Warrior tactics

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Warrior tactics for Mists of Pandaria are presented below. Be advised that the rest of the article is significantly out of date, and that while it may contain some strategies and advice that is still relevant to the current game, much of its content may no longer be accurate.

Mists of Pandaria

General advice and tactics

  • Try to wear plate in every slot for the 5% stat bonus from [Plate Specialization].
  • When your target is out of range, [Charge] to close the gap, or use [Heroic Throw].
  • Use [Pummel] to interrupt casters.
  • Use [Disarm] against tougher foes.
  • Use [Hamstring] to prevent foes from running away.
  • Keep up [Battle Shout] or [Commanding Shout].
  • Use [Shield Wall] to reduce incoming damage in emergencies.
  • Use [Intimidating Shout] to CC foes.
  • Use [Berserker Rage] whenever you're low on Rage.
  • [Recklessness] gives your special attacks an additional 50% chance to critically hit for 12 seconds with a 5 minute cooldown. Use for tougher fights.
  • [Deadly Calm] reduces the cost of your next 3 Heroic Strikes or Cleaves within 9 seconds by 10 Rage. Use before unloading a series of Heroic Strikes or Cleaves.
  • Use [Intervene] to quickly get to an ally, or to protect a squishier ally who draws aggro.
  • [Shattering Throw] reduces the target's armor by 20% for 10 seconds or removes invulnerability buffs. Many boss invulnerability buffs can't be removed. 5 minute cooldown.
  • [Rallying Cry] gives all party and raid members within range a temporary health boost equal to 20% of their maximum health for 10 seconds. Once the buff expires, the health is lost, however this won't reduce anyone below 1 health. 3 minute cooldown.
  • [Heroic Leap] lets you jump to the targeted location and deal AoE damage. It's an alternative to Charge.
  • [Intervene] decreases incoming damage from enemies within range for 15 seconds, with a 3 minute cooldown. Use in emergencies, or when you know heavy damage is incoming.
  • [Mocking Banner] taunts all enemies within range for 30 seconds, with a 3 minute cooldown. Use when you need a mass taunt.
  • [Skull Banner] increases critical hit damage of all party and raid members within range by 20% for 10 seconds, with a 1 minute cooldown. Use for tougher fights.

Arms

Fury

Protection

  • Protection warrior should generally use a one-handed strength weapon and a shield.
  • You should generally be in [Defensive Stance].
  • Pull with [Charge], [Heroic Leap] or [Heroic Throw].
  • Rotational abilities:
  • Spec-exclusive cooldowns:
    • [Last Stand] increases your maximum and current health by 30% for 20 seconds, after which the temporary health expires. When the buff expires, the health loss will not reduce you below 1 health. Use in emergencies when low on health.
    • [Demoralizing Shout] reduces damage from nearby enemies by 20% for 10 seconds, with a 1 minute colodown. Use for tougher fights, especilly when you know hard hits are incoming.
  • Remember, glyphs, talents and set bonuses may affect your rotation.


Opening remarks

The topic of the "best" tactics for a Warrior seems to generate more heat than other WoW debates. As is usual when this happens, a lot of the heat is thrown between people who are not always talking about the same thing. You can't really have the "best" warrior until you answer the question, "Best at what?"

As with other classes, the only "correct" path for a warrior is the one most enjoyed by the player; though in high level (endgame) instances and in raids the warrior's teammates will have particular expectations.

A word about equipment

Kulvo Jadefist, a dwarf warrior.
Always be prepared!

The importance of good equipment for a warrior cannot be overstated.

Offsetting the warrior's difficulty in achieving damage is the wide spectrum of gear from which they can choose, the widest in the game. This allows them to move between specialties more effectively than other classes. It is common for high-level warriors to maintain different sets of gear, e.g. one specifically for tanking and another for PvP (often along with macros to switch between them). By selecting equipment carefully the warrior can more than compensate for the lack of super-DPS abilities enjoyed by other classes. Plate equipment in particular can offer the most armor, the highest bonuses to traits (Strength, Crit, etc.), and the best bonuses to combat skills–often simultaneously on a single item.

