Your big beautiful beefy bulwark of badass.

The obligatory ZOMGWARRIORCHNAGES post


Yeah.  Everybody else is going to be dissecting these bad boys like a bucket of frogs in biology class, so why shouldn’t I, right?  Just remember:  half this stuff will never happen as written. Seriously.  We in the WoW playerbase have a tendency to hang on Blue Words as if they’re embossed on stone tablets, carried down the side of Mount Sinai by Moses “Ghostcrawler” Heston.  Yeah, well, read Exodus 32 sometime.  The original tablets?  They got broken. So don’t get too worked up.

That having been said, banzai, my peeps, here we go…

Inner Rage (Level 81): Whenever the character reaches a full 100 Rage, he or she will gain a buff that causes attacks to consume 50% more Rage and do 15% more damage for a short amount of time. This is a passive ability so it won’t need to be activated by the player. The goal for this ability is to provide a benefit for hitting max Rage instead of it feeling like a penalty. However, we also don’t want warriors to feel like they’re supposed to pool Rage and do nothing until they hit 100, so we’ll be closely monitoring how this plays out during the beta testing, and making adjustments as needed.

This appears to be part and parcel of the rage-related changes announced a couple of days earlier. They want to make us actually watch our rage bar and time things based on it. I like this concept. Right now, at least for Linedan as an ICC-geared raid tank, he’s got two states of rage–too much (T9/T10 boss fights) and not enough (everywhere else). It sounds like our rage gains will be less in Cataclysm, and our rage dumps will be, uh, dumpier, so we’ll have to manage it more closely. This ability just means that we’re really pissed off because we mis-managed our rage and got it stuck at 100. I guess.

Gushing Wound (Level 83): This ability will apply a bleed effect to the target. If the target moves, the bleed gains an extra stack and refreshes its duration, up to a maximum of three stacks. The ability is currently planned to have no cooldown, cost 10 Rage, and have a 9-second duration. Gushing Wound is designed to be weaker than Rend with one stack, but better with three stacks, which will be reached when fighting a moving target.

Bold Prediction #1: This ability will not make it to production in this format. The PvP whining from rogues and clothies won’t allow it. Rend is already a fairly strong bleed; in the constant swirling mobility of a PvP battle, being able to stick a bleed that’s even better than Rend on a target is extremely powerful. And somehow I don’t think you’re going to get people to stand still in the midst of a big PvP furball when there’s a warrior bearing down on them, even if they’re holding their colon in with one hand.  For PvE, this will be at best marginally useful unless a lot more bosses in Cataclysm require kiting, or you can apply multiple stacks by merely hitting the ability three times.  I doubt it’s going to work that way, though.

Heroic Leap (Level 85): This ability makes the character leap at their target and apply the Thunder Clap ability to all enemies in the area when they land. Heroic Leap will be usable in Battle Stance and shares a cooldown with Charge, but the Juggernaut and Warbringer talents will allow Heroic Leap to be used in any stance and possibly while in combat. The cooldown for this ability might be longer than the Charge ability, but it will also apply a stun effect so you can make sure the target will still be there when you land.

“Say, Fred, did you hear a Doppler-shifted ‘moo’?” WHAM

This has the potential to be, basically, the most fun thing ever if (like me) you’re giggling at the concept of seven hundred pounds of saronite-clad Tauren flying through the air like Carl Lewis in Lunar gravity.  The ability itself isn’t any more radical or unbalancing than using a Charge + Thunder Clap + Shockwave combo, it’s just fun.  Remember, my wife plays a feral druid as her main, and I get to see her kittypounce on a regular basis.

Heroic Strike will no longer be an “on next swing” attack, as we are removing this mechanic in Cataclysm. To keep the niche of Heroic Strike as a Rage dump, it will become an instant attack, but will cost between 10 and 30 Rage. This ability will not be usable until you have 10 Rage, but if you have more than 10, it will consume up to 30, adding additional damage for each point of Rage consumed above the base 10. Other abilities, such as Cleave, Execute, and Maul (for druids) will work similarly. The goal is to provide players with an option where if you can’t afford the Rage, you don’t push the button, but if you have excess Rage, you can push it a lot.

