Arms Warrior DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities — Shadowlands 9.1

Last updated on Jun 28, 2021 at 12:54 by Archimtiros 31 comments
General Information

On this page, you will learn how to optimize the rotation of your Arms Warrior in both single-target and multiple-target situations. We also have advanced sections about cooldowns, procs, etc. in order to minmax your DPS. All our content is updated for World of Warcraft — Shadowlands 9.1.

If you were looking for WoW Classic content, please refer to our TBC Classic Arms Warrior rotation.

1.

Arms Warrior Rotation

Welcome to our Rotation page for Arms Warriors. On this page you will find everything you need to know about actually playing the spec in Raiding and Mythic+ scenarios.

1.1.

Easy Mode

If the rotations below seem overwhelming to you, you might benefit from visiting our Easy Mode page which outlines a close-to-optimal rotation in simpler terms.

1.2.

PvP

The content on this page is purely PvE-related. If you are looking for PvP Rotation Tips, please visit our PvP page below.

2.

Arms Warrior Single-Target Rotation

The Arms rotation is a conditional priority list, which can change depending on talent choice. Use the checkboxes below to make the appropriate customizations, though the default is optimized for Night Fae.

Covenant Talents
Night Fae Skullsplitter Icon Skullsplitter
Necrolord Fervor of Battle Icon Fervor of Battle
Kyrian Rend Icon Rend
Venthyr Sudden Death Icon Sudden Death
Warbreaker Icon Warbreaker
Avatar Icon Avatar
Deadly Calm Icon Deadly Calm
Dreadnaught Icon Dreadnaught
Ravager Icon Ravager

This rotation focuses on the period above 20% health, or 35% health with Massacre Icon Massacre talented; when your target reaches this threshold, Execute Icon Execute becomes available and the priority changes, as noted in the following section.

  1. Cast Rend Icon Rend if less than 4 seconds remains on the debuff, outside of Colossus Smash Icon Colossus Smash.
  2. Cast Avatar Icon Avatar up to 8 seconds prior to Colossus Smash Icon Colossus Smash.
  3. Cast Colossus Smash Icon Colossus Smash.
  4. Cast Overpower Icon Overpower while you have two charges off the ability off cooldown.
  5. Cast Mortal Strike Icon Mortal Strike with two stacks of the Overpower Icon Overpower buff, with the Battlelord Icon Battlelord buff, or with the Enduring Blow Icon Enduring Blow Legendary equipped.
  6. Cast Ancient Aftershock Icon Ancient Aftershock during the Colossus Smash Icon Colossus Smash debuff.
  7. Cast Skullsplitter Icon Skullsplitter when less than 60 Rage, and Bladestorm Icon Bladestorm is not about to be used.
  8. Cast Bladestorm Icon Bladestorm below 30 Rage.
  9. Cast Overpower Icon Overpower for free damage and to buff Mortal Strike Icon Mortal Strike.
  10. Cast Mortal Strike Icon Mortal Strike on cooldown for damage and to maintain Deep Wounds Icon Deep Wounds.
  11. Cast Slam Icon Slam as a filler.

Keeping Mortal Strike Icon Mortal Strike on cooldown for both damage and to maintain Deep Wounds Icon Deep Wounds is the most important part of the rotation outside of the Execute Icon Execute phase. There will always be three global cooldowns between each cast, making it nearly impossible to ever overcap Overpower Icon Overpower buff stacks.

2.1.

Execute Phase

Execute Icon Execute and Condemn Icon Condemn deal very high damage and refunds 30% of the Rage spent if the target does not die, helping to maintain the high Rage cost. It will become the main Rage spender once the target drops below 20% health, or 35% with Massacre Icon Massacre talented.

  1. Cast Avatar Icon Avatar up to 8 seconds prior to Colossus Smash Icon Colossus Smash.
  2. Cast Colossus Smash Icon Colossus Smash.
  3. Cast Overpower Icon Overpower while you have two charges off the ability off cooldown.
  4. Cast Mortal Strike Icon Mortal Strike with two stacks of the Overpower Icon Overpower buff, with the Battlelord Icon Battlelord buff, or with the Enduring Blow Icon Enduring Blow Legendary equipped.
  5. Cast Ancient Aftershock Icon Ancient Aftershock during the Colossus Smash Icon Colossus Smash debuff.
  6. Cast Skullsplitter Icon Skullsplitter when less than 55 Rage.
  7. Cast Bladestorm Icon Bladestorm when under 50 Rage.
  8. Cast Overpower Icon Overpower as a free filler.
  9. Cast Execute Icon Execute as the primary Rage spender.

