PvE Arms Warrior Rotations & Cooldowns

WoW Cata Arms Warrior Rotations & Abilities

Arms Warriors are among the most powerful Damage Dealer specializations in Cataclysm, having both an astonishing Single-Target performance and a powerful AoE/Cleave damage output. In this section of the guide, we will present both a simplified version of our rotations and an in-depth version, going over all of our abilities, synergies, and core gameplay mechanics.

Single-Target Rotation

Pre-Execution Phase

  1. Charge (Opener/repositioning tool)
  2. Colossus Smash (Initial Cast for Rend/Mortal Strike)
  3. Rend (Cast once and Upkeep)
  4. Prioritize Deadly Calm & Recklessness for Burst Phases
  5. Prioritize Inner Rage whenever you generate Excess Rage
  6. Colossus Smash (On cooldown & every reset)
  7. Overpower (On every Taste for Blood proc)
  8. Slam (Filler)
  9. Heroic Strike (Weaved in with other abilities when you have plenty of Rage)
  10. Mortal Strike (Main Priority Ability)

Execution Phase

  1. Colossus Smash (On cooldown & every reset)
  2. Execute (Main Priority after Colossus Smas)
  3. Overpower (Priority on every Taste for Blood proc)
  4. Mortal Strike (Priority after Execute and Overpower)
  5. Heroic Strike (Only if you are Rage capped and you can afford to maintain the Execute spam)

As stated previously, Arms Warrior has two main ways of being played. You can either opt for sticking to Battle Stance and perform your rotation or you can make use of a mechanic commonly known by the community as “Stance Dancing” and consistently swap between Battle Stance and Berserker Stance to maximize your damage output.

The “Dance Stancing” tactic can be resumed by performing the Single-Target rotation in Berserker Stance and quickly swapping over to Battle Stance to cast Overpower whenever Taste for Blood procs. Once Overpower is used, another macro is swiftly used to return to Berserker Stance. This constant switch between Battle Stance and Berserker Stance occurs once every 6-7 seconds intending to benefit as much as possible from the additional 5% damage increase buff offered by Berserker Stance.

I strongly recommend sticking to the Battle Stance if you are inexperienced with the Warrior Class or if your gear is suboptimal as “Stance Dancing” can be quite difficult to perform properly, often leading to Rage Starvation.

In Cataclysm, Arms Warrior becomes a force to be reckoned with, gaining access to new strong abilities while receiving massive overhauls to some of the older abilities. The Single-Target rotation can be split down into two different parts: Normal Phase and Execution Phase. This means that you will want to perform a specific rotation for the majority of the fight and alter it once the target reaches a certain health threshold.

Mortal Strike remains the staple of the Arms Specialization, being considered the main ability that should be used whenever it’s available. Not only that its damage is great but it also facilitates the Wrecking Crew passive, provided that you land consistent critical hits. Additionally, thanks to the new Lambs to the Slaughter mechanic, Mortal Strike gains even more importance as it will refresh Rend‘s duration whenever it’s used while also granting a stacking buff that empowers some of your other abilities.

Rend and Overpower also remain core parts of the specialization’s identity, and since Rend no longer requires a manual refresh, the initial damage modifiers that can enhance its damage output are now more important than ever. Since Armor Penetration is no longer a part of the game, the Warriors have received a new ability that somewhat makes up for the loss, Colossus Smash. Arms Warriors can make use of Colossus Smash better than the other Warrior Specializations, as they gain access to a reset mechanic. You will want to use Colossus Smash both as an opener for your initial Rend and as a consistent damage-enhancer whenever it’s off cooldown. This means that Colossus Smash will always have the highest priority if the target is not already affected by it, no matter the context you find yourself in.

The biggest changes come from Slam and Heroic Strike. The good old Heroic Strike is no longer spam-able as it now has a 3-second cooldown and a considerably higher cost. This has turned Heroic Strike from one of the core abilities into a “luxury” ability, only meant to be used in states of excess Rage. As this change occurred, Slam took its place as the main filler of the specialization, being consistently cast throughout the encounter. The ability should be used whenever Overpower, Mortal Strike, and Colossus Smash are on cooldown.

An example of how the rotation should look like is the following ability sequence:

As for the Execution Phase, Execute is a trusty old friend who will accompany you through the most brutal fights. Execute will be spammed consistently, replacing Slam as the main filler. You will still use Overpower and Mortal Strike on cooldown and debuff the target with Colossus Smash whenever it’s available, with Colossus Smas remaining the number one priority. However, you will abstain from using Heroic Strike if you don’t consistently generate a large amount of Rage, only using the ability if you find yourself above 60-75 Rage constantly.

AoE/Cleave Rotation

  1. Prioritize Bladestorm whenever it’s available for both AoE and Cleave encounters
  2. Prioritize Inner Rage whenever you generate Excess Rage
  3. Prioritize Sweeping Strikes whenever it’s off cooldown
    • Perform your Single-Target rotation while Sweeping Strikes is active in Cleave encounters
  4. Attempt to prioritize using Deadly Calm while Sweeping Strikes is available
  5. Prioritize spreading Rend with Thunder Clap for both AoE/Cleave encounters if you have the AoE spec
  6. Cast Cleave on cooldown as long as you have enough Rage in both AoE/Cleave Encounters
  7. Cast Whirlwind on cooldown in fights with at least 4 targets

The AoE and Cleave encounter rotations depend entirely on the number of targets that you find yourself against. For encounters that have 3 or fewer targets, you will mainly want to stick to the Single-Target rotation and swap Heroic Strike with Cleave. Besides the abilities that you would normally use in the Single-Target rotation, you will additionally use Sweeping Strikes on cooldown to hit one additional target with your normal abilities.

Bladestorm will no longer be considered a meme ability in PvE, actually performing great in both Cleave and AoE encounters, as it no longer has a target limit. You will want to remember to use it in Cleave encounters as well besides your Single-Target rotation!

For AoE encounters, you will want to shift from your standard Single-Target rotation and prioritize Cleave and Whirlwind instead. In case you opted for the AoE Build, you will also prioritize spreading Rend with Thunder Clap.


About the Author


Hey there folks, I am Nevermore and have been deeply passionate about WoW for more than a decade. Whether we talk about the hidden mysteries of Azeroth or the otherworldly Outland, my journey brought me here to share the things that I have experienced with you all.
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