The Warrior’s Charge: A Gladiator’s Resolve
If you don’t know, then it falls upon me to tell you that Gladiator’s Resolve, the level 100 talent that lets Protection Warriors DPS with a sword and shield, has been removed in Legion. There are several reasons for this, some we’ve heard and some I’m speculating on. For one thing, stances are effectively gone in Legion. This isn’t just for Warriors, either, as Death Knights have lost their Presences as well. Defensive Stance only exists as a toggle for Arms Warriors to switch on if they’re taking a lot of damage, for example — Arms and Fury Warriors can no longer pop into Defensive and tank a boss for a few moments, the way hybridization works for the class has been utterly changed. Prot Warriors tank, Arms and Fury Warriors DPS, there’s no stance dancing of any kind and thus, Gladiator’s Resolve would have needed a heavy revamp anyway.
But that’s not why the talent is going away, exactly, although I feel it’s a symptom of the reason for the talent’s removal. The emphasis on “class fantasy” in Legion seems to extend to the idea that, if you’re a Prot Warrior, you chose to do so in order to tank — if you wanted to DPS, this logic seems to say, you should have picked Arms or Fury. In essence, it moves away from the idea of how a hybrid class should work. Rather than having a stance that you can swap into during combat if you want/need to pick up threat, you have a tanking spec you can switch to between pulls. To a degree, this is a reflection of reality — people really don’t tank very often on a DPS Warrior, and as much fun as Gladiator’s Resolve was, not many people were committed to DPSing on a Gladiator Prot Warrior. Most Prot who took the talent took it for the buff to Defensive Stance and for quicker soloing.
Part of the problem was that Gladiator Stance locked you into a stance in combat, which was practically antithetical to how every other Warrior stance had ever worked in the history of the game. I get why that restriction existed. If it hadn’t, once a Prot Warrior had a comfortable threat lead the temptation to switch to Gladiator for higher DPS would grow, especially on farm fights. You could go Gladiator, throw in some burst DPS, and then go Defensive again when big spike damage was incoming. It’s understandable why the stance was restricted, but it felt strange. I often argued for the removal of that restriction, and in a way removing stances entirely does prevent us from switching them.
Since we’re talking about stances and the class fantasy aspect of the class, I have to say it’s strange not to have stances in Legion. The lack of Gladiator’s Resolve aside, you don’t switch stances at all. In some ways, it’s a good design decision — no more abilities that only work in one stance or another, and there’s a default assumption that if you’re a tanking warrior, you are in Prot spec. It removes certain experimental ideas (a couple of years ago I tried a Titan’s Grip tank spec, for example) in favor of the one that is the default assumption. But we’ve had stances for eleven years now, so removing them like this feels extremely strange. In some ways, it doesn’t feel like a Warrior without those stances, even though abilities like Charge, Mortal Strike, Bloodthirst and Shield Slam are all still there.
So far I haven’t come right out and said that I think some form of Gladiator’s Resolve should survive. That’s because, overall, I really like the Arms and Fury designs for Legion, and it’s hard to get into a really critical mindset when you’ve had fun playing a spec. Arms is delightful right now, and Fury is a lot of fun as well. Even Protection got a recent buff to its rage generation that should help the spec out in terms of soloing and questing. Do we need Prot-spec Warriors DPSing in raids when it’s easier than ever to switch between specs? No, I suppose we don’t need that.
But what we need and what we want aren’t always the same thing, and Gladiator’s Resolve was a talent that made Protection unique. Warriors have seen their uniqueness get stolen from them over and over again, between Paladins, Death Knights and Guardian Druids — it felt good as a long time Warrior player to finally, finally get something no one else had. I understand that there were balance issues, there were flavor issues, and that ultimately the talent may not really have been workable. As gear progressed, Gladiator fell behind both TG and SMF Fury (but was ahead of Arms, which then irritated a lot of Arms Warriors) and didn’t have much chance to catch up.
Many players have argued for Gladiator to come back as a fourth Warrior spec. In the past, I’ve said that I didn’t think we needed it, and to a degree it depends on how much DPS Protection can ultimately do — if tanks are balanced around higher DPS and lower health/survival cooldowns, then you might well be fine without Warrior stances and Gladiator’s Resolve as a whole. If Tanks and DPS are closer in both damage output and survival, then a Arms or Fury Warrior can offtank by hitting taunt. (Disclaimer: currently on the alpha, Taunt is a Protection only ability — Arms and Fury can’t use it.) Likewise, in that design Protection wouldn’t need Gladiator because they could DPS without it.
That’s not how the design is currently shaking out, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t.
Ultimately, I don’t imagine we’ll get a Gladiator spec, certainly not in Legion. But I think it’s a good and interesting idea, and one that should be considered. DPSing with a sword and shield shouldn’t be that unusual an idea, it’s been an extremely common sight on battlefields throughout human history after all. I’d personally love to see some form of Gladiator return to the Warrior class.
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