Classic Warrior DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities
On this page, you will learn how to optimize the rotation of your Warrior DPS in both single-target and multiple-target PvE situations in WoW Classic. We also have advanced sections about cooldowns, procs, etc. in order to minmax your DPS.
If you have not already, please read the spells summary page. Knowing how each spell and ability works in detail will greatly increase your understanding of the topics discussed on this page.
Rotation for DPS Warriors
We will present the skill rotation of a Warrior damage dealer as a priority list. This is not an exact sequence in which abilities should be cast. Instead, what it means is, whenever you must choose between using different skills, try to use the one at the top of the list first.
Our list assumes you are running one of the recommended builds from the talents page and are playing a max level character. If you are still leveling, please refer to the leveling page for a leveling-specific rotation.
While they are extraordinarily powerful, explosives such as Goblin Sapper Charge will not be detailed in the rotation. Usually, you will want to use them as soon as the tank has solid threat on the target. The main exception is when you are facing multiple or particularly dangerous (such as enraged) enemies at some point in the fight. Saving explosives to carry you and your group through these moments (and possibly do a ton of AoE damage in the process) is probably worth it. The usage of potions, such as Mighty Rage Potion, will not be specifically detailed in the rotation either.
Pre-Pull Strategy for DPS Warriors
If you open combat with 0 (up to 25 with maxed out Tactical Mastery) Rage, attempt to Charge into enemies to generate some, at which point you can begin the normal rotation outlined below.
Whenever you finish a fight with a significant amount of Rage, try to carry it to the next fight, using Bloodrage if necessary to keep yourself in combat and generate even more Rage! In this case, you should not stance dance to Charge if that will cause you to lose Rage, and should instead just run up to the enemies or use Intercept, if its stun will be useful.
Single-Target Rotation for DPS Warriors
- Activate Bloodrage to generate extra Rage if you are currently healthy.
- Cast Battle Shout if missing its buff, and consider using Demoralizing Shout or Thunder Clap on particularly dangerous enemies if they are not debuffed by these effects yet.
- If raiding, help your group maximize Sunder Armor stacks on the boss.
- Use Execute if the enemy is sub 20% health. Consider swapping to faster weapons when this threshold is reached, for faster Rage generation.
- Use Bloodthirst as your main attack.
- Use Slam after an auto attack, if playing a two-hand Slam spec.
- Cast Whirlwind as your secondary attack.
- Spam Sunder Armor (to reduce your enemy's effective health, only use it if it is not already fully stacked or will drop off soon), or Hamstring, otherwise, for the extra chance at Flurry procs and other similar on-hit effects. This is especially powerful if you have Windfury Totem, but worth doing even without it.
- Queue Heroic Strike if its extra threat will not be an issue, otherwise use Cleave, even for single-target, whenever you have excess Rage you cannot use on the remainder of the rotation. Keep in mind that Heroic Strike and Cleave replace your next auto attack, which will not grant you any Rage. So their real Rage cost is much higher than what is stated in the tooltip. On the other hand, you will benefit from a much higher chance to hit with off-hand white attacks than you normally would while they are queued.
Multi-Target Rotation for DPS Warriors
If facing only a small (2 or less) amount of targets, you should manage them with the single-target rotation, replacing Heroic Strike with Cleave as your Rage dump. Against more targets, prioritize using Whirlwind over Bloodthirst.
Cooldown Usage for DPS Warriors
As a Warrior, you have various offensive and defensive cooldowns at your disposal. Using your offensive cooldowns properly is often the difference between topping damage or just being average, and as such, you should learn how they work and how to optimize their usage.
Death Wish should be present on as much of the Execute phase as possible. Activate it when you estimate that the boss has about 30 seconds left to live for maximum benefit. During progression, you might want to save it for a particularly hard phase or for dealing massive AoE damage to extra targets that will only show up later in the fight. Use it twice in a long fight if you can, and try to stack it up with other cooldowns and short duration damage consumables for maximum carnage.
