Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
 
Beta Warriors vs. Death Knights

Still in the spirit of doing in the beta what I won't do in the release version of Wrath of the Lich King, I copied my level 70 Warrior there. The good news was that in spite of him having only average level 70 blue armor, I could tank the first dungeon, Utgarde Keep, just fine with a 61-point protection talent build. The bad news was that even with some searching I found nothing in the current version of the WotLK beta which would significantly cure the problems that Warriors have in TBC.

First of all, if Blizzard plans to allow people to have two talent builds and switch easily and cost free between them, that feature isn't implemented in the current beta yet. Well, in the beta any respect costs only 1 copper piece, but that is just for testing, and won't make it into the release version. Thus the biggest Warrior problem, that they can either tank or deal damage, but not both, isn't solved yet.

Then I looked through the various new Warrior spells and talents, and found very little which really changes the way how a Warrior is played. For example the 51-point protection talent Shockwave isn't really all that great in practice. It suffers from the same problems as Thunderclap, that it'll break sheep and other forms of crowd control. And the 3-second stun. At best it combines abilities of already existing Warrior abilities into something which might be useful for AoE trash tanking. The 51-point Fury talent Heroic Leap is just a fancy-looking Charge. Many of the other new talents give you X percent more of this or that, but don't add any new game mechanics to the Warrior class. The new spells are just the same, there are even more rank upgrades and fewer totally new spells than in TBC. I've already heard mages complaining about the same, not sure for which classes the same is true as well. I know the paladin class is being much changed. But a Warrior at level 80 will play pretty much the same as he is playing currently at level 70. WotLK does not reinvent the Warrior class.

I tried an arms/fury spec for maximum dps, dual-wielding two-handed weapons with Titan's Grip. Even with 5 talent points put into that ability, you still suffer from a 20% speed penalty, which turns Titan's Grip into a talent which doesn't give more added damage than any other talent. Yes, with an arms/fury build you deal decent damage, but unlike a Death Knight you don't have any talents to heal yourself, and thus suffer from longer downtime between fights. Some people claim that MS Warriors dominate PvP, but that isn't true. They dominate PvP only as much as rock dominates a game of rock-paper-scissors, seen from the view of the scissors. They are flavor of the month sometimes in some arenas, but there are no data in the armory that suggest that Warriors would be generally better than other classes in PvP.

There will still be endless arguments in the coming months whether Death Knights are better or worse than Warriors in PvP or tanking. But there is no doubt whatsoever that Death Knights are better for solo PvE. They are what used to be called a "tank mage", a class without weaknesses, having both good offensive and defensive abilities. Death Knights even have self-heals, for gods sake! They are a complete tank, healer, damage dealer trinity rolled into one. And they can do it all with one balanced talent build. In fact due to how runes work (see post before), a balanced talent build might work better for them than a specialized one, unlike other classes.

That doesn't make Warriors obsolete. They still will keep their role as preferred main tanks for most raid bosses, and probably for heroic dungeons as well. But unless Blizzard really implements the talent-switching feature, which they occasionally think about, but haven't really even promised yet, leveling a Warrior is just a hard task you do in view of a main tank career later. Anyone who ever tries a Death Knight, and I guess most people will do, will have a hard time going back to playing a Warrior. I don't know exactly who will do more damage given equal equipment, but the Death Knight has so much more utility and abilities that just make his live easier. Death Knight is the ultimate soloing class, while Warriors even with the new talents and abilities still rank among the worst classes to solo with. My Warrior is now retiring and spending his old age as a pure alchemist, until Blizzard makes Warriors as easy to level as Death Knights, which they probably never will.
Comments:
Ah, I really like my fury warrior but those were exactly my concerns when I saw the current talent trees.
 
The good thing is, that Death Knights give us more versatility. I don't envy the gamers who only have one char and that one being a Warrior now. But to gamers like myself who dabble with a couple of chars on both sides (Alliance and Horde) the DK is a welcome addition. I always hesitated playing a close combat Warrior because of the issues the DK now solves (selfhealing, ranged combat). My wife and me will still level out Priest / Warrior duo so we have a good backbone for instances.
 
Was the warrior the first character you played Tobold?

I have 9 characters, 6 70s, the other 3 64+. I find warrior is the easiest, and fastest class to level, downtime etc included. Most fun too, with charge.

