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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: I still love you, Titan's Grip

Matthew Rossi

Dear, sweet Titan's Grip, be thou not angered at me. Dost thou remember how our affair began, as news of you first broached the shores of Europe and invited the whole world in? Yes, I have aired my doubts of you in public before now. For the truth is, my fair one, you are not perfect. You can indeed withhold from me that sweetest of rage, which I use to rend my enemies in twain. But in truth how could I ever stay alienated from your beauty? For you do allow me to hit my enemies with two great honking weapons at the same time!

And that is wonderful.

Yet there are other wonders than Titan's Grip waiting for you warriors at the roof of the World of Warcraft, the ice-tinged continent of Northrend. What awaits us, you may ask? Well, ask or not, here comes a day's observations of what awaits us. (Also, if you're wondering why I'm using Gorehowl and a shield in that picture, let me just say, Shield Slam doesn't use the same cooldown as Bloodthirst. Also, fury tanking! More about this in the post itself.)

Now that I've done the expected and obligatory gushing about TG, what say I talk about the state of things warriorish in Wrath of the Lich King's enthralling beta? (Yeah, yeah, it's not a word. Sheesh, you people.)

First off, the arms tree feels somewhat incomplete. Bladestorm is fun, but not terribly powerful, certainly not so potent that it feels like it's worth being the 51 point arms talent. Bull Rush increases charge and intercept stun by a whole second if you put three talent points into it. Strength of Arms is solid, but like all such "makes you stronger" talents it doesn't have much of a feel to it. Trauma works nicely with Blood Frenzy and Deep Wounds, and with Rend now working with weapon damage it's probably worth getting if you're that far down the tree anyway.

The problem I had looking at arms talents was, the tree still feels absolutely defined by Mortal Strike. Now, I love Mortal Strike. Who doesn't? (Hint: every single other class in World of Warcraft. Death Knights will be making corpses explode, raising their arena teammates as ghouls, and pulling LoS casters right to them with Death Grip, and will still complain about Mortal Strike.) But it's the 31 point talent in a 51 point tree, and it still dominates the tree utterly. I don't want to see it nerfed, both because I hate nerfs and because I believe MS is far from overpowered (go ahead, as an MS warrior using any weapon other than a Stunherald, try and kill an equally geared resto druid or disc priest. Go for it.) but I am kind of embarrased and annoyed that 20 points down the tree, nothing, not even Bladestorm feels as cool or powerful as an ability that's been around for two years. Something needs to be done. Bladestorm needs something cool (perhaps a crazy animated target to target charge like Kargath's Blade Dance) to make it actually powerful rather than somewhat gimmicky. (The complete snare/root/fear immunity is nice, it's a shame it's not an actual fear break though.) Right now, the following build would be possible at level 80, and while it's just one I threw in at the spur of the moment, it shows how deep you can get in fury while still grabbing MS. Personally I find the idea that it's even considerable (I'd probably go deeper in arms just for Strength of Arms, myself) to be a problem.

I took prot spec out for a spin on my human warrior as well. So farm I'm in unmitiated squee country with it. Shockwave is astonishing fun, good for grinding, good for tanking. In my two test tanking runs on my human (one in old school T5 - T6 tanking gear, one in PvP/DPS gear for resil crit reduction and more AP) I quickly found myself using Shockwave every single time it was up. A 20 second cooldown makes this semi-spammable, and the boosted damage from AP gear makes me hope the promised re-itemization of tanking gear materializes, because I had solid threat in the PvP/DPS set from it. Without a functioning meter (Blizzard's in game one just annoyingly pops a '100% threat' over mobs heads at odd moments at present or what have you) I can't say for sure which generated more threat.

Unlike arms, even with the loss of Shield Slam (it's a skill now, all warriors have it) deep prot is just packed with excellent on-purpose talents. Vigilance is worthwhile just for the 10% threat reduction: slap it on that annoying DPSer you know and keep it on him the whole run! (Or put it on the healer if you're feeling proactive.) I didn't actually have to use the taunt aspect of it all that much, but it's nice too. I never got to use Safeguard at all, as I never had to intervene to anyone. It looks good on paper, though. Sword and Board seemed a little buggy (I could swear I was getting the proc sound and seeing the buff but not always being able to Shield Slam) but when it worked, it was very very nice indeed. I could gush and gush about Critical Block, Stalwart Protector, and Incite (I really like Incite for other tanking specs, while I'll cover next) but eventually I have to stop going on and on about how awesome prot is now and move on.

My tauren, after a brief run as arms to get the feel of the spec, went full-on fury. (I've chosen him as my fury testbed because his gear isn't as good, so he'll see more upgrades faster... oh, and yes, because the Horde quests and starting zones seem cooler so far. If anything, Wrath of the Lich King could be the expansion that wins me back full time to the Horde. I'm not kidding.) This is his current spec, aimed at DPS with some tanking viability. If things went live unchanged (which they won't) then this would be the level 80 version of the spec. Don't let the picture accompanying the article fool you, you can't actually tank with a 2h weapon and a shield, you won't get any rage. You can, however, grind with a 2h weapon and a shield and experience almost no downtime. You take remarkably little damage, Bloodthirst scales with total health now, and if you have the rage handy you can Bloodthirst and then Shield Slam almost immediately after.... heck, if Bloodsurge procs you can Bloodthirst, instant-cast Slam, and then Shield Slam all in one go. I tanked Utgarde with the level 70 spec and had a good time (no loot, though). I did try with the Gorehowl, but no, you just don't generate enough rage even with full Intensify Rage (at least not fast enough to keep them off the healer). If you have the rage and a good macro though you can swap between a fast tanking weapon and your 2h for some nice slams when Bloodsurge procs, that gets attention. Doing the run in my PvP/DPS set on the cow meant I had solid AP for my Thunderclap and the new strength/Block formula meant I still had a respectable 450 block value or so. (It might have been higher when Gorehowl was equipped.)

In short, if you want to fury tank your way to 80, it's possible. It requires slightly more patience from a group, especially if there's no CC, but the potential is there. Prot's still better, so if you're a prot warrior worried about losing tanking spots to fury, don't be. Prot's got more threat, more tricks and more survivability, but at last, you can stay grinding spec and tank a five man or stay tanking spec and still complete quests in a reasonable time with nice AoE moves.

I'm either bad at targeting it or Heroic Leap can't be targeted properly yet. I don't know what it looks like when someone else does it: when I do it, it looks silly from my perspective. In general, even with the scaling issues Titan's Grip is the solid heart of a really nice tree that just needs a few tweaks. I'd say of the three talent trees, arms is the most in need of some solid review love, fury could use some polishing and some better animations but is almost there, and prot is gonzo solid.

And that's two days in the beta for you. Tons of quests, lots of nice green plate if you're not well geared yet (see the above screenshot) and a lot of running all over the place to digest. If there's anything you want more detail about, speak up: if I haven't tested it yet I'll be happy to do so for you.

Check out more strategies, tips and leveling guides for Warriors in Matthew Rossi's weekly class column: The Care and Feeding of Warriors.

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