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theorycrafting

3.1 warrior information

Eyonix tacked a couple of posts up on the Blizzard general forums today about upcoming (tentative) class changes in the 3.1 content patch.  The second of the posts contained some warrior changes, thusly:

  • Changing stances now has a much reduced cost: you lose a maximum of 20 rage (10 with Tactical Mastery). For example, if you have 100 rage and change stances, you will have 80 rage remaining. If you have 10 rage and change stances, all of your rage is lost. In addition, we may change the penalties associated with some stances.
  • You now gain rage when damage done to you is absorbed, such as through a Power Word: Shield.
  • Blood Frenzy now causes 2/4% physical damage done.
  • Sunder Armor (and similar debuffs) now reduces armor by 4% per application, and is now a single rank. Creature armor has been globally reduced so that debuffed targets should take about the same damage from physical attacks that they did before this change. The net effect should be that this debuff is slightly less mandatory in PvE and is not disproportionately more powerful against cloth targets in PvP.
  • We are also adding increased damage to Arms, possibly through Overpower or Slam.
  • We are also looking at granting rage when the warrior blocks, dodges or parries.

The change to stance-switching is massive.  Remember, originally, warriors retained no rage when changing stances unless they’d trained Tactical Mastery.  For Burning Crusade, we got to keep up to 10 rage points on a stance switch, trainable to 25 with 3/3 TM.  Now, in 3.1, we’ll get to keep all our current rage, less 20 (trainable to 10) points.  For PvE, especially for tanks, this is not a big deal; Lin lives in Defensive Stance because if he’s getting hit, grinding or instance/raid-tanking, he actually does more DPS in Defensive than in any other stance due to Revenge.  But for PvP, where stance-switching is more frequent, this is really big.  And, please note the tiny ray of hope at the end–“we may change the penalties associated with some stances.”  I would personally love to see the -10% damage output penalty removed from Defensive Stance, considering that prot warriors are still the weakest of the four major tank classes in terms of DPS while tanking, despite the huge buffs we received in 3.0.

Now the nerf (and it is a slight nerf) to Sunder Armor/Devastate partially counterbalances this.  The biggest effects will probably, again, be seen in PvP.  Sunder’s effects on clothies and leather-wearers is going to get considerably reduced, from a maximum of a flat 3925 armor reduction (785/application x 5 at Rank 7) down to just 20% of the squishy’s armor (4%/application x 5).  It probably won’t have a big effect in PvE; honestly, post-Lich King, I’ve never heard any non-warrior group bemoan not having Sunder Armor along, and in a 10- or 25-man raid group, the odds are good that you’ll have a warrior along that can Sunder.  Besides, I don’t know what kind of armor figures boss NPCs have…it might even be better against them?  The boss would need a bit under 20,000 armor in order for the “new” Sunder to actually reduce the armor more than the “old” Sunder.

And finally…”[w]e are looking at granting rage when the warrior blocks, dodges, or parries.”  Prot warriors can already get 2 rage on a block if they max out Shield Specialization (20% chance per point, 5 points).  I don’t think it would be hugely overpowered to get 2 or even 3 rage on a dodge or parry, and make the 2 rage on a block automatic and just leave Shield Specialization as +1% block chance per point.  As it is, high-avoidance tanks tend to get penalized in rage generation because of the current way of doing things–avoidance gets you no rage, and 1H + shield is a hellishly inefficient way of generating rage via delivering damage.  Prot warriors still get most of our rage by taking hits, not by dishing them.


How good is +defense?

Here’s an interesting post on +defense rating over at Tanking Tips.  Veneretio makes the point that +defense rating is better than either +parry or +dodge rating individually, due to (a) its inclusion of +block, +parry, and +dodge in one stat, and (b) the fact that the included +block rating isn’t affected by the new 3.0 “diminishing returns” mechanic.


Good things come to those who wait

Last night I noodled around on my alt hunters a bit before logging on Lin and doing a couple of Icecrown quests.  Meanwhile, my wife Rashona was running through normal Halls of Lightning with some mutual friends.  Suddenly on one of my chat channels, I see a member of that party asking “can anybody come and finish HoL with us?  Z’s connection is going flaky.”  Well, I’d been planning to give my aching wrists a night off from tanking, but these are my friends, and that is my wife, and it is Halls of Lightning…

15 minutes, five trash pulls, and one dead Loken later, look what I found.

Happy Panzercow, I am.  Picking the Seal up in place of my old Coren’s Lucky Coin let me yank a +16 defense gem out of my T6 shoulders and replace it with a +7 crit/+11 stamina sparkly out of the guild bank.  Then this morning, I made Revered with the Argent Crusade (I hate you, Alchemist Finklestein, so much) and got the +20 defense/+37 stamina enchant on ye olde Crusader’s Resolution.  23637 health and 21661 armor unbuffed now, 555 defense–and that’s without Titanweave on my cloak and without +20 defense on my shield, so I’ve got a good solid defense cushion now.  Overall, my stats are now solidly enough for most heroics, maybe even the really hard ones like Pinnacle and HoL with a good healer.

