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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: This is the end

Yeah, goodbyes are hard.

I started this column on June 15th, 2007. It has run continuously, one column a week, since that time. No one else has ever written a single The Care and Feeding of Warriors but me, and I have never missed a week. That's because, when I started this job, I had one goal - to tell you all how much I love playing a warrior in World of Warcraft. How awesome warriors are.

It's 2014. A lot has changed in my life and in the game but one thing has not - I still love playing a warrior in World of Warcraft. I've loved the class through my days of PvP and through every raid in the game. I've loved them through being the least popular tank, through being underpowered and overpowered, through every mechanical change and system. I was here when Titan's Grip was announced. I was here when we got, and lost, and got Heroic Leap. I have played this class since 2004, and I have written about it since 2007.

I'm going to keep playing a warrior, of course - I have like five max level warriors at this point, I'm not likely to stop now. And I'll keep writing about warrior news as it comes up. But this column you're reading now will be the last weekly The Care and Feeding of Warriors, the last time I sit down and write what has been a part of my weekly routine for more than six years now. There were many ways I could have chosen to end it - we could have done a retrospective column, going over my favorites from the past several years. I could do a big "This is what I hope for the class in Warlords" post. (I expect I'll be doing that in a different format anyway.) But this is the end.

So I'm going to end it the way I started it - I'm going to tell you a story.

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Filed under: Warrior, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors

A new look at level 100 warrior talents

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 I was going to talk about something else, but then there was this little press event and we got a look at new level 100 talents for warriors. And so, we're going to be talking about them for a bit. Because when you get a look at entire new talents you kind of have to discuss them. The most interesting thing to me is the departure of Blade Barrier and the change to Extreme Measures. I asked Celestalon about it, and here's what he had to say.

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Filed under: Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors, Warlords of Draenor

The Care and Feeding of Warriors: We do transmog better than anyone

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 got to do some tanking in Heroic Siege this week - nothing major, just offtanking on Dark Shaman - and it was pretty fun all around. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy tanking in raids. It was fun to get to see the Warrior 2 piece Tier 16 tanking bonus in action in a current raid at the cutting edge of content, instead of in an LFR or using it to solo Cataclysm raids. It's a very solid set bonus, and I'm going to write more about it in the future - basically, I think it should be baked into the baseline Shield Block and Shield Barrier abilities, or perhaps be baked into Shield Slam in some way (so that, for ten seconds after a successful Shield Slam, you heal a percentage of your Shield Barrier absorb or Shield Block damage prevented, as one possible example) - but I'm not quite ready to write about that yet.

Now, as I said, I've been using my tank set and prot spec to solo Cataclysm raids, up to and including the first three bosses in 10 man Dragon Soul. It's not always easy, but it is possible, and the reason I've been doing this is because I freaking love transmogrification, and therefore, I've been pursuing it with a fevered dedication that has completely robbed me of bank, void storage and even bag space. I've wanted to write about transmog and warriors forever, but I felt such deep shame at letting Cable, the mutant son of Cyclops and Madeline Pryor, write about it first. I mean, I'm so in love with transmog that I started a tumblr about it.

So let's talk about transmog and warriors. (If you're not interested in transmog, you should probably come back next week.) Why do I argue that warriors do transmog better than anyone? Well, here's a few reasons.

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Filed under: Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors, Transmogrification

The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Courting Critical

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'm going to tell you a story.

I recently spent a coin and got a pair of heroic warforged DPS shoulders. And yet, they are currently in my bank. Why is that? Because using them will cost me almost 2% critical strike chance, and I simply cannot afford it, instead sticking with the non heroic, non warforged shoulders that do have critical strike chance on them. And that, in a nutshell, is exactly what's wrong with warrior design right now.

See, I like crit. I think crit should be good. But it shouldn't be so good that nothing else can compare - that the heroic warforged pieces (a solid 19 ilevel better, when both are fully upgraded) simply cannot come close to competing. I current have two heroic 2h, but only one of them has crit. So I have to use a normal mode offhand rather than (again) a heroic upgrade. When you start to realize that all you're doing is piling crit on top of crit - and that something as seemingly simple as an upgrade can be massively higher in ilevel and still not be an actual upgrade - it starts to become maddening.

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Filed under: Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

The Care and Feeding of Warriors: On reaching 90 and the basics - Fury

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.

