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Warrior Q&A Analysis continued

Matthew Rossi

Shouts are going to continue to be of limited duration because they're intended to be used during combat, so expect to be asked to use Commanding a lot for the tanks. Battle Shout's effectively dead with this design philosophy - it would be nice if warriors got a shout with a similar effect as Blessing of Kings to spread that raid utility around, although man I don't want to have to keep track of that every few minutes. Demoralizing Shout is highlighted by a question but I don't have any issues with the answer at all, I think it's spot on.

  • Q: Demoralizing shout tends to have a very minimal impact in most situations, are there plans to improve this ability?
  • A: I think by "most situations" you must mean "PvP." Demo Shout has a massive benefit against raid bosses. It's probably 20% less damage from a typical boss and literally like 50% against say Thorim's Unbalancing Strike. However, removing 400 attack power from a Feral druid with 9000 attack power, or a Shadow priest who doesn't care about attack power at all is of much more limited use. Monsters and players use pretty different combat formulae (which is one of the weird things about the old design of say Vindication). We would like Demo Shout to be more useful in PvP, at least against characters who rely on attack power.
I have Improved Demoralizing Shout for our hard mode attempts and I have saved tanks lives with it. Yes, it's not good enough for PvP right now, but it's in a perfect place for PvE, and frankly I'd rather it continued to be lackluster in PvP than that its utility in PvE was destroyed. Please don't tinker with Demo unless you're really sure you won't hurt it for bosses.

More mention of changing rage generation - Now, long-term we need a better solution to rage generation. Tying it to damage done is logical in the theoretical world of game design, but has problems in reality. When your gear sucks, you have rage problems. When you have great gear, you are no longer limited by rage. That's just not a great model, and one of the reasons warriors are overly gear dependent.

I don't disagree in theory but every time Blizzard's monkeyed with rage generation, going all the way back to before Maraudon was in the game yet, they've made it worse before they made it better. I cringe when they talk about rage generation at this point. So I'm really, really fretful when I see them say these kinds of things.
  • Q: Where do we feel warriors fit into the current raid environment and where do we see them progressing in the future?
  • A: Obviously warriors were the traditional tanks and pretty much the only tank in much of World of Warcraft's history. Warriors now share tanking responsibilities with three other classes, which can feel psychologically like a nerf. In Ulduar, we think warrior tank balance is about where it should be -- death knights were a little ahead, paladins were a little behind, and druids were about even with warriors. We are making a few Prot changes to 3.2 to help in some of the areas where they fall short, such as damage done. Death knights are getting a nerf, paladins are getting a buff, and druids might get a nerf or stay as-is. There are plenty of guilds progressing through hard modes with warrior MTs on almost every fight, and we don't see that changing in the Crusader's Coliseum.
I don't really like the idea that 'there are plenty of warrior MT's' that they keep trotting out to justify a lack of real, meaningful change to the way warriors are tanking in the current endgame. It may be true that the problem is more in the balance between avoidance and mitigation and less in warriors specifically, I still find this particular argument to boil down to "It doesn't matter if you're having problems because there's still a lot of warriors doing the job" which doesn't take into account that they may actually be tanking despite their class mechanics. I don't think that's a good thing. But I do accept that at present the developers are happy with Warrior tanks.

They mention that they're happy with warrior DPS in Ulduar. I'm not. Perhaps that's due to other hybrids being too good, I can't say for sure. We'll just have to agree to disagree here.

Block Value gets more of a discussion here than I've seen it in the past, so we'll recap it all now.

  • Q: We have expressed an interest in improving Block Value for tanking warriors in the past; do we have any definite plans to update this?
  • A: Shield Block Value just isn't a strong mitigation stat these days. However, the amount it would need to be increased is enormous in order to make a difference vs. bosses that can hit for 40K. The problem with improving shield Block Value by so much is that Prot warriors would be nigh invulnerable -- they literally might take no damage -- against large groups of adds, in easier content where opponents don't hit that hard, and in PvP. The real problem is that the amount blocked doesn't scale with the amount of the swing. We think block needs to be a percentage of damage blocked in order for the stat to do what we want. But the trade-off would mean that warriors (and paladins) couldn't block every incoming hit, especially from large groups. Avoidance might also need to come down across the board, and many talents and abilities would need to be redesigned. This is a major change that isn't the kind of thing we can crowbar into 3.2 with a clean conscience. It is almost certainly the future for the block stat.

A percentage based block value is not one I've considered (my own suggestion this week was to just scrap BV in favor of a strength based system) but it's not a bad one. Frankly, I'd like to see them at least try to crowbar it into the PTR and give it a shakedown, but I understand why they don't want to do that. It does seem a more elegant solution than the current 'you block almost nothing and die anyway' system.

Strength as a threat stat and the current mind-set of warrior tanks stacking as much avoidance as they can and ignoring threat stats like strength and block value (currently) is mentioned. Frankly, if Blizzard has a problem with this gearing philosophy, you need to tone down the ludicrously high blasts of damage from bosses. If when I gear for threat I die, I'm not going to gear for threat. This is a simple concept. We have made some big improvements to Prot warrior dps in Lich King, but too many players still view the primary role of the tank to stack avoidance and mitigation and then complain when their threat is low because they avoided all dps stats. If you're going to make statements like that, you're obligated to not kill me if I take your advice.

From here we close out the Q&A with two discussions of PvP. One, warriors are always going to be healer reliant in PvP (not a surprise, it's why so many warriors abandoned the class for DK's for PvP purposes) and there are no plans to change PvP itemization for rings, necks and capes to add strength options even though they've deliberately changed warrior talents to favor strength over AP. Disappointing, but not a shock.

I found the PvP discussion to be fairly lackluster in this particular Q&A and I wasn't really terribly surprised or satisfied, but aside from the terror I feel at their upcoming 'rage balancing' (oh lord they're going to screw us up so bad we won't even have the rage to tank Deadmines) I'm reasonably optimistic.