The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Ability bloat and the future

Matthew Rossi
M. Rossi|12.20.13

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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Ability bloat and the future
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.

It's going to come up sooner or later - warriors, like all classes, have a lot of abilities right now. We've actually dealt with ability bloat before - the folding of Shield Bash and Pummel into one ability came about because warriors had two abilities that did basically the same thing, but usable in different stances, which was seen as pointlessly complex. Similarly, we had Rend, an on-demand bleed that didn't hit very hard, and Deep Wounds, another, better bleed that was more random, and the introduction of the passive Blood and Thunder ability meant that rend was actually part of the arms/prot warrior rotation - removing Rend simplified things all around, as did letting Thunder Clap apply Deep Wounds automatically.

So it behooves us to ask - what abilities should we consolidate or remove? What abilities can you stand to see go, and what can't you stand to live without?

Boss Damage Debuffs

As things stand, warriors have Thunder Clap, Demoralizing Shout, and Demoralizing Banner, all of which reduce incoming damage in one way or another. Demo Shout is a personal mini-cooldown, letting you reduce all damage inflicted by enemies within 10 yards by 20% for 10 seconds out of 60, but only on yourself. Demo Banner reduces all damage dealt by enemies within 30 yards for 15 seconds, but has a much longer 3 minute cooldown and is only a 10% reduction - it's basically a raid cooldown. Thunder Clap applies the Weakened Blows debuff, reducing all physical damage dealt by 10% for 30 seconds, on an ability usable ever six seconds.

Honestly, I'd rather just tear Demoralizing Shout in half, give some of its functionality to Thunder Clap and some to Demoralizing Banner, and call it a day. Change TC to reducing all damage by 10%, change Demo Banner so it has a shorter cooldown (2 minutes instead of 3) and the 20% damage reduction of Demo Shout, and call it a day. I'm aware that Demo Shout works nicely as part of a 'total cooldown' situation where it, Last Stand, and Shield Wall can be lined up or used separately, but I ultimately think it's more trouble than it is worth and one more button than we need, especially in our active mitigation world of Shield Block and Barrier.

Wild Strike

Frankly, I loathe Wild Strike for two reasons.
  1. It doesn't work as a rage dump. You'd almost always use Heroic Strike or Cleave to dump rage if it was necessary to do so, or Raging Blow if it's up (and the more crit you have, the more often it will be). You'd also almost always use something else during a Colossus Smash debuff.
  2. The only time you want to use Wild Strike is when you get a Bloodsurge proc (which makes it free and lowers it's GCD to 1 second, so you can hit it the three times it's discounted for) or if you're trying to put the Mortal Wounds debuff out.
Granted, Heroic Strike isn't great, but it's an ability all three warrior specs have access to, while Wild Strike is this rare and unique snowflake that fury, and fury alone - and when looking for abilities to cut, a special snowflake like that is one that deserves to be considered.

Frankly the only cool thing about Wild Strike is that Bloodsurge proc. And frankly, I prefer the way Bloodsurge worked before - instead of giving you three charges of a spammable offhand attack, one big hit you could use within a Colossus Smash debuff without feeling like you're wasting your time. So I'm going to argue that they should apply some of Bloodsurge's magic to Heroic Strike - make a Bloodsurge proc totally discount HS on rage and maybe reduce the GCD on Raging Blow, so you can get more RB's in. Alternatively, having Bloodsurge simply allow you three Raging Blows with the rage discount and GCD would make it amazing, but I doubt we'd get anything that cool.

Basically, I like Bloodsurge itself conceptually, but not how it works with Wild Strike, an utterly uninspiring ability that doesn't even prop up fury in PvP, since the Mortal Wounds debuff is so much less good now than MS was in its heyday three expansions ago. Maybe it's not really relevant anymore, and we could let MS be the only ability with it, which could help differentiate arms and fury more.

Cleave vs. Cleave

The fact that the word cleave described a PvP strategy, the general act of hitting multiple targets in melee, a specific warrior ability and soon to be a tertiary stat in Warlords of Draenor is getting kind of ridiculous. And frankly, warrior Cleave is probably one of our least-used abilities. If you're an arms warrior, you're likely using Sweeping Strikes and Slam, then Whirlwind and/or Thunder Clap, in an AoE situation. If you're fury, three Whirlwinds and a Raging Blow before you hit Cleave. And protection will rely on Revenge and Thunder Clap and hit Cleave only when it's free thanks to an Ultimatum proc. The ability is just lackluster - pretty much every spec has better ways to AoE, and will only really use Cleave when swimming in rage or when the ability is discounted.

Removing Cleave from our ability table would barely affect us. Revenge is already a rage generating attack for protection and it hits more targets than Cleave does - you're always going to want to hit Revenge over Cleave in any situation. Cleave is simply the least attractive AoE DPS option we have.

Of course, there's a certain iconic feel to the word Cleave - it's been with the class since its inception. But it's also a redundant ability, and there's no real mistake - we're not using Cleave, in favor of newer abilities. Rend was also with us from the beginning, but we let that one go - it's time to let Cleave get a good retirement as well. How often do you need a rage dump in an AoE situation and you can't think of anything better to hit than Cleave?

Part of me wishes they'd fold Die by the Sword and Last Stand into one really good cooldown, but that's a minor quibble - the abilities aren't shared by all three specs, so they don't really count for button bloat. Now, I leave it to you - what abilities would you remove?
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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