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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Aftermath

Matthew Rossi

The Care and Feeding of Warriors plays catch-up this week with Patch 2.4. Matthew Rossi has been tanking the new five man, doing badge runs, and being obscenely lucky on drops this week, to the point where he's almost embarrassed about it. The word 'almost' was used advisedly.

So this week I've been running around doing as much of the new content as I can, dailies, the new five man, an abortive run into Sunwell Plateau (no matter what your friend in the Illidan guild tells you, you cannot heal that instance in Karazhan gear, not that I really expected to survive) and of course the usual raiding, which includes our badge runs into Kara and ZA. As primarily a tank, I usually pass on DPS gear unless no dedicated DPS players need/want them, so while i have a few good pieces it hasn't been my main focus.

This week, however, the loot fairy came along and just threw gear at me. On Wednesday night, our usual SSC clear netted me World Breaker, a mace I've always stared at with wonder. First off, I've always loved the model. Check it out, that thing is wicked. I never expected to get the weapon... like I said, prot spec... but nobody else who could use it wanted it. So I snatched it up greedily and made cooing Gollumesque noises about it and went on with tanking. Since I have some decent pieces for my chest and legs but lacked any plate helmet, shoulder or glove option for whackery, I ran out and picked the new Savage Plate gear for those slots and enchanted/gemmed them up. I knew I wasn't going to set the world on fire but I thought I could have some fun in BG's.

Amazingly, it turned out that I was right.

The first day of PvP under the new regime (not same as the old regime) I found myself running Arathi Basin, Alterac Valley and Warsong Gulch almost exclusively. I didn't respec for this, because the whole point (to me) was to see how a fully protection specced warrior could do running around hitting things. I'm sure no one is surprised to find out that I didn't wreak as much havoc as the dedicated PvPers with carefully chosen specs and the proper resilience gear, but I was actually very happily surprised to discover just how well I could contribute. Flag defense in AB was fun as heck, even with low resilience I found I could survive long enough and be irritating enough with Last Stand and Concussion Blow combined with Whirlwind, Thunder Clap and Intimidating Shout. I could keep a flag clear for a very long time this way, although if concentrated emphasis fell on me, I fell on the ground. In Warsong, I could of course tank all the way up and run the flag, but I find the slow warrior plod with the flag less than exciting, so I often chose to 'tank' the opposite side by following the flag carrier and intercepting/conc blow stunning the first guy that tries to stop him. If you can draw the enemy into killing you instead of chasing him, you're effectively home free. This doesn't always work, of course.

Alterac Valley I mostly tanked Galv and ran around hitting people otherwise. AV has never been subtle. We won a few and lost a few, which for Norgannon is a positive miracle. Still, I was going to call my little experiment a success and move on when the weekly Karazhan badge run popped up. I no longer need anything in the instance but I'm still fond of the old girl, and I like to test out my threat set (which clearly needs some tweaking, as I was having trouble holding multi-mob trash pulls) so I was on board for what became the nigh Karazhan drops every piece of gear you ever wanted from it now that you don't need any of it anymore. I'm sure you've had that night in one instance or another, last night was mine, and Kara was the place. I knew something was fishy when Despair dropped. because I've run Karazhan to the point where I should have my own room and Despair never drops. Ever. I have never seen it drop before last night. Now, I have the first level blacksmith epic 2h sword, which I've never bothered to upgrade, so I would have been happy to pass. But since no one wanted it, and we need void crystals like I need to be forced to listen to a sixteen hour Rick Astley marathon, I picked it up primarily for looks.

Wow, I said to my wife, for a tank I'm doing really well on 2h weapon drops. Now all I need is an axe. I said this mostly to tease her, as we've been trying to get her a Legacy forever and the instance refuses to drop one for her. As usual she replied by rubbing her Axe of the Gronn Lords in my face, as I've always liked that weapon. Apparently our loving game of 'shut up, I have a better toy than you do' called down the instance loot imps or something, because as we marched our way to Prince and finally put him down after a really bad streak of luck on infernals and a bad moment when half the raid went down, that cheeky bugger finally dropped Gorehowl.

