With patch 4.2 about to hit live servers, I've taken the liberty of starting a new thread about Arms vs. Fury since the previous thread about this subject only sporadically compared the two and because it appears rather outdated.
Arms is normally considered the primary Warrior PvP spec for a number of reasons, not least tradition. I’ve oftentimes contemplated the viability of Fury PvP, and recently I’ve switched back and forth quite a bit between the two to get a better sense of game play differences and respective advantages/disadvantages.
Mostly for my own benefit, I’ve tried to jot down the experiences, notions, crude napkin math and theoretical considerations made along the way. I’m by no means a math wiz nor an excel expert, and I’m quite sure there are both more experienced and more skilled PvP warriors around, but I figured writing this stuff into a post to serve as a pitch for discussion could still be worthwhile.
In that sense, this isn’t meant to be a holistic guide, but merely my own observations compiled into a platform for discussion. So, there’s sure to be stuff I’m wrong about, or that people disagree with, and the intent of this post is to open a discussion about those things and to validate various notions about warrior PvP.
PvP doesn’t allow for the same kind of precise theory crafting that PvE does. The environment is far more volatile and the encounter you’re in is never the same. As such, it’s extremely difficult to establish assumptions on which to base any kind accurate calculations. Therefore, a lot of the following is subjective and could ring more or less true depending on, for example, current arena team combination, just to name one thing.
As far as specs goes, I’m assuming one of the following options:
With the current spec options, you’re granted a good deal of flexibility, and the listed solutions merely serve as examples of specs that contain what’s *generally* considered must-have talents. In my experience, what serves me best depends on whether I’m playing in arenas or battlegrounds.
As an example, Glyph of Spell Reflection tends to be more worthwhile in arenas because you have a better idea about what opponents (and what abilities) will smack you in the face for the next couple of minutes. And the more controlled environment of an Arena normally lets you put the reduced cooldown to better use. Also, in arenas, a reflected spell has the potential to be much more of a game changer than it does in a battleground.
Disclaimer about the Fury spec
The listed Fury spec is also adjustable, but, in my opinion, the points in the Fury tree are harder to get around. As far as the points in the Arms tree goes, some prefer to pick up one or both points in Drums of War at the expense of extra damage from Deep Wounds; Glyph of Spell Reflection is also a viable option for Fury PvP. Some also prefer to pick up the Glyph of Long Charge to increase the chance of getting that out-of-combat jump on your opponent – and so on.
The Off Spec
In rounding off the viable spec options, I’d like to mention the possibility of spec’ing into Gag Order. At the moment, it’s not popular because it’ll require some trade-offs when it comes to utility points in the Arms tree. However, if you’re starting to get more than a little annoyed with that Frost Mage constantly running 6 yards in front of you, or that Fire Mage being able to cast Scorch while moving, Gag Order could be your new best friend. If you’d like to get better at shutting down healers or other casters, Gag Order can help you get there.
Possible specs including Gag Order could look like this:
With some basics outlined, considering the viability of Fury necessitates taking a gander at Arms as well and mapping out a general area by area comparison.
At first glance, Arms has superior survivability simply because of Battle Stance; 5% damage reduction across the board is no laughing matter in battlegrounds and arenas. However, Fury as a whole does go a long way – perhaps even all the way – to compensate for the extra damage you’ll take when in Berserker Stance.
At present, I’ll assume spec’ing into Titan’s Grip if you decide to go Fury. This, in part, is because of how Titan’s Grip work with Raging Blow. As such, you’ll be dual wielding which allows you to equip an extra item compared to Arms, namely a two-handed “off-hand” weapon. Let’s take a look at how that helps your survivability:
For the purpose of this comparison, I’ll base the following considerations on an item level 359 Off Hand weapon; e.g. Vicious Gladiator’s Bonegrinder. As far as survivability goes, this extra item offers:
The 512 Stamina will translate into 5120 health which’ll allow you to last longer in a fight and increase the output of your self-heal abilities (meaning, it’ll take more damage to get you down).
The 341 Strength will, come 4.2, translate into ~0,5% increased chance to parry attacks. This’ll increase your survivability against melee classes a bit as long as you’re able to keep your back away from them.
