The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Keep yourself alive

Matthew Rossi
M. Rossi|02.25.12

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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Keep yourself alive
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.

One of the most important lessons I was forcibly reminded when killing heroic Yor'sahj this week was that dying makes you useless. Even if you can be given a battle res, that's not only lost damage time for you, it's lost damage or healing time for the person bringing you back from the dead. It means that battle res won't be available for a tank as the fight progresses, it's just a big mess. This was further reinforced by our Ultraxion kill. Killing Ultraxion on heroic means not only does everyone need to hit a minimum DPS threshold of about 33k sustained throughout the fight, they need to do this while performing nearly flawlessly on Hour of Twilight and Fading Light.

Having tanked the past couple of weeks, it was a lesson I needed to relearn. DPS players can't rely on being the target of a dedicated healer -- there's usually two or three healers at most in 25 man raids (and less, perhaps just one in 10's) focusing their attention on the raid as a whole. Even if they break the healing up into assignments and don't deviate, there's still several people at any given time needing the healers attention. While they certainly usually do their best, if we don't help them out we're only hindering ourselves. The days of 'meh, they'll heal me through it' are long gone.

Always be ready to move

One of the things DPS warriors really need to do to maximize their DPS while staying alive is to learn how to use their mobility. Whether you're arms or fury, you have both Heroic Leap and either Intercept or Charge. You also have Intervene. It's worth your time to consider a macro to pop you into defensive stance and hit Intervene on a ranged you can rely on to be out of melee range for specific encounters like Hagara or Yor'sahj. I often use Intervene on someone running towards one of the oozes who's ahead of me, then Heroic Leap myself on top of the thing for extra damage, and then use Charge to get back into melee range on Yor'sahj himself. Mobility isn't just good for getting you out of trouble, it's good for letting you get as much time as possible on adds that require you to move to get to them. Whether it's the crystals on Hagara, the adds on Warmaster Blackhorn, the tentacles and Hideous Amalgamations on Spine or, well, all the running around on Madness of Deathwing there's so many situations where you have to change targets and we have the tools to do that.

There's no reason a warrior should lose overmuch DPS on a high mobility fight if he or she is using all the tools in our kit for movement. Sure, you're going to lose some, since any target switch is going to force us to start our priority of attacks over again, will likely cost you some rage generation, and is in general annoying and fiddly. Even if you minimize how much time you're in transit, yes, you're losing out on DPS. It can't be helped. But if you spend that travel time just running instead of using a faster ability you're only hurting yourself. Especially if you need to get out of a place fast, like say to evade the Thermonuclear Blast ability of the Hideous Amalgamations or to get ahead of an ice wall on Hagara. For a class without a sprint, we're ridiculously mobile and need to take advantage of it.

I'll be honest: one of the reasons I got on this subject was that I found myself tanking for PUGs and Raid Finder groups where DPS just kept dying. Not even by pulling threat, which I could at least blame myself for and potentially even fix. But watching people stand in the Distortion Bomb on Murozond and dying over and over again, forcing the hourglass to be used early, just kind of amazed me. I started watching my groups carefully, especially when there were other warriors in them, even when I switched back to DPS. I lost count of how many warriors I saw die to damage that they could have saved themselves from by either moving properly (seriously, the ice waves on Hagara are not hard to move in front of) or simply using Enraged Regeneration.

Kill things, don't die

I really, really, really don't understand why more warriors don't use Enraged Regeneration. Watching people die rather than pop this cooldown just astonishes me. I can understand not blowing Rallying Cry if you're expecting someone to call for it. I don't use Rallying Cry as much as I could in PUGs and the Raid Finder because I'm conditioned to wait for my raid leader to call for it. But I do use it when I run heroics or RF because why not use a three minute cooldown? I can understand, as a weird example, not using it on Heroic Anub'arak in Trial of the Crusader because you don't want to just give everyone more health to be healed (and thus heal the boss) but in most current raiding there's absolutely no reason not to use it. Use it when Elementium Bolts are going to explode and it'll be up again for when it's time to repeatedly punch Deathwing in his enormous chin. And what many people seem to ignore is that Enraged Regeneration heals for more the more health you have, so combining Rallying Cry and Enraged Regeneration means that ER will tick for more, healing you for more.
I realize this sounds somewhat basic, and you could argue that people already know all this, but watching people die over and over again when they could have lived for the past three weeks really convinces me that some of this information is worth reiterating. Warriors have tools to get out of the way of damage, to heal themselves and to buff their entire party or raid in terms of temporary health. This doesn't even mention the talent Field Dressing (which frankly, every DPS warrior should have) or Blood Craze (which is fairly easy to fit into a fury spec).

Find your position

Finally, there's positioning to talk about. If you position yourself poorly, you will not only hurt your DPS (because your chance to be dodged or parried goes up if you're in front of a boss) but you're much more likely to take very avoidable damage. I almost lost my mind one night while tanking Raid Finder Zon'ozz because several people insisted on standing in front of the boss and healing him and they would move to do so even if I turned him. This is the kind of thing that kills you and messes up the whole raid to boot, and it's easily avoidable. Be standing in the right place, usually behind whatever you're attacking. If there's a reason why you can't do that, be aware of it -- Ultraxion does not present his back but he can be safely attacked from in front, while Goriona often drops Twilight Flames so that you have to angle yourself, to give two examples.

Sometimes you can't avoid dying. The tank dies, the healers run out of mana, an enrage timer is hit. But if you die, you want it to be after you did all you could to avoid it. Dead people do no damage.

At the center of the fury of battle stand the warriors: protection, arms and fury. Check out more strategies and tips especially for warriors, from hot issues for today's warriors to Cataclysm 101 for DPS warriors and our guide to reputation gear for warriors.
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