The state of Arms Beta Build 18764 (Long Version)

This is the longer version of the post. Be prepared to be hit with a wall of text. If you don’t want to read a huge wall of text click here: https://diebythesword.net/2014/08/25/state-of-arms-beta-build-18764-short-version/

I’d like to start this post by talking about the way Blizzard has treated it’s fan base when it has come to this last beta cycle. The last few beta cycles have had several responses from Blizzard employees (we miss you Greg) as well as design choices made based on feedback.

This has not been the case for the Warlords of Draenor cycle. The excuse for the lack of player-to-developer-interaction we keep hearing from the developers is that, “It would take too much time from our busy schedule to post and give feedback.” Yet I find this excuse terribly hard to believe.

As some of you may know, I’m a very big Magic: The Gathering player. Next to World of Warcraft it’s probably the game I spend the most time playing and discussing. One of the lead developers for Magic: The Gathering, Mark Rosewater (or MaRO) is a developer that gives constant discussion about the game he’s working on. You can find him on Twitter and Tumblr answering questions daily, or giving the occasional troll response. In addition to his daily interactions with players, he also has a weekly podcast, and regular posts about the state of design and upcoming products.

MaRO makes sure that the players know the design intent of Wizard of the Coast, and is willing to admit when they’ve missed the mark, or when they’ve achieved the goal they were looking for. I find it hard to believe that not a single community manager, developer, or even QA lead can take the time out of the week (or even bi-weekly) to discuss something as large as the sweeping class changes we’ve seen. There is no excuse for the lack of communication, or the lack of design changes based on feedback. If one man from another company for a very complex game such as Magic: The Gathering can take multiple times out of the week to simply discuss things with players, there’s no excuse that someone from the World of Warcraft team (Which is easily twice the size of MtG’s development team) cannot take the time to discuss changes or even create a podcast. It’s a nothing short of a slap in the face (see what I did there?) to the loyal and dedicated fanbase that Blizzard has.

Now that that’s out of the way, I’d like to discuss some things about Arms. As most of you know, Arms has been stripped down to a small and lack luster core rotation made up of four abilities. Rend, Mortal Strike, Colossus Smash, and Whirlwind. For the most part the rotation boils down to using abilities on cooldown. Trying to store rage for Colossus Smash, can easily result in rage capping, which in turn results in a loss of DPS. Arms currently has no passives or synergies between spells. We simply use what’s on Cooldown and try not to cap on rage.

This means that Arms could easily be played with a simple /cast macro that prioritizes the most effective damage attacks. We’ve been told that the intent for Arms is to use talents in order to create synergy with our ability and to change our rotation. Yet none of our talents actually add synergy to our spec. They simply become another button in the rotation to push. In fact the only passive that even remotely adds some excitement to the spec is Sudden Death. Yet with the recent nerfs to Execute’s damage for Arms, Execute is often not worth using over Whirlwind. Below I will discuss every core and talented abilities, My thoughts about them, and what should (if any) need to be changed.

 

Core Abilities

Rend: A boring button tied to nothing. Typically damage over time effects in World of Warcraft are tied to mechanics such as Shadowy Apparitions, Lava Surge, and previously for Arms Taste for Blood. Rend should be tied to an ability in order for it to have an interesting purpose outside of just dealing damage.

With the addition of Rend we’ve also lost Deep Wounds. With the loss of Deep Wounds we’ve also lost a beloved passive Blood and Thunder. Blood and Thunder was an iconic skill for Arms and Protection when it came to doing AoE damage. It was our go-to ability, and made Thunderclap worth using during AoE rotations. With Whirlwind being a key ability for Arms in this beta cycle, Blood and Thunder has left, making Arms’ AoE Rotation all about keeping up Sweeping Strikes and using Whirlwind. This doesn’t feel like an AoE Rotation that Arms has had, and feels out of place.

Colossus Smash: This ability currently awkward and weird for this spec. With no reset or ability to reduce the cooldown of the ability, saving for rage to use within a colossus smash window results in risks of capping of rage. In addition it shares too much of an identity with Fury Warriors whose sole goal is to save rage and deal damage within a Colossus Smash Window.

I feel that we could safely remove Colossus Smash and replace it with a passive armor penetration (We are the masters of combat after all, I would hope we could see faults in the enemies’ defense). In addition the spec could use another button such as the Cataclysm iteration of Overpower and Taste for Blood to help assist in the spec’s rotation.

Mortal Strike: I have no qualms with Mortal Strike. It currently does it’s job (hit hard and apply a healing debuff). The only thing that could be changed is that Mortal Strike could use a passive or some sort of synergy.

Whirlwind: This has been voiced several times that whirlwind is an ability typically associated with Fury Warriors. With Arms having a shallow base set of abilities, Whirlwind can cause problems in PVE and PVP due to it’s AoE Nature. Arms needs a single target replacement for Whirlwind so that when scenarios like this occur, we’re not stuck waiting.

In addition Whirlwind in general just feels out of place for Arms. While it was a usable and part of our core rotation in Vanilla and TBC, Arms has moved away from using whirlwind and has used things like Thunderclap (with Blood and Thunder), Slam and Sweeping Strikes (awkward, but only really needed a range increase), and Bladestorm in order to deal AoE damage. While the supposed intent for Arms in WoD is to return to it’s roots, Whirlwind is simply not something I think of when I think of Arms Warriors.

