Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Care and Feeding of Warriors, the column dedicated to arms, fury and protection warriors. Despite repeated blows to the head from dragons, demons, Old Gods and whatever that thing over there was, Matthew Rossi will be your host.
Yes, your DPS is too low. Be you arms or fury, yes, absolutely, it is too low. It is not my purpose to dispute this with you or argue with you about it. (I will point out it has already been addressed and you may already see an increase.) Frankly, I fear I have not been contentious enough the past few months. It was hard for me, looking at ICC DPS parses, seeing the highest fury DPS and even seeing my own in those times when I would go off-spec, to worry about fury DPS in 4.0.1. While arms has been low in PvE for quite some time, it was difficult for me to believe that patch 4.0.1 would launch and lower fury DPS so dramatically. I knew that it would lower it. Rage normalization, the loss of the Heroic Strike bug that allowed warriors to get away with so little hit, and the rooting out of armor pen was fated to topple us from our throne and humble us -- there is no disputing this. It was intentional. I could easily have imagined a drop as severe as 80 percent of what warriors were doing in Icecrown in patch 3.3.3 and not have been surprised.
I was, however, surprised by reports of just how far fury fell. I think I failed you in three key regards. I failed to account for the change to Whirlwind making it not an ability we used on cooldown anymore (specifically, I failed to account for its single-target DPS), and I also failed to account for the loss of cross-tree talents like Deep Wounds and Two-Handed Weapon Specialization. Even with the TG penalty removed, TG fury simply can't compete, and arms isn't balanced at all for level 80 anymore since Colossus Smash is out of reach for another level. Raging Blow is a fine ability, but since it is enrage-dependent, it's only useful when you're in an enraged state and therefore cannot serve as rotation filler the way WW did. Combine that with Bloodthirst now on a somewhat overly punishing cooldown (every 3 seconds) and a lack of real rotational options, and fury has become the DPS tree that provides nothing to do or too much to do, depending on procs. At level 85, it's not the worst priority-guided rotation I've ever played, but criticism of it as boring is not without merit. Finally, I failed to realize how sweeping the gem and glyph changes would be and how many people would be basically thrown into relearning their class.
Arms, meanwhile, just plain doesn't push out the numbers at 80. You can game the system to an extent -- gem for strength, get some mastery on gear and get that Strikes of Opportunity chance way up -- but it still ends up being underwhelming in PvE and remarkably bursty in PvP. If you get lucky, you can rock some faces clean off. If the random number generator does not smile upon you, you're probably dead in a global. To some extent, this is just the nature of the pre-expansion beast, but it still feels rotten.
Teetering on the edge
I'm going to get personal here for a moment.
Warriors are the class I love. I've dabbled with and enjoyed my shaman, I've tanked on a DK and enjoyed it, but we all know that I am biased towards and a partisan for warriors and those who play them. Even those warriors I've met who I haven't personally liked for one reason or another can engage me in a conversation about the class, and I can talk about it for hours. Just ask Sacco and McCurley -- they can't get me to shut up about warriors. I love the class's somewhat unique resource system (druids excepted) and I very much enjoy the brutal, no-frills aspect of the class that doesn't use magic.
Now, we all know I prefer tanking to DPS. This doesn't mean I don't love the DPS specs; I raided arms for two years and fury for a year. In fact, I will go so far as to say that no tanking class can remain viable as a tanking class if its off specs are not viable. Warrior tanks rely on a strong and viable DPS off spec for a variety of reasons. It's necessary due to the tanking deflation once one moves from 5- and 10-man content to 25-man, for instance. One tank per five scales perfectly to two tanks per 10-man, but a 25-man raid will almost never require five tanks, and often, it will at most require two for bosses but three for trash. Being able to do something else besides tank relieves pressure on who takes the knee for the night.
It's also necessary because our tanking and DPS mechanics are seemingly inextricable. I don't even know that I consider this a bad thing. But it is an aspect of the class, and it needs to be considered when changing, say, a major strike from an on-next to an instant, or reducing the number of sunders applicable to a target, or changing how shouts work and taking Bloodrage out of the game. Both tanks and DPS warriors need rage, especially in the early moments of a pull.
So when I see DPS so low, I get worried about tanking. A lack of viability to DPS specs leads to tanking issues, but more importantly, it helps lead to tank burnout. I've found that I am a much more contented tank when I feel secure that I can switch specs and still contribute, or when I can take a break and run a few instances as DPS to shift my mindset. Asking players to give up freedom in off-spec choices and talents is fine for creating a more cohesive feeling. I personally think leveling a warrior will be a lot more fun with the 4.0.1 changes. I just hope all that bathwater we're throwing out doesn't contain any babies.
Quick and dirty specs (now with glyphs)
I wanted to talk about specs to try out this week. I'm not going to say that these specs are in any way the best possible specs you can use; they're hardly rigorously tested to ensure they are the maximum performance specs for their respective roles. They more exist to give you something to test out if you're feeling overwhelmed by all the changes.
This arms spec is aimed at middle-of-the-road use. Improved Hamstring and Tactical Mastery would be good options for a more dedicated PvP tree, while a Slam glyph would replace the Bladestorm glyph for PvE usage. This particular arms spec is aimed at throwing Rend around as much as possible with Blood and Thunder. This should get the Blood Frenzy debuff on as many targets as are in range.
This fury spec is also somewhat aimed for either PvE or PvP use. Prime glyphs are no-brainers, while major glyphs are chosen because there's not really any better options for level 80. With fury's DPS as low as it is, it's hard to really be excited for the spec, but if you're a diehard dual wielder, this one should be functional. Give SMF a shot if you have solid 1H weapons to play with.
This protection spec is aimed at main tanking. It lacks Blood and Thunder, which I would consider picking up if I expected to be tanking a lot of adds, but with AoE threat already reduced and the intended paradigm shift to higher CC, I think those points are better spent on Incite. At least while tanking a boss, Incite can be pretty hot for the current content. (Rage doesn't seem to be much of an issue on a single target.) I'm still tweaking what I consider the right build for 80 and may have a lot more to say about all three soon (perhaps even before next week, depending on how fast those rumored buffs come in).
In the end, 4.0.1 has been a pretty hard patch for us. If you love the warrior class and feel disappointed by it, I can wholly relate to your feelings. I personally feel as though I should not have let myself expect things to be adjusted before they were patched in, but I honestly assumed more work would be done on balance before this went live. For that, I apologize. I'd like to say, however, that this is still the best class to play and things will get better for us. We knew rage normalization and mechanics changes would hurt, and now we've seen them about as bad as they could possibly have been. It's all uphill from here.
Check out more strategies and tips for warriors of all specs in Matthew Rossi's weekly class column, The Care and Feeding of Warriors.