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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Fury in Mists of Pandaria

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.

Now that we've had a week to play around with the Mists of Pandaria beta, I've gone ahead and done some dungeons and played around with specs. This week, I'm going to look at Single-Minded Fury and Titan's Grip fury warriors as they're currently shaping up. Some caveats:
  • This is not a damage pass. The beta is not balanced yet, so aside from some general "This feels underpowered" or "This is brokenly good" if I think it warranted, I won't be talking much about DPS or damage.
  • Emphasis is on rotation, how the spec feels to play, and how hard or easy rage is to come by. Right now, I'm more interested in discussing how the experience is playing as fury in the beta, not trying to argue for buffs or nerfs when it's simply too soon.
  • With the new talent system, there's simply not a cookie-cutter build yet for either. Since all fury warriors can go TG or SMF depending on what weapons they have (both are baseline abilities fury warriors all get) and any warrior can take any one of three talents per talent tier, there's no right or wrong yet.
  • While familiar, there's enough changed to make the fury priority system require relearning. It's not alien, to be sure, but the addition of Wild Strike, the removal of Slam, and the changes to rage generation and stances have altered the spec.
So, let's talk about how fury plays out in Mists.

Up with weapon damage and DPS

While I said that this isn't a damage pass (and I mean that), I did want to point out that across the board, weapon damage and DPS has increased on the beta. The above screenshot of heroic Ataraxis shows you exactly how extreme that increase is at level 85. As far as I can tell, every weapon in the game going back to level 60 gear has seen some DPS increase. By the time you hit Cataclysm gear, the increase is double. In part, this is probably due to the change in many abilities like Bloodthirst so that they scale off of weapon damage instead of attack power and partially due to our losing our ranged weapon slot and the statistics that come with it. Since even quest greens and level 90 heroic drops are conforming to this new DPS pattern, I can only assume it's deliberate. You'll also note that Ataraxis' strength and stamina as well as its secondary stats are unchanged from live. It's only the weapon damage that's increased.

As for the spec itself, so far it feels good to play. I find SMF is easier for rage generation, which isn't surprising with the two faster weapons, but even TG works OK with three methods (charge, Battle/Commanding Shout, Bloodthirst) to generate rage. With Bloodthirst extended to a 6-second cooldown (the way it used to be, way back in prehistory, also known as vanilla WoW) and the addition of Wild Strike, Heroic Strike has been pushed fully into the hit this if you are absolutely about to cap on rage category at least so far in 5-mans and questing. The best rotation I came up with for soloing was Charge > Colossus Smash > Impending Victory > Bloodthirst > Wild Strike > and then check your rage situation. You want to be careful not to spam Wild Strike outside of a Bloodsurge proc, and it took me some getting used to the idea that you want to use Wild Strike as a rotational attack but alter how you use it when Bloodsurge goes off.
My level 85 talent spec as of this writing for both SMF and TG. One of the interesting things about the new talent system is how it changes things. As an example, I have an extra attack on a 30-second cooldown with Impending Victory that you may decide not to take. If so, your rotation will be simpler than mine. If you decided to take Shockwave, you'd have a frontal cone AoE stun every 20 seconds, as opposed to my Bladestorm every 1.5 minutes.

New elements of play

Combine this level of customization with the change to stance mechanics, and you start to feel some of the depth of the new system. It's not foreign to experience it, of course. It's still World of Warcraft, but it has elements I never expected from this game.

For starters, something I'm still getting used to is that there are no stance requirements for any attacks. At present, when you switch stances on the beta, all that happens is that you get different benefits. Battle stance is your default single-target DPS stance, Defensive your tanking threat stance, and Berserker is your AoE damage stance. I've slowly gotten used to popping over to Zerk when I pull a pack, know I'm going to hit Bladestorm or otherwise expect AoE to be important. (I got some use out of a bad macro I wrote on the fly to swap me into Zerk whenever I hit Whirlwind, but I need to go back and rework it if I intend to actually use it.)

Spotting early drawbacks

Now, not all is sunshine and kittens. I'm now imagining a plate-clad kitten with two enormous weapons cavorting in the sunshine and bashing in monkey-people brains. Anyway, I did have some quibbles that are worth addressing.

At present, it's very easy to forget that Wild Strike is fairly expensive (30 rage), and you really don't want to spam that thing until you get a Bloodsurge proc. You absolutely need to keep hitting Bloodthirst every 6 seconds if you're a TG warrior, and it gets to feeling like you're playing a metronome. Heroic Strike almost feels like an appendix that Blizzard just hasn't removed instead of an attack. When running Jade Serpent, I felt almost like the stance switching mechanic ends up being stay in Berserker until you hit a boss, then switch to battle unless he has adds.

Now clearly, Blizzard's not done yet. And I certainly think that as of right now, fury is on the path to being a good, solid DPS spec. The new glyph system means that you can pick glyphs based on what you enjoy rather than compulsory DPS glyphs, so I have no complaints there. While I don't have a DPS parser addon presently (since last I checked addons don't work yet), nothing took very long to kill, nothing felt grueling, and I seemed to be keeping up fine in the dungeons I ran. I think, with a few tweaks, you'll really be able to go with either flavor of fury depending entirely on weapon availability and preferences.

Next week, we're going to talk about protection spec.

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.

Filed under: Warrior, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors

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