Retaliation is hard to use inside a group context as a damage dealer, since it requires enemies to be hitting you instead of the tank. Feel free to use it while "DPS-tanking" a weaker hitting enemy that the tanks lost aggro on, but your 30-minute cooldown is typically better spent on Recklessness, instead.
Recklessness should be used alongside Death Wish during the Execute phase of a boss. Use Mighty Rage Potion and Juju Flurry during this period for ludicrous, 30-minute limited damage.
Shield Wall is your major defensive cooldown, and should be used whenever you are at an imminent risk of dying, but keep in mind that it will make Recklessness unusable for 30 minutes, so try to avoid requiring it in the first place.
Ability Usage for DPS Warriors
Demoralizing Shout is much more powerful against most bosses than it is against players, as bosses gain damage much faster per point of Attack Power they have. If you have the Improved Demoralizing Shout talent (at the request of your raid group), make sure to keep its debuff on enemies.
As a flat 10% swing speed reduction, Thunder Clap is weaker, especially considering its Rage cost, than Demoralizing Shout. Regardless, it might still be worth applying, especially to faster swinging bosses who might otherwise land three hits on a Warrior tank before Shield Block can be refreshed, opening the possibility for a devastating critical strike.
Taunt is your single-target taunt ability. Casting Taunt instantly makes the enemy focus on you exclusively for 3 seconds, and increases your threat threshold to be equal to whoever had aggro when you taunted. While this is not an ability you usually want to use, consider doing it if it will save a squishier class from being melee hit from loose enemies.
There a few important ways Intercept can be helpful. Knockback mechanics can be almost entirely negated, if reacted to quickly. You can also use it to move quickly to another area or to interrupt enemies with its 3-second stun.
Intimidating Shout should be used for crowd control purposes or survivability purposes. Be careful with this ability, though, as the fleeing enemies can run into another pack of enemies and pull them, possibly resulting in a wipe.
Berserker Rage is a critical ability against enemies that fear, such as Onyxia and Nefarian. While feared, you are not dealing damage, and worse: you might run to the wrong place and promptly get cleaved or tail swiped out. Once you realize the fear is coming, quickly swap to Berserker Stance and activate Berserker Rage to nullify it pre-emptively.
Shield Bash and Pummel
Many players simply do not use their interrupt unless specifically instructed to. Interrupting enemies can stop potentially deadly casts from going out. Identify those dangerous casts and use your interrupt to prevent them.
Mastering Your DPS Warrior
In this section, we will dive a bit deeper into the core mechanics and various abilities of DPS Warriors. Understanding these topics is an important step to truly mastering the specialization.
Warrior's primary resource is Rage. It is important that you understand how Rage is generated, so you can effectively manage and use it.
Rage has a maximum capacity of 100, and is empty by default. Rage decays at a rate of 3 per second while out of combat. In combat, Rage does not decay and may even slowly tick up, if you have the Anger Management talent.
You generate Rage in two main ways, by hitting enemies with auto-attacks (white hits), and by being hit by enemies. The amount of Rage you generate depends on the damage dealt, and on the damage sustained.
It is important to understand that you do not have to spend Rage as soon as you get it. Pooling your Rage in order to maximize damage or survivability is an important aspect of playing a Warrior. For example, if you are in a fight and trying to maximize boss damage by keeping your Rage bar empty at all times, you might not have enough Rage to quickly swap to and destroy priority enemies, causing trouble for your group.
You can, however, also lose potential damage if you cap out on Rage. Once you hit the max of 100 Rage, any further Rage generation is lost.
- 04 Mar. 2020: Added Slam into the rotation.
- 11 Jan. 2020: Elaborated on Heroic Strike / Cleave causing your off-hand attacks to always hit while queued.
- 30 Sep. 2019: Reworked the pre-combat rotation to make it clear that you should not swap stance if that will cause a Rage loss.
- 02 Aug. 2019: Clarified how Death Wish should be used in a raid for optimal value.
- 28 Jul. 2019: Added more information on why Sunder Armor is a legitimate skill to use when DPSing.
- 20 Jul. 2019: Reworked the rotation due to feedback.
- 12 Jun. 2019: Page added.
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