There are three key changes that have dramatically impacted the range of viable PVP specs for Warriors in Patch 1.3:
- Strike Like Iron (SLI), which was formerly a 2-pt Paragon root ability, has been moved to a 38-pt root ability
- The Champion Two-Handed Specialization talent has been renamed to Weapon Specialization (WS), and the talent has changed from boosting 2H Physical damage to any damage type regardless of weapon type (2H vs DW vs 1H+shield)
- The Paragon Teaching of the Five Rings (TotFR) talent has been changed from boosting damage while dual wielding to boosting damage regardless of weapon type
Here, in detail, are the implications of the above changes
A. Warriors are no longer compelled to spec 2 points in Paragon just to get SLI
The 1.3 versions of the WS and TotFR talents more than offset the loss of SLI for most specs in my opinion – and this is something that many Warriors have been asking for since the game launched. As such, Warriors no longer feel compelled to put a 2-pt (or more) investment in Paragon just to get SLI, and there is a much richer variety of PVP specs that are effective now.
(I’ll add that for Riftblades prior to 1.3, SLI was not as critical as it was for Champ/Paragon-spec’d Warriors, because Riftblades had the Enhanced Burst mechanic, so Riftblades could cast Fiery Burst and gain a 30% damage increase along with the DoT damage.)
B. Riftblade damage now synergizes with the Champion and Paragon damage-boosting talents
Prior to 1.3, the Champion Two-Handed Specialization Physical-damage talent did not synergize with Riftblade’s non-Physical damage mechanics. Because of this, and the fact that Champion and Paragon were often paired together in PVP specs, the more popular PVP specs did not mesh Champion and Paragon with Riftblade.
Now Riftblade scales from both WS and TotFR, which is awesome.
The only catch is that some Riftblade AtPts finishers, e.g. Fiery Burst and Rift Surge, do not have a weapon damage component, so they will not scale with gear as effectively as the AtPts finishers from Champion and Paragon. But then again the Riftblade AtPts finishers can be cast from range and deal non-Physical damage, so from a balance perspective this may be OK. TBD.
C. Warriors can now flexibly use different weapon sets in combat
With the new WS and TotFR mechanics, Warriors are not “chained” to always using a 2H or always dual-wielding (DW) in order to gain the benefit of damage-boosting talents.
So Warriors now have much more flexibility from a mechanics standpoint to swap weapons based on the situation – e.g. 2H for burst, or DW to use the ranged Paragon attacks, or 1H+shield for the increased survivability and Paladin reactives.
Warrior has come a long way in terms of design and balance from 1.1 to 1.3. Warrior still feel a bit squishy in PVP, but they can now bring the pain much more effectively than before, and there is a wider variety of specs that have synergy between talent trees.
Prior to 1.3, the non-Warrior classes IMO were far more effective without a pocket healer, and you would typically see more of those classes at the top of the scoreboards in terms of damage and killing.
In 1.3, the distribution of classes that are at the top of the scoreboards for those columns is much more diverse, which is an indication to me that balance is improving.