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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: All we know so far from BlizzCon

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.

Let's go over some things we learned this weekend that will have an effect on us as warriors (as always, keep in mind this is all subject to change):
  • We learned that there will be new level 100 talents (which we'll go over)
  • Hit and expertise are gone, baby. In their place are will be new stats like movement speed and Cleave, which will act like the Siege of Orgrimmar trinkets we've seen that allow either damage or healing to chain to other nearby targets.
  • Also gone? Dodge and parry as stats on gear. We will still be dodging and parrying, but not via gear itemization. Also also gone? Reforging. A lot of gear changes, in total.
  • There will also be changes to armor itemization to make it easier to share gear between classes and specs. Plate will switch primary stat based on your spec, so all plate with be strength plate unless you're a holy pally (which you aren't) whereupon it will switch to int plate. Plate is plate now.
  • You will be able to choose one character and boost it to level 90, be it a new fresh level 1 you roll as soon as you get Warlords of Draenor or an old alt you left by the wayside. Did you stop playing in Wrath? Your level 80 can skip those 10 levels. Since we know a lot of people have rerolled other classes, this could be useful to get some warriors back in the saddle.
I don't pretend that this is all we'll end up finding out, but it's enough to start talking about.

The Itemization overhaul

This is a huge deal, both for DPS warriors and tanks. Tanks have been leaning heavily on hit and expertise this expansion instead of stats like dodge and parry - with those active mitigation stats gone, tanking gearing priority is up in the air right now. Will we see a shift to critical hit chance and mastery,orwill the new statistics become popular? It's of course too soon to say, but one thing is clear - we'll definitely see a shift in how we gear as tanks. I know at present dodge and parry aren't very popular tanking stats, but they still exist - that's all about to change.

Similarly, with the loss of hit and expertise, we lose the hit cap, the dual wield hit cap, the dodge and parry caps - and since at present it's effectively impossible for a fury warrior to cap hit, no longer having hit as a stat could mean a complete change in how we generate rage. Without hit, we'll no longer start to miss more as we level up. This will help alleviate one of the biggest problems with leveling a warrior - we tend to get weaker as we level and ratings decay makes us start missing, starving us of rage from attacks. Now, we'll still see ratings decay from other stats like crit, but the very important rage drop off won't be a factor.

The new secondary stats are still up in the air - Ghostcrawler said at the panel that it would be very difficult to stack them, especially since reforging is a memory as well. Hopefully this means stats like Haste are going to be made useful for everyone, because if we get stuck with a ton of haste gear, all we can do is suffer at it being terrible. I'm especially looking at haste and how it interacts with protection warriors - it is not acceptable to have a rage model that gains nothing from haste when we can't do anything about the stat.

This combines with the impending item squish. At the convention, people who've played Warlords hands-on have reported that it's being tested. Tanks at 45k health would imply our level 90 characters will be similar in stats to what we were at around Wrath of the Lich King. (I'm pretty sure I had around 65k health at the end of Wrath, but I am not 100% sure - it's def. a significant reset down from Cataclysm levels, I remember doing Heroic Deadmines with 110k health on the PTR.) That should give us plenty of room to grow, even with 10 levels, and with smaller increments we won't feel as affected by rating decay.

One of our goals for Warlords of Draenor is to make the act of finding and collecting loot even more exciting for players. With that in mind, we're adding some fun new stats to gear, such as Movement Speed and Cleave, which gives you a chance to do extra damage or healing to additional nearby targets.

That's all we know about the new stats so far. The Cleave effect sounds like it will work similarly to the Fusion-Fire Core trinket. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Impossible to determine yet. It could end up a dump stat, a stat we end up going crazy for (even if only on AoE fights) or somewhere in the middle. What I find interesting is this decision to shift away from stats like hit and expertise, which are solid, reliable, and yes tedious and into more unpredictable stats, sort of borrowing a page from Mastery.

So we're looking at a gearing situation that will be in flux for quite some time - until folks get onto a beta and start to play with this stuff, it's impossible to predict what the fallout will be, but it's worth keeping in mind now. We'll definitely see some shifts in tanking, and we may or may not see significant issues with DPS - can arms keep up with a zero-miss TG fury?

Speaking of that, let's look at our new talents.

Level 100 brings new talents

Luckily, our ground team at Blizzard got Allison Robert the information on what the level 100 talents are. They're interesting, I'll give them that. To quote from her post -

Blade Barrier (passive): When you Whirlwind or Thunder Clap, whirling blades continue to spin around you for 30 seconds. These blades do 1,000 damage each 1.00 seconds to all enemies within 8 yards.

Ravager: 40-yard range. 1-second cast. 1-minute cooldown. Throw a whirling axe at the target location that inflicts 3,000 damage to enemies within 8 yards every 1 second. Last 15 seconds.

Extreme Measures
  • Arms and Fury -- Masochism: Instant. Deal damage to yourself equal to 20% of your maximum health, and gain 30 rage.
  • Protection -- Gladiator Stance: Instant. 1.5-second cooldown. A dauntless combat stance. Increases all damage dealt by 20%. Also causes Shield Slam to consume Shield Barrier as additional damage and have an increased chance to critically strike equal to your critical block chance. Replaces Defensive Stance.
First off, looking at these, I feel like Blade Barrier will end up the superior DPS choice to either Ravager or Extreme Measures. Sure, it's nice that we're getting our own form of Life Tap (at present it's got no cooldown or ICD listed) but doing 20% of max health in a lot of fights would be suicidal, and we don't need the help dying to be frank. Blade Barrier is a passive with no listed ICD, so if it lasts for 30 seconds and is refreshed every time you hit TC or WW, it could end up the creme de la creme of warrior AoE DPS talents. As fun as Ravager is (especially if it actually LOOKS like the Ravager from SM, making it very similar to the Nazgrim ability) and even though it deals 3000 damage a second compared to Blade Barrier's 1000 d/s, Ravager has a cast time, a limited duration and a 1 minute cooldown. Blade Barrier has none of these things.

What I'm really fascinated by is the Gladiator Stance that protection warriors can get by taking Extreme Measures. I'm assuming that when it replaces Defensive Stance, it retains the threat modifier of the ability - if so, it becomes a no-brainer as best talent for protection, hands down. An extra 20% damage, the buff to Shield Slam via the Shield Barrier consumption, and the increased crit chance make me think it'll be more popular than even Blade Barrier, which I expect to be your second best option for prot. Even Ravager has some potential for tanks, though - if you know adds will be streaming in at a certain time, you could spec Ravager and drop the whirling axe on the healers, or at an entrance to the room.

Still, that combination of buffed Shield Slams, better crit chance and 20% more damage baseline makes me definitely think Gladiator Stance might be the winner for prot.
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, BlizzCon, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors

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