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.

Fun is an intangible quality in a game. We mostly describe it in words that are themselves intangibles – words like ‘cool’ or ‘awesome’ or ‘a blast to play’ that really just mean the same thing – playing said game makes you want to play it more. Anyone who’s heard or read me talking about Diablo III lately can see the signs of fun being had in the way I talk about it. Lately – and by lately, I mean over the past couple of years – you have not heard me talk much about playing my warrior. And I think that’s a real problem, and one that needs to be addressed in the design of the class, especially at a time when we’re losing abilities to the ability purge. Right now, Gladiator’s Resolve is by far the best level 100 talent for warriors. It’s the best talent because it shakes things up – adds a new stance, a new switching mechanic (you can’t switch into/out of Gladiator’s Stance once you’re in combat) and makes protection play differently. It is what a level 100 talent should be – spec and role defining. It is the Titan’s Grip of this expansion. And it is the only thing worth talking about. You can see this on various sites, see it on twitter, on the forums – whether it is paladins wanting a similar ability because paladins simply can’t let warriors have anything without demanding that they get it too, or people necroing tweets about Gladiator Stance from early this month (I know this because I was in the original tweet response, and so I get all the new ones) Gladiator’s Resolve is the topic of discussion. And as I said, I get it – it’s an amazing talent.

Nothing else we’ve seen so far – and I mean nothing else – has brought any sort of positive change to the class, and we sorely need it. Not because we’re broken in terms of math – warriors in patch 5.4 can absolutely tank anything in the game, and not just warriors in top 100 guilds who have an entire entrenched guild support structure keeping them viable. Fury warriors can put out very respectable DPS numbers, especially in AoE situations. Arms is a PvP behemoth. But the warrior class delivers this mathematical performance – wins the current numbers game – due to some pretty hefty buffs in 5.4, and none of that changes the fact that the class plays like a relic. The mobility tanking class of Cataclysm is now no longer that. Active Mitigation as the warrior got it simply was bolted on – Shield Block re-purposed (and not in a very compelling way) and Shield Barrier a pale imitation of the Death Knight’s Blood Shield. And it is this issue that is the most important for warriors going into Warlords of Draenor – how fun does it feel to play? How can the class be given more of that feeling that kept us playing it over the years, that had people rolling warriors?

Another of my friends just came back to the game and hopped onto his warrior, and had a blast tanking on him. He doesn’t play other classes. In a vacuum, the warrior can still evoke those feelings it once did. You only become aware of the problems if you play other classes, or alongside them. In many ways, the warrior of today plays like a slightly refined version of the warrior of Cataclysm, and the design worked. The class isn’t broken, really – there are things I find irritating and poorly thought out about the design, but it functions. The issue is that feeling of fun, of freshness, especially when compared to other classes. The warrior needs a redesign not to function better, but to be more compelling. People need to want to play it. After nine years, the class that has tanked since vanilla, and been DPS that whole time as well, needs a refurbish to compete with the three tanking classes that can fill any role in the game, and the other tanking class that plays like warrior 2.0. The feeling of being a human weapon and a human shield, of hurtling into combat, taking the biggest hits and screaming for more needs to come back. In the midst of pruning our rage generation, our unique stances, our banners and taking Shield Wall away from DPS, a way needs to be found to make it feel new, not just stripped down.

I understand that the changes are necessary for the game. But it’s time to admit that, when the only thing anyone wants to talk about is one level 100 talent that only one spec can use, you need to go back to the drawing board. The Ravager talent simply isn’t very compelling – it’s too easy to imagine that axe spinning off in a corner by itself as the targets run out of it. Anger Management seems underwhelming in an age when cooldowns have been pruned from the game – we’ll have one or two at the most, a Recklessness that adds even less crit (yes, it adds in Skull Banner’s effect, but it always should have done, that’s just a compensation for how little crit it will add) and a choice between Avatar and Bloodbath that you may end up avoiding utterly for the ability to take Bladestorm instead. Ignite Weapon is interesting, but it definitely suffers in comparison to Gladiator’s Resolve. These talent choices absolutely pale in comparison to other classes – they need redesign or removal. Gladiator’s Resolve should be the model for future talent design.

