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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: A Call To Arms

Matthew Rossi

The Care and Feeding of Warriors takes this week to explore Arms. Matthew Rossi has been Bladestorm crazy all week, it's really rather disturbing.

The last time I dedicated a column to Arms, it was April. It seems overdue for discussion again.

Part of the problem was, I didn't have an axe or polearm. Heck, I didn't even have a mace. Swords? Yeah, I had swords up the wazoo. Unfortunately, swords are not good for Arms. This is because Sword Specialization is just plain inferior to Poleaxe Specialization. Sad but true, the once might Sword Spec is now hampered by an internal cooldown that prevents the ability from proccing twice in close succession, meaning that at most you'll get an extra attack that might be a crit and then nothing for 45 seconds. Compare that to Poleaxe's 5% crit bonus and 5% more damage from each crit, with no messy hidden cooldown so that the more crit you have, the more chances you have to do more damage with each crit. Sword spec is so bad it's getting buffed in the 3.2.2 patch, and yet even doubling the chance for an extra hit doesn't seem to excite most dyed in the wool arms players.

Although Justicebringer still won't drop for us I did manage to snag myself an axe this week and decided to play around with Arms again.

So far, I'm doing everything wrong: my expertise is way too high, my hit too high, my crit too low, my ArP too low. Despite all of this, my DPS stayed comfortably within the same basic levels it has been for Fury. My gear is mostly interchangeable between the specs, with me swapping Clockwork Legplates in for the T8 legs. Quite frankly, while I do like my Worldcarver, I keep hoping Lotrafen will drop because it doesn't have that ridiculous whack of expertise on it. With the gear I have now, Lotrafen's stat spread would be far superior than Worldcarver. Still, you take whatever drops first.

As a general suggestion (and keep in mind that Arms is not my normal talent spec) I'd say you want about 50% ArP before trinket procs, around 35% crit in Battle, cap hit at 8% (263 HR) and get your expertise up to 26 if you don't use Weapon Mastery (Strength of Arms adds 2 expertise per rank, so keep that in mind - Full SoA would mean you only need 22 exp on gear). Attack Power should be as high as you can get it, I'd feel uncomfortable with less than 3.5k and would prefer over 4k to raid Ulduar 25. You still want hit and exp capped to raid lower level content but can get away with 40% Armor Reduction before trinkets and 3k or so AP for Naxx 25.

I'm actually far more enthused about an Arms rotation than I was the last time I tried it out. To be honest, I don't know why that is. It just seems to be flowing a lot more easily this time... Charge, MS, throw a Rend on, Slam if nothing else is procced and MS isn't up yet, MS over Overpower, Overpower over Sudden Death Executes, refresh rend when it falls off. Perhaps now that I've relaxed about Rend it's taking the stress out of watching for procs. One comes up, I use it. I don't have to babysit it nearly as much as it seemed before. For PvE, at least, I'm finding it just challenging enough to keep me awake, although I think I still prefer Fury's rggggrgrgrgaaagh kill kill kill style over the You've left me an opening! feeling of Arms. With the Overpower and Execute procs, though, Arms definitely feels like you're faking out your target into exposing itself to a huge overhand smash as opposed to just Bloodthirst/Whirlwind/Bloodsurge frenzy of blows.

However, as much as I'm willing to admit I like the way Arms is so far in PvE, I've really been playing with it more in PvP lately. Now, if you've read this column before, you know I'm not a PvP genius. I did a fair amount on my Tauren back in the distant past of Vanilla and BC, but in Wrath so far, I haven't really done much PvP at all until fairly recently. Since my human basically has a PvP trinket naturally, it seemed like he was a good choice to go into some BG's and even a few arena matches.

What, pray tell, did I learn PvPing as Arms?

What Matt learned PvPing at Arms

  1. I'm still not terribly good at it.
  2. Warriors have some very fun new tools for PvP. Arms in particular has Shattering Throw (Fury does too, but I don't even have to switch stances to use it as Arms) which meant that I actually managed to kill a mage in Alterac Valley. Make sure you know which bubbles to Shatter. Ice block? Check. Pally immune bubble? Check. Disc priest bubble? No. Val'anyr bubble? Also no. Also, man, it's awesome going up against another warrior and seeing him shatter the bubble your resto druid with Val put on you.
  3. There are a lot of under-80 players leveling in Alterac Valley. This can give you a disproportionate sense of how powerful you are. Four level 74-76 Horde should not try and take a tower back when it's held by a level 80 Arms warrior in Ulduar/Coliseum/Wintergrasp gear and a healer. You certainly don't all want to cluster closely together and let me Bladestorm the lot of you.
  4. When you leave AV and go to Wintergrasp, the average player level has gone up. Don't get cocky.
  5. Arenas, even more so. That being said, no matter what anyone tells you, Resto Druid/Arms Warrior is a ridiculously fun combo. But I still hate the Dalaran Sewers map. Like, a lot.
  6. Bladestorm every 1.25 minutes! (With the glyph, of course.) Look, I already admitted I'm not a PvP savant, so let me have fun at least.
One of the things I actually dislike about playing Arms now is having to figure out Armor Penetration. I understand why it was moved to a rating system in Patch 3.0 but man, I already have to use spreadsheets to figure out my gearing, now I feel like I need a team of seven wizened sages on a celestial abacus to understand a key stat for my class/spec. My eyes glaze over when I read this formula. I would like to have at least 50% armor penetration on average before my Grim Toll procs, which I do not currently have in my gear setup (primarily because my axe has no ArP on it) and frankly, I cannot wait until Cataclysm rolls around and I don't have to spend any more time scrutinizing every piece of gear while muttering "Okay, these bracers have solid strength, crit, and exp, but no ArP, so I can't wear them with this ring unless this pair of pants drops or I finally get these shoulders."

In the end, this diehard Fury/Prot warrior has been enjoying Arms so much that I've decided to keep raiding with the spec and see how I like it as we start working on more Trials of the Grand Crusader in the weeks to come. I'm going to go on the PTR tonight after raiding and test out the buffs to Sword Specialization, which I hope can help make one of the many very well itemized swords I have in my bags worth using with Arms. I have to admit, it felt good to go back to Arms for a while... back to memories of the days of 31/20/0 spec.

Next week we'll look at Arms talents and gear you can get fairly easily to begin trying the talents out.

Check out more strategies, tips and leveling guides for Warriors in Matthew Rossi's weekly class column: The Care and Feeding of Warriors.

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