In some ways, we're fortunate that Cataclysm has simplified these for us. There are fewer must-have talents; several passive talents were rolled into the talent specialization bonuses for picking a spec; and there's room for us to choose what we want and don't want. First, we'll look at each spec's talent specializations and then the talents and abilities therein. We covered mastery bonuses for all three specs in this column, so we won't discuss them again here aside from mentioning what they are.
Arms talent specializations are Mortal Strilke for the active attack and for passives, Two-Handed Weapon Specialization and Anger Management. The mastery is Strikes of Opportunity. The fury talent specializations are Bloodthirst (an active attack) and Dual Wield Specialization and Precision for passive bonuses, with Unshackled Fury as the mastery. There's no real choice involved in any of these save for the choice that you make between each tree at level 10, so simply be aware of them and their interaction with your chosen spec.
An arms warrior will be using a priority-based system based around the Mortal Strike ability, applying bleeds with Rend and the Deep Wounds talent and using Overpower and Colossus Smash as they proc. Slam and Heroic Strike are rage dumps, with Execute becoming a powerful attack when your target is below 20 percent health. We'll take a look at arms talents of consequence now.
- Tier 1 arms talents are War Academy, Field Dressing, and Blitz. Field Dressing is a talent for leveling and tanking; most arms warriors will probably use it for a while but abandon it in a pure DPS spec. It's also strong for PvP. Blitz is also a good PvP talent for an arms warrior as well as a solid tanking talent, very useful for flag defense and the like. War Academy is simply a DPS boost that all arms warriors will take.
- Tier 2 and 3 arms talents include Deep Wounds, Taste for Blood, Sweeping Strikes, and Impale. These are all straightforward DPS increases either through additional damage, allowing procs, or increasing how many targets you hit. Tactical Mastery allows for rage conservation when switching stances (useful for PvP or when trying to use abilities from Defensive or Berserker stance in general); Second Wind provides a little extra survivability when stunned; Drums of War allows you to save rage when interrupting or debuffing; and Improved Hamstring gives you a chance to immobilize someone you've snared. You don't have real CC, but you can provide excellent snaring with this talent.
- For the fourth and fifth tier of the arms tree, we have Improved Slam, Deadly Calm, Blood Frenzy, Lambs to the Slaughter, Juggernaut, and Sudden Death. Unless something changes drastically before we reach level 85, Improved Slam is probably the least desirable of these talents. Deadly Calm is an excellent cooldown for either situations where you're low on rage but need to put out damage now, or for when you reach execute territory and want to keep all of your rage for the next execute. Blood Frenzy is still a solid debuff; it helps with rage generation, which is always a plus for arms. Lambs to the Slaughter is a DPS increase for using arms' main attack; Juggernaut is just plain awesome and increases your damage after you use Charge; and Sudden Death makes Colossus Smash a viable part of your rotation, which is awesome due to Colossus Smash's ability to bypass armor.
- Finally, we have Wrecking Crew, Bladestorm, and Throwdown. Take all three. Frankly, I'm not even going to bother going over why you should; just do it. If you don't want to take these talents as a DPS warrior, you want to be fury.
- Tier 1 fury talents are Blood Craze, Battle Trance, and Cruelty. Blood Craze was heavily nerfed in recent weeks and is now a leveling curiosity at best until/unless you combine it with Field Dressing; even then, it's lackluster. The Battle Trance/Cruelty combo will get you to Tier 2 and are both excellent talents.
- Tier 2 is Executioner, Booming Voice, Rude Interruption, and Piercing Howl. These are all fairly solid talents, with Executioner being good solid DPS in that 20 percent execute phase. Booming Voice is more and better rage generation; Rude Interruption gives you a nice DPS boost for doing what you should do anyway and interrupting spell casts; and Piercing Howl is good for PvP and PvE situations. It's a fairly well-loaded tier.
- Tier 3 is Flurry, Death Wish, and Enrage. Let me just say it now: You'll max all of these. Just take them and move on.
- Tier 4 is Die by the Sword, Raging Blow, Rampage, and Heroic Fury. Die by the Sword is a nice concept but does not do enough for the points, in my opinion. I get that it is intended to save a fury warrior who steals some aggro from horrible death, but even so, I have a hard time imagining putting points there with Raging Blow, Rampage and Heroic Fury in the same level.
- Tier 5 is Furious Attacks, Meat Cleaver, and Intensify Rage. Furious Attacks is pretty useless now for PvP since it can only reduce healing by 10 percent and it can only be applied by an autoattack; it's not reliable. Meat Cleaver and Intensify Rage are excellent talents.
- Tier 6 and 7 are Bloodsurge, Skirmisher, Titan's Grip, and Single-Minded Fury. TG and SMF are what you choose if you want to dual wield two-handed or one-handed weapons, respectively. Bloodsurge will be good at 85 if Slam damage scales reasonably and not if not. Skirmisher is excellent for high-mobility fights and PvP.
Glyphs and gems
As I wrote in my patch 4.0.1 analysis for arms and fury, glyphs are not terribly complicated right now. Get MS, Overpower and either Slam or Bladestorm for arms primes, with the real flexibility coming in majors, where you can glyph Colossus Smash to also put a Sunder on a target or enhance your Charge with more range or faster cooldown. Similarly, fury warriors are going to glyph Bloodthirst, Raging Blow and Slam because there's nothing else.
Fury warriors will gem hit for their blue sockets and strength for red. Arms probably won't gem hit, possibly gemming mastery in their yellow sockets. Without the large hit cap needed, arms will always have a bit more freedom with its gemming, and it remains to be seen if gemming for more Strikes of Opportunity will be better than going with straight strength or haste. (I'd expect mastery to trump haste for arms.)
Next week, we'll talk about tanking in Cataclysm. Will off spec tanking be viable at all, or must one be protection to even run a 5-man?
Check out more strategies and tips for warriors of all specs in Matthew Rossi's weekly class column, The Care and Feeding of Warriors. Here's what's happening with warrior threat in the expansion, as we bid farewell to armor penetration and look toward new mechanics for our class.