Yet Another Cataclysm Arms Guide (4.3)
Yet Another Catalysm Arms Warrior Guide
Last Updated: December 12, 2011 (4.3) Correctness and freshness not guaranteed past this date :(
My name is shiz98, and this is a guide. It covers:
There are also appendices for relatively useless things:
and that's it.
- Stance Dancing for Fun and Profit
Note: To be brief, Arms theorycrafting tends to be underdeveloped. As such, you should make a point of checking around every couple months to see if the community has figured out any improvements to the spec. Note that this guide may not be accurately updated in the future to reflect these refinements, as I'm just not able to predict what kind of time I'll be able to commit to it.
The image below is of the Warrior talent trees (god help you if you didn't recognize them). In fact, it's actually an image of my DPS spec. You'll notice that, unusually, there are some blue boxes in there too (god help you if you didn't see them). Here's the deal: in this modern era, we really don't have any bad talents in the tree, which gives us a lot of choice. I'll be talking about those choices below, but the blue talents are not choices, and you should always max them out in any spec you make.
Field Dressing Pretty good. Not overwhelmingly good, but your healers will like it.
Blitz A nice rage boost to your charge, and the stun could be good or bad depending on how you like to PvP/PvE
Tactical Mastery If you stance dance, or PvP at all, this ability is incredible. Also very useful for letting you use Intervene.
Second Wind Almost useless in PvE
Drums of War You may want to consider picking this up if you're a main interrupter a lot. You'll have 10 rage lying around about 90% of the time even while maintaining your regular rotation, but this gives some peace of mind for that last 10%.
Sweeping Strikes Combined with the glyph, this ability is fantastic for AoEing. Very much worth the one point, in my opinion.
Improved Hamstring For PvE? No thanks.
Throwdown Good as an emergency interrupt on weaker mobs. Also handy in 5-mans. If you're looking for maximum raid utility, skip it.
Blood Craze Ehhh, no.
Executioner Overall a small DPS increase, but noticable during Execute range. Worth taking if you find yourself with extra talent points. (See Page 4 for discussion)
Booming Voice Good if you're struggling with rage, but you'll do better if you solve that by gearing.
Rude Interruption On fights with interrupts, a 5% damage increase. Fantastic.
Piercing Howl There aren't too many applications for this in 4.3 raiding, but you may want it for the occasional 5 man or solo play.
Blood and Thunder Glorious for AoE.
Who loves the illusion of choice? I know I do:
Glyph of Mortal Strike
Glyph of Overpower
Glyph of Slam
You do have a choice here, and what you choose will actually impact your playstyle a bit.
Glyph of Cleaving Good for AoEing
Glyph of Colossus Smash Do you look like a (Sunder) bitch? If so, this is the glyph for you! New in 4.3: applies sunder instead of just refreshing it, which is awesome.
Glyph of Heroic Throw Not really useful now that Colossus Smash applies sunder
Glyph of Long Charge Somewhat useful if you're running around a lot
Glyph of Piercing Howl Kinda useful if you have Piercing Howl
Glyph of Rapid Charge I think we can do better...
Glyph of Sweeping Strikes Like this glyph. I love it, I really do.
Nobody really cares what you put here, and neither do I. Here are some popular choices:
Glyph of Battle
Glyph of Berserker Rage Can be useful for helping with rage generation if used properly.
Glyph of Furious Sundering
Glyph of Intimidating Shout aka "AoE CC for Pansies"
I'm going to do something a little different here, and forego the usual priority queue format. Instead, we're going to talk about threads. You're going to want to weave these threads together when you do your DPS don't just blindly follow the priorites. Instead you should be actively thinking about your rotation and planning ahead. It's important for each one of these threads to happen perfectly, and it's your job to make sure that happens.
The first thread in your rotation is Rend. This is very simple: maintain Rend. Since 4.1 this is significantly easier, since Mortal Strike does all the hard work for you. If all hell breaks loose and it looks like Rend is going to fall before you can MS again, let it. It's less of a DPS loss to reapply than to refresh.
The second thread is Mortal Strike; you want to hit this as soon as it comes off CD, but not at the expense of Rend.
Third, we have Overpower. Unlike Rend and Mortal Strike, you don't need to worry about firing OP off as soon as possible; you've actually got a 6s window in which to use it. This lets you maximize both your MS damage and your OP damage, because any time using OP would conflict with MS (or Rend for that matter), you can afford to hold back a couple seconds before using the TfB proc.
The filler in between the ability usage here is Slam. Any time you're not using one of the above mentioned abilities, you should be slamming away.
The final piece of the puzzle here is Colossus Smash. The damage portion of this ability sucks it's worse than Slam, and more expensive. Its real value is the 6s of zero armor it provides you. As such, you're going to want to use it when you can make maximum usage of it: right before Mortal Strike. Ideally your CS usage timing should be such that you can do this:
You should sit on any Sudden Death proc until you're able to set up that kind of ability schedule. Most importantly (so even if you screw up and hit CS when you're not supposed to), don't overlap CS. Yeah, you might "waste" a Sudden Death proc. That's life.
You shouldn't use this on one mob. Two or more, go for it. On any fight with an AoE phase, save it for that.
You've got Deadly Calm, which you should combine with your trinkets and ideally a CS. I'd recommend popping your trinkets, CSing, bringing your rage down to 0 (via copious Heroic Strike usage), and then hitting Deadly Calm and going hog wild. Once DC wears off, pop Recklessness to make the most use of that 100 rage you've built up.
When DC is active you should be spamming Slam and Heroic Strike like a champion just make sure you take note of when DC wears off so you don't kill off your Rage entirely.
When should I use Shattering Throw?