Mortal Strike Icon Mortal Strike now has a more prominent place in the rotation aside from maintaining Deep Wounds Icon Deep Wounds, particularly alongside the Enduring Blow Icon Enduring Blow or Battlelord Icon Battlelord legendaries. Overpower continues to be used regardless, to take advantage of the zero Rage cost.

2.2.

Opening Rotation for Arms Warrior

The Arms opener is functionally identical to the standard rotation, using Charge Icon Charge to initiate combat in order to start with more Rage, and proceeding with the standard priority detailed above.

When talenting Skullsplitter Icon Skullsplitter, delay its use in the opener due Bladestorm Icon Bladestorm generating plenty of Rage.

3.

Multiple-Target Rotation for Arms Warrior

The Arms rotation is a conditional priority list, which can change depending on talent choice. Use the checkboxes below to make the appropriate customizations.

Whenever there are more than 2 targets, keep Sweeping Strikes Icon Sweeping Strikes on cooldown, using it to spread Colossus Smash Icon Colossus Smash and Rend Icon Rend debuffs onto a second target whenever possible. Prioritize Bladestorm Icon Bladestorm over Sweeping Strikes, and do not use Sweeping Strikes if you are about to use Bladestorm.

3.1.

2-3 Targets

  1. Cast Sweeping Strikes Icon Sweeping Strikes if you are not about to use Bladestorm Icon Bladestorm.
  2. Cast Skullsplitter Icon Skullsplitter when less than 60 Rage, when Bladestorm Icon Bladestorm is not about to be used.
  3. Cast Colossus Smash Icon Colossus Smash.
  4. Cast Ancient Aftershock Icon Ancient Aftershock during the Colossus Smash Icon Colossus Smash debuff.
  5. Cast Bladestorm Icon Bladestorm during the Colossus Smash Icon Colossus Smash debuff.
  6. Cast Cleave Icon Cleave to maintain Deep Wounds Icon Deep Wounds.
  7. Cast Execute Icon Execute.
  8. Cast Overpower Icon Overpower.
  9. Cast Mortal Strike Icon Mortal Strike.
  10. Cast Whirlwind Icon Whirlwind.

Unless solely focused on burst AoE with Bladestorm Icon Bladestorm, Cleave Icon Cleave is the priority attack in order to maintain Deep Wounds Icon Deep Wounds on multiple targets.

3.2.

4+ Targets

  1. Cast Sweeping Strikes Icon Sweeping Strikes if you are not about to use Bladestorm Icon Bladestorm.
  2. Cast Skullsplitter Icon Skullsplitter when less than 60 Rage, when Bladestorm Icon Bladestorm is not about to be used.
  3. Cast Colossus Smash Icon Colossus Smash.
  4. Cast Ancient Aftershock Icon Ancient Aftershock during the Colossus Smash Icon Colossus Smash debuff.
  5. Cast Bladestorm Icon Bladestorm during the Colossus Smash Icon Colossus Smash debuff.
  6. Cast Cleave Icon Cleave for damage and to maintain Deep Wounds Icon Deep Wounds.
  7. Cast Execute Icon Execute during Sweeping Strikes Icon Sweeping Strikes.
  8. Cast Whirlwind Icon Whirlwind during Colossus Smash Icon Colossus Smash.
  9. Cast Overpower Icon Overpower.
  10. Cast Whirlwind Icon Whirlwind.

For maximum burst AoE, stack Avatar Icon Avatar with Warbreaker Icon Warbreaker, and cast Bladestorm Icon Bladestorm on as many targets as possible. Do not use Sweeping Strikes Icon Sweeping Strikes if you are about to use Bladestorm.

4.

Mastering your Arms Warrior

4.1.

Aligning Cooldowns

Arms only has two baseline and one talented cooldowns, which take little effort to align, but the more imprortant part is ensuring that Avatar Icon Avatar ad Bladestorm Icon Bladestorm are used effectively when also making use of Signet of Tormented Kings Icon Signet of Tormented Kings, as the random proc can come out at inopportune times, such as proccing Bladestorm before getting in range of the enemy.

