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Warrior Q&A Analysis

Well, the warrior Q&A is finally here. if you play a warrior and you were hoping that this would be the beam of sunshine that would fix your issues with the class, I'm sorry to tell you that it probably won't be. This isn't a huge surprise... so far the entire Q&A series has been fairly conservative and this one's no different... but let's go over it anyway.

First off, of course, we have the intro to the class, which contains this interesting sentence: The warrior class has been a very tricky one to balance, largely due to the way rage converts into damage (which converts into rage, which converts into damage...), and we haven't completely nailed that design just yet.

I think it's fair to say that anyone who remembers Rage Normalization trembles just a little bit when they see sentences like that. It's so very easy to render warriors absolutely impotent by tinkering with our rage generation, so I'm going to say right now that I desperately hope they test whatever changes they make very, very thoroughly.

The first really significant part of the Q&A discusses the Arms and Fury trees. It's significant enough that I'm going to reproduce it in its entirety here.

  • One of the things we want to do in the future is take a hard look at the Arms and Fury trees. There are several talents which just haven't weathered the course of time well and pale in comparison to some of the newer Wrath of the Lich King talents. We're happiest with the Protection tree -- we made a conscious effort to pare down that tree and remove a lot of mandatory talents in order to give the warrior more flexibility to take some more fun or utility-oriented talents. We need to make the same pass on the dps side of things. The reason we haven't done so yet is that warrior dps is in a pretty good place and we don't want to have to nerf the class across the board just to make some talents a little sexier. We will eventually do this though. We also need to make some decisions about the difference between Arms and Fury. Traditionally, Arms was the PvP tree and Fury was the PvE tree. We understand some players prefer that model, but we don't like the way it cuts off such a big chunk of the class from players who might not have much interest in the PvP or PvE parts of the game. However, we would like to reinforce a little more the kits of Arms and Fury. Everyone (I hope) gets the difference between Frost and Fire mages. Arms is supposed to be about weapons and martial training and feel "soldierly." Fury is supposed to be about screaming barbarians in woad. You get a sense of that, but it could be stronger. With the death knight, we allowed all three trees to more or less be able to tank. There is a desire among some players and designers to see Arms tank with a two-hander while Prot tanks with a shield. We're still not sure that's the direction we'll go -- it's a ton of re-design and will never work for say the druid or paladin classes.

Frankly, the Protection tree, while good, is not as good as the developers seem to think it is. Most tanks don't really feel free to go take fun or utility oriented talents so much as they feel constrained to run up to Deep Wounds in an attempt to try and get some AoE threat from bleeds. That being said, the idea of really revamping Arms and Fury to finally capture the essence of the disciplined soldier and screaming berserker in each tree would make me gasp with shock, joy and love if it were handled properly. Frankly, as a Fury Warrior I don't really feel all that different from an Arms Warrior right now. I hit Whirlwind, he uses Bladestorm and Sweeping Strikes. He uses Mortal Strike, Overpower and Execute, I use Bloodthirst and Bloodsurge proc'ed Slams. I use 2 2h weapons, he uses 1 2h. We both wear the same plate. If they can actually make Fury feel like a blood-mad bear sark wearing lunatic and Arms gains the disciplined feel of a character from the Black Company series, then I'd be happy. And the idea of letting Arms be a viable style of tanking with a 2h weapon? Bliss! Sweet, unadulterate bliss!

I admit to only having a few ideas on how to make this work, but if all three warrior trees had tanking viability I'd be purely ecstatic, and even if we just made Arms like the Druid Feral tree with tanking and DPS talents that required you to choose which you would use I'd be all for it.

Stances, rage and situational abilities are highlighted as the most distinctive aspects of the warrior class next. A coming overhaul is mentioned to rage again (whimper) and then the role of stances is discussed. Stances are intended to be a major battlefield decision for warriors, though we realize it doesn't always pan out this way. You have access to different abilities in different stances, but pay a rage cost as well as sacrificing the potential to use other abilities. I have to be honest here, after playing my DK to 80 and tanking in 5 mans and raids with him, this idea is simply not very compelling to me. Different abilities in different stances and losing the ability to use some abilities in some stances will probably always be with us, I understand that, but that doesn't make it fun or exciting.

The Q&A goes on to say that, if anything, abilities like Bloodsurge and Taste for Blood aren't going away, but will probably be emphasized. I think if anything, abilities like this need to be more prominent. You should be less effective at your job if you ignore them, and ideally you'd also be less effective if you just macro'd them in.

I can say that I don't like feeling like I have to have my Slam button macro'd so that it only fires when Bloodsurge procs, but I also don't like that Bloodsurge isn't more obvious: if you're going to make situational abilities more prominent they need to be nearly unmissable, so that the reason you end up not taking full advantage of them isn't because you didn't hear the swoosh-bang over all the other spells and effects going on in a raid. It's more than just putting the proc into combat text (which didn't even seem to be happening last time I tested it on the PTR) - if I'm expected to use these abilities or be less effective, fair is fair, make it so the decision to use them isn't taken out of my hands. I do like situational abilities, though, I'd even go so far as to say I'd like to see another in the Fury rotation somewhere.

The stance discussion goes as I would have expected it: they like stances, they want you to have to switch stances to use certain abilities, they want the decision to switch stances to use certain abilities to be part of the gameplay. They do acknowledge that it's harder to make those kinds of decisions in raid environments and while they maintain that they want the choice to switch stances to be a decision with costs as well as benefits, they do admit that if the cost is too high it's not a choice anymore. I'm hopeful this means they'll at least ameliorate the penalty for switching stances somewhat in the future.

The part of the Q&A about warrior DPS glosses over the real issue with warrior DPS in Ulduar, namely that warrior DPS is designed around being stationary to generate rage as much as possible and the Ulduar fights are almost exclusively mobile with the exception of fights like Kologarn, Thorim phase 2 and XT - 002 hard mode. (Maybe Yogg brain phases, but those are still pretty short.) Also remember that some fights just favor one class or spec over another. We're totally cool with that, so long as it isn't always the same exact class or spec that gets to shine. It would be nice if you weren't fine with it if it was always the same exact class or spec that doesn't get to shine. It's almost a blessing to DPS warriors that they take so much splash damage in Ulduar, because if not for that, their DPS would truly be atrocious.


Filed under: Warrior, Buffs, Talents, Classes, Raiding, Instances, PvP, News items, Analysis / Opinion, Forums

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