Warlords of Draenor Alpha: Warrior changes

Matthew Rossi
M. Rossi|06.19.14

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Warlords of Draenor Alpha: Warrior changes
Okay, so we have the alpha patch notes, and they're a doozy. Warriors done got changed, and to my eyes, the changes aren't done - I expect fury to get a pass fairly soon, based on the changes to arms and protection. A lot of abilities were made spec specific or stance specific (the majority of these were protection or defensive stance/gladiator stance abilities) and arms saw an overhaul that completely changes the dynamic of the spec.

So what does it all mean? Well, for starters it all means that we're looking at alpha changes, which means by definition that they're not done yet. Panic is verboten. Take them as indicators of where Blizzard's design process is headed, by all means, but don't ever think of them as finalized. Until Blizzard says they're done, they're not done.

Looking over the changes, one thing that seems to be happening is that stance switching is being given some emphasis - making Rallying Cry defensive stance only, and then making it an arms/fury ability, means that there's a desire to get warriors back into using the stances. Whether or not this will actually work (I expect it will just force people to write macros again, like we did in the days of Wrath and before) is yet to be seen, but it's clearly on their minds. After the break we'll look at the changes in total as of the most recent alpha patch and discuss their impact on the class.
In reproducing these, I've chosen to deliberately include all the sections that have been struck out, so we can see what changes this latest patch is rolling back or removing.

Warlords of Draenor Alpha Patch Notes for June 18th
Ability Pruning - Warriors
  • Berserker Rage no longer Enrages the Warrior, generates Rage or increases Physical damage dealt. It now functions to break and provide immunity from Fears, Incapacitates, and Saps.
  • Crazed Berserker now includes the functionality of Single-Minded Fury and Titan's Grip.
    • Single-Minded Fury has been removed.
    • Titan's Grip has been removed.
  • Deep Wounds is now available only to Protection Warriors.
  • Devastate now naturally has a 30% chance to reset the cooldown of Shield Slam.
    • Sword and Board has been removed.
  • Enraged Regeneration healing has been increased by 100%, but no longer is increased by being Enraged.
  • Flurry has been removed.
  • Hamstring now costs 10 Rage and deals 20% weapon damage in addition to reducing movement speed, and is only usable in Battle Stance or Gladiator Stance. is now a passive ability that causes Mortal Strike, Bloodthirst, Revenge, and Raging Blow to also reduce the target's movement speed by 50% for 15 seconds.
  • Mass Spell Reflection now requires Defensive Stance.
  • Meat Cleaver has been removed.
  • Mocking Banner now requires Defensive Stance.
  • Rallying Cry is no longer available to Protection Warriors, and requires Defensive Stance.
  • Revenge now requires Defensive Stance or Gladiator Stance.
  • Safeguard now requires Defensive Stance.
  • Shield Slam now requires Defensive stance or Gladiator Stance.
  • Spell Reflection now requires Defensive Stance.
  • Sweeping Strikes now requires Battle Stance.
  • Taunt now requires Defensive Stance.
  • Thunder Clap now costs 30 Rage, and also reduces the movement speed of nearby enemies by 50% for 6 seconds. Requires Defensive Stance (available only to arms and protection warriors)
  • Ultimatum has been removed.
  • Vigilance now requires Defensive Stance.
  • Warrior Stances once again have their own action bars.
  • Whirlwind now requires Battle Stance and is available only to Arms and Fury Warriors.
  • Wild Strike now costs no resources to use with a global cooldown of 1 second, but is not usable normally. Bloodthirst hits have a 20% chance of making Wild Strike usable with 3 charges.
    • Bloodsurge has been removed.
Arms Changes

Developer's Note: Arms is still undergoing heavy revision and additional information will be made available later.

We wanted to fix a few problems with Warriors. Prominently, we still weren't happy with Arms' rotation (and neither were many players), so we've made some more changes. The goal is to remove needless complexity while simultaneously adding more depth. As mentioned in the above section on Ability Pruning, Overpower and Heroic Strike have been removed for Arms Warriors. In its place, Execute has been revised to provide more dynamic gameplay throughout the whole fight while still retaining its identity of a low-health finisher.

