War Hammer Guide and Builds for New World

Last updated on Oct 22, 2023 at 12:30 by Lemoni 4 comments
General Information

Welcome to our guide for War Hammer, a weapon in New World. Within these pages, you will find everything required to understand how best to play with this weapon in both PvE and PvP.


War Hammer Overview

The War Hammer is a weapon that has some of the best viability in both PvP and PvE, and will typically function as a secondary weapon in any build. It will usually be viewed as the utility weapon. In any type of content there is surely a use for this weapon. It is one of the most common weapons to see in PvP thanks to its great synergy with bruiser builds who use the Great Axe. The spotlight of the War Hammer is its crowd-control. Every ability it has comes with the potential to apply a status effect of some sort. It has stuns, knockdowns, and slows, this is any damage dealer's dream as it will perfectly setup follow up damage for allies or with your second weapon.


War Hammer Strengths and Weaknesses

V Strengths
  • +Incredible AoE crowd-control with stuns, slows, and knockdowns
  • +Great defensive passives
  • +Has good self-sustain with multiple sources of self-healing
  • +Viable in PvP and PvE
X Weaknesses
  • -Low mobility
  • -Has high damage attacks, but swing speed is incredibly slow
  • -Will only be used as a secondary weapon in most cases
  • -Lacks build diversity

War Hammer Builds

There is one standard build that is used across PvP and PvE content. These will use the same abilities, but there are some slight variations in your passives depending on the type of content or due to personal preference.



  • Wrecking Ball Wrecking Ball — This is a great tool for defensiveness and crowd-control. When it is used it will apply a Fortify buff that will help with survivability. Additionally, it has a unexpectedly large AoE knockdown effect that is essential for starting any kind of crowd-control combo.
  • Shockwave Shockwave — In most cases, this should be used as soon as a target is knocked down by Wrecking Ball Wrecking Ball. Not only with it provide a massive AoE stun. Every target will be debuffed and rended as long as you use its perk. This makes all targets extremely vulnerable.
  • Path Of Destiny Path Of Destiny — This is perfect for free AoE damage and it does stagger, so you can use it to interrupt healers or other players. It is primarily used to catch targets who are running away because of its stagger and its slowing debuff. It can also be used defensively with its perk to provide quick healing.

PvE Rend

  • Armor Breaker Armor Breaker — This will deal a quick burst of damage, but it is mostly important for its passive which will apply a large stack of rend. This in combination with Sundering Shockwave Sundering Shockwave will result in significantly more damage for yourself and all your allies.
  • This build will be commonly used by tanks or DPS in PvE. Path Of Destiny Path Of Destiny is not needed, so it makes the most sense to swap it out.


    Second Weapon


    Great Axe

    To gain a deeper understanding of the Great Axe, please refer to our Great Axe guide.


    Standard - Mauler

    This is the more common build option paired with a War Hammer when playing in medium armor, or in light loadouts. It is preferred in a more defensive build because it allows you to generate Mauler's Fury Mauler's Fury stacks to drastically increase damage because of your ability to stay in combat. This build gives you incredible defensive passives regardless of your armor weight, healing, and some of the best free damage passives in New World. The abilities it uses give burst damage, mobility, CC options, self-healing, and defensiveness; It is a very strong option.


    Blood Lust

    For builds that are focused on using light armor and diving into backlines to pick healers and other high priority targets, Blood Lust Blood Lust is an incredible option. This is for two reasons, you will not be able to stack Mauler's Fury Mauler's Fury stacks as easily due to less defensiveness, but it also helps to add burst damage and haste to chase down targets. This build will also use Reap Reap to pull enemies, deal quick damage, and have some self-sustain through its healing effect.



    For a thorough breakdown on the Blunderbuss and how it can be used, please refer to our Blunderbuss guide.

    This is the standard build option paired with almost every weapon. It has the ability to cycle through cooldowns quickly. It is very strong not only because of its burst potential, but its ability to anti-heal, debuff enemies, and lock down targets.

