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Ghostcrawler in depth on warriors in Cataclysm

Matthew Rossi

Well, it's no talent tree preview, but Ghostcrawler (lead systems designer) has given us quite a bit of grist for the mill in a recent forum thread. Here's one example of a question I've wondered for a while, about the fate of Mortal Strike, getting an answer.

Ghostcrawler on MS debuff
The problem of course is that if only you get the debuff or if only you get the best debuff then warriors are mandatory for anything PvP which might be fine for you but doesn't really feel fair to everyone else. Sometimes I wish we'd just remove the debuff because it's almost impossible to balance around both having and not having it. We can make sure Mortal Strike hits hard but we're unlikely to do anything that improves the debuff.

Honestly, I wouldn't mind their removing the MS debuff either. It doesn't really seem like it fits with the Cataclysm ideal for PvP, which is more health and less burst. Tune up the damage on MS so that the ability hits like a truck, and in general balance arms warriors to put out the same kind of DPS as other classes in PvP, rather than having to give them a debuff that makes everyone on their side's damage count for double. (Heck, you could even change the MS debuff so that it does something else, like lower movement speed or something else that would make sense for a "mortal wound.")

Let's pick over and discuss several of these answers in more detail. Most of the discussion is PvP-related; so, too, are the answers.

Ghostcrawler on next hit mechanics

Q u o t e:
1) On next swing attacks:
Who was it that determined that warriors were not fond of this mechanic ... personally I loved said mechanics as they added a fuid way to convert rage into damage without having to expend an ever so precious GCD that warriors just do not have the luxury of waisting (namely arms).

We weren't fond of the mechanic. It wasn't up to a vote. But we also know a lot of warriors didn't like it either. It takes the most visceral moments of combat -- hitting a button and seeing damage -- and turns it into an autoattack, probably the least exciting moment of combat.

Personally, my own feelings on next hit/next swing abilities depended on if I was tanking or not. I hate spamming HS to tank. I hate it like I hate playing a mage. I had to slap a macro into several of my other abilities that queued an HS for me so that I wouldn't go insane this expansion. While I do tend to agree with the idea that using abilities (pushing buttons) is fun, repeatedly hammering on a key because it lets me spam an ability faster does not match up with my idea of fun. I am not a woodpecker.

My hatred for it went down some as DPS, because I never spammed HS when DPSing unless I was just swimming in rage. I don't necessarily agree that the on-next-swing mechanic turns a button press into an auto-attack, though. I don't need to work my hands into numb surrender to get auto-attacks to work properly. If the new HS/Cleave mechanic makes these abilities less spammy, I'm all for it.

Ghostcrawler on WW and AoE in Cataclysm

Q u o t e:
2) AoE and splash damage:
Why is it that whirlwind is being treated like an AoE attack that should only be used on large pulls yet unlike all other AoE abilities in the game is bound to a cooldown ? Also how will the change to whirlwind impact the functionality of Bladestorm ?

You'll do fine on AoE, which will be more rare in Catalcysm regardless. The change to Whirlwind will not affect Bladestorm.

Q u o t e:
With cleave becoming an instant attack with rage mechanincs similar to execute and whirlwind no longer being in our single dps rotation we just lost an area of dps that we used to excel in... and that was doing well at dpsing smaller groups of pulls

That's not really a great niche though. Nobody says "we need more warriors to handle these smaller group pulls." You'll do fine on AoE fights.

First off, in the game currently there are other AoE abilities with cooldowns (Fire Nova comes to mind, just 'cause I also play a shaman; I'm sure there are others), and so it won't be the end of the world if WW becomes a true AoE with a cooldown. Secondly, these two questions really don't address the problem with the WW change at all. WW does a lot of damage on trash fights and fights with lots of adds, sure, but we all know that's junk damage. The issue is, currently WW does the job of second instant in a Bloodthirst-Bloodthirst-Whirlwind rotation, and when you hit WW on a single-target fight, it hits the target with both weapons. WW is, in essence, a really strong single-target attack that can then add its single-target damage to up to three additional targets. Balancing it out for AoE is necessary. What we need more details on is what's taking its place for our single-target rotation? Because without an ability that does a similar kind of work for us (doesn't have to do it the same way, just needs to fill that gaping, WW-shaped hole), our DPS is going to plummet. (Yes, yes, best-in-slot fury warriors do great DPS in ICC now, blah blah ... I'm talking about what will happen in Cataclysm. You can calm down now.)

By all means, tone down semi-AoE like WW and Cleave spam. But what will we be doing instead? That's where I'd like to see more focus.

Ghostcrawler on warrior scaling

Q u o t e:
*-By making sure warriors will no longer scale so much with gear as they have been since the conception of the game what is being done to make sure they stay competitive throughout the expansion from the begining to the end ???*

Scaling awesomely with gear as compensation for doing bad damage when undergeared is not good game design. Warrior damage with great gear is much too high right now, as it is at the end of every expansion. This isn't surprising to anyone really. The current rage model just doesn't work and we need something more consistent. Consistency is the way to make sure you stay competitive from beginning to end (rather than averaging out at competitive because you're too low at the beginning and too high at the end).

And this is the problem with the current "warrior DPS is too high" argument. Warriors suck and suck and suck and you ROFLstomp them on DPS and laugh at them and they suck and you get used to them sucking -- and then suddenly, they destroy you after getting carried for most of an expansion. I have always agreed that it is bad design. What needs to happen is simple enough: warrior DPS in end-game gear needs to come down from its current theoretical maximum which, thanks to current rage, exceeds that of each and every class in the game, pure or hybrid. As the only class that uses rage as a DPS mechanic, warriors throttle their DPS by that mechanic. As a result, once that mechanic is no longer a throttle, warrior DPS is held back only by global cooldowns, especially since there are two on-next-swing abilities that ignore GCD.

The penalty warriors have historically paid for this ability to be the theoretical maximum DPS class in full end-game gear is that they're usually near the bottom for every other situation. We've seen it in Naxx, in Ulduar, in ToC and now in ICC. Warriors perform worse than everyone until the absolute best gear, then suddenly rip ahead. What we need is a system where a warrior performs roughly as well as a paladin, a DK, a shaman, a druid or shadow priest in equivalent gear, not get pushed down into ridiculously low performance for the gearing-up process and then rocket ahead once gear is achieved, only to be nerfed as new content comes out.

If warrior DPS suffers in the absolute best gear but is competitive on the way to get to that gear, compared to how it's worked in both BC and Wrath, I can live with that. If we just end up underperforming from start to finish, that's no good. And frankly, if we just end up as overpowered gods from start to finish, that's also no good (even if ret pallies really didn't seem to mind it in Wrath). The fall from the top is terrible if you went too high.

This, to me, is a very important and long-needed change to the warrior design philosophy that we as players need not only to adapt to, but also to pay close attention to. Through the beta, through the opening months of Cataclysm, we need to be watchful and if our DPS is too high or too low, make sure to give feedback constructively. It's actively dangerous to class balance to try and hide over-the-top DPS or obfuscate it; it leads to real issues of underperformance being ignored.

There's a lot more to read in the thread and who knows, more might be posted, so it's worth taking a look now.

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