During Heroism, you selfish jerk. On long enough fights you may be able to get two of these off, so play it by ear. If you're not using it during heroism you should at the very least make sure you pop a CD to get the best usage out of it. You should also be telling your raid when it's up, to give other physical dps a chance to pop their CD's.
Mortal Strike goes way down on your priority list. In fact, you should really only use it to maintain Rend/Lambs to the Slaughter. You still want to keep using Overpower, but drop Slam from your rotation entirely. Instead, you're going to be spending all your hard-earned rage on 30 Rage Executes. Emphasis on the 30 Rage. If you have less than 30 rage? Don't Execute. The ability does the most damage per rage at 30.
The basic rundown:
But don't just follow that blindly! Instead, you should be aware of the...
- Hit to cap (8% on character sheet)
- Expertise (cap is 26 Exp on character sheet)
First off, you're probably noticing that hit has a strangely high priority, since we no longer have to worry about missing interrupts. See, we use expertise as a rage generating stat (in place of the eternally awful haste). As it turns out, if you cap your hit you're generating pretty much all the rage you need (combine that with a windfury buff and you're almost certainly good in a raid situation) this is why Hit is on the top. Expertise used to be up there too, but it turns out that it doesn't affect your rage generation, which makes it a more mediocre stat when you factor in Overpower being usable on dodges. You don't want to ignore it completely, but there's no real need to cap it.
Next up we have Strength, with is basically your go-to stat for everything. It's hard to actively shoot for Strength since it just kind of shows up on gear, but you should fill all red sockets with it, and get Strength trinkets if possible.
From there we really only have three stats to choose from: Mastery, Crit, and Haste. Haste is really bad, and you should strive to have none of it. Mastery and Crit and actually pretty even in terms of DPS gain. At lower levels of gear, Crit is a little bit better than Mastery, but I'd guess it's the other way around after this raiding tier. All in all, you should strive to have a good balance of both Crit and Mastery; don't just pick up one and ignore the other.
So, what should I look for in gear?
A very good question.
Are you not hit capped? Look for gear with hit and crit/mastery/expertise
Are you not expertise capped? Look for gear with crit/mastery/expertise
Are you hit and expertise capped? Look for gear with crit and mastery
What about gems?
Pretty much the same as the above:
If it's red, put an STR gem in it.
If it's yellow, use STR unless you want the socket bonus, or you're trying to get a meta bonus.
If it's blue, use Hit if you're not hitcapped, otherwise an STR or Stam/STR gem (depending on whether you need a socket bonus)
Generally speaking, reforge intelligently using the stat priorities above. It's not worth reforging Crit or Mastery to the other, but you should always reforge Haste into something better (though ideally none of your gear should have haste).
If you're low on expertise, you should get there via reforging rather than gemming, as it allows you to put those oh-so-good STR gems in your red sockets.
I read something somewhere that contradicts something in this guide. Who's right?
If it's from anywhere other than Elitist Jerks, it's probably wrong (seriously, Arms is really misunderstood in most places). I'd trust EJ over this guide, but don't go crazy.
Ok but why?
In all honesty, because people tend to approach writing these guides without a whole lot of rigor behind the gearing/rotation suggestions they make. I've made a concerted effort to back up anything I suggest here with some actual theorycrafting, so I'm pretty confident in what I suggest. Yes, there will be something in this guide that will be proven wrong down the line; that's a guarantee. But as a whole, I believe this guide to be the most accurate guide to Arms at the time of writing. Call me arrogant :)
Where else should I go to stay up-to-date on Arms, or if I have questions?
Right here on the Tankspot DPS forum is a good place to go. There are a lot of warriors here who have much more experience than I, and who know their class inside and out.
The only other place that I'd recommend is Elitist Jerks, and even then I'd only recommend it to those who are really, really serious about their class, and who aren't put off by maths and heavy analysis. It's not a good place to ask questions, but there are some very smart people there posting in the warrior threads, and you're guaranteed to find some good information over the course of the expansion if you can stomach the superthread approach they take.
Appendix A Stance Dancing for Fun and Profit
Fact: Berserker Stance makes you do 5% more damage than Battle Stance. As Arms, you can leverage that fact you have greatly improved stance dancing thanks to Tactical Mastery to spend some time in Berserker Stance, which will net you a DPS increase.
First, the caveat: this is a fairly small DPS increase (in practice, something like 3-4%), so if the added complexity is going to make you mess up your rotation or do a poor job of watching fight mechanics, it's not worth it.
If you're game, all you really need to do is start stance dancing around your OP usage. In fact, what you really want to be doing is sitting in Berserker Stance by default, and dancing to Battle Stance only to use OP. This will increase your white damage and Strikes of Opportunity damage to as much as possible.
Here's a sample timeline:
Practice, practice, practice. Training dummies are your friend. If you can get really good with timing your TfB procs, you should get pretty close to the ideal 5% DPS bonus.
0.0s Rend (TfB Proc)
Stance Dance to Berserker
Stance Dance to Battle
Stance Dance to Berserker
6.0s Slam (TfB Proc)
Stance Dance to Battle
Stance Dance to Berserker
12.0s MS (TfB Proc)
Aside: This got a whole lot easier in 4.1.
Jan 29, 2011: Fixed up gemming, and added a bit of reforging info (thanks to klausi for corrections!)
Feb 9, 2011: Changed the wording for some glyphs/talents (based on others' posts in this thread)
Jun 22, 2011: Updated for 4.2 Mostly rotation/gearing
Dec 12, 2011: Updated for 4.3 A few tweaks/typo fixes, and updated Glyph of Colossus Smash info
This is almost certainly the last update for the expansion.
Re: Yet Another Cataclysm Arms Guide
This guide is wrong on so many levels I don't know where to start.