    The Blunderbuss and War Hammer are a lethal combo together. When used properly, you will be able to perform a one-shot combination through Shockwave Shockwave, Wrecking Ball Wrecking Ball, and Azoth Shrapnel Blast Azoth Shrapnel Blast.



    The tank role is one that will always be taking a Sword and Shield, but its secondary choice is up to the tank's preference. One of the most common choices is the War Hammer because of its crowd-control.

    Tanks will have the ability to flex into many builds, but here is a great build that can be played in a heavy or light tanking setup.




    Strength Bruiser


    Traditional Strength builds playing on points with medium armor will use this split. This is the standard bruiser setup in New World. In a light build you can switch to 150 Constitution.


    Hybrid - Blunderbuss


    This should only be used when focusing on a burst damage War Hammer and Blunderbuss, or if you wish to use another Strength weapon. The Blunderbuss is the primary weapon and will have great damage scaling because it is optimized to get the most out of each primary and secondary scaling attribute while accounting for diminishing returns. It is also important to note the 200 Strength passive to add even more damage. If you are playing with a healer or are looking for the most damage possible, feel free to go down to 100 Constitution to deal more damage.

    You can generally play with more health since this is best fit with the War Hammer variant which will use Mortal Empowerment Mortal Empowerment to gain incredibly high damage output.

    For light armor assassin builds it can be advantageous to play with 100 Constitution and scale more Strength.


    Important Perks


    Ability Perks

    • Sundering Shockwave Sundering Shockwave — (Weapon) In any War Hammer build it is crucial to have this on your weapon. It will apply a large rend to anyone it hits, making them extremely vulnerable. This is necessary in PvP and PvE.
    • Leeching Path Of Destiny Leeching Path Of Destiny — (Armor) This is fantastic self-sustain. It is a great utility option if you can fit it into your gear.

    Weapon Perks

    • Thwarting Counter Thwarting Counter — This will add a large burst of damage to most melee targets. When playing as a bruiser you will be near enemies that will frequently have Grit. When this hits in combination with all of your other additional damage, you will notice the burst.
    • Attunement Perks — This is may be less damage than Shirking, but it will always proc, making it better because of consistency.
    • Keenly Jagged Keenly Jagged — This can be used as an alternative third perk option, but it will only work if you critically hit. This can be beneficial, but it is generally better to have consistent damage from Attunement.
    • Shirking Perks — This can be used as a budget third perk. It has the potential to provide significant burst damage, but it will not always apply to every hit.

    PvP Perks

    • Resilient Resilient — When possible, aim to have five stacks on your armor set for PvP, every piece should have this.
    • Freedom Freedom — This will allow you to play more aggressively by reducing the duration of crowd-control. You should play with either 3 or 5 stacks.
    • Elemental Aversion Elemental Aversion — Use this perk instead of Shirking Fortification Shirking Fortification in Season One. It will give elemental damage reduction from weapons like the Fire Staff.
    • Refreshing Refreshing — This can be an optional third perk when you want a source of cooldown reduction in your build. This can be great when paired with all of the cooldown reduction passives on the Blunderbuss.
    • Invigorated Punishment Invigorated Punishment — This will be the preferred option in a medium armor build, or for more consistent damage in a light armor build.

    Mortal Empowerment vs. Invigorated Punishment

    In most light armor builds, or ranged builds, it can be very strong to snowball kills with Mortal Empowerment Mortal Empowerment, and drastically increase your damage potential. This is the case for Blunderbuss and War Hammer builds in light armor. But for other light builds that can do very high burst damage, such as Blunderbuss and Ice Gauntlet, the weapons have many sources of persistent damage or DoT effects. In some cases, even though an ability deals the final blow, the damage calculation may register that a persistent damage source, or DoT, dealt the final blow. Mortal Empowerment Mortal Empowerment will not stack if those technically kill the target, making it inconsistent and not worth using in some builds.

    When making this decision you also have to think about your likliness to be killed. If you are playing a light armor build, or one that is frequently diving into melee, you have high chances of dying. At that point if you lose your stacks, it is a wasted perk, especially if this happens multiple times, or in the middle of building stacks. As such, it may be more advantageous to use Invigorated Punishment Invigorated Punishment.

