We’ve had the best part of a week now, so an overall review of the MoP talent calculator’s most recent iteration for warriors would be fair. This post deals entirely with Protection PvE (though there may be some crossover), as I’m not really experienced enough to comment on PvE DPS or PvP with realistic lucidity.
First of all, it’s taken as read that this isn’t even a beta build and that numbers are subject to change; yadda, yadda, yadda. I know. Don’t tell me. But the current view for the Protection warrior of the future is being put up for feedback, so feedback is what it’s going to get.
I’m going to start with a premise, albeit an anecdotal one. If you were to ask every career Protection warrior what their most favourite aspect of the spec is, the top three would our mobility, our control and the interactive elegance of our priority-based rotation.
Why, then, is Blizzard removing all three?
With Intercept and Warbringer gone (the effect, not the name) our mobility is gutted. With no Concussion Blow, we lack a stun without speccing into otherwise inferior talents to pick up Shockwave or Stormbolt. Finally, with a cooldown placed on our filler ability and Sword and Board procs about to become available every nine seconds rather than every 1.5, our rotation is about to be filled up with interminable holes where we get the enjoyment of sitting around doing nothing.
This is proof, were any more needed, that the developers are out of direction and ideas where Protection warriors are concerned.
Yes, that statement is trotted out a lot and the blues are quick to say “it’s not a lack of direction, it’s a disagreement about it”. But these changes highlight that they simply don’t get what makes warriors fun, they haven’t learned the lessons of the past, and they can’t come up with a unique place for the warrior to sit, proven by talents that are little more than warmed-through iterations of what we’ve seen previously.
The fact that monks are about to become the fifth tanking class makes it harder than ever to find a role that is interesting, compelling and fun.
Let’s explore this.
I remember the original Warbringer. It made Charge, Intercept and Intervene all available in Defensive Stance, while making them all break roots. This was THE talent for a Protection warrior as far as I was concerned. What’s happened to it? First, it was nerfed to stop Charge or Intercept breaking roots. Second, it moved into Cataclsym’s higher health pools and lower tank damage without being restored. Third, and finally, Intercept is being removed, and Intervene no longer breaks roots without picking up another talent that’s otherwise inferior to that tier’s choices.
Now, let’s also consider that Charge is moving to a 20 SECOND COOLDOWN at baseline, with talents that restore its live cooldown, work awkwardly, or will do nothing whatsoever for boss tanks.
For our fabled mobility to be torn to ribbons so deliberately and systematically is nothing short of disgusting.
FFS, put our baseline Charge to 12 seconds; you owe us at least that. Secondly, sort out those awful tier one talents by making something that all warriors, including tanks, might want to pick up. How about applying Hamstring automatically to a target after a Charge? How about a short-duration DR buff (3% less damage for 6 seconds)?
How about restoring Warbringer by allowing Charge to break roots?
Sort this out.
Moving on swiftly, what on earth happened to Protection warrior control? Where’s it gone? Concussion Blow bites the dust in favour of a cheap replacement for Heroic Throw, inferior to both other choices. Intimidating Shout, our only form of crowd control, has been removed for… Nothing. As the cooldown on Pummel has been increased, will spellcasters have their cast times increased? Somehow, I doubt it. Shield Bash is gone, Shockwave is now a costly talent and I can’t even use Intercept to interrupt because it’s bitten the dust.
Dubya. Tee. Eff.
Make Shockwave a baseline Protection ability for goodness sake. Without it we’re losing a stun, and AoE damage. Thunderclap (with bleed attached) on its own will make warriors the weakest AoE tanks by a country mile. Again. Get rid of Stormbolt because it’s garbage and reinstate Concussion Blow for Protection. Seriously, why change the cooldown on Pummel? For what reason? Revert that pointless change that achieves nothing other than indirectly buffing casters, and we can forget it ever happened.
From the tank with the most control, to the tank with probably the least. You couldn’t make it up.
Sort this out.
Then we come to our priority-based rotation, the envy of melee specs everywhere. And what happens to it? Everything good about it gets removed.
Shield Slam on a six-second cooldown is okay, but we’re now looking at ONLY Revenge proccing another via Sword & Board every nine seconds. It’s 1.5 seconds on live. What is this? What are you trying to do, faceless Blizzard employee? But it gets worse. Revenge is now moving to a nine second cooldown, as mentioned, but Devastate, our filler attack since time immemorial, is getting a 4.5 second cooldown.
This is putting rotational gaps into the Protection warrior system, something that was resolutely rejected when Blizzard tried this with Protection paladins.
Who thought of this? Who considered it to be something worth trying? It’s lunacy. Undoubtedly, some bright spark will say “hey, Thunderclap is free of cost, use that”. Okay, sure; but in lieu of Shockwave, that then means that the Protection warrior rotation will be IDENTICAL regardless of whether you’re single-target tanking, or AoE tanking. What? Seriously, what? How is that “depth”? How is that “compelling”? How is that “fun”?
I wish that were all that was wrong.
Who remembers the discussion about active mitigation for tanks? I do. Clearly, the warrior developers don’t; none of our three rotational attacks have any direct impact on mitigation whatsoever. Sure, Shield Slam is our rage generator (presumably to be used on Shield Block), but Revenge and Devastate have got absolutely no defensive value whatsoever. Revenge used to have a talent for a random stun. It was ugly, but had defensive value. Shield Slam used to have an offensive dispel, and that’s also been removed. Honestly, what’s going on here? Is this some kind of joke?
Oh, and rage!
