A Fury Home Companion or Fury Warrior's Primer to a DPS, PVE Raiding setup
Late WoLK Edition
Last updated June 26, 2010 @ 8:23:03PM
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Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know.
Recently, I’ve had more questions than usual (and from varied sources) about warrior DPS. So, I thought I’d post a very quick primer.
The following is a brief discussion on the key concepts of a Fury, PVE, raiding Warrior. The topics presented here are as profound as those you’ll find from the top theory crafting groups, such as Elitist Jerks and Tankspot guides. Yet, my goal is more simply to help make you generally aware of these concepts. From there, I’ll typically point you another source that’ll take you as deep as you dare want to go with them and towards Min / Max’ing your warrior.
First a disclaimer - I’m certainly not the end-all be-all of warriors, as there are many out there that are considerably better than me. Yet, I've been doing this a while and I do know a thing or two about the class and this spec in particular. I'm happy to pass on what I think I've learned. So anyway... with that admisiion behind us, let’s get started.
Arms or Fury?
This is naturally the first question most raid eager DPS warriors will ask. The answer, at least for the remiander of WOTLK, is a solid "choose fury."
Why? I’ll let the other sources explain it in more detail, but it's fair to say that, more so than any other class/spec combo in the game, a fury warrior's DPS scales dramatically with top end gear and raid buffs. ...and that's exactly what we have access to while currently in the midst of TOC and ICC raiding.
Can you end-level raid as Arms and is Arms useful in a raid setting? Certainly so, but it simply is not the top performing warrior DPS spec. at the moment. Should you still want to give it a try however, here is a link that’ll cover what you need to know.
Spec. = 18/53/0 Titan’s Grip Build:
Yup. It’s mostly cookie cutter, but that’s because it’s what delivers the highest sustained PVE raid damage. By far, most of the talent choices in the 18/53/0 setup are designed to support and enhance Titan's Grip damage (the 51 point, fury talent that allows a warrior to wield (2) two-handed weapons). Be that as it may, there are actually a few points, early within the fury tree, that can be considered optional.
In fact, I run two fury specs. to take advantage of how you can combine those optional talents along with glyphs to optimize for either single or multi-target DPS. Generally, these optional point choices should be based on gear and raid composition and as such, can get complicated in a hurry. Here, however, is a decent, well rounded spec. that is primarily single target focused, but with 2 points in Improved Cleave for “ok” AOE damage.
Details on the optional points can be found in the links at the end of this post.
In almost every case take these two Major Glyphs as they reinforce your core DPS talents:
1. Glyph of Heroic Strike
2. Glyph of Whirlwind
As for the third glyph, the options are Glyph of Cleaving, Glyph of Execute and Glyph of Rending. These should be chosen to match the focus of your spec. – cleaving for multi-target and execute for single. The last one, rending, is really only for those very advanced fury warriors that want to “Rend Dance.” If you don’t know what that means, then you’re probably not ready for it anyway. Again, however, information on this can be found within the links at the end.
For the spec. included above, I’d choose the Glyph of Cleaving.
For minor glyphs, a few good standards are the Glyph of Battle, Glyph of Bloodrage and the Glyph of Enduring Victory Though, other combinations are acceptable as well. Bloodrage is probably the most useful. Though as minor glyphs, none of these will have a giant impact on your DPS.
Gear and Stats:
As mentioned above, gear is very important to a fury warrior’s damage …and at the top of the gear list are your weapons. As almost every drop of a warrior’s DPS is base in physical damage, flatly speaking, no other single item gains will grow your DPS faster than acquiring two, amazing, 2-handed death dealers. Due to a warrior's rage being partly generated from your hard-hitting white/auto-attacks (the rest is generated from incoming damage), slow + heavy damage weapons are usually the best choice here. Furthermore, because you should work to quickly become soft Hit capped, placing your hardest hitting weapon in your main hand will ensure that you never miss with your best weapon.
Yet, all things in their proper order, right? I just spoke of being soft Hit capped. Before you start shopping for just any ol’ big 2-handed destroyer, you’ll need to know how it plays into your other stats.. Moreover, you'll be weighing every piece of new gear in a similar, ongoing effort to balance out and reach a number of key stat caps.
Like all classes a fury warrior needs to achieve its own specific set of stat caps in order for their damage dealing abilities to function optimally. While two of these stats caps, the Soft Hit and Expertise caps are mandatory for even early raiding, two more, Armor Penetration and Critical Strike, are caps that you'll spend a much longer period of time working towards. Here is the order of stat cap importance:
(soft) Hit > Expertise > Armor Penetration > Critical Strike
Hit Cap (soft) = 164 – 264 : depends on if you have 0-3 points in the Precision talent
Expertise Cap = 26/26 dual wield : not counting racial benefits. Exp past 26 is useless
Armor Penetration = 1400 : This is the hard cap. I’ll explain the soft cap below.
