Of Steel – Guidelines for New & Leveling Warriors
By: Patrick O’Callahan / Ciderhelm
Originally posted on the official WoW forums and reposted on TankSpot and Ten Ton Hammer. This was excavated from an archive made by the Wayback Machine. As such, offsite links will likely not work. Note that this was posted on July 31, 2007 – so it references Burning Crusade talents and builds. Much of it is still applicable to Vanilla though.
The experience of choosing and playing a Warrior is different from any other class. You will never have the tools of escape that other classes do. You will never have the healing powers. You will never have magic or beasts to give you an edge. The only edge you will ever receive will be the bloodied blades you wield.
When facing battle as a Warrior, you will learn this truth. Either you or your enemy must die. If you are not cunning, you will die. If you flee, you will die.
The experience of playing a Warrior is as easy or as difficult as you make it. The class, like all classes, is very easy to pick up and play. It is nearly impossible to master. You can be a decent Warrior with little effort, but it is neither simple nor easy to be a great one. It will take time. In the end, it will be limited only by your dedication and desire to become better.
What This Guide Is, and Is Not
This guide is a brief summary of information you may want as a new Warrior. Anyone is welcome to submit additions or ideas to the guide and, space permitting, I will edit the helpful stuff directly into these posts.
This guide is not a description of PVP, gear, talents, tanking, movies, macros, etc. As more time becomes available, those subjects will be covered in a separate guide.
Picking a Race & Picking Trade Skills
- 0.1 General Differences and Recommendations
- 0.1.1 Min/Max: Tauren, Angus Meatshield
- 0.1.2 Min/Max: Go Gnome or Go Home
- 0.2 Blacksmithing, Engineering or Harvesting?
Talents and Milestones for Leveling
- 1.1 Picking your First Talents (Level 10)
- 1.2 Defensive Stance & Tanking (Level 10)
- 1.2.1 Some Notes on Positioning
- 1.3 Retaliation and 30-Minute Cooldowns (Level 20)
- 1.4 Berserker Stance (Level 30)
- 1.5 Whirlwind Axe & Upgrades (Level 30)
- 1.6 Must Get That Instant Attack! (Level 40)
- 1.7 A Checklist of Goals by Level 60
- 1.8 When is Protection Spec a Good Idea?
Using your Abilities
- 2.1 Too Much Rage? Heroic Strike!
- 2.2 Thunderclap & Cleave
- 2.3 Understanding Taunt
- 2.4 Charge & Intercept
- 2.5 Revenge & Shield Block
Making Good Decisions with Gear
- 3.1 Hunting Alone
- 3.2 In Parties with People You Don’t Know
- 3.3 In Parties with Friends
- 3.4 Choosing Instances based on Your Gear
- 4.1 Tips from Other Warriors
Racial Differences & Recommendations
So you are stuck at the Character Creation screen. You are already faced with an impossible task of finding a name you like that hasn’t been taken. Beyond that, you must also decide your race.
My own personal rule of picking a race is very simple: What do I want to play for the next weeks, months, and years? What race has appearances that I don’t mind? For me, I’m a big fan of humans, draenei, and tauren. At level 70, most races do not have significant differences from each other.
However, the criteria you have may be different from mine. So, let me give some (hopefully accurate) pointers.
Do not underestimate Human Diplomacy. In addition to a helpful boost to attack abilities with +Weapon Skill, Humans also gain 10% reputation gain over other races. Warcraft at endgame has a large number of factions with great rewards. If you choose to become a Blacksmith, this will speed up the process of getting rare plans. For my own part, I found that Diplomacy kept me slightly ahead of others in getting new gear for tanking, even if only by a few days. With +Weapon Skill, Humans have one of the strongest passive offense of the Alliance Races.
Night Elf Dodge is very good, and being able to stealth is a true strength. As you reach the endgame, Dodge may become less important in PVP and will have less impact in raid zones. Stealth, will always be useful when used at the right times. In terms of Damage Reduction, while very slight, Night Elves have the strongest passive defense of the Alliance races.
Dwarves are unusually powerful against Rogues. Stoneform is a great racial, and the Dwarven ability to find quest items will smooth the leveling process. Stoneform will have more uses as you reach raiding as well. Dwarves are a very solid, defensive race.
Draenei, apart from their females being very sexy, also sport the most solid combination of abilities – a passive +Hit aura and a healing spell. Gift of the Naaru covers one thing that no other Warrior can do, and can come in handy in many situations. The passive +Hit is also powerful and great for groups, as it increases the Hit of all party members as well. Overall, Draenei are a very solid choice.
