Then, while farming Molten Core for the left Binding of the Windseeker (it didn't drop, although the right one did -- again), I got the Flameguard Gauntlets, a pair of gloves I've probably vendored more times than I can remember. And suddenly, it all clicked. I knew exactly what I would do with my transmog post. I would recreate the look of the classic WoW raiding DPS warrior. I would resurrect the clown suit.
The clown suit was the cobbled-together, not at all coordinated, not-matching-well-at-all set of epic DPS gear almost all warriors threw together in classic WoW raiding.
Since the number of tanks you could use on a pull was so variable, you could end up with five or six warriors tanking for trash and only one or two for bosses, meaning that the other four (especially in a 40-man raid) would end up switching to DPS gear when they weren't needed to tank. Since there was no such thing as DPS tier gear for warriors back then, we made do with a plethora of items gathered from all across raiding -- many of them leather or mail, although none of those pieces appear in this set due to transmogrification's limitations. Ret paladins at that time were similarly limited. You could wear your tier, of course, but it was not designed for combat. (Pally Tier 2 was better than Tier 1 for DPS purposes, and many wore it, but just as many were stuck without it.)
This particular version of the clown suit is based off of the suit I myself wore. There are variations (and I'll cover them), but first, I'll present what I went with. I'm deliberately staying away from tier sets with their iconic, unified looks, save for the tier 2.5 pieces from Ahn'Qiraj, which were so crucial to the raiding DPS warrior or paladin of the day. Note to death knights: Most of this gear is not a tier set of any kind, so you can look as goofy as this too, if you want. We just didn't have DKs back in the day to dress up like this.
- Helmet I went with the Helm of Endless Rage from Vaelestrasz the Corrupt in BWL. Another good option would be the Helm of Domination from AQ-20. Paladins could use the Avenger's Crown (from AQ-40 quests) and warriors the Conqueror's Crown (also AQ-40 quests), but at the time, the HoER was the most popular and a lot easier to get. Quite a few DPS warriors and paladins at that time wore the Crown of Destruction despite its being a mail helm. (I'll mention notable mail drops when they help provide context to how the suits often looked. Obviously, you can't transmog your current plate to mail.)
- Shoulders My personal favorite option from this period are the Drake Talon Pauldrons. They go well with any helmet listed above. Many warriors and paladins used the Conqueror's Spaulders or Avenger's Pauldrons instead. Warriors and paladins who did enough PvP would have considered the Highlander's Plate Spaulders or their Horde equivalent, the Defiler's Plate Spaulders. (Unlike the level 60 PvP sets, these are usable with transmogrification, which is why I'm including them.)
- Back I went with the Dragon's Blood Cape. Its length, mix of red and white and a suggestion of bloodstaining or scorching along the length make it my favorite. Failing that, the Onyxia Scale Cloak would have been on a lot of backs at the time, and for warriors, the Drape of Unyielding Strength is still available from quest givers outside of AQ-20. Paladins can get the Cape of Eternal Justice from the same quest giver, which is much uglier. Since the goal is to collect a clown suit, that's not a bad thing.
- Chest I'm using the Breastplate of Annihilation, from the first boss in AQ-40, the Prophet Skeram. It shares a skin with the Conqueror's Breastplate, and the Avenger's Breastplate is also the same but with different colors. All are found in AQ-40. A lot of options from the time (including the Zandalari Vindicator and Freethinker BPs) no longer exist and thus can't be obtained if you don't already have them. You can still get the Thick Obsidian Breastplate (crafted from an AQ-20 recipe) and the Silithid Carapace Chestguard, from Fankriss in AQ-40. MC and BWL didn't have a lot to show for DPS chestpieces.
- Tabard A tabard would conceal how ridiculous you look. That's not the goal.
- Gloves As I said in the intro, the inspiration for this was my acquisition of the Flameguard Gauntlets in MC. They're so ludicrously bright that they pretty much don't go with anything, which makes them perfect for this set. There are other plate glove options from this period that plate DPS might have considered. The Gauntlets of Annihilation match the warrior set from AQ-40 and drop from C'Thun. The Gauntlets of the Righteous Champion, from Viscidus, match the paladin's Avenger's Battlegear. And if you want to push the envelope with gloves that transcend ugliness, the Gauntlets of Steadfast Determination from Battleguard Sartura and Ooze-Ridden Gauntlets from Vem will get you to Holy heck, those are terrible faster than you can imagine possible.