Since the 4.1 changes to the scaling of Resilience Rating, the extra 228 Resilience Rating will grant you in the vicinity of 2% damage reduction. This is a very crude number based on a Resilience Rating *around* 3200, but it’ll do for comparison purposes. (Gladiator level players will most likely be closer to 3800 – or higher – so this is just to make it more applicable to the average, but decently geared PvP player).
So, as far as passive survivability goes, the 5% extra damage reduction from Battle Stance should be compared to ~2% damage reduction from extra resilience, 5120 extra health and ~0,5% extra chance to parry. This comparison will, of course, favour Fury more and more as that off-hand weapon gets better.
To boot, Fury also offers an extra self-heal ability compared to Arms, namely Bloodthirst, which’ll pretty much allow you to get healed for 0,7% (glyphed) of your maximum health every time you hit something provided you use Bloodthirst whenever it’s off cooldown (which you should). Obvious exceptions of the “I’m being CC’d” persuasion apply, of course.
Additionally, Fury offers the talent Die by the Sword, which greatly increases your survivability against other melee classes as long as you can keep your back away from them.
As far as maximizing your damage goes, some very basic principles apply to both specs.
Get 5% hit.
Get 20 expertise.
After that, prioritize Strength and Crit.
Please note: the following are just very general principles, and are subject to change depending on your situation. (E.g. you need to reduce incoming healing on your target – the Mortal Strike effect becomes more of a priority. You’re setting up for a burst – potentially hold off Colossus Smash for a few seconds; stuff like that).
The Fury priorities are a bit more simple and a little less subject to change, but of course, these are also just meant as general principles.
Charge (merely because it’s only usable out-of-combat and because it’s basically free rage if you make it) > Intercept > Piercing Howl > Bloodthirst > Colossus Smash > Execute > Raging Blow > Slam > Heroic Strike.
Some might disagree with these priorities. For instance, there’s some debate about how highly you should prioritize Execute. As far as I can gather it’s a judgment call which – among other things – will depend on how much rage you have when your target drops below 20% health.
Comparison Overall DPS
Both specs offer decent DPS for PvP. In my opinion, it’s arbitrary to make statements about which spec offers the highest dps since it’s very difficult to establish a representative timeframe in which to measure it. So, it’s quite possible one spec can yield a higher dps in an 8 minute boss encounter, but that’s not too relevant going into an arena or battleground. As such, I’ll make some more general and less calculated observations.
Rend is a major part of the Arms dps and, as such, the DoT component tends to smooth out Arms’ damage output a little bit more than Fury damage, which, in turn, is primarily delivered through a series of large hits. I’m not saying Arms can’t be bursty; it certainly can (and I’ll get into that a bit later), but with Fury, your damage is a bit more difficult to anticipate for the player you’re trying to kill and the healer trying to prevent that from happening.
Among other things, this has to do with Raging Blow, but also the large amount of critical strikes Fury damage delivers (a thing that’s become quite important to PvP DPS with the re-work of Resilience).
A side from that, it has a little to do with Berserker Stance, which increases your damage by 5% across the board compared to Arms; some may argue that stable Arms abilities have been designed to make up for the stance difference, but as far as I can see, the stance difference does help give Fury damage a slight edge.
As such – and this is my own humble opinion – Fury damage has the potential to cause a bit more consistent stress to opponents than Arms DPS does.
Arms Burst Potential
Arms offer great burst potential, but it can be a tad difficult to control. First of all, the burst potential of Arms depends on Sudden Death procs; more importantly, it relies on lining up consecutive Overpower hits by using Overpower with four seconds left on your Taste For Blood proc. This is done at the risk of missing out on dodge proc’ed Overpower hits, though. Also, Overpower will be nerfed a little bit with 4.2.
As with both specs, offensive cooldowns is an instrumental part of the burst potential. For Arms, it’ll be nerfed a tad with 4.2 since Deadly Calm and Recklessness can no longer be used together.
Bladestorm can also be considered an offensive cooldown, but it’s fickle. While using it, you don’t have any control over your character except to decide in which direction to move. In that way, it can be rather easy for your opponent to avoid Bladestorm damage by simply getting out of the way using Blink-, Sprint or Leap-like abilities. Aside from that, it’s quite easy to counter Bladestorm through disarming.