On the surface, I’m totally down with this. A lot of us of the warriorly persuasion have been hoping for the end of Heroic Strike/Cleave spam–if nothing else, because it fucking hurts after a while. Seriously. I really would like to not pound my “2″ or “3″ key every 1.5 to 1.7 seconds anymore. But I do have a concern…right now, on boss fights in particular, HS spam is the single biggest damage and threat component we have. For me, that’s between 20 and 28 percent depending on the encounter and whether my left hand is cooperating or not. If we’re no longer using Heroic Spam, that DPS and TPS is going to have to come from somewhere. I’m not flipping out, because there are several things mentioned here that look like they’re going to increase our DPS/TPS in other areas. But it is something that I really hope Blizzard takes into consideration, especially for warrior tanks using glyphed three-target Cleave as a primary means of keeping threat on trigger-happy AoE DPS in heroics.

Battle Shout, Commanding Shout, and possibly Demoralizing Shout will work more like the death knight’s Horn of Winter ability. Specifically, these shouts will cost no resources, generate rage in addition to their current effects, and be on a short cooldown.

Outstanding. Horn of Winter is a nice ability, and making our Shouts work like it is a good thing. But…this does again prove that despite extending paladin blessings and similar things all the way to 30 minutes now, they’ve never had any plans to do that with our Shouts. We will, in fact, be spamming the ferschnickies out of the things, much like DKs do with HoW to build runic power.

Whirlwind will hit an unlimited number of targets, but only for 50% of weapon damage. The intent is for this ability to be used in multi-target scenarios and not on single targets.

So what does this do to Fury warriors? The Fury rotation right now, not to put too fine a point on it, is very lacking. Bloodthirst, Whirlwind, and then you’ve got a few seconds to do pretty much whatever you want, as long as it’s either Heroic Strike or Cleave, all the time ready to jump on Bloodsurge procs. With both of those abilities going from on-next-swing to Execute-style large rage dumps, and with Whirlwind weakened against single targets, what will pick up the DPS slack while waiting for Bloodthirst to come back off cooldown? (BTW, I’m not surprised at this. Fury DPS against trash packs is ridiculous compared to single-target, at least for a part-time Fury furry like Lin. 8-9k against trash, 5-6k against bosses, and that’s with ICC pity buffs.)

Overall, heals cast by players in Cataclysm will be a lower number relative to players’ health than the current game. So to make the Mortal Strike debuff less mandatory but still useful in PvP, Mortal Strike will reduce healing by only 20%. All equivalent debuffs, including the Shadow priest and Frost mage debuffs, will be for 20% less healing. At the moment we aren’t considering giving this debuff to anyone else, though we will certainly consider PvP utility for historically under-represented specs that use other mechanics.

Sweet zombie Jesus, I can hear the screams from here. Mortal Strike has, since day one, been the defining ability for the Arms warrior, even after the introduction of 20 more points of talents into the tree. I don’t know how much practical impact this’ll have, but psychologically, this is a biggie that proves that Cataclysm ain’t yer daddy’s WoW, kid.  I guess they’re figuring that the other Arms stuff like Gushing Wound will make up for the huge reduction in the healing debuff, but still…

Sunder Armor will be reduced to three stacks instead of five, and still provide only a 4% reduction in armor per stack. We want to make this debuff easier to apply and less of a damage swing when it falls off.

Also, you just made it considerably less effective (12% vs. 20%), lowering all physical DPS to the target in the process, but you forgot to mention that part. Oversight, I’m sure. Well, at least it means a Glyph of Devastate won’t be semi-mandatory in raiding anymore, in fact, I doubt it’ll still exist. Why would it?  Glyphed Devastate = three applications to full effect, at two stacks per application.  New Devastate = three applications to full effect, at one stack per application.

