If you're like me, you're looking forward to June 24th with almost breathless anticipation. New season, new ratings, new competition. And like hundreds (thousands?) of others, we have a Warrior sitting patiently at the stables, prepping for the gates to open. He sits there, foaming at the mouth, smiling nervously at his partner Druid or Priest, with Mortal Strike almost literally visible in his pixellated eyes.
Build Shop has discussed Warrior hybrid builds previously, but that 28/33 build was focused on actual hybrid play - a mix of PvP and PvE. The classic Arena-based "Mortal Strike Hybrid" starts off with at least 31 points sitting in the Arms tree -- you can't have a "Mortal Strike Hybrid" without Mortal Strike. Mortal Strike is a foundation of the Arena build. While there's leeway earlier in the Arms and Fury trees for this build, the deeper in the trees you get, the more certain talents become "mandatory."
After the break, let's talk about the talents and whirligigs that make the Mortal Strike Hybrid so popular and powerful in the Arena.
- Improved Heroic Strike (3/3): Reduces the cost of your Heroic Strike ability by 3 rage points. Your mileage may vary here -- this is one of the talents where you have a little leeway. Many Warriors would rather put the extra points in Deflection for extra Parry. I like having damage options, and 3 rage points saved is 3 less I need until the next Hamstring or Mortal Strike.
- Deflection (2/5): Increases your Parry chance by 2%. Again, you could have opted to throw those points from Improved Heroic Strike here instead, to get up to 5%. Still, putting points in Deflection is preferable for me over Improved Rend. Rend is nice for keeping Rogues bleeding, I guess, but the damage-per-rage from Rend isn't impressive, and survivability is what the Arena is all about.
- Iron Will (5/5): Increases your chance to resist Stun and Charm effects by an additional 15%. I see arguments from time to time that Stun resist isn't so important. But for every one of those arguments, I see two or three Stormheralds careening toward my noggin. The other option is Improved Thunder Clap or Improved Charge and you do still have a lot of personal preference here.
- Improved Overpower (2/2): Increases the critical strike chance of your Overpower ability by 50%. Here endeth leeway, in my opinion. 50% increased critical strike chance of an attack. Let that sink in -- 50%. This is your Rogue stopper.
- Anger Management (1/1): Generates 1 rage per 3 seconds while in combat. Rage starvation is a fact of life in CC-heavy games, but a good Hunter/Druid team is going to give you a very long Arena match anyway. I just faced down a 43 minute game last night. 1 rage every 3 seconds isn't game breaking, but it's definitely going to add up for marathon matches.
- Deep Wounds (3/3): Your critical strikes cause the opponent to bleed, dealing 60% of your melee weapon's average damage over 12 sec. It's free damage on every crit (hello, Improved Overpower!), and more importantly - it issues a Bleed. If you're still not convinced, you need it to get Impale. The bleed does make it difficult to CC your target in some comps, but is overall worth it.
- Two-Handed Weapon Specialization (2/5): Increases the damage you deal with two-handed melee weapons by 2%. Yeah, I wish I could afford 5/5, too. But 3% damage probably isn't going to cost you the game, and this high in the tree, points are tight.
- Impale (2/2): Increases the critical strike damage bonus of your abilities in Battle, Defensive, and Berserker stance by 20%. This much critical damage bonus helps you overcome Resilience, and increases your bottom-line killing power. Make your crits worth it!
- Death Wish (1/1): When activated, increases your physical damage by 20% and makes you immune to Fear effects, but increases all damage taken by 5%. I don't tend to use this for the purposes of outgoing damage, unless I'm going for the kill. While 5% increase in received damage isn't huge, I don't want to make my healer's life any harder than it already is. The key words in this ability are immune to Fear. Warlocks and Priests both have understandable distaste for this talent.
- Mace Specialization (5/5): Gives your melee attacks a chance to stun your target for 3 sec and generate 7 rage when using a Mace. Yeah, I'm one of those. My proof is simple: how often do you read about people clamoring for nerfs to Swords or Axes? Mace spec is also nice when you have to button up for a bit, and go for your shield -- it works with your one-handed mace also. You get the fabled Mace Stun, but also rage. It's a great deal.
