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WoWJan 30, 2016 4:00 pm CT

The Warrior’s Charge: Arms Warriors in Legion

Arms Warriors are finally playable on the Legion alpha. I know! I was wondering if this day would ever come. I’ve since managed to do some leveling through Val’Sharrah and Highmountain and did a couple of dungeons on the spec, and so I can report my initial findings to you.

Arms feels a lot better than it did in Warlords. To a great degree this is very heavily dependent on talent choice. Certain talents definitely ‘fill a hole’ in the rotation, and I’d almost consider them essential choices. Strom’kar the Warbreaker is one of the best quest experiences I’ve had in Legion, and I’ve liked almost all of the Artifacts to date. One of the weird holes in World of Warcraft is that we know almost nothing about humanity and human history, and it’s very cool to see the Warrior class bring both the lore and a really fun, unique weapon.

There’s a lot to cover, so we’ll get started.


So Many Choices

Arms, of the three Warrior specs, feels the most like talent choice is actually made by your preferences and not necessarily what’s top DPS. Of course with the ease of talent choices you could well switch on a per-fight basis. If you know a fight’s going to have a ton of adds, you might go with Shockwave for the stun, or Sweeping Strikes to hit more targets with your Mortal Strike/Execute. Similarly, you might pick Bladestorm or Fervor of Battle for AoE depending on if you liked having one big button to hit or using an add phase to generate rage for you. Or there’s Rend for single target if you like that style of play.

I found myself going with the following build, both for survival and because it had enough old favorites that I felt nostalgic about it. Overpower hits very hard, especially when Colossus Smash is up, so I basically find myself in a CS over Mortal Strike over Overpower over Slam priority system, which works fine for me — I almost always have a button to hit, rage is spiky but not horribly so, most trash mobs/quest mobs get mowed down very quickly. I’m still on the fence about Mortal Combo vs. Heroic Strike. The global cooldown on Mortal Combo means you still end up waiting for your next MS, while the new Heroic Strike for Arms is designed to buff MS damage and is off the global cooldown — meaning you can stack it three times quickly if you have the rage. If you don’t have either Overpower or Rend, I could see a HS/MS style working nicely, using Slam purely to refresh your Colossus Smash.

Overall the long cooldown on CS makes Slam a priority, simply because you want to hit that Colossus Smash again. Going with Titanic Might instead would definitely reduce the urgency of using Slam, but then you wouldn’t have Heroic Strike. It’s an interesting design. There could be some improvement — frankly Overpower is too good, and too useful, to be a talent and neither Avatar nor Dauntless can measure up in my opinion — but overall I’ve enjoyed Arms quite a bit. Aesthetically there’s less design flash here than in Fury, but the new sounds for Colossus Smash and Overpower are nice, Arms gets a spiffy new Whirlwind animation as well, and I love how Mortal Strike looks like you’re trying to crush someone. So good, positive marks there.


Dungeons as Arms

Well, one thing is clear — even with the Artifact weapon giving you self healing from your Mortal Strike damage, even when taking Impending Victory so Slam has a 40% chance to heal you, Arms lags behind Fury in terms of pure survival. I ran Neltharion’s Lair, and while I felt like my damage was solid and my rotation wasn’t at all boring, I still found staying alive a lot harder. I had to get out of combat sometimes to get Second Wind to heal me up. (I haven’t tested Die by the Sword yet.) Defensive Stance is back as a kind of mini cooldown that you can toggle on and off at will. It gives you 25% less damage taken, but also gives you 25% less damage output. Don’t forget you have this when you’re taking a ton of damage, and don’t forget to turn it off when you’re done dying.

Once I got into the swing of things it wasn’t too bad. Arms has a lot of versatility with its flexible talent choices — you can spec for AoE, single target, or even choose both by picking specific talents at specific levels. Do you really need Shockwave, Bladestorm and Rampage? Probably not. I took Shockwave and Bladestorm because I like stunning mobs in place before Bladestorming them. The Artifact also has an AoE ability called Corrupted Rage that applies the Colossus Smash debuff to everything it hits, which means that Bladestorm or Ravager are excellent choices to use after it.

Without meters, I can’t be sure, but it certainly felt like I was doing good damage and things were dying quickly enough. And the combat style felt frenetic — I didn’t spend much if any time twiddling my thumbs or waiting for rage to build. I’d still like it to be a touch smoother, but overall it wasn’t bad at all.


Strom’kar the Warbreaker

Okay, let me just say up front, Strom’kar is an awesome looking weapon with good lore and a surprisingly fun talent tree. In some ways, these Artifact weapons are just a way to have level 100 to 110 talents that work a lot like vanilla WoW talents did. I’m okay with this. I don’t think the Artifact talents should be as active or engaging as our actual talents are, and I love stuff like Touch of Zakajz, which makes Mortal Strike a self-heal. The Artifacts don’t really grant all that many new abilities (there are a few, like Corrupted Blood of Zakajz and Void Cleave) as much as they buff abilities you already have.

The quest to get Strom’kar was pretty awesome, too. So far I’ve liked all three of the Warrior Artifacts, but Strom’kar ties into the lore of the ancient Human kingdom of Arathor, the secret underneath Tirisfal Glades, King Thoradin, Tyr the Titanic Watcher and his relationship to the Watcher who chooses you as Skylord — it’s all really cool. I know some of us would have liked an axe (a lot of you brought up Broxigar’s axe, the one Cenarius made for him, and I get why you wanted that one) but frankly I think a sword was the right choice for Arms.

Fury? Fury I might have gone with a couple of axes, really.

Okay, that’s my first impressions after two days with the spec. Expect more in-depth to come after I get close to the current max level on the Alpha. So far, a cautious B for Arms. It’s not perfect, but I’m enjoying it.

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