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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Stat changes and you

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.

This week, we have statistics and how they will work in Mists of Pandaria to talk about, thanks to our metaphorical friend Dr. Greg Street. (I've never met the man; I can't in good conscience call him my friend, although I have appreciated his work over the years.) These are some big changes to how stats work for every class. I don't write about every class, of course. If you don't wear plate, tank with a shield, and have Bladestorm or Titan's Grip in your talent trees, then someone else is going to have to explain what this all means for you.

One of the really big changes is the change to the Block mechanic. Currently, World of Warcraft operates on a single combat roll system, wherein an attack is made and either succeeds or fails based on factors like dodge, parry, block and outright chance to miss. In Mists, things will be very different.

  • The chance to block will be handled by a separate combat roll for each attack that is not avoided. In other words, we first determine if an attack misses, or is dodged or parried. If it is not, then the attack has a chance to be blocked.
  • This gives block a consistent value, regardless of avoidance. Currently block becomes more valuable the more you have.
  • Block will also have diminishing returns, much like dodge and parry. This doesn't mean that the value of block will go down as you get more block. It means that it won't go up by as much when you get more block.
  • We don't expect Protection warriors or paladins to get "block capped" other than during temporary effects, such as mastery procs on trinkets. Block tanks will be balanced around this change. Our intent is to make playing block tanks more fun, not to nerf them.
  • Also notice how Shield Block and Shield of the Righteous have changed in Mists.

WoW has been on a single roll combat table since its inception. The ability to stack dodge, parry and block to reach unhittable has been part of that system for years, back to when Crushing Blows were a concern and players worked to push them off of the combat table via that very combination of statistics. By switching to this new two-roll system wherein the attack first determines a miss, dodge or parry and then determines if a block occurred, unhittability is now effectively gone from the game entirely.

Combining this change with diminishing returns means that instead of the current situation where block grows in value as you stack more of it, you'll reach a point where you'd be better off spending points elsewhere rather than just piling on more block, as it will get more expensive to get less and less reward out of stacking the stat. These changes mean that the value of Critical Block's overflow (that is, when you get over 100% block, the rest is added to your chance to block for twice as much) will be much less, because it will happen much less frequently. With this change, while paladin mastery will stack up faster than ours (they'll still block more often than we do), the two abilities should end up much closer. Diminishing returns will eventually slow how high their block rate gets, while it won't affect our critical blocking itself.

It's too soon to call the ultimate effects of this change, but it should reduce block tanking's ability to be ultra predictable in terms of how much damage is taken in. This makes balancing all stats more compelling, since each will have a point of diminishing returns, making a distributed spread of avoidance and mitigation more attractive than just stacking mastery. The downside will be that there's a danger that blocking will become significantly weaker than it is now, especially with the redesigned Shield Block costing so much rage and now far less likely to push block chance above 100% and give you more critical block chance. We're definitely going to have to pay attention as we move into Mists tanking.

This is not to say that DPS warriors have nothing to examine. No, there are changes coming to the smash, hack and bash crowd as well.

Hit and Expertise

We still think having stats that can be capped is a good game design. Rather than focusing solely on stacking your best stat, you have to decide how valuable it is to hit your target before you go back to stacking your best stat. However, we are making some changes.
  • Hit and spell hit will no longer be separate stats. The hit stat negates melee miss and spell miss.
  • Expertise will negate dodge and spell miss, then parry.
  • Expertise will be listed as a percentage, just like hit, instead of having an intermediary stat.
  • We are normalizing hit with expertise, so that 1% of each stat will require the same amount of rating.
  • We are normalizing melee and spell hit, so that spell hit is equal to miss plus dodge.
  • Against an equal level creature: 6% spell miss, 3% melee miss, 3% dodge, 3% parry (from the front only), 3% block (from the front only).
  • Against a +1 level creature: 9% spell miss, 4.5% melee miss, 4.5% dodge, 4.5% parry (from the front only), 4.5% Block (from the front only).
  • Against a +2 level creature: 12% spell miss, 6% melee miss, 6% dodge, 6% parry (from the front only), 6% Block (from the front only).
  • Against a +3/boss level creature: 15% spell miss, 7.5% melee miss, 7.5% dodge, 7.5% parry (from the front only), 7.5% block (from the front only).
  • Ranged attacks will be able to be dodged. Hunters will benefit from expertise and will have it on their gear, which will also allow hunters and Enhancement shaman to share gear more easily.

First off, normalizing hit and expertise and changing expertise over to a percentage like hit is brilliant, and I wish Blizzard had done it sooner. The spell hit and ranged expertise changes won't affect us at all, really.

