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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: The Leveling Warrior in Wrath

I promise we'll get back to our Ulduar guide for tanks and DPS warriors next week. For this week, however, since we're midway through the sixth month of 2009 and we've seen patches up to 3.1 released (and we're waiting on 3.2) I thought it would be a good idea to go back and cover some of the things a leveling warrior might want discussed. We get emails from all kinds of warriors, and so it's only fair to cover the concerns of warriors who aren't raiding Ulduar but rather just setting foot off of the dock in Howling Fjord.

Before we get started, though, the upcoming Patch 3.2 changes for Warriors in their current entirety: Armored to the Teeth: This talent now provides 1/2/3 attack power per 108 armor, up from per 180 armor. Try not to get too excited, people.

First off, I'm often asked about stats for up-and-coming warriors. We have covered some of these before back in the beta, but the beta was a year ago now and things have been changed and polished. First off, I'm going to link all the posts of interest to a leveling warrior and discuss how they may have changed, and then I'll try and cover some more general advice.
  • Building Up To It covers some target numbers and stats to focus on. I should note that this was written before the changes to Armor Penetration made it much, much better as a DPS stat for warriors: the more ArP you have, the better it is as a DPS stat until you have enough ArP to reduce target armor by 100%.
  • We covered Hit and Expertise in two posts, one for DPS warriors and one for Tanks. The tanking post is still accurate as of 3.1, but the talent changes to Arms and Fury mean that there is currently no talent that reduces chance to dodge for Fury Warriors and Arms has both Strength of Arms for passive expertise and Weapon Mastery.
  • We discussed the dangers of overstacking a stat to the exclusion of other, also necessary stats.
  • Finally, we covered gearing up in a four part post just before Wrath launched Parts one, two, three and four were all published before Wrath itself had actually come out, but they're still reasonably accurate to help your warrior get from 70 to 80, We covered weapons between 70 and 80 too.


TALENT SPECS FOR LEVELING

Okay, to start with, if this is not your main and you have access to the heirloom shoulders, by all that's holy get them. Especially now that they give you 10% more experience from quests and from mobs you kill, even if you just have an old pair of the leather or mail ones hanging around, send them to your leveling warrior. When I decided to test leveling on my Draenei warrior this month I didn't think it would make that big of a deal, but between his rested bonus and those shoulders he went from 70 to 76 in a matter of days. (I'm letting him catch back up on the rested before I try and get him the rest of the way up.)

We've covered talent specs for leveling warriors before, but I'll touch on it again here to say that for leveling either Arms or Prot are probably the easiest to gear for and are both strong for the job. I'm leveling my Draenei Fury purely out of spite. I leveled my Tauren Arms and my human Protection, and so far I'd still give the nod to Protection as a really good leveling spec and my personal favorite for dealing with big trash pulls and group quests you may want to try and solo. A lot of this will depend on the gear your warrior has as you start the climb between 70 and 80, though. If you're bringing a warrior you started a couple of months ago to Northrend in Outland quest greens, Arms is probably a stronger choice for leveling than Protection since there's lots of decent Northrend greens that are itemized towards an Arms playstyle. If you're bringing an uber-geared Sunwell warrior out of retirement, go with whatever your gear supports.

Talents will, of course, vary by your spec, but some abilities go across the board and benefit all warriors: we get Shattering Throw at level 71 (since you won't get Heroic Throw until 80, Shattering Throw is not to be underestimated as a cheap pulling tool as well as a PvP talent), and the incredibly handy Enraged Regeneration at level 75, followed by Heroic Throw at 80. You also get new tanks of all your pre-existing abilities, of course. Unlike the 1-60 game but similar to Burning Crusade, you'll basically be able to train something every level so don't go too long without visiting the trainer.

QUESTING ZONES

I have to say that 70 to 80 as a warrior is much less painful than it was to level a warrior back in the old days. I promise not to regale you with tales of leveling my warrior in Winterspring uphill in the snow both ways, but I will say that as long as you play with reasonable attentiveness you'll find it much less of a slog than it was to kill oozes in Un'Goro and get diseased over and over again. I still stand by my first impression from all the way back into the Wrath beta and advise you to do both Howling Fjord and Borean Tundra, but it's not strictly speaking necessary. You could easily go from the Fjord to Dragonblight to do the Wrathgate questline (which, for a leveling warrior, not only has several decent rewards along the way, but is also a heck of a nice questline if you've not done it yet.)

You'll of course want to do the Borean Tundra questlines to get access to some very nice blues to start the climb to 80 with, but there are similarly rewarding quests in both starting zones. If you can manage to do the quests around Utgarde Keep and the Nexus you can accumulate quite a few blue quest items to supplement whatever gear you had when you arrived. Grizzly Hills has two major questlines and a third that points you towards Drak'Tharon Keep, Zul'Drak has the Ampitheatre of Anguish in addition to quests for a tanking weapon and ones that point you towards Gun'Drak, and the whole of Sholozar Basin has significant quests that involve Hemet Nesingwary and the Avatar of Feya. It's actually quite possible (even, dare I say it, easy) to level to 80 with minimal instance time if that's what you want to do, but with instances in both starting zones, Dragonblight, Grizzly Hills (Drak'Tharon Keep straddles GH and Zul'Drak), ZD and finally the Storm Peaks having two five man dungeons, there's certainly no lack of options.

WRATH REPUTATIONS

As we covered in the gearing posts, you don't want to ignore the various factions of Northrend (please pick up a tabard for every faction available as soon as you can, even ones you won't immediately need to work on like the Kirin Tor), and it's fairly easy for a level 77 warrior to begin working on his Argent Crusade, Knights of the Ebon Blade and Sons of Hodir reputations once you reach Icecrown and the Storm Peaks. There are long, rewarding questlines for each of these factions (the Argent Crusade ones actually help you unlock the Ebon Blade ones, even) and in addition at level 77 you can even start working on your Argent Tournament questing. Generally speaking, even if you're not completely done with the other zones you can probably afford to go to Icecrown and the Storm Peaks as soon as you can fly in Northrend and start working on those reputations (Don't forget about championing to make those grinds go faster.) The Sons of Hodir have no tabard so you'll have to work that reputation via the daily quests and with Relic of Ulduar turn ins/Everfrost chips.

As a warrior I would try and get my Ebon Blade reputation to at least revered for the Arcanum of Torment and see about getting Argent Crusade to revered as well for the tanking helm enchant. Since the Argent Crusade has some quests in Dragonblight and a hub in Zul'Drak as well as a long quest chain in Icecrown and the Ebon Blade has quests and dailies in Icecrown, you can probably come close to these goals without even making use of championing or the daily quest in Dalaran for reputation. Adding those in and getting those reputations to revered is not difficult at all, and can even be done before you actually reach level 80. Once you're at revered with the aforementioned championable factions, the Wyrmrest Accord has a surprising amount of tanking gear you should consider. The Kirin Tor gloves are solid, but by now you'll probably be able to get better via Emblems of Heroism (the Tier 7 glove token) before you'll make the reputation needed to purchase them, assuming you don't just get an equivalent drop running Naxx-10.

If you're a new warrior or just new to Northrend, please feel free to ask for additional advice or an answer to a question I missed in the comments and if necessary I'll revisit this topic next week. If not, back to Ulduar.
Check out more strategies, tips and leveling guides for Warriors in Matthew Rossi's weekly class column: The Care and Feeding of Warriors.

Filed under: Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Expansions, The Burning Crusade, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors, Wrath of the Lich King

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