Hybridization and warriors

I’ve never been good at being just a tank or just a DPS warrior. I always get itchy.

I think this is because I came up during original raiding, when you needed a variable amount of tanks for every fight, and you could easily have four or five tanks on trash but only two (or even just one) for some boss fights. So I got used to two things.

  • Tanking arms or fury spec. EVERYONE tanked arms or fury back then. Most raids had one or two dedicated prot warriors as MT’s, and every other tank capable class had a tank set for weird fights that demanded more tanks. My raid once used seven tanks for Garr, for instance. Even our MT was arms. It just wasn’t necessary to go full protection – you took the threat generation talents in a 31/5/15 build and you hit Mortal Strike and you were a tank. We all used shields and tank gear, of course. But very few warriors tanked as protection, because there was no such thing as dual spec and the vast majority of warriors were arms. (And yes, even then, it was for PvP purposes. It’s always for PvP purposes.)
  • Constantly switching between DPS and tanking. I’m not kidding, either. Blackwing Lair was a raid with all sorts of different roles for warriors. You kited (running around spamming TC and shouting and hitting mobs) on Razorgore, every warrior tanked Vael, then there was the long run through the suppression room and multiple tanks on Broodlord, then the three drakes… mechanics constantly shifted up how many tanks you wanted/needed.

As a result, although I’ve long since adapted to the modern scheme of things with two dedicated tanks, my atavistic impulse is to always be ready to do whatever job I’m not currently doing.  I always feel like I need to keep up on these things, and even though I get rusty when I do one for a long period of time (I was a DPS warrior from the middle of Tier 14 until last month, so well over a year) I’m still always conversant – good enough to take over if needed. This is one of the things I love about warriors – we’re not ludicrous (I dislike three role hybridization and think it’s too powerful for a class to have) but we have options.

Right now I’m Prot/Fury, considering going Arms again for my offspec to do some PvP on it. I’d have to relearn how arms works in PvP, but that doesn’t bother me – it would even give me something new to do during the contentless summer I foresee.

I’m still working on a big rage generation post, so expect that soon.

An Alternate View

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Because sometimes I feel like people see me as overly negative, a few points:

  1. Disliking how the Colossus Smash mechanic works for fury does not mean I am ignorant of how well integrated it is in arms, nor that I think it doesn’t work in the current fury rotation. Let me be clear about it – I know that CS works fine in the current fury DPS scheme. My problem with how fury works as a DPS spec isn’t its damage output, it’s how constrained it feels. If you like that style, cool – I don’t. But either way, I’m not blind to its good points. I think the solution Watcher and Celestalon tweeted about will combine well with Ignite Weapon for those warriors who want to use rage more fluidly and those warriors who like the burst window gameplay can continue on as they are. It’s a good potential solution.
  2. Tanking right now is good, as a warrior. I am not ignorant of that. It lacks some things in my opinion (anyone who tanked in Cataclysm knows how awesome perma-Vigilance was) but it’s very good.
  3. Arms PvP is overpowered. It needs the changes coming. Complaining about them won’t change the fact that something needed to be done. When a spec is the most popular one in a class and yet it is vanishingly rare in PvE, that tells you something.
  4. Warriors still look better than any other class. It’s pretty indisputable.
  5. I’m aware (really, really aware) of how alpha the alpha is. I don’t criticize the decisions I’ve seen so far out of a desire to complain for complaint’s sake, but rather in the hopes that some will be addressed. And while I’m under no delusion that I have anything like a huge platform here, if enough warriors are vocal now, we have a chance to see some positive changes. I think the Colossus Smash glyph solution is good evidence that Blizzard does listen to us as a collective, even if they don’t always make immediate changes.
  6. A big post about my thoughts on rage and rage generation in Warlords is coming, I promise.

The reason

See, I’m actually not a huge fan of complaining. It’s not terribly productive. It doesn’t fix problems. I try to never list a problem with the warrior class without making some sort of suggestion. This is in a big part why I hate Colossus Smash so much – it creates a problem that is only a problem for some players (and clearly not for Blizzard, who have said they like the burst window effect of the ability) but which is a big problem for the people it’s a problem for and which needs to be addressed. But lately I’m starting to wonder if the real problem is simply that Blizzard is too close, in terms of design, and can’t step back and look at the intangibles.

