Quite a lot of my erstwhile concerns are starting to get addressed and we’re being given quite a few more options in the way of utility and rotation, with even active mitigation starting to look a bit more interesting. Not necessarily because we suddenly have great options for our rage, but more because there truly is enough to be getting on with.
That said much of what’s happening is moving in the right direction, I reckon, so it’s worth having a quick pass before I get on with Diablo 3 for the rest of the week. :)
So, how are we getting on offensively?
Quite well, actually. I recently commented on why hit and expertise rating were ending up as very weak mitigation stats thanks to most of our rage coming from white damage, and that’s been given the full 180 degree flip. As things stand, white damage now gives zero rage and we’re effectively forced into pressing buttons in order to build resources up. I was worried about too much being tied to Shield Slam, namely all of our rage building outside of shouts or Charge, and I’m happy to see that’s no longer the case.
Revenge and Devastate now also generate rage, with some of it being stripped from Shield Slam. This is a far more compelling way to deal with rage generation for several reasons, but mainly because having to stack traditional threat stats purely for Shield Slam felt lame. Not only that, a couple of parries meant you were SOL with regard to mitigating damage.
Another good side effect to this change is that, once again, better players will be rewarded with significantly better results. Playing with one eye on the telly and one hand on a cup of tea simply won’t cut it for your rage building with white damage making no contribution. It also brings us more in line with the Protection paladin who only builds resources via special attacks, something that appeared overly punitive until now.
That said, the new Revenge takes some getting used to. The age old complaint about it being an outdated mechanic that needs to DIAF can… DIAF. I like the way Revenge works and wouldn’t change it for the world. Not having it proc from blocks looks like a nerf, but the fact it has no cooldown makes up for that because each proc nets you more than a single Revenge. As I said, it takes some getting used to but I expect this to be something of a buff for better players.
Oh yeah, Sword and Board is now back on Devastate. That’s wonderful. Putting it on Revenge in the first place was stupid, completely altering an unmitigated rotational success for Blizzard (something they’re woefully short on). I’d like to see it back on Revenge so it’s exactly like live, but I expect the no cooldown model is why that won’t happen – the developers probably don’t want Revenge procs to go begging in the new model.
All told, the recent changes are pretty much all win as far as I’m concerned.
Enough crap about attack! I’m here to defend!
Fair play, fair play. You’ll be undoubtedly happy to learn that the Shield Block cooldown I guaranteed months ago has now gone in, just as it did with the Protection paladin of 4.1. Nothing to see here really, except the fact you can double up your Shield Block depending on how you use your rage. The thing is, though, the new iteration of Shield Barrier means that Heroic Strike is still no more attractive than it was previously. When Shield Block isn’t available, warriors will spend their rage on barriers unless they’re conventionally off-tanking, and I daresay we’ll be looking to avoid that as much as humanly possible because we’re still looking the absolute worst in that role.
I suppose Blizzard could put a cooldown on Shield Barrier, but I don’t see any way they can do that without absolutely gutting our mitigation. A cooldown on both would make warriors simply alternate block and barrier, so said cooldown would have to be rough enough to stop even that. Ouch. Of course, Blizzard have found another solution to the ignorance of Heroic Strike but I’m not sure how I really feel about that, either. On the subject of Shield Barrier, that’s changed a bit too. It now has a rage floor of 20 where it can be used, with a ceiling of 60. Each 20 rage gives it double the strength, so think “Holy Power” and you’re almost there. It’s 200% effective at 40 rage and 300% effective at 60 rage, with the added advantage of us choosing how powerful we want it to be depending on the situation.
The further we get with Shield Barrier, the more awesome it becomes. Seriously, this is our Death Strike – I love it.
Defensively, though, we’re looking really well kitted out. Demoralizing Shout has made a return, not as a maintenance debuff but as a physical damage cooldown. I’m not sure we really needed another one of those, but I’ll take it as it gives us more utility in general. With Shield Block, Shield Barrier, Demoralizing Shout, Demoralizing Banner and Impending Victory, we’re actually looking like physical damage reduction powerhouses outside of major cooldowns. If you tie up Demoralizing Shout with Shield Block, I get the feeling we may end up a bit overpowered on major boss mechanics that are physical in nature (particularly if you toss a banner on top of that). We’ll see.
So both offensively and defensively, warriors are moving in the right direction. The only problem I still have is with the aforementioned Heroic Strike. I said further up that Blizzard have devised another solution to Heroic Strike ignorance and it’s the Ultimatum proc, something that now comes from Shield Slam. It was originally devised to bring back some of the old Sword and Board feel while that mechanic was driven by Revenge but with the reversion, that role no longer really exists.
So… What’s the point in Ultimatum?
I really don’t know.
Don’t get me wrong, having it light up is fun enough and all, but it’s essentially another proc that’s being tacked on where it’s not necessary, and it’s doing nothing but giving warriors a bit more damage. If Heroic Strike had a defensive component to it, then Ultimatum could potentially be more interesting; but right now, all we’re really seeing is a synthetic attempt to keep Heroic Strike on our bars when, just maybe, the time has come to retire it.
Sword and Board is a blast, but it’s also fuelling our mitigation thanks to Shield Slam being a rage builder. The problem with Ultimatum is that it’s not doing that. Worse, it’s essentially a proc that’s saying “press me now or be bad”, and I’m not sure that’s a great mechanic. There’s no thinking or choice behind it (a criticism, incidentally, aimed at Sword and Board by players like Veneretio), it just lights up and you press it.
I’m not saying Ultimatum is horridly bad design, more that it’s just fluff tacked on when I’d really rather be shifting things like Heroic Strike and even Cleave off my bars altogether if there’s no real need for them to be there. The recently re-introduced Deadly Calm doesn’t really prop it up either.
But that’s your only whinge? Heroic Strike?
Pretty much. I’m back in love with the Protection warrior priority-based rotation system, and I’m actually starting to really like active mitigation thanks to Shield Barrier. I am slightly concerned about the potential bloat of “the demoralizers”, but that’s a small whine compared to the amount of really good things that are going on right now.
Have you guys got stuck into any of the new tanking changes recently? If so, how have you been finding it across the board?