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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: How we change

The Care and Feeding of Warriors How we change
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.

Okay, I was all set to write a mildly disappointed post about patch 5.4 and what it hasn't changed for warriors. And then Blizzard went and did this. So here I am, feeling multiple things. I'm not good at feeling multiple things. Here's what's going through my head:
  • When I was first told about this, I was in a raid. I frankly did not believe it. It's still somewhat hard to believe, actually.
  • Holy snap, I did not expect this ever.
  • Haste? I mean, really?
  • If these are Ordos drops (as I suspect they might be) then I guess I'm gonna have to go kill Ordos a few times. I mean, I have to get a pair of those, right?
  • Seriously, haste and mastery? Hit/mastery would have been the best spread if you wanted them to be useful for both tanking and DPS (which two blue sockets makes me think) and if you wanted dedicated DPS shoulders, then crit/mastery or crit/haste would have been better.
  • Man, I really got an item named after me. That is so cool I don't even know.
  • Wait, haste and mastery on an item named after me? Is this Blizzard trolling me? Am I being trolled by the biggest MMO in the world?
I'm a little afraid that writing something critical of WoW's upcoming patch 5.4 direction will seem a trifle ungrateful after this news. But let's face it, everyone knew what I was yesterday, and everyone knows who I am today. Warriors could be the number one DPS and best tanks by miles and I wouldn't really be satisfied. Still, it must be said that this is an awesome thing and I'm very very grateful to see my name on an item in WoW.

Now then, we were scheduled to talk about how patch 5.4 is shaping up in terms of warriors and class changes.
The Care and Feeding of Warriors How we change
First up we'll take a look at the most recent patch notes so we can discuss what is and isn't changing.
Rygarius - 5.4 PTR Patch Notes - July 29
Warrior
General
  • Blood and Thunder now also increases the damage of Thunder Clap by 50%.
  • Enrage now also triggers on critical hits from Devastate and Shield Slam.
  • Hamstring is no longer on a global cooldown.
  • Shattering Throw no longer costs rage.
  • Shield Wall no longer requires a shield. If the Warrior does not have a shield equipped, it will show a visual of an equipped shield.
  • Spell Reflection no longer requires a shield. If the Warrior does not have a shield equipped, it will show a visual of an equipped shield.

Arms
  • Seasoned Soldier now also reduces the cost of Thunder Clap by 10 Rage.
  • Slam now deals 35% of damage dealt against the primary target to all other enemies within 2 yards while Sweeping Strikes is active, and causes an additional 10% damage to targets affected by the warrior's Colossus Smash.
  • Sweeping Strikes now causes melee attacks to strike an additional nearby target for 75% of the initial damage (up from 50%).

Fury
  • Titan's Grip now works with polearms.

Protection
  • Revenge now generates 20 Rage (up from 15 Rage).
  • Riposte is a new passive ability learned by Protection Warriors at level 76. When the Warrior dodges or parries any attack, they gain 75% of their Parry and Dodge as an additional bonus to Critical Strike for 20 seconds.
  • Ultimatum now activates from critical hits with Shield Slam instead of a flat 20% chance, and the ability will make the next Heroic Strike or Cleave be a critical hit in addition to costing no Rage.

Talents
  • Bladestorm's cooldown has decreased to 60 seconds (down from 1.5 minutes), and now deals an increased 180% of weapon damage for Arms Warriors (up from 120%).
  • Bloodbath's snare and bleed effects are now two separate debuffs. Clearing one of the effects will no longer remove the other.
  • Enraged Regeneration now instantly heals the warrior for 10% of their total health (up from 5%), and an additional 10% over 5 seconds (up from 5%).
  • Impending Victory now heals the Warrior for 20% of their maximum health at all times (up from 15% on attack and 20% on kills that yield experience or honor).
  • Storm Bolt now has a duration of 4 seconds (up from 3 seconds), and has an off-hand attack for Fury Warriors.
  • Vigilance no longer transfers damage to the Warrior. The talent now reduces amount of damage the target takes by 30% for 12 seconds.
  • Warbringer now roots the target for 4 seconds instead of stunning them for 3 seconds. The 50% reduction to movement speed snare effect for 8 seconds remains unchanged. Glyph of Blitz will now cause Warbringer to root an additional 2 nearby targets.

Glyphs

New Major Glyphs
  • Glyph of the Executor: Killing an enemy with Execute grants Rage.
  • Glyph of Impaling Throws: Heroic Throw now leaves an axe in the target, which can be retrieved by moving within 5 yards of the target to finish the cooldown of Heroic Throw. This effect will only occur when Heroic Throw is cast from more than 10 yards away from the target.
  • Glyph of the Raging Whirlwind: Whirlwind gives additional Rage over time, but for that time the Warrior no longer generates Rage from auto-attacks.