So in the end, I’m not really worried about how much damage we’ll do, and I’m not worried if we’ll have parity with other tanks, because it’s too early to worry about that (although I certainly will talk about both in the future) but I am worried that those people who are saying “I don’t like my warrior anymore” won’t get anything that changes their mind. That concerns me.

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15 Responses to The reason

  1. Kazekraze

    I think you hit the nail on the head with this one, I’m a die hard warrior player, I’ve got multiples over all level ranges, and LEVELING a warrior still can invoke the cannonball feel, as long as you level as Arms or Prot, fury is lackluster in feel, its name is almost a contradiction with how it plays now, there is no real rage or frenzy to it, just tick/tock of store rage and spend rage.

    I’ll be honest I’ve been leveling and considering swapping to a DK for my plate tank/DPS or to a paladin because they FEEL like they should, flashy hard hitting with solid animation. I used to love fury, every time I got into raiding as a DPS felt like a blast, that ended about half way through Cataclysm, the spec became more about strict rotation rather than just blitzing and destroying stuff. Fury needs to be brought back to the days of gaining and spending rage (or give us more rage free abilities to use in our rotation) Wild strike our main dump to keep from capping feels less like something a wild marauding blender of steel would do and more like a rogue attack, it just doesn’t fit with the model, all of our attacks should be FELT, not just “well you can do this when you’re about to cap rage, even if it looks like a pampered slap than a weapon attack” Mechanically we need our fast attacks back, Fury back in TBC or WoTLK was like watching a drum solo, the numbers overlapping as they flew off the target, now if you can get more than one (discounting deep wounds) per GCD its unheard of.

    Also, why do DKs get Flurry as an aura thats always on and ours has a menial chance to proc on white hits, I think thats why I’m enjoying the Frost DK so much, it PLAYS and looks like Fury should.

    • Kazekraze

      Another issue is that Warrior DPS has to struggle and play PERFECTLY to keep up with other classes until heroic gear, its not fun being the lowest least survivable dog in the pack when a Warlock or hunter 20ilvls lower than you can breeze by with a pathetically simple rotation and never have to worry about being pushed out of melee range. We’re dead last for DPS output in normal gear and then explode into the top 5 once we’re capable of breaking the 100% enrage uptime barrier, Another HUGE problem with balancing our damage output around a 6second window every 20seconds is that if you miss a single one of them without a perfect storm of 3RB/100+ rage HS dump you’re SOL, damage drops like a rock and the fact that it can happen so many ways.

      A large problem I’ve noticed is bosses suddenly pulling an about face and parrying CS, they’ve said that a fix “might” be in the works for WOD for this problem but thats only part of it, being forced to move out of range is a larger one since we don’t generate rage (and this gets worse in WoD with no rage except from attacks) and we can’t immediatly burn our 6second window when we get back in due to lacking RB charges and rage. A lot of guilds just wont go through the trouble of bringing a DPS warrior to OBTAIN the heroic gear because we really are an anchor that holds a raid back. Warriors used to be balanced around the idea that they could do higher damage while in melee but couldn’t “Gimp” mechanics to stay in range so it balanced out. But this entire expansion has been decidedly unfriendly to us, and the numbers show it.

  2. Nutter

    I sure hope someone (or something) is listening to you Mr. Rossi :)

  3. Casja

    I think you hit the nail on the head in the first paragraph with Blizz being too close to design. I feel that since wrath we have seen more and more of a stance by the devs of not wanting to know what we as players want to see from the game but they want to tell us what we think is fun and what we really want from our class. For examples just look at healing in cata, active tanking, daily quests in mop, and now more healing changes and having garrisons be the primary focus of WoD. They react to data that only they can see without taking into account the “fun” factor.

