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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Patch 3.0.8 makes death less sudden

If you're paying attention to the saga of Warriors and patch 3.0.8 on the PTR, you saw the following exciting patch notes, which I will reproduce in their entirety from here.

  • Warriors

    • Bloodthirst: Charges have been decreased to 3, but the effect has been raised to 1% per charge.

    • Fury: Bloodsurge: Now has a chance to trigger from any hit with Heroic Strike, Bloodthirst, or Whirlwind.

    • Fury:Titan's Grip: The hit chance penalty has been removed.

    • Taunt: Range increased to 30 yards.

While these are not a lot of changes, on the whole they seem fairly positive, yes? Well, what's not in the patch notes is of some concern to DPS warriors. Namely, the incoming nerfs to Deep Wounds and Sudden Death, two warrior talents in the arms tree. The Deep Wounds nerf is aimed at balancing fury warriors since their damage should be going up with the change to Bloodsurge and Titan's Grip. Since there hasn't been an announcement of how much Deep Wounds is going to be changed, all we know is that the DPS will decrease. The Sudden Death change, however, is at least simple enough, in that when a Sudden Death execute lights up, it will only use up to 30 rage.

Interestingly, I specced arms last night for Malygos before I heard about these changes and played around with the spec, and even though I prefer fury for DPS I already feel bad for arms losing those big SD executes. I've read and understood the argument that it's too bursty and I hope that Blizzard is sincere in their desire to buff arms somewhere else to make up for it, but to my eyes the real losers here are PvP warriors who are already having trouble killing anything in PvP since aside from big random crits there's not really any way for a warrior to match the insane burst of the current PvP game.

It's possible to see the SD change as a PvE buff, depending on your gear. Based on my last night experience, I didn't really have any trouble getting rage as arms (indeed, my main difficulty was in understanding what I was supposed to do with all of the rage I had when I didn't have an execute handy to dump it, since I'm so used to fury) but if you were having trouble with rage then not losing all of it could actually be a DPS increase. I can't say there's any upside to the change for PvP

Since I finally did some Wintergrasp the other day (you wore me down, what can I say) I actually feel like my raiding PvE spec is more viable for the frenetic mass of combat in that place than, say a dedicated Arms PvP spec, and that just seems wrong and bad to me. I guess I had fun, but not enough to really want to go back, I just did it mostly to help get the Alliance the zone so I could raid Archavon.

The Deep Wounds change is aimed at scaling: as warrior gear gets better, the damage that ability deals will just keep going up and up and up. I understand it, even if it's not really making me happy (a lot of my damage is Deep Wounds) but I'm hoping the changes to Bloodsurge will help make up the difference. It really depends on how often it goes off once the change goes live. Right now, since BT is on a 5 second cooldown you end up waiting to see if you're going to get a Slam every five seconds, either you do or you don't (as crit rates approach 50% in raids) so hopefully it will be much less of a plodding "did I crit BT, no, ah well" experience and more a steady chance to fit an instant slam into the ability. I've always loved Bloodsurge and would very much like it to live up to its potential as the Sword and Board of Fury.

The new Glyphs coming in are pretty solid for the most part. I'm of course looking forward to the Whirlwind and Cleave changes. I use cleave a lot on trash (it's useless on a boss, of course, you're better off HSing for your rage dump when there's only one mob to hit) so the chance for cleave to chain to three makes the points I spend in Imp Cleave feel more useful to me. This is an older list from MMO Champion (things come in and go out, like the 2h DK tanking weapons, so if this doesn't actually turn up in live I apologize) but it's interesting.

  • Glyph of Bloodrage - Reduces the health cost of your Bloodrage ability by 100%. (Up from 50%)

  • Glyph of Cleaving - Increases the number of targets your Cleave hits by 1. (Old - Reduces the rage cost of Cleave by 5.)

  • Glyph of Mortal Strike - Increases the damage of your Mortal Strike ability by 10%. (No longer reduces the healing penalty)

  • Glyph of Bloodthirst - Increases the healing you receive from your Bloodthirst ability by 100%. (Up from 20%)

  • Glyph of Whirlwind - Reduces the cooldown of your Whirlwind by 2 sec. (Old - Increases the number of targets your Whirlwind ability hits by 1.)

  • Glyph of Victory Rush - Your Victory Rush ability has a 30% increased critical strike chance against targets above 70% health. (Old - 90% health)

  • Glyph of Rending - Increases the duration of your Rend ability by 6 sec. (Up from 3 sec)

For arms, that MS glyph is a nice change for PvP warriors (who were probably loath to take it before and lose the healing penalty) and the Glyph of Rending will help you get more chances to proc Overpower. The Bloodthirst glyph will be good for soloing but I doubt any PvE warriors who have progressed past five man content would take it. Victory Rush is simply not a terribly important ability for instancing/raiding, but for soloing its a very nice change and might have some utility for PvP.

Overall it's kind of a mixed bag. If you'd asked me a week ago I would have said that 3.0.8 was nothing but positive for warriors, if in a small way (compared to the vast revamps some classes are seeing) but now I'm on the fence. I really don't like the SD change and am unhappy (if somewhat willing to wait and see how it actually affects our DPS) with the Deep Wounds change, but I'm very happy with the glyphs and the change to bloodsurge. Yay for uncertainty, I guess.