Having spent the last few weeks more or less avoiding talking about Cataclysm, I'm now going to dive back into the discussion of our "soon" to come expansion. While the most recent beta push didn't do much at all to our talents from previous beta builds, we did see some significant changes as the new glyph system was implemented. We also got actual plate models for a lot of green and blue quest drops so that my warrior now looks like he's wearing a classic Roman-style gladiator helmet and chest in the screenshot above. At this point, there's a lot to talk about in terms of how things are shaking out.
A Mastery of Mastery
So far, I'd have to say at least for the leveling game, with the level cap extended to 85 that fury is hands down the best mastery of the three. Why? I'll show you why.
Yes, that's Enraged Regeneration on the beta with some mastery gear. Not even a lot of mastery gear, either. On live, the ability increases your regeneration by a flat 30%, but with the effects of mastery increasing every ability that depends on enrages to work, as you can see, ER becomes absolutely amazing. And it's not just healing: your enrage effects (Enrage itself, Death Wish) increase your damage by more, and even more amazing is what it does to Bloodrage.
In the same mastery gear (959 mastery rating from gear, 17% mastery) Bloodrage adds an incredible 54 rage on use and 27 rage over ten seconds. The power and utility of fury's mastery is quite simply far broader in scope than either the arms or protection masteries. Strikes of Opportunity is a chance to proc another swing, and yes, that chance can get pretty high, but it's still just another swing with an internal cooldown. Critical Block is, well, critical block. They're not bad, but compared to an ability that boosts just about every enrage effect a fury warrior can have (and combined with the spec's new focus on enrages) and you're looking at a mastery that simultaneously greatly increases fury's offensive power and survivability. It's actually easier for me to solo harder quests as fury than it is as prot right now on the beta.
With Great Alacrity
The interesting thing about the current rage generation system on the beta is that there's really only two ways to currently improve your rage generation. One is listed above. A fury warrior with a lot of mastery can effectively have a full rage bar every minute by stacking mastery and keeping Bloodrage on cooldown.
The other way, however, is to stack haste. Stack lots and lots of haste. Since critical hits no longer generate extra rage, the only way to increase your rage generation on the beta at this time (if you're not a fury warrior) is to swing faster. Since each swing generates a fixed amount of rage, only getting more swings will mean more rage generation. It's not really feasible (at least I haven't found it so) to go hog wild on haste and see what happens, although I suspect at the entry level of 81-85 gearing that trying to stack haste would be a crippling loss of DPS. Still, if you see haste rating on gear, you definitely shouldn't do what you might be tempted to do on live and disenchant or vendor it.
Right now in my tests, the high amount of mastery on 2h weapons makes Titan's Grip a more tempting talent choice than Single-Minded Fury, but one advantage SMF has is that the weapon speeds are usually 2.6 or lower anyway (you could even get rogue axes/swords for even faster swings). A SMF build that stacks haste isn't out of the realm of possibility, going for as much rage generation as it can get, but it will be a while before we have any geared 85's who can really take these competing specs out for a run. Right now, my prediction for fury is that TG will lead for a while purely due to the effects of mastery, but haste will become more and more attractive as we progress through raid tiers.
For arms (especially with its mastery proccing an extra swing) haste might actually end up being even stronger. With a less potent mastery, there may be less demand for the stat and thus more reason to stack haste earlier, especially with the universal use of generally big, slow 2h weapons for the arms playstyle.
I expect to see little if any interest in haste for protection, however. Between the effects of vengeance and their having more rage available from damage taken as well as attacking (even though that's been normalized as well) it seems to me that protection warriors will still look to the dodge/parry and hit/expertise duos for their primary stats.
Let's talk about glyphs
The debut of the new glyph system brought with it some interesting changes in the idea of how and why glyphs should effect your talents and abilities. We already linked to the post, but let's look over the important bits here.
What's really fascinating about this is that it really shifts glyphs away from the paradigm established by things like the Glyph of Whirlwind in the current iteration of the game. You can see above that the Glyph of Raging Blow reduces the cooldown on that ability, but Raging Blow is not a predictable, -- use it every eight seconds -- ability the way Whirlwind was. Since Raging Blow is only active during an enrage state, the glyph basically makes it easier to get more RB's off during that time, but it can't be said to be part of a rotation since RB is much more or a "it's lit up hit it now" ability.
What's even more important, however, than the design paradigm shift is the idea of being able to switch glyphs in between fights without having to carry a stack of them. Everyone currently tanking knows, for just one example, that certain glyphs work much better on trash pulls and others are superior for bosses. Now, you can learn all the glyphs beforehand and switch their configuration on the fly without a trip to the auction house or logging to your scribe and mailing yourself a few stacks. Once they're learned, you can switch them at will out of combat.
This combination of new glyph design goals and flexibility is of course a benefit to all classes, but any class that can perform two or more roles will find it extremely useful. Making prime glyphs unabashed, straightforward increases makes a lot of sense in that context. In essence, the depth of glyph choice is really going to be in the majors bracket. I'm looking forward to playing with it more.
Next week, either Warriors in Lore 2 or a look at how the arms and prot masteries could improve.
Check out more strategies, tips and leveling guides for warriors in Matthew Rossi's weekly class column, The Care and Feeding of Warriors.