Today an online friend of mine tweeted that he missed playing his warrior. That it used to be fun, and that it isn’t fun anymore. What Blizzard may not see right now is that, without the huge surge in PvP warriors would be in a sorry, sorry state right now. That PvP surge kept warrior numbers fairly steady over this expansion – people rerolled and dropped the class, but others came in and filled the gap, and almost all of them were arms warriors. In patch 5.4, protection got a solid DPS increase (you can get it into ‘good’ levels if you work at it, take certain glyphs, and get high stacks of vengeance) which slowed its drain to a degree (as we mentioned here, prot warriors have fallen in absolute numbers to the lowest ebb they’ve been at all expansion, but the ones that are left are tanking in Heroic SoO more than they have in any other heroic raid this expansion) but didn’t stop it. Fury has dropped a little as well – it’s the least played warrior spec – but fury makes up a reasonable chunk of heroic raiding. These numbers indicate that if not for arms huge popularity, the warrior class would be somewhere below monks in terms of numbers, and arms is entirely reliant on PvP strength it’s not going to have in Warlords.

But don’t be misled. The real problem isn’t any of that – those are all symptoms. The real problem is that tweet, and others saying the same thing. “My warrior isn’t fun anymore.” The problem isn’t mathematics – neither the statistics of continued play nor the damage numbers in current play nor the potential DPS of a hypothetical future game we haven’t even seen much from yet. No, the problem isn’t whether or not we can tank, or DPS, or PvP (clearly we can do all these things) – rather, it’s the people saying “I’m not having fun on my warrior” and haring off to other classes to play something else. Read More »

Adjusting to tanking – first week in Heroic SoO

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So our first two nights in heroic SoO with me as a tank are over, and they weren’t too bad. I relied pretty heavily on advice from the other tank (he’s been our guild’s official off-tank for a while, so he’d seen and tanked more of it than I have) but in general there were only two fights I felt like I did poorly on – Heroic Norushen and Heroic Iron Juggernaut. Iron Juggernaut was just a matter of getting to the bombs and then, for whatever reason, not being able to click on them properly even when I was standing right on top of them. Sometimes it would work, sometimes it wouldn’t. No idea what was up with that, but I didn’t like it. Norushen I just found the downstairs zone add very difficult if I didn’t go down with Vengeance – there simply wasn’t any margin for error, and it was simply unavoidable that I would make errors when it was my first night tanking the fight on any difficulty. Other than that, I’m not too horrified by my progress. We cleared up to Malkorok on heroic this week and didn’t really wipe that often on any fight – if we’d wiped more than five times on Norushen, I’d be upset, but I believe we got him on our fourth try and everything else was a one or two shot.

That being said, I still feel intensely rusty. One of the big difficulties is working out when it’s best to use Shield Block vs. Barrier – I’m using Block a lot more than Barrier at the moment for Heavy Repercussions and it feels like I’m taking more damage than I should. I’ve improved my gear as much as possible, and I’m standing at about ilevel 571 at the moment, but part of the problem is that I haven’t really given a shit about Valor Points in a long time, and now suddenly I have multiple pieces of tank gear to fully upgrade. I could go run some heroics, I suppose, but people are such toolboxes about running ahead and pulling that I really don’t want to.

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Warlords of Draenor and things I haven’t discussed yet

Allright. Been an absolutely terrible month for me personally so far (looking at a 2k bill I have no way to pay) so I’ve been distracted. So, what’ve I missed so far in terms of Warlords of Draenor?