Critical Strike Cap = Varies : This is depends on your hit and expertise and is more in depth than I’m going to cover.
Being (soft) Hit capped means that you’ll not miss with your main hand and all of your yellow/ special attacks (though you can still be blocked or parried). Attacking from behind the target (please tell me you’re doing this already) pushes being blocked off of the table. …and then lastly, becoming Expertise capped will eliminate parries. Don't worry about reaching the Hard Hit cap, its high enough that you'll forsake other, more important stats trying to obtain it.
Next up, Armor Penetration Capping will reduce a LVL 83 Elite boss’s armor by 100%, which translates to more damage per every attack that you make. While Critical Strike capping is more mercurial… Its ½ goal and ½ limitation. In fact, it’s advanced enough that I’ll leave up to you to decide to do your own further research on it. Just be aware, that it is possible to accidently overshoot the Crit cap at high gear levels.
Stat Caps should not be confused with the order of Stat Importance. That is to say, that sometimes certain stats are more important to focus on, before worrying about reaching another stat's cap. Expanding our list to show this more robust order of stat + stat cap importance appears as follows:
Early Raider (GS 5700 and below – roughly):
Hit Soft Cap > Expertise Cap > 33% Crit > Soft ArP*Cap when close > Strength > ArP* when not near soft Cap > Crit above 33% > Hit above Soft Cap > Haste
Advanced Raider (GS above 5700 – roughly):
Hit Soft Cap > Expertise Cap > 33% Crit > Hard Cap ArP* > Crit Cap when close > Strength > Crit when further from Cap > Hit above Soft Cap > Haste
(Assume that for the above examples, Strength equals roughly 2.4 Attack Power, if you have the Improved Berseker Stance talent – Which you should.)
Confusing enough? Generally the early stats are easy to understand and track. Yet, due to the fluctuating importance of ArP and Crit, the advanced raider really should consider using a spread sheet such as Landsoul’s or Rawr that handle the complex equations accompanying ArP and the Crit Cap.
Of course, you should never single out a few stats at the exclusion of all others. Wow won’t really let you do this anyway. So it’s not too concerning. Other tips include, take plate armor when you can (re: the Armored to the Teeth talent), but don’t overlook certain leather or mail pieces with stellar stats… and of course, get the best two-handed weapons that you can find – or did I mention that already. :)
Lastly, tier set bonuses: Both T-9 and T-10 have very powerful 2 and 4-piece set bonuses. Aim to get the lowest tier's, 4-set bonus as fast as possible. However, be careful when upgrading to the next tier. Often it is a DPS decrease to not maintain a double set of bonuses. This can mean that it’s not worth replacing some lower gear until you have 2 – 4 pieces of the next tier. It’s very common to see 2-piece T-9 mixed with 2-piece T-10 until a player can make the full switch to 4-piece T-10 all at once. Certianly, it’s possible to have a gear load out that is more powerful yet ignores some or all set bonuses. However, this is very tricky math and should really be checked with a spread sheet program like Landsoul’s or Rawr.
Honestly, the best results will always come if you configure ALL of your gearing with a spreadsheet program. My personal preference is Landsoul’s, but I do use Rawr to back check it.
This is one weird stat indeed. Basically the more you have, the better it is. This trend continues to ramp up to the point that (excepting the Hit + Exp Caps and a basic 33% Crit), it becomes the single most important stat you can get until you reach the cap, at which point any additional ArP is wasted.
Hard and soft ArP caps are mentioned above. So here, finally, is the quick and dirty explanation of them and how you should set your focus.
- ArP Hard Cap = 1400 or 100% passive ArP
- ArP Soft Cap = 700+/_ based on having an ArP proc trinket like Grim Toll or The Needle Encrusted Scorpion.
- Without and ArP proc trinket, the focus should be more on Strength and Some Crit. Let any ArP you get simply come from your gear.
- If you can acquire an Arp proc trinket, the trinket itself should provide roughly 700 +/-ArP every time it fires off. In conjunction, look to select gear and gems that’ll get you to the remaining 700+/- points as passive ArP. Once past 100% (during the trinket proc) focus on Strength and/or Strength plus Crit items. Since trinket procs often have less than 35% uptime, Soft-capping is naturally not as powerful as Hard-capping.
