In the old days of Azeroth, dungeons were a big deal. Littered with numerous packs of enemy NPCs and the occasional big bad, entering them was a giant risk. Death, repair bills, high tension, arguments, and flame wars were just some of the results of our forays into these bastions of doom.
Our ventures into Outland were no different. There, the flavor of the day was crowd control, and lots of it. Without a mage or hunter in most groups, many early heroics were daunting, if not outright impossible. The sheer amount of incoming damage, coupled with large numbers of enemies with ranged or magic attacks made for a high-risk situation.
Believe it or not, it was fun.
The Game Changed
Wrath changed all that. The developers felt (and rightly so, I should add) that all players should have access to content, that creating all of these dungeons and raids and fantastic fights that only a small percentage of the player base might ever see was a silly idea. In an effort to correct this, they made things a little easier to make it more accessible. Unfortunately, â€śa little easierâ€ť in this case meant â€śtoo easy,â€ť and groups and guilds were steamrolling through heroics at an alarming rate, and entering the fabled Naxxramas within weeks of Wrathâ€™s release, picking up full sets of tier gear and other toys that made those heroics even easier. Trash fights became AOE-fests, and the only time anyone ever fell to their opponents would be if the tank wasnâ€™t buff enough, or the healer wasnâ€™t up to snuff. Damage meters were king, and Aâ€™dal help you if you were below the tank (blasphemy!) or just too low according to someone elseâ€™s standards. Arms fell off greatly in value and output, overshadowed by other plate DPS classes.
The World Shattered
Today, the Cataclysm has reached Azeroth, and the dungeon models are returning to the old ways. Gone are the days of the early AOE-fests of Wrath, and returned to us once again are pulls where careful crowd control, steady pacing, and communication are the flavors of the day. Mages, Warlocks, Hunters, Paladins and Druids are more valuable than ever for DPS slots for the crowd control potential that they bring to the table. But where does that leave Warriors? The tank slot?
Hardly. Those of you who know me best know that I will never pick up a shield unless the situation warrants that I have no other option. (That said, yes, I have had to tank in an emergency several times already this expansion. Itâ€™s not as bad as it sounds, but Iâ€™m still a mite squishy.) However, Arms is not without its abilities to help keep damage to a minimum.
The Warrior’s Arsenal
Need to interrupt a spell? In close range, Pummel is your friend.
A talented ability that I think no Arms Warrior should ever be without, Throwdown is exactly what it sounds like â€“ knock your opponent on their ass, and theyâ€™re stunned for X seconds while they recover. Iâ€™ve used this particular ability to great effect when shadow priests use mind control in instances â€“ once it breaks, the target typically rushes straight for the priest to deliver a major beatdown. Throwdown keeps it in place long enough for a tank to generate some threat.
I pair these two because they make an excellent combo. Enemy casting a spell while Pummel/Throwdown is on cooldown? Need more rage in the middle of an intense fight? Use Heroic Leap to hurl yourself away from the group, mouse-turn in mid-air, and use Charge to rush right back in. Leaping away from the group does sound counter-intuitive, after all, the ability itself DOES do damage. However, two things make it more valuable as a defensive tool in PVE, in my opinion. The first is that itâ€™s rage-free, so youâ€™re not spending vital damage-dealing resources on something thatâ€™s arguably trivial. The second is that Heroic Leap no longer has its stun/interrupt component. On the one hand, it sucks that Heroic Leap has lost some of its oomph, but honestly, Arms (and Fury) needed an escape ability that didnâ€™t require a stance switch anyway.
Though it doesnâ€™t reduce healing as much as it used to, Mortal Strike is the defining ability for Arms. The real benefit is no longer the healing debuff, but when talented appropriately, the additional damage granted to Mortal Strike, Overpower, Slam, and Execute makes this ability a gold mine for damage output.
So What? What Does Arms Need to Do?
Get used to playing defensively. Get used to switching targets on the fly, or using focus macros. Communicate with your team, especially if youâ€™re in a PUG for those heroics. Perfect your priority until your fingers bleed, then keep working at it. Arms Warriors are in a very good place right now; better than we ever have been.
Make an impact. Arms is â€śin.â€ť