Warriors of Draenor: The Road continues.

Welcome back to the next installment of Warriors of Draenor. Last time we talked about the general changes of the class with regards to ability changes, removals, spec exclusives, and the new Headlong Rush. Today, I’d like to present some information on the changes to talents and the new level 100 talents. Of course, I’m sure we’re all aware of the new builds that Blizzard’s put out which have changed things. So we’ll briefly  go over them before getting to the meat and potatoes of today’s entry. Rest assure, we have a lot to go over with the new talents and the reasoning behind the changes to the existing ones, so hang tight!

So, with an update on April 16, we have some changes. One for Riposte, one for Berserker Rage, one for a brand new glyph, and one for Arms’ Sudden Death.

  • Riposte now gives the Warrior Parry equal to their Critical Strike bonus from gear.

The idea here is to give more value to other secondary stats. If you forgot, Riposte had been at first changed to give Warriors a 100% chance to Parry the next attack when you had a critical hit auto attack. Now, with this change we can have a bonus to Parry chance at all times instead of swinging and fishing for that auto-attack crit. Already we’re seeing a much more varied buffet of options for Protection going into Warlords in terms of stat priority. This is a good change.

  • Sudden Death can no longer trigger from Opportunity Strike.
  • Strikes of Opportunity now deals 100% weapon damage up from 40%(currently 55% on live servers).

So this change is for Arms specifically, in case someone forgot that Arms still existed outside of PVP, stacking mastery (after achieving a solid critical strike rating in Siege of Orgrimmar) allowed you to maintain a high uptime of Colossus Smash. It felt great to use that ability so much, but with the shift in re-balancing secondary stats I could easily see why Blizzard didn’t want Mastery getting out of hand. Currently Haste and Mastery actually work in tandem with each other. More haste means more auto-attacks which result in more Mastery procs. Add in headlong rush for haste benefits, increased damage on Strikes of Opportunity, and it’s very easy to see how blizzard might be scared that Mastery would run away with the highest stat priority. At least things are shaping up that Arms won’t have such awful secondary stats this expansion.

  • Glyph of Flawless Defense now gives the buff when Die By the Sword is active, rather than Shield Wall.

So, if you don’t remember, this glyph makes it so that when Die By the Sword is active, Warriors have a 25% less chance to be critically hit. This is pretty damn good for survival against any class more so than it was before. Parrying everything from the front really stopped a lot of melee, and the damage reduction was great on top of it to help with casters, dots, and melee getting behind the Warrior. Reducing the chance to be critically hit is going to help even more against ranged, so I like it, and will be screwing around with it if I when I get the chance. Come to think of it, this may be intended to work with the new Second Wind change that removed the passive regen in favor of life leech.

  • Second Wind no longer directly heals the Warrior while active. Instead, Second Wind grants the Warrior 10% Leech while active, which causes the Warrior to heal for 10% of all damage and healing done by the Warrior while active.

Yup, that’s right. The new Second Wind will make it so that running away from enemies in PVP to regen life will not work. 10% of the damage dealt while this is active will be converted into a self heal. What this does is force us to stay aggressive in order to stay alive. It may be a bit more worrisome to be caught in a root, snare, or stun with this compared to before, but I do like the idea compared to running away. I like the concept of being on the offensive to stay alive, but that also seems to be the new idea for melee for PVP. If you’re not on your target you lose everything. Compared to the other talents on this tier, Impending Victory remains healing with a single hit like Death strike, at a potential DPS loss, and Enraged Regeneration is the burst healing on a one minute cooldown. With Second Wind, you won’t lose any DPS compared to Impending Victory, but that’s assuming IV is actually a DPS loss still.

Moving forward, Warbringer is changed to keep the traditional Charge Stun that has been removed for a new root that works the same as a stun. I had my concerns about the stun removal, because as any melee know, being next to a rooted mob when a tank isn’t on top of the monster could equal death. However, it has been explained that this root would work like a stun, when cast on a hostile enemy. If the monster doesn’t turn to molly whop a melee DPS, then nothing changes other than we can no longer use Charge as a stun-interrupt by default anymore.