I also recognize the fact that by the time I was levelling the warrior, I was already considerably advanced in understanding the game mechanics. The mage was my first character, and till today, the Mage felt like the hardest character to level, until TBC when I realized just how fast I kill with a mage, making up for his drinking downtime.

The warrior's suckiness at levelling could be a psychological thing, is what I'm saying. It's all in your mind.

Anyways, Blizzard asked the warriors to be a bit more patient coz they're working on it. They told mages the same thing. In today's Beta server update, the mage changed. I was previously so down about the mage I told a friend of mine to go $@#$ himself when he was being antagonistic. I am today unbelievably ecstatic. Those who don't play a mage may not understand just how much more interesting mage spell rotation is now, esp frost mages lol, but believe me it is. A freeze that others can't remove for you ftw.

/goes back to sticking his fingers in a freezer
 
Make that Levelling / Soloing
 
Thought the two talent - switching thing was in the 'interesting, we might look into that at some point in the future' phase ?

It would definately be useful and make the game more fun for a lot of players though.
 
I also recognize the fact that by the time I was levelling the warrior, I was already considerably advanced in understanding the game mechanics. The mage was my first character, and till today, the Mage felt like the hardest character to level, until TBC when I realized just how fast I kill with a mage, making up for his drinking downtime.

My Mage was my last character, and by understanding the game mechanics better I was able to exploit a design flaw, twink me up to the brink with +frost damage gear, and level the Mage faster than anything else.

The fact that my Warrior leveled slowest has less to do with him being an earlier character, and more to do with me preferring group play to solo play. Thus my Warrior for most of his career leveled up in protection spec, so that he could join a guild group as tank at the drop of a hat. The Death Knight simply cannot be specced in a way that leveling/soloing is such a pain as with a protection Warrior.

And unless Blizzard nerfs DKs a lot between now and release, you'll find that a DK levels much faster than a dps Warrior of the same level and same gear. Yesterday my DK went from level 57 to 58 by killing level 60 hellboars in Hellfire Peninsula, and due to my full blood spec I ended most fights against those "orange" difficulty mobs with full health! You never get zero-dowtime fighting with an arms/fury Warrior. And Charge is only half the fun of Death Grip.

But I fully agree that all I'm reporting on is the CURRENT state of the Death Knight compared to the CURRENT state of the Warrior in the same WotLK beta. If in a month the Warrior gets a significant boost and the DK is nerfed, I'm more than willing to revise my opinion.
 
Just wanted to say I enjoyed that rock from the view of scissors analogy. Nice writing Tobold!
 
Tobold, why should Warriors be the MT now?

Surely the aim should be to have Warriors, Paladins and Druids Sharing it, and from the looks of it again, in Non-gimmick fights (and even some of those for druids) Warriors don't have a major advantage.

Simple fact is Warriors are in a state where they are mostly fine (that is they don't have any glaring holes in their design really for a single aspect of the game), while other classes do. The MT viability of the other 3 tanks needs to be increased to match that of the warrior before they get to complain about their lack of dps as a tank.
 
Did prot warriors get any pull or knockback skills?
 
But there is no doubt whatsoever that Death Knights are better for solo PvE. They are what used to be called a "tank mage", a class without weaknesses, having both good offensive and defensive abilities. Death Knights even have self-heals, for gods sake!
There already is a "tank mage" in game: balance druids (in fact they're more of a heal-tank-mage). That's why I think druids are a better comparator for DKs than warriors. Let me ask you this: just what can a DK do that a suitably specced druid can't do better?
 
Incidentally, to clarify my point above: my point is that problem isn't with DKs, but with the over-specialisation of warriors. Not that they're that bad anyway, I levelled prot from day 1 with no real problems. The indestructibility made up for the lower DPS for me. I hate corpse runs.
 
How would you rate leveling a Death Knight versus leveling a Feral Druid or Affliction Warlock?

Either of those were always my pick for fastest solo/leveling class.
 
I, like Wilz, play a LOT Of characters. I mainly solo, but have a group of friends (met in previous games) in a small guild - I am always the tank when we do instances.

My "main" is a protection spec paladin, but he was already 60 when my friends started. I created a protection spec warrior to tank for them as we were leveling up.