What this really means for warriors is that it will be easier to figure out what you want your expertise to be at for gearing and reforging purposes, and that trinkets will be easier to design since expertise will be something casters and melee DPS want. So now, almost all DPSers will have the potential for haste, expertise, hit, crit and mastery in their itemization, making things easier on the design of items that don't have primary stats (strength, agility, intellect) on them.

I don't know that I agree it's good game design to have stat caps, but it may well be necessary game design. I'd be more sanguine about it if it felt like they were going to make an effort to make the hit cap reasonable for dual wielding this time around. 24% after Precision is just plain ridiculously high. Arms will be able to cap hit more easily than ever (at present, it's 8%, not 7.5%), and even with expertise being higher in Mists (at present, 6.5% is enough expertise to remove dodge chance; in Mists, it will be 7.5%), arms will still have very little problem capping both. If fury remains at the significantly higher dual wield penalty, you're never going to cap it, and so trying to is just a waste of time. I'm hoping Blizzard will rethink the dual wielding miss rate down to something like 15% from the current 27% before Precision.

This is all self evident, albeit welcome. But PvP changes are significantly more involved. There's a lot to the changes, so I'm going to reproduce the nuts and bolts of it here and let you go to Ghostcrawler's post for the philosophy behind them. (If you don't feel like reading that, I'll summarize to a degree.)

  • We are renaming this stat to "Defense (PvP)" or possibly "PvP Defense." All players will have 30% base Defense, the same way all characters have some base Stamina.
  • PvP gear will have Defense on it, as well as a new stat, "Power (PvP)." Power increases the damage you do to other players as well as the healing you do to other players in PvP situations.
  • If you have a lot of Power, you'll do more damage to other players, but they likely have Defense as well. If you fight players in lots of PvE gear, they'll take more damage. Likewise, a player in PvE gear won't have enough Power to effectively penetrate your Defense.
  • The names PvP Power and PvP Defense may not be final, but we're leaning towards going with stat names that are obviously PvP-related, rather than "fluffier" names that might not be as easy to grasp. We want it to be clear to players that neither Power nor Defense have any relevance when fighting creatures, such as in dungeons or raids.
  • PvP gear will be lower in item level than PvE gear of an equivalent tier, however the Power and Defense stats will make sure that PvP gear is more powerful in PvP (both offensively and defensively) than PvE gear. In our budgeting system, the PvP stats will be free rather than causing other stats, such as Strength or haste, to be smaller as a result of including Power or Defense.

This is all aimed at making PvP easier to jump into while preserving the idea that PvP gear exists to make you better specifically at PvP. Meanwhile, it will also curb the use of PvP gear to get around Dungeon Finder restrictions (since the gear will be of a lower item level than correlative PvE gear). Making the defense and power stats "free" in this manner means that the gear will have equivalent base stats to PvE pieces that are technically higher ilevel, since the gear can spend its budgeting on those stats with power and defense being free.

This ultimately means you'll potentially be able to play around with how you gear in PvP. If you want to be a defensive juggernaut, say a flag carrier or base defender, you can skew toward defense over power. You won't hit as hard, but others won't hit you as hard either. You could adopt a balanced approach, skewing toward a middle-of-the-road mixture of the two stats, meaning that you neither take nor deal significantly more damage than other players at your gearing level. Or you could decide to shoot for the moon and gear for power, hoping to burst down your opponents before you drop.

I am somewhat torn about this scheme. First off, I do like the idea of making PvP something you can enter with whatever gear you have. In fact, I don't really get why PvP gear needs either of these stats. Frankly, all I've seen resilience do in the years since its debut is make a new kind of hassle for players and cause every season to be one of grinding that's offputting to people new to the activity. If you want people to feel that PvP is accessible, making more statistics that apply to it and only to it isn't going to get that job done.

On the other hand, I do think that if we're going to have a resilience-style stat, this is a step forward in terms of how to design it. I like the idea of being able to personally balance offense and defense in this way. It's deeper than the current resilience-stacking approach, and if these new statistics are allowed to work with reforging (perhaps you can only reforge power to defense and vice versa), it will give you a chance to customize your PvP gearing to match your class and playstyle. Even if you can't reforge these stats, I can imagine designing your talents all around heavy burst DPS (perhaps with Avatar) and then gearing for power as much as you can to take advantage of that burst.

Mists is definitely shaking up the way stats work for us, and I'm interested to see how it all shakes out. The dual combat table alone has me intrigued. It has potential to make Block somewhat underwhelming, but it could also veer the other way depending on how the concept of block tanking shakes out. Between that change, the redesign of hit and expertise, and the new PvP statistics, the game is mechanically changing going forward.

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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