Since gear is so important, many warriors try to build a full armor set to take advantage of the extra set bonuses. The set bonuses can be generic, or be specific to a particular type of activity.

The heavy reliance on good equipment also means that the warrior is one of the most expensive and time-consuming classes to equip. The adage that "warriors are only as good as their gear" is not entirely correct, but there is more than a kernel of truth there. You may end up buying much of your equipment as you level in the auction house as well as spending a lot of time grinding for gear in instances. At level 60 and above, the problem only compounds as needs increase, as tanks usually need not only high stats and armor, but also dodge/parry/mastery, and in rare cases resistances, and often many sets of armor for different raiding situations. Since warriors can learn many different kinds of weapons, it benefits a warrior to skill up as many weapons as possible, because one never knows what will drop in an instance. This means keeping and swapping out a large number of weapons as well as having the best armor available.

Ultimately your equipment should be chosen to best suit the role your warrior intends to fill.

Warrior roles

Warriors can be roughly divided into at least four basic concepts, each of which requires a different approach:

Tanking

An orc protector.
For more information, see warriors as tanks.

In group quests and in elite instances, enemies are generally much stronger or more numerous than in normal situations. A group of players must work as a whole to defeat these powerful opponents, which best be done through players each taking a specific role in the group. Many player characters are unable to take the immense amount of damage these enemies deal out without dying rapidly, but it is here that a tank excels.

A well-outfitted Warrior can certainly deal out a great amount of damage, but if you are the group's tank it is not your job to deal the most damage. Rather, your role is to take damage for your party members, and to reduce this damage as much as possible. There are two main reasons for this.

  • First of all, a Protection-specced warrior is better able than any damage dealer or healer to withstand and mitigate the immense amount of damage that is dealt in instances, with only Blood-specialized death knights, Protection-specialized paladins, Guardian-specialized druids and Brewmaster-specialized monks able to reach the same level with proper gear and talent choices. Although often considered to be a well-rounded and capable tanking class, warriors do have their limits, particularly when there are a large number of mobs to deal with, as a tanking warrior's AoE threat is largely limited to Thunderclap and [Shockwave]. (In particular, for groups of 3 or more mobs, paladins, death knights or druids have become the preferred class as they are more effective at multi-tanking.) The strength of a warrior tank comes from being able to hold down aggro on one or two heavy-hitting targets extremely well at the cost of reduced damage output. Damage dealt to a tanking Warrior is damage that is not dealt to the rest of the group.
  • As importantly, taking this immense amount of damage allows a tanking warrior to generate huge amounts of Rage – and Rage is the key for a warrior to being able to keep enemies focused on themselves. The more damage a tanking Warrior takes, the more Rage the warrior builds up, and the more Rage a warrior has, the more threat-creating abilities the warrior will be able to use.

Given the warrior's ability to wear extremely tough armor, to build up a huge amount of health, and large array of abilities that allow them to build up a lot of threat, a warrior is an ideal tank. Warriors choosing to play this role in a group should focus on equipment and talents that emphasize mitigation such as armor, and avoidance (dodge and parry), Stamina and to a lesser extent Strength and Expertise, and threat generation (generally through weapon DPS). Warriors will generally need to use a shield and a one-handed weapon when they tank. Get the best you have available to you. Some weapons are especially designed with tanking in mind – they may have extra armor, parry and/or dodge, etc. when equipped. Fast one-handed weapons are generally considered superior for a tanking warrior due to the threat output of [Heroic Strike] and [Cleave] when there is an abundance of Rage.

Durae Crystalshield, a draenei warrior.