    Sometimes Blizz is close to what we really want, such as active tanking, but other times they go so far beyond. Some players might like Fury as it is right now but the majority i have seen and heard from thinks it has major problems and is very very unforgiving.

    I would love to see the WoW devs take some notes from the devs working on Diablo 3: RoS. They took a game that had major issues at launch and listened to what the players wanted and made massive leaps. D3 now is a amazing game that is a joy to play because of suggestions and input from the players that was listened to by the devs. Why cant fury play like a D3 barbarian? Why cant we have interesting, spec changing items like D3? There are so many possibilities that wow could take advantage of if they only focused less on mathematical parity and more on what they could do to make the game fun and exciting again.

    Blizz needs to learn the players are not always wrong and that they, with all of their data, are not always right. We want fun more than we want perfect homogenized balance.

    • Kazekraze

      We do in theory have “spec changing” items occasionally in the form of set bonuses, and the readiness stat could possibly change how we line up abilities (its close but its not as good as the D3 design) Right now we’re also running somewhat like the D3 Barbarian, we have a main attack (MS hits harder than BT and I think that needs to be fixed in a huge boost for BT) that generates resources and then abilities that spend those resources, in theory we can get BT down to a 3second cooldown with the “Make warriors like Paladins” passive that we’ll see in WoD…will that make us want haste, in theory it could lead to a lower crit theshold since we’d only need IN THEORY 25% crit to give us 100% uptime on enrage rather than 40-45% but unless they really boost our rage per swing from white attacks we’ll still be rage starved since our GCD will be lower.

      With how much better haste is for MS now, and it will get a bit better and how hard MS itself hits I see Fury being the low dog in WoD and MS dominating the warrior DPS scene for the entire Xpac. Fury needs a big bump to our rage generation to make the new haste mechanics and Ignite weapon worthwhile otherwise we’ll see fury be the “Crit x2>Master x4> Int > Spirit > Agility > haste class again.

      • Casja

        Your absolutely correct that we are theoretically based off the D3 barb in that we generate rage with BT or MS and spend with other abilities. Whats missing the the speed and frantic pace the D3 barb can play at with the increased attack speed of Frenzy and different passives that can supply you with plenty of rage.

        Call it rose colored glasses but I miss the days of wrath where getting better gear felt like a big improvement. Getting armorpen capped and good enough gear to turn into a unending ball of raging steel felt fun. You felt Furious. It had problems back then with rage starving at lower gear levels but the rewards for gearing made it worth the struggle. Now we still have issues with low level gearing not having the crit required for enrage uptimes and RB charges, but now even at high gear levels your restricted by a single cd.

        Ive mainly focused on fury but i dont feels like the arms rotation is nearly as bad. It can be enjoyable with the the more random nature of CS as arms. I just think arms DPS is intentionally held back by its PVP strengths. WoD seems the me that it may possibly help arms since it wont have the ability to lock down casters with stuns and roots.

        For all my complaining of Fury, I do enjoy prot. I agree with Matt that the active shield bash/shield barrier feel tacked on and boring the rest of the rotation to me is enjoyable. I would just like to see a bit more self healing Just so we are not so dependent on healers. Baking in our current 2pc and attaching it to our block% would be perfect.

  4. Bullbar

    I’ll come in from the opposite side and say I find the warrior extremely fun. But I only started playing my warrior this expansion, and only had to make it my main a few months back due to our tanks disappearing. But after having tanked with it and recently playing both Arms and Fury, I’m in love with the class. I actually love the CS burst window for Fury and managing your rage during the non-CS times….it isn’t nearly as devoid of spending rage and I was led to believe, you still get to push a lot of buttons. And while the Arms rotation was a bit more “boring”, in that you didn’t really need to manage your rage as much due to CS coming off cooldown randomly, it still is really fun to play.