    TLDR: If you are medium armor, want more consistent damage, or you have a high chance of death, Invigorated Punishment Invigorated Punishment is the better option. If you want to snowball and have insanely high damage, you have a pocket healer, you are a dedicated ranged build, or you simply do not care and want to gamble, Mortal Empowerment Mortal Empowerment is the better option.


    PvE Perks

    • Elemental Aversion Elemental Aversion — This perk is a viable alternative in PvP as well, but is overshadowed by other PvP options. It provides great defensein mutated expeditions to help mitigate magical effects.
    • Physical Aversion Physical Aversion — Only projectiles that do physical damage will be mitigated by this perk. As such, it can be useful in PvE as another potential option. It alsoprovides a small amount of PvP value, but Elemental Aversion Elemental Aversion and enemy Ward perks are certainly more defensive options.
    • Corrupted Ward Corrupted Ward — Use this in Dynasty Shipyard, Tempest's Heart, and The Depths, for damage reduction against Corrupted enemy types.
    • Angry Earth Ward Angry Earth Ward — Use this in Garden of Genesis for damage reduction against Angry Earth enemy types.
    • Ancient Ward Ancient Ward — Use this in The Lazarus Instrumentality, The Ennead, and Starstone Barrows for damage reduction against Ancient enemy types.
    • Lost Ward Lost Ward — Use this in Barnacles & Black Powder and The Amrine Excavation for damage reduction against Lost enemy types.

    Jewelry Perks



    • Health Health — This is the standard pick for all builds, it is free health that will add to the defensiveness of your kit.
    • Stamina Recovery Stamina Recovery — This is a backpocket save when being focused and taking heavy damage. You will receive a burst of stamina that will allow you to potentially get a quick dodge that can save your iife and continue the fight.
    • Slash Protection Slash Protection — This acts as a third perk slot that provides more defensiveness against Greatswords, Great Axes, Hatchets, and Swords.








    There is no current war hammer artifact. It is in your best interest to pursue an alternative artifact weapon depending on your build.







    Minor Heartrune of Detonate Minor Heartrune of Detonate should be used for light armor builds where you are prioritizing burst damage or for medium Bruisers who are able to stay in AoE clump fights.

    There are two viable upgrade options:

    Brutal Heartrune of Detonate Brutal Heartrune of Detonate makes you more vulnerable, but will result in a massive AoE burst of damage. This is the preferred option.

    Cunning Heartrune of Detonate Cunning Heartrune of Detonate is an interesting choice that can be taken. It will result in less detonate burst. But you will not be as vulnerable and can deal more damage with your melee weapons.

    Brutal Heartrune of Grasping Vines Brutal Heartrune of Grasping Vines can be an alternative if you are wanting to focus on crowd-control.

    If you are looking for a more defensive option, Stalwart Heartrune of Stoneform Stalwart Heartrune of Stoneform will be best. This will be typically used by medium armor players looking to push through chokepoints into the Fort in Wars, or just to be able to hold points more effectively.


    Heartrune Usage Tips

    Try to avoid using Brutal Heartrune of Detonate Brutal Heartrune of Detonate while you have low health or are being focused on. The goal is to start the ability and wait a short duration and attempt to dive in right as the ability detonates so you can catch enemies off guard and not be bursted down.

    You can activate your Detonate and then use Charge Charge to "deliver" your explosion and time it right as you meet a clump of players. This will catch them off guard and will not be dodged in many cases.

    Save your Detonate for when there are multiple targets stacked on top of one another. Preferably the targets will already be under some kind of CC effect, or exhausted and unable to dodgeout of them. It is best paired with something like Gravity Well Gravity Well or Shockwave Shockwave.

    When using Detonate try to time it right as you hit an enemy with another burst damage weapon ability, or something that will CC the target, like Shockwave Shockwave or Wrecking Ball Wrecking Ball. When pairing this with a Great Axe, use something to again burst the target, or pull them toward you, like Maelstrom Maelstrom or Reap Reap. This can result in a kill even when the target is full health.