Now, any real PvP warrior (which we all know I'm not) would tell you that Gorehowl is inferior to World Breaker. Less DPS, axe spec is basically neutered by resilience while mace spec rocks the house, and the proc on World Breaker is pretty damn hot when it goes off... that 900 crit rating translates into about 40% chance to crit. None of this is untrue.

But here I stood, a protection spec warrior who now has a Gorehowl. I'm not going to spec maces or axes. I have Concussion Blow, so I can stun you when I want to stun you instead of when the mace wants me to stun you. So I slapped on the most crit gear I could find and took myself back to PvP, this time 3x3 arenas with some nice friends who didn't mind losing a few matches and let me scrub it up on their teams.

Now, I know that we won two games in 3x3 because my friends are way overgeared and not because of anything I did. But it was still crazy awesome fun. Prot warriors in DPS/PvP gear are not going to be confused with MS warriors anytime soon except when the other team doesn't know that you're not a MS warrior and is not prepared for your double tanking trinket heal when trying to instant kill you. Massive statistical fluke? You bet. I am not going to stand here and try and tell you that protection spec is really a viable damage output spec for arenas, but man, you can be so incredibly annoying to people, especially if you leave some tanking gear on and keep your shield/spell reflect macro hotkeyed. I didn't mind leaving the team since I have no intention of speccing mortal strike on this toon any time soon, but I had a lot of fun irritating the heck out of warlocks and rogues. (Staggering Last Stand + Lifegiving Gem + Spyglass of the Hidden Fleet = irritating plate wearing PITA who just won't die)

I imagine once people realized what you were up to they'd ignore you and your 600 damage white hits.

Soloing/grinding in these setups for the new dailies was also remarkably refreshing. Now, I don't want people to think I've changed my tune (me, learn from changing situations?) but as a prot warrior, with the proper DPS gear and weapons you can grind effectively. I'm not going to tell you a lie here, I still wished I was a fury warrior for every single daily I did. And a starting 70 prot warrior in the gear you get from quests and PuG's may well start grinding his or her teeth in frustration as some of these new quests, the competition for mobs is still very intense and you're just not going to have the DPS that other classes will right out of the box. Personally, I don't see why we can't at least have Devastate hit with a two hand weapon equipped to give prot warriors some kind of instant attack option if the best weapon they have is a two hander. Unlike letting the attack hit with two weapons at once, I don't think protection warriors spamming devastate with a 2h are going to have the crit rates, the talents (since most prot warriors have One Handed Weapon Specialization, meaning that they tend to dual wield when trying to grind or dps, since they get more damage from a 1h weapon strike) or gear to really make this a monstrous DPS option, it would basically just be a nice instant to throw some armor reduction and do 300 or so damage with. (I could be wrong, and for that matter, it's not like Devastate for 2h weapons is going to change all that much anyway.) In short, in the proper gear, prot warriors can solo content that's significantly below their gear level. We all knew this, so it's hardly a surprise, but I figured it deserved mentioning in case anyone was wondering. Yes, Virginia, prot spec warriors can do quests and grind mobs that they significantly overgear.

I've covered tanking Magister's Terrace in detail already: it's fun to tank, as far as I'm concerned. Sure, it can be hard, but it's not impossible and I found the difficulty level to be appropriate for the level of gear. I mean, heroic Kael'Thas drops gear on the same level as Prince Malchezaar, he should be hard.

In the end, patch 2.4 didn't make any big changes for warriors. I've only specced Arms/Fury and Fury briefly and as far as I can tell everything that was fixed is working (but again, I didn't spend a lot of time checking) but what the patch really did for me was open up a lot more options as to what to do with my day. There's now an instance worth running, tons of dailies, and if I was just now hitting 70 it would be a lot easier for me to make gold to pay for respecs if I wanted to tank, DPS or PvP. There's tons of awesome new badge gear coming, lots of good gear in the new faction (this shield is comparable to the one off of Nightbane) and instance... it's been a good week for me and I'm looking forward to seeing how new 70's do with it.

Next week, how do I follow up PvPing on a prot warrior? I find four suckers and see if I can tank a heroic with arms and fury heavy builds.

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