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Cataclysm Warrior Class Preview

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Well it's been a couple days now and I wanted to see the rest of the class changes before posting, but now that we've seen all but Paladins it seems appropriate to begin my tirade.

Overall, I am extremely underwhelmed by the Warrior Class changes in Cataclysm. "Meh" is the best descriptor. I realize everyone has a strong bias toward his or her own class and wants to have their cake and eat it too, but clearly there seems to be a lack of creativity when it came to Warrior changes in Cataclysm and this shows in the preview information released thus far.

The easiest way to do this is probably just to go through the list, so without further adieu:

Heroic Strike will no longer be an "on next swing" attack, as we are removing this mechanic in Cataclysm. To keep the niche of Heroic Strike as a Rage dump, it will become an instant attack, but will cost between 10 and 30 Rage. This ability will not be usable until you have 10 Rage, but if you have more than 10, it will consume up to 30, adding additional damage for each point of Rage consumed above the base 10. Other abilities, such as Cleave, Execute, and Maul (for druids) will work similarly. The goal is to provide players with an option where if you can't afford the Rage, you don't push the button, but if you have excess Rage, you can push it a lot.
A long needed change as I can't even fathom how often I've hit my Mouse-5 button when pressing it 2-3 times a second every time I'm tanking or Fury DPSing for months and months now. While this change was needed, it is quite boring and offers nothing new or interesting, and for all intents and purposed, is basically a bug fix of sorts (i.e. fixed the "future bugs" of carpal tunnel).

Battle Shout, Commanding Shout, and possibly Demoralizing Shout will work more like the death knight's Horn of Winter ability. Specifically, these shouts will cost no resources, generate rage in addition to their current effects, and be on a short cooldown.
Having 10 rage to recast a shout was never an issue, so woopty doo. It will allow me to stop using Bloodrage before the pull to get up a shout before engagement, but we're talking the savings of one GCD mid-fight otherwise. Again, booooring change.

Whirlwind will hit an unlimited number of targets, but only for 50% of weapon damage. The intent is for this ability to be used in multi-target scenarios and not on single targets.
This is the first very cool change and I like this a lot. Nothing worse than trying to AE as a Warrior on massive mob pulls as Fury (hai2you Onyxia whelps). The question of course is without Whirlwind on single-target fights for Fury, what will replace that in the rotation? It appears Heroic Strike is meant to be the replacement, but now we're down to a three ability rotation for single target (Bloodthirst, Slam, Heroic Strike-dump)?

Overall, heals cast by players in Cataclysm will be a lower number relative to players' health than the current game. So to make the Mortal Strike debuff less mandatory but still useful in PvP, Mortal Strike will reduce healing by only 20%. All equivalent debuffs, including the Shadow priest and Frost mage debuffs, will be for 20% less healing. At the moment we aren't considering giving this debuff to anyone else, though we will certainly consider PvP utility for historically under-represented specs that use other mechanics.
Long overdue and quite welcome, even though I don't PVP anymore these days. Still, from both a PvE and PvP perspective, it will be nice to not have a fight like Faction Champions be make or break because you don't have a way to cut healing IN HALF. This really isn't a Warrior specific change, so nice try Blizzard slipping this into the Warrior update to make it look like there's more here than reality dictates!

Sunder Armor will be reduced to three stacks instead of five, and still provide only a 4% reduction in armor per stack. We want to make this debuff easier to apply and less of a damage swing when it falls off.
The Furious Sundering talent in the Fury tree will make the Sunder Armor ability cause 25/50% weapon damage and reduce the threat generated by 50/100%.
A decent quality of life change, but I'd argue it's too minor of a change to matter. Obviously this is aimed at DPS Warriors in raids without a Prot Warrior tank, since Prot will still actively use Devastate (and likely the Glyph unless that gets changed) so it's really only saving 1-2 GCDs for a Prot Warrior at best, and of course 2 GCDs for a DPS Warrior. Once again, boring as shit "change". Well played.