    Maybe it’s because my experience with warriors is not coloured by any experiences in earlier expansions that makes me enjoy it so much. I don’t have any of the nostalgia hangups regarding the warrior and am able to enjoy it immensely for what it is now. I’ve never once regretted the decision to make my warrior my main and have it continue to be my main in Warlords.

    • matthewrossi

      Let me ask you this – when warriors were absolutely the bottom of the barrel on tanking DPS and thus, almost never a desired option for tanking over any other class, were you playing one? And were you having fun doing so?

      • Kazekraze

        I think you hit right there where our big “Like it/Hate it” split comes from. People who had previously played warriors in Prior Xpacs (I’ve been one since beta) dislike this metronome feeling of Fury, the lower output of Arms and the wet noodle feel of Prot prior to 5.4, it wasn’t fun being dropped because the Protadin could pull 300k DPS in MSV and it wasn’t fun being dropped for a Frost DK or another Rogue (or worse yet a ranged DPS) because warriors couldn’t keep up for progression purposes.

        Sure Prot is in a good spot now, we’re durable (we never really lost that honestly) and can dish out solid DPS as tanks, but as people have stated before, we don’t FEEL like we used too, we don’t feel like juggernauts crushing our foes or ripping them limb from limb in a frenzy we feel…like a metered slow paced background drummer who can’t quite keep his tempo if it speeds up.

      • Bullbar

        No, I wasn’t playing a warrior in 5.2, and yes I know how warriors were not desired tanks in that patch. But we actually had to use one since we had really bad luck with paladin tanks throughout this expansion. So while warriors weren’t the desired tank, we did end up using one and got through a lot of heroic ToT. But I don’t know how our warrior tank felt then of course.

        I’m just saying that right now I thoroughly enjoy my warrior.

  5. Morfanai

    I’ve got to agree with Bullbar. Though I’ve been playing a warrior since Classic/Vanilla, I didn’t hit max level with one until this January, well into 5.4. I’m WAY behind, but have been having a blast tanking with him.

    I do agree that Fury leveling is pretty dull, however. My spec was set to Fury when I came back to my warrior and I leveled from 45 to mid-BC with it. I switched to Prot before heading out to Northrend and haven’t looked back. I’ve now got an Arms off spec that I don’t really use because I haven’t gotten any decent gear with it yet.

    From the little I’ve seen, DPS specs could use a redesign. However, I am really enjoying the way Prot is working right now.

  6. Ardam

    I have to echo some of Rossi’s feelings in this post. At the moment, it seems the designers focused on one of our problems, namely haste, and then forgot to address the rest of our problems. Even the solution to the haste issue seems lackluster (Paladins should be stealing from us, not the other way around :p).
    I love my 2 warriors, even with an alt of every class but hunter. But I can’t help but notice that in 5.4, all 3 specs are propped up by something that’s going to go away in Warlords:
    Prot is heavily dependent on stacking riposte. This mechanic totally changed up our gearing scheme, and helped boost our damage significantly as well. But in Warlords, that’ll be impossible. Even if crit increases our parry chance, without reforging we’ll never be able to stack it to the level of Mists. Shield block, and our mastery, will remain lackluster as long as boss abilities can’t be blocked – and the majority of them can’t.
    Fury is propped up by the Readiness trinket allowing the use of storm bolt every CS. Even if we pick up Anger Management at level 100, I doubt we’ll be able to generate and spend enough rage to make it function at the same level.
    Arms, as mentioned in the post, is propped up due to its PVP dominance, which we already know is being addressed. We don’t know what the new Arms rotation will look like, so it’s too early to express an opinion on whether it’ll be broken or not. Would be nice to have more info at some point soon, though.

    Also, being a prot warrior in ToT was absolute hell. I’d never felt so utterly weak as a tank… and I didn’t even touch heroics for that raid.

