What Fury needs

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It’s easy to criticize, after all. I’ve gone on record as hating Colossus Smash and wanting it gone for fury. I’ve talked about how Fury’s mastery gets stronger and stronger with gear, and ironically links us ever more closely to crit because we need to push ourselves into Enrage as much as possible. Mastery becomes our number two, of course, and haste? Haste is meaningless. I clearly want this design changed for Warlords of Draenor, but that’s easy to say. The hard part is, what do I want it changed into?

First off, I’ll say this much – I believe now more than ever that we need to pick between SMF and TG and design going forward with that in mind. Trying to balance the two has just ended up with us seesawing between them this expansion, and last expansion it wasn’t even a contest – TG always won.  Titan’s Grip is the only really distinctive, visually cool element warriors have gotten in years. SMF isn’t. I don’t even think there’s a contest to be had here – I know there are players who prefer SMF, but I can’t say I’m one of them or ever have been. It seems retrograde to me to go back to SMF now that we have TG. I’ve played both this expansion, but Single Minded Fury just completely failed to win my heart back – even back before TG existed, I always used a Slam fury 2h build. So my vote (not that I actually get 0ne) would be to scrap SMF from fury. (In fact, I’d also switch protection over to using 2h weapons with their shields and abandoned 1h’s entirely, if given my choice.) I think in order to balance fury, we need the big stats from those 2h’s.

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On incoming racials and warriors

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Okay, this one is a bit speculative – we still don’t know a lot about how warriors are going to interact with stats in Warlords, for instance. We can’t just assume that haste will stay terrible for us even though it has been so for years at this point. So I won’t go into this post assuming anything will remain bad just because it’s bad now. Still, it’s worth looking over the revised racial abilities coming in Warlords of Draenor and contemplating if they’ll make it more compelling to play warriors of any race rather than just a few races. (My draenei, pictured above, is deliberately doing less DPS than he could be because he has the semi-useless hit racial rather than the worgen crit racial – so it’s an issue I’m interested in.) So let’s take a look at the racials as they were last explained to us, always keeping in mind things could change before release.

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Waiting for Warlords

Things I’m not going to do until I manage to get my hands on a beta include make any predictions about how well warriors will do in the next expansion. There’s just no way I can know that before I get to see more of the game, you know? But I will say this – the changes to instant cast spells and healing have the potential to make being melee DPS (that is to say, the majority of warriors) a lot less painful in PvE, and even with the loss of charge stun and the reshuffling of talents, I don’t foresee arms warriors suddenly falling out of PvP. Warriors have remained PvP mainstays since vanilla. Through BC and Wrath and Cataclysm and now Mists, no matter how strong or weak we were, we remained. There’s simply no way to get rid of warriors in PvP – we fill a niche that will forever be needed, and we do it in a way no one else really can among the melee. There is no other strength melee class with our combination of in-combat mobility and burst. So even after the changes, I expect warriors will do fine in PvP, but please understand I’m saying this without seeing the changes in action yet, because I can’t.

If it turns out we’re nerfed into uselessness, believe me, I’ll complain about it.

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The Inevitable Arms Warrior Post

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Okay, some things to get out of the way first:

  • Arms is really stupidly good in Arena PvP right now. Like, ridiculously good at it. You don’t have to take my word for it – 12.2% of players at 1800 or better are arms warriors. Considering that arms warriors only make up 3.6% of players, that’s kind of insane. Arms had solid burst damage, can put out stupidly high AoE or go with a double stun approach (Shockwave and Storm Bolt) and is resistant to kiting. Fury and protection combined don’t match arms representation in PvP (hell, they don’t even come close), and in fact, arms is the most played warrior spec right now.
  • According to World of Wargraphs again, arms is 3.6% of the total playerbase, fury is 2.7% and protection is 3.1% – I don’t know if they’re counting all warriors or warriors at 90, but I think they’re counting all warriors because that would put warriors at 9.4%, which matches Realmpop’s 9.6% 1-90 estimate. This means that purely on the basis of PvP strength arms is number 1, because the presence of the arms warrior in PvE is vanishingly small. World of Wargraphs pegs it at less than 0.3% in heroic raiding right now.
  • Keeping in mind that there are probably a lot more arms warriors in non-heroic raiding, what’s keeping arms out of progression raiding? And is it possible to do anything about it without making them even more ridiculous in PvP than they are now? And what is it that makes arms so good at PvP?

To answer that very last question first, it’s fairly simple – arms can maintain pressure. Even in random, non-rated battleground play you can see it – other melee (especially strength melee like DK’s and paladins) are a lot more easily kited and kept locked down. Monks have high mobility in PvP, as do rogues, but they lack the patented Colossus Smash followed by apeshit burst on a temporarily armorless target that arms warriors bring, and especially on casters this is effective. Casters hate arms warriors because casters can’t escape arms warriors, between their stuns (up to three if they take the right talent choices), their charges, Hamstring, and Heroic Leap a warrior can sit on a caster for a very long time.  In an arena an arms warrior can also usually put out very solid AoE if they decide for Bladestorm as a talent over Shockwave.