I think the important thing here is that even if the intention of lowering Sunder-effects from 20% ArPen down to 12% ArPen was to lower the effect of not having it, the reality is you've accomplished almost nothing. I cannot imagine any raid scenario, even in 10-man, where there wasn't at least some form of Warrior or Rogue, but even if that's the case, as Blizzard seems to imply, I still think they are missing the bigger picture, namely: If Sunder-effects is such a big DPS boost/loss when not present, stop tying it to such odd classes. History should have taught you by now, even after Druid/Paladin tanks became viable, most raids stuck with a Warrior because of Sunder Armor. And as this drop from 5-stack to 3-stack implies, if Blizzard acknowledges it's a pain for DPS Warriors to put up, why take such a convoluted path to solving the issue? Instead, place it on the tanks and resolve the issue. Neither DPS Warriors nor Rogues want to have to bother, so instead give Bear Tanks, Prot Paladins, and Blood DKs a talent that applies a stacking Sunder-effect (say, 3 ticks of Lacerate for a Bear, 3 Judgements for a Paladin, and 3 whatever-DK-tanks-use for a Blood DK). Boom, now the issue is resolved instead of messing with all these abilties and talents to make it slightly less painful for DPS Warriors/Rogues.

The Mace and Poleaxe Specialization talents in the Arms tree will be removed. These provided just passive stats, which are not the kinds of talents we want to design in the future. We will keep the Sword Specialization talent, but it will be changed to a talent that applies to all types of weapons.
Passive stat bonuses? Exciting.

As a Fury talent, Booming Voice will increase the Rage generated by shouts.
Rage isn't an issue and as history has taught us over 5 years, it will never be enough of an issue that it's worth speccing into a talent just for this bonus. If you're getting Booming Voice as a Warrior, it's for the utility of longer duration shouts.

While we like how Titan's Grip plays, we recognize some warriors liked the Fury tree because of the really fast swings that dual-wielding one-handed weapons could provide. Therefore, we're planning to try out a talent called Single-Minded Fury that is parallel to Titan's Grip and will provide a large boost to the damage of a pair of one-handed weapons.
This seems odd and just a way to cause more itemization headaches. So now we are going to see STR DPS one-handers. That'll be great for the majority of the raid who won't use them (including the Fury Warrior who will still likely use two-handers). Bottom line is one of these options (dual two-handers or dual one-handers) will be the best DPS choice across the board so outside of perhaps situations where the RNG loot monster has been greedy and a Fury Warrior has access to high-end one-handers but weak two-handers and thus he'll use one-handers with Single-Minded Fury, I can't see the point to this option. Look at Frost DKs for all the insight you need into this. One choice has always been the preferred method and no matter what balance attempts are made, one choice will always be superior.

Several talents that reduce the Rage cost of abilities will be changed to focus on increased damage for those abilities instead.
Long time coming, but cool change nonetheless.

The new Arms talent called Disarming Nature will make successful disarms cause the target to cower in fear for 5/10 seconds.
PVP is gay. PVP only talents are even worse. (And no, one Faction Champions-esque fight per expansion does not this a PvE talent make.)

Another new Arms talent called Blitz will make the Charge ability hit for extra damage. The amount will possibly vary depending on the distance travelled.
PVP is still gay. The variance in damage from distance is an interesting idea, but as with the titan's grip thing above, there will always be an optimal choice which basically means no choice at all for the player (do what is best 100% of the time). If it turns out running to maximum Charge range before charging is such a DPS boost it's worth the time off target, Arms Warriors will do that, but I suspect as with today, time on target with normal rotations will be worth far more than wasting 2-5 seconds running out to get a higher damage Blitz hit via Charge.

Therefore, the conclusion is this is a PVP talent entirely and the damage bonus is just a bonus. Like I said, PVP is gay.

