In Warlords, Protection Warriors will have a special level 100 talent, Gladiator’s Resolve.
And, for reference, Shield Charge:
Now, these are cool, and I’m really excited about this. I’ve recently swapped to playing my warrior more than my monk, and I enjoy PvP on my warrior. My PvE spec is protection, and I’m very excited to be able to be Prot/Prot in Warlords, but I forsee some balancing issues with Gladiator’s Resolve.
I predict that we’ll see quite a few people trying out Gladiators in PvP (I know I will be), and the problems there lie in that aside from shield block, a Gladiator has access to a protection warrior’s full toolkit, as well as being able to swap into defensive stance to reduce damage when picking up a flag or things like that. Additionally, Gladiators will have access to Shield Barrier to allow them to be a highly defensive spec even while in Gladiator Stance.
As a DPS spec, there won’t be as many balancing issues in PvE. Vengeance will be a nice bonus to PvE play, but this is non-existent in PvP. Also, in PvP, tank-specced players take additional damage, something that @Holinka on Twitter has offered may not be an issue for Gladiators- but that still brings up the issue that you can still play defensively by swapping stances. Also, Mastery will be a completely useless stat for Gladiators.
Granted, all of this is mostly what I’m predicting- I don’t have beta access at the moment and can’t actually test any of this out, nor do I know anyone who is playing with Gladiator’s Resolve on the beta/alpha.
The main issue right now is that Gladiators are a spec that will either need to be broken for PvP- taking additional damage for being Protection-specced- or will be a constant work in progress to balance them throughout the expansion.
Building a Better Gladiator
My suggestion is very simple at the core, but will be a bit of an undertaking: make Gladiator a completely separate specialization from Protection. Borrow things from Protection and the DPS specs, but flesh them out completely. Force the fact that you can play either defensively or offensively, and make that a conscious choice.
Main stats: Crit, Multistrike, Mastery (Multistrike Attunement)
Mastery: Increases the damage you do with shields by x% (this is a very simple suggestion. Another one would possibly be a Mastery that grants something like Deep Wounds- making your special attacks cause a bleed.)
Main Skills: Shield Slam, Shield Charge, Revenge, Devastate, Talented Abilities (Storm Bolt, Bladestorm, etc).
Remove Shield Barrier, Shield Wall, and Last Stand for Gladiators, keep Blood Craze and Riposte (these will need to be balanced) to allow for some survival. Change abilities like Demoralizing Shout and Spell Reflection to cost rage, making it a conscious decision to either play offensively and use rage to attack, or play defensively. Give back Rallying Cry, or in its place, a different cooldown- one that grants either crit or multistrike to party and raid members.
Add a new DPS cooldown or change Recklessness to grant crit percentage, allowing it to be used akin to a mix of Recklessness and Die by the Sword.
I’ll be testing Gladiators once I get beta access, and fully expect them to be difficult to balance in PvP unless the spec is separated from Protection. My suggestion to allow for easier balancing is to make them a fourth Warrior specialization, one that is a more dedicated DPS spec with some defensive abilities that require making a conscious decision between defensive and offensive play.