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.
So, how about patch 5.2 as of the most recent PTR. Second Wind is currently back up to 3% healing a tick (still lower rage gen), Defensive Stance is nerfed for non-tanks but should remain exactly the same for tank specced warriors, Impending Victory got a mild buff to its healing (up to 15% from its current 10%), Slam is still slightly buffed, Taste for Blood is still completely redesigned (and I will talk about it, having gotten the chance to play around with it some) and frankly kind of weird, but none of these changes are massive ones aside from that Taste for Blood change and its repercussions.
As we discussed before, most of the changes seem aimed either at Vengeance and its scaling, or PvP issues like everyone taking Shockwave for a stun on a 20 second cooldown. The Taste for Blood change is obviously also rooted in PvP, but one of the more interesting consequences of that change is that it makes Heroic Strike even less desirable for arms than it already was. For fury, the Bloodsurge change is clearly aimed at getting us to want to use Wild Strike more and Heroic Strike less since it's more rewarding to pool rage and throw off a couple of HS after a Colossus Smash than it is to wait for a Bloodsurge proc and use a low damage Wild Strike, and squeezing in three of them just doesn't fit the rotation most times.
Still, there are definitely things to talk about with this PTR and warriors. A lot of them aren't implemented yet is the problem.
I am going to have to agree that Arms needs new rage management. Granted, rage is always easier on a dummy, but I took the new Taste for Blood out for a spin and frankly, it's hard to fit two Overpowers in-between Mortal Strike, Slam and Colossus Smash procs. You end up with a charge unspent, and Mortal Strike refreshing the new Taste for Blood so you end up stacking available Overpowers. It's not that damage is bad - my dummy DPS varied between 70 to 75k single target, respectable and fairly close to what it is on live - but you end up doing nothing but hammering on the Overpower key between Mortal Strikes and occasionally throwing off a Slam to keep your rage below 100. Now, I'm aware that this is PTR, and moreover that these tests were Patchwerk style dummy tests, not the give and take of an actual raid encounter. But I think it's fair to say that with TfB stacking Overpower charges the way it does, Arms will very quickly find itself sitting on more rage than it can easily use. I ended up throwing some Heroic Strikes out just to bleed down some rage, but even with HS not on the GCD it's still an action in-between MS, CS and Slam that leads you to stacking more TfB charges. Once you get five TfB charges, you pretty much can't get rid of them, and you end up hitting Overpower like a metronome in-between MS and Sudden Death procs. Once that happens, rage sits at 100 indefinitely.
Now, in an actual raid situation you're going to want to use other abilities, especially if trash was involved. I actually think arms would have much freer use of Sweeping Strikes, Whirlwind, and Thunder Clap with the TfB change keeping you from dumping rage normally. Would that be a good thing? Perhaps it would. It would certainly elevate arms damage as compared to fury, which is low right now, especially on adds/trash. I don't know if I want warriors to become the trash clearing class, however.
The news of the Haste change is interesting. (Here's Shaman Flurry so you can see what he's talking about.) What will this mean for warriors? Well, it won't help prot warriors at all because prot doesn't get any rage from white hits, meaning that tanking warriors won't generate rage faster from haste, meaning that they're still going to be the only tank who gets nothing at all from it, unless haste is going to affect the 1 rage every 3 seconds part of Defensive Stance. But for DPS this could be interesting.
I should admit, I don't think this is going to make us want haste - crit simply does too much for us right now for that to happen. What it will do is make us less likely to rend our garments at the plethora of haste trinkets out there for melee, especially for fury warriors who are swinging two weapons around. However, it could conceivably be even better for arms, considering at present all arms warriors are using one big, slow (3.6 almost exclusively) weapon. Even TG fury has that other big slow weapon to swing. So with haste getting double its effect, it could potentially eclipse mastery for arms, especially if we see a rage cost attached to Overpower or some other rage redistribution or damage balancing. If Overpower gets nerfed both in damage and by adding a rage cost, I'd expect to see haste become arms' #2 stat.
Finally, the Bloodsurge change is a nice minor change that isn't going to make fury want to hit Wild Strike much more than they do now. The biggest problem with Bloodsurge is that Wild Strike hits for very little for its normal rage cost, but when it is discounted by Bloodsurge, the three Wild Strikes are hard to fit into the fury rotation. It's not impossible to do it, but it's also not very rewarding when you could just bank rage and throw a Heroic Strike or two after a Colossus Smash. To be fair, part of the problem is that this isn't a very good use of Wild Strike after a Bloodsurge proc - it's much better to throw those three discounted Wild Strikes into any empty space in your rotation than to try and hit them all one after the other. It's just that this is often fairly hard to do in the chaos of mass combat.
Frankly, I think that to make Bloodsurge worth it, they're going to have to redesign Wild Strike. Possibly make it hit much harder, lower the amount of uses to two, and make it free when Bloodsurge is active and prohibitively expensive when it isn't. Heck, maybe just make it not work at all when Bloodsurge isn't active. With Bloodthirst, Raging Blow, and Colossus Smash/HS already in the rotation it's very hard to fit in Wild Strike and it could be made more convenient.
In the end, since we know this is the PTR and we have Ghostcrawler telling us balancing is still in the future, all we can do is wait and see, but the concepts behind the waiting are still very interesting. Can haste be made better? I hope so.
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.