Improved Pummel, a Fury talent, will cause a successful interrupt to generate 10/20 Rage.
Perhaps history has taught me to be very dismayed at implications that Rage will require a form of management, but suffice to say this falls into the same category as 4 or 5 other previously mentioned changes in that it provides a new form of Rage saving or Rage gain. I suppose the intent here is for Fury Warriors to have an incentive to interrupt casters for the extra DPS from the Rage, but again, unless Blizzard can truly manage Rage normalization as has been implied multiple times in the past but never implemented successfully, then forgive my doubt that these will changes/abilities will matter.

Moreover, the point is they are boring in practice. I want new or different abilities to use or mechanics to watch for or procs to react to when DPSing or Tanking. I don't want a passive talent I never see that makes me gain a bit more of my red bar. Wasn't the entire point of the Mastery system and all the heralded "Cataclysm Talent changes" to remove all these "passive +damage" type abilities so we had more active/interesting things to do? Why the fuck are we getting so many "you gain/save rage from this, SUPER!" abilities then?

Inner Rage (Level 81): Whenever the character reaches a full 100 Rage, he or she will gain a buff that causes attacks to consume 50% more Rage and do 15% more damage for a short amount of time. This is a passive ability so it won't need to be activated by the player. The goal for this ability is to provide a benefit for hitting max Rage instead of it feeling like a penalty. However, we also don't want warriors to feel like they're supposed to pool Rage and do nothing until they hit 100, so we'll be closely monitoring how this plays out during the beta testing, and making adjustments as needed.
Sounds like a cool new passive ability that should, as described, lower the penalty for capping your rage. However I have to imagine balancing will be a continuous pain in the ass as gear/stats increase, since percentage increases are exactly that, a percentage. Early on it may be fine, but late expansion a 15% (or whatever final number) boost is probably going to change rotations such that it's worth capping rage on purpose often for DPS Warriors in PvE. If that's the case, it's going to be super boring doing nothing while waiting for rage to cap only to then unleash 2 or 3 hard hitting abilities for that big boost.

Gushing Wound (Level 83): This ability will apply a bleed effect to the target. If the target moves, the bleed gains an extra stack and refreshes its duration, up to a maximum of three stacks. The ability is currently planned to have no cooldown, cost 10 Rage, and have a 9-second duration. Gushing Wound is designed to be weaker than Rend with one stack, but better with three stacks, which will be reached when fighting a moving target.
This sounds like a true mess of an ability concept. At best, it encourages purposeful mob movement and repositioning by tanks. Ironically, I guess these days now that bosses rarely stay stationary anyway, perhaps this is a good thing! In reality though, the description is a little lacking. "If the target moves" implies the target only has to move once during the 9-second duration to have it restack, but then there would be no point to having three stacks, so the question is how often does it "check" for movement and thus apply a new stack. If it's not very frequently (i.e. after the first movement tick that bumps it to 2 stack, if the next check isn't within 1-2 seconds) it will be very situational when you can use this ability over Rend. Still, I suppose if it's a high enough damage increase that it's worth using regardless of spec (i.e. even for tanks) then I can dig having a new ability to use, as Rend is pretty useless now for non-Arms specs.

Still, this once again seems like an almost entirely PVP-focused ability. Woot?

Heroic Leap (Level 85): This ability makes the character leap at their target and apply the Thunder Clap ability to all enemies in the area when they land. Heroic Leap will be usable in Battle Stance and shares a cooldown with Charge, but the Juggernaut and Warbringer talents will allow Heroic Leap to be used in any stance and possibly while in combat. The cooldown for this ability might be longer than the Charge ability, but it will also apply a stun effect so you can make sure the target will still be there when you land.
By far this is the biggest issue I have with the Warrior changes -- the ridiculously underwhelming level 85 ability, Heroic Leap.

