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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Three nights in Ulduar make a strong man humble

Matthew Rossi

What can I say, I enjoy musical theatre as long as I don't actually have to go to it. (Did you know that was Murray Head, Anthony Stewart Head's older brother? I didn't.)

So for the past few days I've spent my in game time divided between 10 and 25 man Ulduar. I've almost moved into the place, really: save for the first day the patch dropped, I pretty much only log on to pick up consumables and flasks and head back to Storm Peaks. In part this is due to my personal life, as I actually have slightly less time to play now than I did before so almost all of that in game time has to be concentrated, and partly it's just been for the fun of seeing new boss fights. My guild is a 'learn as you go' kind of guild, so we're not worrying about PTR runs or prepared boss strats, we're going in and seeing what works for us, which so far has killed the four bosses in the Colossal Forge section. Razorscale died with three people up, but hey, a kill's a kill.

So far in Ulduar from a warrior perspective, I can say certain things.

  • Fury DPS has taken a hit and Arms DPS has gotten a lift. Our main Arms warrior is now capable of putting out about 5300 DPS on an XT -002 kill, while both of our fury warriors float around 4700 or so. Arms is weak on the adds even with Sweeping Strikes and Bladestorm compared to fury, however.
  • Fury DPS is going to ramp up as gear improves: my AP is actually higher now than it was before patch 3.1, with the changes to Improved Berserker Stance. As I stack more strength I expect to see my DPS heading upwards again pretty quickly, even with the Titan's Grip nerf. (Honestly, I'm kind of surprised at how high warriors can get in fights like Ignis and Razorscale, where you have to move around a fair amount, as mobility fights have never been warrior DPS friendly).
  • Armor Pen is as good as I expected it would be, especially for arms. I don't know yet how it's going to shake out for fury - I'm going to gear and gem for strength and see how it shakes out while our other fury warrior is playing with armor pen. We've seen it work very well for our arms warrior, but he's also using battle stance and a mace so he's got a lot more to start with.
  • We have no regularly raiding warrior tanks, so until I see about tanking an Ulduar - 10 this week, I can't really say much about how they're doing. I am fully dual specced to tank, however, and love being viable to tank instances if I so choose. We had a warror tank sub in for Ignis and he said the adds were fairly easily controllable

Those who read this site know that I'm generally reluctant to be a doomsayer or to complain without an explanation of why I'm complaining. (Half of you can now feel free to say all I do is complain while the other half can inform me that I don't complain enough, I guess.) This doesn't mean I won't object when I think something is wrong or off, and I do think the fury changes are unwarranted at least as far as the Titan's Grip penalty is concerned. But I'm very happy with Improved Berserker Stance, frankly: the 20% of Strength rather than 10% of Attack Power means that I'm seeing about 200 more AP unbuffed, and buffs like Gift of the Wild and Blessing of Kings are providing even more benefit. (I've also taken to eating Dragonfin as my food of choice.)

I've specced my tauren warrior back to arms for the next few days, as my horde raids are tonight and tomorrow. I'm interested in seeing where he ends up on the DPS (he's not gemmed for Armor Penetration yet and I went with Poleaxe Specialization over Maces, which may turn out to be a mistake but my axe choice didn't overload me on expertise the way my mace choice would) and frankly, I expect him to perform better as arms than fury, based on his gear options. Since I prefer arms to fury for my tauren anyway, I'm happy enough about arms being viable for raid DPS,

As far as the fights themselves are concerned, so far there's no Patchwerk or Thaddius or Loatheb fights that are extremely warrior friendly, but of the three bosses that count (Flame Leviathan being a vehicle fight means that warrior mechanics have no bearing on how well or poorly you do) each has solid periods where you can stand and DPS, although each has elements that require motion and add control as well. I found Razorscale and XT - 002 more 'warrior friendly' than Ignis, but that could depend on how your raid handles the fights. We keep XT as stationary as possible and work the corners after the Heart can no longer be attacked, while we kite Ignis around the area he starts in, so it's easier to stand and put as much DPS as possible on XT and his heart than it is to unload on Ignis. Similarly, while there's a lot of motion during Razorscale's flying period to avoid the flame patches and to help burn down the adds, when Razorscale is down you have a period of uninterrupted DPS that's reasonably warrior friendly. I haven't felt like any of the fights so far are designed to entiirely mess up a warrior's damage, but I can't stress enough how much I hate it when the Light Bomb and Gravity Bomb mechanics interact so that as you try and run away from the melee, you actually blow up and pull them all into range of someone who has Light Bomb.

Seriously, if you get Gravity Bomb, please run out of range, don't just stand there. I know the rogues don't run when they get it: they have Cloak of Shadows and you don't. They also have Sprint, and you don't, and you shouldn't be using intervene to get away either. (The person you intervene to will not thank you.)

In general, my report card for warriors in Ulduar so far (after a whopping three days and four bosses, woo hoo, I don't kid myself that this is a particularly in-depth report) is a solid B. Arms is competitive DPS, and while fury is lagging behind I firmly believe that with more strength stacking on gear the benefits of the new Improved Berserker Stance will start to become apparent and fury DPS will increase. I found that the longer my DPS time was, the better I did: thankfully the decision to nerf Glyph of Heroic Strike was reversed. While I'm not a fan of the Titan's Grip Damage Tax as a penalty and would rather see the fury tree get a rebalancing instead, it's not a crippling injury to the spec, just a rude kick in the crotch. (It's possible I could be wrong: since other classes won't have this kind of damage penalty as they gear, it's concievable that fury will stay in the hole compared to other DPS classes.)

Next week we'll talk about tanking in Ulduar and gear options.

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