Yes, I know, a lot of talk about the patch 4.1 lately. Everyone is posting about it, which is why I only stick to protection warrior’s point of view for now. There is plenty of material out there about the new instances, dungeon finder, etc. Actually, it is surprising just how large the patch was, despite not featuring a new raid instance. A lot of things have changed, been redesigned, and altered to seriously change the way we play the game.
The official patches are can be found in the following link and obviously, you should always check them out yourself and see what is what. But I will try to cover some of the major changes and give a few thoughts on them. I resisted the urge to write about this yesterday, before I had a chance to get a feel for it.
There is also a round of hotfixes that have been implemented, in response to many of the problems that came out with the patch, and suggest everyone will also have a look at that.
First, lets go over the new warrior utility, Rallying Cry. Keep in mind; this is actually something all warriors received, regardless of spec, so the dynamics of its usage are rather interesting. It essentially functions like the Paladin’s Divine Guardian ability but instead of 20% less damage taken, RC gives the raid 20% more health for 10 seconds. It shares its CD with Last Stand and what that means is that if a tank uses it, he will not be able to use LS for another 3 minutes. Another warrior using his RC will not affect another warrior’s RC or LS.
The utility of this ability is innumerable and is only limited by the 30 yard range. That means that using it during the Nefarian encounter, phases 1 & 2 you will not grant you a lot of benefits, unless used by a warrior close enough to the main raid. Then again, in phase 3, used by a DPS warrior, it would be awesome for Electrocute. Other examples are in Halfus, Valion & Theralion, Cho’gall, etc. To me, this ability is just great and something the class has needed for quite a long time.
The warrior tank has always been, somewhat, more vulnerable against magic damage. Spell Block is a 5 second buff that gives us 20% reduced damage from magic when we use Shield Block. We need to spec into [Shield Mastery] but this is hardly a concern since it is must-have talent for protection warriors anyway. The important thing is that we finally have a raid-viable ability against magic damage and because it is bound to Shield Block, it makes how you spend that particular ability a bit more a question of time.
For most of the current tier’s encounters you are not going to want to alter your Shield Block routines in anyway, since most of them do not really feature powerful magic attacks. Ofc magic damage is present but it is much more useful to still give your Mirror of Broken Images trinket priority in dealing with them. The reason is simply because Shield Block still also functions as a means to mitigate physical damage and your goal should be to still maximize its effectiveness.
Personally, I would reserve Spell Block primarily against the three end bosses; Ala’kir, Cho’gall, and Nefarian, because those three are the ones that contain the most prominent sources of magic damage that cannot be entirely covered by the trinket. There are few other examples too however, like if you are tanking Ignacious of the Ascendant Council, when he puts up his shield and does a very powerful fire attack on the tank.
A good general rule, for me at least, is that it is not worth delaying Shield Block for more than 10 seconds maximum. The reason for that is because the ability is only on a 30 second CD and if you end up delaying its use by e.g. 20 seconds at a time, you lose a lot of physical mitigation, which is still very important to maintain. Some have made the argument that, well, tanks do not really die from overall damage done over a lengthier period of time, but I would say a bit reason for that is because warrior tanks have so much overall mitigation. So even if we take a few hits without blocking or avoiding them, the next couple will again be mitigated, which lets a healer catch up. If we degrade our ability to produce those heavily mitigated attacks (of which Shield Block is a big part of) we will end up taking more overall damage, making us more vulnerable and harder to maintain.
I think the cooldown change on Spell Resistance (changed from 10 seconds to 25 seconds) is two-folded; first relates to pvp, where a skilled warrior could potentially spell reflect crucial attacks by mages, priests, and other spell casters, thus making them unable to keep the warrior at a sufficient distance. Basically though, this is not a big problem in my books. Casters were already gaining a lot of downtime from a warrior by simple kiting and using slows, roots, and stuns that a warrior had to be skilled with SR to even be competitive against them.
However, coupled with the new Spell Block buff to our Shield Block, the change begins to make a whole lot more sense. Remember, both abilities are completely viable for use in pve and pvp. In fact, I have already created a macro for my arms pvp spec, that lets me pop Defensive Stance and Shield Block and I can see a lot more warrior using that now. For pve, in viable environments like 5-man heroic dungeons, we can benefit from both SR and Spell Block by semi-chaining them. Imagine, you can first pop SR for a specific attack and half-way across the CD, you time your Spell Block for another. That totals a lot of damage that you did not take and if SR still had its old 10 second CD, it would be seriously overpowered. You could pop two SRs inside Spell Block’s CD.
There is, of course, also the Glyph of Spell Reflection which now reduces SR’s CD by 5 seconds, instead of the old 1 second reduction.
As protection warriors, we received two changes total to the way our interrupts work. The first and foremost, shared by all classes, capable of interrupting, is that from here on out, any non-damaging interrupt does not require hit cap to successfully hit. Just like taunts, they now hit automatically, which means that tanks can go with their best survival gear even for fights that require us to perform interrupts.
Until now, we’ve had to maintain hit gear and special buffs to be capable of that job, which especially in 10-man environment has been a bane in our existence. Many do not realize just how much in survival stats we lose in total, when we have to spend them on hit rating, a stat that is otherwise completely useless to us.
Another major change has been the removal of Shield Bash, replaced now by Pummel. There was a lot of discontent about this fact, for a good reason, as Shield Bash is probably one of the most iconic abilities that protection warriors have. Unfortunately, it was removed but to me, in the end, the importance of a more viable interrupt makes more sense. Remember, Pummel is on the standard 10 second CD, unlike Shield Bash which was on 12 second CD. Those 2 seconds shed off our interrupt lets us solo interrupt a lot of abilities, like the prototype adds on Nefarian.
There were of course a lot more updates to this patch and again, I urge everyone to check them out for yourself.