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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Warriors react to patch 4.0.6


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.

I mentioned last week that if 4.0.6 dropped this week (which it did), I'd be talking about it this week. So far, my initial impressions are as follows:
  • Tanking doesn't feel particularly changed. I like Devastate more now that War Academy affects it, but it's not a major deal one way or another for me.
  • I've been playing around with the proposed Crit/Mastery gearing for fury warriors proposed by Landsoul, and as you would expect from one of the supreme warrior theorycrafters, it's valid. It does seem very dependent on high targets (about 22% crit or better and 17% mastery), although part of that might just be because some fights are so ridiculously punishing for melee right now that you have to compensate for lost DPS time.
  • I still like hit for fury if you're in ilvl333-346 blues and some mixed-in 359 epics. As your gear improves to all 359 and you start mixing in the BiS epics, you can start tinkering to drop to 10% hit. Hit's never bad; it's just prohibitively hard to actually cap out at this point. I suspect if hit starts falling way behind, stuff will be changed to make it more attractive to us, as well.
  • Arms feels slightly buffed. Fury feels like the damage just moved around. Prot feels absolutely unchanged. How the hotfix to raging blow will shake out is as yet undetermined.
So now let's talk about 4.0.6 in detail.

First up, the entirety of the 4.0.6 patch notes pertaining to 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.
  • Slam weapon damage percent (at level 80+) has been increased from 125% to 145%.
  • Talent specializations
    • Arms
      • Drums of War no longer lowers the rage cost of Piercing Howl.
      • 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.
      • Mortal Strike cost has been reduced by 5 rage.
      • War Academy no longer buffs Heroic Strike or Cleave. It now buffs Mortal Strike, Raging Blow, Devastate, Victory Rush and Slam.
    • Fury
      • In addition to its current effects, Bloodsurge now also causes the next Slam to deal 20% more damage.
      • Bloodthirst damage has been increased by approximately 30%.
      • Raging Blow weapon damage percent (at level 80+) has been increased from 110% to 120%. (Note: this has since been hotfixed into a nerf.)
      • Single-Minded Fury bonus has been increased to 20%, up from 15%.
      • Unshackled Fury (Mastery) now grants 5.6% benefit per mastery point, up from 4.7%.
    • 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.
  • Warrior bug fixes
    • Warrior abilities which were incorrectly assigned the sound effect for Mangle have been updated.
    • Battle Shout's buff tooltip should not show incorrect values when the recipient is higher level than the warrior.
    • Heroic Leap and Thunder Clap no longer incorrectly scale damage with both Strength and Agility.
    • Forceful Deflection passive aura is now properly applying to warriors beginning at level 1.
    • The Victorious buff can no longer proc before the warrior learns Victory Rush.
    • The wording in the tooltip for Vigilance was inconsistent with other abilities and has been updated.

How are warriors performing now?

So far this week I've tanked and done fury DPS and arms DPS in raids and 5-mans, and so I feel pretty comfortable in discussing each. I haven't gotten a chance to PvP as fury yet, and my arms PvP experience has been limited to running around Tol Barad committing Bladestorm upon packs I know will kill me for it. With the new, extended charge stun from Juggernaut and Blitz, I can usually at least put the hurt down on a couple of people before I die -- more, if I can manage to get a Throwdown in there -- but my whole PvP strategy right now is basically to be a fire-and-forget missile and hope for a wandering healer to take kindness upon my soul. Failing that, I try really hard to kill at least one cloth-wearer before I die.

In PvE, arms still feels weaker than fury to me, but others are reporting solid damage with the spec. Then again, "weaker than fury" doesn't necessarily mean weak. I won't pretend I'm unaware that people will always choose the spec they think outputs the most DPS, but when the difference can be as little as 1k DPS in a 10-man, it's pretty close to the goal of "getting arms and fury close enough for taste preferences to win out."

