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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Damage Per Second

Matthew Rossi

The Care and Feeding of Warriors takes the time this week to discuss putting the hurt on things. Whether you are fury, arms, or even sometimes prot (stop laughing) there will be times when it's less important that you keep a mob occupied and more important that you bash it's head in, chop it's arms off, or otherwise bring the unpleasantness. Matthew Rossi has been bringing said unpleasantness for a long time now. Oh, right, yes, in game, certainly, what else did you think we meant?

Before we even get started, yes, that is a warrior in Tier 1 with a Terestrian's Stranglestaff equipped. For some odd reason the staff only drops if we have no druids on the run, so there you go. Why is he in Tier 1? Because Tier 1 still looks freaking awesome, that's why. And that's not the lookalike 70 blues, man, that's the old school set. You can tell by the coloring. (You know you've been playing a warrior for a very long time when you can look at a piece of gear and know by its color what it is.)

I've talked a lot about how I mostly tank nowadays, so it's kind of ironic that I'm talking about DPS today, considering that I mainly DPS'd for months and months and seemed always to be talking about tanking. Maybe I should start running around bandaging people. Or I could make a whole lot of food before the raid and pass it out to folks while making weird gestures beforehand.

Anyway, warriors as DPS are, as always, melee. We don't have much in the way of spell damage (no, Thunderclap doesn't count) and even our debuffs generally make for up close action. Basically, all warriors (be they tanks or DPS) hit and yell at things. That's about all we do, really, we hit things and we yell at them, either making them feel bad (Demoralising Shout) or good (Battle and Commanding Shout), and sometimes we break wind so powerfully that they can't attack us as fast (Thunderclap). Okay, so the tooltip doesn't actually say that we're flatulent when we use Thunderclap, but I've yet to see any other explanation as to why I can explode periodically for physical damage when I have no magic. Yes, it counts as a spell, and yes, it's mitigated by armor, so I'm totally in the dark as to what else it could possibly be.

The Care and Feeding of Warriors may just have had its first fart joke. I'm sure we're all very proud. Now that we've all gotten that out of our system, so to speak, let's get on to what a warrior DPSing is and isn't, and what they can and can't do. I'm not going to dwell too much on things like weapon speed or if dual wielding is superior to a 2h weapon because that will really ultimately depend on your build, and I won't know what that is. There are DPS builds in both arms and fury that use 2h weapons and dual wielding (although I have to admit that I don't understand a dual wielding DPS arms build very well) so such a talent choice will be up to you.

First off, a DPS warrior isn't a rogue. The misnomer rogues in plate isn't accurate. (It's also kind of irritating, as it seems to say that rogues own melee DPS.) A warrior in DPS mode is still using rage. He is unconcerned with combo points. His damage output comes from rage generated, and since hopefully he won't be taking damage or at best minimal damage (although I have found that AoE damage can be a not inconsequential source of rage) it's fair to say that 85 to 90% of a warrior's damage output comes from his or her white hits generating more rage for use on special attacks and abilities. The only threat reduction a warrior has is the inborn threat reduction inherent in Battle or Berserker Stances (a fury warrior can improve his threat reduction with the Improved Berserker Stance talent) which is a flat .8 multiplier to threat generated by damage. A DPSing warrior does not have any other way to shed threat aside from simply not attacking or at the least reducing his or her outgoing damage. Or dying, the infamous 'warrior vanish' which requires the reagent known as a Spirit Healer.

Since this is the case, it is in your best interest to not pull aggro. Since you're a warrior, and thus one of the three classes that can tank at the moment, you should probably have a threat meter installed, but if not, get one. There is simply no excuse, absolutely no excuse at all, for a warrior who is not tanking to pull aggro from a tank. As a warrior myself, I find DPS warriors who can't mind their threat to be the single most irritating thing about instancing or raiding. Any player of a tanking class should be able to watch their threat when not tanking, yes, but it's just so much more irritating when it's a fellow warrior for me. Yes, this is a personal quirk, but it's still good to watch your threat.

Each tree has talents that help you to develop as a DPS warrior. Yes, even prot. Improved Bloodrage and Tactical Mastery are excellent for DPS warriors who need to switch stances (either to Overpower a dodging mob or to jump from Berserker to Battle in order to use Thunderclap for a tanking paladin or druid) - in addition, if your guild or group expects you to offtank as a fury or arms warrior, Tactical Mastery now increases the threat on Mortal Strike or Bloodthirst when you're in defensive stance. For PvP, there are a few more prot talents that are nice to have, like Last Stand or Concussion Blow but these aren't necessary for a pure PvE DPS build.

The fury tree is DPS. That's what it's there for. You will never meet a DPS warrior who hasn't taken five points in Cruelty, and in fact I've never even rolled a pure tank who doesn't take the talent. Further up the tree are the real high damage talents like Flurry (and Enrage, which in PvE you'll take not for itself but to get Flurry), Bloodthirst and Rampage. But don't overlook Precision, Weapon Mastery or Improved Whirlwind, at least one point of which is useful for a damage rotation. Also don't overlook Improved Slam for a 2h weapon build or Improved Berserker Stance for the attack power boost and threat reduction: the less threat you put out, the more DPS you can put out safely.

A PvE arms build is less about DPS (although it will still provide considerable damage if properly geared) and more about Blood Frenzy. An arms warrior in a Raid or PvE damage role is quite simply there to provide that 4% damage bonus to the melee DPS. It only works on mobs that bleed, of course. You'll take Mortal Strike, yes, and on some boss fights it's nice to have a healing debuff (read - any mob that heals) but in general, arms in PvE is going to provide less overall damage than a fury build. You're not there for the damage you yourself bring, you're there for the debuff you can plant on every mob that bleeds. You can either bemoan this fate and spec something else or embrace it and enjoy smashing things in the face with a big 2h weapon, the choice is entirely up to you. However, while you're there you might as well take Impale, Two Handed Weapon Specialization, Death Wish (you're going to have to anyway to get MS) and Deep Wounds. You'll also take the weapon spec of your choice, although I don't recommend maces for PvE. For pure DPS either the enhanced crit of poleaxes or the extra attack proc of swords is better, as most mobs don't have resilience that I know of. (In fact, as far as I know, none do, but there could be one out there I don't know about, I'm only human. Or tauren, sometimes.) Basically, whatever the best weapon you have is, spec that.

You'll mix and match talents, of course. One of the hot new flavors is a fury/arms or arms/fury 2h DPS build, either aiming for Blood Frenzy and Imp Slam or a straight Imp Slam/Bloodthirst combo that can include Rampage or Death Wish. A lot of folks still love the classic heavy fury DW build with Impale for more crit damage. Nobody goes 41+ points in prot to DPS, however, no matter how nice Devastate is. (Trust me, I end up Devastate spamming with two weapons way, way more often than I'd like. I look like a dork.)

What's up for next week? Well, we may talk about the suspicious lack of any changes (as of the time I typed this sentence) to warriors so far on the PTR. Do I smell nerfs on the horizon? Yes I do. Let's hope I'm wrong.

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