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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Patch 3.2 wish list

Matthew Rossi

What to say about patch 3.2 so far? One of the dangers of writing about the PTR in general is the possibility that, as you are typing out what you want to say, a brand new PTR patch is dropping. To some degree this would be a welcome circumstance even though it would erase what I'm writing about now, because the current PTR has nothing for warriors.

Well, okay, not nothing. They buffed Armored to the Teeth slightly. On the PTR it grants 1/2/3 AP per 108 armor, as opposed to on live, where it takes 180 armor for that same benefit. Why 108? Maybe because it was easy to swap the 8 and the 0. Honestly, I couldn't tell you. The amount of AP you get from the talent isn't tremendous, but anything's better than nothing I suppose.

Also, the block value changes are in (I tested them out yesterday), and, well, they fail even as a band aid fix to the problem of block performance: sure, you deal more threat to trash pulls and take less damage from them, but as far as bosses are concerned, block is still lackluster as a 'oh I don't want to die' stat. You can now block up to between 3 and 4k of a 22 to 25k hit, I'm not exactly breaking out the party hats. Especially when you'd have to stack the heck out of the stat to get even that much out of it.

And man, as nice as the T9 tanking set is in terms of pure stats and bonuses, you will not want to give up that T8 4 piece set bonus with the straight up 20% magic damage reduction for it. 10 seconds of 20% magic damage reduction? You simply can't undersell how awesome that is for tanking big spike damage bosses in Wrath raids. It's pretty much the only thing that keeps warrior tanks viable against DK's and druid tanks for those fights.

The T9 DPS set, on the other hand, is a pretty solid upgrade all around. Completely unbuffed (no battle shout, no food or pots, nothing) even without the set bonuses and not even fully gemmed yet I saw a solid 200 DPS increase from my live T8 set (which does have all its gems) against the heroic training dummy in IF. Once I get all the proper gems (possibly some epic ones yay) I expect to see even higher stats from the set and up to a 400 DPS increase on the training dummy, and hopefully that will translate well to raid damage. (I'll also point out that in that screenshot I have no crit trinkets at all, no Wrathstone or even Mirror of Truth, but rather Grim Toll and the new hit trinket from emblems of triumph. No, this is not an optimized gear set up at all, this is me screwing around on the PTR, so with gems in place and a more even trinket selection we could see better results.)

But since I'm here anyway, we might as well discuss what I would like to see for warriors in patch 3.2. I'm not foolish enough to expect there to be a major overhaul of rage for 3.2, although I do expect to see one eventually. I actually hope they don't go with rage only from damage dealt, making it a poor man's runic power, as warriors already suffer enough from comparison to DK's as it is. Some of these suggestions, if implemented, would need a compensating change to other classes for parity's sake, but since I'm not writing about those classes I won't be providing any suggestions for what those would be.

My first big idea for warriors is simple, and it's an extension of what they did for warriors in Patch 3.0/WotLK's launch, namely to make strength even more significant. (I should admit now I've seen this idea posted to countless forums by now, in various different forms.) Unlike Paladins or DK's, our plate brethren, warriors don't call upon an outside force for power, be it the Holy Light or the runes of death. No, warriors are brute physical power, without shape shifting, guile, the elements or any other outside agency. Therefore, warriors should be more focused on strength in their gearing: the idea of picking up a piece with AP and agility shouldn't be one that requires any thought at all for a warrior. Changes to Improved Berserker Stance were a step in the right direction, but I'm not just talking about DPS warriors here - tanking warriors should want strength and a lot of it, maybe even to the point where when given a choice between strength and stamina, the effective health choice would be strength.

