Tanking for Dummies

Blue Promises: Looking at Heroic Strike
February 18, 2009, 12:01 am
Filed under: Analysis | Tags: , , ,


In the spirit of a previous Wednesday, I think it is time again to look at a recent post by one of our illustrious Blizzard employees – in this instance Ghostcrawler.  The subject?  Heroic Strike, and it’s particular role as a warrior unique mechanic/pain in the butt.  The crab says:

We still are not convinced that warrior tanks are operating at some huge deficit compared to other tanks. There are going to be situations where one or the other classes are going to feel easier as tanks, just because the abilities and mechanics are still different despite all of our homogenization (and we really don’t want to homogenize any more).

I think there are some quality of life issues we can improve for warriors. Heroic Strike is definitely one of them. It does its job in letting you convert excess rage to threat without consuming a global cooldown, but it requires a lot of extra button pushes. It is something we are discussing.

Let me be upfront about Heroic Strike here: having a core part of your tanking technique being hitting the same button constantly is kinda crap.  Or, more specifically, it is boring and painfully necessary to achieve quality threat numbers.   My middle finger on my left hand (which commands my heroic strike keybinding) at the end of a long raiding knight aches because I am literally hitting it so often.  Axiom’s DPS loves high threat – but it gives me carpal tunnel.

(Edit: It seems I’m not the only one noting the risk of turning my fingers into misshapen claws from repetitive stress injuries.)

So, Blizzard is taking a look at Heroic Strike.  This fits in with the theme of the expansion thus far which seems to be “re-examining core game mechanics from Vanilla WoW,” but it is hard not to be nervous after what happened to hunters recently.  Heroic Strike makes up an absurd amount of our TPS, and so any changes to it are by definition playing with Warrior Tank viability. It is a risk  I think everyone is feeling to a certain degree, we are not the only ones who are having core abilities messed with.

I am going to get out my crystal ball and make a few predictions though about changes to Heroic Strike and things that will necessarily come as a result of those changes:

  1. Heroic Strike Spam will become a thing of the past.    This is perhaps the most obvious prediction, but the one, I think, that will be most noticeable once the dust has cleared.  Right now there is effectively an equation that scales the up time of Heroic Strike (that is to say, the number of weapon swings that are Heroic Strikes instead of White Damage) with the amount of rage generated.  Clearly, based on Ghostcrawler’s comments above, this is the most highly objectionable part of the mechanic.  The problem is, if you take away Heroic Strike Spam, you take away baseline warrior threat.  For that reason…
  2. Look for the 10% damage penalty to Defensive stance to be removed. Blizzard has already remarked that a solid look at the penalties associated with Warrior stances is in order, so this is something of a natural area to make up at least part of the baseline threat that would be lost with a Heroic Strike change.  Not sexy, by any means, but would at least not require additional button presses.
  3. Devastate will be buffed to make up additional threat and damage loss.  Devastate is a rather lackluster 41 point talent at the moment, and Sword and Board provides quite a lot of excitement to our otherwise basic rotation.  I honestly think they want us to use Sword and Board more often, so I would expect them to increase the incentive either by raising the proc rate or just buffing Devastate outright.  However, thanks to the low rage cost and Global Cooldown on Devastate, we’ll still need a rage dump so…
  4. Anticipate that Heroic Strike will have its rage cost increased to de-incentivize spamming at the exchange of increased threat/damage. The key word here will be “choice,” a theme that I see as being emphasized in the game mechanics.  I would love to see an execute-like function where rage would be dumped all in a single burst (with an accompanying burst of threat), forcing us to make the split second choice of whether it is worth it to hit the Heroic Strike button and have a suddenly empty rage bar.  Whether or not that is going to step too much on the providence of the Arms warrior is a good question, but even if that mechanic is passed up in favor of something else I foresee a new cost/benefit analysis debate spreading through the Warrior tank community in the future.

What about you, dear reader?  What sort of changes would you like to see implemented to Heroic Strike?  If any at all?


7 Comments so far
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I’m not sure about your predictions…

Prediction #1: heroic strike is the first attack/spell we get as warriors, taking it away or mucking about with its effectiveness woud be a massive hinderance to the newly rolled warrior.

Prediction #2: better than #1, but it still leaves the new warrior with a gimped or non-existant first attack/spell.

Prediction #3: if they buff threat/dmg for dev, we still need a rage dump, if they buff S&B procs… ya, still need a rage dump. It doesn’t hose the new warriors tho.

Prediction #4: probably the best of the lot, bumping the cost/threat/dmg would cause some issues for new warriors, HS is costly enough for them, but it would make for less spamming at higher levels. An execute style total rage dump would probably work well too, the boss is almost done, but the dps is going oom… smack him hard and pray its enough. And the new warrior generally doesn’t get enough rage for much more than 1, maybe 2 HS in a fight.

But its all up to Blizz on how/if/what they do with it, so all we can do is carry on spamming till the patch happens and figure out the new mechanics after

Comment by Kudos

@Kudos – You bring up some good points, so let me just say first that when I disagree I am not disregarding them entirely. Blizzard is clearly not above messing with core abilities such as Heroic Strike – after all, if Ghostcrawler says it is being examined, I believe him.

That said, there are ways that these alterations could be done that take into account your concerns. Only changing later ranks of the ability, as was done with priest Inner Fire, or splitting it into two separate abilities – rage dumps for DPS and Tanking respectively.

Comment by Tarsus

I actually kinda like HS the way it is *shrugs* Partly this is because I’m a platerogue at heart, but to me that extra decision to make between globals is what makes warrior tanking more engaging than the other classes (true, bears have maul, but they don’t have as many other options for rage use, so it’s a bit less exciting of a decision). Simplifying things is probably good for the overwhelming majority of people, but for me personally it just makes them dull.

It’s also one of the best examples of an ability that scales up as your gear gets better; as you can take/deal more damage in a shorter time period, your ability to use HS on more attacks increases, and thus your threat/dps does too. HS is one of the main sources of excellent warrior scaling, so losing it as an active will inevitably constitute a nerf to the optimal warrior.

Comment by Yuki

@Yuki – The core mechanic of having a rage dump off the GCD I like. It does give us something to do waiting for the cooldowns to be up.

What I am less sure about is whether spamming it 3-5 times per second is really the best use of my finger.

Comment by Tarsus

No worries Tarsus, I was just musing aloud so to speak. And your point of changing later ranks hadn’t occured to me, that would make any of your points workable.

I’d personally preffer the execute style rage dump if they did it at rank 6-ish or higher, or even changed Imp HS to make it a total rage dump or 50% dump or some-such instead of reducing the cost

Comment by Kudos

@ Kudos – looking at it that way, it might work as a glyph as well.

Comment by Tarsus

[…] you’re looking at Block, eh?  Sort of like you’re looking at Heroic Strike?  I’ve got your number crabby.  That’s a discussion you started in February.  […]

Pingback by Blue Post Alert: Messing with Block « Tanking for Dummies

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