Arms Warrior DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities (MoP 5.4)

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Arms Warrior Art Image
General Information

On this page, we list your Arms Warrior core abilities and how they should be used together (rotation) in World of Warcraft MoP 5.4. We also explain when to use your various cooldowns. Then, we go deeper and present all the subtleties that you will need to know if you want to excel at playing an Arms Warrior.

The other pages of our Arms Warrior guide can be accessed from the table of contents on the right.

About Our Reviewer

This guide has been reviewed and approved by Jalopy, one of the best Arms Warriors in the world, who raids in Duality. You can follow his stream on Twitch.

1. Single Target Rotation↑top

The Arms Warrior rotation is made up of multiple phases, mostly having to do with whether or not the debuff applied by your Colossus Smash Icon Colossus Smash is up on the target or not. Whenever your Colossus Smash debuff is not up, it is your top priority to apply it, as we will see below.

When the target is below 20% health, you have to employ a different Execute rotation, but we cover this in a subsequent section.

Note that it is important to understand several key concepts of the rotation in order to be able to execute it comfortably. We advise you to read our section on key concepts.

1.1. Outside Colossus Smash

When Colossus Smash Icon Colossus Smash is not active on the target, your rotation is based on the following priority:

  1. Use Heroic Strike Icon Heroic Strike
    • Only to prevent reaching maximum rage, if Slam Icon Slam cannot be used.
  2. Use Colossus Smash Icon Colossus Smash.
  3. Use Mortal Strike Icon Mortal Strike.
  4. Use Overpower Icon Overpower.
  5. Use Slam Icon Slam
    • Only if you have fewer than 3 Taste for Blood Icon Taste for Blood stacks and 80 or more rage.
  6. Use Battle Shout Icon Battle Shout or Commanding Shout Icon Commanding Shout.
  7. Use Heroic Throw Icon Heroic Throw.

1.1.1. With 2-Part Tier 16 Set Bonus

If you have the 2-Part Tier 16 Set Bonus, then the priority becomes:

  1. Use Heroic Strike Icon Heroic Strike
    • Only to prevent reaching maximum rage, if Slam Icon Slam cannot be used.
  2. Use Colossus Smash Icon Colossus Smash.
  3. Use Mortal Strike Icon Mortal Strike.
  4. Use Overpower Icon Overpower
  5. Use Slam Icon Slam
    • Only if you have 3 or fewer Taste for Blood Icon Taste for Blood stacks and you have 80 or more rage.
  6. Use Battle Shout Icon Battle Shout or Commanding Shout Icon Commanding Shout.
  7. Use Heroic Throw Icon Heroic Throw.

This complicates the rotation for a relatively small DPS bonus, but it is a gain nonetheless.

1.2. During Colossus Smash

When Colossus Smash Icon Colossus Smash is active on the target, your rotation is based on the following priority:

  1. Use Mortal Strike Icon Mortal Strike.
  2. Use Slam Icon Slam
    • If you have 40 or more rage OR
    • If you are under the effects of Recklessness Icon Recklessness (in which case you should spam Slam Icon Slam).
  3. Use Overpower Icon Overpower.

1.2.1. With 2-Part Tier 16 Set Bonus

If you have the 2-Part Tier 16 Set Bonus, then the priority becomes:

  1. Use Heroic Strike Icon Heroic Strike
    • Only if you have 80 or more rage.
    • If using Slam Icon Slam while Recklessness Icon Recklessness is active, ignore this step.
  2. Use Mortal Strike Icon Mortal Strike.
  3. If under the effects of Recklessness Icon Recklessness, spam Slam Icon Slam.
  4. Use Overpower Icon Overpower
  5. Use Slam Icon Slam

This complicates the playstyle for a relatively small DPS bonus, but it is a gain nonetheless.

1.3. Execute Rotation

When the boss is below 20% health, the rotation (and the above-mentioned priority) changes considerably.

The main idea is that you should try to pool rage for when you can use Colossus Smash Icon Colossus Smash, and follow this up with as much Execute Icon Execute spam as you can. However, since it is not possible to predict when Colossus Smash will be available (unlike for Fury Warriors, where it has a fixed 20-second cooldown), you will have to keep your rage consumption at a minimum outside of Colossus Smash.

1.3.1. Outside Colossus Smash

While Colossus Smash Icon Colossus Smash is not active, use the following priority for your rotation:

  1. Use Mortal Strike Icon Mortal Strike.
  2. Use Execute Icon Execute if your rage is above 80.
  3. Use Overpower Icon Overpower (all Overpowers within 10 seconds of having used Execute Icon Execute are free of cost).
  4. Use Dragon Roar Icon Dragon Roar.
  5. Use Impending Victory Icon Impending Victory.
  6. Use Battle Shout Icon Battle Shout or Commanding Shout Icon Commanding Shout.