The Furious Sundering talent in the Fury tree will make the Sunder Armor ability cause 25/50% weapon damage and reduce the threat generated by 50/100%.

Attention Fury warriors: Welcome to your new job as Sunder Armor bitches, assuming you’re in a raid or group underprivileged enough not to be graced with a Prot warrior. No longer will you be able to use the “but MAH DEEPS” excuse. You’ll now be able to keep three stacks of Sunder up on the target as part of your normal DPS rotation. This is a good thing, because actually, the DPS reduction of a Fury warrior trying to Sunder right now is pretty significant–I rarely if ever do it on Lin, it’s just not worth it unless the fight is exceptionally long, like a raid boss…and on raids, when I’m Fury, the other warrior is Prot, so I never have to do it anyway.

While we like how Titan’s Grip plays, we recognize some warriors liked the Fury tree because of the really fast swings that dual-wielding one-handed weapons could provide. Therefore, we’re planning to try out a talent called Single-Minded Fury that is parallel to Titan’s Grip and will provide a large boost to the damage of a pair of one-handed weapons.

Now this is fascinating. I like the fact that they’re going to try to make dual 1H Fury viable again. I just can’t figure out how. It would have to provide a very large boost to dual 1H damage in order to make up for the innately higher damage and much bigger stat boosts on 2H weapons, even with the 5% nerf on TG damage. I just hope the plan isn’t to increase the damage tax on TG.

Several talents that reduce the Rage cost of abilities will be changed to focus on increased damage for those abilities instead.

Hmm. Off the top of my head, this could include Improved Heroic Strike, Focused Rage, and Puncture. That would be nice.

The new Arms talent called Disarming Nature will make successful disarms cause the target to cower in fear for 5/10 seconds.

Bold Prediction #2: This won’t see the light of day either. Yes, I may be overly cynical about Blizzard and warriors in PvP, and I’m not that much of a PvPer, I admit. But I’ve been playing a warrior for over five years now, and I’ve seen so many nerfs whenever top-geared warriors started to actually be able to consistently dominate rogues and mages in PvP. And every time, those nerfs to top-geared PvP warriors ended up boning the mid-geared PvP warriors, and leaking over into PvE as well. Warriors are extremely hard to balance in PvP because of our survivability and our gear-scaling. I get that Blizzard’s walking a very fine line on it. But experience since 2005 has taught me that when talking about warriors and PvP, always assume the worst and hope you’re pleasantly surprised.

Improved Pummel, a Fury talent, will cause a successful interrupt to generate 10/20 Rage.

YOU NO LONGER HAVE AN EXCUSE FOR NOT PUMMELING.

Mastery Passive Talent Tree Bonuses

Arms
Melee Damage
Armor Penetration
Bonus Swing

Fury
Melee Damage
Melee Haste
Enrage Intensity

Protection
Damage Reduction
Vengeance
Critical Block Chance

Bonus Swing: This is similar to the Sword Specialization talent that is currently in the game, but Bonus Swing will work on all attacks and with all weapons. You have a chance to proc a free, instant weapon swing that hits for 50% damage.

Enrage Intensity: Every benefit of being enraged is increased. This includes doing more damage/healing/ etc. from abilities like Bloodrage, Death Wish, Enrage, Berserker Rage, and Enraged Regeneration.

Critical Block Chance: As we mentioned in the stat changes preview, block rating is changing to a chance to block 30% of a melee swing’s damage. Protection warriors have a chance that the block will be a critical block and block for 60% of a melee swing’s damage instead. There will likely be talents available to push the amount blocked even higher.

