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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Gearing for Karazhan, Fury/Arms pt 2


Once more into that there breach what with the dead already filling the walls and suchlike.

When last we left our intrepid band of heroic warriors (that's you guys) they were about to head into Karazhan and hit stuff. We've already covered what to wear if you're one of those warriors who hits things and gets hit back in return, and last week we did an overview of the main slots (head, shoulders, legs, chests and hands) for your aspiring breaker of limbs. Whether it's arms or fury you intend (or some weird hybrid of the two like the spec I'm currently playing with on my tauren) you need attack power, crit chance, hit and other good things on the armor and other gear you choose to help you achieve your aim of wanton re-slaughter. I assume it's re-slaughter. I mean, most of the stuff in there has died at least once.

One piece of advice to the DPS warriors that has nothing to do with gear - make friends with a shaman. And then convince said shaman to drop Windfury totem. This totem will make you a very happy panda, or whatever animal of choice if you don't like pandas. How can you not like pandas? Seriously, all they do is eat bamboo and look adorable all day, how can you possibly have a beef with them?

Weapons. Squee! Just thinking about weapons makes me prance about with joy. What kind of weapons? All kinds of weapons! If it can be used to hurt someone and it's not a wand, a warrior can use it. Wands are too hard for us. They're sticks but you don't stab or bludgeon anyone with them. Bows we can figure out, those are sticks we use to stab people with other, smaller sticks without approaching them. Guns still retain this essential 'hit them from over here with a rock' functionality. But wands? Can't use them, don't trust them.

A weapon is a tool for making things dead

In this case, deader, as Karazhan is crawling with undead. Seriously, they're like roaches in there. While other classes are okay with the whole 'death from afar' thing, you need to wade in there, hit Sweeping Strikes, Whirlwind and Cleave and make the tanks blood pressure shoot through the roof.

Quite honestly, the arena and badge weapons are so good that they make Karazhan obsolete. The only drops in here on par with those weapons drop off of the end boss. So if you're planning on farming those via battlegrounds or endless heroics, then you're not even going to bother to roll on anything in here, and that's no fun. (In all seriouness, PvP weapons are the ones with the most crossover utility... their resilience usually does little hamper their rather impressive DPS.) So I'm going to ignore their existence. I've mentioned them, you can find them easily enough, we'll move forward assuming you're not going to walk in the front door with a Season 2 greatsword. (Although even if you do, you might still want to pick up a Gorehowl. The base DPS is lower, but Gorehowl is absolutely loaded with stats, and also looks awesome. Yeah, okay, it would just be for looks.) What weapons will you be using, then, if you're not coming in with two 103 DPS fist weapons?

Two Handed Swords

Your epic options to walk into the door with a big sword (and really, the whole point is for the sword to be big) discounting PvP are the Lionheart Blade and its upgrades which requires you to be a swordsmith, the Khorium Champion which merely requires you to find a blacksmith or have money when it's on the AH, and the Quantum Blade from heroic Black Morass. All three are pretty good, all three will be replaced by the epic 2h sword that drops in Kara (there's only one). If you're looking for a 2h sword to get you through, say, heroic Black Morass or just to hold you until you get something better, there's the Greatsword of Forlorn Visions from Botanica, Endbringer from heroic Underbog, and the Illidari-Bane Claymore from a series of quests in Shadowmoon Valley and beyond.

For an arms warrior 2h swords are generally considered to be superior to 2h axes assuming that you're running close to 30% crit without axe spec. If not, you probably want an axe. This is partially up to taste, of course, and also depends on what drops first to some extent.

Two Handed Axes

What great whacking cleaver will you be lopping off limbs with? Well, there are actually quite a few axes to choose from, really. Epic options for axes include Lunar Crescent and its upgrades if you're an axesmith, the Singing Crystal Axe as a random world drop BoE, the Felsteel Reaper which is a non-linked BS crafted axe, and the rare Ethereum Nexus-Reaver, a BoE drop off of Doomwalker which will not sell cheap. Lunar Crescent can be upgraded, so it's essentially the best option here, but if you're not a BS the other axes listed here are all fine options, with the Ethereum being both the best and the rarest. I've actually used the Singing Crystal and I find that the axe's proc is an underrated boost to DPS, which would put it slightly ahead of the Felsteel for PvE.

Now, if you're looking for a solid starter blue axe to get you to one of these, or one of the PvP options I linked above, then there are several choices available. The Apexis Cleaver and Crystalforged War Axe can both be picked up at the AH. Hellscream's Will is available for Horde players who are exalted with the Mag'har, while Legionfoe is available for anyone who has Shattered Sun Offensive reputation at the revered level. Having just picked up Legionfoe on an alt, I have to say it's a very solid axe for a blue and I'm enjoying using it both for PvE and PvP.

