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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: All is not lost

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.

So, that last week was depressing, huh? Kind of hard to come back from that one. I stand by it, bolstered in part by the return of Cynwise with the numbers data. There is definitely some rot in the warrior class, and people are moving on to alternatives that provide more DPS or tanking viability. And this needs to change. But, as I said in the title, all is not lost. We know that patch 5.4 has started its numbers balancing phase (admittedly with two weeks to go, it's gonna be a fast numbers phase) and already we've seen a significant buff to Deep Wounds and Slam. Are they enough? No, but overall the changes warriors are seeing are positive ones, even if they're too conservative.

Several commenters on the previous post mentioned that end game, especially high end raiding end game, isn't the be all and end all of the game. I agree, but since warriors are very weak before they do things like get hit and expertise to 7.5% (as DPS) or get solid tanking gear with high hit and expertise (as tanks) and both fury and arms suffer from massive critical strike dependence, in a way that's even worse for us. Warriors are weak at lower levels of gear, weak when not at max level, weak when not fully capped, and then when we get geared we're still weaker than others. So the fixes needed should be fixes across the board, not band aids.

However, there's still quite a few good things to be said about the warrior class. For starters, we're warriors. You can pick up a member of any race and they can be a warrior. The rage system has had its ups and downs but it's conceptually easier to understand than the mess of combo points, runes, holy power, maelstrom stacks and other weird resource mechanics out there - you get mad, you smash. Simple and elegant.

But really, the fact is simple. I love warriors. Still. Years in. And I want to talk about why.

The Care and Feeding of Warriors All is not lost

I've had the experience of watching my wife learn to tank on a warrior over the past couple of weeks. Part of that experience is gleeful, because she's finally having to put up with DPS who act like she acted when I first started tanking all those years ago. (Sometimes I'm there on my hunter, and so, that terrible DPS player is me.) But part of it is also interesting because she's come to love the tanking role and specifically how the warrior class approaches it. Warrior tanking problems are in part style based - we've lost a step from our Cataclysm heights of mobility - but in general, it's mostly about numbers. We take more damage, we deal less, we can't cheese raid encounters. None of that matters in a five man leveling dungeon, and it is in this laboratory that we can see the potential of the warrior tank as the wrecking ball it was at its height. Watching her charge a pack of mobs, throw down a thunder clap and begin dealing out Shield Slams and Devastates in fools faces is what a warrior tank should always be doing and yes I bolded that on purpose. At its best, warrior tanking has an essentially visceral feel that no one else has ever matched. No one else seems to tank by using her or himself as a battering ram. Paladins call on the Light, DK's defile entire areas with death magic, monks bob and weave and stagger about, and druids become a bear, lumbering and hirsuite. Warriors become missiles. The math may not be in our favor, but the aesthetics are perfect.

To this day I still tank LFR groups at night to get my fix of bashing shields in people's faces. Style is something I really appreciate in warrior play, because the class drips with it.

I go on about Titan's Grip a lot, because it is something that is unique to the warrior. Frankly, I think it should be more intrinsic to the class than it is, that our ability to use the absolutely largest weapons should be incorporated even more strongly. I'd love to see arms warriors using weapons so big no one else can even lift them, a whole new Great Weapon specialization exclusively for them. Seeing a warrior with two Ashkandi just seems to say We're not like them and its something that the warrior class needs more of - as much as I understand why some warriors like Single-Minded Fury as a concept, I'm not silly enough to think that people who are using it today are doing so because they're just that loyal to dual-wielding one hand weapons. Some clearly are, of course. But for most it's about DPS. I don't think we're going to see any surprising changes in 5.4 in terms of the relative power of TG vs. SMF - SMF will continue to win because it generates more rage, and can therefore spend it faster. On AoE fights, TG will continue to pull ahead due to how Whirlwind, Meat Cleave, Raging Blow all work together.
The Care and Feeding of Warriors All is not lost

Titan's Grip still manages to just be, a perfect little moment of coolness that endures. From the moment it was introduced in Wrath it has maintained that, and in the days of transmogrification I still raid as TG because of just how much fun it is. I often go to a city with a training dummy and just beat it up to take screenshots of my various warriors flipping out with those big two handers.

There are things I would like to see changed - I miss Slam as fury, for instance - but overall I really like the general toolkits of each spec. Heroic Leap and Charge are fun, and could benefit from being on lower cooldowns so we could use them more often. Our talents often look awesome as well as feeling good to use - of the Bladestorm/Shockwave/Dragon Roar trio, there isn't one that can't bring a smile to my face when I hit the button. I may be rare but I even like our banners and wish we had more of them, our final tier of talents has two I love (Avatar and Bloodbath) and one I will love more in 5.4 (Storm Bolt is already my go-to talent for when I tank thanks to the reliable pull potential for most boss encounters). So basically, I'm not crying out for a massive redesign of the class, and I think that's an important distinction to make.

Numbers issues at high level are important. They address the health of the class overall. Furthermore, there are issues with warriors and how they interact with stats that show up fairly early and stay true throughout - we have no meaningful stat choices, we're very limited by how rage is acquired, Berserker Stance is only useful in periods of extremely high incoming damage and in those periods we're often frantically popping cooldowns to stay alive rather than transforming that rage into damage output - but these are issues that can be addressed and fixed without gutting the warrior class. Our issues are tuning, not design, for the most part.
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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