Anyone who played a DPS warrior in BC can remember what it was like to see constant "LF 2 DPS/CC" requests in trade and LFG and to absolutely know without a doubt that it wasn't even worth responding to that Shadow Labyrinth group that was forming up. It didn't matter how good your DPS was or wasn't. You weren't getting in because you couldn't sheep, sap, shackle or seduce. The change to dungeons in Wrath that did away with most CC was bemoaned by most classes with CC and some tanks (who now had to tank everything ... I myself complained about it a few times), but for DPS warriors with no CC, it was a positive boon. So when they said CC was making a comeback, I was concerned for DPS warriors, who I expected might start finding themselves vote-kicked from instances with a lot of CC needed.
Thankfully, this sounds like it will not be the case. Frankly, this is one of those sacred cows that I had no real expectation we'd see changed.
As exciting as the idea of CC for warriors is (the idea that it would be a variant on Intimidating Shout makes me wonder how it will be balanced for PvP), for me, the real interesting information this week was mastery details. Now, this is information from an extremely early alpha release; it can neither be taken as set in stone or completed.
What interests me the most about mastery is the idea of a mastery "stat" on gear, because it combines a trend we've seen previously (when we saw things like weapon skill bonuses converted to the expertise mechanic) with the idea of making a stat attractive to almost all classes. Back in Burning Crusade, we saw hit, crit, haste and other such stats converted from specific melee and caster stats to generalized ones, so that crit rating, hit rating, haste, etc., etc. counted for spells and melee attacks. It meant that a piece of caster mail could be more broadly itemized without being intended specifically for an elemental shaman over a restoration shaman (at least in theory), and mastery is the ultimate expression of this trend. With mastery, you have a stat that does 30 different things, one for each spec, and thus is always safe to put on any piece of gear. A trinket with a mastery bonus? Anyone could use it.
As for warriors and mastery, however, what we have are three different masteries to consider.
The interplay between the third mastery slot and the mastery stat is of course the most interesting aspect of how masteries will interact. We'll reproduce each spec's tentative mastery charts here (again, we're a long way off from any gameplay, so don't get too excited) and take a look.
- Physical Damage % Increased by 0.157 per talent point spent, 8.01% at 51 points spent.
- Armor Penetration % Increased by .471 per talent point spent, 24.02% armor penetration at 51 points spent
- Extra Attack Chance Increased by 0.157 per talent point spent, 8.01% at 51 points spent
- Physical Damage % Increased by 0.157 per talent point spent, 8.01% at 51 points spent
- Melee Haste % Increased by 0.157 per talent point spent, 8.01% at 51 points spent
- Enrage % Increased by 1.57 per talent point spent, 80.07% at 51 points spent
- Damage Reduction % Increased by 0.157 per talent point spent, 8.01% at 51 points spent
- Vengeance Increased by 0.098 per talent point spent, 5% at 61 talent points spent; each time you take damage, you gain a percentage of the damage taken as attack power, up to a maximum of twice your Vengeance percentage of your stamina.
- Critical Block Chance % Increased by 0.51 per talent point spent, 26.01% at 51 points spent
While the numbers themselves could very easily be tweaked up or down and the form of the bonuses changed, what we can take away from looking at these is that mastery will provide both static and scaling bonuses with gear and level as we invest more into a talent tree. Since we know there won't be any double dipping into other masteries, you won't see weird arms/fury hybrid specs trying to get the first two bonuses from each tree, thus making it fairly safe for both arms and fury to have the exact same mastery bonus as their first-tier benefit.
I'm also interested in that enrage mastery for fury. The wording as it stands is "Increases the benefit of abilities that cause you to be enraged or consume an enrage effect by a percentage." This makes me think that it will be of use with Enraged Regeneration, but at 80% benefit with 51 points in fury, how much higher will the mastery stat on gear make this go? Can masteries break the 100% boundary? (It's also possible that's a typo or a mistake of some kind, so don't get too excited about the prospect of 150% enrages.) While it's stated already that the developers do in fact like tank gear and want to keep making tank gear, with the removal of defense, the introduction of mastery and the ability to reforge gear (which we need more details on), combined with the stated goal of increasing everyone's health pools, it becomes possible to imagine hit or expertise/mastery gear being equally valued between all warriors, tanking or DPS. I'm very interested in seeing how masteries scale with gear.
The idea of a variably scaling stat (the first two mastery tiers don't scale at all; the third tier does), meanwhile, has the effect of providing a near constantly upgradeable ability, which we're also seeing with hit and expertise in Cataclysm but in a much less organic way. Hit and expertise will be inflated in value as we enter each new tier of content, as each new tier will require more of those stats to keep misses and dodge/parry off of the table. But we will still plateau until each new tier of content is released and eventually have more than enough hit/expertise to ensure we can hit and not be dodged or parried.
This won't happen with masteries as they are currently structured. Without the addition of some mechanic that caps mastery (which we may see) there's no upper limit to how good mastery will be for you. Certain mastery bonuses may be stronger than others. The arms and protection third-tier masteries look more potent than the fury one unless fury gets more baseline enrage conditions, although that enrage bonus could be very potent if it also works with Bloodrage in Cataclysm -- 80% more rage generation would be 16 more rage immediately and another 8 rage over 10 seconds. But with no cap as to how good they can be, you'll never look at mastery on gear and reject it out of hand the way we do now with certain stats.
Mastery by itself could be the smoothing out of warrior rage concerns with rage normalization.
Next week, we'll go back to basics. You're a newly minted level 80 warrior. What now?