DKs have a variety of defensive cooldowns and self-heals at their beck and call at all times, even while in full DPS mode. Meanwhile, Warriors must switch to a shield just to use spell reflect or shield wall. Paladin tanks dominate on dps, aoe threat, and survivability, while Warrior tanks lag behind. Ret Paladins bring more buffs to the raid than any other class while easily doing competitive dps at any gear level and being able to heal themselves and use defensive cooldowns with impunity.
Meanwhile, Warriors have to give up a chunk of their dps just to use a meager self-HoT.
Rage's implementation was also a weakness of the class. They were rage-starved at low gear levels, but had infinite rage past a certain threshold. This not only led to an awkward gearing point where dps suddenly shot up now that rage was available, but it also made the class completely impossible to balance. It also meant that, for geared Warriors, Heroic Strike was no longer a choice: you might as well just macro it into your attacks.
Oh, yeah, and dps warriors don't have a threat reduction like every single other dps spec. So they will always be the first person to pull aggro. Fun.
So it's clear Cataclysm will need to make some major changes to the Warrior class. I was prompted to write this post today because Blizzard made an announcement about the subject that was pretty much word-for-word what I was planning to say about rage. I better get my other ideas out there so y'all know I thought of them first!
1) Rage is no longer generated based on damage done by auto-attacks. Instead, each auto-attack provides a set amount of Rage, and off-hand weapons will generate 50% of the Rage main hands do. This amount is based on a constant formula which factors in the base swing speed of the weapon. This means the Rage gained should be averaged out between fast and slow weapons. The constant formula also gives us the ability to easily increase the rage gained if it feels too low (or reduce it if is too high). We are also implementing the following mechanics, which will still allow rage to improve to some extent as you improve gear:
- If the attack is a critical strike, it will generate 200% Rage.
- Haste will accelerate swing times to generate Rage faster.
2) Rage from damage taken will no longer be based on a standard creature of the character's level, but instead will based on the health of the warrior or druid. Again, there is a constant that is multiplied by the rage generated in order to allow for fine-tuning. This calculation ignores all damage reduction from armor, absorption, avoidance, block, or similar mechanics, so improving your gear will not reduce Rage gained.
3) We will provide warriors and druids with more instant sources of rage. For example, the warrior shouts are changing to work more like the death knight ability Horn of Winter. Instead of Battle Shout consuming Rage, it will generate Rage but have a short cooldown. Both classes will have additional methods to generate Rage in an emergency or bleed off Rage when they have too much.
4) All "on next swing" attacks in Cataclysm are being removed. Heroic Strike and Maul will be instant swings that cost a variable amount of Rage. For example, imagine Heroic Strike costs between 10 and 30 Rage. You must have at least 10 Rage to use the attack, but it will consume all available Rage up to a maximum of 30. Any Rage consumed above the minimum will cause the ability to hit harder, and in some cases much harder. We will tune the ability so that it's generally not a good idea to hit it when you have low Rage (unless everything else is somehow on cooldown) but becomes a more attractive button the higher your Rage.
All great ideas. That I thought of first. It's nice to see Warriors finally get at least brought on par with DKs in #3, as well.
So that pretty much 100% fixes rage. But I would tweak it a bit more as part of revamping the talent trees. My main goals would be to give each tree a unique flavor, bring warriors into line with DKs and Rets in independent survivability, and solidify charge/intercept as the defining warrior "move". I like the steps Blizzard took in this direction in LK, and would keep the current "arms in battle stance using rend and overpower" vs. "fury in berserker stance using whirlwind and Slam" dichotomy.
First off, Enraged Regeneration (heal over time) should no longer remove an enrage effect and should have a shorter cooldown. Battle and Berserker stance would both come with an innate threat reduction, as well.
Furthermore, each talent tree will get a unique rage-building mechanic, defensive cooldown, and signature "charge". Here are some examples of how I would handle the revamp of each tree.
Unleashed Rage - increases rage generated on weapon hits by XX% (25%?)
Spell Parry - allows the use of Spell Reflect without a shield equipped
Juggernaut - same as now: allows use of Charge during combat
Improved Disarm - Disarm lasts longer, reduces the target's spellpower and leaves a DoT on them
The overall tree will emphasize precision strikes. Talents will grant hit and expertise, and the masteries will raise armor penetration and crit.
You can see that the Arms Warrior will focus on getting hits, in contrast to:
Wild Swings - Gain rage as though you had landed a hit whenever your attacks are parried, dodged, or miss.
Weapon Wall - Allows the use of Shield Wall without a shield equipped
Interceptor - Reduces the rage cost and cooldown of Intercept. Allows it to be used for free if you are out of combat.
Improved Intimidating Shout - Reduces the cooldown of the shout, and roots the primary target in place with terror
The overall tree will emphasize wild, enraged -but imprecise - assault. Talents and masteries will increase strength and haste. The Wild Swings talent means that the Fury Warrior can focus more on increasing his haste and strength without worrying as much about hit and expertise caps. He may swing wild, but he swings fast and hard.
Front Line - attacks against you generate XX% more rage (25%?)
Last Stand will remain, and Improved Spell Reflect will be changed - if a spell cannot be reflected, the damage it does while your Spell Reflect is active will be reduced by 35%
Warbringer - same as it is now, essentially allowing prot warriors to charge during combat without switching stances
This tree is already pretty strong so I wouldn't change too much, especially if Paladins get the promised aoe threat nerf. With rage generation fixed, the only thing still needed is cleanup of the dps trees to differentiate them from each other and give them some way to help healers keep them alive.
So that's a sampling of how I'd change Warriors for Cataclysm. They definitely need some major work - more than any other class, imo - and the announced rage changes are a welcome start.