    Take advantage of down time to charge your heartrune. For instance if you are far away you might as well continue to try hitting targets or structures to build charge.

    Your heartrune will charge fast. While it is obviously beneficial to hold for times where there are large clusters of enemies. Do not wait too long and continue to waste your cooldown when you would have had the time to get another one recharged. Get familiar with how quickly you can get it back online and do not hesitate to use it to secure high priority kills.

    A Heartrune in PvE is significantly different than PvP. This will charge incredibly fast due to the sustained damage output on single targets. When using something like Brutal Heartrune of Detonate Brutal Heartrune of Detonate this is best used on large numbers of enemies instead of single target. With that being said, use this as many times as possible in a boss fight since it will be available and otherwise wasted.


    Gems and Consumables

    For more detailed information on how to properly use Gems in your War Hammer builds, please refer to our War Hammer Gems guide.



    Remember, Runeglass can only be slotted into armor pieces that are not jewelry items, and weapons.

    Runeglass gems WILL NOT be the most optimal or efficient in the armor of a strict bruiser build . Please reference the FAQ section below as to why.


    Weapon Gems

    For any type of bruiser build it will be best to use any Runeglass variant of Cut Pristine Opal Cut Pristine Opal that applies a damage over time effect. For example : Runeglass of Ignited Opal Runeglass of Ignited Opal

    When you are in a build with War Hammer and Blunderbuss you will almost always use Runeglass of Ignited Ruby Runeglass of Ignited Ruby on your War Hammer due to Intelligence scaling and elemental damage.


    PvP Gems

    In PvP combat your optimal resistance distribution is going to prioritize Slash resistance, then Physical, and lastly Elemental. This is the standard for any build where you will frequently be in melee range.

    To hit a 22.5 (Slash)/12.5 (Physical)/7.5 (Elemental) resistance setup you will need:

    Runeglass of Punishing Onyx Runeglass of Punishing Onyx results in marginal offensive gains for a bruiser build because of hidden internal cooldown effects. As such, it is preferred to take the defensive gains instead.


    PvE Gems

    In PvE combat, more specifically mutators, elemental resistance is the main concern.

    You can use the following gems in your gear:

    • Elemental Resistance Gem x8 + Amulet Protection Perk (Based on mutator elemental effect.)

    Maximum Damage

    In PvP and PvE you can still use Punishing Runeglass variants of your gems if you only care about raw damage, and not effective damage based on survivability. For example, you would use Runeglass of Punishing Onyx Runeglass of Punishing Onyx x5 in PvP

    The age old saying: "A dead DPS does no DPS.", should come to mind when making this decision.



    For more information on how to manage your cooldown hotbar, what consumables to use, what foods should be eaten, or tips on how to be more effective with your consumables in PvP and PvE, please refer to War Hammer Consumables guide.


    Rotation and Gameplay


    Ability Priority List

    • Use Wrecking Ball Wrecking Ball if targets are stacked together or a priority target is alone
    • Use Shockwave Shockwave if targets are stacked together or a priority target is alone
    • For optimal damage, swap to second weapon and perform a damage combo. Alternatively, heavy or light attack with Hammer
    • Use Path Of Destiny Path Of Destiny for AoE damage, interrupting casts, or to apply a slow and catch players. It can also be used when outnumbered for a burst heal with Leeching Path Of Destiny Leeching Path Of Destiny
    • Swap weapons for filler attacks and damage
    • If enemy has low health, you can finish them off with a quick light attack if it is faster than weapon swapping.

    Secondary Weapon Priority List and Build Rotation

    To learn how to use your second weapon properly, and complete rotation, please refer to our PvE and PvP build pages:


    Gameplay Tips



    You can feint attacks with melee weapons, such as the War Hammer or Great Axe, to try and bait an enemy into dodging and wasting their stamina. This can be done to try an exhaust enemies so that you can get free hits in. To do so, charge a heavy attack and block before the attack is initiated. This will make it look like you are swinging, and then you cancel the attack until you can strike at the correct opportunity.


