Last week we talked about transmogrification, and although I have more I'd like to say about that, I have been promising to talk about PVP for a while now. And in fact, I do PVP quite a bit. The problem is, I PVP as either protection or fury. I do a lot of battlegrounds, I hit Tol Barad about once a day, and I do rated BGs fairly frequently. What have I learned from all this?
- Fury is a surprisingly viable PVP spec. My raiding spec has room for mobility and versatility talents, so I don't even have to respec to PVP effectively. If I were a PVPer primarily instead of secondarily, I'd probably tweak my build for Furious Attacks, but I do fine without it.
- I prefer Titan's Grip to SMF for PVP use. I also raid with TG, but I've tried both and I just prefer being able to pop my cooldowns and throw a Bloodthirst/Raging Blow combo on someone after an intercept and get the burst potential of TG.
- Fury does lack some of the tools arms or protection can bring. If you've PVPed as arms lately, you'll know how addictive Charge/Throwdown/Bladestorm can be. Prot has a lot of tools for stunning, silencing, interrupting and otherwise hindering casters. Fury lacks these tools. If you're doing fury PVP, you're basically hoping to do as much damage as fast as possible.
- Doing as much damage as fast as possible is ludicrously fun. I'm going to be honest here: The reason I like fury PVP is because it's all or nothing. In an Arena setting, I expect I would just get burst down every time, but in the mad chaos of group PVP fury has the potential of doing sudden, savage damage to a single target or even a group, interrupt flag capture, hinder base turnover, and in general just be a gigantic prickly ball o'death at the worst possible time for the enemy.
Why I prefer TG to SMF for PVP
To a degree, my PVP choices were made by my PVE choices; I have access to heroic weapons in PVE that are two-handers, while upgrading the Obsidium Cleaver would require a lot more work. Since I use my PVE spec for PvP and I use my PVE weapons (I can still manage 4,000 resilience with PVE weapons), it just makes sense for me to use a Titan's Grip build in PVP. I have, however, tried both out on days I don't raid, and I find that the burst potential of TG just works better for the style of PVP I've come to prefer. Even in Rated BGs where there's a 10-on-10 fight, you have a more controlled comp, and use Vent or Mumble to communicate, it's often easier to get in a couple of unguarded hits without being focused down. I personally find TG to be very well-designed at present for burst damage. This isn't to say that SMF is incapable of it; a Bloodsurge Slam hitting with both weapons for SMF can burst fairly high.
If I had two heroic Obsidium Cleavers or Season 10 PVP swords or axes, would I instead push SMF? Yes, if those were the best weapons I had. It's all about speccing to your strengths. I happen to have a heroic Zoid and Skullstealer, so that's usually what I use to PVP with, and so that's what I spec with.
Fury does two things fairly well in PVP. It's got good mobility with Intercept, Heroic Leap, and talents like Skirmisher and Heroic Fury to help make the most of that mobility, and it's got very solid burst damage. I still find Furious Attacks to be incredibly underwhelming, to the point that I'd much rather pick up Piercing Howl to keep uptime on kiters or Rude Interruption to reward me for keeping that pesky mage from casting that spell. (A 30-second duration on the RI damage boost means that even in a highly kite-intensive environment, it will be up long enough to get at least one cooldown chained up with it.) Even survival talents like Die by the Sword seem more attractive to me than a measly 10% healing debuff, especially in the world of Resilience.
What fury doesn't do as well as arms is provide that on-demand shutdown combined with raw damage. Arms warriors can use Blitz to stun two targets, hit Sweeping Strikes to put signficiant damage on both, and use Throwdown and Bladestorm to ruin at least one of those targeted players' days. Still, with both Hamstring and Piercing Howl, fury can pretty easily keep people more or less in range.
PVP gearing for the PVE player
To use fury as your PVP spec, especially using a PVE spec to do it, you need resilience. You absolutely need to get enough resilience to stay alive against casters who can and will hit you from range, well before you can get into their faces. I would aim for between 3,500 and 4,000 resilience, getting as close to 4,000 as possible. While resil could be stacked until you had 100% damage reduction in theory, since you can't reforge to it and it's only so much of any particular piece's item budget, I feel you're better off not wasting your time trying and just getting to 4,000. Resil also has DR as of patch 4.1, so once your damage reduction hits about 32% from resil it takes more and more to get it up higher. At 3,872 resilience, my damage reduction is at roughly 39%. After resilience, you're probably looking for crit, hit and then mastery, with mastery your weakest stat (better for TG than SMF, but still behind crit and hit).
PVP gear has never been eaiser to get. You can convert justice points to honor and pick up the ilevel 371 epics, or even convert your valor points to conquest (and the valor to conquest goes one to one, every point of valor you spend is a conquest point) and pick up the Ruthless set. In addition, Occu'thar also drops a variety of PVP gear. And frankly, Occu'thar's a pushover for a player with PVE experience. While it may not exactly be fair, it's a fact that you can come very close to 4,000 resilience without using PVP weapons at all, and those are generally the hardest things to get from points, giving PVE players who PVP a slightly unfair advantage that I suggest you take ruthless advantage of.
PVP talents for the PVE player
PVPing as a PVE spec fury is possible because of the change to talents made in Cataclysm. You can get pretty much every talent you'd want for your DPS spec and still have room for survival or mobility talents that can be very attractive both for intense PVE fights and the mass melee of PVP. It's also true that the increased emphasis on ranked BGs and world PVP zones like Tol Barad and Wintergrasp help because they remove the laser intensity and focus on comp that 2v2, 3v3 and even 5v5 arenas cause. With health pools higher both absolutely and relatively, and resilience reducing damage directly allowing crits to still serve a purpose, fury no longer has to accept Mortal Strike's absolute dominance and can display its own burst strength. It might be fair to say that fury does well in these situations entirely because warriors as a whole have lost some of their edge in PVP.
The once feared juggernaut in plate does not seem to terrify most classes anymore, and yes, it's sad. Warriors can still contribute in PVP, but certainly it's true that no warrior spec is anything like the kings of PVP nowadays. Still, I find fury enjoyable and even exciting, and that's without even talenting directly for the PVP game.
Next week, protection as a PVP spec.
At the center of the fury 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.