  7. Gladiator’s Resolve should be a template for excellent talents. Talents should be spec-defining, gameplay-altering mechanics. For example, what are some of the best talents? Double Time, Second Wind, Bladestorm, Avatar. These are great talents because they change the way you approach your character, just as Gladiator’s Resolve does. They either change how you thematically approach your character or how you approach the way you play your character.

    The problem is that so few talents in the warrior tree are actually defining. For example, you have a choice between a stun/root (or DOUBLE TIME), reduced CD, 15% heal (or SECOND WIND), snare/silence, AoE knockback/stun (or BLADESTORM), spell/physical damage reduction, bleed/stun (or AVATAR), reduced CD/ranged attack (or GLADIATOR’S RESOLVE).

    What makes those talents so defining? Double Time turns you into a mobile machine of death, leaping from enemy to enemy. Second Wind turns you into a class capable of soloing old instances without issues for healing. Bladestorm turns you into a literal whirling tornado of steel. Avatar turns you into a colossus (albeit it could be more impressive). And Gladiator’s Resolve gives you an entirely new stance where you are using your shield as a weapon.

    I know it’s like wishing for flying pigs, but I do wish that talents would be viewed more as gameplay defining while the ability modification would be coded into an expanded major glyph system, and specs would be major thematic changes in each class (or sub-classes in and of themselves, having entirely different abilities that operate under the central theme of the class theme).

    • Kazekraze

      Double Time is only “defining” in that the other 2 suck compared to it, Juggernaut is a reduced CD for standard charge, but does the same thing that double time does just with out the 2nd charge. Bladestorm is very situational, although if you use a cancel aura macro it can be good for single target as well, but again the other 2 talens while not as dizzing are well enough for warriors visually (you cause the ground to heave in a cone in front of you, or you scream loud enough to cause everyone pain and be shoved back…hitting and yelling its what we do.) Honestly I always thought that Bladestorm should have been left with Arms and give Fury a flip talent that instead of spinning like a top we Oldschool Windfury proc on every attack for 6 seconds.

      Avatar is a horrible talent compared to the other 2 mechanically and is a shadow of what it replaced (Deathwish) none of the 90 talents change playstyle in any way beyond when do you stack it with another ability.

      for Raiding Second Wind is pretty horrible, its a passive mechanic that if you’re that low for that long most encounters will kill you (Thok and Paragons for Example)

      But you are correct, Gladiator’s should be how they look at talents, in that it does something different for Protection than it does for Fury, they should expand this for all 3 specs on most talents. Although WoD will be interesting since Warriors will have IN THEORY 3 DPS specs to play with now. Perhapse they’ll move us from Tank/DPS hybred and make us a DPS…that tanks

  8. Daren

    I play a protection warrior in pvp, and have since burning crusade. Through thick and thin, good patches and bad patches, it has been the spec and playstyle that I enjoy the most in the game. I enjoy arms and fury in pve, but never enjoyed them much in pvp. Being able to survive more than a few seconds without a healer present is a beautiful thing in itself, but it’s the utility of the spec in pvp that I love. Every time I shield slam someone I dispel a buff or a heal, every thunderclap reduces the physical damage dealt at a contested node, multiple spell reflects are the source of a good deal of mad chuckling, and the list goes on. Unfortunately many of the qualities and strengths we bring to the table are not an upfront or visible thing to other players in pvp. Blood dk’s and guardian druids do much more damage, and have more effective means of healing themselves in pvp than a passive that doesn’t trigger until you are in the execute/killshot/touch of death range. There is no section on the default leaderboard for dispels, or damage mitigation, and the ability to force a group to focus on you instead of their intended goal is also sort of an intangible thing. I don’t really want to play an overpowered spec or class as a lack of challenge takes the fun away from the game for me. I would enjoy being able to play the spec I enjoy without constantly having to prove my worth. Personally I look forward to change, as nostalgia doesn’t fix issues at hand and hope that with the next expansion I’ll have more tools at my disposal for causing a ruckuss.

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