I’ve been sans my computer for a month and a half now, and I find myself missing World of Warcraft greatly. Lately I have been reading up about it, checking the website frequently and browsing the forums at random. Seeing as how my main (and only character above level 20) is a Warrior, I spend a lot of time reading up on Warrior issues. It sparked a lot of memories of my play time, and how my experiences bolstered some claims and contradicted others.
I do not think that Warriors are worthless to play. On the contrary, I enjoy playing mine. I find him useful and powerful, as well as difficult at times. I definitely enjoy having such high Health and Armor. There are all kinds of situations I simply walk into that other classes would be forced to skirt or escape. When I get mobbed by three adds, I stand my ground and cut them down. There is little to match the satisfaction of ending a fight and seeing stacks of bodies piled on top of each other in a ring around you. (I think my record was escorting some lower-levels through Deadmines when they make a string of mistakes and pulled the entire mine down on us. They all four died in a few seconds, and then just sat there and cheered me on. When it was all over, I was still standing, barely, and there was a path of bodies following me down the hallway, there must have been at least forty or maybe fifty corpses to loot. A combination of potions and Retaliation had ruled the day. But I digress….) When riding in a group, I take point so I can blunt the attacks against everyone else. When a group wipes, it is because the tank went down. When a Mage or Priest is in trouble, it is the Warrior who drags the mob off of his butt.
Warriors have some great strengths. We are the tanks. We bear the brunt of the enemy force. It is our job to take the heat, and we are good at it. We take and hold aggro better than anyone else, our Armor reaches the highest values giving us the best damage mitigation. We have a variety of skills to enable others to do their jobs, Sundering Armor so the Rogue can slaughter, stunning and Hamstringing so the Mages can unload unmolested, and in an emergency Challenging Shout pulls everything off everyone and onto us giving them time to breathe and regroup. I love being the lynchpin of a party. There is never any question about where I should be or what I should be doing. Wherever there are mobs, that’s where I must go and engage.
Having said that, the Warrior class has its problems. For one, once a Warrior has engaged, there is no escape. No Vanish, no stealth, no extra boost of speed to get us free. All our talents are for getting into a fight, not escaping battle. The best we can do is Hamstring and run, and for any decent level mob, they stun as soon as our back is turned cancelling our speed advantage. Our only real alternative is to fight until the bloody end, and frequently it is if it was not a battle we chose. This is because we have no healing. At all. The other major front-line class, the Paladin, has the highest survivability of any class because it has the same Plate armor as the Warrior, but it also has powerful healing spells that can extend life several times over. Warriors are restricted to potions and bandages, which burn inventory and have a murderous cooldown time. They are never enough to get me through a nasty battle with adds or elites. Warriors are utterly dependent on other party members for healing, which makes them incredibly difficult to solo at high levels. At lower levels, the toughness is enough, but that does not last. The elite problem is significant; I’ve seen Paladins and Rogues take down elites of their own level and even one or two above them. I never dare to attack an elite unless I am at least five levels above it, otherwise I simply cannot deal out damage fast enough to kill it before it kills me. (I tried Patches at 15 levels above, and would have been toast a third of the way in had there not been a pair of friendly healers to intervene.)
So the Warrior excels in a party situation and can endure questing alone. But what happens when it comes to PvP? Quite simply, the Warrior dies. There is pretty much no class that cannot take down a lone Warrior in a duel or on the Battleground. Why? Because the Warrior is designed to be a party tank. It is not designed to fight alone, and in the situations where it can it is against computer opponents. Half the skills are for aggro management, which are utterly useless against players. To kill something, the Warrior must be toe-to-toe for melee. Every other class has skills and talents for preventing the Warrior from closing, or escaping or halting the Warrior’s attacks. Paladins can shield themselves and heal back to full health while the Warrior waits and hopes his potions will hold out. Rogues stun like nobody’s business, and can simply cease to be there at will. Hunters are masters of kiting, keeping the Warrior rooted to the spot or crawling along at a tiny fraction of speed while they pick away with their ranged damage. Mages and Warlocks simply blast the Warrior, and Plate armor provides no resistance to magic damage. Then there are the Priests….
There are techniques to beat any particular class using a Warrior. However, these are difficult and not always obvious, and always require a great deal of complicated combo skill use and very fast button-pressing to execute. Most involve rapidly switching stances to access all of our diverse skills, which makes Rage management difficult particularly for those who did not spend the Talent Points to mitigate that loss. PvP is a significantly different battle strategy than our normal role of party tank (several skills simply do nothing in PvP) and skill at one style does not translate to the other.
I can Shield Bash or Pummel to stop a spellcaster for a moment. But after I do there is a three second window where he can cast before I can interrupt him again, and it only stops one school of spells at a time. I can use Retaliation against that furiously fast Rogue, but only once every half-hour, and that is only in Battle Stance whereas the only really viable way to fight a Rogue is in Defensive Stance (need Shield Wall to counter the Rogue’s fast-adding assassination combos, but that has a linked cooldown with Retaliation). Intercept will bring us in range of that pesky Mage where we dominate instead of being dominated, provided we aren’t frozen to the ground. Our only way out of that is by using a trinket, but then everyone including Blizzard admits that the Warrior is the most equipment-dependent class there is. A Warrior lives and dies based on how good his weapons and armor is. We have a skill to escape fear, but the cooldown is twice the effective protection time and it does nothing for polymorph or mind control.
I’m not even certain how to defeat a Hunter. Intercept and Hamstring are the best I can manage, and that seldom works. Shamans are almost as bad, we have zero skills that will hit totems without breaking off engagement to specifically target each totem, and if we are using a two-handed weapon that can take three seconds for every swing we give the Shaman six seconds or more of free time in which they put down four more.
The crux of the matter is that Warriors were designed to be a party-dependent class. We were not designed for solo work and it shows, and our PvP performance is embarassing. I know that when I visit Warsong Gulch, my honor kills are entirely due to me constantly rushing into the thick of battle, not because I can take down the enemy. My HKs tend to be among the highest, but my killing blows among the lowest of the raid. I end up rushing into battle to throw myself on a sword while the Rogues and Mages take out the enemy. HKs get rank, but deathblows are what brings that sense of satisfaction. The Warrior class needs to be redesigned at least a little in order to be an effective solo class, in order to be on an equal footing when it comes to PvP. Just because a Warrior can win doesn’t mean it isn’t easier for other classes. It takes a highly skilled Warrior to defeat an average Hunter or Rogue.