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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Patch 3.2 gets weird

Today The Care and Feeding of Warriors is confused. Matthew Rossi looks at this week's patch notes and sits there blinking a lot, not entirely sure what to make of them

Another week, another series of patch notes to leave me scratching my head and saying "Seriously? This is what we're doing, nerfing the crap out of agility for tanking? Did dodge rating steal somebody's lunch money as a kid? And Shield Block, I trusted you." It's strange to feel betrayed by a core tanking ability. I get why they're nerfing it, since they're increasing the amount of Block value on gear that has to double it's current values, I've already heard Prot warriors and paladins contemplating putting together BV sets for PvP and this change will keep warriors from using SB to get hideous crits in PvP with Shield Slam. At least I think that's the reasoning: I can't believe that anyone was actually worried about Prot Warriors' DPS while tanking in PvE content being too high after the change for 10 seconds out of every 40. Even if Protection Warriors put on every single piece of Block value gear imaginable, that 10 seconds of double damage with Shield Slam would still leave them at the absolute bottom of the tanking basement in terms of damage dealt while tanking.

The agility change is a near non-issue for almost all Warrior tanks: maybe you had Agility as your cape enchant or a few AGI gems, but for the most part Warriors don't stack Agility as tanks. However, since Dodge is at the moment probably the best stat a warrior can stack, the Dodge rating changes will sting quite a bit. (I am aware they're more like a hammer to the back of the head for Druids, but even so.)

Let us look at the specific changes (both Warrior and general) that stood out to me from the most recent patch notes. First we'll look at the changes from the general items section.
  • Agility: The amount of agility required per percentage of Dodge has been increased by 15%. This change required recalibrating the amount of Dodge a player has with 0 Agility by a slight amount as well, so all players will see their Dodge percentage vary a small amount.
  • Block Value: The amount of bonus Block value on all items has been doubled. This does not affect the base Block value on shields or Block value derived from Strength.
  • On-Use Block Value Items: All items and set bonuses that trigger temporary increases to Block value have been modified. Instead of increasing their Block value amount by 100% like other items, they have all had their effect durations doubled. This applies to Glyph of Deflection, Gnomeregan Autoblocker, Coren's Lucky Coin, Lavanthor's Talisman, Libram of Obstruction, Tome of the Lightbringer, Libram of the Sacred Shield, the tier-8 paladin Shield of Righteousness bonus, the tier-5 paladin Holy Shield bonus, and the tier-5 warrior Shield Block bonus.
  • Dodge Rating: The amount of Dodge rating required per percentage of Dodge has been increased by 15%. This is before diminishing returns. Combined with other changes, this makes Dodge rating and Parry rating equally potent before diminishing returns apply.
  • Parry Rating: The amount of Parry rating required per percentage of Parry has been reduced by 8%. This is before diminishing returns. Combined with other changes, this makes Dodge rating and Parry rating equally potent before diminishing returns apply. Parry still diminishes more quickly than Dodge.
The Block value changes we were already familiar with, of course. I do get that they want Parry and Dodge to be roughly equivalent in terms of their effectiveness to tanks and they have to take gear inflation into account, but man, I was not expecting it. Perhaps this just shows how out of touch with tanking I actually am. I do find it interesting that Block rating alone escaped being reduced but with them buffing Block value it would be kind of surreal to nerf the least desirable tanking stat. Perhaps it's Block rating's unique status as half a tanking variable (neither Dodge nor Parry have a rating to determine whether or not they happen and then a value to determine how effective they are as Block does) that spared it the chopping block, or perhaps the changes are meant to bring both Dodge and Parry in line with Block's effectiveness or lack thereof.

Since both Dodges and Parries effectively negate a melee attack (you take no damage on a successful Parry or Dodge) while Blocks only reduce an incoming attack's damage by the Block value of the tank in question (this can reduce an attack to zero, making high Block rating/Block value sets shockingly good against trash pulls and shockingly bad against mobs that hit for more than, say, 4 to 5k damage with an attack) maybe reducing both Dodge and Parry in this way is the only way to equalize them with Block. I guess nerfing every other tanking stat is one way to make Block more comparatively attractive.

