The Warrior’s Charge: Gladiator’s Resolve and the future of combat stances
One of my favorite additions to the Warrior class in Warlords of Draenor has been Gladiator’s Resolve, a talent that allows Protection Warriors (soon to be renamed, I hope) to function as DPS by forgoing those tanky aspects that keep one alive in favor of pure offensive abilities. It changes the way the class works, it gives players the option to do something without forcing them all to do it, it’s a really well designed and elegant way to go about things. I like it.
I don’t see much reason for it to go away in Legion. For starters, it uses exactly the same gear as a non-Gladiator Protection Warrior — the same bonus armor rings and necks and cloaks (and trinkets if you can get them), the same sword and board gearing style. It’s not like Titan’s Grip vs. Single-Minded Fury where there are two separate kinds of weapons to support with Artifacts. A Warrior who intends to take Ravager or Anger Management over Gladiator’s Resolve will still use the same Artifact as one who will be in Gladiator Stance when she’s not tanking.
But I’ve proved over the past decade plus that I’m no prognosticator. So let’s discuss Gladiator Stance.
A look over at SimCraft shows us that Gladiator Warriors are well behind Fury on single-target, but ahead of Arms, while slipping behind on sustained AoE fights. I’m not going to pretend I’m worried that Gladiator’s damage is too low, because there are relatively few DPS warriors who are going Gladiator to raid as DPS — but they do exist, so it’s worth mentioning. Balancing DPS between four subspecs (TG Fury, SMF Fury, Arms and Gladiator Protection) remains an elusive goal and I’m not really sure how they can ever solve it. Someone’s going to end up bottom of the heap. That being said, Gladiator has pretty consistently trumped Arms all expansion and was briefly at the top during the first tier of raiding, a surprisingly solid showing. This is, after all, a brand new talent.
I’ve personally gone back and forth on whether or not I think it should be a talent at all. As it stands, with Gladiator Stance being specialized in the way it is (and unable to be switched into during combat) I think it should be a talent. Forcing all Prot Warriors into a playstyle they may not want to make use of (since you can’t switch into Glad in combat) strikes me as a poor design choice. However, it does make me uneasy about the fact that, in order to play as Gladiator at all, you have to sacrifice a talent choice. This means that Gladiator Warriors can’t ever take Ravager — a very fun talent — or Anger Management. I have played around with Anger Management this expansion and I think it’s a strong one in terms of cooldowns for Protection. You’re spending a ton of rage on Shield Barrier and Block, lowering the cooldowns on Shield Wall, Last Stand and Demoralizing Roar is nothing to sneeze at. It doesn’t feel like a great choice, making Protection choose between that and Gladiator’s Resolve if they want to experiment with DPSing with a weapon and shield.
I can’t argue that it’s not a meaningful choice, just that it feels like it sacrifices fun on the altar of meaningful.
One possibility would be to make Gladiator Stance a glyph instead of a talent choice, but that just switches things around, and it might well be the most powerful glyph in the history of the game in terms of what it does. Utterly changing an entire combat stance like that feels like a lot for a glyph to achieve. Even making Gladiator Stance default for Protection and then letting them glyph it back to Battle Stance sounds like a lot for a glyph to do. I’d feel more comfortable speculating on this if I knew how many Warriors would object to being forced to have Gladiator over Battle Stance. Since a Protection Warrior can’t really do much with a 2h weapon anyway, staying sword and board in Battle means simply being inferior to Gladiator — there’s not really much reason to retain it.
The Future of Stances
In fact, I find myself wondering if Battle works for Fury or Arms anymore. With the introduction of Gladiator Stance as a Protection only stance, achieved through a talent choice, I find myself wondering if this is a situation where Arms, Fury and Protection could all gain a bit of diversity and uniqueness by giving each a talent that changed their combat stances in some way. It’s not hard to imagine a Fury stance — Let’s call it Berserker Stance — achieved through a Berserker’s Fury talent that allowed for a more reckless combat style at the cost of some survival options. Perhaps it could cost Die by the Sword and increase damage taken as well as dealt, meaning that you’d need to manage when you used it. Similarly, Arms could gain Blademaster’s Stance, allowing for a more precise and guided combat style.
By introducing such talent choices (or making them baseline for each spec) you could really differentiate the three specs from each other. Perhaps each Warrior spec could have Battle and Defensive, and then each would get a new Stance based on their supposed role within the class — if we’re talking about delivering the Class Fantasy in Legion, then it’s time to give us the disciplined master of arms, frenzied berserker and towering armored juggernaut that have been promised to us for years.
Overall, though, I find Gladiator’s Resolve to be a success, and a welcome design innovation for Warriors. Not only do I hope it remains in Legion, I hope it’s expanded upon.
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