probably be too big a change for 3.1.
We want plate to be the best in slot for warriors, not leather."
To be honest, my first reaction was incredulity. You've made gear throughout the game. You know what stats it has. You know how you design it. How could you have ever been surprised that warriors were choosing to wear leather over plate? You itemize the leather better. Why else would we wear it? DPS warriors don't wear leather because we secretly want to be rogues or druids. We wear it because it gives us the best possible stats. Yes, those are iLevel 226 gloves. There are no iLevel 226 plate DPS gloves. There are no plate gloves as good as those gloves. I'd be a fool not to wear them just because of the material they're made out of, and even after the patch the slight dip in AP I'll suffer compared to plate options won't balance out all the positive stats those gloves give me. I'll be wearing them until clearly superior ones drop in Ulduar.
Furthermore, and Ghostcrawler knows this, leather generally has a better spread of stats than plate does as far as DPS is concerned. When asked "Why is there a narrower distribution of stats on plate? We're drawn to leather because the stats have a better spread. Why can't this approach be adopted for plate? What's the concern?" the response was:
"The root issue is that on the leather we tend to add Agi or AP as that additional stat. The problem is that armor with both Strength and AP is a little silly, and plate with Agi isn't that useful for warriors. So we don't actually have another stat to split. "
Now, the fact that I saw this change and got excited at first colors my reaction to it now. Strength should be good for warriors. And almost all DPS warriors would rather wear plate than leather or mail, and this change definitely puts more oomph onto plate since plate generally has strength. If there are more rings with strength so that we can minimize the amount of straight AP we have to add to our gear, we'll just stack strength and stick to plate. It's certainly one way to solve the problem and it does exactly what they're setting out to do... with some serious pains for those of us who itemized our characters based on the rules as Blizzard had previously provided them to us.
The problem is that this change comes in at the same time as the Titan's Grip change, so that warriors effectively get kicked twice for doing what anyone in our position would do: use the best gear available to do the job. I mean, currently the best 2h weapon in the game has AP instead of strength. I have to say, I doubt I'm going to stop bidding on AP 2h weapons and putting Berserking on them... I'm just going to be angry that I can't get a strength enchant option instead of an AP option.
It's great that Ulduar has more strength rings, really, but that doesn't do anything for us going into that content and suddenly facing both a flat damage reduction and an AP nerf that we can't counteract even with all plate gear, since our AP to bracers enchant has no strength alternative, our ap to gloves enchant has no strength alternative, and our various weapon enchants (Berserking, Massacre) have no strength alternatives. Our best in slot tinket is now Greatness by a country mile, there's not really any debate possible. Grim Toll's looking better than Fury of the Five Flights at this point, I'd definitely consider a Greatness/Grim Toll combo to be about as good as it gets for warriors. An effective 320 AP, with no Imp Zerk bonus, vs almost 50% armor reduction? Greatness provides 216 AP before it even procs and 720 more AP when it procs in 3.1, if there was any debate between it and Fury, that's been settled decisively.
Ghostcrawler even admits that this change means that Arms warriors are still free to wear leather over plate. "7) We realize this change lets Arms off the hook... for the moment." And I guarantee you, as long as a leather piece provides more DPS, it will be worn over plate. Period.
So what's the final countdown here? Well, my analysis is as follows:
Ultimately, this was a change that had to happen if Blizzard doesn't want fury warriors to wear leather gear over plate, (We generally don't choose mail over plate unless we're wearing some trash blue and an epic drops that just destroys it) because there doesn't seem to be any move towards making plate itemization comparable in terms of stat spread to leather. Plate will almost always have four stats (two direct stats and two equips that boost crit, hit, expertise or what have you) and leather will almost always have five. In order to move us away from prefering well itemized leather pieces, Blizzard is changing Improved Berserker Stance so that, like Ret Pallies and DK's, warriors will prefer strength. In the long term, as more Ulduar gear drops and we can get more strength on our DPS gear, this will become a buff for the class.
As we roll into Ulduar, what it means is that the gear you have now effectively resets with patch 3.1. Not only that, because to be honest the AP decrease you're going to see will be minimal at best (right now it's like 20 AP depending on how much leather you're wearing... if you're mostly in plate you may not even see a decrease) but it also changes the way fury interacts with buffs and procs. Trinkets you may have spent a lot of DKP on are suddenly significantly less good. The enchants on your weapons will provide less of a DPS boost. Your neck/cape options are almost certainly not as good, and unless you have two of three DPS rings in the game right now with strength on it one of your rings also isn't as good.
Had this change been in the game before everyone got their Naxx gear, it would have been heralded as a buff. Has this been part of the launch for Wrath we all would have shrugged and paid attention to strength over AP while gearing up. If plate was as well itemized as leather it never would have been an issue in the first place. If we had better strength options for enchants you'd hear almost no discussion of this change now. Because this is a change dropped into the middle of an already nerfing patch for fury, however, what is a long term buff becomes highlighted as a short term nerf. Frankly, I'm at the point where I'm just closing my eyes and bracing myself for that big wave coming in off of Praxis.
What other changes are current in store for us in 3.1? Well, I'm glad you asked, if only to get me off the subject of how much DKP I paid for that Sarth trinket. (It wasn't cheap.)
- Shattering Throw will now reduce the armor on the target by 20% for 10 sec or remove any invulnerabilities. (Old - reduced armor AND removed any invulnerabilities)
- Bladestorm will now instantly Whirlwind up to 4 nearby targets.
- Juggernaut now affects both Slam and Mortal Strike
- Improved Berserker Stance now increases strength by 4/8/12/16/20%. (Up from 3/6/9/12/15%)
- Improved Defensive Stance now increases Physical damage caused by 5/10% for 12 sec. (Old - melee damage)
I've now written two posts about Imp Berserker, you just managed to hack your way through this one. Do you really want to hear more from me about that? No? Good. Quite honestly, neither do I.
The change to Improved Defensive Stance means that you'll get more damage out of your Thunder Clap and Shockwave. It's a good change, especially combined with the change to Defensive Stance itself. Since you only deal 5% less damage in D-stance as of 3.1, getting more damage on your TC and Shockwave when you Block, Parry or Dodge gets even better. It's a very nice piece of news for tanks concerned about AoE threat.
Thus endeth the post. I'm off to mutter under my breath about believing in rainbows and unicorns too soon. To play us out, commenter Jaxtrasi sings about plate gear. Take us home!