I found the warrior boring - yes, I could tank and that was just about it. Once my friends caught up, I switched back to my paladin - I couldn't tank AS WELL as the warrior, but I had more fun (that may be more of a mindset issue - I always like to play paladins).

Later I decided to dust off my warrior and respec him to DW fury. I could not believe how much fun he was - very fast kills, very active combat (lots of buttons to push), and surprisingly little downtime. (More than, say, a hunter or warlock, but the same or less than most of my other characters).

For comparison, I also play:

70 protection paladin
70 ret paladin (my first character)
70 hunter
70 warlock
70 mage
70 rogue
70 druid
56 priest
35 shaman

The two least fun classes out of the lot were the protection spec warrior and my (current) protection spec paladin. Doing shattered sun dailies is fast and easy on all my 70 characters EXCEPT my protection spec paladin (obviously he can do them - but it's incredibly slow compared to the rest).

The ability to switch between two specs sounds really nice, but the gear issues will remain (my protection spec and retribution spec paladins are obviously wearing totally different gear). I understand that they're homogenizing gear a bit on WotLK, so maybe that'll help too.
 
@sven:

There already is a "tank mage" in game: balance druids (in fact they're more of a heal-tank-mage). That's why I think druids are a better comparator for DKs than warriors. Let me ask you this: just what can a DK do that a suitably specced druid can't do better?

1) Solo. Lifeleech stance and talents mean no downtime. Tobold is not exaggerating here - my DK is picking up 2-3 adds of the same level and never dipping below 80% health. Solo PVE goes very quick. Balance druids have to stop and drink and/or eat once in awhile.

Blizzard may tune some of this in order to tone it down, but much of the speed is simply the base mechanics of the class. The rune system is more like a rogue than a warrior, in that you start your battle at "full" (compared to warriors). Rune regeneration is quick and the guy is wearing plate armor with a bunch of lifeleeching abilities.

2) Tank. Balance druids, like non-prot warriors, gradually lose the ability to tank outside of tank-spec as the levels rise. DK's will not have this problem, according to Blizzard.

Today in beta, there is no class remotely close to the solo-ability of a DK. And if there's one person who knows about soloing speed, it's me.
 
@Notmercury

Thanks for the information. I barely ever stop to drink on mobs of similar level (dreamstate & intensity together are glorious), so if the DK is better than that, it's powerful indeed. Would you say it was faster than an afflock in equivalent gear?

Your point about losing the ability to tank tougher content is a fair point: I generally tend to tank things that I'm at the higher end of. Anyone out there got experience of DK tanking yet?
 
I don't think there are many DKs yet which have any experience in tanking, because in the beta that would be hard to do before level 70. There simply aren't any healers below level 70 in the beta.

I agree that what I SHOULD do is level the DK to 70, and then directly compare him with the warrior at the same level in both soloing speed and tanking ability. I just don't think I really want to spend all that many hours to level a beta character. But as the talents look now, I think I know the result anyway: The self-healing of the DK will make him have much lower downtime between fights than a warrior. And as notmercury mentioned, starting each combat with a full "rage" bar instead of an empty one is also a huge advantage.

I don't know whether a DK will be able to do soloing and tanking with the same talent build, but he certainly won't be doing it with the same set of armor. What many non-warriors don't realize is that there is significantly less tanking gear in WoW and TBC than gear for any other class/spec. You can't get plate armor with +def by doing PvP, for example. So a Death Knight who wants to tank will have some problems getting a decent armor set for that together, especially considering that he doesn't have a shield.
 
nothing like making the warrior class more useless than it is

i couldnt be less excited by an expansion than what I am reading about WOTLK. Sept 23rd is right around the corner, thank god
 
@sven:

I'm not sure on comparing against an affliction lock in the same gear, although the DK *feels* faster. Sometimes you get a couple of big pops and monsters go down insanely fast. I had a frost strike crit for 2400 (at 58!). But, to qualify, I've only leveled mine to 58, so he's still in much better gear than any lock I've had at 58.

As we know from previous betas, a lot of things can change in the power level.

However, I expect that the soloing speed will remain very good. Blizzard knows that will keep people interested in the new class and keep boxes moving. That is just my opinion, of course, so I'm not presenting it as fact - feel free to shoot that down. ;)
 
Does the beta really seem remotely interesting or just more of the same?