Last week, I wrote about tanking as a new 90. The week before that, we discussed arms warriors. This week, I'm going to cover fury, the two weapon berserker spec. I was considering writing this column in character as an orc warrior, but let's be honest - orcs in World of Warcraft don't fit the stereotype of monosyllabic dullards that would be funny. Let's look at some classic orc warriors.
  1. Broxigar - dude could talk your ear off.
  2. Saurfang - even worse. Dude does whole speeches about honor and the cost of victory and it's all depressing and sad. It's been years since Saufang has said anything as cool as "I am he who watches they. I am the fist of retribution. That which does quell the recalcitrant. Dare you defy the Warchief? Dare you face my merciless judgement?" And even that is way too eloquent for the "me orc, me smash" stereotype.
  3. Garrosh Hellscream - that dude writes entire letters to people telling them exactly how much he hates them. I'm totally not kidding.
So, when I said I was going to write this column in character as an orc, I was right - it turns out every column I've ever written is in character as an orc. So hi! I'll be your orc this time out. Let's talk about how to play fury as a new level 90.

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Filed under: Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors, Mists of Pandaria

The Care and Feeding of Warriors: On reaching 90 and the basics - Protection


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.

Last week, we covered arms. This week, we're covering protection. Like last week, this article assumes you just leveled your first warrior to 90, but it can also be useful for someone who's played a warrior for a while but who never tried tanking on her. If you're unsure about giving tanking a try, I can understand why that would be - it's a lot of pressure, it's fairly gear dependent and you may not have it yet, and most of all it's often expected that a tank will be leading a dungeon run, which can be daunting if you're unfamiliar with a dungeon. Frankly, I always found raid tanking preferable to PuGging, but I still tanked PuG's and I had a few tricks for how to establish myself when doing so.
  1. It's okay to admit it's your first time or that you're new at something. Even experienced tanks don't always know the specific dungeon they're about to tank very well - if you're a new tank and you're feeling uncomfortable or unsure, go ahead and say so.
  2. Even if you're comfortable with your class abilities as a tank, but are unsure about boss strategies, see #1 - often someone in the dungeon will be happy to explain to you what you should or shouldn't do.
  3. Avoid the two extremes of 'tank megalomania' and 'tank doormat' - don't be an egotist who makes the tank run all about him or herself, and don't let yourself be walked over by players who deliberately make your life harder. Also, be cognizant of gear discrepancies when evaluating your own performance as a tank - if you're in 463 blues and the guy pulling threat is in Heroic Warforged gear, cut yourself some slack. You're simply not going to be able to do much against over one hundred ilevels in his favor.
  4. Be cognizant of the healer. I know that you want to run and pull more stuff while you have a full rage bar. Believe me, I know how it feels. But if your healer is undergeared and needs a break, let them have it. It's good to get in the habit of paying attention to your healer's mana - believe me, healers will tell you when you can run and pull like a fiend.
Also, one of my pet peeves as a DPS who knows how to tank is tanks who pull mobs, put no threat on them, then run down the hallway. No. I know you love chain pulling, but if you can't hold them, you're not chain pulling. You're just hitting mobs then running away and letting someone else tank them. Make sure you have solid threat before you decide to run away.

But let's get to the actual process of tanking - how do we play as protection?

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Filed under: Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors, Mists of Pandaria

The Care and Feeding of Warriors: On reaching 90 and the basics - Arms

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.

It's easy to forget what it's like to hit max level for the first time on a given class and have no idea what you're supposed to be doing. After months of playing your main at 90, you get a kind of muscle memory as to what to do - you hit the buttons without thinking about what they are or what they do, it's nearly instinctive due to the familiarity you have with the class. It is this inherent understanding that gets in the way of explaining to new players (new to the class, that is, not necessarily new to the game) how the class actually works. Not that the ideas under the hood aren't interesting - I've written entire columns about rage generation, why haste isn't meaningful for warriors, about the decline or lack of players for the class is an important issue, how the design of the class is in many ways antiquated - but in the end, sometimes it's worthwhile to go over basics again.

So if you're an old hand at the class and are about to bail, thinking "I can't possible get anything out of an article about the basics" I'm going to ask you to stop. Divert yourself to the comments sections and share some of that knowledge. I doubt seriously I'm going to cover everything a fresh warrior at 90 would want or need to know - dole out some of that hard-earned wisdom to our newer friends. Playing a warrior is the essence of solidarity, after all - you become a member of a group that eschews petty rivalries between spec or role, a class that has no need to trumpet itself. Those of us who remain warriors have been through the vagaries of Blizzard's redesigns and the ups and downs of the buff/nerf cycle, gear dependency, and the slings and arrows of PvP performance. Help your brothers and sisters be the best warriors they can be.

And so, we turn to you, the fresh 90. You've finally climbed that last hill, and stand at the top, surrounded by dead things. You did it. And now you realize, looking at your dungeon blues and quest greens, your haphazard action bars and your empty level 90 talent choice that you're not sure what to do now. Have no fear - we were all you once. For the next few weeks, I'll be talking about how to pick up the basics of playing the class at 90.