Also, six seconds without interrupts from your hand could mean that window where the opponent healer gets off that large heal.
To that end, I see more and more players simply using Bladestorm as an extra ability to get out of Snare and Root effects and writing “/cancelaura Bladestorm” into the most vital ability macros - Pummel; for example. Rest assured, though. If you have an opponent trapped in a corner with their cooldowns spent, Bladestorm can be deadly, but it does require timing.
To some extent, Retaliation suffers the same predicaments in that whatever melee class you’re fighting can simply stop hitting you when you activate Retaliation. This, of course, can help you get back on your feet health wise, but it can also render Retaliation worthless. If they don’t, Retaliation can obviously increase your damage output quite significantly.
All in all, if you manage to line up your offensive cooldowns properly, Arms offers great burst potential.
Fury Burst Potential
Fury, to some extent, suffers the same RNG problems as Arms does in so far as Bloodsurge/Sudden Death procs go. However, burst potential is where Fury, in my opinion, really comes into play as a PvP spec.
This has a lot to do with the 4.0.1 change to Resilience which makes critical strikes a far more deciding factor in how bursty your damage output is. And with Fury, you deliver far more critical strikes than with Arms. Not least down to Rampage granting you 7% extra chance to get a critical strike. Additionally, Fury gives you 3% extra hit chance through Precision, which’ll allow you get far more Critical Strike Rating out of your gear by way of re-forging.
All this, of course, doesn’t account for talents and glyphs that improve specific abilities, like Taste for Blood.
As an extra point, the way Titan’s Grip and Raging Blow works together contribute greatly to the burst potential of Fury. And a Raging Blow critical strike can pretty much take away one third of even a well geared opponent’s health.
Last but not least, Fury holds the option of combining Recklessness with Death Wish. With your already considerable critical strike chance as Fury, activating both Recklessness and Death Wish make your damage output very difficult to survive.
This, like all other offensive cooldowns, suffer the risk of being countered by crowd control or your opponent in some other way anticipating and reacting to your increased damage output – Shiv-like abilities, to name one thing. That’s always the risk with such effects.
However, as with Arms, if you manage to line up your cooldowns and procs properly, react to and counter crowd control, a Fury Warrior, in my opinion, has one of the greatest burst potentials in PvP.
This is where many people think Arms pulls ahead of Fury, and I agree. Between Improved Hamstring, Throwdown and a more readily accessible Thunder Clap, Arms offers some crowd control abilities Fury lacks to a large extent. And the only thing Fury has to offer that Arms doesn’t is the glyphed Intercept stun.
Also, Throwdown and Improved Hamstring can help make your bursts more effective since your target has a harder time getting away from or crowd controlling you.
Mobility and avoiding crowd control
Arms has a 30 yard (glyphed) Charge on a 12/13 second cooldown. Additionally, it has Heroic Leap on a one minute cooldown.
Fury has a 25/(glyphed)30 yard Charge (out-of-combat), a 25 yard Intercept on a 20 second cooldown and Heroic Leap on a 40 second cooldown.
Additionally, with Fury, you can dish out back-to-back Intercepts through Heroic Fury.
All things tolled, I guess Fury comes out a tad ahead in terms of mobility. Over a longer period of time, you can use Charge more often as Arms than you can use Intercept as Fury. However, in a PvP environment, I suppose it’s more so a matter of whether or not those abilities are available when you need them. And, with the Heroic Fury Talent, you have the potential to open with Charge followed by a double Intercept (activated through Heroic Fury which rid you of Root-like effects) mixed with a Heroic Leap. Any kiting class is going to have a tough time getting away from that.
As far as avoiding crowd control goes, with Arms you’ve got:
Bladestorm to rid you of Root and Snare effects every 1 min. 30 sec./ (glyphed) 1 min. 15 sec. (But it’ll cost you a DPS cooldown to use it for getting out of crowd control).
Berserker Rage to rid you of Fear effects every 30 seconds.
Heroic Leap to get you out of area based Snare effects every minute.
With Fury, you’ve got:
Heroic Fury (which also resets your Intercept cooldown) to rid you of Root effects every 30 seconds.
Berserker Rage to rid you of Fear every 24 seconds.
