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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Arms and the 4.0.6 patch notes


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.

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.
Okay, the Inner Rage and Recklessness changes are interesting. I'm not terribly surprised that Inner Rage got redesigned, because I don't find myself sitting on so much rage that the current version of it exactly knocked my socks off. I tended to use it before chaining a bunch of cooldowns at once to try and get as much damage as possible in a burn phase. Considering that with massive gemming and reforging I'm still barely at 17% hit on my worgen warrior, I'm not exactly swimming in all this excess rage I can't get rid of when I'm DPSing. Giving us the option to crank out a few more HSes seems weird considering all the work they have done to try and move us away from using HS and Cleave, but I'll give it a shot. If nothing else, it could be fun for tanking.

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.

Talent Specializations

Arms
  • 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.
None of these changes are new, but it should be noted that between last week and this week, there was an attempt to buff Slam so that its cast time would be affected by haste (a change that would benefit arms warriors, as fury relies on Slam only when it can be cast instantly via Bloodsurge). That change was then rolled back. This rollback was due to the current incongruity between how spell haste and melee haste works. I'm disappointed to a degree, but frankly, I think we'd need a lot more than haste benefiting Slam before arms started wanting haste.

Perhaps letting haste work on Rend and Deep Wounds' DoT would help.

Fury
  • 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 said last week that the Unshackled Fury change wouldn't by itself make up for all the DPS lost from the double whammy of nerfing HS and Cleave by 20% and then costing them the 15% from War Academy. I'm still not 100% sold on the change, but a solid 30% buff to Bloodthirst and 35% more damage to Raging Blow (which will also get buffed by War Academy, as will Slam, getting an extra 15%) means that while fury will be more proc-reliant/enrage-reliant than ever; there will still be the potential for roughly similar numbers without losing the intended two-fold change of cutting back warrior AoE and slashing our reliance on HS and Cleave.

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%.
The change to Slam here combined with the War Academy and Bloodsurge changes should push Slam into being a button both specs want to use. This explains the reduction in Raging Blow damage (especially since it will still get the 15% from War Academy) as they've decided to bake it into Slam and Bloodsurge instead. Essentially, they want Slam to be a button you actually want to press. Whether or not this will be what happens is still an open question.

Protection
  • Charge's stun continues to not trigger diminishing returns for Protection warriors who have the Warbringer talent.
Glyphs
  • 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.
It's nice that protection won't have to worry about Charge stun diminishing Shockwave or Concussion Blow, but I do worry that this way lies prot PvP -- and every time prot gets good at PvP, it gets nerfed, so I'm not wanting to see or hear about prot dominance in PvP any time soon. Seriously, the hunter/mage/warlock whinging from last year was more than enough, thanks.

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.

Filed under: Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors, Cataclysm

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