I do feel bad about my bud Zemmen not getting this, though.  Don’t worry, Z.  Get that connection fixed and I’ll give Loken the pimp hand all you want until he coughs one up for you.


To bleed or not to bleed

One of the more interesting discussions that pops up from time to time over on the Blizzard WoW warrior and tanking role forums is regarding shifting some points from the Protection tree over to the Arms tree to pick up two DPS talents in Arms–Impale, and Deep Wounds.

Impale:  Increases the critical strike damage bonus of your abilities by 10% per point.  Two points.

Deep Wounds:  Your critical strikes cause your opponent to bleed, dealing (16% per point) of your melee weapon’s average damage over 6 seconds.  Three points.  Requires 2/2 Impale.

Now, for reference, this is Lin’s current spec as of this post.  It’s a 15/5/51 Impale/Deep Wounds prot spec; basically, it’s designed to be a DPS-oriented tank spec.  In order to get the points to go 15 deep into Arms, I had to give up a few things over in Prot and Fury; namely, three points of Shield Specialization, all three points of Puncture, and (in Fury) three points of Cruelty.

At first glance, this looks kind of crazy.  Impale, OK, that’s easy enough to see as a good talent.  +20% to critical damage bonus on “abilities”–translation, yellow damage–is pretty handy, because the new post-3.0 way of doing things as prot means you’re getting the vast majority of your damage from yellow damage, not white swings.  This basically gives you +120% damage on yellow crits instead of +100%.  Add in the +15% crit chance on Heroic Strike, Thunder Clap and Cleave from Incite, the +15% crit chance on Devastate from Sword and Board, and the +15% crit chance on Shield Slam from Critical Block, and it should be obvious that Impale is extremely useful.  But why would you spend three precious talent points on something that only adds half the damage of a white hit, especially considering that tanks generally swing fast weapons with low raw damage numbers?

Two reasons:

1.  Deep Wounds activates off any crit.  Anything.  White damage, Heroic Strike, Shield Slam, Revenge, Thunder Clap…even Damage Shield.  Yep, that’s right, if you put all 3 points into it, Deep Wounds will activate if somebody crits themselves on your Damage Shield.  Right now, 2/3 Deep Wounds is not proccing on Damage Shield, but 3/3 is.  Either 2/3 should be proccing on Damage Shield, or 3/3 shouldn’t.  We don’t know which is correct, Blizzard hasn’t said anything.  But anyway, think about this.  Warriors throw out a lot of attacks, between passive Damage Shield hits, white swings, special attacks, etc.  That’s a lot of chances to get crits…and five of those attacks have +15% crit chances on them in most prot warrior builds.  With 3/3 Deep Wounds, every time you crit, WoW takes 48% of the average white damage on your mainhand weapon, mitigates it by the target’s armor since it’s physical damage, and applies it to the target in three ticks, two seconds apart.

2.  Deep Wounds “rolls.”   Basically, it stacks.  If the target has Deep Wounds on, and you crit again, the timer refreshes to 6 seconds and the 48% damage is added onto the existing Deep Wounds ticks.  And there’s no limit to how high it can stack.

Now you can start to see how a talent originally balanced around 3.50+ speed two-handers can become useful in the hands of a prot warrior.  If we chain lots of crits together, even with a low-damage weapon, those Deep Wounds ticks start to pile up into significant damage.  How significant?  Well, my only recorded data point so far was tanking a normal Culling of Stratholme run a few days ago–I’m terrible about forgetting to check my Recount before clearing it after an instance.  In that run, Deep Wounds was 5.9% of my total damage.  That’s not inconsiderable.  And, considering it procs off Damage Shield crits?  I can stick a bleed on a mob without ever swinging at it.  That may have some negative implications for crowd control, but it’s a short duration, and who CCs nowadays anyhow?

The only downside is that if we really wanted to push this even further, and take 5/5 Cruelty, it would require giving up all three points in Armored to the Teeth.  Considering that AttT is going to boost your average warrior tank by 300 to 400 attack power, I wouldn’t do it.  I’ll gladly take 350 AP over 3% crit, even with a DW build.  And, 15/8/48 isn’t an option, because it costs us Shockwave and either Damage Shield (which removes most of the reason to even take DW in the first place) or 2/3 Sword and Board.

So at the expense of a little bit of mitigation, we pick up a surprising amount of damage.  As a tank, our primary job isn’t leet DPS, that’s true.  But in this brave new world of WotLK tanking, DPS is how we generate most of our threat.  More DPS, more threat, stuff dies faster.  Personally, for raiding, I am leaning toward a 12/5/54 build, dropping Deep Wounds and transferring those three points to fill out Shield Specialization for the +3% block and guaranteed rage gain.  Right now, though, I’m a Deep Wounds prot build fan.