As soon as Colossus Smash Icon Colossus Smash is available, you should use it.

1.3.2. During Colossus Smash

During Colossus Smash Icon Colossus Smash, your rotation is as follows:

  1. Use Mortal Strike Icon Mortal Strike.
  2. Use Execute Icon Execute.
  3. Use Overpower Icon Overpower (free of cost after having used Execute Icon Execute).

2. Multiple Target Rotation↑top

When facing two enemies, you should keep up Sweeping Strikes Icon Sweeping Strikes and execute a single target rotation. You should cast Mortal Strike Icon Mortal Strike alternatively on both targets, to maintain Deep Wounds Icon Deep Wounds on both of them (or you can use Thunder Clap Icon Thunder Clap every 15 seconds for the same effect).

When facing three or more enemies, you should:

Note that while Sweeping Strikes Icon Sweeping Strikes is active, Slam Icon Slam will also deal 35% of its damage to any targets within 2 yards of the one hit by Slam. Always try to find the mob that is closest to other mobs within a pack for maximum damage, assuming one mob does not have a higher kill priority.

Note also that Deep Wounds Icon Deep Wounds snapshots your Attack Power and damage modifiers (including from such abilities as Avatar Icon Avatar or Skull Banner Icon Skull Banner), meaning that it does the same damage for its entire duration as it did when it was applied, even if these factors change. As such, you should be on the look-out for the best times to re-apply Deep Wounds to take advantage of this.

3. Cooldown Usage↑top

As an Arms Warrior, you have several DPS cooldowns. Additionally, you can obtain two more DPS cooldowns from your talents of choice.

  • Berserker Rage Icon Berserker Rage should be used to help with your Enrage Icon Enrage uptime. This is more subtle, and we tackle it in depth in a later section.
  • Recklessness Icon Recklessness should be used as many times as possible throughout the encounter. It is ideal to stack it with other cooldowns.
  • Skull Banner Icon Skull Banner should be used as many times as possible throughout the fight, but keep in mind that the rest of your raid should benefit from this as well.
  • Shattering Throw Icon Shattering Throw is essentially a raid cooldown, so keep in mind that the rest of your raid should benefit from it as well.

For more details on these cooldowns, as well as on the cooldowns granted to you by your talents, refer to our detailed cooldown usage section.

4. Stance↑top

Battle Stance Icon Battle Stance grants you a lot of rage with each melee attack you make, but grants you no rage from damage taken.

Berserker Stance Icon Berserker Stance grants you half the rage that Battle Stance does, from your melee attacks, but also grants you rage from damage taken.

Other than this, there is no difference between the stances, and your abilities are not conditioned at all by your current stance. Therefore, use Berserker Stance when there is high raid damage, and Battle Stance otherwise.

5. Mastering Your Arms Warrior↑top

The guidelines given above will enable you to play your Arms Warrior with good results. If you want to push things further and master your character, then we advise you to continue reading.

5.1. Rage Generation

By default, your rage is generated from two sources:

  • Dealing damage with auto attacks.
  • Using special abilities that generate rage (Charge Icon Charge, Mortal Strike Icon Mortal Strike, etc.).

Exceptionally, if you are in Berserker Stance Icon Berserker Stance, you also generate rage from damage taken.

Your rage is mostly used by abilities in your rotation, although some utility spells also cost rage.

5.2. Opening Rotation

If Dragon Roar Icon Dragon Roar is not your Tier 4 talent of choice, fill the global cooldown with Heroic Throw Icon Heroic Throw, and overlap any assigned cooldown for that step with Colossus Smash Icon Colossus Smash.

Any abilities on the same line should be used during the same global cooldown. Cooldowns on the same line as an ability should always be activated before the spell is cast, so that they may benefit from its effect.

  1. Use your Battle Shout Icon Battle Shout or Commanding Shout Icon Commanding Shout and your potion (3 seconds before the pull).
  2. Begin casting Shattering Throw Icon Shattering Throw (1.5 seconds before the pull).
  3. Use Charge Icon Charge.
  4. Use Mortal Strike Icon Mortal Strike.
  5. Use Dragon Roar Icon Dragon Roar, Bloodbath Icon Bloodbath, and Skull Banner Icon Skull Banner (also use Synapse Springs Icon Synapse Springs and your DPS-increasing racial ability, if applicable).
  6. Use Colossus Smash Icon Colossus Smash and Recklessness Icon Recklessness.
  7. Use Slam Icon Slam.
  8. Use Mortal Strike Icon Mortal Strike.
  9. Use Slam Icon Slam.
  10. Use Slam Icon Slam.

5.3. Key Concepts

5.3.1. Enrage

Each time you critically strike with Mortal Strike Icon Mortal Strike and Colossus Smash Icon Colossus Smash, you become enraged, dealing 10% increased physical damage for 6 seconds. This will happen passively, so you do not need to concern yourself with it. Being enraged doubles the healing effect of Enraged Regeneration Icon Enraged Regeneration (if you have taken this talent) so it is advisable to have a way of monitoring this buff.