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Filed under: Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors, Mists of Pandaria

The Care and Feeding of Warriors: When buffs aren't enough

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, there's no good way to say it - since patch 5.4, warriors got buffs to tanking DPS that have definitely improved their overall damage output while tanking. If in the right gear and taking enough damage from Vengeance, tanking prot warriors can deal solid damage and be competitive with other tanks. This is really true for warrior tanks running heroic content, provided that they're in the right gear set - one that allows Riposte to do as much work as possible for them - and taking those really big hits to get that Vengeance stacked. So, if this is the case, why did I say there was no good way to say this? Because that's not what I was wanting to say.
In fact, as Cynwise's numbers show, the warrior decline has essentially continued unabated. Now, numbers are slightly up between 5.4 and 5.4.2, and that could be a good thing. It could mean that people are starting to realize that the warrior is a capable tank which, in the right hands, can put out solid DPS, but the fact remains that since patch 5.1.0, when warriors were first hit with a PvP nerf that cut our representation in arenas by two thirds, the warrior class has seen a drop in popularity at every single major patch of this expansion.

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Filed under: Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

The Care and Feeding of Warriors: What should the warrior become?

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.

Last week, we talked about where the warrior class has been this past year. One of the things that's been most glaring about warriors has been the dichotomy between PvP and PvE content, and even which part of each warriors do the best in.

Arms warriors started the expansion doing very well in Arena play, saw a mechanics change that effectively slashed their numbers in top-end arena by 2/3rds, and then climbed back up to high representation and high end performance. At present, while arms isn't a juggernaut in BG's (due to the old standard 'focus the warrior down' mentality) it's a topic of constant debate on the forums, as casters hate it when warriors can kill them. Hate it. I expect arms to be redesigned between now and Warlords of Draenor and to see it struggle heavily in PvP for the start of the next expansion's PvP season.

If you're protection or fury, well, you may PvP for fun, but no one really cares about you one way or another. It's cool to have a prot warrior for flag carrying in rated BG's but that's true of any tank, and druids and monks are still going to be way better for it.

That said, this isn't a post about our current condition. It's about what we should become. And it isn't a post telling you, but asking you - what are our flaws? Where should we go from here? I have ideas, of course, and I'll share them, because that's what I do.

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Filed under: Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

The Care and Feeding of Warriors: 2013 the Warrior way

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 learn things writing this column. For instance, last week, I learned that 53 people will make comments on a post about ability bloat for warriors, and almost none of you will defend Cleave. To be honest, I was expecting a lot more nostalgia about it, but even the people who felt like warriors should retain the name (it's been with the class since beta, after all) were on board with the idea that it's not currently of much use at all.

I'm not surprised that Cleave is useless or nearly useless now - the removal of the glyph making it hit three targets was a clear sign that it wasn't going to be of much use for anyone except prot warriors, and even prot doesn't need Cleave when it has Revenge and Thunder Clap (and even Whirlwind, if it really wants to hit multiple targets). But I was surprised by the consensus. Reading the comments, you all taught me that if anything, I was understating how little use Cleave sees now. And that has me thinking about the class and what 2013 as a whole showed us.

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Filed under: Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Ability bloat and the future

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.

It's going to come up sooner or later - warriors, like all classes, have a lot of abilities right now. We've actually dealt with ability bloat before - the folding of Shield Bash and Pummel into one ability came about because warriors had two abilities that did basically the same thing, but usable in different stances, which was seen as pointlessly complex. Similarly, we had Rend, an on-demand bleed that didn't hit very hard, and Deep Wounds, another, better bleed that was more random, and the introduction of the passive Blood and Thunder ability meant that rend was actually part of the arms/prot warrior rotation - removing Rend simplified things all around, as did letting Thunder Clap apply Deep Wounds automatically.

So it behooves us to ask - what abilities should we consolidate or remove? What abilities can you stand to see go, and what can't you stand to live without?

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Filed under: Warrior, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors

The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Gear

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.

Well, I got my second heroic weapon last night (off of Nazgrim, so not the ideal choice, but still heroic is heroic) and so i went TG fury. Once the damage on that second offhand goes up, your ability to put out reasonable cleave AoE with Whirlwind and Raging Blow makes the loss of Blood and Thunder (and thus, all that sweet, sweet bleed spreading) somewhat tolerable. I'm still getting used to it (Nazgrim has a positive gift for doing his leap move just after I hit Colossus Smash, the son of a motherless ogre) but I decided to commit fully to fury and thus, gemmed and reforged my gear for it.

Considering that warriors are a hybrid class with two DPS trees, it's interesting how the current state of the game makes going from one DPS spec to another so tricky. For starters, in order to get my gear properly optimized for fury, I had to finally bite the bullet and change my gems around - right now, if I were to take off my offhand weapon and go arms, I'd lose enough expertise that I'd have to reforge for it, and probably regem too. I'd also lose a lot of mastery, since I get a lot of both mastery and expertise from my offhand. And since fury basically just slops on the crit indefinitely, while arms said "Okay, I'm good on crit" around the 32% mark, I end up short on mastery and yes, even haste, going from fury to arms.

