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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Fury 101

Matthew Rossi
Matthew Rossi|February 5, 2010 3:00 PM

The Care and Feeding of Warriors is here to hurt things this week. Hurt them, make them bleed, make them die, stand over their corpses and find something else to kill. Hear the warsong hammering in your ears? Let it out. Let it out and show the world your rage. Matthew Rossi knows that sometimes, dead is better.

Last week, we talked about Protection. Protection warriors are the tanks of the warrior class, the guys who stand up there and bang on their shields and bang their shields into things ranging the gamut from large horrible squamous tentacle monsters in Old Kingdom to giant walking bone piles in ICC. And that's fine: somebody has to keep the monsters and bosses of the game focused on a hard target so the rest of us can kill it. It's good to see prot warriors alongside bears, walking corpses and daisy picking fancylads doing the tank job. (I kid you paladins because my heart is black and full of envy.) It's good that there are warrior tanks.

But that's not you, is it? You haven't read this far because you want to tank. If you did, you'd have clicked that link and been on your merry way. You don't want to tank. You don't want to stand up front and keep monsters attention focused like some kind of giant nursery school teacher for the horrors of Azeroth. No, you don't want to tank.

You want to kill things. You want to rip them into bloody gobbets and leave their ruined, looted corpses in your wake. You want to wear two huge weapons crossed on your back and reach up to draw them forth as soon as things get ugly, which can't come soon enough in your opinion. You want to get on up there and rip things heads clean off. You're the kind of person who thinks Grom Hellscream had a good idea but didn't go far enough with it.

Come right this way. Fury is the spec for you.

1. What is fury?

Fury is the "grrrargargsgarg DIE DIE DIE DIE" spec. It's the spec Blizzard described in the Class Q&A last year as "screaming barbarians in woad" and that still remains the best way to think of the spec. For in game examples of warriors who seem to embody the fury playstyle, both Varian Wrynn and Garrosh Hellscream fit the bill. (Sorry, guys, Saurfang is arms. We all know this to be true.) Fury warriors can offtank in a pinch or even tank a five man, but they're not designed to be tanking in raids. The spec is designed at present to equip two huge weapons and smash them into things.

It's refreshingly simple in concept, really.

2. What are the benefits of fury?

Well, do you like two handed weapons?

What about hitting things with two handed weapons?

In all sincerity, fury is as simple and pure as it gets. Get two big weapons. Hit things with them. If this sounds fun to you, then congratulations, fury is the only spec in the game that can allow you to dual wield two handed weapons. Since fury is a warrior spec, it's dependent not on mana, energy or runes/runic power, but rather on rage, a resource that scales as damage increases. The harder your white hits (any attack that doesn't require use of a special ability, also known as 'auto attacks') the more rage they generate. The more rage you have, the more you can do since most warrior special attacks (also known as 'yellow hits' because their damage is reported in yellow colored text) cost rage. Fury, in essence, feeds on itself: the more you do the more you can do.

Plus, we look ridiculously cool. Go ahead, try and say we don't.

That's what I thought.

3. What about drawbacks?

Fury has a few. First off, few talent trees are so thoroughly dominated by their 51 point talent as fury is by Titan's Grip. If you are a fury warrior, you're taking Titan's Grip: there's no reason to do so otherwise, even with repeated nerfs the talent is always a DPS increase over any other possible fury build. Secondly, I think it's fair to say that absolutely no spec in the game is as ridiculously depending on absolutely rigidly specific gear selection to get the ultimate best performance. While it's true that a prot warrior in bad gear can't tank at all while a fury in bad gear can DPS poorly without instantly dying, the margin for error in fury gearing to get the highest possible DPS is exceedingly small. Finally, DPS warriors in general and fury warriors in particular are remarkably fragile for a DPS class that wears plate. While you can talent and glyph for slightly higher survivability, such choices always come at a cost to DPS, and since DPS is what fury is all about, it's a hard tradeoff to make. In general, survivability/regen talents and/or glyphs are better suited to the leveling process than they are to endgame.

4. What stats do fury warriors like?

Generally, fury are looking for stats that allow them to kill things.
  • Strength. This is raw smashing (or chopping or cutting) power. Strength converts to Attack Power which adds directly to weapon damage per second (or DPS). The talent Improved Berserker Stance adds another 20% of your total Strength when you are in Berserker Stance. 1 Str = 2 AP for a warrior.
  • Hit Rating. Since fury warriors dual wield, they require hit rating to reduce the chance that they will miss an attack. We talked about Hit and Expertise back in 2009 for DPS warriors. I've generally changed my mind about the Precision talent since then, but the basic argument that we need 263 hit rating (without Precision) to push yellow attacks off of the miss table is still sound. Precision gives 3% chance to hit with melee weapons and is basically always worth the points, since minus the Draenei racial or any hit debuffs your chance to miss with white hits is 27% against a level 83 boss. (Raid bosses are skull level, effectively always three levels above a player.) With Precision, you only need 163 hit rating to effectively hit 8% for specials.
  • Armor Penetration. As you get better and better gear it becomes easier to reach what is known as the hard ArP cap (currently 1399 ArP rating if I'm doing the math right): most leveling fury warriors don't need to concern themselves with ArP at all, it only becomes a viable stat once you begin accumulating Tier 9 or better gear. It's easier to start working towards the soft ArP cap (roughly 50% armor reduction, 699.5 rating) which in combination with an ArP proc trinket like the Grim Toll, Mjolnir Runestone or Needle-Encrusted Scorption will reduce armor to very close to 100%.
  • Expertise. Expertise is the stat that diminishes the chance a mob will dodge or parry you. Mobs in WoW can dodge when you are behind them (players cannot) but cannot parry unless they are facing you. Expertise, unlike hit, has no talent in the fury tree to help warriors cap it. Also unlike hit, it's easier for a fury warrior to completely cap out the effective value of expertise. After 26 expertise there is no effective value to any further points in the stat. (My fury set is 1 point over, which is effectively wasted expertise. However, it's better to be over than low, if those are your only two options.) 26 expertise is 214 expertise rating. You do not need to gear for the hard cap of 56 expertise as a fury warrior. (That hard cap pushes parries off of the table as well, but since as a DPS warrior you should always be behind the boss or mobs, there's no value to pursuing more expertise.)
  • Critical Strike Rating. Really, crit never gets bad. It's good to hit harder. White critical hits will generate more rage, allowing you to use more special abilities. You don't want to stack crit above all else, but neither can you ever really 'cap' crit: the more, the better. Plus, it activates Flurry.
Stamina is neither to be courted nor shunned. Armor Value helps your attack power from talents like Armored to the Teeth, but it's not worth going specifically after. The talent just exists to keep warriors out of leather or mail. Similarly, defense, dodge, parry and block are of no interest to you. You're not a tank. You can pinch hit for a few seconds or tank content you outgear, but don't go confusing fury warriors for dedicated tanks. Avoid tanking stats for your DPS set, although by all means, collect a tank set and use it to tank. We're hybrids, after all, and since you'll be paying the hybrid tax on your DPS you might as well get some hybrid benefits too.

Stat weighting depends greatly on the level of gear you're in. Leveling gear and blues from 70 to 80 instances just won't have a lot of ArP, and will be low on expertise as well. As you gear up, however, ArP and expertise will be easier to acquire. Generally your best DPS stats are ArP over Strength over Crit over hit over exp, especially once you have 26 expertise. You simply never need any more expertise than that.