The Warrior’s Charge: The anomalies of Fury leveling from 1 to 20
I considered writing a guide to DPSing at level 100, but right now, it breaks down like this:
- Go fury.
- Get as much crit as you can.
- Mastery after crit.
- SMF until around ilevel 650, TG as soon as you get better weapons.
That’s basically it. There’s not much in the way of rotation to master — do you want to be able to hit Bloodthirst over and over again or would you rather proc Execute randomly, or maybe you’d rather Wild Strike was cheaper? There are talents to fit those playstyles, so choose the one you like the best. There’s not a lot to say — as much as I hated Heroic Strike spam (and wow, I did) at least the synergy between it and Colossus Smash back in the Mists days meant you were doing something. Taking both CS and HS from Fury and not replacing them with anything was a mistake in terms of the spec having much in the way of interesting gameplay. Sure, it’s a demon on cleave/AoE fights and it does good single target damage — there’s not much to complain about. I much prefer boring but functional to interesting but broken, but in an ideal world we’d have interesting and functional, and I’m not sure that’s where we are at all.
So instead of writing that column (although I’m still mulling it over) I’m writing this column, which is all about how weird it can feel to level a Warrior now, with certain abilities just not there.
I picked up a warrior I had at level 10, deliberately kitted her out in heirlooms and burned her through to 20 in Elwynn and then Westfall. I immediately noticed one big improvement in Fury leveling: you can go SMF or TG immediately. This is a vast improvement because it lets you pick the playstyle you enjoy and roll with it right out of the gate. It’s also nice to switch from Heroic Strike to Bloodthirst as soon as you hit 10, even if it does take a little getting used to — your first nine levels you basically have no rage generation ability at all save Charge. You charge, autoattack and wait for enough rage to HS. Charge is on a long enough cooldown that you won’t get to use it more than once every two to three pulls, and you have no ranged pull until level 22 (when you get Heroic Throw) unless you count Taunt at level 12, which automatically switches you into Defensive Stance.
It’s very awkward.
The reason I kitted the character out in heirlooms is because, without them, leveling is very uneven right now. I’ve recently leveled a warrior to 22 without them, so I feel safe saying this — you hit like a limp dishrag without heirlooms. With them, you can wade into packs of same-level mobs and destroy everything in your path, but without them you have to desperately hope for a crit to pop you into an Enrage. It doesn’t help that you don’t get a rage spender until level 18 or so, when you get Wild Strike. Once you get Wild Strike, you won’t get to use it very much, but at least it’s something.
Essentially the issue is this, and while it’s not unique to warriors (much less Fury spec warriors), it gets very noticeable playing as fury: level 10 brings an entirely different playstyle that does not really mesh with the levels you are playing at. Low level Fury is Fury without the things that make it feel furious — no Raging Blow till 30, no Whirlwind, no Wild Strike, just Bloodthirst and wait for Execute to light up.
This is of course an artifact of the Mists of Pandaria system, which we still basically have, just stripped down. It certainly isn’t broken — even on an heirloomless playthrough, you can level just fine as a Fury Warrior. You may need to stop and eat occasionally, depending on how lucky you get on Victory Rush (to a degree I almost encourage any leveling warriors to pull at least three mobs so you’ll be sure to get two VR’s off and basically heal to full each time). Plus, and this is kind of the weird part of leveling Fury, but VR hits very hard at these levels — a lot harder than Bloodthirst and almost as hard as Execute. You may end up killing mobs by hitting VR and then Execute and then VR and Execute until the last mob finally dies at you feet.
The downside of Warrior leveling as opposed to, say, Monk (I’ve played a Monk for the leveling stream, so they’re on my mind) is there’s no movement speed boost aside from Charge, and that you’ll pretty much use to open combat — I spent a lot of time running between 10 and 20, and man, it got old fast. I wish I’d gotten that chauffeured mount. It’s a minor quibble considering you get Charge, but you absolutely will have to pick one of the two talents that let you charge more often — as soon as you hit 15 it’s either Double Time or Juggernaut; there’s no way around it.
If you can’t go heirlooms for your baby Fury (perhaps this is your first character, or you don’t have any plate heirlooms) I recommend TG over SMF if that’s in any way feasible, especially once you start getting weapons with stats. The two 2h weapons will have a better chance to have more stats on them, and leveling, that’s very important. Plus it looks badass. If your best weapons are one-handers, though, use them. Don’t use inferior weapons just because they’re two-handers, and don’t mix and match one and two handed weapons, just pick one and go with it.
Ultimately Fury works fine as a low level spec, but it feels sparse on the ground, an artifact of the new system and the fact that there’s a long legacy of hold over. Not having moves like Raging Blow or Whirlwind means you definitely feel lacking, but it works.
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