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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Playing with talents

Matthew Rossi

The Care and Feeding of Warriors has a big post in mind, but wants some time to work on it. Well, okay, The Care and Feeding of Warriors has nothing in mind. It has no mind. It has no soul. It is just a weekly column written by Matthew Rossi. If it had a mind it might hate him for having told you that it doesn't, but since it doesn't, it can't even respond. Wow, this is getting kind of odd. Anyway, here's a column.

The other day, while grinding some of the new Sunwell Plateau dailies on my PvP warrior (this is him just before getting his season one shoulders) I happened to get into a discussion of specs with a warrior who had chosen a 51 point fury/ 10 point protection spec. It didn't last long enough for me to ask him why he chose that spec, unfortunately. Being that my 'PvP' night elf has a pretty unusual spec himself, although not as unusual (in my case, that spec is the result of wanting soloing viability for skinning mobs and I freely admit it is not maximized for PvP, I just haven't wanted to spend the money to respec a character I don't play all that often, comparatively) I was interested in the why of that spec.

There are cookie cutter specs, of course, and one of the reasons that there are cookie cutter specs is because they work. I'm going to emphasize that. The reason for cookie cutter specs is because they work. There's nothing wrong with choosing one. Tanking with an 8 arms/ 5 fury/ 48 point protection spec is nothing to be ashamed of. But since you're not always tanking, and you're not always going to be running with your Arena team where you've essentially promised them you'll be at your best, there are times when you can sacrifice some efficiency for experimentation. And with the new dailies, coming up with 50 gold for a respec is not hard. I've respecced my human warrior six times since the IoQD quests dropped.

To some extent, respecs are necessary to learn the in and outs of your talents. Yes, there are online guides and forums you can go check out, and I recommend that you do. But no matter how much a self-appointed blowhard like myself rants about this or that, you really can learn quite a bit from going to the trainer, dropping some gold, and selecting the talents you're curious about yourself. If you're careful with your respecs as you level, you can even get in some experimentation before you reach 70.

Granted, the game has been out since 2005. And even though the talents have been changed numerous times (remember Punishing Blow? No? It's Mocking Blow now.) there's been a lot of work done on what these talents do and how to best combine them. You may feel daunted, or that there's no point in trying to reinvent the wheel. It's a fair statement, but for my perspective we're not trying to reinvent jack here. When I play around with specs and talents, it's an attempt to put that which I have read into practice, the difference between reading a Chilton book and actually taking stuff apart. No one's telling you not to read the book, I'm just saying don't stop there.

For instance, here is a fury/prot talent build I tried out this week for PvP and grinding. It has some weaknesses... the lack of any points in arms meant that it's not really viable for tanking, as it lacks points in the Deflection talent. Trust me, 5% to parry from talents is very hard to lose if you're going to tank anything. While Concussion Blow is a fine talent, it's not making up for the loss of mace specialization in PvP. The DPS is good, but it could be better, and the protection talents didn't really provide enough survivability to make up for it in my opinion. Now, you can probably tell all that by looking at it, especially if you're an experienced warrior, but by taking it out for a spin I got to evaluate it.

For one thing, it's actually a pretty fun spec. Talented slams on a PvE opponent can wreck faces, grinding time can be extremely fast with it, especially if you conc the target to be sure he's not going anywhere. Secondly, with sweeping strikes, imp whirlwind and imp cleave working with a big 2h weapon (I chose Gorehowl for these tests because it's the weapon I have enchanted, I'm cheap and always prioritize my tanking gear over my DPS gear) you can unleash unholy devastation on a group of targets before switching to a nice big slam to finish a poor sucker off, if you have the rage. And you usually will, I found. I consider the spec flawed, but it was fun to play with and get a sense of what worked and what didn't.

I then tried the following spec for tanking. It's kind of a mish-mosh. On the up side, precision and weapon mastery are nice talents for tanking. It has deflection, which I consider a necessary talent for almost any tanking spec (as I rarely gear for parry) and bloodthirst does some decent threat with this set-up. Decent, but let me be honest: you're not going to be forgetting devastate anytime soon. To be honest, this is a great spec for instances you really outgear, as you can mix a bunch of DPS gear into your tanking selection and maybe even dual wield tank the place with crazy bloodthirsts, but it's not a viable build if you don't have the gear to support it, and it doesn't really do any of the things you'd want to do with it as well as a dedicated build would. However, it could definitely offtank better than a standard DPS build, so if you want to be able to wreck faces in PvE, be annoying in PvP and still tank it's got its charms. In the end I switched away from it, but I'm still tinkering with variants in my head and I'll drop the gold to play with one in a day or two.

What I'm ultimately getting at is that playing with your talents is fundamentally part of playing the game. Yes, your guild is going to require you to be dependable for the role you're expected to play: you shouldn't show up to tank your raid's first attempt on Rage Winterchill in a wacky DPS spec you just made up to see if it works. But experimentation on your own time is valuable to give you a sense of the nuts and bolts behind what you're doing, even if it takes leveling four warriors to 70. Okay, no, not really, only a total maniac would do that.

Next week... a surprise post. Trust me, it's a surprise.

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