In some ways, tanking can be thought of as a form of crowd control. The primary responsibility of a tank is to remain the target of the enemy while the others in the group kill it or heal the group. However, it may also be necessary for the tank to move the enemy, by kiting it towards a specific position, or to turn it in a certain direction, to keep certain attacks from affecting other members in the group. A warrior tank can also prevent the enemy from casting spells, or at higher levels reflect them back toward the mob that is casting them.

Warriors who tank generally use [Defensive Stance], and dedicated tanks emphasize the Protection talent tree, particularly in endgame PvE. This combination helps the warrior generate more threat and withstand more damage. The Protection talent tree also provides invaluable abilities and bonuses necessary for tanking endgame instances and bosses, some of whom deal many thousands of damage in a few seconds.

The descriptions of many of warrior abilities and talents refer to an increased amount of threat generated. A tank will normally attempt to generate as much threat as possible with all the enemies that the group faces. The higher the tank is on an enemy's "threat list," the less likely it is that enemy will run off to attack someone else. In particular you will want to watch the group's healer(s). When the group's healer(s) die it is potentially a sign that you may have (or are) a poor tank, but some of the time it's due to the healer standing in fire etc. Using a wide camera angle can help provide the necessary situational awareness to react to a changing situation as warrior.

Vindicator Borovon, another draenei warrior

If you are a group's main tank, don't try to compete with other classes in your group as a damage dealer. Instead concentrate on keeping the enemies focused on you. It is your responsibility to make sure each enemy considers you a serious threat as quickly as possible. This means switching targets, if necessary, to deliver threat-producing blows. A warrior will often switch to each enemy in turn at the start of a fight, building up threat with each (usually with abilities like [Devastate]), before finally settling on one for the kill. Area-of-effect threat generation abilities such as [Thunder Clap] and [Shockwave] are also quite useful. [Demoralizing Shout] has had its threat generation heavily reduced and should be used as a damage reducing debuff rather than a threat generation ability. Producing threat on all enemies in combat with the group is important due to the game mechanics of healing threat generation.

Finally, tanking is a concept that has meaning only in PvE groups. Since tanking depends on the game mechanics of threat, it has no meaning in solo play and practically none in PvP.

Off tanking

Sentry Gwynn, a night elf warrior.
See also: Off tank

Off-tanking usually happens when a party is attempting kill a group of enemies with more than one serious threat. While the main tank is busy holding aggro on the main threat, the off tank makes sure any secondary threats don't attack the healers and casters. For practical purposes, an off-tanking warrior has exactly similar itemization needs as a main tank warrior; in fact, a warrior off-tank will generally be a warrior who has inferior gear compared to the group's main tank. Raiding off-tanks will be well-advised to carry a set of DPS gear and have a secondary DPS spec (preferably not a PvP spec) for fights in which either a secondary tank is impractical or DPS is of paramount importance.

Depending on the particular fight, an off-tank may hold a weaker enemy or enemies that the group as a whole focuses on killing quickly while the main tank holds aggro on a more dangerous enemy, or they may pull weaker enemies off healers, casters, etc. that the main tank has lost aggro on (common when large groups of mobs are pulled, or a bad pull is made). During modern raids, these secondary targets often require gear on par with a main tank's, and so the role of part time off-tank is rare due to fight mechanics either requiring no extra tank or a well-equipped one.

DPS

Keward Rocksalt, a dwarf warrior.

Warriors that spec deep into the Arms or Fury talent trees can be formidable damage-dealers in PvE content. With proper skill, gear, and talents, Warriors can DPS as effectively as any other DPS class.

Fury warriors tend to dual-wield two one-handed weapons or two two-handed weapons, while Arms Warriors generally use a slow two-handed weapon. Although historically the Fury tree has been the premiere damage-dealing warrior tree, Arms has achieved a rough parity. Itemization is similar for both, emphasizing Strength and Critical Strike, and to a lesser degree Stamina, but a Fury warrior will require more Hit than a similarly-geared Arms Warrior, due to the lower hit % from dual-wielding.

