I got to do some tanking in Heroic Siege this week - nothing major, just offtanking on Dark Shaman - and it was pretty fun all around. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy tanking in raids. It was fun to get to see the Warrior 2 piece Tier 16 tanking bonus in action in a current raid at the cutting edge of content, instead of in an LFR or using it to solo Cataclysm raids. It's a very solid set bonus, and I'm going to write more about it in the future - basically, I think it should be baked into the baseline Shield Block and Shield Barrier abilities, or perhaps be baked into Shield Slam in some way (so that, for ten seconds after a successful Shield Slam, you heal a percentage of your Shield Barrier absorb or Shield Block damage prevented, as one possible example) - but I'm not quite ready to write about that yet.
Now, as I said, I've been using my tank set and prot spec to solo Cataclysm raids, up to and including the first three bosses in 10 man Dragon Soul. It's not always easy, but it is possible, and the reason I've been doing this is because I freaking love transmogrification, and therefore, I've been pursuing it with a fevered dedication that has completely robbed me of bank, void storage and even bag space. I've wanted to write about transmog and warriors forever, but I felt such deep shame at letting Cable, the mutant son of Cyclops and Madeline Pryor, write about it first. I mean, I'm so in love with transmog that I started a tumblr about it.
So let's talk about transmog and warriors. (If you're not interested in transmog, you should probably come back next week.) Why do I argue that warriors do transmog better than anyone? Well, here's a few reasons.
- We have the widest selection of weapons. We can dual wield one and two handed weapons, including staves and polearms now. That picture of me with Zhar'doom? I raided with that, because I had a polearm. We also are capable of equipping shields. This means we can use almost anything but ranged weapons/wands. I even have fist weapons in my bank for the inevitable day when a strength fist comes back around.
- Plate looks cooler than any other armor type. We all know it. The clothies and leatherheads know it. Mail wearers definitely know it. If you ever want to make a mail wearer cry, wait until he or she gets the Steelspine Faceguard and wants to try and match it. I once mogged to the Might set just to mock a shaman with that hat on.
- Between Might, Wrath, Dreadnaught, Warbringer, Destroyer, Onslaught... I could go on and on, but let's face facts. Our tier sets are often the best ones. We just look cooler than the others do. It's okay to admit it to yourself.
- Finally, with our protection tier 15 and 16 two piece bonuses, you can put together a tanking set that can easily solo much of Cataclysm raid content, meaning that we're in a great place to collect various pieces. I actually do it with just the tier 16, it's just that good, but if you have a couple of pieces of T15 as well it can only help.
First off, there's transmog resources like Icy Veins and Wowhead, both of which I make a lot of use of. Wowhead has actual 'transmog sets' organized by page, including lookalike pages for when you want a set look but can't get a set piece to drop. Icy Veins has pages for each class, with a variety of looks you can equip available to scan and say "ooh, I like that shoulder" for when you're looking for a new look. I also make use of Mogit, an addon that does much of the same thing, and there are other addons if you'd prefer to go that route.
There are a lot of pieces available on vendors - while you can't use the original Horde and Alliance PvP sets from classic WoW unless you've earned the proper PvP rank, you can pick up a wide assortment of PvP items from the vendors in Stormwind and Ironforge, and several more sets from the Burning Crusade era are available in Area 52 as well. I'm not going to go into much detail for sets available through dungeons - you can easily solo any dungeon before Mists right now, and you can always queue for a Mists dungeon if you're looking for a drop from those.
Some of the best regarded warrior sets are from The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King, and all that stuff is pretty easily soloable too. (I find Gunship 25 annoying to solo, so see if you can talk a friend into helping there, and you'll need a healer friend for Dreamwalker in ICC - can't be done without some way to heal her) - I find that the higher end Wrath bosses require a fury spec with Second Wind so that you can burn through the damage. (In general, if you're soloing old content for mog gear, Second Wind is a lovely talent.) My favorite set from the Burning Crusade era is actually not Onslaught, however. It's this blue recolor of Onslaught, much (but not all) of which is available from raiding Black Temple. For a warrior, the Vengeful pieces are a lot easier to acquire (they cost honor points from the vendor in Area 52) and only warriors can equip the shoulders and chest - there's no non-PvP options for those pieces. There's a lot of great options for you in these two expansions - the Siegebreaker from Ulduar (in up to four colors, too), the Destroyer from Tempest Keep and Serpentshrine Caverns (and its recolor), the Horde and Alliance specific armors from Trial of the Crusader (most of which are available for purchase outside the raid itself for justice points) and my personal favorite the Sanctified Ymirjar Lord. It's also possible to match other class sets, if you want to - there's a ton of plate that matches DK and paladin gear (and some that matches warrior, as well - but no pieces match the red Sanctified Ymirjar Lord, you can only get that look as a warrior.)
Once you start getting into Cataclysm raids, it gets harder to solo. A group of three or four people can usually steamroll any of these raids on 10 man, even heroic (you may have to pay attention to some mechanics, but fights like Heroic Ragnaros are a lot easier to do with the much, much higher DPS of a level 90 group of three or four people) but if you're determined to solo, normal mode Cataclysm raids are easily accessible to a warrior. I find protection soloing these raids a lot easier than arms or fury, due to the protection set bonus that heals you for a part of the damage you absorb or block with Shield Barrier and Shield Block. Check out Matt Fossen's blog for some helpful tips on soloing older content.
Cataclysm really kept the trend started in Burning Crusade and Wrath of having offset pieces that matched various class sets. This means that you can assemble entire sets of lookalike gear, making it slightly easier to farm for set looks. However, it also means less individuality - warrior sets are now mostly wearable by other plate classes, so it's harder to keep a unique look.
Next week, I'm probably going to talk about design elements I'd like to see to bring protection warriors up to code, so to speak, with other tanks. But expect a completely subjective list of best weapons, armor and shields for warriors at some point.
At the center of the fury of battle stand the warriors: protection, arms and fury. Check out more strategies and tips especially for warriors, from hot issues for today's warriors to Cataclysm 101 for DPS warriors and our guide to reputation gear for warriors.