  • Draenor Perks. I didn’t mention them. They’re fairly boring – a bunch of abilities will get more damage. A few of them are interesting – Improved Colossus Smash turns CS into a rage generator (similar to the DPS set bonus from Siege of Orgrimmar, but more direct) bringing DPS warriors up to 2 (and it’s a lot better for Arms with its random proc CS than Fury, which has no such ability). Fury gets more flat out DPS boosts with Imp Wild Strike, Imp Bloodthirst, and Imp Raging Blow, plus buffs to Meat Cleaver that will make it less expensive to use the Whirlwind/Raging Blow combination (two stacks of MC per WW, meaning you’ll only need to WW twice to get max multiple targets for Raging Blow) while Arms gets buffs to Sweeping Strike’s duration and how much splash damage Slam deals out – were we under the impression that warriors need even more AoE? Arms is kind of baffling with no buff to Mortal Strike via perks, but a buff to Overpower’s damage, and the Empowered Execute Perk is a baffling 50% buff to the ability. So we’re back to the warrior as the class that sucks until Execute range, are we? I realize I sometimes sound like a broken record here, but why? Why make it so you basically hit your rage generation and Execute like a drinky bird during the sub 20% phase of any boss fight? Why make it worse?
  • The tanking perks are equally bland, but they’re not bad. Imp Heroic Throw makes it spammable, good for picking up adds. Several flat out buffs to attacks or active mitigation abilities, unremarkable but nice. Unwavering Sentinel gets a flat 15% bonus armor while Bastion of Defense gets a flat 10% bonus block chance – both are nice for survival, if not terribly imaginative. Perks seem designed to just give you some candy as you level, stuff you don’t have to think about that just makes you better, and since they’re randomized you can’t and won’t spend any time worrying about which you want – you get what you get until you get them all. I don’t hate them. I just think they could use some differentiation, especially between Arms and Fury. And all three specs getting Improved Charge just seems lazy as hell to me. Just slap an extra 10 yard range on Charge and give all three specs their own unique Perk already.
  • I bitched about agi users getting 10% crit free, and I still think that’s shit. Just irritating as hell. But I do like that attack power from stats is being simplified so that each point of str is a point of AP, because it’s easy to understand and explain. And I do think the new Attack Power to Weapon Damage (3.5 AP per 1 DPS) is easier to grasp as well. I think making it 3.5 AP instead of 3 or 4 was a weird choice on their part. Since stats are being squished anyway, the 20% weapon damage reduction won’t be all that noticeable, and it makes Strength an even more valuable stat for us, potentially giving it some help against crit (although let’s not kid ourselves, with 2 rage generators and charge per spec, we’re going to suckle at crit’s teat for another expansion). I’d personally like to see Strength do something else cool for us, just to even out that 10% crit handout that the agi classes are getting.
  • 83% chance to hit while dual wielding isn’t great, but it’s better than the 73% I thought we were going to get. It’s about comparable to what a dual wielding warrior would have now with about 10% hit. (I’m basing this on the 17% chance to miss while dual wielding in Warlords vs. the current 27% chance to miss dual wielding against bosses in Mists of Pandaria) I think there should definitely be a Draenor Perk reducing this or in some other way compensating for it in terms of lost rage generation, but it’s not horribly crippling.
  • The PvP changes neuter arms without the rest of the changes giving them anything back to make them remain viable. I don’t see how this is debatable – no more cooldown stacking, no more charge stun without blowing a charge talent that will get rid of the shorter cooldown or double charge, no more stun stacking, and reduced critical hit damage when you do crit (making Recklessness worse). I expect to see arms warriors go through another ‘beginning of Cataclysm‘ drop off when Warlords comes out. Perhaps this will finally get Blizzard attention on the problems with the class overall.  I’m somewhat hopeful that fury will get to do some PvP, but I’m not holding my breath on it, while protection warriors might as well not bother with the changes to make flag carrying by tanks worthless. Still, with Vengeance gone, and tank damage going up overall, we might see some prot warriors making a comeback for node defense and general harassment, since Shockwave and Bladestorm won’t share a tier anymore.

I’m still working on some thoughts vis a vis how this is all going to shake out which I’ll hopefully post this weekend, and working on how my return to tanking is going (so far I’ve tanked about half of Heroic Siege of Orgrimmar and aside from being annoyed with how I did on Heroic Norushen it wasn’t bad). I’m also working on ways to make some money – if you have any to spare, there’s a donate button in the sidebar. I’m considering actually trying to sell merchandise, but I have zero idea how to go about that. See y’all around.

The Great Yawn – Warriors and the Warlords of Draenor Alpha Patch Notes

So.

Uhm… not a whole lot there, huh?

Yes, I’m talking about the Warlords of Draenor alpha patch notes. Or more to the point, the “We took away your means to generate rage outside of one attack on a cooldown between 4 and 6 seconds, hope you like leveling without any control over that.” Seriously, as these patch notes stand (and yes, I’m aware they are Alpha patch notes and thus not finalized) warriors have lost Berserker Stance, Battle Shout rage gen, Commanding Shout rage gen (basically the same rage gen) and Berserker Rage’s ability to generate rage for us. We have completely lost the ability to generate rage from damage we take (pretty much the only reason anyone used Berserker Rage anymore) and our emergency ‘give us rage now’ abilities now… don’t. We’re even told “If you want some rage before you start combat, charge to get it.” Which would be fine if A – we could charge in melee range and B – charge was up a lot more often than it is now and C- charge generated significantly more rage than it does. I’m very leery of these changes for leveling warriors and undergeared ones at level cap. Is it going to hurt the warrior who crits on almost every other MS or Bloodthirst? No. Is it going to hurt the warrior struggling to hit 18% crit? Yes, very much so.