Depending on the fight and group composition, DPS warriors may be expected to interrupt spellcasting with [Pummel].

PvP

Main article: Warrior PvP
Blademistress Lyss, a human warrior

Generally speaking, a warrior's role in player versus player is to engage and destroy the enemy in melee combat, ideally with a healer on hand to assist. Properly backed up with a healer (or two) a Warrior can become a fearsome killing machine – as the enemy attacks the warrior, the warrior takes damage, but also gains Rage. The damage may be healed, but the Rage remains, allowing the warrior to perform more powerful attacks and deal more damage. Without a friendly healer nearby, however, warriors are often at a disadvantage, especially versus ranged damage types. Thus an excellent tactic in group player versus player combat is to stay with friendly casters and healers and protect them from melee types like rogues and other warriors.

Arms and Fury warriors again are both popular in PvP. (However, a Protection-specced warrior can also be useful in battlegrounds such as Alterac Valley.) Itemization is similar to that of the DPS warrior, however Stamina gains a much increased role among PvP warriors. Arms warriors with [Mortal Strike] are extremely popular in the Arena PvP system.[citation needed]

General tactics

Elder Valdar of the Exodar, another draenei warrior.

Melee range and movement

  • Stun abilities prevent you from doing anything at all. Can't move, attack, cast spells.
  • Root abilities are things that keep you from moving only.
  • Snare abilities are things that slow your movement speed.

Anti-Root: Warriors must be particularly ready to prevent root actions, which can effectively prevent melee combat, taking away the primary means by which the warrior inflicts both effects and damage to the opponent.

Common Root Abilities:

Common root counters:

PvP trinkets must be equipped before the battle begins, as you cannot change armor while in combat. Other drawbacks include a 30-second delay from the time that you first equip it to when its ability can be used, and bonuses that you are giving up (additional procs, or +stats) as trade off for the ability.

If you have closed to within melee range on a druid, it may be better to use your anti-root effect before you become rooted, because if it takes you 0.5 seconds to react to the root (not accounting server lag), that will typically be enough time for the enemy to get out of melee range (even snared). Druids may have [Nature's Grasp], which is an ability that causes anyone who hits them to have a chance of becoming rooted (doesn't apply if your 5-second immunity to root is active).

Managing melee distance falls into two categories – obtaining melee distance when not in range, and keeping melee range once you've got it. Other than simply running to an opponent, a warrior has only these abilities to affect combat distance/maneuvering:

Tristan Rapidstrike, a night elf warrior.
  • [Charge] (Generates Rage, 20 second cooldown, can be used while in combat)
  • [Intervene] (30 second cooldown, will only charge to a friendly target)
  • [Hamstring] (Reduces target's movement speed by 50% for 15 seconds)
  • [Piercing Howl] (Level 45 talent, dazes all nearby enemies reducing their move speed by 50%. Lasts 6 seconds. Has a relatively small range. In PvE it is mostly used only when trying to escape from a crowd of mobs, although in PvP it has similar utility to a shaman's [Earthbind Totem] or a hunter's [Ice Trap].)

In most cases, warriors will use Charge when outside of melee range, and Hamstring when inside it. Charge causes causes a 1.5 second stun which is enough time for the warrior to use an ability or two after melee range has been re-established. Hamstring should almost always be used immediately after an Intercept to ensure that the opponent does not get away, or at least doesn't get away quickly, in these situation. Healing classes like priests, druids, paladins, shamans, and monks should have healing spells interrupted, while damage-dealing classes like mages and warlocks should have their largest attack spells interrupted. Against most spellcasters, the warrior must become aware of what spells are being cast by the motions and colors of the caster. Be sure you have checked the box in Interface Options labeled "Show Enemy Cast Bars on Portrait". This will display a bar that will be labelled with what spell your target is casting. Try to save your interrupt cooldown for a healing spell, or a large, powerful damage spell such as a mage's [Pyroblast] or a warlock's [Shadow Bolt]. An opponent should be Hamstringed before [Disarm] or other debuffs, to help ensure melee range is maintained while the warrior has an advantage. (Rogues are the exception, as you can possibly avoid their [Crippling Poison] by disarming them first.)

