Once more into the breach with The Care and Feeding of Warriors, WoW.com's column devoted to the warrior profession. This week, Matthew Rossi talks about the latest patch and how it's unfolding.
Well, we've had four days now with patch 3.2. There have been some bugs, of course. I personally experienced bugs on both Flame Leviathan (wait, did we leave four towers up? Why does he have the Freya buff?) and XT - 002 (adds, all the colors of the rainbow!) this week, while also sticking a toe into Trial of the Crusader, tanking the heck out of Trial of the Champion and its Heroic version, running oodles of new quests for Champion's Seals now that you can buy heirloom items for them, and so on. So I'm going to spend this week talking about what 3.2 has done for us warriors.
To be honest, I haven't even noticed much in the way of changes for my warrior, despite knowing that they're out there. The changes to Dodge, Parry and Block Value exist, to be sure. I took a screenshot of my current values before realizing they were so low because I'd forgotten Anticipation in my current tank spec. My block rating is practically unchanged and my block value is up to about 1450 or so, while my parry seems to have gone up a point. If I'd taken Anticipation properly, I'd actually have well rounded stats all in about the 23 to 24% range.
I think part of the reason warriors haven't really felt much of the effect is that we don't really stack agility for dodge the way druids do and we don't get parry from strength like DK's do, so we generally have what's on our gear and while that was affected to, we're not getting the double effect of the base stat and the rating changes at once. It's also possible that I just have a weird tank set, as it's not my main spec so I basically pick up what I can when I can.
However, I've actually been running 5 man normal Trial of the Champion almost non stop looking to get one of these. This is why I've been in my tanking set so much and have been checking to see how tanking felt this patch. No, of course the trinket didn't drop, which is why I'm still using Essence of Gossamer and the Royal Seal of King Llane. (I really regret passing on the Heart of Iron the other week right about now.) The reason the Black Heart is such a great trinket in my opinion isn't just the high stamina, but the fact that it has a proc instead of a use. I already have to keep track of a fair amount while tanking so having to babysit a trinket annoys me.
Bloodrage (especially improved) and Shield Specialization have made me happy. There's nothing like Bloodraging, charging into a pack, hitting Shield Block and having a temporary surge of near-infinite rage. You can TC, Shield Slam, Shockwave and spam-tab Devastate to your heart's content. You don't feel punished for having higher Dodge or Parry than block now since those too generate rage, it's a very positive alteration to the talent in my opinion. Nothing to complain about here.
Finally, the new Devastate and Shield Block Value changes. Frankly, the new Devastate is pure win, and it makes me seriously consider picking up a slow tanking weapon (perhaps a threat fist, since I've always loved fist weapons, although I don't want to make my shaman brothers have a stroke) just to get as much damage per Devastate as possible. However, as long as Heroic Strike is such a staple of warrior tanking I'll probably also keep a fast tanker around for that. My Shield Slams don't seem to have been adversely affected and my threat per second seems to be holding roughly steady in both five mans and raids, but I don't stack block value. In fact, I avoid it as much as I possibly can. (I'm still up on block because several of my highest stam pieces have block rating or value on them, not much I can do about that.)
The Trial of the Champion itself is a pretty easy instance to tank, the main difficulty coming after the mount phase of the first fight is over. It can be difficult to get your weapon equipped and gather up three mobs (especially if you get unlucky and more than one is ranged) in time to keep one of them from turning your healer into a fine paste. There also seems to be a random aggro component to the fight: oft-times I've been 4k TPS ahead of anyone else after a shockwave - TC - Cleave combo and yet the rogue peels off of me anyway. In general, TotC and its hard mode feel like the Magister's of this expansion, but at least this time they put the trinkets on the farmable version of the instance.
My DPS is up so slightly that I had to go back and look at old parses to be sure. I believe the new AP from Armored To The Teeth is translating to about 20 DPS but it could vary depending on the fight. As always, Ulduar's not really a great place to benchmark your DPS and the Northrend Beasts encounter still contains enough kiting, tank switching, and weird "Sprint away now before the big Yeti headbutts you" mechanics that it's hard to really get a sense as a warrior of how much you're putting out when you actually get to stop and hit things. Still, even so I have to admit I'm seeing more damage, although that could be due to the fact that I specced out of Imp Demo now that the Paladins all have it baked in to their tanking specs. (This did make Vezax interesting this week as the Druid who tanked him didn't have it either, so one of the prot pallies had to stand around whacking Vezax in the back rather than switching specs to ret - I admit I was a trifle gleeful to see his consternation.)
Bloodrage's buff was a positive boon - I expect the combination of the new Bloodrage and Improved Berserker Rage has netted me another 50 or so DPS just due to my being able to repeatedly use one or both during lulls in my DPS rotation. I can use HS much more freely now without worrying about draining all my rage, and although I do miss execute crits in excess of 10k (I once got a 20K execute crit on a shattered, exposed Vezax) I do like that I can just treat Execute like another instant attack rather than the destroyer of all rage. I don't think it's really effected my DPS that much one way or another. I still do the best damage in fights where I can remain stationary and go to town like Kologarn, XT hard or phase 2 Thorim.
There's no DPS gear for me in TotC/Heroic TotC but that's just because I'm a raiding fury warrior with Ulduar 25 gear. If you're just hitting 80 or are a more casual player, the gear in regular TotC is as good as anything you'll see in Naxx 10 before Sapphiron/Kel'Thuzad, and the heroic drops loot on par with them, Maly 10 and the majority of Naxx 25 drops. There's a polearm and axe worth looking at for both arms and fury. Well, okay, fury's only going to want the axe, but if you're only in Naxx 10 gear that axe is worth considering as superior even to Death's Bite off of KT, although that may be too close to call. There's also lots of DPS plate (and tanking plate as well) in both regular and hard, a nice tanking sword, trinkets, etc... in general it's worth your time even if you're fairly geared.
To sum up, warriors came out of this patch relatively unscathed. We didn't get the buffs other classes did, but we didn't get nerfed either, so it's generally business as usual for us this time around.