Warriors are one of the deadliest melee classes in World of Warcraft: Shadowlands in both player-vs-player (PvP) and player-vs-environment (PvE) settings due to damage potential, especially during their short cooldowns.
The unique covenants also improve on this, giving the Warrior even better opportunities to dish out a lot of damage in small timeframes and take over the meters in PvE or create kill opportunities in PvP. While Fury sometimes overtakes Arms as the primary DPS spec in either PvP or PvE, historically speaking, Arms always manages to get an edge due to better tools overall.
In PvP, Arms Warriors are one of the best melee DPS specs in the game, providing a lot of damage, durability, and utility. They have a wide array of tools to disrupt opponents and aid allies, giving them a lot of viable compositions in which to excel in rated arenas. While they have a lot of positive aspects, there are some weaknesses as well, mainly kiting and lack of crowd control (CC). Experienced players will take advantage of this and keep Arms Warriors at a safe distance to avoid giving them Rage to cast their abilities. You can’t go wrong with picking an Arms Warrior if you want a viable DPS spec throughout multiple expansions.
In PvE, have a relatively slow playstyle since most abilities are gated by the Rage resources, which need to be carefully thought about to avoid wasting on filler abilities and instead have it for your main damaging cooldowns. On top of this aspect, Warriors don’t have ranged abilities unlike other classes and will experience a lot of downtimes, especially during fights where kiting is involved. Even with multiple gap closers, you’ll still be feeling starved of damage compared to other melee classes that might have some ranged abilities to throw during a kite-heavy encounter.
Here are the best Arms Warrior talents and build for PvP and PvE.
Arms Warriors always find a composition to climb the ladder with regardless of expansion. Their kit, mostly unchanged from the early days, keeps up with the latest class additions to the game, even after multiple nerfs. With constant pressure on their opponents, Warriors reign supreme with a lot of raw damage in their kit, especially if left untouched.
The biggest weaknesses is kiting by other classes, who if played correctly can nullify your pressure and make you think of rerolling to a ranged spec. With the proper talents and partners, you can forego this weaknesses and increase your uptime against opponents. Paying attention to the opponent’s mobility cooldowns is a priority during your matches to ensure you don’t charge or intercept a target while it has multiple cooldowns up.
Level 15: Sudden Death – Execute is one of the strongest abilities Arms Warriors have, so it’s the best choice to go for talents to either allow you to use it earlier or improve its damage. While War Machine and Skullsplitter are decent talents, they are no where near the level of how strong an early Execute can be against various teams due to Sudden Death.
Level 25: Storm Bolt – This is the best pick for Arms Warriors in the second row by default. The CC helps you overcome your weaknesses of not having a lot of ranged disruption to stop incoming CC chains or burst damage on you or your partner. Impending Victory is lackluster and Double Time has some situational uses where you might need the additional Charge against teams with a lot of mobility.
Level 30: Massacre – The go-to talent to allow you to Execute characters with a higher threshold, rises in power a lot if you went for other talents to improve Execute. Fervor of Battle is useless in PvP since the damage is negligible and Rend can be a decent pick instead of Massacre against compositions with a lot of armor to increase DPS.
Level 35: Defensive Stance – If you want to become an unkillable DPS machine, this is your talent. It reduces incoming damage by 20 percent, while reducing your own damage by 10 percent. Good Warriors will change stances mid-fight to increase their pressure on opponents or reduce an opponent’s pressure instead. Stance management is key to victory in arena and battlegrounds.
Level 40: Warbreaker – This talent allows you to do a lot of area-of-effect (AoE) pressure since it will apply a damaging debuff of 30 percent to all enemies nearby the primary target. If you catch a team with this ability and follow up with a Bladestorm, the pressure will be huge and will force your opponents to burn a lot of defensive cooldowns to survive the damage.
Level 45: Avatar – This talent is the default go-to choice since it is a 20 percent damage increase on a relatively small cooldown on top of having a root-breaking effect. You can synchronize it with other offensive cooldowns to create kill opportunities every 90 seconds.
