But wait, there's more of interest to you warriors in the notes. One thing that jumped out at me was under the Death Knight discussion: "One thing they're talking about is that they don't want to leave the Death Knight in the specific role according to their class -- they don't want to pigeon hole Death Knights by the spec they choose. The speaker plainly said that it's problematic for designers that tanks are forced to either be tank spec or DPS spec -- they want to avoid this restricting dynamic for Death Knights."
What does this all mean for us warrior types? Well, my thoughts are as follows: I sincerely hope that this all means we're looking at a new design philosophy for tank classes. Specifically, I'm hoping we're going to see classes that are able to tank will either be able to do so in almost any spec (with specific survivability enhancements if they choose the dedicated tanking trees, making those the 'raid tanking' choices, and five mans being tankable by any suitably geared tank class indifferent of spec) or that we'll see tanks who spec for tanking able to more effectively grind, solo, quest and even take a DPS role in a group if there is only a need for one tank or if there is a surplus of tanks available for some reason. Basically, I like the idea of them not wanting to pigeonhole tanks as tanks only, I'm just a trifle leery of the implementation.
Especially if they only remember to do this for Death Knights. I do think that the evidence we've seen to date, scant though it is, serves to paint the picture of warriors moving away from rigidly defined roles hemmed in by talent choice and towards a broader system where talents accentuate and support your intended goal for your character. Part of the reason I think this is due to this exchange over the role of Flurry in DPS specs:
"Any plans to make it so warriors don't need to waste 5 talent points to get Flurry for raids?
"We'll see." He acknowledges that the talents pigeonhole warriors, and that they want to be careful not reinforce that. Try to make it so that Death Wish Flurry doesn't turn into dominant raid DPS build. Bladestorm needs to be very attractive for DPS. Titan's grip route is the fury route for DPS, so BS if you're Arms, Titan's Grip if you're Fury. With both viable, the five talent points might not be necessary. They're fine with the flurry points, specifically, though and feels worth it to them. (Crowd is extremely unhappy with that one)"
To my eyes, there's two currents going on in this passage. Yes, the surface level is about Flurry and how it is effectively a 'must have' talent for raid DPS. And I'm a little disappointed that we're still going to be asked to sink five points into it. But I'm much more interested in the idea that warrior talents aren't going to lock you into one role as has been the case. If they deliver on the promise of this statement and the one about tanking above, it could lead to a real renaissance of warrior experimentation with talent specs. I'd like to see fury become much more viable for PvP, arms as a more broadly embraced raid DPS spec (and not just for a Blood Frenzy debuff, but also due to its own DPS), and prot becoming a more expansive talent tree with room for more than just tanking. I've always viewed the protection warrior as a juggernaut who terrifies foes with his relentlessness, shrugging off damage from his thick armor while dealing out powerful blows of his or her own, and I'd love it if the changes coming down the pike help produce just such a warrior. Each tree should strive to exemplify an aspect of the class, with arms being the tree most about the complete mastery of weapons, fury being the berserker archetype, and protection being the super-heavy infantry shrugging off blows from dragons that would shatter a mountain.
There's also news about windfury that's of interest to warriors: specifically, it's now a buff to you, and as such it will work for druids in animal forms, will stack with weapon poisons and weightstones/sharpening stones. "Windfury is a buff, not a weapon enchant. It works with forms and poisons and weapon buffs etc." Obviously this is huge for druid tanks, but for DPS warriors (and even tanking warriors) it means you can now freely slap that weightstone on your tanking weapon and still get the full benefit of windfury. Now, while I'm a little disappointed that windfury totem won't work on both of the 2h weapons I'm going to be dual wielding (Titans Grip Titan's Grip Titans Grip I'm stuck in a Titan's Grip mental loop Titan's Grip) but it's still a nice change. Add the idea of raid-wide totems and the combined SoE/GoA totem, and you could easily have a DPS warrior boom.
In general, I'm cautiously optimistic. I'm hoping we'll see a nice balance between the progress made in The Burning Crusade and a redress of some of the flaws that came with that expansion. Before the Dark Portal opened, protection spec was a somewhat sorry specimen, usually only really delved deeply by dedicated main tanks. A great many raid MT's went with a 31/5/15 or 5/31/15 spec to pick up defiance and some other prot goodies while remaining capable of burst DPS. I'll generally admit that it was a good move to make protection more necessary for dedicated tanking, but I'd argue that the pendulum swung a little too far in that regard (Rage Normalization was very poorly thought out and implemented, in my opinion) and it will be nice to see tanking viability restored to the other trees, if they can do so without gutting protection of its necessary dedicated tanking utility and add some bite to the tree. I'm really hoping that talent choice will be less a straightjacket and more an aid to your gameplay for the warriors out there, The liveblog indicates that there's thought going towards improving protection DPS and making other specs viable for tanking, so we'll see.
Edited to add: wow, this will be huge for warriors.: We are working on a plan to give players access to two Talent specs. More details in the future. Taken from the liveblog, and man, if this goes live you're probably looking at the end of the tank shortage right there. Access to a full prot spec and a DPS spec? Yeah, I'll tank for you. Let me go resp... okay, done. Let's go.
I'm also really hoping I get to tank with a Soul Cleaver in my giddy mitts. Preferably one with windfury and a sharpening stone. Will Wrath see the return of Arms and Fury/Prot hybrids? Sadly, I am not actually psychic, I'm more the 'busted clock' kind of prognosticator. But man, I can't wait to find out.
Next time, DPS gear again. And a discussion of why warriors want to DPS at all, and why they should.