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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: The strange case of rage generation in 3.1

Matthew Rossi

Since 3.1, DPS warriors (including myself) have been complaining about a lack of rage. To the point where Ghostcrawler himself chimed in recently (in a discussion of the nerf to Titan's Grip and the effect it had on warrior DPS) to inform us that the claim that warrior rage generation was hurt by the changes was a myth created by warriors upset with the nerf.

Now we have the following post by Landsoul. I freely admit this is the kind of math that makes my eyes cross and roll up into my head. But Landsoul's well known as a contributor to the EJ forums and frankly, his math-fu's good enough for me. (I should also mention Hellord, the original poster who saw things were hinky.) What this means is, while it's very possible that yes, the developers took Titan's Grip's decreased damage into account when they were making the changes, there was somehow another change made that cost warriors some rage generation. 25% of it, to be precise.

Bornakk posts later in the thread that they'll take a look "as we didn't make any intended changes recently to rage generation". So the good news is, for warriors, if this change did happen (and again, I'd tend to trust the math from the people behind the best warrior spreadsheets) then it wasn't a deliberate loss of 25% of our rage generation.

I'm now forced (and most warriors and possibly even druids, as well) to consider how broad this change's effects might have been. Have tanks been affected? (Since so much of tank rage generation is in damage taken, not damage dealt, the answer is probably not.) While the recently announced changes for warriors in patch 3.1.3 should help with DPS, if the root cause for the drastically lower DPS numbers for fury warriors was a change that managed to slip past the developers, these changes could be just a band aid on a larger problem.

Now, to be fair, two of the changes are very positive and should be considered separately from the rage formula issues.

  • Blood Frenzy: This talent now provides 5/10% haste instead of 3/6%.
  • Bloodthirst: Cooldown reduced from 5 seconds to 4 seconds, and rage cost reduced from 30 rage to 20 rage.
  • Juggernaut: This talent now also increases the cooldown on Charge by 5 seconds.
The Juggernaut change is a pretty big one with repercussions both for PvP and PvE, although it's clearly aimed at PvP. I can't say that I'm surprised that it was nerfed again so soon after the last nerf, as the sudden explosion of PvPing arms warriors following the introduction of the talent and their return to cleave teams made clear. The ability to charge, intercept and then charge again to keep more than one target interrupted/stunned was simply the kind of power that made a warrior very, very dangerous against casters. I'd be lying if I didn't admit to having taken advantage of it myself when I went to PvP with my arms spec. And we all know that I am, at best, a button masher in PvP who barely knows what he's doing. So I I managed to work this out, imagine what talented PvPers were doing with it: the potential to shut down casting (especially healing) with a warrior when combining talents like Mortal Strike, Unrelenting Assault and Juggernaut must have seem pretty ridiculous.

Do I think two nerfs in less than a month was/is justified? Well, no. Of course I don't. It's very annoying. But frankly, if the talent doesn't get nerfed this way, it's going to get nerfed some other way and I don't want to see it get reduced to the point where it's totally useless.

The Blood Frenzy change, on the other hand, is pretty solid. I can't say an extra 2/4% haste is bad. It should go towards helping bring Arms DPS up to par with other hybrid DPS, although we'll still need to see the rage formula situation addressed and fixed if needed before it can provide the full benefit. I know I already take Blood Frenzy in my arms build just for the debuff, so it's not like more haste is going to upset me. "No no, please don't give me a passive 10% speed increase when I make things bleed, I can't bear it!" Not something you're going to hear arms warriors saying.

Now, the Bloodthirst change combines a merely good one (reducing the cooldown to 4 seconds, which makes it easier to fit in with glyphed Whirlwind, a nice and positive change) with a great one (reducing the rage cost of Bloodthirst from 30 to 20 points, which is simply a fantastic change all told). Again, we still need definite action to address the rage formula change, if indeed there is one, but by itself this change should help with fury warrior rotations. Making it easier to fit in 2 bloodthirsts to 1 whirlwind and making it so it's less harrowing (if there's anything I hate more than having BT come down off cooldown but not having the rage to use it I can't think of anything... well, okay, racism, I hate that more) to use the abilities properly, that's just wonderful. A 10 rage savings on every BT will mean more rage for HS, for Bloodsurge-slams, and less chance of running out of rage and causing your DPS cycle to be mistimed.

Now, to be honest, I'd like to see more for both specs. I'd also like to see the Glyph of Rapid Charge unnerfed since the most recent Juggernaut change, but I'm not crazy enough to expect that. I'm pretty happy with how fury works now in terms of the mechanics of it (issues like rage generation aside) and the change to Bloodthirst will only make me happier with how fury plays. I've seen suggestions that fury needs another cooldown to use (perhaps a talent like Unrelenting Assault that would allow fury to proc Victory Rush while in combat, but to be honest I don't think that another random proc is what fury needs when it already has Bloodsurge. That's not to say that I wouldn't like to see both Arms and Fury get more use out of Victory Rush, an ability that is really only useful on trash or when soloing, but I also can't say that the lack of it is really hurting anyone.

Hopefully if the formula for generating rage is off since 3.1 it can be fixed soon, perhaps when these changes go live, and warrior DPS will finally line up with other hybrid melee. I have to admit, I found reading Landsoul's post on the forum (and the EJ thread started by Hellord) to be extremely disconcerting and a little alarming, because they put into stark mathematical terms a change that a lot of warriors had noticed (including myself) but couldn't figure out. Again, including myself. I did lots of parses, checked damage meters obsessively, worried over every upgrade and every change to my gear and could not understand where I'd lost so much DPS, even as my DPS climbed back up it still took a great deal more effort to even approach other classes, and I had no idea why. The 10% damage nerf simply shouldn't have caused this big a drop, to the point where fury requires some of the best possible gear to come within 500 DPS of another melee hybrid and even arms just seems lackluster.

Of course we're all watching to see how it all shakes out, one way or another. It could be that the forumla was deliberately changed and there's a simple miscommuication (it has happened before, of course) or even that the forumla hasn't changed and that all these tests and reports are wrong or missing some vital factor. I don't believe that to be the case, and I certainly don't believe it to be a myth, but I can admit that I'm not always right.

Next week, I'm finally going to get to talk about tanking again.

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