New Minor Glyphs
  • Glyph of the Subtle Defender: Removes the threat generation bonus from Defensive Stance.
  • Glyph of the Weaponmaster: Shout abilities cause the appearance of the Warrior's weapon to change to that of a random weapon from their primary bag for a short time.


First off it must be said that these are pretty much all positive changes, or changes aimed at providing some quality of life compensation for things. The general changes are all buffs, the arms and protection changes are all buffs as well. The fury change isn't a buff exactly, but it's nice that we'll be able to use polearms with Titan's Grip (it means that if we get another tier with strength polearms, we can use them). It can't really be said that any of these changes, with the possible exception of Warbringer (and that only if you think the switch from a stun to a root is a nerf) is a negative change.

The only real problem with these changes comes in terms of whether or not we think they're enough. For arms, I think we could say they definitely address any AoE DPS issues the spec may have been having, make Bladestorm a very attractive option for AoE, give Slam (already arms' big rage dump) some new teeth and are generally positive. Fury gets a Storm Bolt that it will actually consider using, as the off-hand damage is fairly substantial. Protection gets some added DPS with the buff to Blood and Thunder and the increase rage from Revenge added to the new Riposte mechanic and the new implementation of Ultimatum. A guaranteed critical hit with a free HS or Cleave will make it an attractive DPS/threat move since it won't cost you the rage you need for active mitigation. It's safe to say that these are all, in general, positive changes.
The Care and Feeding of Warriors How we change

The question becomes, are the enough? And while I am of the opinion that arms is getting enough (a case could be made for more single target DPS, but in terms of AoE you can't argue arms needs buffs at this point) I think both fury and protection will need more than what we're seeing. For one thing, protection needs more survivability. Compared to paladin immunity cheese and DK self healing, protection warriors (and also guardian druids and even brewmaster monks, but I am not qualified to speak for them) could definitely use some help in the staying up department. Shield Block is purely a physical damage mitigation move, and Shield Barrier (while not by any means a bad ability) still ends up pretty expensive in terms of what it does. Furthermore, as the only tank that gets resources from pure avoidance stats like dodge and parry, it's bizarre to see how weak and undervalued dodge and parry have become in the current tanking scheme of things. Sharing our gear with paladins and DK's means we'll always be held hostage to some extent by what they prioritize on gear.

I don't know if Riposte will be enough crit to make Ultimatum proc more often instead of less, but with the lack of desire for dodge and parry on tanking gear overall, I doubt it. With haste being outright useless for protection warriors, and with dodge and parry simply not providing as much benefit as hit and expertise, Riposte simply isn't going to come close to making up enough crit for Devastate and Shield Slam to critically hit and thus put tanking warriors into an Enrage.

The easiest fix for that would be to give either Devastate or Shield Slam the same treatment as Bloodthirst, doubling its critical hit chance. In addition, however, I think it's fair to say that protection warriors need one or both of these attacks to just plain hit for more. Since Shield Slam is a fairly hard hitting ability, Devastate seems the most likely candidate for a flat out DPS buff. Another, more interesting option would be to give protection warriors access to Titan's Grip. Not dual-wielding 2h weapons, however, but using one in the main hand while tanking. With strength polearms making a comeback, Titan's Grip for protection warriors could be a means to differentiate protection warriors and paladins a little more and make 2h weapons with hit and expertise (good for DK tanks and almost no one else) good for another tanking class.

As for fury, I think it's fairly simple - our AoE is fine, what we need is more single target DPS. Making Storm Bolt hit harder for fury is nice, but it comes at the cost of Bloodbath, which is a very hard trade to swallow overall. Fury is locked into a crit-dependent cycle that rewards and even compels stacking crit to the exclusion of almost everything and its non-Enraged base attacks, from white hits to Bloodthirst, simply don't hit hard enough. It's also fair to say that our level 75 talents are simply not terribly interesting, even after the changes made to Vigilance. The changes to Shield Wall and Spell Reflection are nice, but not by themselves enough to address fury's fragility (DPS warriors are often simply incapable of converting rage into damage, especially in heroic encounters that penalize us for moving out of range to stay alive). Amusingly, with our rage scaling issues much less of an issue this expansion due to the comprehensive rage fixes, fury DPS has lagged behind in the most current tier of raiding, and it's simply a matter of either buffing the damage on our baseline attacks (especially white hits to make hit a more attractive stat, since we're swimming in hit anyway) or increasing the benefit haste or mastery give us to make those stats more useful.

Next week, the Titan's Grip blues.
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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