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.
Last week, we saw patch notes for the PTR and patch 4.0.6. Since then, we've seen updates to these notes. These updates mean that some of the things we talked about no longer apply. And then they went and updated them again. It would be fair to say I kind of groaned when I saw Blizzard do this, knowing I'd most likely have to basically spend another week talking about the notes. I was especially annoyed because I finally have my tank set to the point where I can tank in a raid or a heroic without feeling painfully undergeared, and I've gotten my DPS up to where I think it should be at the current gear level and talent spec design.
In general, I think warriors are almost where they should be right now. We may be slightly weaker than I'd like as tanks, and arms is frankly pretty bad as a DPS spec right now. It's still good for PvP, although that's mostly due to its ability to chain stuns, which it will be losing somewhat in 4.0.6. With Slam still not scaling at all with haste, arms is going to need flat-out DPS increases to go along with the nerfs it's taking. Fury will probably be all right -- not the absolute top DPS, even among hybrids, but it will deliver in fights where melee is unduly punished for being melee.
So let's go take a look at the cards we're going to be dealt in patch 4.0.6 as of the most recent update. If I had to sum up the entirety of the remainder of this post, it would be, "Okay, but why not buff arms for PvE?"
First up, because people hate to go read another post and then come back here (if you're not one of those people, I apologize), the complete updated patch 4.0.6 patch notes for warriors.
- Charge now shares diminishing returns with stun effects.
- Cleave damage has been reduced by 20%.
- Hamstring now has a PvP duration of 8 seconds.
- Heroic Strike damage has been reduced by 20%.
- Inner Rage has been redesigned. It now reduces the cooldown on Heroic Strike and Cleave by 50% (to 1.5 second) for the next 15 seconds. 1-minute cooldown. It still cannot be used during Deadly Calm. This ability was originally designed to help warriors with rage capping, but the Heroic Strike and rage normalization changes seem to have solved that problem on their own. This new design will still allow warriors to burn off excess rage faster, at their discretion.
- Recklessness now increases special critical strike chance by 50%, down from 100%, but lasts the full 12 seconds instead of allowing only 3 charges.
Recklessness, on the other hand -- I'm managing to hate that change and yet think it necessary at the same time. For one thing, current implementation of Reck makes crit on gear useless while it's active. If you want to force an Incite crit, it's easy enough. You hit Reck, then HS, Bloodthirst and usually either a Raging Blow or Colossus Smash; by that time, HS is ready to go and you'll get another free crit from the Incite you got when you crit with your first HS. By reducing Reck so that it's not an absolutely guaranteed crit, you can keep crit on gear still worth something up until much higher levels of crit and keep warriors from being able to force Incite so readily. Since I like being able to chain an extra HS crit out of my Reck use, I'm not thrilled, but I'm not surprised either.
- Juggernaut no longer increases the cooldown on Charge, but instead increases the duration of the Charge stun by 2 seconds. In addition, Charge is usable in all stances; however, the talent now causes Charge and Intercept to share a cooldown.
- Lambs to the Slaughter: Instead of granting 10/20/30% damage to the next Mortal Strike, Overpower, or Execute, it now grants a 10% buff to any Mortal Strike, Overpower, Slam, or Execute that stacks 1/2/3 times.
- War Academy no longer buffs Heroic Strike or Cleave. It now buffs Mortal Strike, Raging Blow, Devastate, Victory Rush and Slam.
Perhaps letting haste work on Rend and Deep Wounds' DoT would help.
- Bloodthirst damage has been increased by approximately 30%.
- Raging Blow weapon damage percent (at level 80+) has been increased from 110% to 145%.
- Unshackled Fury (Mastery) now grants 5.6% benefit per mastery point, up from 4.7%.
I still think we should see a flat buff to Slam. I said last week that buffing Raging Blow was a simple solution -- and so it is -- but getting Slam up to par would be nice for both DPS specs. And so, we come to our January 14th patch notes. Amazingly, they buffed Slam.
- Slam weapon damage percent (at level 80+) has been increased from 125% to 145%.
- In addition to its current effects, Bloodsurge now also causes the next Slam to deal 20% more damage.
- Raging Blow weapon damage percent (at level 80+) has been increased from 110% to 120%.
- Charge's stun continues to not trigger diminishing returns for Protection warriors who have the Warbringer talent.
- Glyph of Rapid Charge has been changed from a 7% reduction to Charge's cooldown, to 1 second off of the cooldown. This change is primarily to clarify the exact cooldown reduction this glyph provides.
For the most part, the arms changes are aimed at PvP, and what I'm finding puzzling at best is how little love the worst-performing DPS spec in the game is getting. I hardly think arms was so unrelenting a juggernaut in PvP that it needed a redesign to Juggernaut (hee) and Lambs to the Slaughter. But even if you accept that these changes were needed, it's very hard to justify any loss at all to arms DPS in PvE content, and in fact, it would almost seem absolutely indisputable that considering how poorly arms is doing in PvE, there needs to be some way to increase the spec's DPS overall.
Since I now have two 85 warriors in similar gear, I have the option to spec one arms pretty much at will, and while I enjoy taking him out for a spin in Tol Barad or running some BGs on him, I'd never take him to a raid or instance in that spec. I don't mean to belabor the point -- a talented arms warrior can put out respectable DPS, but it not only takes a lot more skill for him to be competitive, he's not going to come close to an equally skilled DPSer of any spec in the game right now. Letting haste affect Slam's cast time (a change Blizzard can't even implement yet) just seems like mighty thin gruel to subsist on for the spec.
Don't get me wrong. I would love for haste to be as good for arms as it currently seems for fury (I'd put it neck and neck with mastery and just below hit right now), but it needs to work on more of the arms rotation to be that. Right now, it's just not compelling. I get that buffing Slam's cast speed in this way could allow arms to use it more and get more DPS without buffing fury, but more is definitely needed for arms.
At the center of the dury of battle stand the warriors: protection, arms and fury. Check out more strategies and tips especially for warriors, including Cataclysm 101 for DPS warriors, a guide to new reputation gear for warriors, and a look back at six years of warrior trends.