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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Dual Spec Salvation

Matthew Rossi

Another week, another series of raids into Ulduar.

I'm not going to talk about it this week... I'm waiting for more T8 level gear (just got my pants last night) but in general, I'm moving from 'mild discontent' to 'frothing nerd rage' at the state of fury right now. The main reason isn't even my own DPS, which is going up... it's that other classes and specs that aren't 'pure DPS' are now bumped up to where my spec was before patch 3.1, when the reason for my spec's nerfs was stated as that level of DPS being 'too good' for a class that had options besides DPSing. If a class can tank, heal and DPS why is it okay for them to do the damage I used to do when I can only tank and DPS?

But that being said, I've discovered a unique joy in the past week, and that's the Dual Spec system. Ironically, I still respec about twice a week. In fact, I may even respec more now than I did before dual specs were available.

"Wait a second" you may have said when you read that. Then again, you may not have. I'm not at your house, and I don't have any insanely complicated surveillance equipment pointed at your head right now so that I can hear what you're saying. But anyway, you may well be thinking "If you're enjoying the dual spec system so much, why are you respeccing so often?'

If you aren't thinking that, then you'll just have to forgive me for going on as if you were.

I originally assumed that I would have prot as my offspec and fury as my main spec. I forgive myself for having been more optimistic about the state of fury DPS, both because I am myself and because I didn't really want to believe what I was seeing. But I ignored a few aspects of the raiding game that I shouldn't have missed when considering what my specs were going to be.

  1. My raiding guild has more tanks than it needs for most fights now as it is.
  2. While my tanking gear is rock solid, I was recruited to be a DPS player, and my attendance as DPS is actually important to my guild.
  3. My class as of patch 3.1 has a DPS spec that is superior on bosses and another DPS spec that is superior on trash.
  4. There's a lot of trash in Ulduar. Clearing the trash and minibosses before Freya can take you 20 minutes on a bad night.
So for non-raid nights, I spec prot and fury and run various 25 man content in PuG's as a tank (I've been main tanking a lot in Naxx 25, actually, in a guildmate's weekly PuG) and if we end up with a lot of tanks for a particular encounter, I'll often switch to fury (although yesterday I admit I ended up having to MT more often than I'm used to, as we were only running with two tanks who'd ever set foot in the instance before).

But on raid nights, three nights a week, I run a dual spec that's PvE Arms/ PvE Fury. The reason I do this is that, while I prefer fury on my human (I don't really know why, I just always have) there are some bosses where arms DPS just seems greatly superior: I can squeeze about 500 more DPS out of Arms on Ignis, for example. This might just be a personal performance quirk. While I would argue that Arms and Fury, at the current level of gear, have definitely flip-flopped in terms of boss DPS the difference isn't usually that bad for me, although at present I lack a Naxx - 25 quality BiS for either Arms or Fury. (I hate you so much, Betrayer.) I like to stick with fury where I can, especially since I'm seeing its DPS increase as I get more gear from Ulduar 10 and 25, but raiding is a team effort. As a DPS player, it's my job to bring as much DPS as I possibly can, and sometimes that means switching to arms.

Then, on our optional 10 man raids (which I actually attend on two characters, which means I'm going to two separate 10 mans a weekend now, and many of my guildmates do the same) I actually often spec protection/arms so as to switch between fights, something I don't do during our 25 mans. I do this to provide the Arms debuffs like Blood Frenzy as well as providing overall stronger DPS, and to be capable of switching to tank more easily when it's required (I hate Thorim trash on 10 man) - it helps give our raids more flexibility and allows us to spread out the more geared players to as many raids as possible. So in any given week, with dual specs, I'm respeccing at least twice and sometimes three times. (Granted, it's only been for two weeks now.)

I don't find it that onerous... I have a stockpile of the glyphs I like to use for each spec and it's not like 50g every few days is that hard to come by. What surprises me is that I'm not using dual spec at all the way I expected I would, to save money on the constant respeccing to tank a heroic or what have you, but rather to enhance the gameplay I was already interested in before they came out. To a degree, I find the ability to be somewhat insulative, like a small insurance policy against class changes and complications in available raid members.

I know I've read statements that argue Blizzard isn't intending to design dungeons that require dual spec to complete: I assume this means that I'm not expected to have to do any of this. Then again, I don't do it because I feel like I have to do it as much as I feel like it finally gives me the freedom other classes have had since inception. This is the first time my warrior has ever really felt like a hybrid (and then only in 10 mans) - in 25 man raiding I'm seeing dual spec used rarely to overcome a hard encounter by switching DPS to healing or tanking, I can only think of one time I've seen anyone go from DPS to healing, and that on Hodir when one of our healers had login issues and we wanted to do a test pull. On two or three fights we have tanks go DPS, XT - 002 comes to mind. But what it has accomplished is to allow me to continue to raid as DPS and to have the flexibility to decide exactly what spec is best for each pull, and that's been plenty for me this past week.

Next week, either I begin discussing Ulduar gear (especially the case of the missing crit on Siegebreaker's DPS version and why I'm hot for the T8 tanking pieces) or I finally have my nerd rage rant explosion about fury.

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