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Patch 4.1 PTR: Warrior buffs and nerfs

Matthew Rossi

Another set of patch notes for the 4.1 PTR is among us, and as always, some of the changes are unforeseen. While I am not surprised at the removal of Shield Slam and the change to Pummel (the two abilites were doing the same job and one was better), some of these other changes, clearly aimed at PvP protection warriors, did surprise me. Just when I thought I was getting my bearings, another set of patch notes came along today and completely altered things again.

Let's take a look at exactly what they did and then discuss what it means.

Patch 4.1 PTR patch notes - Warrior section
  • Heroic Throw is now available from trainers at level 20.
  • Pummel is now usable in all stances.
  • Shield Bash has been removed from the game.
  • Spell Reflection cooldown has been increased to 25 seconds, up from 10.
  • Talent Specializations
    • Arms
      • Juggernaut no longer adds 2 seconds to the Charge stun, but instead lowers the cooldown of Charge by 2 seconds (to 13 seconds total without the glyph).
      • Lambs to the Slaughter now causes Mortal Strike to refresh Rend in addition to its current effects.
      • Strikes of Opportunity damage has been increased by 10% to keep stat parity with other strike changes.
    • Fury
      • Flurry haste bonus has been doubled to 16/32/50%.
      • Unshackled Fury now only grants 2 base points of mastery, down from 8. This change offsets the Flurry boost to better control Fury burst damage.
    • Protection
      • Shield Mastery no longer affects the cooldown of Spell Reflection, however, it now allows Shield Block to reduce magic damage as well.
      • Gag Order now only affects Heroic Throw.
  • Glyphs
    • Glyph of Spell Reflection reduces the cooldown of Spell Reflection by 5 seconds, up from 1 second.

Keep in mind that changed like Charge and Intercept once again no longer having diminishing returns on their stun effects are still in place; these are just additions to the patch notes since the last go around. (If you go to the complete 4.1 patch notes, you can see the entire warrior section is by now quite extensive.) What we can see right away is that much of the changes to protection (Spell Refection duration, the loss of Gag Order's silence on Shield Bash without adding it to Pummel, Sheild Mastery no longer affecting SR) were made to nerf protection in PvP. In one case (the Shield Mastery change), it's actually a buff to PvE tanking, as SR doesn't work on quite a few boss mechanics that the new reduction to magic damage should work on, buffing Shield Block for boss tanking. The Glyph of Spell Reflection is now significantly more powerful, proportionately speaking, than it was.

It's not surprising to see Pummel and Shield Bash streamlined this way. Pummel had a shorter cooldown and could be used in two out of three stances already; might as well complete the ability rather than having two nearly identical spells in the arsenal. The lack of extending Pummel to Gag Order does surprise me, however, even with PvP concerns in mind. It's a big loss for PvE tanking warriors.

Meanwhile, the Juggernaut change, combined with the removal of stun DR to Charge, is somewhat of a buff (trading 2 seconds of stun for 2 seconds sooner to Charge again), and the Lambs to the Slaughter change is a straight-up buff, making it so that arms warriors will almost never have to hit Rend again between Mortal Strike and Thunder Clap (since Blood and Thunder means that TC also refreshes Rend.) The change to Strikes of Opportunity should also increase arms' damage output and keeps mastery a good stat for them.

Fury also gets a pretty significant buff in Flurry's new increased haste, tuning up damage output and rage generation at once. This is most likely intended to compensate for the lost damage from Colossus Smash now only lowering armor by 70%, another PvP-inspired nerf. However, this buff is pretty well offset by a savage nerf to Unshackled Fury, a mauling 6% reduction in the base mastery granted by the specialization. This reduction means that while every point of mastery on gear will have the same baseline effect it does now, a warrior who currently has 18% mastery will be taken down to 12%, a rather huge loss. With these two changes, I find myself wondering if crit has become the absolute killer stat for fury warriors now. It seems vastly unwarranted - a reduction of 2 or 3 points would have sufficied, six is just brutal.

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