5.3.2. Colossus Smash

Colossus Smash Icon Colossus Smash should be used, primarily, for the debuff which it applies, and not for its damage. In the 6 seconds after using Colossus Smash, all of your abilities deal significantly more damage.

You should also keep in mind that your Sudden Death Icon Sudden Death passive ability provides you with a 10% chance to reset the cooldown on your Colossus Smash each time you perform an auto attack or have a proc from your Mastery (which basically grants you additional auto attacks). Because this effect does not have an internal cooldown, you should use Colossus Smash as soon as possible, when it becomes available, to avoid wasting Sudden Death procs.

Finally, you should always wait for the 6-second debuff to wear off before using Colossus Smash again (assuming its cooldown was reset shortly after using it), so that the debuffs applied by your subsequent Colossus Smashes do not overlap.

Therefore, you should use Colossus Smash following these guidelines:

  • Use as many abilities as possible in the time that the debuff is active.
  • Do not use Colossus Smash while the debuff from the previous Colossus Smash is active. If there are 1.5 seconds or less remaining on the existing Colossus Smash, you can re-cast it without any real negative consequences, though.
  • Use Colossus Smash as soon as it is available (provided that the debuff from the previous one has worn off). You can delay it for a few seconds so that abilities like Mortal Strike Icon Mortal Strike come off cooldown or until you have a lot of rage.

5.3.3. Overpower

Your Overpower Icon Overpower ability is normally only usable after one of your attacks is dodged. Thanks to the Taste for Blood Icon Taste for Blood passive ability, Arms Warriors can gain additional Overpowers. Each time Mortal Strike Icon Mortal Strike deals damage, you gain two Overpowers (you can have up to a maximum of 5 Overpower uses stacked up in this way).

Using Overpower reduces the cooldown of Mortal Strike Icon Mortal Strike by 0.5 seconds.

Finally, each time you use Execute Icon Execute, all Overpowers used within 10 seconds are free of rage cost.

5.3.4. Sunder Armor

If no one else in your raid is providing the Sunder Armor Icon Sunder Armor debuff, then you should do so yourself. All you need to do is apply it at the start of the fight, after which Colossus Smash Icon Colossus Smash should always refresh it (thanks to Glyph of Colossus Smash Icon Glyph of Colossus Smash). If there is a Feral or Guardian Druid, or a Protection Warrior, then the uptime of the debuff is practically guaranteed.

5.4. Detailed Cooldown Usage

5.4.1. Recklessness

There is no great subtlety to using Recklessness Icon Recklessness. Simply make sure to use it as many times as possible during the encounter, and try to stack it with as many other cooldowns as possible (especially with Skull Banner Icon Skull Banner and Heroism Icon Heroism/Bloodlust Icon Bloodlust/Time Warp Icon Time Warp).

If you are under the effects of Recklessness, and inside a Colossus Smash Icon Colossus Smash window, the priority of Slam Icon Slam increases (moving above Overpower Icon Overpower), since much of the extra critical strike chance from Recklessness is wasted on Overpower (which already has a 60% chance to be a critical strike).

5.4.2. War Banners

Skull Banner Icon Skull Banner is by far the most important of your banners. While we advise to always use it together with Recklessness Icon Recklessness (and Avatar Icon Avatar, should you chose that talent), you must keep in mind that it is an extremely powerful raid buff. As such, if there is a time when your raid would benefit more from using the cooldown, than you would by stacking it with your other cooldowns, you should put the raid's best interests first.

Demoralizing Banner Icon Demoralizing Banner is also a raid cooldown of sorts, although it is a fairly weak one. You should coordinate with your raid leader, or at least with your tanks, in order to figure out the best time to use it.

Mocking Banner Icon Mocking Banner is mostly useless in PvE raids, but it could have some merit against adds.

5.4.3. Berserker Rage

Berserker Rage Icon Berserker Rage is a very powerful DPS cooldown, especially so when you consider that it only has a 30-second cooldown. Berserker Rage must be considered together with Enrage Icon Enrage.

Their effects do not stack, so using Berserker Rage while Enrage is active is a waste. As such, you should keep in mind that Enrage will proc off Mortal Strike Icon Mortal Strike and Colossus Smash Icon Colossus Smash critical strikes, and adjust your Berserker Rage usage accordingly:

  • Always make sure that you are enraged while under the effects of Colossus Smash (6-second debuff). If the Colossus Smash itself did not proc an enrage, then you will be presented with the following two posibilities:
    • The Mortal Strike which you used before Colossus Smash did not proc Enrage, in which case you should use Berserker Rage Icon Berserker Rage immediately after Colossus Smash.
    • The Mortal Strike which you used before Colossus Smash procced an Enrage, in which case you should use Berserker Rage Icon Berserker Rage as soon as this Enrage expires.
  • Try to maximise the optime of your enrage state. The safest way of making sure that your enrages do not stack is to always wait until after a Mortal Strike Icon Mortal Strike-Colossus Smash Icon Colossus Smash sequence, and if neither resulted in an Enrage proc, using Berserker Rage Icon Berserker Rage.

