If there had been any way in the world that I believed it possible that ye olde editors would have let me name this post "Shooting at the walls of heartache," that's exactly what it would have been called. However, since this is week four of our 101 guides to Mists of Pandaria for warriors, I felt constrained by the already established naming convention. Nevertheless, what is true is true, and heart to heart you'll win, if you survive. Bang bang.
Anyway, I really have to stop referencing that song and give you an article about arms in Mists.
Arms is one of two DPS specs the warrior class will have available in Mists of Pandaria, and it's a storied specialization with a lot of history. The arms spec was the premier PvP and PvE spec in vanilla World of Warcraft. It was not only the most-played spec for PvP, it was the most-played spec for both DPSing in raids and for tanking. The 31/5/15 arms/fury/protection spec ruled the class.
What has changed for arms in Mists of Pandaria
In some ways, not nearly as much has changed for arms, compared to fury or protection.
- Stance penalties being gone means that arms can now use Whirlwind in battle stance and thus has a class-wide AoE available to it.
- Bladestorm, formerly the signature talent of the spec ever since The Burning Crusade introduced it, is no longer spec-specific.
- Throwdown is gone. You can talent for a weaker version of it at level 15, the new version of Warbringer.
- Rend is gone. Arms warriors now automatically apply Deep Wounds when they use Mortal Strike. Mortal Strike now automatically then procs Overpower, thanks to Taste for Blood.
- Slam is now a baseline arms ability and is instant-cast.
- Stances have been changed. Arms will most likely use Battle Stance, which generates increased rage from damage dealt (white hits) for the vast majority of the time. Berserker Stance may see some use in PvP or when taking extremely high environmental damage in specific dungeon or raid boss fights.
- Rage generation has been changed. Arms warriors will generate rage from Mortal Strike in addition to charge (which can be used in combat untalented now), Battle or Commanding Shout and white attacks. Entering into an enrage will also generate 10 rage. For arms, enrage can be entered into via a Mortal Strike or Colossus Smash critical hit or forced by using Berserker Rage.
- Blood and Thunder still works. However, it no longer matters to your Overpower procs at all. You simply put Deep Wounds on everyone you hit with Thunder Clap. Taste for Blood no longer needs an active bleed on a target; it simply activates Overpower every time you hit Mortal Strike.
Statistics for arms in Mists of Pandaria
Arms as a warrior DPS spec has some similarities to fury, but the weights of the stats it wants are different.
- Strength This is your primary damage-dealing stat. You want strength and almost never agility unless it's a weapon upgrade that's so significantly better that you can afford the lost strength. Strength is where your damage comes from, ultimately. All those big slow, two-handed weapon swings not only have to connect, they have to hurt.
- Critical strike rating After strength, just before mastery and then haste.
- Hit and expertise Arms wants 7.5% hit and 7.5% expertise as of patch 5.0.4, no more and no less. While Overpower can't be dodged, blocked or parried, everything else can be, including your big rage generator, Mortal Strike. Arms is far more fortunate than fury in this regard and can completely cap all white hits with 7.5% hit. There's no reason not to aim for these caps. With arms warriors swinging so slow (see haste, below), you really can't afford to miss or be dodged.
- Mastery Strikes of Opportunity isn't as good as it is now, but it's still pretty good, and mastery still seems better than haste. Maybe.
- Haste It's better than it has been for arms ever, but it's still behind everything else. Still, with rage being tied to white hits and haste increasing the frequency of your white hits, this stat is not to be shunned and avoided as it once was. I'm even debating it vs. mastery, what with the really savage beating that Strikes of Opportunity took.
Arms and talent choice in Mists of Pandaria
Much of what we said about these talents in our fury post is worth considering here. However, since arms only uses one weapon instead of two, some things change.
The level 15 talents are Juggernaut, Double Time, and Warbringer. This one really comes down to playstyle. For me as an arms warrior, I find Warbringer's stun useful for PvP, and for PvE I like Double Time and the freedom it gives me to charge twice immediately when I need it.
Level 30's self-heals are Enraged Regeneration, Impending Victory and Second Wind. Second Wind is shaping up really well for PvP (especially one-on-one fights, which admittedly isn't all that important in PvP), and Enraged Regeneration's 1-minute cooldown makes it pretty useful for boss fights with high damage. Impending Victory is another attack in a fairly crowded rotation, but it does heal decently and does damage as well.
Level 45 is still the yelling tier. Piercing Howl, Disrupting Shout, and Staggering Shout are your choices. Every time I look at Piercing Howl and Staggering Shout, I wish I could either take them both or start two boxing so I can have one arms warrior with Piercing Howl and Bladestorm and another with Staggering Shout and Dragon Roar. I'll probably take Disrupting Shout for PvE, since a big AoE interrupt is pretty nice.
Level 75 is the tanky abilities Mass Spell Reflection, Safeguard and Vigilance. For me as an arms warrior, I'd probably take Vigilance since most boss effects aren't reflectable, but having a warrior version of Hand of Sacrifice is pretty cool.
Level 90 gives us Avatar, Bloodbath and Storm Bolt, and for arms I'm really stuck on Avatar. Avatar is especially good for PvP because it removes all movement-impairing effects and increases damage dealt and rage generation. It's also good for PvP for these reasons, especially if combined with Recklessness and Skull Banner. Bloodbath has a potential for an AoE snare, however, which would work well with Staggering Shout (hit Bloodbath, hit Whirlwind, toss off a Staggering to root everyone) if the Bloodbath slow is considered a snare. It's also a 1-minute DPS cooldown, making it compelling. Storm Bolt's not bad, but it's a 30-second attack; the increased damage to stun immune mobs makes it a nice boss damage ability, though.
Next week, we're rounding up all the non-specialization specific stuff for warriors in Mists of Pandaria. We'll be feeding on hungry eyes and not being so civilized and everything.
At the center of the fury of battle stand the warriors: protection, arms and fury. Check out more strategies and tips especially for warriors, from hot issues for today's warriors to Cataclysm 101 for DPS warriors and our guide to reputation gear for warriors.