In addition, we weren't satisfied with the Mastery for Arms. The intended flavor for Arms is about hitting with few, big, and heavy weapon strikes. Strikes of Opportunity actually went opposite of that, adding frequent little hits. We've replaced Strikes of Opportunity with a new Mastery which accentuates their intended design.
  • Battle Stance for Arms Warriors now generates increased 100% Rage from auto-attacks and Critical Strikes now generate double Rage.
  • Defensive Stance for Arms Warriors now generates 50% as much Rage from auto-attacks as in Battle Stance.
  • Mastery: Strikes of Opportunity has been removed, and replaced with a new ability, Mastery: Weapons Master.
    • Mastery: Weapons Master increases the damage of Colossus Smash, Slam, Mortal Strike, and Execute abilities by 20% (increasing with Mastery).
  • Blood and Thunder has been removed.
  • Deep Wounds is now available only to Protection Warriors, and naturally triggers from Thunder Clap.
  • Thunder Clap is now available only to Arms and Protection Warriors, requires Defensive Stance or Gladiator Stance, and its damage has been increased by 50%.
  • Executioner is a new passive ability for Arms Warriors.
    • Executioner causes the Warrior's auto attack hits to generate an additional 40 Rage against targets with less than 20% health remaining. Additionally, the Execute ability no longer requires the target to be below 20% health to use, but its Rage cost is increased by 100%.
  • Colossus Smash now costs 30 Rage, deals 225% increased damage, and no longer increases the damage of Slam.
  • Enrage is no longer available to Arms Warriors.
  • Execute for Arms Warriors now costs 20 Rage, and consumes up to 40 additional Rage to deal additional damage.
  • Mortal Strike now costs 30 Rage (instead of generating 10 Rage). generates 20 Rage (up from 10 Rage).
  • Slam has been removed. now costs 15 Rage (down from 25 Rage) and no longer has additional effects when Sweeping Strikes is active.
  • Sudden Death has been removed.
  • Unbridled Wrath has been removed.

What we're looking at is a pretty drastic (and to my eyes, not remotely finished) redesign to the basic idea of how arms works and what it does. Without any new attacks added, we now have Mortal Strike, Colossus Smash and Whirlwind for AoE, and Execute under 20% and... that's it. That is the entirety of arms as of this alpha build. Autoattacks are the means to generate rage, and Battle Stance greatly buffs their rage generation for arms. There's no reset for Colossus Smash, so you basically hit Mortal Strike every time it's up, hit Colossus Smash every 20 seconds, and... that's it.

I consider this an unfinished rotation because it's literally two buttons before 20%. There has to be more coming for the spec, and combined with the removal of Enrages for arms we're left with a spec that's just completely half baked. There's very little to do, no real way to generate increased damage. Now, this isn't me worrying about this -- I'm aware this is the alpha. With Deep Wounds gone from both arms and fury, my take on it is that we're seeing the tearing down process where each spec is being taken down to its essential functions - arms being all about masterful hits with its weapons, while fury is the wild frenzy spec and will likely continue to use Enrage as a mechanic. One hopes so, since they just lost Flurry - it's possible we'll see Flurry added into Enrage for fury, but then again, perhaps it's simply gone. Either way, what we have right now is a sense of a class being very heavily redesigned.

With the emphasis on stances here (many tanking abilities now requiring defensive or defensive/gladiator stance, even Rallying Cry which is an arms/fury ability) I wonder if we'll see it pushed even further. With arms and fury deviating in design, could fury see the return of Berserker Stance as a replacement for Battle? Pure speculation on my part. But what's clear is that this teardown phase needs some pretty significant testing. It's not live on the alpha as yet (I still have Slam on my bars, for instance, and can use Thunder Clap in battle stance) as soon as it goes live I'll happily go see how it plays. I definitely believe it will need some more work - arms in particular sounds, frankly, boring in this iteration, with almost nothing to do but hit MS and CS on a strict, unvarying routine.

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