Well, we finally have some insight into how warrior talents and abilities are changing in Cataclysm. While it's fair to say that we're not getting a ton of new abilities, what we are getting are worth discussing, and some of the talents have changed pretty dramatically from their current implementation.
Just one example to start us: Shield Slam no longer uses block value in any way, shape or form, since block value is going away. Now, Shield Slam is purely dependent on attack power, which is of course derived from strength. The stronger your warrior is, the harder he or she hits things with a shield. In other words, if you want to hit hard with your Shield Slams? Stack strength. It really shouldn't be all that hard to do. Frankly, removing the whole shield block value conversion to this ability is welcome from my perspective.
It should be noted that several abilities mentioned in the Cataclysm warrior previews are not here. Either they won't be, or they're not implemented yet, I have no idea which. Please don't stone me. Masteries appear to be exactly as they have been related to us, but Gushing Wound, Inner Rage and Heroic Leap do not seem to be implemented yet.
But that's hardly the only ability or talent seeing some changes. As an overview (with a more complete one to follow tomorrow in The Care and Feeding of Warriors):
- As reported before, all weapon specializations are gone. Their effects are either folded into stances/mastery benefits or are just plain gone. The only reason to use an axe, mace or sword is if that's what you want to use or is the best available weapon.
- Safeguard now reduces critical hit chance by 6%, making it the replacement for defense, as noted above.
- Likewise, Whirlwind is a true AoE ability hitting all targets within 8 yards for 50% weapon damage with both weapons. While this will absolutely take it out of the rotation for Single-Minded Fury warriors, 50% weapon damage with two two-handed weapons might make it worth using for Titan's Grip DW fury for when everything else is on cooldown. But it will certainly no longer be a "use it whenever it's up" ability.
- Cleave and Heroic Strike have been converted to the instant casts that take more rage to deal more damage model. Heroic Strike's tooltip also no longer indicates it causes any additional threat. The days of spamming these abilities are hereby on notice. As soon as the pre-Cat patch drops (4.0) those days are dead. My wrist will be relieved. It's also worth noting that at this time, Execute is basically a slightly better HS that you can use at below 20% health (or if Sudden Death procs), so I expect for arms warriors HS might never be used, and for fury warriors at 20% Execute will replace HS.
- Mortal Strike has been changed to incorporate the new model for healing debuffs, 25% healing reduction. At present, this beta build seems to have left Furious Attacks alone, lettings the healing debuff stack to 50%. I expect this to be changed in a future build.
- Improved Heroic Strike no longer reduces rage cost, but instead increases damage by 5/10/15%.
- Improved Execute likewise increases damage by 10/20% rather than reducing rage cost.
- Blood Craze is actually decent now. You have a 10% chance to regenerate up to 7.5% of your total health on taking any damage. Good for leveling and possibly even good for high environmental damage fights.
- Cruelty no longer increases base critical strike chance. Now, it ncreases your chance to critically hit with your Victory Rush, Slam and Bloodthirst by 5/10%. Yes, that's a pretty savage nerf. But at least it's 10% for those abilities and only takes up two points now.
- Damage Shield is also based off of attack power now.
- Blitz stuns an additional one to two targets.
- Disarming Glare causes your successful disarms to also cause a cower in fear effect for five to 10 seconds. (I'm hoping this isn't considered the promised warrior CC ability. Ten seconds?)
- Improved Pummel generates rage on a successful pummel, 10 to 20 rage to be exact.
- Single-Minded Fury increases weapon damage by 20% when you have one-handed (I assume main- and off-hand weapons count) equipped and allows Slam and Cleave to hit with both weapons. Without being able to parse this as yet my gut feeling is that this will outperform TG at least at first. Cleave's new rage cost will make spamming it unlikely, and Bloodsurge will only proc slam up to 20% off of Heroic Strike, Bloodthirst and Whirlwind attacks (of the three, the only one you'll be using on cooldown is Bloodthirst, so expect instant cast slams to be less frequent), so it shouldn't be completely unbalanced. We'll see if SMF overcompensates for TG's stat benefit or not.
- Fury in the Blood increases damage by 2/4/6/8/10% while Bloodrage is active. Part of me thinks, "Great. As if rage management in Cataclysm wasn't going to be enough of a pain in the hindquarters, here comes a talent that turns my only reliable way to get more of it into a DPS cooldown." On the other hand, you're going to be using Bloodrage on almost every cooldown as it is. Might as well get 10% more damage when you do.
- Relentless Bloodrage increases the duration of Bloodrage. This should be useful both for more rage generation and for the Fury in the Blood talent, especially with the mastery benefit to all enrage effects for top tier fury. (Since Bloodrage is an enrage, the fury mastery should increase its rage generation and the damage gained by Fury in the Blood.)
- Impending Victory tries to solve the problem of losing Whirlwind in the fury rotation. It does so by creating an ability similar to Sudden Death for Victory Rush. However, since Heroic Strike will be far less often used and Slam is only used if Bloodsurge procs, I have no idea how well this ability will work. I'm going to assume it will need some tweaking.
- Sweep and Clear generates additional rage for every target you hit up to a max of 9 rage.
Just as an example of what you might see in the future, here's a SMF fury build that goes fairly deep into protection for DPS talents. (Of course, we have no way of knowing if One Handed Weapon Spec will stack with SMF at this time. But if it does, you can get there. Is a flat 10% more damage with one handed weapons worth losing Impale?) We'll talk more about this in tomorrow's warrior column.