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Saturday, February 07, 2009

Warriors: A Lament For Arms

Hi, I'm Matthew Rossi, your host for The Care and Feeding of Warriors. Unfortunately for my plans to talk about Hit/Expertise for DPS warriors this week Blizzard went and dropped a huge mess of news on upcoming changes to every class in patch 3.1, including warriors. I analyzed the changes yesterday and I was more or less positive when I did so. After all, this is hardly all the changes incoming (they even say things like We are also adding increased damage to Arms, possibly through Overpower or Slam) so obviously not everything is finalized yet.

But in the cold light of day, I'm frustrated. Fair warning: this is not going to be a fair and balanced overview piece. This is an opinion, an editorial, of the way Blizzard keeps underestimating what the warrior class needs. Why is arms still broken in PvE months after the beta? Why is one of the biggest changes to warriors in this patch a change to the shielding mechanic we can't even choose to apply to ourselves?

It's no secret that last year, I was one of the few people willing to be lambasted for calling attention to prot warrior liabilities. I got hammered for this, and I won't pretend it didn't irritate me, because all I ever wanted was to see protection spec get the buffs it needed to make sure it kept up with other tanks as viable. A lot of what prot saw happen in patch 3.0 was nearly perfect in my eyes. Vastly improved DPS, real AoE tanking options, a significant overhaul to how threat works, faster cooldowns. Prot got significantly loved, it's true.

The recent change to Sunder Armor isn't a panic moment for protection yet. As far as I can tell, it's not very significant at all. It's not game breaking or unfair, it's simply vastly annoying. It's irritating to me to see proection get such a minor and PvP oriented reduction and the idea that it might in any way hurt protection in PvE content infuriates me. Prot doesn't need any downsides to PvE right now. While we still don't know how the four tanking classes will shake out once we move out of Naxxramas and into Ulduar, the way things stand right now in tanking all tanks kind of feel unfinished and the last thing I as a warrior enthusiast want to see is any reason, however small, for a raid leader to decide to bring a tank who can generate AoE threat faster than a warrior (as an example) since there's no down side or lost utility to her raid when she does so.

However, as annoyed as I am on behalf of prot for a change that hasn't even been demonstrated yet, I'm positively livid for arms. It's been months. Beast Mastery hunters get nerfed too much and everyone explodes in protest, meanwhile arms warriors have just been quietly sitting there waiting for their DPS to catch up since the release of the expansion. Throughout beta, throughout release and leveling, and throughout endgame raiding we've all said the same things over and over and over again and there have been vague promises made and then patches come and go and arms is still not doing enough DPS. Now, I know this kind of thing is hard, I'm not advocating that we form a Transylvanian Housewarming commitee here and go all torches and pitchforks, but it is maddening to keep seeing the same issues beset the spec over and over again.

I haven't even started in on PvP because we all know I'm not really into it. Sure, Id did it on my tauren because for some weird reason when I'm playing the tauren I could kill things better (I don't pretend to understand it, maybe it was the racial health modifier or maybe I have a mental block) but the very fact that people who made their names as PvP warriors are now playing death knights just feels like I got hit in the back of the head with a hammer when I think about it. And man, why wouldn't you? You'd have to be very dedicated, very talented and perhaps very masochistic (I know there are still PvP warriors out there, so if you guys want to come and explain what the attraction is, I would love to hear from you) Protection spec is the only one I can think of that has the stuns and movement and silences necessary to get much of anything done in PvP nowadays.

Ironically, I play a raiding fury warrior. We're actually doing pretty well. Deep Wounds hotfix lowered our DPS some, but I'm used to that kind of thing. I wish I knew which classes warriors were allowed to exceed in DPS. It's not warlocks, mages, rogues, hunters, ret paladins, feral druids, moonkin druids, death knights (who are also tank/DPS), shadow priests, elemental shamans or enhancement shamans. These kinds of discussions always exhaust me and I leave them to others. Fury right now, I'm pretty happy with the spec, so I sit paradoxically like an old man yelling at kids to get off other people's lawns, basically. If nothing major happens for fury, we'll still be in good shape, we'll probably just drop in relative DPS position as other classes get buffed. And frankly if the baseline reduction to mob armor comes in (Creature armor has been globally reduced) then both rogues and fury warriors will see a DPS increase.

So basically I'm saying this: get to work on some concrete buffs for arms warriors, please. No more vague promises. No more awesome changes. You're making huge changes like removing consumable ammo from the game, do something for arms spec. It has all the components for an excellent DPS spec, the procs are fun and require real skill to manage, the changes to stance penalties you promised are a good step for it in PvP, now get crazy and give them something. I know you're looking at overpower and slam for them, but can I please recommend another look at Bladestorm? The damage itself is fine, but consider relaxing some of the penalties on the ability. Let people intercept when using it, or do more than autoattack? Something?

Well, I'm done with my impression of an Old Testament figure if said figure played WoW instead of, well, tending to the spiritual welfare of an entire people. Next week, the interrupted Hit/Expertise post.


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