One of the reasons I'm so looking forward to Warlords of Draenor is never having to do this again. As much as I have in the past defending reforging and gear optimization, it does get tiresome to get a weapon upgrade and immediately have to head off to a few websites and compare their recommendations on how to properly reforge and regem everything. But it got me thinking about warriors and how we interact with gear.

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Filed under: Warrior, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors, Warlords of Draenor

The Care and Feeding of Warriors: It's my birthday, give warriors some presents

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.

Believe it or not, I really try and restrain my warrior partisanship around here. I don't like to get ridiculous in terms of how I advocate for the class or hyperbolic in the rhetorical "Best Class Ever" sort of way - I leave it to other classes to brag about how great they are, because, well, they must feel insecure or something, and since they're not playing warriors I figure they probably need the help.

But today is my birthday, and I've been writing for WoW Insider on the subject of warriors for six years now, so I've decided to just write about what I would like to see warriors get in Warlords of Draenor today. These are purely blue sky musings - as far as I know, we're not going to get any of this stuff, and some of it might even be bad for class balance. I don't really care for this article, though - this is a wish list, meant to engender discussion and see if anything cool shakes out.

So here we go. What would I most like to see warriors get in the upcoming expansion?

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Filed under: Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors, Warlords of Draenor

The Care and Feeding of Warriors: To be the gladiator

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.

With the departure of Ghostcrawler (Goodbye, Doctor Street, and may your next regeneration find you well) we now shift to obsessively watching Celestalon's twitter feed and picking apart anything he says about warriors like demented jackdaws. Everyone be nice and say hi. Anyway, he had some interesting things to say recently about warriors, one of which I've been saying all expansion (and, in fact, I also said in Wrath and Cataclysm) - namely, that haste is terrible for us.

I'm keen on seeing how they plan on improving it, of course. The spec where it really, sincerely needs that improvement and yesterday is protection, especially moving forward into the new gearing paradigm - when all stats are good for all specs and one set of gear will be intended to adapt when you switch specializations, having haste be worthless for protection warriors (as it currently is) is simply unacceptable. Frankly, the reason haste is so terrible for protection right now is that it makes effectively no contribution at all to protection's rage generation - prot gets rage from Shield Slam and Revenge, and a dribble from defensive stance (1 rage every 3 seconds) and that's it. Well, okay, we get some rage from Charge and whenever Sword and Board procs. None of that gets anything from haste.

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Filed under: Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors, Warlords of Draenor

The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Amplify, Multistrike, and Readiness

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.

You may be asking "What are you talking about with this Amplify, Multistrike and Readiness stuff?" and if you are, it's a fair point. These are the new secondary stats (note that I said secondary, not tertiary) coming with Warlords of Draenor to replace hit, expertise, dodge and parry. And we know this because Celestalon, technical game designer on WoW, explained them on twitter. So, what are these stats? Well, I'll let him explain.
  • X% Amplify means: +X% Crit Damage Multiplier and Multistrike Damage Multiplier, and +X% more Haste/Mastery/Readiness/Spirit/Armor from gear.
  • X% Multistrike means: Each ability has two separate (X/2)% chances to hit each target an additional time for 30% damage. Multistrikes count as hitting the same target twice with one cast, not multiple casts. (i.e. Mind Blast won't generate 2 shadow orbs) Multistrike is split into two (X/2)% chances, so that you can occasionally get a triple-hit (fun!), and the cap is 200%, not 100%.
  • X% Readiness increases the cooldown recovery rate (aka, divides the cooldown by (1+Readiness)) of *some* class abilities. The number of abilities affected by Readiness will vary by spec (will be listed in spellbook, like Mastery). Coefficient likely to vary too.
Celestalon via twitter
Amplify is basically the ability Thok's Tail Tip currently gives, Multistrike is similar to our arms mastery (or this Agi trinket), and Readiness is basically the Evil Eye of Galakras. Celestalon notes that Readiness won't be linked to the exact same abilities as the trinket, but the basic effect is the same - the more readiness you have, the more some of your cooldowns will be reduced. It's very important to realize these will be secondary stats, on the same statistical tier as Crit, Haste and Mastery are now.

These are interesting stats for a couple of reasons. The first is because, like Mastery, they have broader effects than just "hit faster/crit more" - Amplify in particular is a stat that magnifies other stats, so stacking Amplify affects a variety of other stats (the ones listed above that we would care about are Haste, Mastery, Readiness and Armor) as well as the damage of our critical hits and Multistrike extra attacks. This means that if Mastery was a big stat for warriors in Warlords, it might be very worthwhile to stack Amplify/Mastery gear.

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Filed under: Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors, Warlords of Draenor

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