- Finally, once your passive ArP, from gear alone (not a proc trinket), approaches 85%+/-, then seek to discard your proc trinket and select gear + gems that’ll get you to 100% as fast as possible. This can include filling almost every socket with +ArP gems and otherwise ignoring their socket bonus stats. Once past 100%, go back to looking for Strength and Crit. Hard-capping in plate gear is not really possible until you’ve acquired a full Ice Crown Gear set.
As with gearing, the best results will always come if you configure your gearing with a spreadsheet program. My personal preference is Landsoul’s, but I do use Rawr to back check it. There are however, some rules of thumb you can follow.
1. Try not to gem for Hit or Exp, unless you really need to reach the caps. and can't get there from raw gear alone.
2. Grab either the +21 AGI & +3% Crit Damage or the +21 Crit & +3% Crit Damage meta-gem, depending on your gearing. If you can’t tell which is better, then Landsoul’s…
3. Blue Sockets are annoying! Still, you need to activate either one or two of them to switch on your Meta-gem. One of these blue socket gems should be a Nightmare’s Tear.
4. Refer to the ArP section above, for when you should roughly shift away from Strength and Crit gems. Although, for a more precise answer on this, Landsoul’s…
5. Socket bonuses: Re the ArP stuff first (as it should take priority). Beyond that, the rule of thumb is that, “if it’s a +6 Strength or +8 Crit or better thank these, it could be worth the bonus… Less than that… It’s often better to ignore them… Best to confirm with... you guessed it… Landsoul’s (or Rawr, of course).
It’s a common mistake to “cheap out” either, leaving gem sockets empty and/or filling up slots with lower quality gems. Please recall that fury DPS scales dramatically… “Cheaping” out could translate to DPS losses of several hundred, in a raid setting.
This topic is an easy one. More rules of thumb:
1. Weapons always get Berserking – both of them. It’s cheap now – just do it.
2. If you need Hit or Expertise you can look into those. Just be sure that it’s not one rare cases that a gem is the better solution.
3. Most everything else after that should be Attack Power and Crit.
4. AGI is good on the cloak.
5. Powerful Stats (+10) is best for your chest.
6. Look to get Ice Walker for your boots. Although, a speed enchant is acceptable too.
7. Don’t overlook enchants for your head, shoulders and legs.
Similar to gems, enchants should be treated seriously. Together Gems and enchants can equal a full piece or two of gear. No one in their right mind would raid without their chest plate and gloves. So, with similar results, neither should you skip out on your gems and enchants.
Ideally to Min / Max this area, you would choose Blacksmithing and gem cutting. This will give you both extra sockets and +34 stat. gems with which to fill some of them.
Other, lesser professions are ok also, such as Skinning (for a Crit bonus) and Enchanting (for ring enchants)
In truth, this is one area where I’ve had trouble staying true to what’s optimal. Tyr runs mining and skinning currently.
Rotation = Rage Management Priority System:
Your Rotation is the 800lb gorilla in the room of DPS. However, as hinted at above, instead of calling it a rotation, I prefer to think of it as priority system that uses rage efficiency as it currency. While there is definitely a pattern to it (hence it being called a rotation, in the first place), the basic idea is that you always want to hit with your hardest / most rage efficient skills as quickly as they become available. That said, your very first hit can be one of two abilities (Blood Thirst or Whrilwind). Then, once the attack is underway, ability cool downs and special ability procs help to ensure that, for the most part, you shouldn’t have more than but a couple choices to make during each split second. The basic-most pattern goes like this:
BT = Blood Thirst
WW = Whirlwind
HS = Heroic Strike
BS = Slam proc from Blood Surge
GCD = Global (1 second) Cooldown
This is only the beginning however. As cool downs and the GCD come into effect, you’ll have time to weave in Blood Surge Slams as well as, select other abilities. Here is a full pattern over 10 seconds.
0.0 - BT
1.5 - WW
3.0 - Free GCD (instant BS Slam if available)
4.5 - Wait 1 second
5.5 - BT
7.0 - Free GCD (instant BS Slam if available)
8.5 - BT (note that BT is pushed back 0.5)
10.0 - WW (note that WW is pushed back 0.5)
This functions as a good foundation, but it’s still a bit basic. Depending on your role, ability and gear, you could look to sprinkle in sunders (if there is no other source), rend dances (experts only) and/or added BS Slam procs (4-piece T-10). All of these should be considered only during the GCD.
Never use a “cast” Slam. Only use slam when it is a part of a BS instant proc, or it’ll result in a DPS loss. If you accidently begin a “cast” slam, I find that tapping the space bar to jump, quickly clears it.
Execute can be inserted once your target is below 20% health. Yet, it should only be considered when BT, WW and/or BS are not available as they are more damage to rage effecient. The Glyph of Execution will gain you a very, very small DPS increase on single target fights.
