For the next few weeks, I am going to break down warriors in Mists of Pandaria for you. This will be an absolutely basic article, covering stat caps, basic rotations, and how the new talent system works. It's aimed to be accessible for the new player but still useful for long-term players. In following weeks, we'll cover tanking and DPS specs in more detail, but this post is intended for general use. As a result, it will touch upon offensive and defensive stats as well as talents.
The warrior has seen a lot of change, yet that change doesn't alter the class by adding a new resource system. We still use rage. We just generate it differently now. A lot of work has done into the new rage system, as well as changing our abilities and making a lot of former talents baseline abilities. This week, we'll cover what you need to know to start playing a warrior or take up playing one again in Mists of Pandaria.
One thing that absolutely needs to be said, though. Warriors are still the class that hits things and yells at them. We still don't use poison, divine magic, arcane magic, nature magic, the elements or the shadow. We hit things, yell at them, sometimes drop a banner on or near them. We have remained the most brutish of the brute force, the screaming, bellowing, weapon against shield-pounding, two-weapon-whirling, single-weapon-mastering, metal-wearing maniacs of World of Warcraft. And long, long may it remain so.
1. What's different about warriors in Mists of Pandaria? Warriors in Mists of Pandaria have mainly changed in two ways. The first is that instead of having talents chosen by a specialization, all talents are universal now. You get a choice of one talent out of three every 15 levels until level 90. These talent choices are called talent tiers, and each tier tends to have a similar theme. As an example, the first tier is all talents relating to the Charge special ability.
The other real change for warriors in Mists is that the stance system has been overhauled and rage functions differently. The three stances are still Battle Stance, Defensive Stance and Berserker Stance. Battle Stance allows you to generate more rage from your normal, or white, attacks (so named because their damage appears as white in the games combat logs and on screen), while Berserker Stance allows you to generate rage from damage you take as well as damage you deal. Defensive Stance, meanwhile, simply generates rage (1 rage per 3 seconds) in addition to reducing damage you take by 15% and increasing threat generation by 500%.
A few abilities have changed or been removed, some now existing as glyphs and others folded into similar abilities. Warriors now merely have Charge and not Intercept (which was basically the same ability as Charge, only it cost rage to use), since Charge now works in combat for all warriors. Similarly, Deep Wounds and Rend have been folded into one ability simply named Deep Wounds. In general, if an ability no longer exists, it was probably made into a glyph or folded into another ability. Similarly, if a talent no longer exists, it was probably either made a baseline ability, made a glyph, or simply done away with entirely.
Warrior tanks have Shield Block and Shield Barrier, two new abilities you'll want to keep up as much as possible, and each costs a significant amount of rage. Shield Block is the superior choice against damage you know is going to be melee, since it guarantees you'll block all incoming hits for 6 seconds (very good against a fast-hitting melee attack boss or multiple trash) and costs 60 rage, while Shield Barrier absorbs all incoming damage and has a scaling rage cost, starting at 20 rage and absorbing more damage for more rage cost up to a cap of 60 rage.
Since protection only generates its rage from special attacks (as well as a little trickle of passive rage from Defensive Stance), hit and expertise are more valuable for protection in Mists than they are in Cataclysm. While you will still prefer dodge, parry and mastery, hit and expertise will be more valuable to tanking warriors. Also, strength now gives a good deal more parry rating than it used to, and since warrior tanking gear is heavy on strength, parry will tend to be higher than dodge. Of course, as a tank, you're going to want stamina, but that's on all the gear anyway. Yoiu don't need to try and stack it.
For DPSers, the main thing to consider is that hit and expertise are normalized now. You need 7.5% hit and 7.5% expertise to hit a skull-level boss (one that is considered three levels higher than you) and not be dodged by it. You need significantly more expertise to remove the chance you'll be parried, but you can't be parried standing behind a boss, so you only have to worry about the 7.5% to remove dodge. This is a change that makes expertise work as a percentage rather than the current system, which simply has expertise as a number.
For an arms warrior, capping both hit and expertise to that 7.5% will not be very difficult. Fury will be able to cap expertise fairly easily, but getting hit-capped with the dual wield penalty will not really be worthwhile. For both DPS specs, you'll want to cap expertise, then stack crit. Arms will want mastery after it caps hit. Fury will most likely stack haste and mastery to equal levels, and you'll either just get hit to 7.5% to make sure your special attacks hit (since Bloodthirst, your special attack, generates rage now), or you'll stack hit to try and make as many white hits land as possible. At present, I can't say for sure which is the better approach.
The only talent I feel like is a clear winner for tanking is Shockwave. I just plain love a 20-second cooldown while tanking, but Dragon Roar is a very solid snap ability as well, albeit on a longer cooldown. In fact, many of the choices come down to how often you want to be able to use them. Storm Bolt is up every 30 seconds, while Bloodbath takes a minute to cool down, and Avatar is on a 3-minute cooldown.
I'll go more into detail on which talents I like for each role and spec as I discuss those individually in coming weeks. Next week, we'll take a closer look at protection in our Mists Protection 101 article.
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.