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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Proc Weapons, How I Miss Thee

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.

Remember Gurthalak? Remember how it single-handedly propped up arms warriors at the end of Cataclysm? The proc on the weapon was really excellent, almost any melee who could use a 2h weapon wanted one. Admittedly, Gurth didn't invent proc weapons. Icecrown Citadel had some excellent weapon procs, Last Word, for instance, had an excellent proc primarily because it was almost always up - a proc that thematically owed a lot to the first real dedicated tanking epic warriors in Classic WoW would have wanted to get, Quel'Serrar. Quel's defense proc (back when defense was a thing) made it very desirable as a tanking weapon, second only to Thunderfury - and the legendary was so amazing because of its proc. It was essentially a super-Thunder Clap, great for aggro and for debuffing attack speed on targets, reducing damage taken by the tank using it.

Proc weapons have a long and stories history in World of Warcraft. One of the first weapons I crafted at level 60 was an Arcanite Champion, a weapon based entirely around its strength and heal proc. It replaced the Blackhand Doomsaw, another proc based weapon. As time has progressed, we've moved away from these weapons - stat based weapons have dominated, and for the most part that's for the best, as it's easier to balance stats. If one looks at the evolution of proc weapons, even in Burning Crusade those weapons that had procs still tended to have stats on them.

One of my favorite things about Dragon Soul was the proc weapons on Deathwing - they seemed special, designed less around playing statistical Tetris through reforging and more around visual flair as well as interesting damage output.

The Care and Feeding of Warriors Proc Weapons, How I Miss Thee

I understand that in many ways, this raid we put the strange but cool procs on trinkets - but since almost all the proc trinkets this tier are Cleave trinkets that only cleave (for example, the Fusion-Fire Core does not hit your original target, just everything standing around it) they're only situationally good, and they lack the visceral appeal of a weapon like Gurth or Bryntroll, which not only does something that's always useful but it looks cool and noticeable when it does it. As nice as the cleave trinkets are (I equip mine every time I think I might have to cleave stuff, which I admit is relatively frequently in Siege) it just doesn't have the same oomph as the Tentacle of the Old Gods.

Part of the problem is reforging. Now, I'm not a reforge hater - I definitely think it's improved the game overall by giving us some control over what stats we have - but the great thing about proc weapons is that they're not just big stat sticks to be slotted into a reforger and brought into line with our stat priorities, the proc defies that. Sure, it can be analyzed, simmed and theorycrafted - people will always do those things - but it provides a boost to our damage or performance that doesn't allow for simple solutions. It does what it does, and you either want it or you don't - there's the proc, and you want it. It hearkens back to a simpler time, but it also livens up the stat minigame.

Of course, you can just as easily add DPS through itemization as you can via a proc, and its probably easier to make pure statistical itemization in terms of how predictable it is - proc weapons are always reliant on how often they proc. (Last week's discussion of Tier 16's set bonuses made that point clear in a different context.) But there's another aspect to proc weapons to consider - they can add entirely new abilities that would ordinarily not be available. The unusual proc on Souldrinker comes to mind - it was a decent DPS option, but an excellent tanking weapon. Tanking weapons in general have been all over the map due to only one other tanking class using 1h weapons to tank - I've always felt that a good proc on a tank weapon can make up for a lot of wonky itemization, and I was glad to see Last Word bring that back in Wrath. (Technically the Onyxia revamp brought the Quel'Serrar tanking proc back first.)

What's interesting to me is, we've seen tanking weapons make a comeback in Siege. I understand the argument that designing a proc like Souldrinker's, that has DPS and tanking applications, is a daunting task, but considering we're willing to make 1h weapons that are useful primarily for tanks again, why not go all out? Historically tanking procs have been good enough that the weapons lasted well past the point one might expect. Before it was nerfed, Thunderfury was used to good effect in tanking Karazhan.

Also, and I admit that this is a bias based on past experience and not one that necessarily will apply to any future proc weapons - but in general, procs have been very good to the warrior class. Procs usually put out a form of damage we usually don't like shadow or fire, or buff a stat like strength that we rely on, or both in some cases - they've often been excellent weapons for us that have made up for shortcomings in our design and helped keep us competitive. Not having one this tier isn't breaking the game or anything, and I don't mean to say that we're doing terribly in Siege of Orgrimmar, but I'd love it if Garrosh's weapon drops had some Y'Shaarj based proc.

You could argue that I'm speaking purely from nostalgia here - I don't think I am, but I admit there's some nostalgia to be had. Really, it's more of an interest in the intangibles of weapon design - a weapon with a solid proc transcends its more mundane siblings in many cases. A proc weapon has mystique, coolness factor, whatever you want to call it - there's just something exciting and viscerally satisfying about seeing that proc go off. It's fun. The warrior class in particular, due to our general mastery of weapons, has a long historical relationship with weapon procs that I definitely would argue has enriched the class, and I want to see more of them.

Seriously, I still take my Blackblade of Shahram out and hit a dummy with it just to see that big salamander proc. It's awesome. You can never have too much awesome.
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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