Thursday, 8 April 2010

Falling skies

The preview of the warrior abilities for Cataclysm will be released today. It is here.

Now, I know that this is not even in beta yet, and much may change, but we can only respond to what is there, and this is utterly utterly dreadful and appears devoid of any serious thought. Some of the other classes - notably healing priests - seem to have really interesting and fun abilities. The warrior preview looks awful.

Let's run through the new abilities.

1) Inner rage

Now this has the potential to be interesting, and there may be some maths involved about whether it is better to let your rage touch 100 from time to time to kick off the buff. However - bear in mind that the stated goal for 4.0 is that warriors will not be in the infinite rage situation that they find themselves in today. Rage will be precious and rage management will be important. So in order to get to 100 rage it is going to require several seconds of just standing there and meleeing the target - very dull. Alternatively, it means that warriors will be massively overpowered in any encounter with significant raid damage. It's a balancing nightmare for those raids, and it looks shit for the rest of the time. Next.

2) Gushing wound

A PvP ability. Presumably available in zerker stance. Will it replace rend for arms warriors? Probably not since rend triggers overpower currently. So a PvP ability for Fury warriors. Since bosses don't typically move around all the time, and at one stack this will be weaker than rend (sorry, lolrend I believe is the term) it won't be part of the fury warrior's rotation for PvE (unless of course fury warriors don't have a rotation - more on this below).

3) Heroic leap

A new kind of charge - it shares a cooldown. Useable in battle stance unless you have juggernaught (arms) or warbringer (prot). So fury will have to stance dance to use this then? This will be fun for prot, but of little practical benefit to arms warriors who will just charge in. Fury warriors will never use it because of the requirement to dance, and because it seems like it can't be used in combat without one of the two talents already mentioned.

So what do we have - a pointless passive benefit, a PvP dot, and a funky new opener for prot which will not be used by dps specs. Recall that we already have two openers for prot in charge and heroic throw. A third seems pointless, but never mind. Let's now consider the "Changes to Abilities and Mechanics" section.

4) Heroic strike/Cleave

This will now work similarly to execute apparently. I posted on this a few days ago, but you can see that they intend it to fulfill a similar role to execute. Since execute is already a main nuke for arms, it seems that arms warriors are not intended to heroic strike in 4.0. They will swap in cleave for execute when AoEing. Prot and Fury will I guess have a rage threshold depending on weapon speed (for prot) and gear level above which heroic strike becomes better than one or other of the main nukes (or main nuke for fury - since there is only 1 now - see below) and you hit HS instead.

Balance will be an issue but isn't it always.

5) Shouts

Boring. We get rage now. The questions are - 1) how much rage, and 2) will demo shout grant rage too? Demo shout granting rage would be nice, perhaps talented improving rage gain as well as the attack power debuff. Not very exciting though.

6) Whirlwind nerf

So WW will only be used when AoEing. This casts out the iconic ability of the fury warrior (imagine losing fireball for mages or mind flay for shadow priests - the change is that big). It also utterly guts the spec. Fury's rotation is currently completely balanced around WW - much of the theorycrafting is balanced around the 1 second difference between the length of 4 unhasted GCDs and the 8 second cooldown of WW. Fury already is missing one nuke - there are times when you literally have nothing to cast because WW and bloodthirst are both on cooldown and slam hasn't procced. What's the fury rotation going to be now? BT, hit slam if it procs, BT, hit slam if it procs, repeat?

There is absolutely nothing here about what will replace WW for fury warriors (subject to Furious Sundering, but I hope it isn't that). We could use HS, but that is not supposed to be spammed, and certainly not hit in 2 out of every 3 GCDs as we'd need to. I guess that 100 rage ability doesn't sound so bad, since, get this, Fury warriors will have nothing to hit for over 50% of their GCDs, as announced. Incredible isn't it?

6) Mortal Strike PvP nerf

The change here makes no sense. Blizzard have said that burst healing in PvP will be less important in 4.0 because health pools will be higher and burst dps will be relatively weaker. Thus abilities which restrict healing throughput become less important, not more important.

If this is an example of Blizzard's logic when it comes to PvP balancing, I have a prediction for you - healers in general will be massively overpowered in PvP in 4.0. You will not be able to burst down an opposing player if they have decent gear and healer support.

7) Sunder armour nerf

The main reason for this is that Blizzard have said they are chilling out on critical raid buffs, and sunder is currently pretty huge. It's a cretin-friendly change, since your garden variety cretin will forget to keep sunders up all the time on the target, so more dumbing down of the class - the penalty for poor play is reduced.

I wonder whether or not it will be worth maintaining sunders as a dps warrior in 10 man. Since armour pen gets better the more of it you have (exponential returns), armour pen on gear is disappearing, and the power of the debuff is being nerfed by 40%, in 10 man raids where there are say 2 melee dps, it may no longer be worth the personal dps loss of maintaining sunders.

8) Furious Sundering

Either a pointless or a depressing talent. It will be pointless if Fury warriors have something better to do with their GCDs, because how often otherwise do you use sunder armour in a fight? Three times at the start, and then once every 25 seconds or so. Not very much.

It will be a depressing talent if sunder armour is supposed to be fury's new secondary nuke - the thing to hit if WW is on cooldown and slam has not procced. Is this the best you could do guys? 50% weapon damage is a pretty weak attack even as an instant special. We replace WW - a hard hitting, fun attack, which has a cool animation and is (crucially) utterly in keeping with the flavour of fury as a ball-out devil-may-care berserker. We replace it with a weak attack that reduces armour. God I hope not.

9) One handed fury

This is an absolutely awful idea. To take a phrase from Blackadder - "the crowning turd in the water pipe". The reason is this - either dual wielding one handers will be better than dual wielding two handers or it won't be. You can't hide from EJ, and much as I dislike the posters there as a bunch of bastards, they will work out which is better. Then EVERY serious fury warrior will go with what is better. This is the illusion of choice - either Single-Minded Fury will be obsolete or Titan's Grip will be.

10) Critical block chance

I posted a while back that surely critical block will go in the expansion because it will be hugely overpowered. Guess I was wrong!

11) Vengeance

This is not just a warrior thing - but for all tanking specs. It sounds good, although 10% of stamina as attack power means different things for eg paladins and deathknights who do spell damage, and it means that druids who have the highest health will get an immediate boost. Bornakk mentions that druids will need a smaller benefit in his post - but gives a different reason. Nevertheless, it all comes down to balance as usual. Perhaps they will get it right this time.


Nothing material new for arms in PvE. A cool new opener for Prot (seriously - who looked at the warrior class and said "those guys need some mobility"?), together with the possibility of an overpowered critical block.

Fury destroyed as a spec. Great.

I appreciate that this is pretty major QQ from me, and I'm sorry about that. But this was supposed to keep us excited and interested for 4.0. What? For goodness' sake!

Edit - copied here

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