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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Survival and the modern warrior

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.

I'm not looking for a buff to warrior DPS. Every time I talk about warriors as DPS (and half the time I talk about warriors as tanks) it comes back around to people assuming I want a DPS buff, but I don't. At least, I'm not asking for our damaging abilities to do more damage. What I am asking for is parity in terms of methods to be able to apply that DPS.

Quite frankly, raiding today has lots of methods to prevent a warrior from doing damage. There are mazes to run, debuffs that force you to switch targets, interrupts to hit, and conditions that will instantly kill you if you don't take them into account. To use one example, let's look at Heroic Jin'rokh. Both his Ionization and Lightning Strike force players to move out of optimal position (you don't want to be decursed of Ionization inside the Conductive Water, or you'll blow up the raid) and in the case of Lightning Strike, you'll spend half the phase dancing around. For a warrior, this is DPS death. We have no abilities outside of a couple of throws (one with a cast time) that can do damage at range, and we have no method to remove Ionization or prevent its application.

The Care and Feeding of Warriors Survival and the modern warrior
If you're about to mention that not all classes have a means to remove or prevent it, that's true, but of classes in melee several have a means to either remove it or prevent its application in the first place. Warriors meanwhile have to run out of the Conductive Water, lose valuable DPS time and hope that someone decurses them soon so they can get back in. If the debuff is allowed to run its full course and you know it will be, you can stand in the puddle until it's about to drop, but most raids prefer not to risk that, and so warriors get the shaft. This is just one of many such mechanics that penalize us over other classes.

I don't like suggesting stealing from other classes, even as I look at abilities like Cloak of Shadows and Deterrence and wonder why these classes even need so ludicrously powerful an ability that they can just ignore major components of a fight's mechanics while my class has to run away. But then again, I don't really have to suggest stealing, when the ability Spell Reflection exists and has been nigh useless in PvE content since it was introduced. Frankly, the problem is that Spell Reflection doesn't do anything for the majority of boss abilities -- in some few cases it reflects spells (like on Tsulong, it reflects the spell attacks of the sha adds) but in most cases, it does nothing at all and isn't consumed.

Frankly, though, I think it's time for Spell Reflection and Mass Spell Reflection to add a spell immunity effect even if they don't reflect anything. Especially for a class so absolutely dependent on staying in melee (compare warrior ranged damage to any other melee class from rogues to death knights to paladins to shamans, only feral druids have the same issue and even they could shift to caster and dump their mana pool into Wrath if they were forced to stand out of range dodging Lightning Strike) the idea of being completely unable to do anything just rankles, and having so few ways outside of Die by the Sword to stay alive in periods of high damage just makes bringing a warrior less optimal.

Now, of course Spell Reflection is already very powerful in PvP, but I can think of several ways to keep it from getting too powerful with this change -- make it so it only grants an immunity if it can't reflect a spell to a target, for instance -- and there are apparently some spells and spell effects that Spell Reflection provides this sort of immunity for now. To my mind, that just makes it make even more sense to extend the immunity. But it doesn't have to be an immunity, and it doesn't have to be any sort of buff to Spell Reflection so much as it needs to be a buff to warrior survival in some form. Frankly, after several expansion of other classes complaining that their health pools were too low and they took more damage in melee range, we've seen them all buffed to some degree. Some got powerful immunities and damage reduction, overall health was increased, and as a result warriors (who got none of this) are standing there with the same proportional survivability as in 2007, while everyone else's went up. Maelstrom Weapon heals, AMS, Feint, these are just a few of the ways other melee can keep themselves upright. Warriors lost the ability to convert incoming damage into rage (unless we switch stances) but didn't gain any survivability.

Now, I'll admit that Die by the Sword is superior to Evasion. But since we've listed two other abilities that Rogues can use that are far superior in modern raiding, I don't see that as a problem for them, but a problem for us. What abilities do DPS warriors have to stay alive outside of DbtS? Two raid cooldowns that we're usually expected to save until the raid asks for it. In the same tier as Mass Spell Reflection (which I pointed out won't reflect most boss abilities) we have Safeguard and Vigilance, which save other people at our expense. Similarly, our self-healing tier has an ability that only kicks in below 35% and which only heals you to 35%, an ability on a timer that only works well when you're enraged, and an ability you actually have to attack in order to use. They're just not impressive when compared to what other classes can do.

I understand not wanting to weaken warrior identity by making us homogenized with other classes, but in that case some of these abilities need a serious upgrade in terms of their survival potential. Enraged Regeneration's overall 20% healing (when used when you're enraged) is just pitiful in comparison to 50% damage reduction abilities that can be used over and over again, outright immunity, or both in some cases. Of the plate classes, DPSing warriors are the least tanky, bringing us back to the feel of the days when warriors wore leather but without actually wearing leather - we're just squishier than the actual leather classes. It needs to change.
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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