Now, you won’t get a lot of sympathy out of me for casters not being able to kite us to death. There needs to be a balance between casters (and hunters) being able to turret a melee down and melee being able to get into range, and I’ll say this – I believe the arms warrior is exactly where he should be in terms of mobility in PvP. Yes, whining boomkin, we should be able to get up in your faces. However, I’l agree to this much – arms has way too much stun potential. We know it’s being addressed at level 100 with the changes to talents, but for right now, admit it. Three stuns is probably two too many. Read More »

Random thoughts as I barbarian my way through Diablo III

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  • Tristram Cathedral is the largest cathedral structure ever erected. It is easily twenty times larger than the largest actual cathedral in existence. You could fit the entirety of St. Peter’s Basilica in here and have room for the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. It’s enormous. Terrifyingly so. I kind of like the mood it sets, but I have to ask myself what the people of Tristram were doing with such a massive cathedral structure. I know King Leoric moved his people there because Lazarus manipulated him into it, but it still seems like they went way, way overboard building that thing. I’d hate to imagine how much gold that thing cost.
  • Barbarian play is smoother and more satisfying that warrior play. You hit stuff to get fury, you spend fury. That’s it. The abilities are all fairly close in terms of their destructive potential, so it comes down to taste – would you rather have a giant hammer, a cone of explosive shocking force, or the ability to spin like a pretty ballerina who kills people with an axe? I’m sure there are already min-maxed builds out there, but the great thing about a single player game is, I don’t have to care. In WoW, I do.
  • The interplay between the male Barbarian and the Enchantress follower is fantastic. I haven’t even used any of the other followers since I discovered it.
  • I’ve said it before, but man, Blizzard, learn from the coolness factor on Barbaian abilities. Jazz up some of our warrior talents. And give us Calling of the Ancients as a level 100 talent.
  • I’ve rethought my objection to Paragon levels in WoW. In fact, I think I’d like to see a game that was all Paragon levels.

More thoughts on tanking design

This one’s a quick one.

If you hated the Cataclysm prot warrior (some did) you and I are in a fundamental disagreement on how prot should go, I think. I think prot should do great AoE damage, be incredibly mobile, and have a toolkit good enough for any encounter, while not necessarily being brokenly OP for any specific mechanic. Frankly, I want cheesing mechanics like the ones pallies have gone from the game entirely – immunities shouldn’t exist, and neither should passive stuff that just prevents a death like Purgatory. If they must exist, all tanking classes should have one, but I’d be happier were they gone.

I really don’t want warriors to feel any more like paladins than they already do, which is why I suggested letting warriors tank with a 2h and shield, and removing 1h weapons entirely from warriors. We’re in real danger (and have been, historically) of being seen as in competition with paladins, and as we saw in Throne of Thunder fights like Horridon often push warriors (and other tanks, but I don’t care about them) to the wayside when paladins can simply cheese the mechanics. To be fair, just having a paladin in your raid means any tank could cheese Horridon.

I really loved being a prot warrior back in Cataclysm – I felt strong and like I really contributed. No one tanked adds like a warrior, not even DK’s with their Death and Decay. We were ideal kiting tanks. We were very solid tanks on pretty much every fight in Dragon Soul – you could even argue we were the best, without ever being ridiculously over the top. I liked it.

Like I said the other day, prot warriors are stronger now (even if I don’t agree with the general consensus that we’re super OP now and all raids should have one) and the numbers in Siege bear that out – protection warriors went from 2.5% of players in heroic raids to 3% at a time when prot warriors dropped overall. This is indisputable – there are significantly less prot warriors now than there were even in patch 5.4.2, but man, the ones that are left are tanking, and they mostly replaced pallies and DK’s to do it. The perception of their OP damage (based almost entirely on heroics, not normal modes) is a big part of why this is, because before 5.4 the little acknowledged secret was that protection warriors were in fact excellent tanks, they just did less damage.

What’s not getting as much attention is the 2 piece Tier 15 and Tier 16 protection bonuses, which bring warriors closer in self-healing parity to other tanks. These really need to get folded into our kit. When a class needs a 2 piece just to be viable, that 2 piece shouldn’t be a 2 piece at all, it should be an ability.

Anyway, that’s what I thinking today. Expect a more in-depth post on arms this weekend.

What I want for warrior tanking design in Warlords

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Frankly, the warrior tanking design in Cataclysm was just about perfect. High mobility with Charge, Intervene and Heroic Leap, solid AoE threat with the rend/TC combination of Blood and Thunder, a solid balance of offense and defense. What happened in Mists wasn’t even so much that the basic paradigm changed as that it became obsolete. Other tanks exceeded us in every aspect of the game from mobility to damage output/threat, and even after 5.4’s changes and the introduction of Riposte, warriors are hardly the powerhouses some would make them out to be.