Counterattacks or opportunistic abilities

[Revenge] TCG art

Warriors are a "reactive" class. Their most powerful abilities are enabled by situational or chance happenings of combat, and since these opportunities have several requirements such as stance, weapon, melee range, time window, and rage, correct usage of a warrior is complex. Given the time-constraints to react, pre-planning (macro setup and strategy) are required for success.

The first 4 abilities are critical for all warriors, but by far, overpower is a warrior's greatest ability. It should be used whenever it is enabled by an opponent's dodge. Overpower is so good that it is often worthwhile to dual wield in order to gain more opportunities for the opponent to dodge. Its +50% chance to crit (with 2 talent points) means that at level 60, a warrior overpower will deal a pessimistic damage of 300 damage against a plate wearer when it doesn't crit, but 600-800 when it does, which is quite often.

Execute also regularly does huge damage and is next in line for should be used whenever possible. This hits normally for 500-700 damage.

In the table below, stances are B=Battle, D=Defensive, Z=Berserker.


Ability Name Stance Rage Why This Ability is Good Requirements
[Overpower] B 5 Best Damage (Weapon Dmg + 35) per Rage, Can't be blocked, dodged, or parried Opponent Dodge, best with big damage weapon (speed doesn't matter). Talent points (1,2) can give additional chance to crit (+25%, +50%)
[Execute] B Z 15 Big Damage per Rage (600+ dmg) Only when opponent within 20% of death, drains 15-30 rage
[Hamstring] B Z 10 Slows Enemy
[Disarm] D 20 10-sec disarm of enemy , +5\+10% damage on disarmed target with 2 talent points. Useful against any class , with 2 talent points spent , thanks to bonus damage. Otherwise useful only against melee targets
[Revenge] D 5 Decent Damage, Low Rage. 30/60% damage increased, and hits an additional target for 50/100% with 1,2 talent points. Excellent hate generation. Warrior Dodge/Parry/Block.
[Shield Block] D 10 Blocks melee damage, enables Revenge Requires Shield, only useful against melee
[Concussion Blow] BDZ 15 5-second Stun, interrupt spell Talent Points needed to gain this ability (21 min)
[Mortal Strike] BDZ 30 Big Damage, reduces enemy healing by 50% Arms specialization needed to gain this ability
[Shield Slam] BDZ 30 Nice damage, nice hate generation Requires Shield

Spell Interruption

Aknot Whetstone, an orc warrior.

Apart from Pumel, there are also a warrior's secondary interrupts that becomes very important. These secondary interrupts include [Intimidating Shout] (you'll need to re-target), Charge, Concussion Blow, and Disrupting Roar. The tauren special ability [War Stomp] is also an excellent spell breaker. Keeping a spellcasting class locked out of a particular class of spellcasting is a key to winning.

Skills

For discussions, advice and strategies relating to the many and diverse individual warrior abilities, see the entries listed from the abilities page, here.

Talent Strategies

Andiss Butcherson, a human warrior

In addition to choosing a talent mix that matches your main role (see above), there are a few general things to know about specific talents:

Last Stand: You lose the full amount of health you gain from it afterwards (it will NOT kill you but it will drop you to one hit point as it wears off). An additional use for Last Stand is to give healers an extra few seconds to catch up on healing while grouping, or have enough time to defeat your enemy.

Mortal Strike: This talent causes and instant strike for weapon damage plus a static modifier. It also causes a debuff that reduces healing by 50%. This talent is especially useful in PvP areas such as the arena where healing is a large part of the strategy of many teams.

General Solo PvE Tactics

Syluri, another draenei warrior.