For a more in depth take on this priority system and the abilities that can woven into the rotation, please see the links at the end of this post.
HS is yet another talent that gets thrown into this mix. It’s unique, in that its not tied to the GCD and resides outside of your rotation. Because of this, it is an ability that is constantly spammed, so long as you have the proper rage income. HS is an “on-next-attack” ability, meaning that it adds + 495 damage on to your next auto-attack. In later raid scenarios, such as ICC, incoming rage can nearly be infinite. So, Hs can truly be spammed without limits. In other situations, however, HS should be selectively spammed when your rage is above 50%. Not paying attention to this could result in “Rage Starvation” and a big DPS loss. +495 damage may not seem like a lot, but it really adds up on a long fight. Also, The Glyph of Heoric Strike will return 10rage every time you score a crit while using HS.
Think of cleave as the multi-target version of Heroic strike. That is to say that in situations where there are 2 or more (best if its 3 or more) enemies, cleave will out perform heroic strike - while the opposite is true for single targets and HS. Cleave will hit even harder if your're spec'd and glyphed for it, but it'll always be a bit more of a rage drain than HS (assuming you're using the HS Glyph).
Cool down Alignment:
Although it’s somewhat true for all classes, with Warrior scaling in effect, the better you can line up your cool downs to run simultaneously, the bigger DPS gains you will see. Trinkets and a whole lot of Ice Crown gear come with special procs. Endeavor to use Recklessness and Death Wish in combination with as many of these as is possible. Given some practice you’ll notice that many of these share similar cool down timers and can be syncronized quite easily. As with all secondary abilities that are not a part of the prime rotation / priority system, its still best to weave these in during the GCD free periods, otherwise your DPS will not reach its potential while using these cool downs. One last point - setting these (Deat Wish + Recklessness) up on an beginning Intercept charge, ensures a huge initial, DPS burst/spike.
Finally there are a number of less common, but useful situational abilities, that’ll likely interrupt your rotation. These include Shattering Throw, Heroic Throw, Hamstring (most bosses are immune), demoralizing shout and intimidating shout (careful). Last but not least, in those odd situations where you cannot reach your target, you can use your ranged weapon. Though we are NOT hunters and this is not a very good source of damage. Ranged weapons are mostly stat placeholders for warriors.
All I can say here is that practice makes perfect. Park yourself in front of a training dummy and practice, practice, practice. I tend to use the 60 level training dummies, since they don’t artificially rage starve you like the raid boss dummy does… In fact, because of the level gap here, they tend to take damage similar to what you’d find when 25-man raid buffed (maybe a tad less). I will regularly run a series of 4-6 minute rotation tests on them. For any sort or realistic gauge on DPS, you will need to do many, many tests. There is too much RNG in the game to rely on too few data samples. Lastly, to be an effective DPS’er, you’ll need to have the rotation/priority system down cold – so much so, that you can react to all the other junk that a typical boss encounter throws at you and still cleanly handle your rotation/priority system.
Movement and Situational Awareness:
Learning your rotation thoroughly is great. Yet learning it while your eyes are glued to tiny little boxes at the cost of paying attention to your environment is bad. Most encounters have a “get out of the fire” mechanism that must be paid attention to. Dead warriors do no damage and worse, they might take others out with them, depending on the encounter.
Also,even with out any get out of the fire aspect to them, most fights are not totally stationary, unlike the more polite dummies we train upon. Either the boss is moving around, or there is an add you need to chase and/or the tanks might even be shuffling around enough that you constantly need to adjust your placement. etc. etc., Though it hurts our DPS to do so, warriors must be able to move and move fluidly. As such, it shouldn’t need to be said, but keyboard turning is bad. No seriously, it is. As you get deeper into raiding, being a key board turner can cause you serious issues as the fight mechanics get more difficult and the demand for reaction times to be faster gets steeper and steeper. While I understand that it can be a hard habit to break, your teammates will appreciate you for it, when you do.
Learning to keep your eyes on the action, while being able to quickly dart them back and forth to the other areas of incoming information is a prime skill to pick up. Add in the ability to stay mobile, plus keep a stable rotation and there’s a lot to keep track of. Fortunately there are other options, in the form of Mods, Macros and Key binds that can help.
Marcos, Key Binds, Mods, UI’s and Latency:
This series of subjects can get personal in a hurry; in that one person’s ideal set-up may be disastrous to another. So, while this is an important subject set to discuss, I’m going to speak in generalities even more than I have been.
Macros are commands that you can chain together to be grouped under one key or button, in order to speed up and shortcut the number of separate actions you need to keep track of. Charge, stance changing and rend dancing are all reasonable macros to consider. A great list of macros can be found within the links at the end.