Vengeance: This is a mechanic to ensure that tank damage (and therefore threat) doesn’t fall behind as damage-dealing classes improve their gear during the course of the expansion. All tanking specs will have Vengeance as their second talent tree passive bonus. Whenever a tank gets hit, Vengeance will give them a stacking attack power buff equal to 5% of the damage done, up to a maximum of 10% of the character’s un-buffed health. For boss encounters, we expect that tanks will always have the attack power bonus equal to 10% of their health. The 5% and 10% bonuses assume 51 talent points have been put into the Protection tree. These values will be smaller at lower levels. Remember, you only get this bonus if you have spent the most talent points in the Protection tree, so you won’t see Arms or Fury warriors running around with it. Vengeance will let us continue to make tank gear more or less the way we do today – there will be some damage-dealing stats, but mostly survival-oriented stats. Druids typically have more damage-dealing stats even on their tanking gear, so their Vengeance benefit may be smaller, but overall the goal is for all four tanks do about the same damage when tanking.

Well. here’s our warrior “masteries.” And I must say, I do like what I see. Arms gets about what you’d expect–more damage, then more arpen, and finally an extra-swing proc chance (there’s your Sword Spec replacement). Fury, again, nothing unexpected…more damage, then more haste (remember, haste = rage in Cataclysm), then something to make Enrage more effective.

Prot, though.  My, my, but those do look tasty.  Damage reduction at first, no surprise there.  That Critical Block Chance mastery gives me warm fuzzies.  I don’t know about you, but the ability to potentially block 60% of the incoming damage of an attack–any physical attack–is very nice.  (After the progressive de-emphasis on things block-related throughout WotLK, it’ll be good to see blocking heavily useful again.)  And then there’s Vengeance.  This looks like Blizz’s compensating mechanism for the DPS/TPS hit we are going to take from the removal of HS/Cleave spam–a stacking AP buff.  Trouble is, I can’t take it seriously the way it’s written.

Here’s why.  Right now, in tank gear, Linedan has around 46,000 health.  With his tank weapon, unbuffed, he has 4391 AP.  10% of 46,000 is, surprise, 4600.  4600 + 4391 = 8991 AP.  That’s almost…well…OVER NINE THOUSAND. (Oh, sue me, you were thinking it too.)  You mean to tell me that Blizzard is going to give me the potential, while tanking, to more than double my attack power, simply by getting hit in the face?  Think what a 4600 AP buff would do, even to the relatively low damage that a Prot warrior is putting out.  Now imagine that same Prot warrior with a good solid rack of raid buffs and totems pushing him up to, say, 6500 AP, which is pretty normal for Lin in our 25-man.  Try a Prot warrior with eleven thousand one hundred attack power.  Prot warriors having the highest AP in the entire raid, higher than the rogues and ferals and DPS warriors?  Color me skeptical.  Color me happy as hell if it happens, mind you, but skeptical in the meantime.

There’s one other glitch with Vengeance, and indeed, with all of these changes.  They don’t address the situations where Prot warriors have to attempt to DPS in Prot gear, but aren’t getting hit.  True, that doesn’t happen all that often…except for the fact that Blizzard is leaning heavily on the tank-switch fight in WotLK, and we don’t know if they will continue to do so in Cataclysm.  Without getting hit, we lose our Vengeance buff and go back to doing the worst DPS of any of the four tanking classes.  It’d be nice if Blizzard could find some way to mitigate that, but I’m not sure if they will.

All in all, I’m pleased with these changes.  Unlike past regimes at Blizzard (yes, I’m looking at you, Mr. Tseric and your infamous “pop Enrage” reference from years back), I really do think that Ghostcrawler and the folks under him have a solid understanding of problems and ways to help them.  That doesn’t mean that I agree with all the changes they make, and it doesn’t mean I agree with everything they’ve done here.  It just means that I think they know what they’re doing, and that I’m not going to freak out over any of this stuff, because we’re still a very long way from seeing any of it come to Azeroth.  But, it’s good to see the preview, it helps us understand the direction that Blizzard is taking warriors.

3 responses

  1. Pingback: Warriors in Cataclysm, featuring Cows! « the Dwarven Pinball

  2. Pingback: Paladin Predictions: Cataclysm « Illumination

  3. Pingback: Holier Than Thou: In Which We All Contemplate Cataclysm « Disciplinary Action

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