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.
I was intending to write Protection 101 this week, but with the only major changes for warriors being the change to Vengeance and Shield Barrier, I decided to give myself time to digest those and to move on to DPS warriors. This week, we’ll be discussing fury, a spec that’s seen some interesting changes with the new talent system, the incorporation of both Titan’s Grip and Single-Minded Fury into baseline, and the reworking of rage and stances.
When I wrote the original Fury 101 post back in Wrath, I summed up fury fairly succinctly. That much, at least, is still the case. Fury is the spec that fills both hands with a weapon and smashes those weapons into things as many times as possible. There are no pets, no magical abilities, no fancy tricks. Fury is still the “DIE DIE DIE DIE” spec.
What has changed for fury in Mists of Pandaria
Quite a bit has changed.
- Intercept is gone. Fury warriors, like all warriors now, can use Charge in combat and generate rage from charging.
- Stance penalties are gone. While some tank-specific abilities only generate their threat in Defensive Stance, for the most part, you can use any warrior ability in any stance. Yes, fury warriors, you can now taunt or use a Shield Wall macro without switching stances. You will still need a shield, of course.
- Death Wish and Retaliation are both gone. At level 90, you’ll have a choice of three abilities that serve as a kind of DPS cooldown to replace Death Wish, and instead of Retaliation, arms and fury warriors get Die by the Sword, a new survivability cooldown that increases parry chance by 100% and damage taken by 20%. It’s effectively Warrior Evasion.
- With stances reworked, you will be spending the majority of your time in Battle Stance, as it allows for higher rage generation from auto-attack damage. You’ll only switch to Berserker Stance when you’re expecting to take significant unavoidable damage.
- Fury no longer uses Slam at all. Instead, the new ability Wild Strike replaces it. You can hit Wild Strike during your regular rotation to keep the Mortal Wounds debuff up on a target, but you’ll primarily want to use it when Bloodsurge procs.
- Enrage has been reworked. Every time you hit a Bloodthirst (4.5-second cooldown, generates 10 rage) or Colossus Smash critical hit or use the ability Berserker Rage, you’ll enter an Enrage, gaining 10 rage and increasing physical damage done by 10% for 6 seconds. The fury mastery Unshackled Fury increases physical damage done during an enrage as well. While it won’t be possible to be constantly enraged, you’re going to watch to be enraged as much as you possibly can be.
- The new War Banner ability Skull Banner is a mini DPS cooldown. While it’s duration is pretty short for the length of its cooldown, 10 seconds of higher critical strike damage is 10 seconds of higher damage. If there’s not going to be a burn phase, use it on cooldown.
The fury rotation in Mists depends on talent choice (which we’ll go into) but is based around Bloodthirst and enrages/procs. You will be hitting Bloodthirst every single time it is up, every 4.5 seconds, unless Colossus Smash is off cooldown, in which case you would hit Colossus Smash and then Bloodthirst. You’ll fill the gaps between BTs with Raging Blow (when you are enraged) and Wild Strike (when Bloodsurge procs, discounting its rage cost significantly). If you end up with a ton of rage you need to bleed off, you’ll use Heroic Strike and Wild Strike without Bloodsurge. You’ll be using Berserker Rage and Battle Shout on cooldown, since each will generate 10 rage for you and Berserker Rage will put you in an enraged state, increasing damage by at least 10% (more depending on your mastery).
For an AoE rotation, you’ll still hit Bloodthirst and Colossus Smash whenever they’re up, but you’ll want to use Cleave (which, unless you’re drowning in rage, means you’ll want to hit Deadly Calm as much as you can) and Whirlwind. Keep in mind that Whirlwind now has no cooldown but costs 30 rage, so you’ll only be able to hit it repeatedly if you have a lot of rage banked. With Bloodthirst, Battle Shout and Berserker Rage as your primary rage generation, it’s not going to be feasible to hit Whirlwind very often.
Rage generation is very key to the rotation’s success. You can’t go nuts and start flinging Heroic Strike around if you want to be able to do anything when it counts. Even during an AoE-heavy encounter, you cannot afford to forget about Bloodthirst, Berserker Rage and Battle Shout. You simply won’t have the rage to do anything if you avoid these rage generation abilities.
Statistics for fury in Mists of Pandaria
Rage and its acquisition will be behind every gearing choice you make as a fury warrior in Mists of Pandaria. With Titan’s Grip and Single-Minded Fury both being baseline, you’ll use whichever style you have the best weapons for. Let’s talk about what you want on gear.
- Strength If it has agility, it is not for you. I know that in rare situations an agility weapon might be so much of an upgrade that it’s worth using, but all else being equal, if two weapons are the same except one has agility and the other strength, you want the strength weapon. In most cases, a strength weapon will beat out an agility weapon that would otherwise be superior.
- Critical strike rating Yes, please. You want this. The more your Bloodthirsts and Colossus Smashes critically hit, the more often you enter an enrage and gain 10 rage and 10% physical damage for 6 seconds. If you could somehow crit on every Bloodthirst, you’d be swimming in rage. Critical Strike Rating is awesomesauce.