I'm not saying that given equivalent skill and the optimal gear for each spec, fury won't put out more damage than arms. What I am saying is that if you're a more skilled arms warrior with solid gear, you can put out enough damage as arms that you're not hurting your raid, really. I mean, aside from being melee DPS in the most melee-unfriendly expansion of all time. The reduction in Mortal Strike's rage cost and the increase in Slam's damage both seem positives for arms, and the change of Lambs to the Slaughter to a stacking buff seems at the least to be not having any negative effect on PvE DPS.

Staying mobile

Right now, both arms and fury have about the same mobility in both PvP and PvE, with arms using Charge while fury uses Intercept and both have Heroic Leap. Fury may have the edge with Heroic Fury allowing Intercept cooldown to be reset and snares to be purged, since arms now can't Intercept after a Charge (they share a cooldown now). In fact, much as I believe arms to be worth using for PvE if you're better at using the arms style of procs and abilities, so too do I think the high mobility of fury -- combined with 4.0.6's buff to fury's mastery, Bloodthirst and Bloodsurge -- means that fury can put out more burst while moving around the field. This makes it more viable for PvP. The buff to fury's mastery has pretty wide-reaching consequences, in fact -- so much so that I know we'll be revisiting the subject. For now, it's very nice for PvP bursting. That's why they nerfed Raging Blow, in fact.

For PvE, I personally haven't noticed much of a shortfall in DPS. If anything, I'm putting out slightly more while still using Heroic Strike and Cleave when the situation warrants. I have two fury sets right now, one that manages about 21% hit, 17% crit and 14% mastery, and another that drops to about 12% hit, 19% crit and 15% mastery. At present, I see more DPS with the higher hit set, but as I said before, I definitely think that as I manage more crit and mastery that I will find myself needing less hit overall. I'm kind of on the fence about it, actually, as for right now I see significant DPS increases with every percentage of hit from 12% up to the 20% mark, but that's got to be in part due to my lower crit and mastery.

I've tested out SMF as well, but my results seem skewed by the fact that I have an epic two-hander and no epic one-handers. It's a lot closer now with the 20% buff to SMF to compensate for the higher stats and raw DPS on two-handed weapons. I still like TG better, but I'm feeling more comfortable in declaring this a stylistic choice.

Fury in general actually seems to me to have gotten the buffs to abilities like Raging Blow, Slam and Bloodthirst that compensate for the nerfs to Cleave and Heroic Strike. Even on fights like Omnotron with lots of target switching, interrupts, add kiting, and repositioning due to high damage abilities that can hurt the entire raid, there wasn't a signficiant DPS shortfall. (That being said, man, I hate Omnotron.) I'm really fond of Bloodsurge adding damage to Slam. It makes that Bloodsurge proc fun again.
Keeping threat solid

Having switched to tanking in Bastion, I felt very little effect from the HS/Cleave nerfs. Certainly, AoE threat was lower due to Cleave's losing punch, but to some degree it was compensated for with higher Devastates and more tactical use of Enduring Victory. I managed to tank the drake/whelps/drake combination on Halfus effectively, although in part that's due to my having Blood and Thunder. Quite frankly, I really liked the redesigned Inner Rage for moments of high-rage tanking, like when I had a pack of whelps on me and could get the Cleave cooldown ridiculously fast to increase my burst threat. Aside from that, protection is as unchanged as that one line section under "Protection" in the patch notes would have you believe.

The caveats

Now that I've been fairly upbeat, my complaints. I don't like what Blizzard has done to Charge's stun, which is fairly short anyway, and the Juggernaut change doesn't quite compensate, in my opinion. Yes, I know the developers were going after the Charge / Throwdown combination here. I still don't like it. I'm not fond of Cleave and HS being doubly nerfed by having their base damage reduced and then both being removed from War Academy, especially for tanking warriors counting on Cleave and Incite-boosted HS. Yes, I know I said it was a minor threat drop and easily dealt with; I still don't like it.

Okay, that's enough out of me. In general, 4.0.6 ranges between fair and good for warriors. Next week, arms talents, and then we'll start talking about Blackwing Descent and Bastion of Twilight bosses.

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.

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