The Care and Feeding of Warriors: On reaching 90 and the basics - Fury

Matthew Rossi
M. Rossi|02.01.14

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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: On reaching 90 and the basics - Fury
Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Care and Feeding of Warriors, the column dedicated to arms, fury and protection warriors. Despite repeated blows to the head from dragons, demons, Old Gods and whatever that thing over there was, Matthew Rossi will be your host.

Last week, I wrote about tanking as a new 90. The week before that, we discussed arms warriors. This week, I'm going to cover fury, the two weapon berserker spec. I was considering writing this column in character as an orc warrior, but let's be honest - orcs in World of Warcraft don't fit the stereotype of monosyllabic dullards that would be funny. Let's look at some classic orc warriors.
  1. Broxigar - dude could talk your ear off.
  2. Saurfang - even worse. Dude does whole speeches about honor and the cost of victory and it's all depressing and sad. It's been years since Saufang has said anything as cool as "I am he who watches they. I am the fist of retribution. That which does quell the recalcitrant. Dare you defy the Warchief? Dare you face my merciless judgement?" And even that is way too eloquent for the "me orc, me smash" stereotype.
  3. Garrosh Hellscream - that dude writes entire letters to people telling them exactly how much he hates them. I'm totally not kidding.
So, when I said I was going to write this column in character as an orc, I was right - it turns out every column I've ever written is in character as an orc. So hi! I'll be your orc this time out. Let's talk about how to play fury as a new level 90.

How furious are you?

Before we talk rotation or abilities, one necessity for fury is the Glyph of Unending Rage. This isn't up for debate. It is required. Get it. Put it in your majors. Never take it out again. As a fury warrior, you must have the 120 rage maximum, and if you could somehow get more, I would tell you to do so.

The basic fury rotation is as follows - Bloodthirst is your main rage generator. You will hit this ability on cooldown. The next most important ability is Colossus Smash, which is the essential ability around which fury's entire priority system is based. Colossus Smash has two key features to always keep in mind - first off, it has a 20 second cooldown. Secondly, after you hit Colossus Smash, there is a six second debuff placed on your target that allows your attacks (and only yours) to bypass 100% of the target's armor. These two facts combined create what we can call the Burst Window for fury, which I've discussed in detail before. What it means for you as a newly 90 fury warrior is this - during the fourteen seconds after you last used Colossus Smash, the 100% armor bypass debuff isn't up, and you can't use Colossus Smash again, you're pooling rage. You are not going out of your way to use abilities - it is a DPS loss for you to be doing things like hitting Heroic Strike or Raging Blow, if they leave you in a state where you hit your next Colossus Smash and then have no rage to dump during that six second window.

I'm not telling you never to use those abilities outside of the six seconds after you hit Colossus Smash. What I'm saying is, you want to have rage pooled up when you do hit Colossus Smash. It's worth delaying a Colossus Smash for a few seconds if necessary to get your rage pooled (you want it at least above 60, and 90 is better) because during that six second window, you can hit Heroic Strike four times. Heroic Strike is off the GCD, which means you can hit other abilities while hitting Heroic Strike. It's likely you won't get four off - that requires a full rage bar, perfect latency, and at least one Bloodthirst during the six second CS window. You'll also want to be hitting Raging Blow as many times as possible during that six seconds, and that means you'll want to become or stay enraged during the entire period, using Berserker Rage if necessary. You'll also want to be trying to use at least one of your damaging cooldowns during this six seconds whenever it's feasible, and frankly, that's a lot to try and squeeze into that six seconds.

In fact, now that I've told you all that and you're sitting there, staring at your hands and thinking "How the crap am I going to hit all that in six seconds" I want you to forget actually trying to do it.

I'm not playing with your emotions

That look on your face? That burning sensation on your ears? That's what actual rage feels like. I promise you, I'm not just jerking your chain here. The theoretically perfect fury rotation is something I want you to be aware of, and striving for, but you're not going to actually pull it off when you first start playing a fury at level 90. And that's okay. For now, just be aware that after you hit Colossus Smash, you want to try and get as many Heroic Strikes off as possible while still hitting one Bloodthirst, usually after hitting one or two Raging Blows and, if you're lucky, a third Raging Blow during the window. I do this by macroing my Raging Blow and Heroic Strike buttons together, so even if I don't have Raging Blow queued or ready to go do to the global cooldown, hitting the RB button spams HS for me, and I still have a hard time getting four HS off in a CS period. There's no margin for error or lag there - it's a six second debuff vs. an ability with a 1.5 second cooldown, it's very easy to not get that fourth one off in time. Don't get so twisted up trying that you forget to hit Raging Blow or Bloodthirst or get yourself enraged.

If you're saying (either to yourself or to the screen right now) some variation of 'this sounds like an incredible pain in the' then I can only tell you it gets easier with practice. To be honest, the hard part isn't the Burst Window - you'll grow the muscle memory necessary to hit your abilities as fast as possible to try and get the theoretical max off during that six seconds. No, the hard part is the other fourteen seconds. To put it another way, you have six seconds out of every twenty to go nuts. Twenty seconds is 1/3 of a minute, meaning that you have six times three equals eighteen seconds of frantic button pressing and rage getting/spending during that minute. This means you have forty-two seconds of biding your time out of every minute of play. And that, women and men of the prospective fury warrior club, is the real hard part of the rotation.