Gnomes are covered in a subsection.
Orcs are arguably the best-suited Warriors in the game. This draws heavily upon their lore in Warcraft. Blood Fury can provide a substantial boost to damage-per-second and, at endgame, will find many uses. Like Dwarves, Orcs have an unnatural ability to counter Rogues, due to a Stun Resistance. This Stun Resistance can increase dramatically through the talent Iron Will. Orcs also have a +Weapon Skill with axes. Orcs may be the most powerful offensive race from either Horde or Alliance.
*Special Note: Orcs and Gnomes look similarly menacing as of 07/10/07.
Tauren are covered in a subsection, though for the purposes of this general listing I will cover one ability. War Stomp is incredibly potent in both PVP and PVE content. This stomp can interrupt spells, lock people in place, and in some cases, allow a Tauren to get away from targets that would kill him or her.
Trolls. While a great race overall, Trolls have two of the weaker abilities on Horde side. Berserking will save your life, but the number of times it does may be limited. Also, passive health regeneration while in combat will reduce down-time. Trolls’ increased damage to beasts applies to Druids and Shamans in forms, as well as some bosses.
Undead. Will of the Forsaken alone is the defining characteristic of Undead Warriors. The ability to gain Fear, Sleep, and Charm immunity from any stance is potent, and some of the most prominent PVP’ers have been Undead. Further, the ability to Cannibalize corpses will significantly speed up recovery time while leveling.
0.1.1 Min/Max: Tauren, Angus Meatshield
Tauren for tanking. If you really want to min/max (that is, the process of picking the absolute best race/class combination, gear, etc), you want to play a Tauren Warrior to tank.
Taurens have a passive 5% increase to Health. By endgame, this is a step ahead of the rest of the pack for tanking. The 5% affects base Health as well – or, the portion of your character’s health that is not derived from Stamina. The effects of this ability increase with buffs and talents such as Blessing of Kings and Vitality.
0.1.2 Min/Max: Go Gnome or Go Home
Gnomes for PVP.
The biggest weakness of Warriors at endgame will be mobility. That is, the ability to reach your target is often the only thing stopping you from killing it. For this reason, Gnomes pull ahead in PVP, as they can immediately break out of most immobilizing effects. Combined with a PVP trinket and effective use of immunities, Gnomes are the most capable of overcoming rough obstacles in PVP.
Blacksmithing, Engineering, or Harvesting?
0.2 Blacksmithing, Engineering or Harvesting?
When picking a trade skill, there are a few things you have to determine.
First, ask yourself how seriously and how often you intend to play. If you will not be playing too seriously, I would recommend picking up harvesting skills such as Mining, Herbalism, or Skinning.
Second, determine your expected income. Do you think you can spend a good amount of time at the Auction House, buying and selling items for a profit? Or, do you have another character which can fund your Warrior? If the answer to either of those is yes, pick two crafting skills – I recommend Blacksmithing and Engineering.
Finally, if you care about your character but do not particularly care for spending all of your time trying to make money, I would suggest picking up either Blacksmithing or Engineering, not both, and then picking up Mining.
Why Blacksmithing and Engineering?
A good argument can be made that Enchanting and Alchemy are great for Warriors. However, Blacksmithing and Engineering are great for Warriors all of the time, at all levels, and for all purposes.
Blacksmithing will produce some of the most powerful weapons in the game. These weapons will get consistently better depending on the amount of effort you put into them. Also, Blacksmithing will help in quickly getting your character’s Armor up to par for instances at any level.
Engineering is similarly effective, and always fun. Engineers can create powerful items for all levels. As you get to higher levels, you will be able to make solid tanking trinkets, as well as very strong head pieces. Engineering also gives your character flexibility that is not naturally found in the class – Grenades are often useful, the ability to Slowfall through a cloak, small things that add a new dimension to your character.
My recommendation is to prioritize Blacksmithing over Engineering if you do not intend to take both. That, of course, is entirely up to you.
Also, be sure you pick up First Aid early and use it often, with all the cloth you can find. You will not regret it.
Picking Your First Talents
At level 10, you are going to gain your first talent points. You may allocate these however you wish, and always be sure to get points that will help you in the immediate future.