- Improved Intercept (2/2): Reduces the cooldown of your Intercept ability by 10 sec. This is your anti-Hunter, anti-Frost Nova ability. A Warrior being kited is probably not doing much damage. Get up close and personal.
- Improved Hamstring (2/3): Gives your Hamstring ability a 10% chance to immobilize the target for 5 sec. There's good argument to squeeze points from elsewhere to make this 3/3, and get the full 15% chance to immobilize. I've never felt comfortable shorting other skills for this, though. Your mileage may vary, but again: a Warrior being kited is probably not doing much damage.
- Mortal Strike (1/1): A vicious strike that deals weapon damage plus 85 and wounds the target, reducing the effectiveness of any healing by 50% for 10 sec. Here it is: the Mother's Milk of abilities. The damage is nice, but the rage cost on Mortal Strike's too high to use it just for damage. The point of Mortal Strike is the healing debuff. This allows you to maximize the rest of your damage, forcing your opponent's healer to work twice as hard to keep your target alive. The utility of Mortal Strike is obvious when you consider that for a little while, Mortal Strike was the new black.
- Cruelty (5/5): Increases your chance to get a critical strike with melee weapons by 5%. Considering the power of critical strikes, there is no way in my mind Booming Voice can even be considered competition for this talent.
- Unbridled Wrath (5/5): Gives you a chance to generate an additional rage point when you deal melee damage with a weapon. It is only one additional rage point -- let's have no illusions about that. But when you consider the frightful threat of rage starvation, Unbridled Wrath is leagues more attractive than Improved Demoralizing Shout.
- Piercing Howl (1/1): Causes all enemies within 10 yards to be Dazed, reducing movement speed by 50% for 6 sec. A Warrior who is being kited...
- Blood Craze (3/3): Regenerates 3% of your total Health over 6 sec after being the victim of a critical strike. It's not a ginormous amount of health, not even a health potion's worth (which you can't use in the Arena anyway). But critical strikes do happen often enough in the Arena that you'll see some health loss mitigation from Blood Craze.
- Commanding Presence (1/5): Increases the melee attack power bonus of your Battle Shout and the health bonus of your Commanding Shout by 5%. It doesn't suck, and I can see arguments from moving Blood Craze's points over here instead. The only other option is Improved Cleave.
- Improved Execute (2/2): Reduces the rage cost of your Execute ability by 5. That 5 saved rage translates directly into extra damage when you're going for the killing blow.
- Enrage (5/5): Gives you a 25% melee damage bonus for 12 sec up to a maximum of 12 swings after being the victim of a critical strike. In the Arena, crit happens. And when it happens to you, for 12 seconds, your damage is increased by 25%. Give 'em hell, for their audacity to land a crit on you.
- Sweeping Strikes (1/1): Your next 10 melee attacks strike an additional nearby opponent. A savvy opposing team shouldn't be standing on top of each other. Still, there's only so much room behind a pole, and sometimes you get a Hunter who hasn't sent his pet off to play fetch quite yet. For 30 rage, you get to double the amount of damage you're putting out by hitting both targets at once. Not a bad deal.
- Weapon Mastery (2/2): Reduces the chance for your attacks to be dodged by 2% and reduces the duration of all Disarm effects used against you by 50%. It's a two-fer. While fewer dodges means your Overpower comes into play less frequently, you don't want your heavier strikes getting dodged anyway. Additionally, Disarms are bad news -- your Unarmed skill isn't so awesome that you want to be without your weapon.
- Flurry (2/5): Increases your attack speed by 10% for your next 3 swings after dealing a melee critical strike. 10% on a slow two-hander is meaningful. I wish I had extra points to fill it out all the way, but that'd mean robbing Tactical Mastery. You might prefer that, but I hold onto my rage like a miser.
- Tactical Mastery (3/3): You retain up to an additional 15 of your rage points when you change stances. It does some aggro stuff, too, but that doesn't apply to the Arena. This is our last line of defense in the battle against rage starvation. When you switch stances to Charge, then Intercept, then to Defensive to tank while your healer drinks, this lets you keep a little more of the red stuff on your character. I've seen other warriors who claim it's not needed, and they always have plenty of rage. I'd like to experience that myself. For now, I'm going to remain a rage-greedy bastard, and do everything I can to keep as full a rage bar as possible.
Good luck out there! We'll see you again in next week's Build Shop.