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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Itemization Concerns

The Care and Feeding of Warriors Itemization Concerns
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.

I admit the title is a fancy way for me to say I want to talk about a bunch of stuff, all related to warriors without dedicating the entire column to one of the topics. These things I want to discuss include:
  1. The ridiculous dependence on crit to the exclusion of pretty much all other DPS stats for fury.
  2. Warrior tank threat/DPS and how it holds back the class.
  3. The ridiculous amount of hit on Throne of Thunder gear.
  4. Why I'm still annoyed that haste does nothing for protection warriors.
I know I've been flogging that haste for protection horse for a while, but it just irks me to see two of the plate classes getting solid use out of haste/expertise or haste/mastery gear for their tank sets and we get nothing. Considering point #2 for warrior tanks (namely, that our DPS and thus threat is just way behind the other tanks) I find it absolutely maddening to see haste be so completely useless for protection warriors. It doesn't give us resources at all, due to the way rage regenerates in Defensive Stance - it doesn't even help us with our rage generators like Shield Slam and Revenge because haste does nothing for our GCD. I took a pair of haste legs for my tank set recently (they were still a huge upgrade, that's how bad my old tank legs were) and every time I look at that haste on them, and know I can't reforge all of it away, I get this lump in my gut where the snarky itemization elitist in me says haste? Really?

I hate that guy. I hate him even more because I know he's right. Haste has no business on my tanking gear because haste does nothing for a warrior tank. Nothing. We don't even generate rage from our autoattacks, so the miniscule increase in attack speed doesn't even avail us.
The Care and Feeding of Warriors Concerns

Part of the reason this bothers me so much is because, frankly, protection warriors could use the help. Throne of Thunder is showing that while prot warriors can tank a boss just fine (although we lack broken immunity abilities that allow a certain tanking class to cheese encounters meant to be tank swapped and single tank the whole thing) we're suffering on certain fights. Encounters like heroic Horridon or Tortos really task a prot warrior's ability to generate snap AoE threat, especially when Vengeance isn't up to full yet. I'm not sure if we just lack the oomph of other classes for some reason, if our itemization is just too limited, if we're wearing more dodge/parry than other tanks, or a combination of the above, but it can be really noticeable on some fights.

In general itemization or how we interact with itemization seems to be a real issue for us this raid tier. While I can't say it doesn't work, our design as DPS is so ridiculously crit-intensive that it feels like we're just stacking crit as mindlessly as we once stacked Armor Penetration, and it's diluting Recklessness. Let's take a quick look at some hypothetical situations. Assume for a moment that you're a fury warrior with 25% crit unbuffed. (If you're raiding normal ToT, or even running ToT raid finder, you probably have significantly more, but for ease of discussion.) This means that your Bloodthirsts have a 50% chance to proc an enrage before any raid buffs are taken into account.

Now, consider Recklessness, which unglyphed adds 30% chance to crit to your special attacks for 12 seconds every three minutes. So far, so good. It doesn't increase your overall damage, but it means your Raging Blow, Wild Strike and Colossus Smash will all have an extra 30% chance to crit... and it means your Bloodthirsts will get an extra 60% chance to crit. Since you can only really have a 100% chance for a critical hit, this means that 10% of that Recklessness crit chance is wasted in terms of proccing an enrage. But that's only with a 25% unbuffed crit chance. What if you have a 30% or higher chance to crit (easily attainable in full normal mode ToT gear)? Well, then you're looking at even more wasted Reck. Even with the glyph (which I use) I'm looking at 104% chance to crit when I hit BT, and this means that as warriors keep stacking crit, Recklessness is going to feel less and less relevant. It's less a big cooldown that you feel awesome pressing and more something you macro into your abilities and forget because all it does is heap more crit on the crit pile, and worse, it only really matters for specials anyway.

This leads me into the next part of my complaint, namely, how much hit there is on ToT gear.
The Care and Feeding of Warriors Itemization Concerns

Frankly, after dumping my hit mainhand and swapping out a cloak with hit for one with crit last night, and reforging/regemming as far away from hit as I could get, I'm sitting at 9.6% hit right now. That's 2.1% over the special attack hit cap. Now, it's not necessarily the case that hit is hurting my DPS - more white hits means more rage, after all - but we all know that once you cap your specials, hit drops in its contribution to your DPS below crit, below strength, below mastery and below haste, which is saying something. Hit to 26% is still prohibitively expensive, so we're left in a weird netherworld where we're not able to actually cap white hits even if we wanted to, but we're forced to walk around with up to 12% hit if we get unlucky on drops. Dual wielding two Zerat or Shellsplitter Greataxes can leave you absolutely swollen with hit rating.

Granted, I'm not sure what the solution is. Lower the hit cap for complete white hit coverate? Probably not feasible at this point, although it's worth considering for the future - while I understand that leaving that cap too low risks hitting a point where hit/expertise become useless on gear, the current situation just has them feeling like chores, and since warrior itemization absolutely rewards crit stacking over everything else, everything (even hit and expertise) just feels bad in comparison. Mastery is our #3 behind crit and strength (for fury, it's below haste for arms) but even that doesn't really feel good, compared to crit.

I'm going to go back to haste again, but this time from a DPS standpoint - we really missed a golden opportunity to make haste good enough that warriors would actually have to do some thinking about what stats we want on our gear when the change in 4.3 was made less exciting. At least for arms, once your crit is around 30% you can stop focusing exclusively on it and start looking at haste, which is not as terrible for arms as it is for fury. I have to admit I actually find the Arms gearing strategy to be more satisfying than fury - strength over even crit, crit to a certain threshold, then haste and mastery, with both hit and expertise capped to 7.5% and then forgotten. Frankly, as I've said before, hit and expertise aren't interesting stats. Either you can completely cap them (arms) in which case you do, or you can completely cap expertise (fury) and you just cap to 7.5% and never try and get more. For arms, this astonishingly high amount of hit on gear is even worse, because unlike fury, they get absolutely nothing for going to 8% hit, much less 9 or 10% which can happen. My arms set-up with Uroe is still around 8.2% hit, I just can't shed any more of it.

In the end, each spec has issues with itemization. I really think how protection gets rage, and how it spends rage, needs to be addressed so that haste is worthwhile and our overall tanking damage goes up... significantly up, in fact. Fury needs to either de-emphasize crit for the good of the spec (a more arms like spread would be nice) and both arms and fury need hit to be less everywhere.
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, Mists of Pandaria

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