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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Arms waits and waits and waits

Matthew Rossi

Remember those arms changes we keep hearing about? They still haven't dropped yet on the PTR.

In fact, the whole state of warriors on the PTR is pretty static. They've decided not to change stances and how rage interacts with them although I can attest that yes, they've added armor pen to battle stance (I was running around Un'Goro on my tauren looking for the Ravasaur trainer) and they've already fixed the potential TG bug I mentioned so that there's no way you can switch specs and have both 2h weapons equipped. Shattering Throw is indeed fun in mass PvP: I haven't had a chance to test it yet outside of a few melee's around a summoning stone, though.

I did get to make that one ret pally very unhappy, so yes that's nice. But all in all, I'm still waiting for arms to get, well... buffs. Yes, all three stances got small to medium buffs, and there's talk of removing the penalties altogether on stances. I won't pretend I won't welcome the day where stances don't have penalties aside from the rage dump aspect of switching, but that's hardly a buff to arms warriors.

We've been told repeatedly that arms warrior DPS is too low in PvE. And I know that they can't think that changing Taste for Blood to a 100% chance to proc with a built in 6 second cooldown is going to do it. Buffing Blood Frenzy? Not really enough. There have to be arms changes somewhere at least going internal testing.

So when do we get to test them already?

Almost every other class has seen pretty substantial changes on the PTR. Paladins? Pretty much every patch adds or takes away something. Death Knights have seen a crazy roller coaster of changes that frankly leave me dizzy to watch. Shamans have been getting PvP tweaks to the point where, as a shaman player, I'm almost tempted to give PvP on my shaman a shot again. But as a warrior?

The class changes have been few, mostly nerfs, a few nice new abilities and changes... but the meat of the promised change to the spec that's currently on the bottom for both PvE and PvP? Still not here yet.

At this point, if the patch went live right now, we know that fury warriors will do better DPS than arms (even with the nerf to TG) and as the crazy powerful weapons make their way into warrior hands, our DPS will only increase even with the TG damage tax. How is arms going to compete? How is it going to compete with ret paladins, three flavors of DK's, and enhancement shamans and feral druids? I'm not arguing that arms warriors should be superior god kings standing on top of the DPS pile, I'm arguing that at this point arms has been sub-par for so long that it would be nice to get some kind of ray of hope in the from of real, honest to murgatroyd changes that we could test and say "Hey, these really are good, positive changes for arms DPS" or "Wow, now my DPS is even more dependent on RNG, is that intended" or what have you.

The feeling of panic starts to set in when you see the ennui on live realms. The consensus seems to be that the patch will drop any day now. I really, sincerely hope this is wrong because man, arms is still in that same unfinished place it's been in since the Wrath beta ended. My tauren raids as arms on live and, with the help of a swing timer and a lot of really intense focus I manage to keep up on DPS it's not close to what I can do as fury (to be fair I don't have the best gear or weapon on the tauren) so to some degree I'm whining about my own personal issues here. I want arms to achieve parity with fury so that both my warriors will be fun to raid with, rather than one being fun and having high, competitive DPS while the other one struggles to be within 500 of the leader.

It's pretty clear that they're trying to make incremental improvements to the spec to set up whatever's coming, or at least that I'm willing to delude myself that they are.We've seen them adding 10% armor penetration to battle stance (with all the potential for armor pen in the gear available in 3.1) and it's possible that further changes are in store that will hinge on this, but to be honest I really don't want to see arms go down a path that seems gimmicky and overly dependent on a 'just so' gear selection. Warriors are already pretty dependent on gear to do anything: in order to see the DPS that's getting them nerfed in the first place TG warriors have to have some of the best gear in the game and a DPS rotation that's so tight you could make coal between its buttocks. The idea of arms DPS not only requiring the RNG fun of Sudden Death and constantly waiting for Taste for Blood to refresh your Overpowers, but also being heavily dependent on stacking armor pen to ridiculous extremes just doesn't excite me. This may seem like ridiculous speculation, and it is. It's also pretty much all we have to go on, after three weeks of the PTR and three months of live play.

In the past I argued for making Titan's Grip baseline. Sure, it's one of those suggestions you make knowing that it will never happen. At this point I will make another suggestion for arms as a DPS tree. Frankly, when looking at how classes are designed, there's really only two classes that are like warriors in that they have two potential roles. We know DK's are designed in an entirely new strategy where all three of their trees are expected to have viability in both roles, and while it would be nice to get that, it would also be nice for me to get a billion dollars and a solid gold pony, but I'm not holding my breath on that one either. So instead, let's look at our fellow two roles/three trees class, the priests.

I'm not going to tell you that priests don't have their problems, I'm merely saying that with the discipline tree Blizzard has come up with a way to approach healing that's different from holy and which works reasonably well. (Again, I'm sure it could be better, please don't set me on fire Priest players, it's a general comparison, I've seen the grainy surveillance photos of your all-night rallies) and perhaps it's time to move Arms into a more general-purpose role similar to Disc. We've seen statements that say that the current five man content in the game is designed to be tanked by an arms warrior in blues. If that's the case, then why not move arms away from being DPS (especially since we've yet to see any changes that would make it competitive) and into a role that would make it tank/PvP viable in a way different from Protection?

Disc is a viable tank healing tree because it prevents and absorbs damage rather than just healing it after it happens. Why not have arms be a viable Tanking and PvP tree through its current strengths, bleeds and armor reduction to enemies? Increase their synergy in some fashion... allows arms to have more debilitation effects that will weaken bosses and players without killing them outright that focus on the tree's mastery of weapons and precise ability to cause lingering wounds (hamstring, rend, blood frenzy etc etc) that it can capitalize on. The whole tree is currently built around bypassing armor and disabling people anyway, let's expand that more. Maybe the tree could even continue to have a DPS role as the warrior debuff and control tree as well. Damage wouldn't have to be as high because it would all be about removing the capacity for others to do as much damage and increasing their vulnerability, an extrension of Blood Frenzy as it stands.

I'd love to be able to stop speculating and give you real, concrete ideas of where Arms is going. But unfortunately, until a patch finally drops with some specifics this is more or less it for the tree, waiting for the next patch to drop.

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