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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Scarce Change on the PTR

Matthew Rossi

Yesterday saw me still without PTR access, followed by a massive cable outage and some computer problems that kept me offline until very late. Logging onto my Horde server (my alliance server was already dead thanks to it being on east coast time, plus I generally prefer Horde now anyway) I found myself needed to tank an Obsidian Sanctum run, which went fine. Then, I was needed to DPS in Naxx, so I respecced, but mistaken specced fury because I respec on autopilot now. So after the raid I had to respec back to arms. So basically, I dropped 150g to raid yesterday. You could argue that were I not an idiot I could have saved myself 50 gold.

So for that reason alone, even with the big, big nerfs to fury, I want 3.1 to get here.

Let's start the day with a fun quote from Ghostcrawler:

"Fury warriors who think their dps will be too low after this change in PvE are probably comparing themselves to classes or specs with inflated dps who are also being brought down (even after the Deep Wounds fix). If you are worried about the PvP ramifications, I think we can probably agree that a 10% swing in dps is not what is going to determine whether warriors are viable in Arenas or not."

Yeah, we can agree on that. People would have to be taking warriors to arenas in order for us to determine if warriors were viable in arenas or not. Since they are not... I guess lowering warrior DPS bt 10% (as Ghostcrawler has just admitted these changes intend) doesn't really matter. When no one brings your class anyway, it's unimportant if it gets nerfed or not. Good point, GC. Very good point.

Generally speaking, as a warrior who now raids as prot, arms and fury depending on the fight, the needs of the raid and the particular warrior I'm playing (my human is almost exclusively fury, my tauren switches around a lot more) yeah, I compare myself to the other DPS classes. I compare other warriors with better gear and probably better skills (I won't bullshit you, I'll always be a better tank than I am DPS, last night I decisively proved that to myself by stepping back into tanking and owning it like I was Saurfang and it was anything Saurfang decided he owned while as DPS I'm solid but unremarkable) to other DPS as well. I'm not seeing warriors decisively owning all other DPS, not even close. Competitive, yes. Some fights a warrior does insanely well on. Even after the Deep Wounds fix I love Thaddius, I'm a huge fan of Loatheb, and Patchwerk is fun for DPS melee.

I predict now that the 10% nerf is going to mess up fury but good when combined with the changes to certain glyphs. I'm specifically thinking of the change to the Glyph of Heroic Strike. Right now, HS for a fury warrior is something you use in-between cooldowns on your high damage abilities like Bloodthirst, Whirlwind and any Slams you can use instantly due to Bloodsurge. With the glyph, HS isn't a rage dump for fury so much as it is a cooling off ability, a "I have rage and nothing else is lit up I might as well play lottery with my glyph" because when you get lucky and crit with HS, you get 10 rage back. The synergy of this glyph for both tanking (especially when combined with the Glyph of Revenge, which gives you a free HS after every Revenge) and DPSing cannot be overstated. Once you have a 30% critical strike rate or better (my human floats around 38% unbuffed right now, my tauren 32%) then this glyph is a reliable source of rage for you. A typical fury rotation of WW - BT - WW with instant slams falling where they may can easily chew up a lot of rage.

We're being told right now that Ulduar will reveal a lot about class balance. I hope it does. For starters, I hope the myth of the unstoppable DPS warrior gets destroyed once and for all. It's been around since Blackwing Lair. There are always going to be fights where warrior DPS is very good... anything where rage generation is smooth and we don't have to move around like meth addicted howler monkeys while the floor randomly explodes over and over again, our DPS is pretty excellent and barring a total evisceration of the class, will always be. Rage is what it is.

I guarantee you that even with this nerf, a warrior will out DPS a 'pure' class in any condition where rage is readily accessible and melee doesn't have to move away every five seconds unless they nerf the class so badly that it is completely unplayable. I guarantee you that this change will not prevent warriors from out DPSing you in Ulduar, 'pure' classes. I put pure in sarcasm quotes here because warriors are as pure as it gets. No poisons for nature damage. No holy damage, No shadow or frost damage. Warriors are the single most purely physical class in the game. Armor affects everything we do. And armor is being globally reduced, across the board, on bosses to make up for the Sunder Armor change. So in 3.1, when warriors get their 10% damage reduction, the one thing that mitigates effectively all of our damage is also being reduced. No, in the end, as gear improves we will once again see warriors beating 'pure' classes at DPS, it's inevitable. Who does the change really hurt?

It will again be a kick in the teeth to leveling warriors who do not have the gear, who will step into five mans at 80 and provide insignificant DPS in their leveling greens and blues, and won't get another party because they believe they suck. It's going to be a kick in the nuts to those who try and run Wintergrasp at 77 with their blue quest axe from Zul'Drak and get stomped even harder. To those players: it's not you. It's whining raiders who put a 10% DPS tax on everything you do. It's developers who think it is fine if you can't DPS as much in PvP because it won't make or break your PvP viability when you're already pretty much at the bottom of the barrel. To that player, please don't lose heart. It will get better. These things have a tendency to swing up and down. They've tried to put various penalties on Titan's Grip in the past and have always failed, because the penalties are too severe for anyone not in the best gear possible, and that's no different now.

I have hopes they will yet find a way to bring Titan's Grip into line so that it doesn't really mess up leveling warriors while still giving a benefit to DPS. I also have a great deal of hope that they'll bring arms DPS up. I once jokingly suggested that they make Titan's Grip baseline for all warriors so that warriors effectively, as a class, no longer use 1h weapons for anything and that way you can balance the entire class around the idea that both arms and fury will DW 2h weapons while prot would tank with a 2h weapon and a shield. Sure, we'd lose polearms entirely. But polearms haven't really been thought off for warriors in a while, they're such an afterthought that they're part of another weapon's specialization in arms anyway.

I used to have this idea with my tongue in my cheek. Now, I'm actually serious about it. The problem with TG is that it is the best 51 point talent in the game, in a tree full of the worst talents in the game. Everything in fury is basically there at this point to get you to Titan's Grip. So not only do other classes compare their 51 point talents to it (they don't compare the other fifty points of talents they took, of course) but fury is obligated to take it. Why would you go 50 points in fury and stop? So my former joke is now a serious suggestions: make TG baseline.

Make it baseline and you can rebalance the entire class around two hand weapons and all the trees and talents can assume they're there and we can finally have warriors scaling properly. It would be more work in the here and now to get it done, and far far less work overall. Had this been done in the beta warriors could be done now. And frankly, based on the scarce attention and balancing we get, clearly they want to be working on the classes they find more exciting, so let's stop with the constant fiddling and make a real change to warriors. (Plus, then you can make more real tanking 2h weapons because both warriors and DK's would be using them. Make them maces and druids can use them too. Three out of four tanks would want them. Win for everyone.) You could lower wholesale coefficients and all sorts of abilities knowing that the punch of TG would make up for it, redistributing warrior DPS across the board in an even manner rather than just whacking 10% off of the top on one spec. You could bring arms and fury into parity by simply ensuring that their various talents were much closer in utility and power without having to try and make them too alike in effect.

I should reassure the readers who think I've gone mad: this won't happen, and I don't expect it would. I expect the developers (who do know more about the game and how it works than I do) have good reasons for not wanting to have to come up with a new 51 point talent for fury, or balance protection around the idea of them waving an enormous stat stick in their main hand. But I have made the suggestion, and I do not recant it. Make TG baseline. Do the work now to balance all three trees against themselves and the other classes. Because if you don't do the work now, you're going to be doing it every patch just like this one.

Next week, who knows, maybe my PTR transfers will be complete.

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