Level 50: Dreadnaught – This talent gives you some additional pressure against enemies who have some parry or dodge abilities since you’ll get more overpowers off against the opponents. It is the default go-to choice to increase your damage output.
Your stat priority is Versatility > Critical Strike > Haste > Mastery.
Versatility is your core stat since it increases your damage, while also making you tougher to kill. While the damage increase might not be as high as the others, the additional survivability it grants you is crucial to negate your weakness. Critical Strike is your second stat to focus on since it was buffed to 175 percent in Shadowlands, making this a much better pick compared to Mastery or Haste. Haste should be stacked up in pieces where you can’t get Critical Strike, and Mastery should be avoided at all times since its impact is insignificant.
As for the legendary item, you want to go for Exploiter or Unhinged since they allow you to do much more damage over the course of a match compared to other choices.
The optimal covenant for an Arms Warrior in PvP is Venthyr. Condemn is a great covenant ability, which allows you to do more damage overall. On top of that, the Door of Shadows signature ability of the covenant allows you to quickly move around the map if you’re out of your basic cooldowns. If you went for other choices but still want to be competitive, it’s a good idea to reroll to Venthyr since its ability is much more powerful and scales better compared to other abilities. Kyrian is a close contender in second place, but the damage via Condemn from Venthyr overshadows it.
The three PvP talents you should use by default are Storm of Destruction, Sharpen Blade, and Disarm. The first one will apply a healing debuff to all targets hit by Bladestorm while also reducing its cooldown by 33 percent. The second one will give you an improved healing reduction effect, which if timed correctly can be a huge game-changer in most matches. The last one, Disarm, is a more defensive pick to help you or your teammates survive the offensive cooldowns of other melee specs.
Arms Warriors in PvE have remained a slow spec, which involves a lot of planning and considering your resources. Unlike other classes that can constantly spam filler abilities, you need to think about resource management to ensure you get the most out of your Rage bar. The specialization has lackluster AoE pressure but great single-target pressure. You have various low-cooldown abilities that can be used for devastating burst periods against various encounters.
The biggest downside of the spec in PvE is the lack of ranged pressure in encounters where you have to kite a lot. Unlike other classes that can cast ranged spells, you’re stuck with trying to get back onto your target.
Level 15: Skullsplitter – This talent is the best one by default in PvE since it allows you to easily generate Rage whenever needed to unleash your burst damage.
Level 25: Double Time – Double Time gives you additional mobility via an extra Charge stack to overcome your weakness of having no ranged abilities during kiting encounters.
Level 30: Massacre – This allows you to Execute characters with a higher threshold and rises in power if you went for other talents to improve Execute. Other talents are lackluster in the long run and are way too encounter-specific.
Level 35: Defensive Stance – If you want to become an unkillable DPS machine in certain encounters where there’s a lot of party damage, going for this talent is the key to success. It will relieve some pressure from your healers, giving them more room to top you up.
Level 40: Cleave – This talent allows you to do a lot of area-of-effect (AoE) pressure since you lack it with your main kit. Its damage overall outweighs other talents in most encounters and is the go-to pick.
Level 45: Deadly Calm – This talent is great to increase your Rage bar and give you the opportunity to reduce the Rage cost of your four next abilities by 100 percent.
Level 50: Dreadnaught – This talent gives you some additional pressure against multiple enemies, making it the go-to pick to increase your AoE pressure.
Your stat priority is Critical Strike> Mastery > Versatility> Haste.
Critical Strike is the best stat to go for in PvE since it was buffed to deal 175 percent of normal damage. It will increase your DPS the most compared to other stats, making this the first pick on all items. If you can’t get this stat, going for Mastery is a good alternative. Versatility and Haste are picked last if you can’t get access to Mastery or Critical Strike. As for the legendary item, you want to go for the Signed of the Tormented Kings to increase your damage output by casting another major Warrior cooldown randomly.
The optimal covenant for an Arms Warrior in PvE is Venthyr. Condemn allows you to do more damage overall. On top of that, the Door of Shadows signature ability of the covenant allows you to quickly move around the map if you’re out of your basic cooldowns. This is a great repositioning tool in heavy-kiting encounters to give you more pressure against various mobs.