Four more axes are available from instances: the Reaver of the Infinites from heroic Old Hillsbrad, the Crow Wing Reaper from Sethekk Halls, the Axe of the Nexus Kings from heroic Mana Tombs, and the Axe of Shattered Dreams from non-heroic Magisters' Terrace. They're all roughly comparable, with the Axe of Shattered Dreams having the armor penetration which is such an interesting DPS stat (I find it starts to show really positive returns once I hit about 500 ArP on my gear, and I'm given to understand that more ArP is better). You'll replace them, but they're solid enough to walk in the door.

Two Handed Maces

For a warrior mace spec is generally considered inferior to axe or sword spec for PvE content, while ruling the roost for PvP content. Therefore, I'll approach these maces as if you were a warrior specced arms for PvP who also runs Kara with friends. We listed the various PvP options above and will take this as a chance to repeat the link for people.

Assuming you're coming into Kara without an honor purchase, what are your choices for maces?

If you're a hammersmith you will have made yourself a Thunder, no doubt. If you're not a hammersmith, or a smith at all, your best hammer option is the Fel Hardened Maul. Thunder is better, yes, but we're not all smiths. If you're working your way up to one of these hammers and need something now, then Alliance players can always turn to Arechron's Gift from exalted with the Kurenai. Another option is the Firemaul of Destruction, which is a touch low on DPS but has a very large weapon range so higher top end damage due to its slower speed. And if no paladin or shaman wants it, there's always the Warmaul of Infused Light, with three sockets meaning you can customize it to make up for the unfortunate int. Maces may be the worst choice for PvE, but these are all reasonably solid weapons. And if you're 2h fury, you don't usually care about weapon spec anyway.

Polearms

Polearms are usually itemized for hunters. That's not to say that they're bad for warriors, but in general (especially considering druid and paladin buffs) a warrior is going to want strength over attack power, which most polearms (and a few axes) have. However, this is not to say that polearms aren't good, and besides which, sometimes people choose a weapon based on style or availability. If a polearm is what drops, a polearm is what you use. At least thanks to Poleaxe Specialization, warriors gain the same crit chance with polearms that they have with axes.

The epic option for polearms is the Trident of the Outcast Tribe. I would ignore it and get Plasma Rat's Hyper-Scythe instead. The DPS on the Trident aside, the Hyper-Scythe has nearly as high a top end, better overall stats for a warrior and crit instead of hit. Depending on if you're working a 2h fury build with imp slam, or even an arms slam build, the Hyper-Scythe should outperform the trident. For reputation, Alliance can get the Hellforged Halberd from Honor Hold revered while Horde can get the Blackened Spear from Thrallmar for the same rep cost. Both are more hunter than warrior, but since both are rep purchases they won't make hunters cry at the sight of you the way using a Sonic Spear will. I have already apologized for getting one before my wife did a thousand times.

Okay, you're thinking that I've covered my 2h weapon obsession into the ground here and that 2h weapons aren't even as good for PvE as dual wielding anyway outside of a slam build with all the pieces in play. And you're right, and you've waded through my bias enough. On to one handed weapons! Also, main and off hands. Work with me here.

Unfortunately for you, my obsession with fist weapons is just about as strong as my obsession with swords. I'm a horrible man. Please stop crying.

Fist Weapons

An epic main hand option that won't cost you 105 badges and last you till at least Hyjal (and thus won't ruin Kara for you) is the Bladefist. You'll keep it for a while. I mean, just look at it, even when you get higher DPS options you'll keep it just because it is the actual bladed fist that Kargath Bladefist himself uses. The only disappointment is that he doesn't drop an offhand that matches it. Other instance options are fairly plentiful for a warrior (since we don't have to worry as much as the speed of the weapons as other classes do) such as the Reflex Blades and Stormweaver Warblades from Tempest Keep five mans, the Claw of the Watcher from Auchindoun and Boggspine Knuckles from Coilfang, and the Demonblood Eviscerator, also off of Kargath. (Clearly you want to run heroic SH to get the Bladefist, but until it drops this is a solid option.)

Axes

So what do we have to pick from for axes? Well, if you're a smith who crafts axes, there's the Planar Edge and its upgraded versions. If you take this all the way to its conclusion you'll have a weapon on par with anything in T5 content. If you're not a blacksmith the Fel Edged Battleaxe is a comparable crafted epic to the first step of the crafted smithing weapons. And although it drops from a boss who is as hard as anything in Kara, technically Breeching Comet is achievable before you set foot in Kara and would make a heck of a DW combo with the axe that drops inside the instance.