Now, perhaps other Warriors may be super excited about the ability to jump toward a target ala Feral Cat leap, but it's very clear to me this ability will be nothing more than a way to save a single GCD when pulling a trash pack! Normally a Warrior (tank) will charge into a group and immediately Thunderclap for initial agro while positioning for a Shockwave. Simple and effective. So what's Blizzard's fabulous idea for an imaginative and unique CLASS DEFINING NEW ABILITY in Cataclysm? Combining that first Charge and first Thunderclap into ONE ABILITY! Oh thank you so much! Now I can save that 1.5 seconds of GCD between my normal Charge and Thunderclap, which gives me enough time to... well frankly to do nothing.

Now based on information available, Heroic Leap can work in one of two ways. The first, is that using Heroic Leap will trigger the cooldown of Thunderclap when you land, in which case I'll still have to wait that good 1.5-2 seconds after leaping in which I can backpeddle/sidestep slightly to lineup mobs so my Shockwave isn't wasted. I can Demo Shout in that empty GCD for some UBER 166 threat divided among all valid targets I'm agro on, so in a five pack, that's OVER THIRTY threat per mob. Worth it!

Obviously in reality I'd be better served using that extra GCD on a Shield Slam or Cleave, but either way I'm barely gaining anything.

The second way Heroic Leap could work is the Thunderclap cast after landing is separate from the normal Thunderclap, which would simply mean the standard pull for a Warrior (tank) would be Heroic Leap + Clap followed by another Thunderclap into Shockwave. Faaantastic.

Ignoring for a moment how unfucking-creative an ability that is simply a combination of two existing abilities we already have truly is from a developer standpoint, the real gripe I have is that Heroic Leap, by comparison of other so-far released level 85 abilities, is about as boring as humanly possible compared to some of the insanely unique and creative level 85 abilities announced for other classes. Let me quickly remind you of these.

Wall of Fog (level 85): Creates a line of frost in front of the mage, 30 yards from end to end. Enemies who cross the line are snared and take damage. The mana cost will be designed to make Wall of Fog efficient against groups, not individuals. This spell is intended to give mages a way to help control the battlefield, whether the mage is damaging incoming enemies (Blizzard can be channeled on top of Wall of Fog) or protecting a flag in a Battleground. 10-second duration. 30-second cooldown.
Wild Mushroom (Level 85): Grows a magical mushroom at the target location. After 4 seconds the mushroom becomes invisible. Enemies who cross the mushroom detonate it, causing it to deal area-of-effect damage, though its damage component will remain very effective against single targets. The druid can also choose to detonate the mushroom ahead of time. This is primarily a tool for the Balance druid, and there will be talents that play off of it. No cooldown. 40-yard range. Instant cast.
Camouflage (level 85): The hunter enters an obscured state that prevents him or her from taking ranged damage. The character would still be subject to melee or area-of-effect attacks, and dealing or taking damage will break the Camouflage effect. The hunter can move and set traps when under Camouflage, and will receive a damage bonus when attacking while under Camouflage (which will then break the effect).
Smoke Bomb (level 85): The rogue drops a Smoke Bomb, creating a cloud that interferes with enemy targeting. Enemies who are outside the cloud will find themselves unable to target units inside the cloud with single-target abilities. Enemies can move inside the cloud to attack, or they can use area-of-effect (AoE) abilities at any time to attack opponents in a cloud. In PvP, this will open up new dimensions of tactical positional gameplay, as the ability offers a variety of offensive and defensive uses. In PvE, Smoke Cloud can serve to shield your group from hostile ranged attacks, while also drawing enemies closer without the need to rely on conventional line-of-sight obstructions. Smoke Cloud lasts 10 seconds and has a 3-minute cooldown.
Death Knight
Dark Simulacrum (level 85): The death knight strikes a target, applying a debuff that allows the death knight to copy the opponent's next spell cast and unleash it. Unlike Spell Reflection, Dark Simulacrum does not cancel the incoming spell. In general, if you can't reflect an ability, you won't be able to copy it either.
Leap of Faith (level 85): Pull a party or raid member to your location. Leap of Faith (or "Life Grip") is intended to give priests a tool to help rescue fellow players who have pulled aggro, are being focused on in PvP, or just can't seem to get out of the fire in time. Instant. 30-yard range. 45-second cooldown.
Demon Soul (level 85): Fuses the warlock's soul with his or her demon. This provides warlocks with a self-burst cooldown to use. The specific effects granted by Demon Soul depend on the demon chosen. Demon Soul lasts for a certain number of charges or until it expires (around 20 seconds), depending on the demon used. 2-minute cooldown.
Spiritwalker's Grace (level 85): When this self-targeted buff is active, your spells are no longer interrupted by movement and possibly even by your own attacks. This will give shaman of all three specs another way to heal or do damage when itís necessary to move in both PvE and PvP. Instant cast. 10-second duration. 2-minute cooldown.
Now obviously some of these are not as exciting as others, for example Dark Simulacrum for Death Knights is just a weak man's version of Spell Reflection which sort of sucks as the spell still hits them, but at least it's a BRAND NEW ABILITY for the class, unlike the Charge + Thunderclap bullshit Warrior's get.