On the idea of talent changes, Bladestorm and Storm Bolt have traded places on the talent list. Bladestorm is now at the 90 talents, and Storm Bolt is with the level 60 talents. This makes the level 60 row of talents feel more about utility than before, since everything in this row is now either a single target stun, an AOE stun, or an AOE knockdown; Stormbolt, Shockwave, Dragon Roar (Dragon Roar may need a longer stun time or shorter CD if it’s to compete with Shockwave and Stormbolt). The level 90 talents feel more about damage output. Avatar remains the choice for burst, Blood Bath for long term throughput, and Bladestorm as for AOE output, however there are some points where it may be better elsewhere when the right items are obtained.

Looking at the new talents we’ll have to mess around with, we have Anger Management first. For every 30 Rage we spend, we get 1 second off of the cool down for Readiness affected abilities. For Protection this includes Demoralizing Shout, Heroic Leap, Last Stand, Mocking Banner, and Shield Wall. For Fury this means Avatar, Bladestorm, Bloodbath, Die by the Sword, Dragon Roar, Recklessness, Shield Wall, Shockwave, Storm Bolt and Heroic Leap.

So right away we can see this being a strong bump in favor of DPS Warriors more than Protection, both in fun and output increase. The reason why I say it’s a bump for DPS is because looking at what Protection receives as a benefit from this, I don’t see encounters being balanced around having X amount of any Y stat, especially so for tanks. It may change towards the end of the expansion when we’re familiar with stat levels being so high as they can get. That may be in part due to the way things have been designed for tanks with Active Mitigation being the way to go for almost everything, and our major cooldowns to be used for the predictable high damage scenario. If they were to make a fight around tanks having the ability to use Shield Wall or Last Stand significantly more often, I think that would just be one big gimmicky encounter.

The second new talent is Ravager; throw your weapon at a target area dealing X weapon damage and gaining 20% Parry for 15 seconds.

I’m personally looking forward to having another option for a targeted area of effect ability. I also like that it has a multipurpose effect to it in that on top of doing damage it is also a short avoidance based cooldown ability. There is some fun to be had here, and having Defensive + Offensive uses feels very win-win to me, giving this ability some good strength early on and for general purposes.

The third talent we have is Fury and Arms based, Ignite Weapon. This replaces Heroic Strike, causing auto attacks with two-handed weapons to deal 100% weapon damage as fire, and one-handed weapons to deal 140% weapon damage as fire. Lasts for 10 seconds.

It’s a pure output increase for both DPS Warrior specs, more so for Fury because already so much of their damage is already from auto attacks. Just from eyeballing it without a lot of anything to back up the claim, I’m guessing that this will be the default option for Fury, only because of the dual wielding factor it has over Arms. Plus Single Minded Fury even gets a bump in damage over Titan’s Grip and Arms so there is that to take into consideration. Though Arm’s Seasoned Soldier passive will probably keep this talent plenty attractive.

Finally for the Talents, we have the big game changer for Warriors this expansion: Gladiator’s Resolve. This is Protection only, replaces Battle Stance, increases damage by 20%, Shield Block is replaced with Shield Charge: 30% damage increase to Shield Slam, Revenge, and Heroic Strike for six seconds, two charges, one charge gained every 15 seconds. In addition to all of this, Defensive Stance gains an extra 5% more damage reduction.

So right off the bat, this is a lot for one talent, let alone one spec. The basic idea of this talent is to give Protection Warriors the ability to become a DPS role, and not one that’s behind the other specs; Blizzard has stated that they want to balance Gladiator Stance to do as much as any other DPS role. However, this does have some defensive perks, albeit at an assumed cost.

The 5% more damage reduction to Defensive Stance brings our total passive damage reduction before Armor to a whopping 30%. This is pretty damn high just for being in our tanking stance. Using endgame numbers, I have 79,655 armor on my character sheet on the armor which provides a 63.26% reduction to Physical damage. I don’t think any of the Tank roles have as high as a passive damage reduction modifier in their tank stance ( or buff for Paladins ), as Warriors, before armor. This will push us a bit ahead in that light. But! There is a trade off here that needs some clarification.

