One of the truisms of the warrior class is our natural gear dependency. To a certain degree, this is overstated, or at least warriors like to pretend we're somehow special in this, when in fact everyone in World of Warcraft
is gear dependent. Everyone gets a good portion of their power from gear. Gear is the primary means by which we improve, ultimately - going up a level is far, far less significant than going up in ilevels on gear. This is complicated by ratings decay, of course - we get strange edge cases like the level 80 who has acquired various pieces of gear designed to last for multiple levels like Bjam's Door-Breaker
and the true strangeness of the system becomes apparent.
To put it into perspective, compare the Door-Breaker to a drop off of a heroic Dragon Soul boss
. Now understand, you could equip the Door-Breaker at level 80, meaning that its much higher ratings are magnified by the fact that at level 80, each rating point converts to more actual crit, hit, haste and so on. The reason the rating system was invented was a trinket named Blackhand's Breadth
. As the Wowhead comment points out, the trinket originally came with a flat 2% chance to crit. If that hadn't been changed, honestly, a lot of warriors would be wearing it right now
. Thus was rating decay introduced as a means to get you to need to upgrade your gear as you leveled without ridiculous things like a system where you'd actually have 1000% chance to crit but bosses reduced incoming crit chance by, say, 990% so you'd need to get your crit chance up to 1040%.
I'm not mentioning this purely out of nostalgia. The point being, it leads to the paradox of leveling - not only does gear affect our power more than our level does, but leveling actually weakens
you if you don't have replacement gear waiting to go. A level 80 warrior with the Door-Breaker and other pieces of gear like it will seem crazy powerful relative to other characters of his level, but each level she gains will cause her crit, hit, haste and other stats to decline. By level 85, what was once sublime will now be only adequate, and each additional level will reduce those ratings more and more, eventually forcing
the player to upgrade. And this is where the warrior myth of 'gear dependency' actually starts to be less of a myth and more of a reality.
The way the class works, rage is generated either purely passively (defensive stance), by damage dealt (battle stance) or by a combination of damage dealt and damage taken (berserker stance) - in the case of tanking warriors, rage is still affected by active attacks that have to connect in order to generate rage, like Shield Slam and Revenge. If the tank is undergeared, not only does she risk death before ever getting to generate rage for those active mitigation abilities like Shield Block and Barrier, she risks not connecting with her Shield Slam or Revenge and thus, not having any rage to use for them. Similarly, DPS warriors without sufficient hit and expertise will not land their attacks, which will reduce their rage generation for special attacks. It will also
mean that their main rage generation attacks (Mortal Strike and Bloodthirst) may miss entirely, which means no rage, and they are far less likely to crit for an undergeared warrior.
Those attacks not landing a critical hit means that the warrior does not get an Enrage, which is hugely important for all three warrior specs. The reason protection warriors get Riposte is to help increase the chance their Shield Slam and Devastate will critically hit and proc an enrage in much the same way that arms and fury warriors want to get critical hits with their Mortal Strikes, Bloodthirsts and Colossus Smashes. The lower your crit, the less chance any of these attacks will critically hit, keeping your rage generation low and hampering your offensive output. In the case of tanking warriors it actually hampers survivability.
If the removal of hit and expertise has no other benefit (and it does, indeed, have other benefits) one that I can immediately forsee for warriors is a reduction in the severity of this gear cycle. We'll still need to upgrade our gear as we level. But we won't
be forced as firmly into the famine cycle as we level, and that's a huge benefit. Yes, we'll still see our critical strike go down, and it means that our chance to enter an enrage will be lessened. Abilities like Berserker Rage will still be leaned upon as we go from 90 to 100 and see our crit drop, because we need to hit those enrages not just for the increased damage we get from being enraged, but the extra 10 rage we get. So leveling will still force us to look for new gear, but it won't doubly penalize by costing us not only the rage from those critical hits but also the rage from hitting at all.
It also means, however, that switching specs on a fight per fight basis may not be as difficult as it is now. While I expect we'll still see cases where certain stats are better for arms than fury or the reverse, without reforging and without stats that cap the way hit and expertise do, there won't be as much of the problem we currently have, where you either can't switch at all or do so knowing that your gear isn't optimized for the role, since you really won't be able to optimize your gear to the level you do now anyway. I resisted going fury on some fights not because I didn't know it could put out better DPS, but because I knew I'd want to be arms for the add heavy fights later and I therefore couldn't reforge and regem without really hurting my arms DPS for those fights. I've accepted that I'm simply going to do less DPS as arms now that I think I have a competitive fury setup - in Warlords
, I don't think it will affect my decision making in the same way.
I'm still concerned that having three new secondary stats
on gear in addition to crit, haste and mastery is going a trifle overboard and will lead to problems down the road, and I'd probably remove Multistrike if I had my choice (it's thematically less interesting than the other two) but we'll see how that shakes out.
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.