 

Talented Abilities and Passives

Taste for Blood (Level 45 Talent): Taste for Blood is currently my choice level 45 talent (due to the fact that the other two abilities don’t deal more damage than whirlwind). While simple, it truly shines in encounters with multiple enemies. Placing rend on multiple targets, fuels with rage to continually use Whirlwind and Sweeping Strikes. No qualms here.

Sudden Death (Level 45 Talent): The only proc available to Arms. It’s now poor damage, keeps me away from choosing this talent. Another damage pass will probably put this talent back in it’s correct spot.

I’d like however to have a bit more control over this passive, if Colossus Smash is going to continue to be an ability for Arms. Not using it as soon as it occurs, risks losing procs. Perhaps allowing Warriors to stack multiple Sudden Death procs, would allow for more depth with this talent.

Slam (Level 45 Talent): Originally this talent had me very excited. However with the recent damage pass and the general /cancelaura macros for Slam that ran rampant, I’ve steered clear of this talent. Slam, like Sudden Death is most likely a victim of the damage pass and could be placed back into the rotation with another damage pass.

It has also been suggested that Slam become baseline for Arms due to the fact that it’s an iconic ability, as well as the fact that Arms lacks as single target rage dump. Slam fills this role perfectly and would probably be a better baseline ability for single target than Whirlwind.

Stormbolt (Level 60 Talent), Bladestorm (Level 90 Talent), and Siege Breaker (Level 100 Talent): I want to lump these together because they all share one key problem. They’re balanced around Fury whom uses two weapons as opposed to one. These abilities have to scale differently for Arms due to the lack of both weapons. This is a recurring issue with not only these talents but also Whirlwind as well. There’s no excuse that these talents are simply inferior to Arms because of the fact that we use a single weapon.

Shockwave (Level 60 Talent): No qualms here. Shockwave stuns things, and if you hit multiple targets it’s CD gets lowered.

Dragon Roar (Level 60 Talent): Still confused about the stun duration on this. I thought moving Stormbolt switching places with Bladestorm on the talent tree, that Dragon Roar would get a more controlling aspect to it. Other than the fact that it needs to stun longer, I have no qualms with this ability.

Avatar (Level 90 Talent): No qualms. I’ve always been a fan of this ability.

Bloodbath (Level 90 Talent): No qualms. I probably like this ability a lot more in Draenor, due to the fact that I’m not using it every 30 seconds like I am on live due to Evil Eye of Galarkas.

Anger Management  (Level 100 Talent): Our own form of Readiness. Simply speeds up the rotation which could be interesting if the rotation wasn’t so boring to begin with. Adding in procs and such would go a long way to making this talent more attractive.

Ravager (Level 100 Talent): I like ravager, but it has a lot of problems. The first being the fact that it’s targeting reticle uses the logic and scripting of Heroic Leap as opposed to other targeting abilities such as Blizzard and Death and Decay. There’s no excuse for this.

In addition I fear that the additional defensive bonus for Ravager (30% parry) will overshadow the other talent choices. This can probably be removed from the ability in order to give more options in the level 100 talent tree, but also to keep protection warriors balanced with other tanks.

Defensive Stance and Abilities Changes

As of late, Arms and Fury were both given the ability to use Devastate, Revenge, and Shield Barrier while in Defensive stance. A long with these the addition of a few stance restrictions has returned. The reason for this was apparently to, “Make us feel more like Warriors”. Yet in PVE I’ve found these largely to be useless.

The other night while goofing around in dungeons with Clutche and Lowmaine, I found myself tanking enemies. I switched to Defensive stance and attempted to use these new gifted abilities only to find myself kissing the floor with my dead corpse. Perhaps this has a larger effect on PVP, but at the moment for PVE these were largely changes that did not assist or help my group in anyway. I was better off staying in Battle Stance and waiting to die after Die by the Sword ended rather than trying to use Shield Barrier.

Opportunity Strike, What is it?

Along with the latest build an ability named Opportunity Strike was datamined for Warriors, but has not showed up in game. The ability reads as follows…

“Opportunity Strike: Deals 100% main hand weapon of weapon damage) Physical damage. 10 yd range. Instant.”

Currently on live Arms’ Mastery is Strikes of Opportunity. This makes me feel that this ability is made for Arms Warriors. More importantly Aedilhild (a fellow Arms enthusiast) had actually made this mock rotation of Arms using a new ability known as Opportunity Strike. For those that want to play around with this mock rotation (you should, it’s actually fun) you can click here: http://www.gameandplayer.net/media/arms/beta_arms_mortal_striker.html.

This wouldn’t be the first time that Aedilhild’s ideas have been implemented (or at least a variation of it). Back in 5.2, Aedilhild was responsible for Overpower reducing the Cooldown on Mortal Strike, despite the fact that Aedilhild’s variation had it tied to Slam.

Could Blizzard be borrowing another good idea? I sincerely hope so.

That’s all I have for this article. While things currently look morbid for Arms, please keep encourage players to keep posting and discussing the spec on Blizzard’s forums despite the fact that we’ve beaten it to death with a dead horse. Hunters even recently got changes that helped their spec, which means it’s not too late to have some serious mechanic changes for Arms.

 

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