    Ability Weaving (Shockwave + Wrecking Ball)

    With many melee weapons it is advantageous to weave abilities with other abilities or with light and heavy attacks. For example, it can be advantageous to hit a target with Wrecking Ball Wrecking Ball and immediately follow that up with Shockwave Shockwave in most situations. This is a combination that results in significant damage, but will almost always allow you to get a free stun on the target. Once they are stunned, you can swap weapons and hit them with a higher damage ability, or simply hit them with a quick light attack.

    It is important to try and sneak in as much free damage as possible. In some cases you may be able to light attack a target and immediately weave it into a Wrecking Ball Wrecking Ball, so that they receive more damage pressure.

    In all builds, especially when playing as a bruiser, it is important to synergize your abilities and attacks to setup lethal combos.


    Shockwave Usage

    Shockwave can be blocked or very easily dodged because of its animation. It is important when using this ability that the target is exhausted an unable to dodge, or they did not see you coming.

    To catch players off guard you can use terrain to your advantage. You could position well and swing wide and go behind a target or a clump during combat. Or, you can use Shockwave Shockwave from above. If you position yourself on top of a structure, rock, or anything with a little bit of height, you can begin sliding off onto the ground and use Shockwave Shockwave right when you are about to fall to carry it out onto the targets below you. This is a great way to set up kills when enemies are least expecting you to come from above.


    Path of Destiny Usage

    This is a very strong ability when thinking about the utility that a War Hammer has to offer. It is best used for its chase potential or self peel. You can use this and it has a very long and wide range. It will almost always hit a target even when they try to dodge. Thanks to your ultimate passive this will apply a slow and stagger them, allowing you to catch up, or keep targets away so you can run away.

    Leeching Path Of Destiny Leeching Path Of Destiny is a very strong heal because of its synergy with Prevailing Spirit Prevailing Spirit. Not only does the perk provide health based on damage dealth, this passive in Crowd Crusher tree heals you for 35% of the damage from Crowd Crusher abilities, so both heals will come together and provide a potent burst heal when hitting multiple targets. This can be used in a pinch to stall out for a healer, or from a distance. It is best not to use it directly in the face of an enemy because you will be vulnerable, but sometimes it can keep you alive as a last ditch effort.

    Lastly, this ability staggers targets. This can act as an interrupt to many casts, but most importantly it will interrupt targeted heals. Be aware of when you can use this ability to interrupt a healer so that an enemy is denied a heal and killed instead.


    Second Weapon Importance

    The most important thing to note with the War Hammer is that it is mainly a secondary utility weapon, it is never the primary weapon of a build due to its long swing times and tough hit detection. You will only really use it for its abilities, so make sure that you have knowledge of how to properly play with the weapon you are pairing with it.


    Proper Cooldown Management

    As a Support you have some incredibly impactful cooldowns like Shockwave Shockwave. Recognize when there is an opportunity to properly use each of these abilities. For example, try to save your major CC for large clusters of enemies or high priority targets. It is okay to freely use these cooldowns, but do not waste them when you know there is a major fight incoming.



    Effective movement is incredibly important in a build like this, especially when playing in medium. Do not panic and use your entire stamina bar and exhaust yourself, as it may result in death. You can take advantage of jumping, diving (going prone while moving), and changing direction by quickly moving your mouse or taking advantage of quick inputs on your movement keys.

    There are many movements in New World that will stagger you in place for a moment when quickly changing direction. If you move left and right or if you jump left and right you will notice there is a moment where you will be standing still. To prevent this you will need to use a key input while your character is in the animation. For example, if you hold your left directional key and jump then right before you land you hit your right directional key and jump, you will quickly jump left and right. If you simply run left and right using your directional keys your character will respond similarly. To avoid this you can move left and then right before you pivot to go right, hit the backward directional key and instantly follow up with your right directional key. If you continue doing this back and forth you will avoid the sliding animation.


