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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Patch 4.2 lurches towards us

Matthew Rossi

Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Care and Feeding of Warriors, the column dedicated to arms, fury and protection warriors. Despite repeated blows to the head from dragons, demons, Old Gods and whatever that thing over there was, Matthew Rossi will be your host.

All right. With patch 4.2 dropping next week, it's time to discuss it in detail -- at least, what it means for warriors. What changes will it have in store for tanks (almost none) and DPS (less of it) warriors? What will happen to us in PVP (arms and fury warriors will lose burst, prot won't)? Why is our PVP set so ridiculously ugly that it makes me cringe?

We'll start by looking at what Lead Systems Designer Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street said about class balance. And specifically about warriors, because that's the column, you see. I could give a rat's hindquarters about the other, lesser classes. Except shamans. If you can't be a warrior, being a shaman is a good backup plan. Why not be both? Go ahead and roll six warriors and a shaman, I'll wait.

A Tank's Life

First off, let's look at the patch 4.2 changes overall.

Patch 4.2 notes
  • Overpower now has a 1.5-second cooldown and global cooldown (Taste for Blood's Overpower cooldown has not changed).
  • Recklessness and Deadly Calm can no longer be used at the same time. One cannot be used while the other is active, but using one does not put the other on its full cooldown.
  • Retaliation, Recklessness and Shield Wall no longer have stance requirements.

Talent Specializations

  • Two-Handed Weapon Specialization weapon damage increase has been lowered to 12%, down from 20%.
  • Dual Wield Specialization weapon damage increase has been lowered to 5%, down from 10%.
Warrior Bug Fixes
  • It is no longer possible in some encounters to use Charge when closer than its minimum range.

The initial thing to notice for protection: The only real changes are the bug fix that keeps us from abusing Charge to get infinite rage on specific fights (you know which ones) and the change to Recklessness, Retaliation and Shield Wall that will allow tanks to use Ret for AOE threat without switching stances (consider me to be callouing and callaying right now). Heck, if you're of a mind to, you could even use Reck for more burst threat if you don't mind taking extra damage. Which you should. I mean, really now. That's basically all we see from a tanking perspective. Does that mean warrior tanks are fine?

Warriors are still in the same "jack of all trades, master of none" tanking semi-niche we've been in for a while now. We lack the really astonishing self-healing capacity of a DK and the crazy block capping of a paladin, though we're probably better off than druids. Warriors can tank pretty much anything, and are neither in the lead nor too far behind compared to other tanks. That being said, if I were getting my wish list, there are some changes I wish 4.2 was bringing. Having to use Rend to get B&T up seems too much like a Death Knight, and I'd rather see Devastate simply apply the bleed effect, perhaps via a glyph.

However, a non-class specific change that will be affecting warrior tanks in patch 4.2 is the change to agility to dodge for plate tanking classes (namely, agility will no longer add any dodge for warriors, DKs and paladins) and strength will now be adding 27% to parry, up from 25%. With parry having a fairly high DR compared to dodge, this will most likely lead to even more parry reforging to dodge than we're already seeing. You'll also probably see a lot less people tanking with reforged agility weapons. Plate tanks will need to pick up the new leg armor kit, as well. In general, warrior tanks are going to have to make small but noticeable adjustments in the wake of this change, but it certainly won't be a major deal. No one's going to start hating dodge. In a few weeks, as gear with higher stat values becomes more common, we'll see how the priorities shake out. Still, I expect dodge to continue to be a popular stat to reforge on parry items. Mastery should remain fairly popular for warrior tanks.

Now that we've covered tanking in 4.2 (meet the new tank, same as the old tank) what do we have to look forward to for warrior DPS? Less of it. Whee.

DPS in 4.2

One of the aspects of the recent class balance post that really irritated me was the presentation of warriors as some kind of out-of-control DPS juggernauts. (Neither are frost DK's, for that matter.) Arms was finally at parity with other melee (certainly it wasn't so good that it needed to lose 8% from Two-Hand Weapon Specialization) and following the significant kick in the crotch fury's amount of mastery per point received in 4.1, it was once again comparable to other plate DPS. Could a talented SMF warrior top the charts? Yes, especially on a warrior-friendly fight like Chimaeron. Trash DPS is too high, yes, because of the change to Whirlwind that allows warriors to hit everything in melee range every four seconds with both weapons. The change should have been reverted, because 65% damage from each weapon every four seconds is simply put too much. Warriors don't need that much AOE damage.

Even if these changes go live (as they absolutely will at this point) and WW is left as is, I don't expect warrior DPS to suffer all that much. It will certainly drop in the first month or two, as it always has following a content patch DPS nerf. (Ulduar, anyone?) And as has always been the case, as better gear becomes more and more available and reforging allows warriors to aim for stat caps and stack the stats they want for DPS, we'll see it climb back up again. As we covered in the Rage posts, DPS warriors (especially fury) still benefit from gear increase in a way other classes don't (hit = more white hits = more rage) and we'll see warrior DPS climb as rage gain increases. It will be gear and encounter design, and not these nerfs, that show us where DPS is going to go in patch 4.2. And I expect to see it go up, especially fury. If dual wielding warriors came come close to hit capping, expect to see fury as the number one DPS among the melee.

Next week, Firelands will be here, and we'll cover gearing options. I may be a tauren.

At the center of the dury of battle stand the warriors: protection, arms and fury. Check out more strategies and tips especially for warriors, including Cataclysm 101 for DPS warriors, a guide to new reputation gear for warriors, and a look back at six years of warrior trends.

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