There has been nothing but problems in the past when Protection warriors became almost wholly dependent on Shield Slam landing for damage/threat. Now with threat barely an afterthought, we’re about to become wholly reliant upon Shield Slam for our mitigation. No, I’m serious. Our only rotational resource generator is on a six-second cooldown, with a 1 in 2 chance for a proc every nine-seconds.
And what are we using that rage for? Shield Block. That’s it, Shield Block. Sure, there’s a magical version but who’s going to be using that routinely? We’re queuing Shield Slam for the right to use Shield Block, with no rage left spare for either Heroic Strike or Cleave; thereby making two more attacks completely redundant, while hitting our single-target and AoE damage again. And because stacking expertise beyond the point where Shield Slam can be parried would take a huge number of points out of our passive mitigation, it’s a design that’s potentially nerfing our mitigation. Am I going to have to get my hit and expertise to 8% and 26 respectively JUST for Shield Slam (and still have it parried)?
This isn’t just bad design, ladies and gentlemen, it’s negligent and ignorant design. Has nothing been learned from the past? Who the hell is working on warriors?
Luckily, it’s not quite a lost cause. Some bones can be picked out of it.
The six second cooldown on Shield Slam is fine, but the nine for Revenge and 4.5 for Devastate is not. Six seconds is enough for Revenge, while no cooldown should be attached to Devastate. Let’s also spread the rage gain around a bit to avoid us being wholly dependent on one attack. I think 10 rage for Shield Slam, six for Revenge and four for Devastate would be fine. Next up, get Sword and Board back onto Devastate so that warriors can actually fish properly for procs rather than continually lining up Revenge to directly compete with Shield Slam. With Concussion Blow and Shockwave restored to baseline Protection talents, and including Thunderclap, we have a decent set of options to choose from again.
Next, sort out our active mitigation and let’s not make it around block for crying out loud. There’s already a “block tank” in the form of the paladin, we don’t need two. Instead, let’s find a proper niche for the warrior to sit so that he’s not just the one that can do anything, but is the poor man’s everything. I’ve always viewed the paladin as the shield tank, the DK as the magic tank, the druid as the dodge tank and the warrior as the armoured tank. Yes, these are gross simplifications but the idea still helps to differentiate tanking classes out a bit.
So, rather than Shield Block, let’s rename the activated ability to reflect its new role:
"Invincible: Self belief fills the warrior, increasing his armour by 10% for six seconds."
The number would have to be balanced, but the idea is simple. By increasing armour, you’re buffing warrior mitigation via effective health and retaining the “flavour” of a tank that’s not ideally suited to magical defence but is a bulwark against physical attacks. You’re also providing a niche for him without unbalancing the other four tanks, while also providing an opportunity to start bringing bonus armour back as a compelling and meaningful stat.
But we still have block, dodge and parry to consider. Three defensive considerations match up nicely to three rotational attacks, wouldn’t you say? What would be wrong with nerfing passive block, dodge and parry only to make Devastate provide a short-duration parry buff, Revenge to provide a short-duration dodge buff and Shield Slam to provide a short-duration block buff? Hell, changing it up in this fashion could outright stop the silliness of balancing around block for two classes and, therefore, having them overpowered when they cap out. You could even tie Protection mastery into armour, further differentiating the warrior from the paladin and fighting the rampant homogenization that’s ruining individuality.
Sort it out.
Before coming to a close with this post, I have to cover the talents themselves because, essentially, they’re terrible and need work. While most classes are picking up shiny new toys to play with, warriors are seeing baseline abilities removed and renamed as talents, or are getting warmed through versions of past talents that were either boring or too weak. It’s a recipe for failure. My advice would be to utterly start again, but make talents that are interesting for tanks rather than just “for any ol’ warrior”.
I’ve mentioned what I’d do to tier one. Make Charge interesting, rather than just half-decent. Tier two is revolting, considering tanks used to be able to get almost all of this. Enraged Regeneration should be baseline, end of discussion; what it’s doing as a talent is anyone’s guess. You could literally scrap tier three, what is a boss tank going to use any of that crap for? Piercing Howl should be baseline, anyway. Likewise, Shockwave and Bladestorm need to be put into the Protection and Arms trees respectively, while Avatar should really be baseline for all warriors at level 87. If you want a war banner, make that the level 90 talent and make it a choice between raid cooldowns; one for more damage (critical strike), one for more mitigation (an armour or absorption effect) and one for utility. If warriors are known for mobility, a banner that increases movement speed by 20% could be awesome.
Seriously, the warrior talents just need fixed. I see things like Will of the Necropolis and Ardent Defender have largely made the cut, so why not make a talent that procs a heal at 30% health, a damage buff or an armour buff? Cleave has a lot of in-game mechanics that could be cool, so maybe talents that see it hit every target in front of the warrior, or coming up with a saber-lash effect might be fun. I like the concept of Vigilance or Safeguard, but they do the same thing just at different strengths and at different cooldowns. Bloodbath could be interesting, but it’s clumsily worded.
Bah. There’s a lot more I could say, but this is already a wall of text people are likely bored with. Let me summarise by saying that what’s been presented so far is in dire need of major surgery; it’s clear that the warrior developer(s) doesn’t have a direction for the class, nor the imagination to make anything new or compelling for its players. What we have seen this last week is just not of the required standard of innovation or depth expected, and this team simply needs moved on to something else.
I don’t say that because I don’t like what they’re trying to do, I say that because they’re systematically breaking the things that make Protection warriors great, while not addressing concerns that have been plaguing the class for years now.
Let’s not hide behind the “it’s only a preview” aside. Without feedback, the developers will think this garbage is okay and, six months from now, we’ll all be wondering how we got stuck with it.
It’s not good enough by any stretch of the imagination.
It’s time to make that clear.