Time to talk about arms talents. Patch 4.0.6 has probably made arms as close in raw DPS to fury as it's been in quite some time. At the same time, some of its PvP bite has been pared away. I would vociferously deny that arms is broken in PvP; I've been having a lot of fun with it. It's definitely the case that the arms rotation suffers in fights in which it becomes harder to maintain time on the boss. (I saw a rather significant DPS loss on Omnotron, with its rather constant target switching.) But if you can keep face time, arms has a lot more teeth than it did even a month ago with Slam hitting much harder and Mortal Strike costing less rage. I will say that with health pools so huge now, the 10% healing debuff on MS seems completely pointless.
Actually, let me rephrase that. It's not completely pointless; it's close to absolutely useless. A 10% healing debuff doesn't even make a paladin blink, a druid squirm, a priest groan or a shaman shudder. I spent a Twin Peaks match this week trying to help a death knight burn down a paladin healer in the crafted PvP set, and we could not do it. With warrior stuns now so much less effective (thanks to charge adding to diminishing returns on stuns), Will the hotfix buff to arms this weekend help even it out? MS barely even slowing them down and pummel on a 10-second cooldown, arms really does feel pointless against a healer in comparison to its glory days. There are discussions about the future of arms PvP going on right now on the official forums, and some of them make interesting promises for the future.
While you contemplate what that will be (a new gap closer, a root, what what could it be?) let's look at arms talents.
- War Academy This is a first-tier arms talent designed to be useful to all three specs. It's useful for arms because it not only increases the damage on Mortal Strike (the bread and butter arms warrior strike), but it also increases Slam's damage, making it a useful button when waiting for Overpower, Colossus Smash or MS to be available.
- Field Dressing This is a pretty solid survival talent and pretty good for all three trees. I take it for PvE as well as PvP; it's pretty much good for anything.
- Blitz This is a great PvP and tanking talent, yes, but it's also nice for arms DPS in general when considering fights with target switching. If you need to go from point A to point B, you might as well get more rage, and there are quite a few situations when stunning up to three targets is pretty useful.
- Deep Wounds Considering that most arms warriors are going to put a solid debuff on anyone they get a bleed on (although yes, Rend will do most of the work on that), and also considering how high the crit strike on Overpower can be, getting more bleed damage out of your critical hits is pretty awesome for arms.
- Second Wind I leave this talent out of my PvE spec because it's so specific as to when you'll get the benefit. I take it in my PvP spec, though, because there are a lot of stuns and immobilizes in PvP. It's not a bad talent, but for PvP, it usually isn't points I want to spend here. If I know I'll be getting stunned, then it's more worthwhile.
- Tactical Mastery Useful for fights when you want to switch stances, it's taken a hit from Charge and Intercept sharing a cooldown and Pummel now working in Battle Stance. Basically, you don't need to switch stances to interrupt, and it doesn't make sense to switch stances to Intercept after a Charge since you can't do that anymore. It's useful if you're going to be switching to defensive to pop a Shield Wall macro, but since Shield Wall doesn't cost any rage, its primary use there is to let you keep some rage once you're done with the macro. A once great talent that has suffered from how our stances and abilities have changed. There's not much you'd want to do in Berserker Stance as an arms warrior, with our fear break and interrupt useable in battle now.
- Drums of War If you're the designated interrupt/demo shouter for your raid, this here is a nice talent -- not as nice as Rude Interruption is for fury, but still good.
- Sweeping Strikes This is a fun ability, especially when glyphed to reduce its rage cost to zero. It's had a long and storied career as a warrior DPS talent. It's skipped trees, and it's had all sorts of bugged interactions with other skills, talents and abilities. Right now, it's a DPS cooldown for trash packs or other AoE environments that keeps you from having to use cleave as arms, which is pretty unattractive.
- Taste for Blood The cornerstone of the current arms rotation, Taste for Blood is one of three talents (alongside Sudden Death and Wrecking Crew) that really defined the tree following the Wrath changes to its original design. Taste for Blood actually combines the Wrath-era talent with the old Improved Overpower, giving you a large bonus to crit chance (even a poorly geared arms warrior is looking at around 75% chance to crit just thanks to this talent when using Overpower) as well as letting arms warriors use Overpower far more reliably as long as they keep Rend up. A must-have for any arms warrior.