The warrior is designed to take a lot of punishment from mobs while dealing decent amounts of damage. At the beginning, the warrior is limited to a few abilities, namely [Heroic Strike], and [Charge]. In the beginning, a warrior will usually be confined to Charging, casting shouts, then Heroic Striking to death with the occasional Overpower thrown in when it becomes available. However, at level 10, the warrior will gain access to their specialization abilities [Mortal Strike], [Bloodthirst], and [Shield Slam]. These abilities drastically increase a warrior's soloing ability. Endgame, any of the three trees are viable soloing specs, given the right gear. Arms specialization is good for warriors who lack a lot of +hit (necessary for duel wielding Fury).

Arms warriors

A stalwart tauren warrior.

Arms warriors in PvE fight in Battle Stance. Warriors should always open with a [Charge] to gain rage. If the mob is among other patrolling mobs, warriors should always pull with [Heroic Throw], and use [Berserker Rage] to gain the rage from Charge.

When the enemy is on the warrior, open with Rend (warrior ability). Then hit them with [Mortal Strike] for damage and the healing debuff. Overpower should always be used whenever it becomes active on an enemy dodge (parry with  [Glyph of Overpower], Rend tick with [Taste for Blood]. Slam becomes useful in between Overpower procs, and Mortal Strike cooldowns, even more so with [Improved Slam]. If the warrior has invested points in [Sudden Death], then Execute is also useful in between Overpower and Mortal Strike.

Bladestorm is usually saved for multiple mobs, but has shown use against single mobs and raid bosses. Many warriors will be left with a full rage bar when Bladestorm expires, making it a viable way to stack rage while simultaniously dealing damage.

Near end game, a typical Arms warrior's ability rotation will look something like this:

  • Charge/Shoot/Throw
  • Berserker Rage
  • Mortal Strike
  • Slam
  • Overpower (Whenever procs)
  • Execute (Whenever procs)
  • Refresh Mortal Strike whenever it's off cooldown

Fury Warriors

Ol' Stonewall, another dwarf warrior.

By dual-wielding weapons with [Titan's Grip] or [Single-Minded Fury], Fury warriors will rarely find themselves without rage.

Strike with [Bloodthirst] and [Whirlwind] as your opener, combining these abilities with [Heroic Strike] to maximize damage. Due to dual wielding 2H Weapons, Fury warriors can often spare the rage to use Heroic Strike several times in a fight. If you have points in [Bloodsurge], then it is even more incentive to use Bloodthirst. Keep an eye out for the buff (or install an addon to warn you when it procs) to apply free [Wild Strike]. With this talent, Wild Strike becomes much like an Arms warrior's Overpower.

Against multiple mobs, [Cleave] can be spammed in replacement of Heroic Strike. Whirlwind is even more effective against multiple mobs, as you will strike with both weapons rather than one.

Panic buttons for Fury warriors consist mostly of [Enraged Regeneration] for healing. Use [Battle Shout] for even more power.

At the end game, a Fury warrior's ability rotation will look something like this:

  • Berserker Rage
  • Whirlwind
  • Bloodthirst
  • Slam (When procs.)
  • Heroic Strike or Cleave (When Rage is above 50)
  • Repeat when cooldowns expire.

Protection Warriors

Maeryl Leafstrike, a night elf warrior.

Protection warriors may start with a Charge and alternate between Revenge and Shield Block, using Shield Slam to burn excess rage. While not the fastest way to kill mobs, the warrior can round up mobs and unleash Thunderclap followed by a Shockwave. The warriors health loss is mitigated by the extra damage from Revenge. Even while soloing, shield slam is a very large part of a prot warrior's DPS.

PvE Grouping

In 25 man raids, all tanks will usually be specced deep into Protection, though this does not prevent warriors from DPS-ing.

Warriors can also fulfill the role of pure DPS. By speccing deep into the Fury or Arms tree, a warrior can be just as powerful as other DPS classes. Also, warriors scale better with gear than most classes, so DPS warriors in high level raids can be incredibly powerful.