Gladiator’s Resolve, the Talent itself, states to replace Shield Block for Gladiator Stance. What has me concerned here is whether or not this applies to Gladiator Stance only or does Protection lose Shield Block entirely. I’m worried because Shield Block plays a vital role to our active mitigation model, and losing it in favor of 5% additional damage reduction doesn’t quite strike me as a bonus. Shield Block is huge to our mitigation when we can block damage, otherwise we’re left to only Shield Barrier, which is what this talent looks like is forcing us to do.

On the offensive side of things, a flat 20% bump in damage for jumping into Gladiator Stance is nothing to scoff at. Keep in mind that as soon as combat starts, you CANNOT change stances. If you begin the fight in Gladiator Stance, you are not going to be able to jump into Defensive to start tanking a group of adds, or the boss should the tank die. Make no mistake about this, Gladiator Stance is to turn Protection Warriors into a true blood damage dealing spec.

That all said, there are some concerns that we haven’t seen addressed yet, and that’s really just because we’re so, SO early in the beginning of Warlords Alpha / Beta testing that we won’t see much for possibly a few months. That doesn’t mean we can’t throw out some guesses now.

The loss of Shield Block, if it were to remain so, may end up reinforcing a specific gearing strategy that works for both DPS and Tanking. Remember that we have to be specific about both when we take Gladiator’s Resolve. With the loss of one of our active mitigation tools, we may have to see a shift to Haste and Crit because we won’t be relying much on Mastery for Critical Blocks. Granted, we will still have our chance to Block, but with the loss of Shield Block we may have to go with as much Rage generation to supplement Barrier usage and potency as the trade off.

When DPS, I don’t see much of a change from the Haste-Crit scenario either. With the Shield Charge ability, we’re going to want to work a bit like Fury and Arms Warriors with Colossus Smash. Hit Shield Charge, and try to get in as much damage in these six seconds as possible. Remember, 30% increased damage to Shield Slam and Revenge while Shield Charge is active, and that’s on top of another 20% increase to damage from Gladiator’s Stance alone. But why Critical Strike and Haste?

Critical Strike is simple because we can still get enraged for a damage increase whenever Shield Slam and Devastate crit. The idea here is to have an Enrage going when we hit Shield Charge and hit Shield Slam and Revenge. And also Ultimatum Procs when Shield Slam crits because who doesn’t like free ability usage with a 100% chance to crit? It’s just great.

Now, why Haste? That’s because of Headlong Rush. Haste will reduce the global cooldown and the cooldown of specific abilities. For Protection, this includes Shield Slam and Thunderclap. While Thunderclap doesn’t get the benefit from Shield Charge, this is still big. The principle here is to get more than one Shield Slam per use of Shield Charge. This may not even be too difficult to do, because if RNG allows it, the rotation would allow for a Sword and Board to proc from either Revenge or either of the Devastates that follow. So while flooding in as many Heroic Strikes as possible, we’d be looking at something like this:

Shield Charge → Shield Slam → Revenge → Devastate → Devastate → Shield Charge ends

That’s all without Haste, of course, but even just enough Haste to make a difference can squeeze in an extra Shield Slam without any Sword and Board procs. If super lucky, we’d be able to get three Shield Slams in, and that’d just amazing. Plus if they all Crit to get us Ultimatum procs, I think that’d be winning the game and the best turn out for one use of Shield Charge.

All theoretical rotation stuff aside, there is a concern here. If the big two major areas of our damage is to come from Shield Slam and Revenge, and with no other addition to the toolset aside from Shield Charge, and Revenge’s nine second cooldown it will be a reason for concern. Considering that we won’t be tanking in Gladiator Stance we can not rely on Revenge’s cooldown refreshing from avoidance. Is the extra 30% damage from Shield Charge meant to offset the CD on Revenge? Seems unlikely, but if it is, we’ll be looking at only using Shield Charge when we can use both Shield Slam and Revenge, but that’s the idea anyway.

So at the end of the day, there’s a lot on the table for Warriors that feels hit or miss. If our big game changer for the expansion is going to be the Gladiator’s Resolve talent, I feel like maybe there could have been something better. I feel that the community is going to be split on the idea behind it because it may just be a half done fourth spec for Warriors. Maybe there could be some better love done for Warriors else where without this talent? Who knows.

For now, we’ll be riding things out as new information comes and how fast we can break it down and digest it. See you next time.


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