But the majority of the abilities either provide a new and unique form of DPS/healing increase (Wild Mushroom for Druids, Spiritwalker's Grace for Shamans, Camo for Hunters), or a great deal of situational utility (most everything else). I can't even begin to fathom all the unique ways, as a raid leader, I'll be able to utilize Leap of Fath (Priest), Smoke Bomb (Rogue), and Wall of Fog (Mage)!

Just think through all the raid encounters we've seen in WotLK and by extension, how many ways these abilities could drastically change the possible strategies for these fights. Wall of Fog as a snare plus damage agro + Smoke Bomb as a goddamn moveable line of sight wall allows for some incredible pull methods and target control. Wall of Fog + Ice Lance to agro a group into a massive snare > Death Knight Grips kill target > Priest Leap of Faith's now taunted/agroed Death Knight behind Rogue summoned Smoke Bomb wall. Boom, instant pull of kill target out of any number of mobs while the rest are line of sighted and unable to deal damage and snared. And of course multitudes of ways Leap of Faith or Smoke Bomb could break current encounters which others have delved into already, but suffice to say these are extremely unique and interesting new player-controlled mechanics.

And hence the reason for my bitching. In every single case except Warriors (and of course unknown about Paladins at this case), the level 85 ability is a BRAND NEW mechanic to the class, and in many cases a brand new mechanic to the game itself (at least from a player-controlled manner).

I cannot express how disappointed I am. I'm not unhappy with my class and think Warrior's are very strong and I'm sure will remain so in Cataclysm, but I really would've liked a new mechanic of some sort compared to the rest of the introduced abilities. I can already Charge and Thunderclap; I don't need a second button to do the same thing.

Tanks? What is this "Tank" you speak of?

Where the crap are the Tank abilities? The best changes I can look forward to as a Protection Warrior tank in Cataclysm is not breaking my fingers spamming Heroic Strike and a baseline attack power buff from Vengeance (that all tanks get)? Death Knights are getting a focused tank talent tree (Blood) and thus most of the good tank talents will be moved and available there. Also Outbreak allowing instant disease application is a HUGE boon to DK tanking and of course Dark Simulacrum as already discussed is pretty fantastic as a new ability for that class, even if it is a copy of an existing ability.

Likewise Druids get Thrash for a new ability (long overdue as Bear tanking was ultra boring so no argument here), but they also get Stampeding Roar which will undoubtedly be extremely useful for raid utility during boss fights. And of course a huge boost to Bear tank is an on demand, low cooldown Kick/Pummel equivalent, which was one of the PRIMARY reasons I personally avoided playing a Druid as a full-time tank when WotLK came out. I suspect Paladin tanks will also get a low-cooldown interrupt to now match Druids/DKs/Warriors in this regard.

Where are the abilities to benefit Warrior tanking though? I suppose you could argue for Inner Rage and Gushing Wound to increase Warrior tank threat/DPS, which is certainly welcome, but these are really intended for DPS Warriors obviously.

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