Warrior class changes in WoW Shadowlands
With every new expansion to World of Warcraft we’ve seen changes to the Warrior class, and Shadowlands is no exception. Thanks to the class updates post, we know the basics of how Warriors are going to change this time around, and I have to say, if you’ve been playing the class for a while you will recognize some of the changes on offer.
For starters, let’s look at the class as a whole. What abilities are now shared by all Warriors, regardless of spec?
- Execute, a big DPS finisher.
- Hamstring, to slow down your foes.
- Ignore Pain, provides a lot of damage mitigation.
- Shield Block, gives a high chance to shrug off a single attack.
- Shield Slam, a high-threat ability and offensive dispel.
- Slam, a substantial filler DPS move.
- Spell Reflection, reduces magic damage taken, and reflects a single spell.
- Whirlwind, an AOE DPS ability.
Among other things, this means that DPS Warriors will be far more viable as emergency off tanks, or just to tank the occasional dungeon or raid boss adds, like we saw on Muat. While making Execute universal will make Prot Warriors hit a little harder, and Whirlwind could help there as well (although if you have the rage to dump into Execute and Whirlwind it feels like tank DPS isn’t going to matter much) it’s the addition of tools like Ignore Pain, Shield Block, Shield, and Spell Reflection to Arms and Fury Warriors that feels more significant to me.
Also, old abilities are coming back — all Warriors will now have access to Challenging Shout, which is an AOE taunt, and Intervene. Plus, Warriors see the return of Shattering Throw, except now instead of doing a kind of ranged Colossus Smash, it will now inflict extremely high damage on any target with an Absorption effect on it. That’s an interesting choice to give Warriors a way to pop those.
But now, let’s look at each talent specialization.
Protection is mostly unchanged. Where there are differences, they’re in the way of talents that have been altered or adjusted or the aforementioned returning abilities that have the potential to increase their soloing and tanking DPS somewhat.
- Talent changes:
- Best Served Cold — increases the damage of Revenge.
- Menace — Intimidating Shout causes all enemies to cower in fear for a substantial time.
- Indomitable — increases the Warrior’s max health and spending Rage will heal their wounds.
- Never Surrender — Increases Ignore Pain based on the Warrior’s health.
Best Served Cold, for example, is being changed to simply increase Revenge’s damage instead of the current system, where the damage increases for every target Revenge hits. The new version of Best Served Cold will instead greatly increase the damage bonus of Revenge after a successful Dodge or Parry makes Revenge cost no rage. The new version of Menace is going to cause everyone affected by Intimidating Shout to cower as well as knocking back everyone who isn’t the primary target. An extended cowering group of enemies is an interesting kind of crowd control, an ability Protection Warriors don’t currently really have. You’ll still have to be careful when you use Intimidating Shout — you don’t want to knock mobs around willy nilly, but getting the CC’d mobs away from your AoE damage is a pretty solid AoE move for a tank.
Indomitable will increase the health of those Prot Warriors that take it and will give them a self heal, as they will be healed whenever they spend rage when they take this talent. We of course don’t currently know how effective a heal it will be. Finally, there’s Never Surrender, which increases Ignore Pain by either a moderate or significant amount depending on how low the Prot Warrior’s health is, the more wounded the stronger it makes Ignore Pain we can presume.
None of these are game changers that are going to completely change how Prot plays or feels, they’re just nice options that go along with the return of older abilities to make Protection feel, in my opinion, slightly stronger and more concerned with a balanced mix of offense and defense.
Now, Fury Warriors are in an interesting place. I was expecting, based on classes like Frost Death Knights and Windwalker Monks, to see Fury get Single-Minded Fury back and once again be able to choose between gearing with a pair of 2h weapons or a pair of 1h weapons. That does not seem to be the case.
New or reworked talents for fury appear in the form of Talents.
- Talent changes:
- Fervor of Battle — During Whirlwind, the Warrior also Slams their primary target and gains additional rage.
- Onslaught — Enraged Warriors attack for a huge amount of damage.
- Frothing Berserker — At max rage, Warriors gain haste and movement speed.
- Fresh Meat — Causes Bloodthirst to always Enrage the first time you strike a target with Bloodthirst.
- Wrecking Ball — Gives a chance for the next Whirlwind to deal devastating damage.
We’ve got Fervor of Battle, letting Whirlwind throw a Slam into the mix — Arms Warriors will recognize it. We also have Onslaught, a new talent that will hit hard and generate additional rage, and Frothing Berserker makes it so that every time you hit 100 rage you get a haste and movement speed buff. Wrecking Ball will give you a chance to buff your next Whirlwind damage, while Fresh Meat now ensures that your first Bloodthirst on a target will enrage you, making it easier to get your first Rampage off. None of these changes will affect a Fury Warrior in terms of how they play, it’ll just make them hopefully feel a little stronger.
The real change for Fury is the offspec potential. Without the baked in threat that Protection Warriors get, I’m not sure if you’ll actually be a reasonable choice to try and tank on a Fury, but picking up a loose boss and not immediately dying because you’ve got Ignore Pain and Shield Block will be nice.
Much like Fury, Arms Warriors will now be significantly better offtanks. Whether it’s picking up a boss while a tank gets resurrected or just doing some offspect tanking on boss fights like Muat, it definitely brings back the hybrid feel that Warriors really haven’t had in a long time now. Like the other specs, Arms is mostly looking at new or reworked talents.
- Returning abilities:
- Piercing Howl — Dazes all the enemies around the Warrior.
- Talent changes:
- Dreadnaught — Empowers Overpower to deal damage in a line.
- Deadly Calm — Removes the rage cost of the next four abilities and increases the Warrior’s rage cap.
- Cleave — After striking three targets with Whirlwind, the Warrior can Cleave the enemies in front of them, causing damage and a Bleed effect.
Dreadnaught will now apply the Seismic Wave effect (currently an Azerite Trait) to Overpower, and will deliberately apply the Seismic Wave to any Overpower thrown out by Sweeping Strikes, so if you have two Overpowers, you’ll have two Seismic Waves. Deadly Calm will simply make your next four abilities cost no rage and will buff your maximum health temporarily. Meanwhile, the Cleave talent has been changed — after you hit three targets with Whirlwind, you’ll be able to hit everything in front of you with Cleave, applying Deep Wounds to all of it.
Arms will also gain access to Piercing Howl, meaning they will have two ways, Hamstring and Piercing Howl, to snare running murlocs or for PVP use. It’s nice, and it will bring some flexibility to how Warriors try and keep their enemies closer.
In addition to these changes, as of this writing we know of three out of four abilities granted by allying your Warrior to a Covenant in Shadowlands.
- Kyrian: Spear of Bastion
- Venthyr: Condemn
- Necrolords: Conqueror’s Banner
Spear of Bastion, as the name suggests, throws a spear at a target. It does Arcane damage on hit, then more over time, and generates rage while also rooting the target to the spot. Condemn replaces Execute, allowing you to deal Shadow damage at a target above 80% health or below 20% and weakens them so they do less damage. Also, the rage cost on a Condemn is partially refunded if the target doesn’t die. Finally, Conqueror’s Banner will allow Mortal Strike, Raging Blow and Shield Slam to generate a new resource called Glory, and when the Banner is dropped in the ground it will grant an increased amount of maximum health and additional attack speed to you and your allies within range of the banner. Lasts additional time per Glory, up to a maximum amount.
Of these three, I think I like Condemn, but frankly that’s probably because I have no idea how Glory is going to work out.
So all in all, Warriors look like they’re in decent shape going into the Shadowlands. There are all good changes, but not huge changes that drastically change how you play.
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