Despite not tanking for the groups I pug, I have in fact been running the Rise of the Zandalar heroics quite a bit on warrior #2. So far, he's managed to claw his way from ilevel 329 to 350, having snagged a few solid upgrades in his time in Zul'Gurub and Zul'Aman. It didn't really make much sense bringing warrior #1 in after I got the hat and shoulders that made up for the ones that won't drop in raids, so project bootstrap was initiated, and so far I've enjoyed playing arms in PvE content on him. In the gear he has, I can manage a respectable 14-15k or so -- not awesome, but not terrible either.
Of course, a lot of things are going to change in patch 4.2, and I'm looking at the patch with the healthy skepticism of the long-time warrior. The fact that absolutely no nerfs of any kind were in the most recent patch notes just makes me even more suspicious. I've come to expect nerfs from patches. It's kind of a thing. Seeing other classes get nerfed while warriors get no changes at all is like wondering where the alligators with clocks in their stomachs got off to.
Meanwhile, in between expecting the sky to fall (it's going to one of these days, you'll see), I've been looking at the tier 12 set bonuses and thinking about them. I've also been digging on the armor itself; it looks pretty awesome, in my opinion. Since we just got another round of feedback from the devs as of today, I'll be incorporating that into my post.
Tier 12 for tanking warriors
So, let us discuss the set bonuses. First up, tanking (for absolutely no reason aside from my being locked in eternal battle with the alphabet and its precious order). Remember the set bonuses are in a state of flux, as they are tested and iterated from PTR patch to PTR patch.
Currently, the two-piece protection warrior set bonus for tier 12 adds more damage to your Shield Slam as periodic fire damage over 4 seconds -- 20% more damage, to be exact. That hasn't changed as of this writing. This is interesting because it's a straight-up DOT added to our Shield Slam, giving it more damage (and thus more threat); as a DOT, it will be useful for mobs who like to drop aggro for whatever reason. (I use B&T a lot right now for this exact reason, like those jerk dragons in BWD.) Since it's 20% of your Shield Slam damage, which increases as Vengeance stacks, this could become quite a sizeable DOT and thus a significant threat ability. It's been a while since a two-piece set bonus was so barefacedly damage-oriented for protection, I'm interested to play with this and see how big it gets.
The four-piece set bonus was recently clarified by Community Representative Zarhym, so we'll look at the ability and then his clarification. The datamined bonus said that your parry chance would increase by 6% when Shield Block was active. Zarhym's clarification mentions a completely different ability.
If this is accurate, then it means that not only will the ability not be linked to Shield Block (which can be used pretty much every 30 seconds by a protection-specced warrior) but rather to Shield Wall (which can be on a 2- or 4-minute cooldown, depending on your glyphs), it also means we won't be getting the 6% parry until after Shield Wall is done. Basically, it changes this from a fantastic ability which will be up almost 20 seconds out of every minute into a terrible ability that won't be up unless we use our biggest survival cooldown (and even then, only after we use it and it wears off).
This is a very, very disappointing change, if it's accurate. If Zarhym is using the proper ability and this is linked to Shield Wall and in the way he states, it's simply not very compelling for a four-piece set bonus. I seriously hope he just used the wrong ability and still means Shield Block, because then it would be an extra bit of parry every half minute and would be still pretty nice.
Edited to update: Well, they clarified it again and it seems to be the better of the two options. Shield Block, and not Shield Wall. This is a much better choice in my opinion and a makes it a much stronger ability, giving prot warriors extra parry for 20 seconds out of every minute.
Tier 12 for DPS warriors
How about DPS warriors, you ask? Let's take a look. The original datamined bonus is gone, and in its place we have the following.
On the one hand, more rage is good. On the other hand, having it all in one big chunk like this increases the chance of some or all of it being wasted if you tend to use battle/commanding as part of a rotation and you take a spike of incoming damage or what have you. Also, most DPS warriors (the ones who have Booming Voice, at least, which not all arms warriors will due to their already frantic GCD issues) will basically be losing rage from the original version, which had no internal cooldown and thus would give a steady stream of rage every 30 seconds.
To be honest, this one feels clunky to me. Somewhere in between this version and the datamined original, there's a compelling set bonus, but I'm not sure this is it. Still, more rage is almost always better.
Edited to update: Things change fast, don't they? Already, we have an entirely redesigned Tier 12 2 piece set bonus for DPS warriors, and one I think is better overall. While extra rage is always nice, so is extra damage. with this change to the set bonus you'll probably want to try and synch up Colossus Smash or a damage cooldown when you hit BS/CS, but even if you don't have any of those handy more damage is always good and it solves the issue of getting too much rage at a go.
The four-piece bonus, though, that's an interesting one. Mortal Strike is already near the top of the list for arms, and Raging Blow is certainly an important one for fury, but it's not the MS of a fury warrior (that'd be Bloodthirst in almost all cases), and so we'll see if a 30% chance to get effectively double damage on your Raging Blow (an ability that can only be used when you're enraged) will change fury's priorities at all. It's definitely a solid set bonus.
That's pretty much patch 4.2 as we currently know it. Whether any shaking nerfs or buffs await us as it tests out on the PTR, we cannot say. But I have my eye on it. I don't trust patches; never have, never will. I remember fury going from good to awful to awesome the month before Cataclysm shipped. You will not catch me off guard, patch 4.2.
At the center of the duty of battle stand the warriors: protection, arms and fury. Check out more strategies and tips especially for warriors, including Cataclysm 101 for DPS warriors, a guide to new reputation gear for warriors, and a look back at six years of warrior trends.