The Care and Feeding of Warriors is kinda grossed out by the innards just falling out of that big dead guy in the picture there. Tanking in Hyjal is fun but also kinda gross, and Matthew Rossi can't say he enjoys all the intestines falling all over the place. If they could cut back on that it would be great..

It's well known that I don't think of warriors as a hybrid class. The reason for this is, every single class in World of Warcraft can perform in a damage dealing role, as part of the means towards making soloing possible in the game. Not one class doesn't have some sort of 'DPS' spec, from Priests to Warriors to Paladins, and many classes (the ones who combine DPS and CC) have multiple damage trees. Another way to look at it would be to argue, as I have in the past, that there are four roles in World of Warcraft (damage, tanking, healing, and crowd control) and that every single class is a hybrid of at least two of these functions. Since this is debatable, I prefer to define as 'hybrids' the three generally accepted classes of Shaman, Paladin and Druid. (Clearly, there's no real 'right' or 'wrong' to this, a strong case could be made for the hybrid nature of any class, I'm just explaining my point of view.)

However, hybrid or not, one thing is clear: while talents and abilities are what makes the warriors two roles of DPSing or tanking possible (or PvP, which in the case of warriors combines burst DPS with a variation of tanking survivability) it is in gear selection and choice that you discover the real flexibility of the class.

Of course, we all know that you need a tanking set, a DPS set, and a PvP set.. But that's not enough. You also need resistance sets, yes, but even that is not enough. You will be called upon to tank many different kinds of content in your time as a warrior, and even if you don't tank, you can't just slap on any old DPS plate and spec fury anymore. You may do more DPS or contribute more to your raid as an arms/fury warrior who brings Blood Frenzy and Improved Slam to bear. So it behooves you to start building your sets now, and to always keep an eye out on how best to improve them.

As an example, let's compare the Unwavering Legguards to the Tier 5 Destroyer Legguards. The Unwaverings are much easier to customize with three gem sockets to the Destroyer having one. You can make them a heavy stamina piece, gem for hit, gem for more defense... they are a more flexible piece that the Destroyers. However, the Destroyer are very solid, with high defense. higher armor, more well rounded stats and more importantly, they have the set bonus to consider. Having recently acquired the Destroyers, I took the time to test both pieces out on a heroic Magisters' Terrace run this morning. I will still probably use the Unwavering when I want stamina, as I have gemmed them with Solid Stars of Elune (soon to upgrade to Solid Empyrean Sapphires) as we continue to work progression. But for bosses where I am concerned about threat, the set bonus on the Destroyers means an extra 100 damage on a shield slam if timed properly, so I will use them for raid content that is still hard for our gear level but which we've more or less placed on farm status as well as in heroics, where the additional threat is more welcome. I've also chosen the Destroyers over the Unwavering for my 'hit' set, as I hope to eventually have enough pieces to get the four piece set bonus and combine the increased expertise and hit (for smoother rage generation and reduced chance for parry causing hasted boss attacks) with the increased threat generation from not missing, being parried, bigger shield slams and melee haste.

As things stand, I currently have three main tanking sets, a 'threat' or 'hit/expertise' set which sacrifices about 700 health in the name of hit rating and expertise as well as increasing my shield slam with the set bonus, a 'stamina' set aimed at making healing as easy as possible for new bosses and my passive uncrushable set, which is not yet a functional set (just working on it in-between the others). This is in addition to resist sets like the shadow resistance set we're all expected to have for Mother Shahraz or the Hydross set of mixed frost and nature resistance.

In addition to these sets I have two DPS sets, a fury oriented dual wield set I wear when out grinding or when I respec to DPS as a vacation, and a higher +hit set for my Blood Frenzy set. These sets are both works in progress because I like to focus on tanking gear over DPS gear.

Depending on what level of content you're exploring now and what you intend to do as a warrior, you may or may not be nodding along saying yeah, I have a lot of sets too or you may be saying I'm lucky I have a green set of shoulders from Netherstorm to tank with, why do I care about this? And it's a fair question. The reason is simple: you're going to get gear with different stats at some point and you might vendor, say, a green set of shoulders or a green ring that you got on a quest. You'll think, well, I have better now. For the most part, you'll be right, the new item will have better overall stats. But that can be lateral thinking. If you think in terms of just a 'tanking' set, yes, a new item may be better than a quest green. But if you think in tems of 'hmm, I may want this for a block value set for fights where Shield Slam aggro needs to be consistently high' then there's no reason not to keep those green shoulders even while running through the level 70 instances.

Similarly, you may be decked out in epics, you may be killing Vashj or Archemonde and still have reason to hold onto blue pieces you got in older content. A lot of warriors put together 'avoidance' sets, as an example, where they stack as much dodge as possible, or there's the aforementioned passively uncrushable set I'm working on myself. Another of my guildmates has actually achieved passive uncrushable, and he did it with block rating stacking, including items like the Steam-Hinge Chain of Valor and the Figurine of the Colossus. He uses this set in Heroic Magisters' to tank all of the mana wyrm adds by gathering them all up and just blocking everything they do, as his shield block value is 765 in this set. It takes longer, but by the time the DPS opens up on them, he has aggro on everything and they've barely scratched him. Is it a gimmick? Sure, you wouldn't tank progression like this, his stamina is something like 13000 in this set.

As warriors, we come up through the levels thinking in terms of 'tanking' and 'DPS' sets. But as we progress through content, we need to start fine tuning our thinking. Arms DPS with a big 2h weapon requires a different gear setup than fury DPS with a 2h weapon. You need less hit on the fury build, for instance, because it has precision (but those points might be better spent elsewhere, I'm still playing with fury atm) as just one example. Basically, not only do you need to select your gear based on your talents and spec, you need also to then fine-tune the gear you choose for each encounter you find yourself in. A basic 'good enough to do the job' set will always be outperformed by a set that's been optimized for what you're intending to do with it. Multi-mob tanking, for instance, requires a significant amount of hit to ensure that you don't miss on a taunt or devastate, and I generally like having a lot of block value so that when the little buggers hit me they don't do all that much damage. A set optimized for this is not going to be ideal for tanking a boss who hits very hard, as you will probably have dropped your avoidance to ensure that you get hit for rage needed to use thunderclap early and often to hold the three or more mobs you need to lock down in one place, and you may have sacrificed stamina too. My advice here is to get an addon like Item Rack or Outfitter and keep current with what sets you have and what you use them for.

Okay, that seems like enough from me. I'll leave the floor open to you in the community to tell me how much those DPS specs suck (I know, I know, I just don't have the time to really go over a good 2h DPS spec at the moment, too much tanking, I promise I'll spend more time on it) or to suggest better ways to cope with the need for gear selection. Share your secrets, fellow warriors.

Next week: I have no idea. Should be fun! Or embarrassing. One of those.

Check out more strategies, tips and leveling guides for Warriors in Matthew Rossi's weekly class column: The Care and Feeding of Warriors.

This article was originally published on WoW Insider. hosts countdown for May 1st