Solid instance drops include Bogreaver from heroic Underbog, the Firebrand Battleaxe from heroic Blood Furnace, Stellaris from Mechanar (but it's also a very nice hunter axe so prepare for that argument or seek another axe) and the Sun-Forged Cleaver from normal Magisters. Expect shamans to want that one. Then again, shamans are going to want Breeching Coment too. Also, there's Breeching Comet's older but smaller in DPS brother, the Harvester of Souls from heroic Crypts.

Swords

What swords will you strap on when heading into Karazhan? Well, that depends, but you have a few options. Making sure not to confuse tanking swords for DPS oriented swords, we still have a few choices. Blacksmiths can make Fireguard, useful for tanking or DPS depending on how you use it. Your local AH can supply you with a Felsteel Longblade or a Blinkstrike fairly easily, if you have the gold. Exalted Aldor will get you one of the single most ugly sword models ever created. My word, that's a horrible looking sword. I had one for a while, I was always very embarrassed by just how much like a deformed part of a person's anatomy it looks like. A specific part. You know the part.

If anyone on your server is farming the world bosses in Outland, you may eventually find a Hope-Ender on the AH. Get it for looks if nothing else, it really is a beautiful sword and it will match one that drops in Kara. And if you're running heroic Magisters' with any regularity you'll probably get a chance at the Quickening Blade of the Prince, which is about equal to end of Karazhan drops. Non epic options include the Latro's Flurry set, dropping in Black Morass and Magisters' (while designed for a rogue, not bad for a war either), the SSO revered DPS sword The Sunbreaker, the Phosphorescent Blade from heroic Slave Pens, and the Edge of the Cosmos from Mechanar.

Maces

What about clubbing folks over the head with a great stout beating stick? Well, we have that covered too.

Our blacksmithing friends will start off with the Drakefist Hammer and then start upgrading from there. Of you're not a blacksmith but you know one or get lucky on the AH, there's the Runic Hammer for your bashing needs. A solid DPS/Tanking oriented blue mace is Terokk's Nightmace: to be honest, I always think of it as DPS and forget it as a tanking option, but yes, it can do both.

The Bloodskull Destroyer is all about DPS. That's what it is, that's what it does. Smashy smashy. If you don't want to run heroic Old Hillsbrad or just aren't seeing the drop love, there's always a trip to the AH for the Apexis Crystal Mace. The mace pickings are a trifle slim, it is sadly true to say. In general, the upgrade option usually almost always pushes the blacksmithing option up in desirability, but in this case the Drakefist is so damn solid besides it would win even without that.

Daggers

For a fury warrior the weird way Blizzard has chosen to implement weapon normalization (with daggers alone of all single handed weapons normalizing at 1.7 speed) isn't as big of a deal, because most warriors using a dagger for DPS purposes will be using Bloodthirst, and that doesn't care what kind of weapon you have, it deals damage based on attack power. What that means is while shamans and rogues may not want to use a dagger, a DPSing warrior has no real reason to turn his nose up at one, unless he's a MS/DW hybrid, in which case he's probably using swords or axes anyway. I'm not saying go out of your way to screw with a rogue, just saying that some of these are fine options.

This means that there are a surprising amount of daggers to consider for your DPSing warrior. Epic choices are many, including the Edge of Oppression from heroic Magisters', the Feltooth Eviscerator from heroic Hellfire Ramparts, the Searing Sunblade for 50 badges from G'eras, Dirge, the crafted dagger available on your finer AH's everywhere, the Vileblade of the Betrayer from heroic Arcatraz, Guile of Khoraazi from exalted Consortium, the Retainer's Blade from exalted Scryers, the Riftmaker from exalted Keepers of Time, and The Night Blade which is a random BoE epic you can usually find on the AH. As you can see, there's more epic dagger options than there are entire options for maces.

Blue options include the Bombadier's Blade from revered SSO, Ced's Carver and the Crystal Infused Shiv from your local AH, and several instance drops including the Whispering Blade of Slaying and the Hungering Spineripper. Yeah, there's a lot of daggers in this game.

And so we hit a reasonable Smörgåsbord of weapon options. Next week, we finish off Karazhan and prepare for beyond by looking at DPS options for every other slot, be it rings, trinkets, bracers, boots, belts or capes.

Filed under: Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, How-tos, Instances, Guides, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors

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