Arms Warrior PvP Rotation and Playstyle (Shadowlands / 9.1)
PvP requires you to perform various actions in the course of a duel, match, or battleground: interrupting/silencing enemies, damaging them, bursting them down, defending yourself, keeping yourself alive, etc.. It is a game mode that fully utilizes your kit, especially spells that are rarely used in PvE. On this page, we go through all the spells you need to use in PvP as an Arms Warrior, how you should use them, and we explain what your playstyle should be.
This page is part of our Arms Warrior PvP Guide.
Playstyle for Arms Warriors
The Arms Warrior has two roles when in an arena: do as much damage as possible and support your team with your broad utility. The most important part is to always have uptime on your enemy. Should your target get away from you, it is better to hit an enemy closer to you until you can regain uptime on your kill target.
In general, PvP comes down to good judgment and decision making. There are not two matches that are identical, and you will have to use your toolkit differently vs some enemies than the general guideline. However, the most important part is to master the fundamentals of playing arms warrior, like dealing damage, before thinking about how to outplay your opponents, and you should therefore focus on the information and rotations listed in this section for starters.
Before Gates Open
Coordinate with your team who your kill target is going to be, and any potential swaps you can do. As the arms warrior, it is often you who determines who your team is focusing.
Though you should save your Intimidating Shout and Storm Bolt for offensive pressure, you should determine and judge for yourself if it is better to save them to aid your team defensively, for an example if you are playing WLS vs Windwalker+Death Knight.
Understanding Arms Warrior Damage
Before going into the rotation, it is best to understand how to maximize your damage as an Arms Warrior. Your primary damaging abilities are Mortal Strike and Overpower. Mortal Wounds must be maintained at all times through Mortal Strike. Mastery: Deep Wounds amplifies your damaging abilities against affected targets, and must be maintained at all times.
This list serves as your sustained damage rotation priority.
- Maintain Hamstring on your kill target at all times.
- Maintain Mortal Wounds on your kill target at all times.
- Use Avatar and Warbreaker for when you wish to burst.
- Use Mortal Strike if Mortal Wounds is about to fall off on your kill target.
- Use Execute when the enemy drops below threshold or if you get a Sudden Death proc.
- Use Mortal Strike on cooldown outside of when Execute is available.
- If talented, maintain Rend on your kill target and spread it with Sweeping Strikes.
- Use Overpower to deal damage.
- Use Slam when above 60 Rage and Mortal Strike is on cooldown.
The opener refers to your team's opening CC chain and damage done as soon as you get out of the gates. The main goal in the opener is to force your enemies to use their cooldowns. If the enemy healer or your kill target uses their trinket in the opener, they are in trouble. There is no reason to hold onto your cooldowns at the start of the match, apply your team's CC chain and burst to gain momentum.
This is the rotation you should use on your target at the beginning of the game.
- Use Charge to close the gap between you and the target.
- Use Hamstring on the enemy to slow them.
- Use Storm Bolt on your kill target.
- Use Avatar and Warbreaker for burst.
- Use Mortal Strike to apply Mortal Wounds.
- Use Execute if you get a Sudden Death proc.
- Use Bladestorm.
- Use Mortal Strike empowered by Sharpen Blade if the enemy has sustained damage and your CC chain is about to end.
- Use Rend if you are using this talent.
- Use Overpower to deal damage.
- Use Intimidating Shout as a followup to any CC applied by your team or to start your team's CC chain. This point takes priority anywhere in the rotation if you judge that you can keep up the pressure to potentially land the kill.
When you have the enemy healer in crowd control and you are trying to kill an enemy, you use your burst damage.
- Use Storm Bolt to stun your kill target.
- Use Avatar and Warbreaker.
- If the enemy team is stacked and it will not slow you down enough for the enemy to stop your burst rotation, use Sweeping Strikes.
- Use Spear of Bastion if you are Kyrian.
- Use Mortal Strike if Mortal Wounds is about to fall off.
- Use Execute if your kill targets drops below the threshold or if Sudden Death procs.
- Use Mortal Strike.
- Use Bladestorm.
- Use Sharpen Blade as soon as the enemy healer leaves CC or uses healing cooldowns.
- Use Overpower.
- Use Slam as a filler.