- Impale It buffs the baseline strike of the talent spec, the go-to secondary strike which has the very large chance to crit, and Slam, the spec's general downtime ability. I can't imagine not taking it.
- Improved Hamstring It has some PvE use (especially if you'll be kiting a single target for a long period), but in general, it's more a PvP ability, and a pretty solid one. Sure, it can be trinketed out of or otherwise broken by similar effects, and it can't occur for 30 seconds after you've done it once, but making someone blow an escape move is still worthwhile.
- Improved Slam Combined with War Academy and Impale, Imp Slam is worthwhile again. It talents Slam down to a .5-second cast (half a second for an ability that will keep casting even if you move now), which does more damage than a swing would have.
- Deadly Calm This is awesome for when a boss first enters Execute range and you can just spam away to your heart's content or for PvP when you really want to hit Bladestorm but are out of range. It's a nice way to combat rage starvation moments. You can't use it during Inner Rage, but it's designed for exactly the opposite use anyway.
- Blood Frenzy More damage and more rage. A solid PvE talent that is still pretty useful for PvP, since you'll probably be slapping Rends on everything in Thunder Clap range.
- Juggernaut No longer makes your charge take longer to use, increases the duration of charge stun to something meaningful, makes MS and Slam crit more often. Even with the new tradeoff of not being able to Charge and then Intercept (you can still Charge and then Intervene back, making Tactical Mastery somewhat more useful), this is a really solid talent for any arms warrior and has pretty much no downside at all for PvE. For PvP, losing that Intercept is worth it for everything else you get, especially with talents like Blitz to make your charges do more.
- Sudden Death I know a 6% chance to reset Colossus Smash doesn't sound that great, but it ends up being a fairly substantial DPS increase due to how Colossus Smash allows you to ignore armor for 6 seconds. The more often you can use CS, the more 6-second windows you'll get with the equivalent of 100% armor pen. And keeping rage after an Execute is nice.
- Lambs to the Slaughter In PvE, this thing is up pretty much all the time except for fights where you have to spend a significant amount of time moving around. It stacks up to 30% and buffs dang near everything arms warriors do that isn't a bleed. For PvP, it's fairly easy to have it fall off now, which is kind of sad.
- Throwdown I don't know if I could love Throwdown more if I tried. It can interrupt any spell cast by a mob that can be stunned. It can be used in conjunction with Charge to keep a player in PvP still for quite some time, even with DR on stuns. It's great to keep runners from going anywhere long enough to apply a snare to them. And it can keep a dress-wearing Warlomage standing there while you do awful, awful things to him. It's even great for peeling someone off of a clothie on your side, if you do that kind of thing. And there's nothing more amusing than using Throwdown and then popping ...
- Bladestorm Really not worth using in PvE outside of big trash pulls or if you know a fear is about to be cast, but it's so much fun, and it does do a ridiculous amount of damage if you use it in the right situation. It's crazy fun for PvP, especially after you Charge stun a group of three with Blitz and/or Throwdown a caster and know you'll have 5 seconds to spin like a ballerina ... of death! (Imagine that in Vincent Price's voice.)
- Wrecking Crew Created originally to compensate for the lack of a dedicated enrage talent in arms, it's now also a means to make using Mortal Strike even more attractive, and it works just fine. A no-brainer, really.
- Blood and Thunder I love this talent for arms for two reasons. One, it lets you spread the Blood Frenzy debuff to a whole lot of targets, and two, it allows you to reset your Rend duration while using Thunder Clap to debuff mobs. It has also led to one of the best Wowhead comment threads ever.
- Blood Craze Could be worth taking for a Field Dressing/Second Wind-oriented PvP build, but otherwise I'd take the other two first-tier fury talents instead.
- Battle Trance A must-have. Makes MS, an ability you were absolutely already rewarded for using, even more rewarding.
- Cruelty Thanks to its affecting Mortal Strike, I'd say this is also a must-have for arms. Excellent synergy with Wrecking Crew, Deep Wounds and Juggernaut.
At the center of the dury of battle stand the warriors: protection, arms and fury. Check out more strategies and tips especially for warriors, including Cataclysm 101 for DPS warriors, a guide to new reputation gear for warriors, and a look back at six years of warrior trends.