4.1.1.

Managing Deep Wounds

Maintained by Mortal Strike Icon Mortal Strike, Colossus Smash Icon Colossus Smash, Bladestorm Icon Bladestorm, Ravager Icon Ravager, and Cleave Icon Cleave, keeping Deep Wounds Icon Deep Wounds on the target or targets is paramount to maximizing damage, as it can significantly increase the damage taken from your abilities. Because the debuff lasts 12 seconds, this should happen naturally over the course of the rotation, but when facing multiple targets, take care to keep the debuff on as many targets as possible for maximum benefit.

4.1.2.

When to use Skullsplitter

Skullsplitter Icon Skullsplitter is an on demand Rage generator, which should be used as close to on cooldown as possible, whenever Rage is below 60 to keep from capping. However, it should not be used without spending Rage before Bladestorm Icon Bladestorm, or else autoattacks run a very high risk of wasted Rage.

5.

Legendary Items

Most Legendary items are passive bonuses that do not need to be managed. However, a few can be optimized to improve performance slightly:

5.1.

Tier 1 Talents Rage Generation

On average, one target needs to die every 8 seconds for War Machine Icon War Machine to keep up with Skullsplitter Icon Skullsplitter in sustained combat. For this reason, it tends not to be practical in most raid encounters, and is better reserved for fast-paced dungeons and open world content.

5.2.

Rage Management

Arms generates Rage purely from auto-attack swings and Charge Icon Charge casts and nearly all abilities cost Rage to use. Ensuring you always have enough Rage to use Mortal Strike Icon Mortal Strike on cooldown is paramount, both for damage and to keep Deep Wounds Icon Deep Wounds on the target. Choosing not to spend Rage on a filler ability, and letting a global cooldown go unfilled is better than letting the debuff drop off.

5.3.

Heroic Charge

A small optimisation can be made by moving out of range of the target and using Charge Icon Charge to generate extra Rage during your rotation. Care should be taken to do this between autoattack swings, when Colossus Smash Icon Colossus Smash is not active. Heroic Leap Icon Heroic Leap can also be used to create enough room to Charge.

5.4.

Movement and Mobility

Warriors have a number of active tools through Charge Icon Charge and Heroic Leap Icon Heroic Leap that allow for instant movement across large distances. Finding ways to maximise your uptime on a target through the intelligent use of these is crucial, as downtime is extremely detrimental to the flow of the rotation. The talents Double Time Icon Double Time and Bounding Stride Icon Bounding Stride are particularly useful in any encounter which demands heavy movement.

5.5.

Defensive Abilities

Arms' primary survivability tool is Die by the Sword Icon Die by the Sword, which is exceptionally useful for immuning direct physical damage and can even be used to tank raid bosses for a short time. The talent Defensive Stance Icon Defensive Stance can be used for more mitigation when expecting more frequent spike damage.

Warriors also have access to Rallying Cry Icon Rallying Cry, one of the few defensive group cooldowns in the game. It is typically used to help the group survive key encounter mechanics rather than as a personal cooldown. Keep in mind that it is on the global cooldown, so be ready to use it when needed.

5.6.

Group Buffs

Arms also brings Battle Shout Icon Battle Shout, increasing all party and raid members Attack Power by 5%, which should be applied before combat begins. 5% Attack Power translates to roughly 5% damage for melee classes and Hunters, although the actual impact is slightly reduced due to the prevalence of non-scaling sources of damage such as trinkets and potions.

6.

Mythic+ Rotation

For information about Mythic+ as an Arms Warrior and the rotation you need to use in this game mode, please refer to our Mythic+ page.

7.

WeakAuras for Arms Warriors

WeakAuras can have a tremendous effect on your performance, helping you track important buffs, debuffs, and cooldowns. Since this is a broad topic, we made a page dedicated to it.

8.

Changelog

  • 28 Jun. 2021: Updated for Patch 9.1.
  • 09 Mar. 2021: Reviewed for Patch 9.0.5.
  • 23 Nov. 2020: Removed Essence & Azerite information, updated the rest for Shadowlands launch.
  • 12 Oct. 2020: Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
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