For those more socially adapted, it’s called “playing with friends who have different priorities”.
It’s been aaaaageeeeees since Lelissa posted about WoW unfortunately, but we finally got a new entry this past week and it’s an introduction to Arms 5.0. I’ve already discussed Arms at length with a lot of players (Pixelated Executioner included) and, funnily enough, it’s Lelissa’s post that actually helps to clarify many of my problems with it. I’m not going to whinge about Arms being terrible or anything like that, as is my usual wont, but I am going to try and clearly express why I don’t like it anymore.
So, what’s Arms like since the patch?
Truthfully, my biggest complaint to this point has been the implementation of the new Taste for Blood and, in the main, that’s the biggest problem across the warriors I’ve spoken to. It’s a mechanic that causes our traditional rage dump to compete with our rage “burner” (deliberate change of term) and it does so in a particularly annoying way. It’s also become a mechanic that’s annoyingly difficult to explain for people as to exactly when you should use it but, thankfully, Lelissa actually makes it fairly clear.
Use Heroic Strike if Taste for Blood is about to drop off, or is at five stacks.
If you stick with that mantra, you’re unlikely to go too far wrong. The problem, of course, is that even this approach isn’t perfect; you have to take Colossus Smash into effect. If it’s about to come off cooldown you’re better waiting before you Heroic Strike, but there’s also some potential in holding onto your stack until you get a Sudden Death proc. I’m not going to argue which way is preferable for the much-anticipated five-stack, but Colossus Smash is something you should be taking into consideration regardless of how high the stack is.
I’m going to leave Taste for Blood for the moment and move onto the bigger issue. While Lelissa’s done a good job of trying to simplify the mechanic, what hasn’t been so well presented is the priority list she’s put up. When push comes to shove, THAT is the meat of the entire issue and why I feel Arms has ended up far less fun to play.
Why is the priority queue the problem?
If you approach Arms roughly the way you did prior to 5.0, you’ll probably think that the differences are negligible. Prioritise Mortal Strike, Colossus Smash, Overpower and Slam while bleeding off excess rage with Heroic Strike, and it’s likely you’ll do well enough until the Mists lift. Things aren’t that different if you approach the spec in that fashion. That said, however, it’s suboptimal to do that and the relative clarity of the previous priority queue has now been muddled and obscured to the point that the whole concept has been effectively removed. That sounds dramatic, but it’s the way Arms now manifests its biggest issue:
The priority queue is continuously in flux, making it far harder to manage than before.
Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that our new priority list looks like this:
- 1. Mortal Strike.
2. Heroic Strike @ Taste for Blood (5).
3. Dragon Roar.
4. Colossus Smash.
6. Heroic Strike @ Taste for Blood (1).
8. Heroic Strike w/o Taste for Blood.
Now, I’ve left out the intermittent stacks of Taste for Blood because they confuse the issue (and it’s maybe more accurate to leave out Heroic Strike altogether), but we’re still looking at the entirety of this particular queue being wholly conditional depending on Taste for Blood itself and, of course, rage. I’m also assuming you’ve taken Dragon Roar, but that’s by no means a given.
The problem is that EVERY attack has conditions attached to it – there’s always an “if”. You want to prioritise Mortal Strike IF you’re not close to rage capping, and you’d hold it if you were. You’d want to prioritise Colossus Smash IF it’s not already up longer than a GCD and Mortal Strike isn’t on CD. You want to use Dragon Roar IF Colossus Smash and Recklessness aren’t up. Everything has that “if” attached… And then you throw in Taste for Blood.
If you’re not stacked to five, you’re close to rage-capping and the stack isn’t going to fall off anytime soon, Slam jumps to the absolute top of the queue. It even ends up beating out Mortal Strike and Colossus Smash, purely because you HAVE to dump rage before you start generating it again. If you’re not stacked to five and the stack is about to drop off, Overpower jumps to the top of the queue so that you can continue building – again, it even shoves out Mortal Strike. The effective upshot of all this is that it’s breaking the long held DPS tradition of planning out your attacks two to three abilities in advance because you can’t actually tell what’s going to be at the top of the list two to three attacks in advance. It’s all very well Ghostcrawler saying “you won’t get to five often”, but that doesn’t mean that players won’t go for it, particularly if they’re near a Colossus Smash window.
Your number one priority could be Mortal Strike. It could be Slam. It could be Overpower. It could be Heroic Strike. And this continually fluctuating value of each of these attacks means that you’re constantly trying to make up-to-the-swing decisions for what you need to be pressing next.
Of course, that’s not all. Depending on talents, you could end up with a total of FOUR DPS cooldowns that need independently managed because they don’t stack up. You won’t use Berserker Rage if you’re already Enraged. That would be a waste, so you’d hold it until your next round of Mortal Strike/Colossus Smash to see if they passively Enrage you. You won’t use Deadly Calm if you’re building a Taste for Blood stack, because that would force you to burn Heroic Strike earlier than you would want to. If you take Bloodbath, you could potentially end up using it with Deadly Calm (earlier considerations posted), but if you take Avatar then you have a three minute cooldown that doesn’t easily stack with anything else. Finally, that leaves Recklessness which still marries up badly to everything and, as such, needs to be managed wholly independently from everything else.
Some specs are all about cooldown management.
Some specs are all about rotation management.
Some specs are all about resource management.
Arms has become a convoluted bastard-child of all three, an overly complex mass of split-second decisions that still ends up relying a lot on the luck of the draw thanks to Taste for Blood stacks, Enrage uptimes and whether or not you’re tracking everything. On top of managing the rotation, resources and cooldowns, you get one of the ugliest DPS mechanics ever designed and the joy of having to master what will likely be some of the most complicated encounters we’ve seen to this point.
Thanks, but no thanks.
Arms was the most popular warrior spec in Dragon Soul, beating out Protection and Fury combined. I’m looking forward to seeing how it does in T14 but considering Blizzard STILL haven’t bothered to fix the spec’s horrid scaling, it’s currently looking like Fury is going to start blowing Arms off the charts by the time a bit of T14 heroic gear is floating about.
I hope I’m wrong, but I suspect some changes are going to be needed to avoid Arms being in the doldrums for yet another expansion.