- Wrists - You can't see bracers anyway, so don't worry about them. Worry more about what people can see.
- Belt - I'm wearing the Onslaught Girdle above, a classic plate DPS drop from Ragnaros. There were a reasonable amount of options (not even counting ones like ZG belts that are no longer available) for your DPS plate wearer, like the Girdle of the Fallen Crusader off of Chromaggus in BWL, the Triad Girdle off of the Bug Family in AQ40, and the Twin Emperors dropped two belts, the Belt of the Fallen Emperor matching Avenger's and the Royal Qiraji Belt matching the Conqueror's Battlegear.
- Legs For legs, I decided to go with the Sentinel's Plate Legguards (Outrider's Plate Legguards if you're Horde) because that's what I wore until I got a set of Naxx legs that no longer can be acquired in game, the Legplates of Carnage. Oh, if only I'd known we'd get transmog someday. A lot of plate DPS preferred the crafted Titanic Legplates or the BWL drops Legguards of the Fallen Crusader from Firemaw. Also, the Cloudkeeper Legplates, a world drop, were pretty well itemized and showed up quite often as well. The Cloudkeepers in particular look absolutely ridiculous on female characters.
- Boots I'm wearing the Conqueror's Greaves from AQ-40 above. Paladins could replace them with the Avenger's Greaves fairly easily. I'm hoping to replace them with the Chromatic Boots off of Chromaggus in BWL soon, the pink booties of death. Vem in AQ-40 drops the Boots of the Fallen Hero, while the Prophet Skeram drops the garish Boots of the Unwavering Will as well as the Boots of the Redeemed Prophecy, which I believe speak for themselves both in itemization and in looks.
- Weapons There are quite a few weapons that work with this set. For an arms warrior, ret paladin or a fury TG warrior, the classics are BWL drops such as the Ashkandi I have above. While pretty much any weapon from MC, BWL or AQ will work, I'm going to specially recommend the Drake Talon Cleaver, Draconic Avenger, Herald of Woe, The Untamed Blade, Spinal Reaper, Obsidian Edged Blade, Bonereaver's Edge, Manslayer of the Qiraji, Kalimdor's Revenge and Dark Edge of Insanity. For a fury warrior using Single-Minded Fury, to go with the look, I'd suggest Doom's Edge, Crul'Shorukh, Edge of Chaos, the Chromatically Tempered Sword, Spineshatter or Maladath, Runed Blade of the Black Flight from BWL, the Brutality Blade from MC, or AQ drops like the Sand Polished Hammer (Ruins of Ahn'Qiraj), or the quest reward Sickle of Unyielding Strength.
I didn't list Sulfuras in the above list even though I did use it in vanilla because it's not eligible for transmogrification. This is a wound in my heart that will never heal. I guess you could cheat and get the Firelands one, but it looks a little too detailed for the clown suit, in my opinion. Use your own judgement.
If you take the time to look over all of this, you'll see quickly that none of it matches. Even the supposed sets, the Conqueror and Avenger's Battlegear, are so different in color scheme that they don't match pieces intended for shared use, and they absolutely don't match the BWL, MC or world epics that warriors would have been wearing alongside them. The weapons make an already confusing muddle even more ridiculous. What I'm saying is that you're going to look a trifle mismatched and silly in this stuff, and that's OK. It's even sort of the point, really.
This is the past of the game, people. This is what plate DPS looked like. Embrace it! Go nuts with it! Put together the most color-clashing catastrophe you possibly can. Then wear it to the Raid Finder and blow up the DPS meters, making everyone feel doubly bad. Yes, you will say to yourself, I look ridiculous, and I kick ass.
Patch 4.3 lets you transmogrify your gear to look like any other gear your class can wear -- but you have to collect it first. Check out our coverage of transmogrification and start running those old dungeons!