What do you do for that forty-two seconds? You try and get your rage as close to max as possible without letting it actually max out. Once you hit 120 rage, or are close to doing so (say, 100 rage or above) you should be spending some. That's because, while you want to pool rage for your Colossus Smash window, any rage over 120 (or 100, if you don't have the Glyph of Unending Rage... but you do have that, right? We talked about that. If you don't have that glyph, stop everything and go and get it, because it's not optional for fury) is effectively wasted. So, even though you want to be maxed, you have to spend some so you never actually stay maxed during that fourteen seconds out of every 20 that you don't have the Colossus Smash debuff up. So, what abilities do we use to spend rage during that period?

The safest rage spender you'll have during that fourteen seconds will either be Heroic Strike or Raging Blow. Raging Blow does more damage and only costs 10 rage, but you can only use it once you've become enraged - each time you become enraged you get a use of Raging Blow, and it only stacks up to two charges, meaning that the most you'll be able to use Raging Blow during the Colossus Smash period is twice before needing to enter an enrage again. This means Raging Blow is best used to dump rage near the beginning of that fourteen seconds, so that you have a better chance of getting two charges stacked up and ready to go as soon as you hit Colossus Smash. The rest of the time, you'll probably want to hit Heroic Strike. It's a 30 rage cost, but it doesn't affect your rotation nor does it prevent you from having charges of Raging Blow stacked and ready for the Colossus Smash window. If for some reason you need to dump more rage than a simple HS will do, you can hit Wild Strike, but I don't recommend its use outside of a Bloodsurge proc.

Bloodsurge makes Wild Strike your best friend during the fourteen seconds of rage pooling, because it not only resets the GCD on Wild Strike to 1 second, but it makes the next three Wild Strikes free. This means you can inflict damage without spending rage, which is perfect for the pooling period. Raging Blow is superior damage to either HS or Wild Strike (Raging Blow hits with both weapons at once) but during the pooling period, three free Wild Strikes in a row is respectable damage. I wouldn't use it during the Colossus Smash period unless you have literally nothing else you can use, though.

This is the entirety of the fury rotation in a nutshell. You hit Bloodthirst to generate rage. You hit Colossus Smash to apply the 100% armor reduction for six seconds. During that six seconds, you hit Heroic Strike as many times as you can while hitting Raging Blow as many times as you can, and Bloodthirst probably once to generate more rage. When using cooldowns like Recklessness or Skull Banner, you try and use them during a Colossus Smash phase. During the other fourteen seconds, you try and get your rage as close to maxed (which should be 120 rage) as possible without maxing it out, spending rage as necessary during that period to try and ensure you're close to maxed out after you hit Colossus Smash so you can dump it all during that six seconds. Rinse, lather, repeat.

For AoE fights, you hit Whirlwind, using it to stack up the Meat Cleaver passive buff. You'll need to keep hitting Bloodthirst during this phase to generate rage, because Whirlwind is a rage hog at 30 rage. When you either have Meat Cleaver stacked up to the maximum (four targets hit, three stacks) or the amount of targets you have to hit (so if there are three targets, you stack it twice) you hit Raging Blow, which will now hit up to four targets depending on how many WW stacks you have. If possible, having the Glyph of Raging Wind is nice because it will buff your WW damage when you hit Raging Blow. During an AoE phase, don't worry about Colossus Smash - it'll only debuff your main target anyway. Just get those Whirlwinds off.

A Talented Beast

When talking talent choices for fury, there are only two worth discussing - the level 60 talent tier and the level 90 talent tier. Any others, you can take whatever suits your fancy. For a new level 90 fury, there's the Bladestorm/Dragon Roar/Shockwave discussion and the Avatar/Bloodbath/Storm Bolt discussion. I'll sum them both up for you.

Level 60 talent - take Dragon Roar unless you absolutely know you're going to have a ton of adds to mow down. Then take Bladestorm. Dragon Roar is by far and away the better choice for any fight that's predominantly single target, while still providing some AoE oomph when needed. These abilities will both be on a one minute cooldown for a new fury warrior, since you likely won't have access to the Evil Eye of Galakras.

Level 90 talent - take Storm Bolt. For a fury warrior, it hits with both weapons, and the 500% damage increase on mobs it doesn't stun (which is almost all bosses) is a big deal. Use it during Colossus Smash when possible, replacing a Raging Blow with it. Since it's a 30 second cooldown, this won't always be possible. You can get it twice a minute, which means you can two of your three Colossus Smashes in theory, but in practice probably not.

What else?

You are going to need mods that track how long your buffs and debuffs are up for - Tell Me When, Weak Auras, Slam and Awe (which is sadly out of date now) are all good candidates. You want something that will tell you when you're enraged, something that will tell you when the CS debuff is about to fall off a target, and something that tells you when CS is up again. It doesn't hurt to track how long your other cooldowns take to come up, but the big ones are Enrage and Colossus Smash - you have to be aware of them. The only necessary glyph is the Unending Rage one, you must have it. I recommend the Colossus Smash and Raging Wind glyphs, but I will not bend on Unending Rage - if you do not have this glyph, you are doing fury wrong.

As for the eternal Titan's Grip vs. SMF debate, right now, TG is ahead of SMF, but as a new 90, it's simple - look at your weapons. Do you have better 1h weapons? Go SMF. Do you have better 2h? Go TG. There, we're done. Now you are the fury warrior in a nutshell. Next step, get some better armor, a nutshell isn't going to protect you from squat.

Next week, what abilities we can't do without.

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.
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