#0 - July 16, 2009, 6:04 p.m.
Q. Where do warriors fit into the larger scope of things currently and where do you see them going from this point forward?
A. Historically, warriors have always been one of the most dominant classes in World of Warcraft. In Molten Core and for raids afterwards, warriors were THE tank, no question. DPS warriors could also top the damage meters, and were a very potent PvP force. We think we allowed the warrior class to overshadow some other classes, which is probably to be expected given the iconic nature of the plate-wearing fighter in RPGs that long preceded World of Warcraft. We think they are in a fairer place now, in that there is room on the stage for other classes, yet they are still a very powerful and popular class to play. The warrior class has been a very tricky one to balance, largely due to the way rage converts into damage (which converts into rage, which converts into damage...), and we haven’t completely nailed that design just yet.
One of the things we want to do in the future is take a hard look at the Arms and Fury trees. There are several talents which just haven’t weathered the course of time well and pale in comparison to some of the newer Wrath of the Lich King talents. We’re happiest with the Protection tree -- we made a conscious effort to pare down that tree and remove a lot of mandatory talents in order to give the warrior more flexibility to take some more fun or utility-oriented talents. We need to make the same pass on the dps side of things. The reason we haven’t done so yet is that warrior dps is in a pretty good place and we don’t want to have to dilute the class across the board just to make some talents a little sexier. We will eventually do this though. We also need to make some decisions about the difference between Arms and Fury. Traditionally, Arms was the PvP tree and Fury was the PvE tree. We understand some players prefer that model, but we don’t like the way it cuts off such a big chunk of the class from players who might not have much interest in the PvP or PvE parts of the game. However, we would like to reinforce a little more the kits of Arms and Fury. Everyone (I hope) gets the difference between Frost and Fire mages. Arms is supposed to be about weapons and martial training and feel “soldierly.” Fury is supposed to be about screaming barbarians in woad. You get a sense of that, but it could be stronger. With the death knight, we allowed all three trees to more or less be able to tank. There is a desire among some players and designers to see Arms tank with a two-hander while Prot tanks with a shield. We’re still not sure that’s the direction we’ll go -- it’s a lot of re-design and will never work for say the druid or paladin classes.
Q. What is it that makes them unique compared to all other classes?
A. The big ones are stances and rage. Other than warriors, only bear druids use the rage mechanic, and that is pretty much just because that form is intended to mimic warriors. Rage is an unusual resource because it is infinite over the course of minutes, but can be very limiting over the course of seconds. While the basic mechanic of rage is interesting, it has caused us lots of balance problems over the course of World of Warcraft -- sometimes in the favour of the warrior and sometimes not. It’s probably time to give the mechanic another look.
Stances are intended to be a major battlefield decision for warriors, though we realise it doesn’t always pan out this way. You have access to different abilities in different stances, but pay a rage cost as well as sacrificing the potential to use other abilities. More on this below.
Warriors also have some unusual mechanics like say their ability to move quickly around a battlefield, to survive massive physical damage through plate armor and Defensive Stance, and game-changing abilities like Spell Reflect.
Community Team: Warriors have quite a few abilities that are contingent on certain circumstances like Overpower and Intervene.
Q. What is the reasoning behind this and do we have any plans to change that type of gameplay?
A. We like situational abilities. When specs don’t have situational abilities, it’s easy to fall into a very fixed rotation. We call this the metronome. Push button 1, 2, 3 on your keyboard over and over until the bad guy drops loot. We have made more of an effort in all the classes to have certain moments that require players to pay attention a little more and then reward them when they both cause those situations to happen and then execute on them.
Q. What would be the impact of changing those class mechanics?
A. I think if anything, abilities like this need to be more prominent. You should be less effective at your job if you ignore them, and ideally you’d also be less effective if you just macro’d them in. We like macros (obviously, or we wouldn’t have them in the game), but we like for them to simplify chains of things that you have to do often without making decisions in between point A and B. We don’t like it when playing your class becomes how clever your macro can be to the point at which you are pushing one button to play your class. That’s not playing an RPG -- that’s programming a robot.
Community Team: Stances have long been a debated aspect of warriors’ gameplay from the pluses and minuses each one offers to the restrictions they apply on what abilities are available for use.
Q. What is the overall purpose of stances and how are stances intended to be used?
A. The purpose of stances is for warriors to have to make decisions in combat. How badly do I want to Intercept now? Should I pay the cost of Spell Reflect? Ideally, we want warriors to switch stances in combat -- not every few seconds, but a few times over the course of a battle. Now we realise it’s going to be harder to enforce this in raid fights unless you have a battle with a lot of movement or other unusual circumstances.
We get a fair number of suggestions from players trying to basically slip the stance concept out of the warrior class: make it not take rage, or let them do more abilities per stance so they don’t need to switch stances so often. That’s not really what the warrior is all about though. You should care what stance you’re in and it should be a decision to change stance. Note that if you pay too high a price to change stances, that counts as there not being a decision though.
Q. Has there been any thought on moving away from restricting abilities based on the stance a player is in?
A. No. The design intent of warrior stances is that you change your toolbar when you go from one stance to another and that that decision isn’t a trivial one. Now, the third part aside from the rage cost and ability limitations is the penalties (such as 5% damage taken in Berserker). We cut those in half recently, and we’d eventually like to get rid of them altogether. We just don’t want to see Arms warriors in PvP in Defensive Stance 100% of the time. We have seen DKs stick with Frost Presence in PvP despite losing 15% damage, so I don’t think you can just argue “Oh, no warrior would EVER do that.”
Community Team: There has recently been a growing number of concerns with warrior damage, as a whole.
Q. What are our thoughts on the overall damage for warriors in each of the three specs?
A. Warrior damage was too high in Naxxramas and then a little low early in Ulduar. We think it’s in a pretty good place now and warriors will get a small damage buff in 3.2. Part of the concern here is we used to exempt warriors from the design philosophy that pure dps classes should do more damage than hybrid dps classes. We try to no longer play favourites here. Warrior damage should look like that of Feral druids, Enhancement shamans, Retribution paladins, and death knights. If their damage isn’t at that level, then it’s possible our numbers need some tweaking. However don’t always assume that you can’t possibly improve your gear or your button mashing either. Also remember that some fights just favour one class or spec over another. We’re totally cool with that, so long as it isn’t always the same exact class or spec that gets to shine.