    Great Axe Usage

    When choosing to use an Great Axe in any build it will be important to prioritize cooldown management to maximize damage output. Playing with this weapon combination heavily relies on your ability to synergize both weapons, weave cooldowns into one another, or play off of your ally's cooldowns. A Great Axe has one of the most impactful abilities in the game, Gravity Well Gravity Well — it can be detrimental to a fight if this cooldown is misused or wasted. Understand that a War Hammer acts as a supplement to your Great Axe, and that the Great Axe will be the primary source of damage.

    To learn more about ability usage and the intracies of the Great Axe, please refer to our Great Axe guide.


    Blunderbuss Usage

    When deciding to use a Blunderbuss with your War Hammer, you will need to get comfortable with weapon combos. This takes situational thinking and understanding of damage potential. The Blunderbuss has incredible burst damage, so being able to prioritize targets and when to dive into a fight is pivotal to your success.

    Please refer to our Blunderbuss tips for more on this playstyle.


    FAQ - War Hammer


    What Should I Use For Cooldown Reduction?

    Generally, in any bruiser build where you are consistently fighting in melee clumps, your best perk for cooldown reduction will be Refreshing Ward Refreshing Ward. When stacked on multiple pieces of gear, this will result in large amounts of cooldown reduction and allow you to use more abilities. The bruiser melee META consists of primarily medium armor Great Axe and War Hammer builds. Since you are more defensive and can take far more hits than a light armor player, especially with a healer in your group, the difference between a perk like Refreshing Refreshing versus Refreshing Ward Refreshing Ward will be very noticeable.

    • Refreshing Refreshing — Reduces max cooldowns by 2.9% per stack.
    • Refreshing Ward Refreshing Ward — Reduces active cooldowns by 1.9% after being hit 4 times. Does not trigger off persistent damage, DoT effects or blocked attacks.

    What Gems Do I Put In My Gear?

    When playing a bruiser build it will be tempting to use Runeglass of Punishing Onyx Runeglass of Punishing Onyx. While this will provide a damage increase, there is an internal cooldown when using something like a Great Axe, which is your primary damage in these types of builds, which will only allow it to proc every other hit. So, this will not actually be as much of a damage increase as it was thought to be. In most cases, just use regular gems for more defensiveness. The marginal damage loss will be made up for by survivability.

    When in a hybrid damage build with a Blunderbuss, Runeglass of Ignited Onyx Runeglass of Ignited Onyx is more beneficial and can be put in both weapons.


    What Gems Do I Put In My War Hammer

    In any build you will want it to have a Runeglass gem so that it adds a damage over time effect to help charge your Heartrune more quickly.

    For bruiser builds you will want any type of Opal Runeglass, it would be best to make it an elemental split that enemies most likely do not have increased resistances against, so Nature, or Arcane--but something like Runeglass of Ignited Opal Runeglass of Ignited Opal should be fine and can flex into a Blunderbuss setup too.

    When in a hybrid damage build with a Blunderbuss, Runeglass of Ignited Ruby Runeglass of Ignited Ruby is more beneficial due to the Intelligence scaling and elemental damage increase.



    • 22 Oct. 2023 (PvP builds page): Guide updated for expansion.
    • 22 Oct. 2023 (PvE builds page): Guide updated for expansion.
    • 22 Oct. 2023 (gems page): Guide updated for expansion.
    • 22 Oct. 2023 (perks page): Guide updated for expansion.
    • 22 Oct. 2023 (abilities page): Guide updated for expansion.
    • 22 Oct. 2023 (this page): Guide updated for expansion.
    • 29 Mar. 2023 (gems page): Updated PvE Gems.
    • 29 Mar. 2023 (this page): Updated perks, heartrunes, and gems.
    • 27 Jan. 2023 (PvP builds page): Guide added.
    • 27 Jan. 2023 (PvE builds page): Guide added.
    • 27 Jan. 2023 (gems page): Guide added.
    • 27 Jan. 2023 (perks page): Guide added.
    • 27 Jan. 2023 (abilities page): Guide added.
    • 27 Jan. 2023 (this page): Guide added.
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