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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Warrior mistakes to avoid

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.

One of the interesting things about my current astonishing obsession with transmogrification and all things related to it has been seeing older itemization. You know, strength and agility plate. Warrior tier 6 is lousy with agility. That's a legacy of the past, of course, and as the design of the game moves ever onward, artifacts like that are left in its wake. After all, most level 70 warriors nowadays move straight to Northrend dungeons and are not likely to look at Black Temple until much later, when farming for transmog gear. The stats aren't important enough to go back and redesign the set.

What I really find interesting about this is seeing where the class has been, not just visually but also in terms of design. It's kind of like archaeology (the actual field of inquiry, not the in-game profession) or paleontology, reconstructing the class and its roots from the remainders of what it wore. Granted, I was there, so to a degree it's like excavating Pompeii with an immortal who survived the volcanic eruption of Vesuvius and keeps grumping about how people in his day didn't complain when they were buried in pyroclastic material. Which is a complete lie, by the way, we did nothing but complain about it. But I digress.

The warrior class has come a long way in seven years, and the artifacts of past design lie strewn about. New players and even old veterans can be forgiven for making a few mistakes based on the rubble. Let's go over a few.

The long-buried days of agility and leather

As of the moment this post will go live, agility on gear is pretty much worthless for a warrior, be he DPS or tank. There are lots of examples of old-school agility plate and lots of one-hand swords and axes and such with agility on them, but don't be mistaken. The days when an agility piece was compelling for a DPS warrior are long gone, and tanking warriors get practically nothing -- no dodge, minimal crit, pretty much bupkiss -- from an agility weapon or piece of armor.

While some classes get attack power as well as critical strike chance from agility, we merely get some crit from the stat. Generally speaking, you're better off with critical strike itself on gear instead of agility. This is absolutely more true at level 80 and up, when the gear is generally more properly itemized for the modern design of the class. Weapons, rings, capes and other agility pieces are designed for agility-using classes and not for warriors and other strength classes.

It's especially important to emphasize for tanks that as of patch 4.2, warrior tanks get nothing from agility but a little crit. There was a time where warrior tanks in this expansion were taking weapons to tank with because the agility on them provided dodge; this is no longer the case. If you have a choice between a strength weapon and one with agility, the strength weapon will provide you some parry; the agility weapon will provide you with absolutely no avoidance whatsoever from that agility. Zip. Zero. Nothing.

Special snowflakes and plate

In addition to this mistake, another one I see in a lot of PUG groups while leveling and even in some of the more recent PUGs I've done is warriors rolling on leather or mail because it has better stats or is higher ilevel than what they have and then wearing it. Do not wear it unless you're replacing a BC-level green with a Cataclysm piece, and even then I'd probably say go hit the AH and buy a plate piece.

Why? Plate specialization. Back in The Burning Crusade, you saw a lot of fury warriors wearing items like Cursed Vision of Sargeras because the stats were that compelling. (Back then, a lot of leather DPS gear had agility, crit and attack power on it, instead of just agility and crit.) In fact, plate specialization was invented precisely to curtail warriors' wanting to wear that stuff and rolling against rogues, shaman and hunters to get it.

Some 5% more strength or stamina just from wearing your own gear category is pretty huge, especially when most Cata gear is itemized around the four stat system (agility or strength, stamina, and two other secondary stats like crit, hit, haste, expertise, mastery). There can certainly be edge cases where a leather piece is just that much better than what you have on, especially considering how fast one can level now, but once you reach 85, it's extremely unlikely. And for a tank, the lost armor and stamina alone make it almost impossible. To make it plain, you should almost never be wearing anything but plate once you're 85. The rules of the game have been specifically changed to encourage it.

Requiescat in pace, threat set

With the changes to Vengeance and threat over the past two patches, the concept of a threat set has been greatly deemphasized. Frankly, this is something I had to unlearn. I've always been the kind of tank who emphasized threat stats and worked on threat generation. I saw it as equally important and something you had to work on as a tank. It's still part of the role, but it's much less important, and I very rarely find myself in need of a threat set, even when tanking older content I outgear. While I still like to have some hit and expertise when tanking, I can usually get enough from food or elixirs and I don't feel much need to gear for it. That doesn't mean you should run away from a tank piece that has hit or expertise, but it does mean that the days of assuming a hit/expertise piece was equally suited to tanking as to DPS are a thing of the past. Now, hit or expertise paired with mastery will at least give me some pause still, thanks to reforging.

Resilience and why you don't bounce back as fast

Finally, let's talk about resilience. You may have come up in the old days when resilience gave you critical hit reduction and resilience pieces dropped in PvE. It no longer affects your chance to be critically hit at all, instead reducing all damage you take from players by a fixed amount.

Please note that: It reduces all damage you take from players. That means it is absolutely worthless in PvE. It does nothing. It's not just a bad stat for PvE content. It's absolutely worthless, useless. If you have, say, 2k resilience on your gear in PvE, you have 2k of a stat doing nothing for you at all.

Now, that doesn't mean that all PvP gear is useless in PvE. Going from a 333 green to a 390 epic PvP piece can mean a significant jump in raw stats. But the resilience itself is not doing anything against mobs or bosses. An Hour of Twilight epic with the proper stats will perform better for you in most cases purely because everything on it will do something. For a warrior tank, PvP gear is pretty much always inferior to PvE gear except in very limited circumstances or if the pieces is just massively higher in itemization level. For a DPS warrior, it's less critical, but you are losing offensive stats for a stat that's not even providing you with damage protection in any way.

Also, when PvPing, please keep in mind that the situation often reverses. A warrior in PvP with low resilience is a dead warrior. Don't be surprised or upset when you go into a BG in full PvE gear and you explode as if you were carrying nitroglycerin and fireworks in your pants.

A final word: Mistakes are just that, mistakes. They can be fixed. They are not evidence that the player making them is subhuman. Anyone can make a mistake, even you, even me. I was still tanking in threat gear for the first couple of weeks after patch 4.3; I just couldn't get my head around the new paradigm in practice, even after writing blog posts about it. If you see a player making one of these mistakes, sure, try and tip him or her off, but don't be a swine about it.

Next week, we'll talk about the other aspects of gearing, gems and enchants.

At the center of the fury of battle stand the warriors: protection, arms and fury. Check out more strategies and tips especially for warriors, from hot issues for today's warriors to Cataclysm 101 for DPS warriors and our guide to reputation gear for warriors.

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

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