So, you want to be a Warrior in Battle for Azeroth, but have no idea if you want to be a Stalwart Arms Warrior or a Relentless Fury Warrior?
Let’s go over the pros and cons of each spec to help you decide where you can start off. Of course, there isn’t as huge of a penalty this time around for playing both specs. You can definitely always play 1 spec and change to the other one later on, or you could just play both specs at the same time and change depending on what the group needs.
First off, I want to point out something that is often understated, which is that Blizzard did a pretty good job of making the 2 specs feel similar but distinct at the same time. Both specs have to manage rage and now each has their 1 big cooldown, but at the same time feel very different from each other through the difference in pacing.
Fury is much more fast paced with no gaps in actively hitting abilities, while arms is more constrained by their rage gain and will often encounter lulls in their dps. I used to label arms as “strategic”, but that gives off the wrong impression that Fury maybe is less strategic, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s just that while you’re planning the next thing, Fury still has to hit something, while Arms doesn’t.
Fury’s damage is focused on Rampages and main cooldown is Recklessness, and your goal is to generate as much rage as possible, so you can cast as many rampages as possible. This leads to more damage but also higher Enrage uptime, which then leads to more haste, which leads to more rage, and we get into this endless loop of powering up.
Arm’s damage is focused on Mortal Strikes and main cooldown is Colossus Smash. The rest is just making sure you're spending enough rage so you reduce your cooldowns with anger management as much as possible, but always have enough rage for the next mortal strike. There are also abilities like overpower that empower your Mortal Strike and also azerite traits like Precision Strikes that cause your executes to empower your Mortal Strike.
For execute, Fury feels more fluid in the rotation as you now have 1 additional rage generator that does more damage and generates more rage. Everything that you would have liked regarding the normal rotation just got even better. Arm’s Execute feels like it hits harder than Fury’s but it comes at a dilemma of always having to decide between using the rage for Execute or Mortal Strike. Basically the issue that was solved for Fury with having multiple rage spenders is still there for Arms. If you want a more straightforward execute phase, then Fury has that covered, but if you want something more convoluted, go Arms!
As far as for AOE is concerned, Arms has a much easier time with burst aoe as all they have to do is talent into Warbreaker and hit Bladestorm. Fury can also hit their cooldown (Recklessness+Rampage to Enrage) and Bladestorm, but with the much shorter duration and damage of Bladestorm, they often don’t end up bursting as hard if there are more than 5 targets (Fury still can do good burst AOE, just not as strong/frequent as Arms). The longer channel duration of Arm’s Bladestorm also helps them to better take advantage of the Gathering Storm azurite trait since they can reach higher stacks than Fury. If you can time and coordinate your burst correctly as Arms, the dps you can do during those windows can mask the lower consistent aoe that Arms does. Another huge reason why Arms will be more known for the burst aoe when compared to Fury is the Anger Management talent. Arm’s version of Anger Management reduces the cooldown of Colossus Smash/Warbreaker AND Bladestorm, while Fury’s version of Anger Management only reduces the cooldown of Recklessness.
Consistent aoe feels much better as Fury as their Whirlwind cleave mechanic has been drastically improved for BFA. Instead of just cleaving Bloodthirst or Rampage after using a Whirlwind, Fury now gets to cleave the next 2 single target abilities, which includes Execute and the talent Siegebreaker. The rage gain on Whirlwind also helps to drastically improve Enrage uptime during aoe.
Arms consistent aoe is much like their single target where you’ll often encounter lulls in dps where you don’t have the rage to really do anything. With lower target numbers, Arms can also use Sweeping Strikes to cleave all of their single target abilities for the next 12 seconds to 1 additional target at 60% damage. It’s a much weaker version of Fury’s whirlwind cleave, and is more of a 2 target cleave than a true aoe. Arms can also talent into Fervor of Battle for more consistent aoe damage, but your Whirlwind still hits like a wet noodle. There could also be another variant for Arms aoe that picks the Cleave talent instead of Warbreaker, but you would be sacrificing the huge aoe burst that Arms can provide. You basically would then end up with two mediocre aoe setups as opposed to at least being really great at aoe burst.
As far as for defensives, both specs retained much of the same abilities as they had in Legion. The biggest change here is that Fury will no longer take extra damage while they’re Enraged, and if they talent into the Warpaint talent, then they’ll even take 10% less damage while Enraged. Fury also finally has Victory Rush as a baseline ability now, and with the PvP healing talents that Fury can pick, their survivability has definitely increased.
Starting Out in BFA
As far as for the start of the expansion, Arms warriors might have a slight advantage as their BiS weapon doesn’t come from a Mythic only dungeon. A lot of the sims you’re seeing now will have Fury Warriors using Geti’ikku, Cut of Death from the dungeon King’s Rest, which is a mythic only dungeon, and since we won’t have Mythic+ available for the first 3 weeks of the expansion. You will only get 1 chance per week to acquire this weapon. And don’t forget you need two weapons as Fury! If you want to be prepared as a Fury Warrior for mythic raiding, you’re going to need to run a lot of King’s Rest Mythic+ during that 4th week since mythic raids open the week after. Arms warriors can really go with any weapon based on ilvl and one of their best ones is from Freehold, which you can spam for in heroic mode as many times as you want in the first 3 weeks. With how important it is to have a good weapon this expansion, this could be a huge factor in determining which spec you’ll be playing when the first raid opens.
Hopefully this post has helped you decide on what you want to at least start off with, and if you’re still not sure and just want to know what I’ll be doing. I’ll definitely level as Fury due to the increased self-healing that they’ve received and will swap between Fury and Arms based on which is better and will lean towards Fury in places where they’re close.