The way blizz just constantly updates everything, it has got to the point of why bother?

Sure their game usually has good polish, but it isn't exciting any more. Bring on something new.
 
@Notmercury, Tobold

Thanks guys - you're certainly getting me very interested in the whole DK concept. Lets hope I can get into beta soon and we can have a balance vs DK tank-off! If you guys come out on top, I can always go back to healing ;)
 
Yeah maybe that whole warrior=MT could be a dying ideal from an age gone by... Never mind eh? I could never be bothered with prot warriors because they only have 1 trick. A lot of traditionalists will no doubt be up in arms, but traditionalists always are: you invest a lot of time and energy into something, only to see that Blizzard change directions - based upon what works better.

I play a druid tank and I love it because of the massive flexibility - solo, raid MT, OT, raid utility, casusal 5 manning in any role... Sounds like the DK is going to be something similar, and I cant wait to roll one up.
 
Feral druids have the same characteristics: great tanking, DPS, soloing ability, and self-heals. (Improved Leader of the Pack is a great *passive* self-heal for leveling/grinding.) Yet druids are one of the rarest classes in the game. Probably because they were gimped pre-TBC, and the population has never quite caught up.

Death Knights, on the other hand, are coming in with a very strong reputation as well as a high novelty factor and starting level of 55. They will be quite popular!
 
What puzzles me is why is Blizzard introducing a good PVE-solo class when the continually reduce the levelling PVE-content? ie. reducing xp requirements in patch 2.3 and again in the expansion to move people through 60-70 content.

This expansion is broken and will result in more abandoned content and character imbalances, while still not addressing other deficiencies that fans have been asking about for years.
 
Yet druids are one of the rarest classes in the game. Probably because they were gimped pre-TBC, and the population has never quite caught up.

Or because you can only make a druid from one single race per faction.
 
Yet druids are one of the rarest classes in the game.
This is only a personal experience, but over the last few weeks I've seen druids all over Moonglade(EU). I've gone from never seeing another moonkin to having two per party in the space of a month. Maybe all this DK talk is getting people to think about "mage-tanks" of all kinds.
 
Death Knights shouldn't be able to pvp. If they do, everyone will be one.
 
Out of curiosity, tobold, what would you do to make warrior specs more flexible/warriors more fun? (Talent changes, skill changes, etc.)
 
2ndNin said...

Tobold, why should Warriors be the MT now?

Surely the aim should be to have Warriors, Paladins and Druids Sharing it, and from the looks of it again, in Non-gimmick fights (and even some of those for druids) Warriors don't have a major advantage.

Simple fact is Warriors are in a state where they are mostly fine (that is they don't have any glaring holes in their design really for a single aspect of the game), while other classes do. The MT viability of the other 3 tanks needs to be increased to match that of the warrior before they get to complain about their lack of dps as a tank.


I couldn't disagree more...

The warrior tank class is probably the most uncared for role in the game.

As I am sure most of you know tanks are gear dependant and getting good gear for endgame is almost full time.

Being a fury warrior is also very gear dependant and getting that gear as off spec is tough when you are seeking tank gear.

You can't do both (well)... so I don't think talent switching is going to solve much for the warrior.

The lack of heroic purple drops for warrior tanks is stunning too... every instance caters for all classes in terms of purple drops... but the warrior tank doesn't have a drop for every dungeon.

What stuns me most of all is that if you choose ARMORSMITH specialisation from BLACKSMITHING - one would assume a natural craft for a warrior tank - there is not a single recipe that counts as plate tank gear! Go figure!

Paladins and Druids have their roles to switch too as healers and DPS'ers.

Being a prot tank is lonely role... and completely unloved since pretty much the inception of the online game.

DK's might be the straw that breaks the camels back IMHO and ends up leaving tanks an un-viable class.
 
I'm sick of my warrior. Every class besides warlocks can kill me and pve you have to be a tank or get laughed at. Roll druid (and after xpansion dk) and do everything better.
 
> I'm sick of my warrior. Every class besides warlocks can kill me and pve you have to be a tank or get laughed at.

True about PvE, although I'd argue that priests have a similar problem. On the topic of PvP though: there are several third-party sites that track class representation in the higher arena brackets. From your comment (and Tobold's) I guess you haven't looked at any of those recently. In a balanced rock/paper/scissors system, you should see paper rising if rock dominates so much, but that's not the current trend.

