The Warrior’s Charge: Survivability in Legion
I’ve been leveling alts since the release of the Legion pre-patch. In addition to other classes (Beast Mastery Hunter, Enhancement Shaman, Retribution Paladin, a couple of Demon Hunters), I now have five level 100 Warriors and a sixth at level 96. The level 96 Warrior was only level 23 prior to the Demon Invasion event. Invasions helped me get three of my neglected Warrior alts up to max level, just in time for it not to be max level anymore.
But I’ve had some troubling feelings about Warrior design going into Legion as a result of the Invasions. Basically, if these fights are in any way representative of how PVE content unfolds in this expansion, Arms Warriors with Second Wind are basically the only DPS Warriors who will be viable, because of the following combination of factors.
First off, Fury takes up to 30% more damage when you Enrage. Enrage lasts for 4 seconds, and the more often your Bloodthirst crits, the more often you’ll Enrage, and the more often you’ll be taking 30% increased damage. (20% if you take Warpaint). Then, you have to look at the fact that Fury has no defensive cooldown of any kind (unless you count Commanding Shout) and lacks a decent recovery mechanic — no Victory Rush, no Second Wind, and Enraged Regeneration on a 2 minute cooldown that doesn’t heal you at all if you’re not using Bloodthirst for whatever reason.
Please note, I’m not saying the DPS of Fury won’t be viable. I’m saying that Fury Warriors are glass cannons who are exceedingly easy to kill. And that wouldn’t necessarily be a problem. It’s fine for Arms to have Victory Rush and Second Wind based on the concept of the specialization being a disciplined Warrior who fights with precision and tactical acumen vs. Fury being an out of control rage monster smashing her opponents and feeling empowered by the carnage.
The problem, however, is when you’re leveling as Fury and you start noticing that while playing Arms you can move from opponent to opponent, secure in the knowledge that if you get a pack of them on you there are tools to help you deal with that, Fury will basically die. Your only real recourse is to spam Bloodthirst and Whirlwind and hope everything dies before you do. You end up feeling less like a rage monster and more like a fragile kitten desperately hoping for victory and expecting death instead.
The Song That Never Ends (until you die)
Worse, however, is the Invasion fights have me deeply worried for how Blizzard plans to design raid encounters in Legion — namely that they intend yet another expansion of brutally punishing melee with ridiculous mechanics that make raid leaders say things like Can you bring your hunter? We don’t like to bring more than three melee on this fight. Seeing bosses drop volcanoes into the melee, huge flaming F-Off circles, auras that pulse and damage the melee if they don’t run out so we end up with melee DPS being a game of addon says runaway, addon says run back, no, run away again while at the same time Fury has absolutely the least tools imaginable to deal with this scenario.
In essence, it’s not that they took away almost all recovery from Fury that’s the problem. It’s not that they took away viable survival cooldowns from Fury. And it’s not that they love to make Fury use up all its mobility so that it can’t get away from yet more grueling, melee punishing raid damage. It’s that they did all of these things, and I’m worried they’re going to do even more in Legion.
Fury breaks, Arms does the breaking
Right now, Arms is competitive damage, equal mobility and superior survival. If an Arms Warrior can go six seconds without taking any damage, he or she essentially starts healing up to full. Granted, that’s assuming Second Wind, but while Bounding Stride is a very nice mobility talent, Defensive Stance is lackluster and I think Second Wind is certainly the best leveling talent, and might well be better for triage raiding as well. In a situation where hurt characters are going to have to sit there while more hurt characters get priority, being able to self heal to full after six seconds of taking no damage is very strong. So Arms has that, and they have Victory Rush which means any time they get a killing blow they’ll get a heal. Decent for raids with adds, very good for soloing where you often deal the killing blow. Fury gets one ability that they might not even be able to use because standing in melee to use it will kill them far faster than it can heal them.
I’m not saying nerf Arms, here. Arms is about where it should be. The damage output is solid, there’s enough tools that you can fight with very little downtime and if you’re careful you can keep yourself alive. Fury, however, is the berserker spec, and berserkers were renowned for being extremely hard to kill. Not painfully easy to kill.
Of course, we’ve only seen a few raid fights so far in Legion. Perhaps I’m just remembering how raiding was designed in every single solitary expansion up to now, with ridiculous clusters of abilities that mainly shaft the melee DPS, and then wincing as I watch the bosses from the invasions pull all those old rabbits out of their hats. We’ll see. But I really believe that we’re going to need a course correction after raiding opens up and we start watching Fury Warriors drop like stones to mechanics that other classes with comparable DPS can survive and be triage healed through.
As it stands, I’d level as Arms over Fury. You’re just far more likely to survive.
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