You knew we were going to talk about this again, partially because rage and rage income is, by far, the most important aspect of the warrior class. The majority of warrior balance issues in the past have come from rage income. Whether it be too little rage (as it was in the first few months of The Burning Crusade) or too much rage (as was the argument for fury DPS in ICC at the end of Wrath of the Lich King), we always end up back at the same dance.
Since the post earlier this week announcing that enrage would be changed, we've seen a new beta build where exactly that happened, and Ghostcrawler responded to a post on the forums in greater detail for how the rage design in Mists of Pandaria is intended to go. We're going to talk about both of those things this week in some detail, which is code for "Matt gets all long-winded." Luckily, in this online format, I don't actually have to say all of this stuff -- I just type it out.
So let's look at the changes to Mists's beta build 15882 first. Many of these changes are merely tooltip changes, but a few definitely are more than that. They're the first stages in the change to enrage promised in that earlier post.
- Berserker Rage You become Enraged, generating 5 rage and increasing physical damage done by 100% for 6 seconds. Also removes and grants immunity to Fear, Sap and Incapacitate effects for the duration of Berserker Rage.
- Enrage Mortal Strike, Bloodthirst and Colossus Smash critical strikes and critical blocks Enrage you, generating 5 rage and increasing physical damage done by 100% for 6 seconds.
The rest of the patch notes appear to be tooltip corrections, not particularly meaningful. Shield Barrier looks like it got nerfed, which isn't really surprising to me. Hopefully it will work out to still be a useful button to hit.
The response to a response
OK, I've dilly-dallied long enough. It's time to suck it up and talk about the Ghostcrawler post in a forum thread inspired by one of my posts here and try not to look like a gibbering idiot in the process. I'm not just being egocentric here, as the original poster (hello, Shamtilly) specifically mentioned this post to open the discussion.
First up, if there's any way that we could get a Design Blog where you do wax philosophical about those differences, sign me up to read it. Moreover, sir, I'd love you to sit down and wax philosophical about the warrior class as a whole and hear where your design philosophy was going into Mists and what you were thinking for each spec. I've always remembered the discussion of arms vs. fury back in Wrath, and I want more of that kind of thing.
Do we want the best resource system in the game?
Now, as to the idea of being too much like combo points, the problem here is that you yourself have described energy and combo points as the best resource system in the game. I understand your desire to keep from using the same design for all resource systems. To a degree, I even applaud it.
But I care more about being effective and actually having ways to manage my resources that aren't essentially standing there and auto-attacking and hitting an attack like a metronome. As Siguror mentioned in his response, a DPS warrior is going to hit his bread-and-butter strike on cooldown.
As for tanking, because you don't generate rage from auto-attacks in Defensive Stance, right now tanking design is having a choice of active strikes (Shield Slam, Revenge, and Devastate with the chance to proc Sword and Board), and I have to admit I think it's as close to perfect as I can possibly ask. The numbers may need tweaking, but the system of rage generation as a protection warrior feels viscerally right.
It is that visceral rightness that I want for all rage generation.
Activity and scaling
The first is, we need an active rage generation system that gives us choice as to how we generate rage. It doesn't have to be a system like combo points or holy power or Maelstrom Weapon, per se. The current form of Deadly Calm (which is going away in Mists) did a very good job of letting arms warriors control their rage generation by simply giving them a few attacks for free. You wouldn't hit Deadly Calm if you had rage to spend or if you wanted to use a DPS cooldown. But when you were really low on rage and you wanted to keep your rotation going -- possibly even set yourself up with a full rage bar to bleed off via Inner Rage -- it worked really well.
This is but one possible way to give players control of their rage that doesn't feel at all like other resource systems. It's in the game right now. Giving us a button like this on a reasonable cooldown would go a very long way toward addressing the idea that rage feels too passive.
The second problem is scaling. Now, I'm willing to wait and see if these Enrage changes work and we can get a system that allows your leveling 86 warrior and your raid-geared 90 next year to both feel like they have buttons to push without the 86 feeling insanely week or the 90 looking like a freaking demigod.
What I absolutely do not want (and what I will complain absolutely bitterly about if it happens) is a patch 5.1 nerf to warriors, after we went through all of this tinkering with rage. If I hear that warriors are stacking crit and haste and trivializing rage generation when the game goes live, I'm not going to be angry at the warriors for doing something that makes their gameplay easier. I'm going to be angry at the design that went live allowing them to do so after we saw this beta build implemented for that very reason.
That guy who stands up and starts with the slow clap that gets the crowd cheering
One of the reasons people like myself keep pushing for Diablo III-style fury is that it doesn't scale at all with gear. Your damage does, absolutely. But your resource generation is the same from 1 to 60, and while I'm sure there are dozens of good reasons why you don't want to just copy and paste the one resource into the other game, I can't stress enough how fatiguing it is to constantly get on the leveling treadmill.
I actually think we're pretty close on the rage design for Mists and that what some of you are reacting to isn't the mechanic as a whole but the current numbers on beta. By moving some rage generation to yellow attacks we have given warriors and bears more control over building up their resource rather than it being totally passive. By reducing some of the exponential scaling of the resource model with gear, we think we have broken the cycle of warriors who are weak at launch and overpowered by an expansion's end.I cannot tell you how much I want this to be true. I wrote the column in question because I saw the D3 system as a means to that end. I freely accept it is not the only means to that end. If you've achieved it, then I salute you and I will be pleased beyond words to admit that you have done so, praising you to the rooftops and beyond.
And please, in all sincerety, write that philosophical comparison between WoW warriors and Diablo III barbarians. You have no idea how much I would love to read that. I still go back and read the posts about warrior design from four years ago.
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.