The Warrior’s Charge: The Arms Warrior in Legion
I’ve been thinking about this one a lot, and I’ve decided to get practically heretical with you guys this week. Arms is a stale specialization. There isn’t a lot of innovation in our design. The problem isn’t that the Warrior class doesn’t work, it’s that it works basically the same as it always had, and hasn’t had anything really new added to it since Titan’s Grip.
Now, this isn’t entirely true. One of the reasons I champion Gladiator’s Resolve is because it is something new, a DPS designed Protection talent that makes the Sword and Board warrior a damage dealer. In both cases, these were talents added to make a new option work alongside older options. (It’s easy to forget that Titan’s Grip was a talent originally.) But the one thing both have in common? They’re not Arms. Arms started off with the same basic toolkit and even taking Colossus Smash and the redesigned Rend into account, it hasn’t really rocked the boat in eleven years.
So, let’s really consider the following question: What should happen to Arms Warriors in Legion? How far is too far? What’s the class/spec fantasy and how can the class change to accommodate it?
We know that some specs are getting renamed in Legion. I’ve already argued for Protection getting renamed, but Arms is definitely a candidate for a rename. For one thing, it doesn’t say all that much about the spec. All warriors like weapons. It’s kind of our thing. But also, we’re looking at a ground level redesign of PvP in the upcoming expansion, and that touches upon a fact.
Arms has been the PvP spec for eleven years. It’s really the only identity Arms actually has.
We all know it. Even if you PvE’d as Arms (which I have, many times) it has always been dominant in PvP. There are more than twice as many Arms Warriors in PvP than Fury and Protection. That’s combined. Mortal Strike has been buffed and nerfed and buffed and nerfed over the years because the healing debuff makes it a PvP staple. Warrior mobility, warrior stuns, all have been part and parcel of why Arms has been a PvP mainstay. But with the Honor System changing so drastically, we can finally imagine a future where the things that make Arms Warriors so potent in PvP can be based in the incoming Honor Talents. Instead of Mortal Strike having a healing debuff, any Warrior main attack (MS, Bloodthirst and Shield Slam) could have the debuff. Essentially you’ll have a separate PvP spec and it won’t matter if you’re Arms, Fury or Protection. And this means that, at long last, Arms can be free from the tyranny of its niche in terms of design.
Unshackled from PvP
Right now, we see constant adjustment to Arms to keep it from getting too strong in PvP, and these adjustments always ends up hurting the spec in PvE. We’ve seen this for over a decade now. I’ve been complaining about it since 2007. And the light is finally at the end of that long, long tunnel. If any Warrior can have the MS healing debuff, if you don’t have to go Arms to PvP, then Arms is no longer the default PvP spec and it can, at last, be the Master of Weapons spec we’ve been talking about for a decade. We’ve been told over and over again that Arms is the ‘disciplined, precise’ spec. But is it, really?
First to go should be the name ‘Arms’ — it’s too generic. Blademaster would work the best in terms of in-game lore, although I can understand players not wanting their Night Elf or Goblin Warrior using a spec name so tied to Orcish history. Weapon Master, Armsman, or perhaps even Duelist could all work. Next up, we need to return the specialization to the idea of actually mastering weapons. As it stands, Arms masters two handed weapons. One of them. Imagine instead a specialization that actually is all about weapon mastery. Right now there’s no spec in the game that uses a single one-handed melee weapon — if Warriors are going to continue to use one handers, why not let Arms pick up this niche?
Imagine being able to choose between a 1h or a 2h depending on what kind of Arms warrior you wanted to be. I’m not saying this will happen in Legion. In fact, I doubt it will.
We’ve been told over and over that the Arms Warrior is disciplined, in control, the dealer of precise cuts. Does that sound like the great honking blows that Mortal Strike and Colossus Smash are? Is Slam the attack of a precise, disciplined warrior? Is that what Arms actually has been, over the years? Has it ever been this? I think it’s time to realize that what an Arms Warrior really is, at the core, is an Executioner. (Not a bad name for a spec, come to think of it.) The Arms Warrior isn’t a frenzied berserker or an armored titan standing between friend and foe or a gladiator putting on a show with sword and shield, killing as an art. No, the Arms Warrior is a killer. Period.
That is what the Arms Warrior has always been about. It’s not about exploding into berserk fits, it’s about using anger to kill things. End of story. The past eleven years of World of Warcraft, the history of the class, it’s all combined to make Arms the professional, the solider, the person who is there to make the other poor SOB die. That is the specialization fantasy. And that should be what the spec becomes in Legion. Prune away anything that doesn’t combine the purity of mastering a weapon with the single purpose of using it to make things dead.
Or perhaps not. I do like the idea of a talent that lets you use a single 1h weapon and making Arms the single-weapon spec, but there’s no reason that couldn’t be combined with the Executioner idea. The idea that the Warrior only draws that weapon when she intends to kill somebody with it resonates, it’s a strong identity. And that’s what Arms has lacked over the years. What it desperately needs, in my opinion, is an identity beyond Hey, I’m the PvP spec, because in Legion your PvP spec will literally be your PvP spec. Arms needs a new identity going forward. Hopefully one that resonates with the spec’s history.
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