5.4.4. Shattering Throw

Shattering Throw Icon Shattering Throw is a raid cooldown above all else. As such, you should always prioritise your raid's best interests when determining the time to use this ability. We advise that you consult with your raid leader, as well as with other Warriors. Most of the time, however, you will prefer to cast this ability right as the boss is being pulled, since it costs no rage.

5.4.5. Tier 4 Talents

Shockwave Icon Shockwave and Dragon Roar Icon Dragon Roar are both valuable when used against a single target, despite the fact that they are designed with multiple targets in mind. As such, no matter what you choose, you should incorporate it into your rotation by using it on cooldown.

Bladestorm Icon Bladestorm is a slight DPS loss against a single target. As such, though, it should only be taken and used when you can benefit from one of its other effects.

Consider the multiple target properties of these abilities, and if there is a situation that is suited for them, try to save them for that time. For example, if a pack of adds is just about to spawn, it is fine to delay your ability slightly so as to make better use of it (or to make use of it at all, in the case of Bladestorm).

5.4.6. Tier 6 Talents

Avatar Icon Avatar should be stacked with Recklessness Icon Recklessness and Skull Banner Icon Skull Banner at all times. Additionally, you should try to make sure that you use Berserker Rage Icon Berserker Rage while Avatar is active.

Bloodbath Icon Bloodbath should be used on cooldown.

Storm Bolt Icon Storm Bolt should be used on cooldown. Due to its short cooldown, it will essentially become part of your rotation.

5.5. Cooldown Reduction Trinkets

If you have a cooldown reduction trinket, this will reduce the cooldowns of your Tier 4 and 6 talents, Heroic Leap Icon Heroic Leap, Recklessness Icon Recklessness, Die by the Sword Icon Die by the Sword, and Shield Wall Icon Shield Wall. This leads to a few changes in the way some of these abilities should be used.

Dragon Roar Icon Dragon Roar should be used on cooldown (either before or after a Colossus Smash Icon Colossus Smash window, but never during).

Recklessness Icon Recklessness should be used in different ways depending on how large the cooldown reduction is (this is determined by the item level of your trinket). If your Recklessness cooldown is greatly reduced, allowing you to use it every 2 minutes, then you should use it (after the initial use) at the 2-minute mark, and you should save your Skull Banner Icon Skull Banner and use it together with Recklessness Icon Recklessness again at the 4-minute mark. If your Recklessness cooldown is greater than 2 minutes and (roughly) 15 seconds, then you are better off using it together with Skull Banner Icon Skull Banner at the 3-minute mark.

In order to reduce the cooldown of Recklessness Icon Recklessness by enough to make it viable to use every 2 minutes, you will need a Flexible raid version of Evil Eye of Galakras Icon Evil Eye of Galakras with 2/2 item upgrades performed on it, or better.

Finally, if the cooldown of Storm Bolt Icon Storm Bolt is around 21.5 seconds, then you should delay it by a single global cooldown so that it can be your first ability inside a Colossus Smash Icon Colossus Smash window.

6. Changelog↑top

  • 20 Oct. 2013: Added opening rotation section.
  • 15 Oct. 2013: Made several improvements to the updated version of the guide (most notably tweaking the single target and AoE rotation sections), and added a section regarding cooldown reduction trinkets.
  • 13 Oct. 2013: Made several updates following Jalopy's review.
    • Revamped the single target rotation.
    • Removed the Deep Wounds Icon Deep Wounds section since it was completely unnecessary.
    • Added a mention that it is mostly ideal to use Shattering Throw Icon Shattering Throw at the pull.
  • 12 Sep. 2013: Patch 5.4 update.
    • No immediate changes, although we are investigating a possible change that simplifies that single-target rotation.
  • 20 May 2013: Patch 5.3 update: nothing to change.
  • 07 May 2013: Added mention that Dragon Roar Icon Dragon Roar should be used outside of Colossus Smash Icon Colossus Smash when the boss is below 20% health.
  • 04 May 2013: Revamped the single target and multiple target rotation.
  • 04 Mar. 2013: Patch 5.2 update.
    • Removed mentions of Deadly Calm, following its removal from the game.
    • Adjusted rotation section to account for various changes made to Arms Warrior mechanics: updated the way Taste for Blood Icon Taste for Blood and Sudden Death Icon Sudden Death work, as well as other minor adjustments.