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.
It wouldn't be a patch without warrior changes, and patch 4.1 is nothing if it isn't a patch. What are the really big standouts from an initial overview pass of the changes?
- Rallying Cry is a new ability that seems to work like Last Stand for the entire party or raid.
- Colossus Smash now only lowers armor by 70% for 6 seconds, down from 100%.
- Intercept stun is reduced to 1 second. In addition, Juggernaut will no longer increase the stun duration of Charge.
- Whirlwind will now reduce its cooldown by 6 seconds if it strikes four or more targets.
- Several arms abilities have had their damage increased, from Mortal Strike (175% weapon damage) to Overpower (145% weapon damage) to the talented Improved Slam (increases slam damage by 20/40%, up from 10/20%). These are most likely intended to compensate arms for losing Colossus Smash's armor penetration, indicating that nerf was aimed at fury DPS.
- Finally, Improved Hamstring will now also reduce the global cooldown on Hamstring by half a second for 1 point and a full second for two. Less stunning for warriors and more snaring seems to be the order of the day.
First up, let's look at the complete patch notes.
Overall, it's kind of a mixed bag for warriors. Fury warriors are already kind of broken for AoE damage, especially in 5-mans, and being able to lean on WW to the extent I imagine is going to lead to some ridiculous numbers on trash. I pretty much already lead the pack on trash DPS even after Cleave got nerfed, and the ability to hit WW every 4 seconds on big trash pulls is only going to exaggerate that.
Losing Colossus Smash is a DPS hit, but it's only 6 seconds out of every 20, and arms will be compensated for the loss with more DPS across the board, so I call that a wash.
Rallying Cry interests me most of all. A party- or raid-wide Last Stand? As soon as the PTR gets downloaded, I intend to check that out and see if it's restricted to a spec or stance. A DPS warrior who could effectively give the whole group LS? That's utility, right there.
Starting out on the PTR
Of course I wanted to test these changes out on the PTR, and so I quickly went to transfer my main over. He has yet to arrive. However, premades leapt over there with the greatest of ease, and I even got the chance to faction transfer, so I now have a worgen and blood elf warrior. The worgen is fury/prot and the blood elf is arms/prot. Sadly, on initial testing I found that both Skada and Recount were having major framerate issues (I have no idea why, could very easily be something I was doing wrong) and so I was forced to eyeball it, so to speak.
DPS for both arms and fury felt solid enough in the quick test run I managed. I took my worgen to Zul'Gurub and got some attempts in on Venoxis and did some pickup PvP on my blood elf. I noticed that Rallying Cry didn't seem to work right around the time we died after I used it. It's to be expected that there will be bugs and unforseen issues in a PTR, that's why we have them, after all. I can say that the gameplay for all three warrior specs seems relatively unchanged, even with the loss of stuns for PvP arms hits fairly hard and can snare more effectively now with Improved Hamstring. It's not perfect, but it worked in a few duels and the large Horde vs Alliance free for all that developed outside of Orgrimmar for some reason.
Sadly, with these expected bugs comes the difficulty in really understanding exactly what the changes are doing to the class. If Rallying Cry worked, it probably would have prevented a wipe. Since it didn't, I really can't evaluate it.
We'll see if these changes bring arms and fury to parity (they look promising for that) and how crazy fury DPS gets on trash pulls. I don't think the change to Imp Hamstring is going to make up for all that lost stun potential. It reminds me of the days of Stormherald all over again.
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