Without going too much into detail, let me suggest the following. This is recommended, not required:
- 10-14 Cruelty
- 15-17 Improved Heroic Strike
- 18-19 Deflection
- 20-21 Improved Charge
- 22-24 Improved Thunderclap
- 25-26 Improved Overpower
- 27-27 Anger Management
- 28-30 Deep Wounds
- 31-34 Two-Handed Weapon Specialization
- 35-35 Sweeping Strikes
- 36-39 Poleaxe Specialization
- 40+ Go immediately to a Warrior trainer, shell out some gold, and respec full Arms or full Fury.
Level 40 Arms
WorldofWarcraft.com -> Info -> Classes -> Warrior -> Talent Calculator
With the Arms build, get Cruelty with the next 5 points, then build towards a traditional build (will be covered in a separate guide).
Level 40 Fury
WorldofWarcraft.com -> Info -> Classes -> Warrior -> Talent Calculator
With the Fury build, you will want to be using two One-Handed weapons. Put the next point into Dual Wield Specialization, then builds towards a traditional build.
Milestones for Leveling
1.2 Defensive Stance & Tanking (Level 10)
Part of being a Warrior is learning how to tank effectively. It is not absolutely necessary, especially if you plan on playing alone for most of your time, but it sure helps.
The first thing you need to do is find the quest. These will usually be located in the second starter village of your race. This quest generally involves killing a creature which is slightly overleveled – you should be fine, but it wouldn’t hurt to have a friend with you.
Once you complete this quest you will learn Defensive Stance. When to use it? Generally, any time you are with at least one or two other players who are dealing alot of damage, Defensive Stance is a good stance. As you increase in level, you will want to spend less and less time with it unless you are inside instances, but early on, it’s fine.
Tanking is the act of keeping creatures attached to you and controlling fights. Usually this involves wearing a shield, but again, at lower levels it isn’t necessary. There are plenty of good places to read more about this.
1.2.1 Some Notes on Positioning
One thing that comes as a surprise to many players is that ranged classes such as Hunters, Mages, and Warlocks are supposed to stay at a range from the tank. It isn’t just for looks, but there is a penalty applied to anyone who stays near you and the creature you are tanking.
This penalty comes in the form of their ability to “pull aggro,” or, cause the creature to start attacking them instead of you. They are 20% more likely to pull a creature off of you if they are standing within melee range of that creature.
With that in mind, keep monsters and players at a distance from each other. Obviously Rogues and other Warriors will need to be in close – but they have hidden attributes which reduce their “aggro” penalty due to their class.
I have largely simplified this. To read more, read Fortifications under the Threat sections.
1.3 Retaliation and 30-Minute Cooldowns (Level 20)
At level 20 you are going to learn the first of your 30-minute cooldowns. This is Retaliation.
Retaliation is useful any time you are fighting creatures with very fast attacks and any time you are fighting multiple creatures. For instance, if you are in Lakeshire, you will get Retaliation around the same time you will need to be in the Rethban Ore caves; there are Dredgers there which attack very fast. Using retaliation will kill one or two of them very quickly.
Retaliation is most effective with a good two-handed weapon.
As you level, you will find the ability has very limited uses. However, I would strongly recommend you take advantage of these uses any time you can – at 30 minutes in between, the sooner you use it the sooner it’s cooldown will be up to use it again. Retaliation is also helpful in the earlier levels because much of your time is spent traveling, not fighting, and 30 minutes can move pretty quickly.
The best piece of advice I can give for all 30-minute cooldowns you receive is simply to not keep waiting for the right time, but to try and use them as often as possible.
1.4 Berserker Stance (Level 30)
At level 30 you must find the quest to learn Berserker Stance. For Humans, this will be found in Stormwind’s Old Town in the Command section. From here, you will head to Fray Island, Southeast of Ratchet.
On this island, it can be very helpful to have a friend. There is an extended fight sequence you must outlast and it will be difficult to do at level 30 (though much easier if you wait a couple levels). Either way, do not miss this quest, as it will open up a variety of new play options!
Finally, use Demoralizing Shout on people you fight. Try it!
1.5 Whirlwind Axe & Upgrades (Level 30)
The first of your great weapons comes at level 30 as well. The Warrior quest for the Whirlwind weapons will involve a troll Northeast and up the river from Southsore and Tarren Mill. This quest will take you across the world and through Stranglethorn and Arathi Highlands.
I’m mainly giving you a heads up because you cannot complete this quest at level 30 without help.
The best thing you can do is talk your higher level friends into helping you with this quest. The weapons are still good at level 38+, so the earlier you get it, the longer you will be overpowered. Also, alot of the components can be purchased on the Auction House if you choose to.