Die by the Sword is your main defensive cooldown. This is a very powerful defensive against melee teams and offers a good damage reduction against DoTs and casters. Use this when you are being focused and your healer is having trouble healing you or is stuck in CC.
Because of the incredible low cooldown this ability has, it can also be used to simply block major offensive cooldowns like Avenging Wrath with little repercussion.
Defensive Stance is another great defensive that Warriors have. A permanent 20% damage reduction is excellent, even with the drawback of doing 20% less damage. The general guideline for when you should sit in this stance, is when you are sustaining more damage than you are dealing.
Heroic Leap has great pursuit potential but can be equally powerful when trying to survive. Breaking the line of sight of enemies will nullify most of their damage, and is a great way to prevent being killed by unstoppable cooldowns like Combustion.
Ignore Pain ignores 50% of the damage you are about to take. Use this when you are sustaining damage. Do not use it on cooldown, it will drain your Rage quickly if used this way.
Rallying Cry is a great defensive for you and your team, especially when in conjunction with Master and Commander and Inspiring Presence. Beware, as the health gained is lost at the end of the duration and can surprise kill you or your teammates.
Shield Block is kind of a niche ability that warriors got back with Shadowlands. It blocks any non-enhanced melee attack and ranged attack (Hunters). It does not work against abilities like Templar's Verdict or Obliterate that is frost enhanced. This ability can serve as a last line of defense against Subtlety Rogues, Feral Druids, Windwalker Monks, other Arms Warriors, and Marksmanship Hunters. If you are hitting into abilities like Evasion and you have nothing to swap to, you can switch weapons to Shield Block as well.
Victory Rush is not usable often, but it can still be used sometimes. You can gain this ability after killing an enemy or an enemy pet. So if you need a heal, you can quickly try to kill a pet and hit an enemy for a heal.
Good Bladestorm/Avatar usage
Bladestorm and Avatar are great burst cooldowns, but they are just as valuable for their anti-CC components. Against Mages, Restoration Shamans, Druids and other similar classes with roots, it may be better to use these abilities to break out of these roots instead of for burst damage. We advise learning the cooldowns of enemy roots so you get an idea of when you can use your abilities for burst and when you should use it to cleanse yourself.
Similarly, Bladestorm makes you immune to all CC, and can be very effective at ruining the enemy's attempt to kill you with abilities such as Kidney Shot if timed correctly. You have about a 0.25 sec grace period, where using Bladestorm after being hit with CC will still activate it and break you out of the CC.
Good Intimidating Shout usage
Intimidating Shout is a very powerful ability, that can make or break your game. This ability is as strong offensively as it is defensively. For this reason, this ability can be the hardest to determine how to use best. Good ways to use it offensively is to use it as a followup CC, to an already applied CC on the enemy healer, or to start a CC chain. The enemy team will try to stop your team from applying other forms of CC like Polymorph or Hex. If you can land an Intimidating Shout onto all of the enemy team, your team will be in a prime position to burst and apply CC without having to worry about being stopped. This way, you can turn the tides of a fight by, for an example, using it on a Windwalker Monk with Storm, Earth, and Fire during Fists of Fury, to nullify his/her offensive burst and letting you Storm Bolt your kill target to counter pressure with your team.
Intervene is one of the best tools arms warrior has for the team. It allows you to quickly reposition to your chosen teammate, and then redirect all melee and ranged attacks onto you. Keep in mind, that this ability does not do anything against spells unless you have the conduit Safeguard. Use it frequently and in respond to enemy attempts to kill your teammate. Do not be afraid to combine it with Die by the Sword, if you suspect the redirected damage is strong enough to kill you.
Shattering Throw also made a return in Shadowlands and is great for when a Mage uses Ice Block or a Paladin uses Divine Shield/ Blessing of Protection. This ability can also be used to deal a very large amount of damage to absorption shields like Life Cocoon, almost breaking them entirely.
It is advised to use Macros to use abilities on enemies or allies without having to target them. For this reason, we have a page dedicated to them.
- 02 Jul. 2021: Updated for Patch 9.1.
- 27 Dec. 2020: Rewritten by Karanze for Shadowlands season 1
- 05 Dec. 2020: Updated Burst Rotation to include Covenant Ability.
- 29 Nov. 2020: Removed outdated Traits and Essences.
- 22 Oct. 2020: Updated Defensives section.
- 14 Oct. 2020: Updated for Shadowlands pre-patch.
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