Key Binds = use them. In conjunction with mouse turning, key binding is practically a requirement. Placement and what abilities you map, are really determined by what works best for you. However the basics you should consider mapping are BT, WW, HS and Slam.
Mod choice and UI setup are closely related activities. …and once again, these are very personal choices. Other than general utility mods (auctioneer, gatherer and etc.), DPS focused mods need only to do 2 things. 1. Provide situation critical information and 2. Increase your reaction speed. Here then, are a few tips and a list of Mods that are great for fury warriors.
1. I strongly suggest grabbing a bar mod, such as Dominos or Bartender, in order to more closely group your abilities and move them to an area on your screen where they are quite prominently visible.
2. Use a cool down counter such as Omni CC to precisely track the timing of your abilities.
3. If your cool down counter is enough, then great. Otherwise use a specialized slam notification mod, such as Slam Alert or Power Auras to help you make sure you never miss a BS Slam proc.
4. DPS and Threat Mods are essential for gauging your DPS performance and threat level. Skada is a fantastic, all-in-one mod that can switch between either. The key here however, is that while threat mods should be in a highly visible location, DPS mods should never be allowed to be a distracting focal point during a raid.
5. If your system can handle it, you can run a reasonable number of mods. Yet, I’d urge you to monitor it closely as ram usage and latency can creep up in a hurry. One way to counter this is look for light RAM weight, low latency alternatives for popular mods. Two decent examples of this are Skada rather than Recount and Gearscore light in place of full Gearscore (if you run it, that is).
6. Get a Boss Mod, such as Deadly Boss Mods. – I don’t need to explain this.
Great Fury Mods:
1. Deadly Boss Mods
2. Skada Threat and DPS and Damage
3. Dominos or Bartender
4. Slam Alert or Power Auras or Event Alert
5. Raid Frames like Grid, Pit Bull or both
6. A Target and Self Cast Bar mod. I use AzCast Bar, but there are others
7. An internal cool down tracker Like Sexy Cooldown Count is great for lining up Procs with Death Wish and Recklessness
8. A standard cooldown counter such as OmniCC that overlaps on to your action buttons.
9. Some warriors like Tell me When or Forte Exorcist - which can combine some of the above mods together.
FYI, here is a link to information about my personal UI and Mod Setup:
Latency and Framerate Performance:
Shaving off latency from your score can increase your DPS considerably. Think of latency as reverse ArP, in that the more you have, the worse it is for you. At huge latency numbers your framerate and reaction time can positively tank your DPS. Similarly bad framerates, independant of latency causes, are just as bad.
Some things to reduce these issues include, but are not limited to:
1. Running Wow as cleanly as possible. i.e. shut down as many background tasks as you can (but leave up your security protection).
2. Run Wow in fullscreen, not windowed mode.
3. There are some registry settings that can modified to increase your data flow. These can be very dangerous, however. Seek them out at your own risk.
4. Reduce your in game graphics and sound quality settings
5. Reduce the number of mods that you use which perform heavy communication actions (such as inspection requests). Gearscore is a big offender here.
6. Ruduce the number of mods that you use which heavily use up your Ram.
Putting it All Together:
Up until now, we’ve primarily discussed awareness + Game control, Specs, Gearing and the Rotation / Priority system. But, what does it all mean? How does it all work together? Well, think of a warrior’s damage and rage system as a perpetual motion engine. Warriors want to do damage. The more damage they deliver the more rage they generate. The more rage they generate the more damage they do… and so on. This is where the scaling that I’ve mentioned comes into play. Everything we do. From gearing up, to proper talent choice, to efficient damage dealing and rage management stokes the fire within this engine. The better you have mastered the above criteria the better scaling you will see and ultimately, the better damage you will do.
Hopefully this guide can get a few new fury warriors started with raiding, or even help out others that might already be raiding, but still have a couple of questions. Although this really is just a beginning... For the truly in depth coverage, check out the links in the next section.
Good luck and Have fun being a Blender Rogue in Plate!
The Deep Stuff Links:
Here is the Tank Spot’s guide to fury warriors:
It’s your next step up from this primer. It’s well rounded and a bit deeper, but still avoids showing you too much of the math behind the curtain.
Here’s a guide to using the oft mentioned Landsoul’s spreadsheet
Here’s the grand daddy of fury compendiums. It’s all in here… and I mean everything. This can be a bit daunting, but I can’t recommend it enough. If you truly want to understand fury warriors, the why’s and how’s of the way we’re currently put together, this is where you need to look.
Tyrias on the Armory: