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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Tier 16 Set Bonuses

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 last week I got my four piece DPS set bonus. And I now deeply resent said set bonus, because it is effectively useless. In a ten minute dummy parse, it procced three times. That's right, I got to hit execute three times in ten minutes. Subsequent use in actual raiding has proved no more exciting. On average I get one to two executes per boss fight out of it. Perhaps one free execute during execute phase. It is, simply put, terrible. I had heard that the Death Sentence buff was underwhelming, but saying that it is underwhelming is completely underselling how little it matters. Even for arms, which can almost always delay that Death Sentence execute until a Colossus Smash, it's just underwhelming. For fury, you'd almost not bother -- with the 20% buff to Bloodthirst and Raging Blow, just use those.

So my advice to you is, if you're a DPS warrior, get the helmet and legs, maybe even the gloves - they're all solidly itemized. Then get offset shoulders and a chestplate, especially since the tier BP is a haste/mastery BP. The two piece set bonus is good for fury and great for arms. But this is the first time in a while where I'd actually advocate not bothering with a four piece, and this is after I'd deliberately bid on and won the fourth piece myself thinking "It must be better than I'm hearing it is". It's not better than that. It's significantly worse. Don't waste your time.

The Care and Feeding of Warriors A Discussion of Set Bonuses
Honest, I think part of the problem with the Tier 16 4 piece for DPS warriors is, if it were really good (that is, it procced a lot) then it would change the way DPS warriors played. By allowing the use of execute during normal play, either it completely changes the priority of your attacks (rage generation attack, Execute if Death Sentence is up, Raging Blow or Slam if not) or it doesn't, in which case it's just another attack to fill in the spaces when stuff you want to use isn't up. The former means your tier actually changes your playstyle, the latter is just as useless as what we ended up getting, a tier set bonus that doesn't really do anything. The other night I actually saw it proc four times, I thought I was going to pass out.

Ironically, I had expected the two piece to be the lackluster one. And to be honest, it's solid but unremarkable for fury - it basically just smooths out the rage droughts you can get after you bank rage for after Colossus Smash, giving you between 10 and 20 rage (if you can get your HS and Raging Blow lined up to go at the same time) during that period. For arms, with its higher Colossus Smash uptime it makes chaining Slams during CS much easier - I can sometimes manage three Slams during the CS debuff. It's noticeable and feels fluid. To a degree it actually feels kind of odd - we hear a lot of talk about how warriors need to learn to manage rage, and yet we get a set bonus that takes away some of that - but I'm definitely not complaining. At least it's useful.

With that four paragraphs of solid complaining about the DPS set bonus out of the way, what about the tank bonuses? Well, I don't have my four piece tank set yet. But we can look at the set and talk about the obvious at least. First off, let's talk about the two piece set bonus, or as I like to call it, the "Holy crap that's amazing" set bonus. It actually makes Shield Block and Shield Barrier do more for you in a way that seems intuitive, which requires no extra work on your part, and which frankly feels like a call back to when we got rage for the damage we took - it makes using your active mitigation abilities provide you with a small heal based on the damage your taking. It'll never become overpowered or allow you to outpace the damage your taking with its healing the way DK's can, it's just a nice little benefit to doing what you should be doing anyway. Combined with the changes to protection tanking in the 5.4 patch, we should see more rage making Shield Block and Shield Barrier easier to use, and that only makes this set bonus better still.

It's a good set bonus entirely because it's exactly a good bonus. Not so amazing that it breaks the game - you'll never heal to full using it, but it definitely extends the life of a prot warrior and combined with Enraged Regeneration, Second Wind and/or Impending Victory puts a bit more self healing in the warrior toolkit. Definitely a set bonus you'll want.

4 piece T16 for protection is a trifle more situational. For one thing, this set bonus would work well with the Vial of Living Corruption, reducing the cooldown on Demo Shout. With that trinket, Demo Shout becomes a 41 second cooldown, meaning that you'll get that ten second window of generating rage from taking damage more often, which makes it more useful. Since you'll be likely to end up spending that rage on Shield Wall and Shield Barrier, thus healing yourself with the two piece, I would say that the benefit of the four piece goes up as soon as you get that trinket. It's still a good set bonus - you're going to use Demo Shout, either on cooldown or when you know a boss is about to smash you hard in the face - so you might as well get a little benefit from after.

It's a conceptually strange set bonus, though. We've been told over and over again that protection generating rage in defensive stance was a problem for game balance - now we get just a taste of that back, and I don't really like it. I don't have a numbers or balance reason for not liking it - I don't like it because it makes me want more. Why can't we also generate rage while Demo Shout is up? Why only after it falls off? That seems penurious to me. Then again, with our new ability to get Enraged from Shield Slam and Devastate crits, it's not like that ten seconds of rage from damage is going to make or break us either way. So you might as well just enjoy the four piece as a nice cherry on the top of a decent rage to mitigation sundae this tier.

Definitely get that Vial of Living Corruption, though. It means that within every minute, you'll have ten seconds of rage from damage (41 second cooldown, followed by Demo, followed by Demo falling off) and it definitely makes the whole thing better.

Next week, why I miss proc weapons.

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