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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Just like it used to be


This week, The Care and Feeding of Warriors chronicles a turn. After 11 months as fury, Matthew Rossi has changed gears and transitioned his role once more. Sometimes you can go home again.

I've given fury up for dead. Not because it actually is dead. You can do good DPS with it if you have best in slot gear in every slot, which is par for the course with fury, really... I'm sure we'll see some nerfs heading into patch 3.3 to soft reset fury DPS to keep it below everyone else the same way we did going into Ulduar. But for me, it's not even the fact that you have to gear with a spreadsheet and compete with every other physical DPS class for those few drops that actually have the stats you want, it's the fact that when you do this, you get to follow the exact same stultifying rotation we've had since forever. Fury may or may not be fine, but frankly, it's gotten boring.

Bloodsurge can only make up for so much. At least with an Arms spec, while the DPS is slightly less, you get to do fun things. And so my DPS spec is now arms all the way since I have Trial of the Crusader/Grand Crusader gear to support it, a honking great 2h sword (and so far I'm liking the retooled sword spec) and plenty of things to swing it at. Arms is active. You're constantly using abilities, and while it's ultimately almost as predictable as fury when you get right down to it, it doesn't feel like it is. Between keeping your Rend active (letting it fall off then reapplying it for maximum Overpowers), hitting Sudden Death Executes and Slam in between MS and Overpower feels less like a clunky, hit this key then that key then this key rotation and more like you're weaving in attacks.

And wow, Bladestorm has really grown on me. Admittedly, it's grown on me because I keep using it to tear mages' faces off after they try and root me and run away. I love killing mages. And warlocks, wow, I love killing warlocks. Basically, it's my life's goal to bring Blood Pact and Arcane Brilliance together. In death. I want to kill all the warlocks and mages and stand triumphantly over their savaged, cloth wearing corpses. Set me on fire? Not if I cut off your head first.

But as much fun as arms is right now, it's not my main spec.

No, that would be protection. Because at long last, the Rossi has come home to tanking.

This week I was basically thrown back into the deep end of raid tanking: after almost a year of DPS as fury with the occasional flirtation with arms, my first week as a full time prot spec tank was in Trial of the Crusader/Grand Crusader 25. The down side was that I had to relearn a lot of fights from the perspective of doing things that up until last week were bad. Standing in front of mobs? Expected! Being on top of the threat list? Rewarded and praised! It was weird to see myself getting constant heals, and I had to write macros to do things like raid mark on the fly and spam HS or Cleave for me while hitting other abilities because frankly my poor aching joints just aren't up to the woodpecker on meth imitation I used to take for granted.

Or as my wife once said "You look like Beethoven if he decided he really hated his piano and wanted to kill it while playing." Ah, tanking, I missed the horrible strain you put on my wrists and my mouse's bindings.

A lot has been said about how they redesigned protection for Wrath of the Lich King. After my long flirtation with tanking on a Death Knight, I've really come to prefer the warrior style of tanking with its active threat generation abilities, its capability to rapidly travel about the area with Warbringer and Intervene, its bag of tricks like Vigilance, Shockwave, Concussion Blow and Shield Block, and two of the better cooldowns (especially glyphed) in Last Stand and Shield Wall. Protection is a very good spec right now. It may not be the masterwork it's sometimes touted to be (AoE threat still requires a lot of spamming, you're still using HS as a crutch, you need Vig to make up for your own low damage, Defensive Stance still has an outmoded damage penalty) but when you take it to the hardest raid in the game right now (Trial of the Grand Crusader) and put it through its paces, you find out that yes, it can hold aggro on multiple mobs, stand up to punishing damage from bosses, and otherwise tank at the endgame level.

It's even good in PvP if you really want to annoy the heck out of someone.

I really liked tanking Northrend Beasts as part of a team of disparate tanks. Having a warrior/paladin/druid team for that fight seems absolutely perfect. I could easily zip over and taunt Dreadscale so that the druid could use his Bile debuff to clear poison from folks before they got paralyzed, and between us we could cover just about any sort of niche that came up. For Lord Jaraxxus, a druid and paladin handling the adds made the most sense, as I could handle most of the Fel Fireball interrupts with Shield Bash while the paladin had ridiculously good threat on the various demons and the druid could move around to fill any gaps. Faction Champions, you don't really tank so much as annoy constantly, but each of the three of us had our own special ways to keep mobs tied up (I spent the entire fight stunning, disarming and taunting the Death Knight away from clothies while our druid killed both the warlock and hunter pets almost by himself) and for Twin Val'kyr I switched to DPS while the druid and paladin tanked and each soaked a color of orb. For Anub himself, we're working on a strat where the druid MT's and I and the paladin offtank the adds in high block rating gear to try and keep the debuff from stacking.

I honestly can't really come up with any major suggestions for improvements to protection. I'd like to see Defensive Stance lose the damage penalty (we'd still probably be the tanks with the lowest damage), Thunder Clap could drop to a 4 second cooldown, Shockwave could interrupt mobs that are immune to the stun and leave a Damage over Time effect on the ground, and I'd like to feel less obliged to spec up to Impale/Deep Wounds and more free to pick up talents like Improved Demoralizing Shout. I'd like them to hurry up and fix block, although it's certainly better now than it was pre patch 3.2. Prot's not perfect, but it's probably the best designed spec warriors have at the moment, and I certainly have no major complaints.

Then again, we just got back together.

Next week, I'm considering going more in depth with PvP. I'm trying both arms and prot out in Wintergrasp and hoping to Arena. But we'll find out when we get there.

Seriously, though, Bladestorm? I love you. Warlocks and Mages? I love to kill you. It's so funny when you guys try and fear or freeze me and I turn into a spinning ballerina of death performing the Nutcracker atop your chopped up bodies. If I accomplish nothing else, I hope to bring you two caster classes together as one. One pile of dismembered petticoat wearing corpses.


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, Odds and ends, Expansions, Raiding, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors, Wrath of the Lich King

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