The harder leveling a class is, the less likely people are to stick with it, and warriors are in a precarious position right now, propped up by OP Arms warriors in PvP. The last thing we need is more people jumping ship because rage is a burdensome limitation on gameplay and not a rewarding part of the process. Again, I know these are just Alpha changes – that’s why I’m raising concerns with them now. If the Mists of Pandaria alpha and beta taught me anything, it’s that you have to mention your concerns early and often. Read More »

A dissection of the Reaper of Souls story and its impact on Diablo III’s lore

Okay, if you ever read my old semi defunct blog over here, you’ll know that I wrote a thing about the gnostic overtones of Diablo III. Just like that post, this post is absolutely chock full of spoilers. I am going to spoil the ever loving crap out of Reaper of Souls and I don’t want to hear any complaints about it. I’m warning you right here, right now.

If you do not want to read plot details for Reaper of Souls then go away right now because I am so not kidding about this. Everything after this sentence could be a spoiler so if you’re still reading, I can only assume that you want spoilers because hoo boy I’m not even kidding.

We good? Okay, good.

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Getting ready to tank again

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The last time I seriously MT’d in Mists of Pandaria was in Tier 14 content. So now that I’m trying to get ready to go prot full time again for at least a month (our guild’s MT is taking a month off and we’re looking at several other players taking off due to RL and burnout( one of the biggest things I’m having to do is relearn the tanking mindset. Frankly, I think I might skip relearning the way I used to be about tanking – namely, miserable, bitter and worked up over every little thing.

I tend to be a perfectionist. When I was tanking in Cataclysm I was doing so as a guy who wants to do everything perfectly – never loses aggro, never makes a mistake. Unfortunately for me, I tend to make mistakes because I’m human. And they bug the hell out of me. With warriors having been basically the weakest tanks in terms of both survivability and damage output for much of Mists, I was relieved to step away and do DPS for a while. But I don’t think I really am a DPS warrior. I’m a warrior who DPS’s, yes, but I never really manage to turn off the tanking mindset. It kind of gets in the way of doing my best, and I think I’m just learning now how to turn off both the part of my brain that is always thinking about tanking and the other part that gets furious when I can’t make my performance as a tank as ideal as it is in my brain. Read More »

A brief post explaining where I’ve been and asking for some advice

So first up, my PSU blew up. Big bang, spark, dead computer. Hopefully not permanently dead, but yeah, no computer for me. This is why it’s taken so long for comments to be approved and why there’s been no posts here this week. If you want to donate to my ‘get a better computer’ fund, well, the PayPal link is down there on the sidebar. But don’t worry about it if you can’t or don’t want to, I’m just mentioning it because twitter told me to and I’m helpless in twitter’s grasp.

Anyway, the real reason I’m posting here is to ask y’all a question – if you were asked to suddenly start main tanking again, would you go with a heavy dodge/parry gear strategy, or a heavy crit/mastery strategy? I’m leaning towards crit mastery because I have a lot of crit/mastery gear, but I’m willing to listen to ideas about how I should go for a different strategy.

Hopefully my computer will be fixed soonish and I can start posting here again.

Comparing the Diablo III barbarian and the World of Warcraft Warrior

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You knew this was coming. I wrote a post back when Diablo III came out arguing that the warrior could learn a lot from the barbarian. We’re almost two years later, and we didn’t learn enough from them when Mists of Pandaria put warriors on a similar system – rage generators and rage spenders working in (at least conceptually) much the same way as D3′s barbarian and his fury get and spend moves. What’re the key differences?

For starters, the barbarian’s fury generators hit hard and feel good to use. Bash and Cleave are both solid, meaty attacks with good sound effects and a feeling of power behind them – you can easily wade into a mass of zombies or demons and kill them all with Cleave, if you don’t feel like spending fury. Some people deliberately use the Berserker Rage passive and don’t use many fury spender attacks in Diablo III, that’s how good the baseline fury get moves are. I doubt we’d ever get a warrior design that allowed us to just pool our rage to 120 and do effective damage without spending any, but it serves to show you how Diablo III has made its fury generators interesting and fun to use. The passive skills in D3 and its ability runes are wildly better than WoW‘s major/minor runes, and frankly the whole system should be scrapped and modeled after what Diablo III is doing. Allowing warriors to alter their rage so that it didn’t degenerate out of combat would solve the nightmarish feeling of watching your group get stronger while you get weaker.

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