The Care and Feeding of Warriors: To be the gladiator

Matthew Rossi
M. Rossi|12.01.13

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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: To be the gladiator
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.

With the departure of Ghostcrawler (Goodbye, Doctor Street, and may your next regeneration find you well) we now shift to obsessively watching Celestalon's twitter feed and picking apart anything he says about warriors like demented jackdaws. Everyone be nice and say hi. Anyway, he had some interesting things to say recently about warriors, one of which I've been saying all expansion (and, in fact, I also said in Wrath and Cataclysm) - namely, that haste is terrible for us.

I'm keen on seeing how they plan on improving it, of course. The spec where it really, sincerely needs that improvement and yesterday is protection, especially moving forward into the new gearing paradigm - when all stats are good for all specs and one set of gear will be intended to adapt when you switch specializations, having haste be worthless for protection warriors (as it currently is) is simply unacceptable. Frankly, the reason haste is so terrible for protection right now is that it makes effectively no contribution at all to protection's rage generation - prot gets rage from Shield Slam and Revenge, and a dribble from defensive stance (1 rage every 3 seconds) and that's it. Well, okay, we get some rage from Charge and whenever Sword and Board procs. None of that gets anything from haste.

This isn't to imply that haste is great for other warrior specs - it's debatable for arms (some place it at #2 behind crit, with the caveat that crit only needs to hit 32% or so, while others would argue for mastery as the better stat) and simply bottom of the barrel for fury, but even fury gets more out of a haste proc than a protection warrior does.

In my opinion, haste needs to directly and noticeably improve rage generation for all three specs, drastically improve our damage over time component from Deep Wounds and Bloodbath, and meaningfully interface with our damage the way it does other classes. We were on the right track in January of 2012, but the change we needed didn't make it live and haste ended up a dump stat - it can't remain that way moving forward, with reforging gone. Otherwise warriors will be the ones going "This upgrade isn't an upgrade" which is one of the things that the removal of reforging was supposed to prevent. I know I hammer on the haste issue a lot, but when the shoulders that bear my name even have haste on them, it starts to dominate my attention.

Oh, who am I kidding? It's dominated my attention for four years and three expansions.

The news on haste isn't the biggest news from Celestalon, however. Let's talk about Gladiator Stance. If you go to Wowhead's Warlords of Draenor talent calculator you can look at our level 100 talents. We talked about them here as well, so I'll pull out the talents for you.

Blade Barrier (passive): When you Whirlwind or Thunder Clap, whirling blades continue to spin around you for 30 seconds. These blades do 1,000 damage each 1.00 seconds to all enemies within 8 yards.

Ravager: 40-yard range. 1-second cast. 1-minute cooldown. Throw a whirling axe at the target location that inflicts 3,000 damage to enemies within 8 yards every 1 second. Last 15 seconds.

Extreme Measures
  • Arms and Fury -- Masochism: Instant. Deal damage to yourself equal to 20% of your maximum health, and gain 30 rage.
  • Protection -- Gladiator Stance: Instant. 1.5-second cooldown. A dauntless combat stance. Increases all damage dealt by 20%. Also causes Shield Slam to consume Shield Barrier as additional damage and have an increased chance to critically strike equal to your critical block chance. Replaces Defensive Stance.
At the time I thought it was intended to replace Defensive Stance for tanking purposes. It isn't. It's intended to allow protection warriors to DPS with a 1h weapon and sword.

As you can see, this means a couple of things, both of which Celestalon points out. First off, this may not even make it live - it's an experiment, so while it's certainly very interesting don't get too excited about it yet. Furthermore, it's the first time I can think of that a tanking class in a tanking spec has been given an option to talent out of the tanking role while remaining in the tanking spec. Essentially, this talent means that there will be protection spec warriors who are not tanks. Will the talent remove Vengeance? I assume it means that Gladiator Stance will remove Defensive Stance's threat bonus, even as it transforms Shield Barrier into a damage mechanic.

As for Vengeance, I asked Celestalon what's going on with it, because let's be honest: Vengeance was invented to solve a problem with gearing. Back in Wrath, we saw geared tanks struggling to hold aggro on geared DPS because DPS gear contributed directly to damage (and thus threat) while tank gear contributed directly to survival and had very little in the way of threat. Since then, with Active Mitigation stats coming to prominence tank gear has had threat stats, and the change to gearing we're going to see in Warlords seems to contribute even further to that effect. Celestalon confirmed that Vengeance is going to see some significant changes.

That's a pretty big deal - tanking DPS has been high to very high (although Warriors have tended to be the lowest, which I've mentioned before) this expansion.

As for the talent choices themselves, I'm interested in how they're going to make those adjustments. As it stands, prot warriors who actually want to tank are either taking Blade Barrier or Ravager, and speaking for myself I can't imagine a scenario where the guys who Thunder Clap on cooldown wouldn't take Blade Barrier. The extra damage will be constantly up, since you can TC well within the 30 second duration of the ability, and while it's cool to be an annoying jerk like Nazgrim and throw a spinning axe around, I can't see that trumping the ability to be surrounded by constant blades. Then again, I'm not terribly knocked out by Masochism, and frankly, I think Extreme Measures should be revamped for Arms/Fury.

What do I think they should do for Arms/Fury? The exact opposite of Gladiator Stance. Give the DPS specs a high parry tanking stance that replaces Berserker Stance called Juggernaut Stance. Retain the rage from damage taken, increase the threat multiplier to match D-Stance, gain a passive parry mechanic based on Critical Hit, and make Mortal Strike/Bloodthirst generate the Shield Barrier effect when used. That way, you'll compensate tanks for not being able to take Extreme Measures by allowing tanks to take Extreme Measures. With Shield Wall and Spell Reflection now usable without a shield, arms and fury wouldn't need more to be viable tanks. You could also make Overpower and Raging Blow perform a parry-based version of Shield Block, if you were concerned that mechanic needed to be implemented.

Overall I find these ideas interesting and want to see how they get implemented. I'm definitely curious to see how haste gets improved for us, and Gladiator Stance (while not my cup of tea - I like 2h weapons, and I hate tea) fascinates me. Looking forward to whatever Celestalon has to say next.
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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