- Hit and expertise For a fury warrior, hit is effectively impossible to fully cap in Mists of Pandaria. Crazed Berserker doesn’t add any hit chance, so all the hit warriors get comes from gear or the draenei racial. However, it’s slightly easier to cap special attacks (both Bloodthirst and Colossus Smash are specials; BT is a rage generator; and Colossus Smash costs no rage) at 7.5%, compared to 8% on live. Expertise also pushes dodges off of the table if you attack from behind, at 7.5% as well. For a fury warrior, right now it’s probably better to ensure you have both hit and expertise to 7.5% and then start looking elsewhere for stats. Don’t avoid hit, however. Every point of hit up to 27% will still contribute to DPS, but it’s going to be nigh impossible to get anywhere near that cap for quite some time.
- Haste Haste is actually significantly better in Mists of Pandaria than it is on live. Still, it pales compared to crit.
- Mastery Mastery is another stat that’s going to be pretty solid for fury warriors, better than it is on live. By completely reworking how Unshackled Fury works so that it buffs the physical damage bonus of enrage rather than just buffing everything that enrage does, it helps buff the warrior without making raging blow better for TG than SMF, as an example. While I believe crit will be king for fury thanks to how enrage is entered, getting more damage out of every one of those enrages means that mastery might just move to the #2 position after the 7.5% hit and expertise caps are reached.
Fury and talent choices in Mists of Pandaria
Warriors have the most leverage with their talents in Mists of Pandaria, and that includes fury. The talent choices really come down to what you want to be doing as fury. We’ll break these talents down by the tiers you gain them in and discuss which ones do what.
The level 15 talents are Juggernaut, Double Time, and Warbringer. Juggernaut is a flat cooldown reduction. It seems the best at first glance, but in practice you’re probably not going to need to change every 12 seconds in most dungeons or raids, so it’s just a nice little reduction in cooldown. Double Time will let you charge if for some reason you really need to but doesn’t feel like you have to or its wasted. Warbringer seems like a solid PvP ability but also a good one for if or when you need to try and keep something locked down for a few seconds.
The level 30 talents are the healing options. Enraged Regeneration on a 1-minute cooldown is pretty nice, but I wonder if it would be better with a more significant heal on a longer cooldown. Still, if you know you’re going to be taking a significant amount of sustained damage, being able to pop this once a minute (especially alongside Die by the Sword) is very nice. I admit, I like Impending Victory more, though. It heals for as much, you can use it twice as often, and it’s an attack I like having. This does mean you have to have something to hit to use it, of course. Second Wind is designed so that you don’t have to think about it at all — no worrying about landing an attack or even hitting a button.
Level 45 hands us the tier I call the “LOUD NOISES” tier. We have Piercing Howl, the AoE snare; Disrupting Shout, the AoE interrupt/silence; and Staggering Shout, the AoE root on people who are snared. Honestly, I’d be disappointed if no one puts together a two-warrior team, one with Piercing Howl and the other with Staggering Shout. I’m personally thinking Disrupting Shout or PH for PvE content, and either PH or Staggering depending on how much use I can get out of Hamstring in PvP.
The level 60 tier is the Bladestorm/Shockwave/Dragon Roar tier, and this is a tier I’m really the hardest pressed on. I love Bladestorm for fury. Bladestorm for fury is the most fun I’ve ever had outside of Shockwave for fury or Dragon Roar for fury. Bladestorm clears CC and fears, while Shockwave and Dragon Roar stun. Dragon Roar does fire damage. All in all, I’ve enjoyed each of these abilities as fury. If you know you’ll be AoEing once every 2 minutes or so, Bladestorm is probably the best for pure DPS.
The level 75 talents are Mass Spell Reflection, Safeguard and Vigilance. For these, I choose Vigilance or Safeguatd. Neither ability needs a shield, and Safeguard will clear snares and roots while also reducing the damage of your intervene target by 20% for 6 seconds. Vigilance is effectively the same as Hand of Sacrifice now. I’m probably leaning towards Safeguard for my fury spec.
And finally, when you hit level 90, there’s the trifecta of Avatar, Bloodbath and Storm Bolt. This one really comes down to if you want a DPS cooldown or a 30-second cooldown attack. Storm Bolt is actually very good against most bosses, since they can’t be stunned and therefore take the extra 300% damage, and you can whack them with it every 30 seconds. Bloodbath you can pop every minute, making it an excellent replacement for Death Wish if you’re looking for a relatively fast cooldown you can almost use rotationally. Avatar, despite its longer 3-minute cooldown, gives you an extra 20% damage and increased rage gen as well as immunity to roots and snares. Bloodbath has a snare you can use with Thunder Clap (remember, you can use TC as a fury warrior now) or any other AoE you might have. (So pop Bloodbath and Bladestorm and become a blender.) Bloodbath might actually work out to be the best overall DPS, with 12-second duration every minute vs. 20-second duration on Avatar every 3.
That covers the basics for fury. We still have arms and protection to cover, as well as enchants and gemming. The 101 posts keep on coming.
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.