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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Patch 5.0.4 discoveries

The Care and Feeding of Warriors Easing into Patch 504
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. And yes, he's aware that his finally getting Thunderfury after eight years is no big deal to you, but he's completely going to post pictures of it anyway.

I got my Thunderfury this week. Yes, after eight years, Garr finally gave up his binding, and I'm now tanking with TF. What's amazing is, I can actually hold threat doing this. That's not due to TF's proc, though -- in every way, tanking with TF is a downgrade from using a modern weapon, save stylistically. No, what's keeping threat on trash packs is Revenge. On one trash pull, I did 19k DPS with TF equipped, and Revenge accounted for over 50% of my damage.

I'm going to say that again: Revenge accounted for 50% of my damage. I hit Shield Slam to start the pull, and from that point on, Revenge was constantly lit up. I talked with a friend of mine who is also a prot warrior, and he told me he was seeing similar results. Frankly, I was tempted not to say anything about this. With Revenge proccing so much, it becomes simplicity itself to hold threat, and it means that you really don't need to worry about hit or expertise nearly so much.

The Care and Feeding of Warriors Easing into Patch 504
I expect what's likely to happen is, Revenge's reset on dodge and parry will become a reset on just one of those, most likely parry. Of course, as we gear up and our dodge and parry rates drop, Revenge will as well. This current ridiculously high rate of Revenge reset could just be an artifact of our very high dodge and parry rates, especially on trash packs where we're getting multiple chances to dodge or parry. As it stands, with the ability resetting almost every three seconds, Revenge spam is the new (and far, far better) Heroic Strike spam.

Now, I tanked on the beta, and I didn't get this high a level of Revenge refeshing its cooldown, so I'm inclined to believe that leveling will fix it until we're in the final tier of Mists raiding. But it's still an artifact of patch 5.0.4 I didn't foresee and thought I should mention. Patch 5.0.4 has brought us all manner of change and right up until Sept. 25, it's the game we're all playing, this strange middle ground of Cataclysm itemization and content with Mists mechanics.

Warrior DPS in 5.0.4

I was all set to write a scathing post about how astonishingly terrible warrior DPS is in patch 5.0.4, after a dummy test that made my jaw drop with how low it was. Shocked and demoralized, I seriously felt like dumping my DPS off spec for another prot specialization, since I saw no point to even trying to play a DPS warrior.

Then I heard the news that the raid dummies are all level 93 now.

After that initial gut check (and having posted a tweet that made me look rather foolish in retrospect), I dusted off the DPS warrioring and ran some dungeons on my heroic DS-geared main and my LFR/valor-geared worgen. What I saw was that DPS seems competitive, if somewhat attenuated in places. Dragon Roar is less an AoE DPS move than a DPS move you'll use every minute or so whether there's a reason to AoE or not, and Bladestorm was definitely providing a lot more DPS for me as fury on actual trash pulls due to its sustained nature. As arms, I actually had a lot of fun with Shockwave, since it gives you AoE every 20 seconds or so. I was also concerned that the small knockback of Dragon Roar was making my tank hate me.

The Care and Feeding of Warriors Easing into Patch 504
Actual DPS on a run with mostly guildies seemed to fluctuate between 30k and 40k for the worgen and hovered at 50k for the draenei, depending on what talent I chose for the level 60 tier and what kind of content I was running. For the trash-burning mayhem of Well of Eternity, Bladestorm was absolutely king, but Dragon Roar's damage is pretty compelling for a build that hits bosses as well as trash, and I didn't find myself suffering much at all using Shockwave.

We've covered reforging in our Mists of Pandaria guides, but just as a refresher, arms wants hit and expertise to 7.5% each and then go with crit and mastery. With fury, you can go with 7.5% hit and exp and then gear for crit, haste and mastery or stack hit to around 18%; it's really up in the air at the moment as to which is better. I'm leaning toward 7.5% hit for fury, just because it's not possible to cap white hits, but relying entirely on Bloodthirst and Battle Shout/Charge for rage just makes me uncomfortable.

Quite frankly, I haven't talked about glyphs because, with a relatively few exceptions, glyphs do nothing for your DPS anymore. Go ahead and pick the glyph that makes you leave a trail of fire when you Charge, if that's your thing. I'll just come out and say it: I don't like the new glyph system. Doesn't thrill me. See all the new glyphs currently available for new glyphs currently available for warriors warriors in patch 5.0.4 for yourself.

Surprise Revenge spam and other prot news

For the most part, at the moment it feels like tanking DPS went up for warriors, thanks to Revenge. Certainly our trash DPS is very high. Tanking with an actual weapon instead of the legendary that's three expansions out of date and does less DPS than a vendor gray I could pick up in Dalaran, I never felt any real difficulty holding threat. Sure, there's always that brief window at the start of any fight where threat can be wonky, but with Heroic Leap and the ability to instantly Thunder Clap and Shield Slam on arrival, it just doesn't seem terribly hard to round folks up. I do miss Retaliation for AoE pulls, but it was never up often enough to be more than a neat trick.

Demoralizing Shout's new role as a 1-minute cooldown means you use it the way you used Shield Block back in Wrath, and while I do use it on most initial trash pulls, I usually wait until after threat has been cemented. So far, while damage is certainly a little spikier now than it was, it's not untenable, and I don't feel like losing unhittable made me suddenly explode on boss fights.

What I am noticing is that given a choice between Shield Block and Shield Barrier, I usually choose Barrier due to the rage cost discrepancy. It's simply too tempting to hit Barrier when I have 30 or so rage stored instead of waiting the six or so seconds to get up to 60 rage for a Shield Block. Now, if I know I'm going to take more than two melee attacks in six seconds (say, fighting Algalon or someone who attacks like he does), then Shield Block would probably win out. But for right now Barrier is an absorb that gets better with more rage and with more attack power, so as Vengeance stacks up Barrier's ease of use makes me push that button.

The Care and Feeding of Warriors Patch 504 Discoveries
Now, Shield Block can give you critical blocks for its effort, and I have had a few occasions where I noticed I had so much rage that I hit Shield Block, and still had enough rage left over for a Shield Barrier. And also, my tier 13 set bonus is confusing the issue, since every time I hit Revenge (and like I said before, I'm hitting it a lot) I get an absorb on top of the absorb I already have. I am absorbing a ton of damage here.

Also, Second Wind? It's a much better talent than I had previously believed, far more competive with Enraged Regeneration than I previously stated. Against a raid boss, it may not save you, but it will be a consistent, reliable sub-35% talent that you may seriously consider.

As far as reforging for prot goes, I'm still very much up in the air about it. I have my hit up to 5.5% and my expertise just shy of 4%, and I haven't felt the need to go higher. I may even drop some hit back down for more dodge or parry -- not that I feel like I'm not avoiding enough, but just for comfort. Mastery is still good for helping us get enrages via critical block, but the stat definitely feels like it took a massive hit (because it did), and all the expertise I have now came out of my previous mastery-heavy reforging.

It has been an interesting week, that's for sure. Oh, and yeah, I know I posted way too many TF pictures this week. Just go with it. I'll probably never mention the thing again, but this was the end of an eight-year farm and I needed the catharsis.

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.

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