On the other hand, I also play one of the supposedly overpowered classes and struggle in arena. Part of the problem is that you have to be 100% specced and geared for PvP to do well. PvP specced class A will beat PvE damage specced class B every time, even if B is A's anti-class. It's true: frost mages kill affliction warlocks, and SL/SL warlocks kill non-MS warriors.

I wonder if arena class balance would look different if respeccing were cheaper.
 
GG, trust me I know gearing problems, my Main is a Protection Paladin, and its worse for us, generic tank gear doesn't stack threat stats, Tier and other gear stacks int, spell hit etc. In short our optimisation is bad.

Warriors in contrast have it much easier in terms of gear due to more synergistic stats, and indeed having a 1-2k (can't remember the exact number) base HP difference. Warriors may not be ideal, but the other tank classes suffer more.

Looking at fights, there is nothing a warrior can't tank, simply there is not a fight in the game a Warrior looks at and goes "OMG, I need a support team for this", you have the tools. Paladins and Druids don't, we have a Tank class jammed into a tree without any of the utility warriors offer. Leaving off the Hybrid vs pure (and warriors aren't pure anyway, DPS/Tank Hybrid) arguement all tanks should be able to tank all content, maybe not as well, but you shouldn't be told "no, you can't tank archimonde, he fears". Its simply not a good game design to have the MT role forced / given to one class.

Healing is spread across 4 classes that perform differently, but no one has said a shaman / druid can't main heal, or that a paladin can't raid heal (yes I have seen it done, its not as efficient but then a Druid on the MT is normally less efficient as well). Tanks have a much stronger divide, and at the moment Warriors come out of that divide on top. Its the argument of Warriors telling us they got no love, yet they have better threat scaling in end -game, their gear path is better and they have the utility required in every fight. Your cake might not be the super chocolate gateau, but its not humble pie.

(No I don't want to see Paladins as the MT, I want to see it shared between at least 3 of the classes, or fights which rotate between us. I say 3 because I am not sure as to DK viability for endgame tanking yet, but it looks ok for them as well).
 
Looking at currently posted Beta talents, I'm just not seeing it. The few 'tank' talents the Death Knight has are scattered amongst the trees. The one talent that stands out as reliable reminds me intently of tanking as a Ninja in FFXII, casting a spell that nullifies a certain number of hits that make it past your avoidance. But the DK doesn't have ANY talents listed thus far that increase his avoidance. (Although the DK's version is just a mini shield wall until he gets smacked in the face 4 times)

So on a mitigation standpoint, the DK is piss poor. The one thing he will likely do well is threat, but as far as actually TANKING things, I am just not seeing it.

What makes a Warrior, a Bear, and a Paladin capable of tanking is that their talent trees support it, directly adding to both mitigation and threat AT THE SAME TIME. The trees posted on the WoW main site for the DK simply do not support tanking.



And this is coming from someone that built a paladin tank from scratch, and would have seriously considered doing so BEFORE TBC.


And I think it's pretty amusing to hear all the tales of the 'woes of warriors', when they have been the go-to tank of WoW ever since launch. They have dominated the tanking scene ever since launch. And as soon as a class even approaches the point of breaking even with them, in comes Chicken Little, whinging about how warriors are being tossed out with the bathwater if they are not THE BEST.


Which they currently are, and anyone denying it is so far up their own ass that they're wearing it as a quantum hat.


It's hard not to be annoyed as a player of a not-warrior tank class. The off-set gear is optimized purely for Warriors. (Expertise? It's probably one of the most worthless stats to a paladin tank. So much of your threat as a paladin comes from abilities that auto hit.) Or, if you're a druid... off set tanking gear doesn't even EXIST. You know why druids in BT/MH or Sunwell parade around in S2 or S3 (some even S4) gear? Because they have to in order to maintain uncrittable status while being able to update their necks, rings, and trinkets to the higher grade but lacking in +def options. I think it's rich to complain about druids 'being able to get tank gear from PvP' when they bloody well have to. I bet that druid tanks wish they could just skip the arena and get their PvE gear the way everyone else gets it, THROUGH FREAKIN PvE.
 
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