How would we go about this? Well, there are many ways to consider. The first is simple enough: whatever tanking stats strength contributes to, it needs to contribute more. Also, warriors need to get parry from strength as well as parry rating on gear. Strength also needs to grant chance to block as well as block value. Furthermore, there either needs to be a component to defensive stance or a talent in protection (since prot is already fairly bloated, I suggest appending this change to an already existing talent) that allows a portion of a warrior's strength to be converted to health, allowing warriors to gear for more strength without drastically hurting their health pools. Warriors are the tanks who tank with pure, raw physical force, no magical forms, no unholy power, no radiant blessing of the light, so strength needs to be the basis for how they tank even more fundamentally than it is now. Warrior tanking DPS needs to go up so that they can generate more rage from the damage they do and not have to worry as much about incoming damage both to give them more of a role outside of MTing and to allow them to be brought into line with other tanks, especially if rage is changed from its current paradigm, and strength seems to be the way to go here.

Furthermore, in addition to strength providing these benefits to tanks, it should become an even more central DPS stat than it is now. The reason Armored to the Teeth grants attack power instead of strength was that it was a concern that all prot warriors would feel the need to take it to boost their block value. Frankly, with block a mediocre stat at best, that is no longer a concern. It's time for AttT to fall in line with Strength of Arms and Improved Berserker Stance and become a talent that gives you strength for armor value: 1/2/3 Str for every 216 armor value would bring it into line with its current AP incarnation. It would scale better with SoA and Imp Zerk as well as contributing even more of that valuable strength for tanking options (if the previous changes were made).

I would also consider borrowing a page from the agility/AP classes and modifying it. Whereas they use Agility as a source of both AP and crit (some classes gain AP from both agi and str, like rogues, but in practice rogues use AP/Agility items instead as they are itemized to grant the most AP for agility classes and can be made to benefit hunters, shamans and rogues) warriors should use strength as a source of crit. You could either simply move the amount of crit warriors get from agility to strength (completely neutering agility as a DPS stat for warriors and absolutely removing the appeal of any agiAP gear) or use a formula similar to that used by rogues for AP, with warriors getting about half as much crit per point of agility as they do now and shift that other half over to each point of strength. The danger here is, of course, as warriors stacked strength you'd have to be careful to balance how much crit they got from it so that they didn'tend up with ridiculously high numbers too soon, and it would also have to balance for prot as well as arms and fury since prot would be stacking str as well.

Another possibility would be removing the ArP from battle stance and simply having strength add ArP for warriors, possibly through a talent, possibly as a baseline stat conversion for all warriors. While this would necessitate finding a new benefit for battle stance it would have the advantage of not overloading strength with both AP and crit in one stat the way agility is for Agi/AP classes

As for tanking, at some point we need to look again at the spam factor of warrior tanking. Stacking five sunders (via Devastate if you're prot) then constantly queuing HS and hitting Revenge/Shield Slam every time they're up generates good threat, yes, but it sounds like a woodpecker on steroids is attacking my keyboard every time I'm tanking. Changing the way sunder works to apply all of the threat of a five stack with one button push and then applying a cooldown so that the ability generates just as much threat and isn't spammed would be a start, as would taking the added threat off of Heroic Strike, leaving it a pure DPS ability, and creating a tanking strike (Vexing Blow?) that was on a short cooldown and which generated the same threat as spamming heroic strike. Just an idea, but I'd love to get even further away from the roots of the warrior class as the spamming tanks.

The ultimate goal for all of this (and again, I hasten to point out that some or all of this would require rebalancing of the class and compensatory changes for other classes that I am not qualified to suggest, as I don't play those classes) is to embrace the fundamental nature of the warrior class as one that derives its power wholly from internal sources and pure brute force. This is not a graceful, agile class. It's not a tricky one. It's not one that taps into the power of nature, or the elements, or the Light, or even necromantic runes. This is a class that is all about wearing the heaviest armor, wielding the heaviest weapons, and smashing them into things. By making strength an even more intergrated and important stat for warriors than it currently is you can balance for higher DPS tanks (crutch abilities like Vigilance that compensate for warrior tank DPS being so low could be redesigned to be more of a buff and less of a 'Help me, random DPS, you're my only hope' ability) and for more rage from DPS, and thus less rage from damage taken. It would also allow for DPS warriors to focus more on being armored dreadnaughts instead of wearing that rogue's pants and that shaman's goggles.

Check out more strategies, tips and leveling guides for Warriors in Matthew Rossi's weekly class column: The Care and Feeding of Warriors.

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