Is it possible to do high DPS as a protection warrior? Yes. You need the following:

  • A mix of BiS tanking gear with high avoidance and BiS DPS gear with high crit.
  • Very high Vengeance stacking.
  • The ability to completely ignore using Shield Block or Shield Barrier for extended periods of time to convert your rage into damage.

In other words, to do high tanking DPS on a warrior, you have to sacrifice active mitigation for Cleave and HS spam. You also need the Curse of Hubris, which you might as well macro into Shield Slam so that it gets used on cooldown, or an actual DPS trinket. If you’re ludicrously geared and at or near the very top of gearing possible in the game, these rules will relax to some extent – especially if you’re effectively single tanking.

I find the idea that warriors are designed around making this kind of trade off solid in theory, but less so when other tanks don’t have to make the choice – they can generate solid damage while still staying alive. So I’d like to see this idea of all tanks needing to choose between damage output and survivability imposed on others, but that’s not really an answer to what I want for warriors. Also, with Vengeance only working on defensive abilities and tank DPS retuned based on the fact that we’re all going to be wearing the same gear as DPS anyway, hopefully tanking DPS can be balanced out and we won’t be so ludicrously crit dependent.

So, what do I want to see for protection warriors in Warlords of Draenor? Read More »

The Endgame and the Warrior – Level 90 representation in Patch 5.4.7

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Okay, I freely admit I’m not the stats guru Cynwise is. Never have been, never likely gonna be. But I wanted to see where warrior representation at level 90 was as of March and patch 5.4.7, and it’s not really fair of me to go around basically whining and saying “Heyyyyy, Cynnnnn, do my work forrrr meee” so instead of that, I’m going to spend some time looking at the numbers myself.

There will be no spreadsheets. I know you love spreadsheets. But I’m just going to take a quick and dirty look at what Realmpop and World of Wargraphs have to say about warriors overall and at level 90, what the numbers are and aren’t. Right now, using the US population, Realmpop has warriors at 9.6% of the class population, but only 8.9% at level 90. This  means that we’ve dropped again.

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A Savage Transmog

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Experimenting with doing transmog posts with WordPress instead of tumblr, not sure if I like or dislike how it does things. Sometimes, WordPress absolutely rocks my world – I greatly prefer it to my work CMS – but I’m not sold on how it handles images. Anyway – this is a set of gear I’m working on that uses actual gear introduced in patch 5.4, which I often shy away from. The weapon is an old PvP sword from Burning Crusade, because the original model (Jin’rohk, The Great Apocalypse) is on an alt and not my main and wow, that doesn’t annoy me at all. Not even a little.

Okay, so it stings like trying to eat a beehive.

Anyway, this set is the Season 14 PvP legs, chest and boots, the Warrior Tier 16 heroic shoulders and gloves, and the DK tier 16 heroic lookalike helm from Heroic Spoils. It just does a good job of looking, well, savage to me, and I may well use it in Warlords.

I think I hate Colossus Smash

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The more I think about warrior DPS, especially fury warrior DPS, the more I come to loathe Colossus Smash.

I don’t hate the ability for itself, and I don’t hate it for the physical vulnerability debuff it places on the target. I hate the ability for how it dominates the fury priority queue, and I hate the ability for its randomness when I’m playing arms thanks to Sudden Death. Thanks to how abilities like Slam interact with it, arms benefits from spamming Slam during the six second Colossus Smash window, but you can’t do that because it’s very hard to husband rage for that window when you never know reliably when it will be. Meanwhile, Colossus Smash completely overshadows the signature moves of the DPS warrior, Mortal Strike and Bloodthirst – you hit them on cooldown or close to it because they generate the rage you need, but especially for fury, Colossus Smash is the ability that dominates and controls your rotation. You try and store up rage so you can go nuts for six seconds, then wait fourteen. Get as close to 120 rage (you have the Glyph of Unending Rage, right?) without letting it cap, then unleash it… and go back to just sitting on your rage unless you’re in danger of capping.

It combines all the charm of one of those cannons on the Gunship fight (oh no, you’ve overheated!) with the rigid, unyielding formula of a metronome. Tick, tick, tick, BOOM. I wouldn’t mind the unpredictability of arms’ version of Colossus Smash as much if it wasn’t at such odds with fury’s, I even like that the two are disparate in how they play. I think maybe my real issue is that fury is absolutely dominated by an ability on a 20 second cooldown that basically divides every minute into three periods of six seconds of activity and fourteen seconds of inactivity.

So perhaps the solution is as simple as it would be radical. Perhaps fury doesn’t need to be designed around Colossus Smash. Perhaps fury shouldn’t even have Colossus Smash. Read More »