Okay, I was all set to write a mildly disappointed post about patch 5.4 and what it hasn't changed for warriors. And then Blizzard went and did this. So here I am, feeling multiple things. I'm not good at feeling multiple things. Here's what's going through my head:
- When I was first told about this, I was in a raid. I frankly did not believe it. It's still somewhat hard to believe, actually.
- Holy snap, I did not expect this ever.
- Haste? I mean, really?
- If these are Ordos drops (as I suspect they might be) then I guess I'm gonna have to go kill Ordos a few times. I mean, I have to get a pair of those, right?
- Seriously, haste and mastery? Hit/mastery would have been the best spread if you wanted them to be useful for both tanking and DPS (which two blue sockets makes me think) and if you wanted dedicated DPS shoulders, then crit/mastery or crit/haste would have been better.
- Man, I really got an item named after me. That is so cool I don't even know.
- Wait, haste and mastery on an item named after me? Is this Blizzard trolling me? Am I being trolled by the biggest MMO in the world?
Now then, we were scheduled to talk about how patch 5.4 is shaping up in terms of warriors and class changes.
First off it must be said that these are pretty much all positive changes, or changes aimed at providing some quality of life compensation for things. The general changes are all buffs, the arms and protection changes are all buffs as well. The fury change isn't a buff exactly, but it's nice that we'll be able to use polearms with Titan's Grip (it means that if we get another tier with strength polearms, we can use them). It can't really be said that any of these changes, with the possible exception of Warbringer (and that only if you think the switch from a stun to a root is a nerf) is a negative change.
The only real problem with these changes comes in terms of whether or not we think they're enough. For arms, I think we could say they definitely address any AoE DPS issues the spec may have been having, make Bladestorm a very attractive option for AoE, give Slam (already arms' big rage dump) some new teeth and are generally positive. Fury gets a Storm Bolt that it will actually consider using, as the off-hand damage is fairly substantial. Protection gets some added DPS with the buff to Blood and Thunder and the increase rage from Revenge added to the new Riposte mechanic and the new implementation of Ultimatum. A guaranteed critical hit with a free HS or Cleave will make it an attractive DPS/threat move since it won't cost you the rage you need for active mitigation. It's safe to say that these are all, in general, positive changes.
The question becomes, are the enough? And while I am of the opinion that arms is getting enough (a case could be made for more single target DPS, but in terms of AoE you can't argue arms needs buffs at this point) I think both fury and protection will need more than what we're seeing. For one thing, protection needs more survivability. Compared to paladin immunity cheese and DK self healing, protection warriors (and also guardian druids and even brewmaster monks, but I am not qualified to speak for them) could definitely use some help in the staying up department. Shield Block is purely a physical damage mitigation move, and Shield Barrier (while not by any means a bad ability) still ends up pretty expensive in terms of what it does. Furthermore, as the only tank that gets resources from pure avoidance stats like dodge and parry, it's bizarre to see how weak and undervalued dodge and parry have become in the current tanking scheme of things. Sharing our gear with paladins and DK's means we'll always be held hostage to some extent by what they prioritize on gear.
I don't know if Riposte will be enough crit to make Ultimatum proc more often instead of less, but with the lack of desire for dodge and parry on tanking gear overall, I doubt it. With haste being outright useless for protection warriors, and with dodge and parry simply not providing as much benefit as hit and expertise, Riposte simply isn't going to come close to making up enough crit for Devastate and Shield Slam to critically hit and thus put tanking warriors into an Enrage.
The easiest fix for that would be to give either Devastate or Shield Slam the same treatment as Bloodthirst, doubling its critical hit chance. In addition, however, I think it's fair to say that protection warriors need one or both of these attacks to just plain hit for more. Since Shield Slam is a fairly hard hitting ability, Devastate seems the most likely candidate for a flat out DPS buff. Another, more interesting option would be to give protection warriors access to Titan's Grip. Not dual-wielding 2h weapons, however, but using one in the main hand while tanking. With strength polearms making a comeback, Titan's Grip for protection warriors could be a means to differentiate protection warriors and paladins a little more and make 2h weapons with hit and expertise (good for DK tanks and almost no one else) good for another tanking class.
As for fury, I think it's fairly simple - our AoE is fine, what we need is more single target DPS. Making Storm Bolt hit harder for fury is nice, but it comes at the cost of Bloodbath, which is a very hard trade to swallow overall. Fury is locked into a crit-dependent cycle that rewards and even compels stacking crit to the exclusion of almost everything and its non-Enraged base attacks, from white hits to Bloodthirst, simply don't hit hard enough. It's also fair to say that our level 75 talents are simply not terribly interesting, even after the changes made to Vigilance. The changes to Shield Wall and Spell Reflection are nice, but not by themselves enough to address fury's fragility (DPS warriors are often simply incapable of converting rage into damage, especially in heroic encounters that penalize us for moving out of range to stay alive). Amusingly, with our rage scaling issues much less of an issue this expansion due to the comprehensive rage fixes, fury DPS has lagged behind in the most current tier of raiding, and it's simply a matter of either buffing the damage on our baseline attacks (especially white hits to make hit a more attractive stat, since we're swimming in hit anyway) or increasing the benefit haste or mastery give us to make those stats more useful.
Next week, the Titan's Grip blues.
At the center of the fury of battle stand the warriors: protection, arms and fury. Check out more strategies and tips especially for warriors, from hot issues for today's warriors to Cataclysm 101 for DPS warriors and our guide to reputation gear for warriors.