Now let's look at the specific changes to warriors.

Warriors

  • Bloodrage: This ability now generates 20 rage initially, and 10 rage over the next 10 seconds. The health cost is unchanged.
  • Execute: This ability now never costs more than a total of 30 rage. The tooltip for Sudden Death has been revised to remove reference to that maximum, since the ability now behaves that way even when untalented.
  • Shield Block: Shield Slam no longer benefits from the increased block value granted by this ability. However, while Shield Block is active, Shield Slam generates 100% additional threat
Talents
  • Fury
  • Armored to the Teeth: This talent now provides 1/2/3 attack power per 108 armor, up from per 180 armor.
  • Bloodsurge: Notification that Slam has become instant now appears in floating combat text.
  • Protection
    • Devastate: Weapon damage increased to 60% and bonus per Sunder Armor on the target increased by 20%.
    • Shield Specialization: Now provides 5 rage on a block, dodge or parry instead of 2 rage on a block.
Well, the Bloodrage change is good and long overdue. With full talents, we're looking at 40 Rage from the ability, good for both DPS and tanking. The Execute change angers me, although it's a non issue for Arms (for the most part) one of the things I liked about execute was being able to wait a couple of seconds to build rage while a boss ticked down to 20%, then hit Recklessness and the crit for an obscene amount three times in a row. Is it really going to change the way I, or most DPS warriors, play? Not really. It's better DPS to spread your executes out into your normal rotation than it is to just spam the ability and if you're an Arms warrior this is exactly how Sudden Death works anyway, so the only time you'd even notice a change is when the boss enters what is currently called 'Execute range' and in the future will be called "Great, I have to weave another instant attack into my rotation" range. (I kid, it's not like you could spam Execute before.)

The Shield Block change irritates me. Just leave the damage on it! It's not going to make Prot Warriors the kings of DPS among the tanks! Adding a static threat modifier to compensate for the damage loss just irks me. Yes, you read right, it irks me! It's necessary to compensate warrior tanks for the threat they'll be losing, but there's no good reason outside of some theoretical case of stacking every possible block value item and going to Wintergrasp with it where the damage from SB/Shield Slam was going to be that great anyway. So what if a prot warrior occasionally shield slams for 10k (I'm deliberately overstating this) in a battleground, when the rest of the time he's plinking along for 2 to 3k? I just find the idea of lowering prot warrior DPS while tanking, or at all really to be absurd. Is it just against the rules of the game for warriors to hurt things now?

The Devastate and Shield Spec changes are both good. More damage, more rage, good for tanking. Anything that allows a prot warrior tank to put out more damage while tanking I can get behind.

I hopped on test and did a heroic Nexus run last night to test the Bloodsurge change and it was spotty: despite having combat text turned on, I didn't get many Bloodsurge notifications at all. It didn't actually hurt my DPS that much, but I'd like to see this change go live working properly since at present I have to use power auras to inform me of a bloodsurge proc. Armored to the Teeth we already knew about, and it's a solid 200 or so AP for me, but I'm in all plate at this point anyway.

All in all, the changes go from confusing to maddening to somewhat positive to somewhat negative, it's a roller coaster but not one of those really fancy ones at the good theme parks, more of an older one built really close to a flume where you get splashed a lot. Honestly, I still feel hurt by what Shield Block has done, and that's ridiculous, I know Shield Block isn't a sapient being that can actually betray me and yet how could you do this to me, Shield Block? Next week, I get some tissues and eat some brownie ice cream while holding a picture of the Shield Block icon during a montage of all the times I pushed the Shield Block button set to the music of Zamfir, master of the pan flute. (Yes, okay, the Shield Block change is not that big a deal, just go with it.)

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, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, News items, Instances, Raiding, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors

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