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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: A Taste for Blood

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.

Let's just jump right into it, shall we?

Ghostcrawler - PTR Class and Set Bonus Issues
- For Arms, we are going to try Overpower proc'ing Sudden Death instead of autoattacks. This will make haste slightly worse (which we can fix) but we hope will help make the rotation slightly more compelling, since autoattack procs can feel really random. With Overpower you can anticipate it a little more.
- Likewise, Overpower will cost no rage in Execute range. We agree that saving rage for Overpower and spending it all on Execute don't play well together.
- We haven't made a tuning pass on Arms (or any spec) yet. Don't fret about DPS numbers at this stage.

I actually like this change quite a bit. Yes, I am capable of liking things. It's not all whining about haste over here.

What I like about it is that it emphasizes Overpower over autoattacks, which are fairly unimportant for an arms warrior anyway. You hit cap at 7.5%, which is absurdly easy in comparison to fury anyway (which is why no fury warrior bothers to try, leaving hit a fairly pointless DPS statistic... but we've talked about hit and expertise before) so you're going to land those slow hits and generate rage with them... and that's pretty much all they should do, in my opinion. With Mortal Strike and Colossus Smash both so important, giving Overpower more to do is fine by me.

I also absolutely agree with the idea of making Execute completely discount Overpower's rage cost. In fact, I agree with it so strongly that I'm sort of bemused here. Usually I don't wholeheartedly endorse a proposed change.

If you recall, I didn't argue with the idea of giving Overpower a small rage cost. With the change to Taste for Blood, we're going to be replacing those Heroic Strikes we were using with a three stack TfB with more and more Overpowers, leaving them with no rage cost was just going to lead to rage bars filling up and staying filled, eventually leaving you desperate for a rage dump. The change to Sudden Death making Execute remove Overpower's rage cost is a nice way to give arms warriors a break once Execute range is entered. Without it, you were likely going to have to think carefully about if you were costing yourself too much rage to use Overpower during Execute range. Even with the change you'll probably only use Overpower after Execute when you don't have enough rage for another Execute and Mortal Strike hasn't cooled down yet.

I have to admit, I'm somewhat surprised that this much work is going into arms' design in a mid-expansion patch. 5.2 is looking likely to drop after the six month mark of Mists' life cycle, and that's fairly deep in the game to be altering so much. We're looking at the following changes to arms as of this writing:
  • Taste for Blood completely reworked, de-emphasizing Heroic Strike in favor of Slam.
  • Slam's damage buffed.
  • Overpower given a rage cost due to the new Taste for Blood's stacking mechanic.
  • Sudden Death redesigned to proc off of Overpower.
  • Overpower's rage cost discounted during Execute phases, also due to Sudden Death's changes.
This is all not counting reverted changes (the buff to Strikes of Opportunity, for instance) and doesn't even address a damage pass, since there's been no damage balancing on the PTR as yet. It's a fairly significant group of changes considering when it's being done, and while a lot of it is clearly PvP oriented it's going to be felt in PvE.

The Care and Feeding of Warriors A Taste for Blood

Right now I raid as fury with a prot offspec. Partially that's because in order to raid with two DPS specs, I'd effectively need to either reforge and regem every single time I switched, or I'd need to accept that one of my two specs was going to be played in gear that wasn't optimized for it. I have gone and reforged/regemmed between raids to give arms as many fair shots as I could, and I've even managed to keep in the pack with an arms spec, but fury is generally easier to perform with once the gear gets there. (Especially once you start getting Heroic drops - a plate belt I put on this week increased my DPS by close to 5k, since it was loaded with crit) - I'm hopeful that once the damage pass is completed, arms will be in a better place for PvE.

That said, I don't want to argue that arms isn't viable in PvE right now, because it is. Depending on talent choices, specific fight conditions and skill/preferences, arms can outperform fury for some players. After Dragon Soul buffed arms in Cataclysm (if only by nerfing the heck out of fury) I got fairly comfortable with arms as a raiding spec, and I used it as my DPS spec leveling through Pandaria as well as in raids for most of patch 5.0. I'm not arguing that you can't do more damage with fury, all things being equal. Especially with SMF (and hey, I did finally get another 1h weapon, so expect an SMF article next week) but arms is actually a pretty solid spec.

What I'm hopeful for, in seeing the effort being expended to tighten it up, is that these changes will make arms close enough to fury that people who prefer the spec can choose to play it without feeling like they are holding their raid back. Right now, as you cross from normal to heroic, you pretty much have to raid fury (and you should probably raid SMF) if you want to maximize, and that will probably still be true in 5.2, but if the threshold is smaller that might be enough. As much as I love TG, I raided as arms back in the days of Molten Core and Blackwing Lair, and I want arms to remain a raiding spec.

I haven't gotten much of a chance to PvP on the PTR at all, so I can't speak to how arms is faring there. Hopefully it'll remain strong.

Next week, at long last, Single-Minded Fury. The unloved spec of Cataclysm has finally come into its own, and I can finally run with it.

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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