When you get to picking the quest reward, get the Axe.
As I said, the Whirlwind Axe is the start of the great Warrior weapons. From this point on, and especially after you pick up Mortal Strike at 40, slow, high-DPS, high-damage weapons will be what you want.
Be very careful that you don’t make a mistake you regret due to the quality of items (Uncommon, Rare, Epic). There are some high DPS weapons in the mid-40’s and 50’s which are very fast and will actually cause you to do slightly less damage than items you might assume are worse.
Other good weapons are Kang the Decapitator, Twig of the World Tree, and Ice-Barbed Spear from Alterac Valley.
1.6 Must Get That Instant Attack! (Level 40)
At level 40, the first Instant Attacks become available if you respec for them. These are Mortal Strike, Bloodthirst, and Shield Slam. Get one of these at 40!
People often ask the question, why get Mortal Strike when it isn’t much better than Heroic Strike?
Heroic Strike simply increases your normal damage. Mortal Strike, on the other hand, is an attack that occurs at any time and deals a large amount of damage in addition to the other damage you are dealing.
If you have this concern or do not understand the value of an instant attack, I would strongly recommend you allocate the points as quickly as possible. Once you try it, you won’t go back.
Goals by Level 60
By the time you reach level 60 (or 58), you are going to be heading to Outlands. On established servers, you will be interacting with a lot of very experienced players at this point – players at 60+ are no longer just people who have been recently leveling like you. You will also be with alt characters that have been at 60 for months and years, played by people who have an established level 70 already.
In many cases, these players will not be all that good at their class, but they will have plenty of unrealistic expectations for you. However, it is possible to meet and exceed those expectations.
Do you have a set of gear designed for tanking, with +Defense and +Stamina on it? Is all of your tanking gear at least level 54? Do you have a shield?
Have you gotten used to using keybindings – such as buttons 1-7 on your keyboard – to do all of your primary actions?
Have you gotten used to quickly targeting enemies with your mouse? Can you functionally deal damage or tank if you cannot click your abilities, but can only use the keyboard? Are you familiar with the “Tab” targeting function, and able to use it to quickly target your desired opponent?
Are you regularly keeping Battle Shout up?
Can you quickly taunt enemies who run away from you?
Are you quick at making sure you are attacking a monster? If your auto-attack is not on, do you recognize it quickly and tap “T” to resume?
Are you quick at recognizing when monsters are attacking you or a party mate? Have you enabled “Target of Target” in your interface options? Also, if unsure of your Threat, have you downloaded any mods such as Omen Threat 1-0 to help you with this?
Are you able to rapidly disengage from a target, either with “Esc,” “Tab,” or “T,” to attempt to prevent yourself from breaking a creature that is Polymorphed? Can you exercise the same control to avoid breaking your target after an Intimidating Shout?
Are you comfortable with frequently switching between stances to make full use of all your abilities? (in particular: breaking Fear effects with Berzerker Rage, using Hamstring on low-health mobs while tanking, and using Disarm in PvP. – Armstrong
Do you have an add-on to save and quickly swap between gear sets for grinding, tanking, PvP, etc? Do you have an add-on or macro which allows you to switch from 2H to 1H+Shield to DW “on the fly”? – Armstrong
When is Protection Spec a Good Idea?
This is a question that comes up fairly often, and there are many opinions on it.
Protection is basically good whenever you are willing to take the penalties attached to it. Before level 70, it is nearly impossible to develop a solid set of Protection gear for solo killing creatures, etc. If you’ve managed to do it, you’ve probably spent too much time trying.
The penalties to Protection, thus, are a major loss in your efficiency at completing content alone. Conversely, you gain far more efficiency at completing content that requires or recommends a party.
I would recommend this:
From levels 1-65, spec Protection any time you feel like you will be spending the rest of your leveling time in parties and instances. For most people, this will just not be the case; for some, they only level with friends, and Protection is ideal.
From levels 66-70, spec Protection to finish out to 70 if you have not practiced much tanking while leveling. This will not only help you get good gear for when you decide to go back to Arms or Fury, it will also save you a bit of embarrassment from being 70 with little working knowledge of tanking.
Obviously, if you just don’t want to party up, or just want to focus on PVP, don’t worry about it at all.
For my own part, I have leveled from 60 to 70 as Fury (on beta) and Protection (on live). Both were great experiences, and both were quick.