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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Enrage changes in Mists beta

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.

The last time we talked about the Mists beta, I mentioned that rage was the big story. It continues to be so, especially the Enrage mechanic. Right now, for all three specs, Enrage is the means by which rage generation gets accelerated. Since you only generate rage by damage dealt and specials in the beta, enrage is really necessary to make rage generation work. So the most recent change to Enrage needs to be thoroughly discussed.

With this change, arms will proc Enrage with Mortal Strike and Colossus Smash, while fury will use Bloodthirst and Colossus Smash. Protection will rely on the Critical Block mechanic of the protection mastery. All three specs will be able to force an enrage state via the ability Berserker Rage.No longer will any attack have a chance to proc the enraged state, instead, specific attacks and abilities will do so. In the case of fury, the critical hit chance of Bloodthirst has been increased to compensate for the loss of potential enrages from other attacks.


The Doldrums of the DPS warrior

When I first heard of this change I was baffled. Doesn't it devalue crit? I mean, from a prot warrior perspective it's a non issue. Prot's rage generation is fine right now on the beta.Sword and Board combined with rage from Revenge seems to balance out the loss of rage from damage taken. While I'm not entering into enrages terribly often in my protection spec, I'm not feeling their loss terribly since rage seems nominal. And with Unwavering Sentinel giving Thunder Clap a 100

For fury, though, even with raising the critical hit chance of Bloodthirst (Bloodthirst has double your normal critical hit chance) since the average fury warrior is going to see an immediate and drastic loss of crit as soon as Mists rolls around and will see more lost as he or she levels, doubling the chance doesn't do much at start, and will risk ridiculously inflating fury's crit chance as crit on gear improves. It won't be surprising to see Bloodthirst's crit chance at below 30%, sometimes far below it, while leveling to 90. You'll also notice that the scaling chance to crit from previous beta builds is completely gone.

Feeling less than berserk

I'm going to admit that at this point in the beta, I'm completely unimpressed with Bloodthirst as a rage generation ability and as an attack. It doesn't do a lot of damage, it doesn't generate much rage, and as an ability that we're going to have to rely upon to enter an enraged state, it won't be doing much for us as we level. Now, truthfully, as our crit goes up then Bloodthirst will become more and more likely to crit with this set-up. So it doesn't devalue crit, as I feared.

In my opinion, it devalues hit.

Since a critical hit won't proc an enrage unless it's Mortal Strike, Bloodthirst or Colossus Smash then those strikes become proportionately more important without having to do more damage. For fury, which gets more damage when it's enraged (thanks to the fury mastery) this means that attacks that can proc the enrage are more important than attacks that can't. Since you'll get more rage and do more damage when enraged, you're going to want to guarantee that those special attacks don't miss. But you're certainly going to care less if white hits are hit capped, because they do proportionately less for you now. For arms, the hit cap on the specials is the hit cap for white attacks, so it doesn't matter. But for fury, the hit cap is significantly higher, and now you're going to have to balance going after it with the idea that you'll get more damage from stacking, say, haste or mastery to get more Bloodthirsts in. Especially with more strikes available (fury has Bloodthirst, Wild Strike, Raging Blow and Colossus Smash, all special attacks, all using the special attacks hit cap) it becomes more of a priority to push those specials and worry a lot less about white hits.

The potential benefits of hitting less

Now, keep in mind: this may not be a bad thing. While I certainly believe that Bloodthirst as a special attack needs some love, the idea of making our DPS stats aside from hit more compelling, especially making haste something more than a garbage stat, is an interesting notion. There's nothing especially wrong with the idea of hit becoming something you cap at a reasonable level and simply allowing white hits to be a more hit or miss affair in exchange for a more controlled means of entering enrages and getting the benefit of fury's mastery. It's a departure, to be sure, but we have to evaluate how these things work not based on our preconceptions of how fury is supposed to work, but on how well it does work.

That being said, I stand by feeling that fury on the beta is still underwhelming, and these changes don't address that. I'm not terribly knocked out by arms, either.
In the case of arms, it's not that the change to enrage really matters all that much. Enrage just provides rage generation for arms, and frankly, arms isn't hurting for rage right now. It's more that arms feels absolutely static. Part of the problem is that I'm stuck at level 89, so I can't tell if the final tier of talents is going to make a huge difference (I suspect having to choose between Avatar and Bloodbath will do a lot to liven arms up for me) and the change to Overpower is a moderate buff. The problem with arms right now on the beta is that it feels stagnant to me, and part of that is the lack of cooldowns. Right now, for arms, if you enter a burn phase you have one button to hit, maybe two if you count Sweeping Strikes (which is only good on AoE fights) and that's completely unrelated to any of these changes. While War Banner has some potential there, the interface kind of gets in its way. The ability to place each separate banner on a bar would go a long way towards fixing that.

Waiting for 90

As soon as the level cap is raised and I can play with those talents, I'll feel that I have a more informed opinion of arms. Since arms was my raiding spec for most of Dragon Soul, I'd like to see it freshened up a bit for Mists. It certainly doesn't feel as underwhelming as fury does, at the moment, but neither is it close to as visceral and strong for leveling as prot has. I blew through to 89 in a single, glorious night of pulling all the mobs as prot, it was powerful enough to make changing on live seem far and away like a good idea just to be prepared.

Also, I got to ride a yak. This has nothing to do with the state of the class, it was just awesome. Yaks are awesome. Next week, either more beta, or I start post mortems for each spec in Cataclysm now that the end of the expansion is in sight.

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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