Heroic Leap to get you out of area based Snare effects every 40 seconds.
I suppose Fury has a slight advantage is this department compared to Arms, but it isn’t much. This has to do with the reduced cooldown on Heroic Leap that can take you out of Frost Trap, Desecration and similar area based snares, which, to some extent, makes up for not having a snare breaking ability like Bladestorm. This also has to do with Piercing Howl being so widely applicable that you should be able to keep targets in range and thus negating snare effects on you. When you, on top of that, can break Root-like effects every 30 seconds and get out of Fear effects every 24 seconds, Fury does come out ahead, in my opinion.
In many ways, Arms game play is more complicated than Fury game play. With Arms, you have to keep up Rend, you have manage Hamstring properly in order to contribute with crowd control to your target, you have to make sure the target’s affected by your Mortal Strike debuff and you have to monitor your Taste for Blood proc timers closely if you want to fulfill your burst potential.
Aside from that, you of course have to prioritize your abilities correctly and use your defensive and offensive cooldowns at the right time.
The latter part obviously goes for Fury as well, but it’s arguably simpler when all you have to maintain aside from that is Piercing Howl. An example is how the Furious Attacks talent let you maintain a Mortal Strike-like debuff without having to really pay attention to it. You do have to monitor you Enrage effects to put Raging Blow to proper use, but that’s become a good deal easier after the UI changes Cataclysm brought to the game. In that way, you potentially have better awareness to use the less common, more situational abilities like Pummel, Shattering Throw, Spell Reflection, Intervene etc.
I guess it’s both a blessing and a curse. Arms is arguably more complicated, but some will merely state it’s because that spec has more to offer. And high end PvP’ers usually thrive with a complicated game play that requires their attention in lots of different areas. For us mere mortals, however, it might be possible to get more out of your warrior – and put those less comfortable, situational abilities to better use – if you have less stuff to pay attention to.
This is one of the areas where Fury falls a tad behind. With Arms, you have Anger Management as well as Blood Frenzy, not to mention Blitz and Deadly Calm, all of which should help provide ample rage generation.
With Fury, you’ll hit your target more frequently than with Arms and, as such, generate more rage from auto-attacks. Add to that the Booming Voice talent which allows you to generate more rage through Battle Shout.
That being said, though, you risk seeing yourself rage starved on occasion with Fury. Not least because you lack rage generation from Intercept. For my own part, it hasn’t been to the extent where it’s had a drastic effect on my game play, but rather a nuisance you have to counter as best you can. And come 4.2, where Retaliation, Shield Wall and Recklessness no longer has stance requirements, I think the Rage issues of Fury will be decreased.
The initial question was whether or not Fury is a viable PvP spec. To answer that, I’ve done an area by area comparison of Arms vs. Fury.
As far as survivability goes, I believe that Fury actually has an ever so slight edge compared to Arms in spite of Battle Stance providing 5% more damage reduction than Berserker Stance. Die by the Sword, the extra health, Resilience, self-healing and – of much less importance – the extra Parry chance of Fury, goes all the way and a little extra to make up for the difference between Battle Stance and Berserker Stance.
As far as damage goes, I believe the specs are reasonably on par with each other, but with Fury pulling ahead in terms of burst potential.
Regarding mobility and avoiding crowd control, I also reckon Fury has a slight advantage compared to Arms. This isn’t by much, though, and ultimately it’s down to your Heroic Leap/Heroic Fury/Bladestorm usage.
Additionally, Fury holds an advantage in terms of being a bit simpler to play, leaving you more time to put situational abilities to proper use.
Arms, however, has some clear-cut advantages in terms of crowd control and more reliable rage generation.
My guess is Arms will still be preferred over Fury, especially by high-end players for arenas and rated battlegrounds, since it has more utility and crowd control to offer. All things considered, though, I think it’s reasonable to conclude that Fury is very viable as a PvP spec and that it does hold certain advantages over Arms. And more so than anything, its viability has to do with whatever situation you’re in (arena combination, team in rated battleground etc.).
To that end, however you choose your spec, it should be based on what fits your mood, play style and/or team members best.
Last edited by Onodrim : 03/23/12 at 4:26 AM.
They've done studies, you know. 60% of the time it works, every time.