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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Leveling Up 1-20

Matthew Rossi

The Care and Feeding of Warriors anticipates Patch 2.3 the way Cookie Monster rips the plate from your hands and devours the cookies with a 'gnom gnom gnom' sound and flying crumbs everywhere. Matthew Rossi learned to do a mean Cookie Monster, Grover and Elmo impersonation when he was in his twenties. He doesn't like to talk about it.

Since we have in the past been accused of focusing too much on the 70 game, this week's installment of TCAFOW will be spending some time with the brand new warrior. Since we know Patch 2.3 is on the way with improvements to leveling and instancing between 20 and 60, it behooves us to be level 20 or thereabouts when it hits, and that's what this post is all about. While it's not terribly hard to level to 20, it never hurts to discuss the do's and don'ts of the initial 'trying-on' period of the class.

The first few pieces of advice are general ones. First off, if you can, go to the Draenei or Blood Elf starting zones to level grind. The quest progression is better, the rewards are better, the zones are well designed to funnel you from place to place, and you can solo almost everything you'll come across with a few notable exceptions that will require grouping as you near level 20. Do as much in these zones as you can, perhaps even set your hearths there if you don't mind being fairly cut off from other zones. The blood elf starting zone has the benefit of a transporter in Silvermoon that will take you to Undercity, and thus the zeppelins for transport to Kalimdor, while Azuremyst and Bloodmyst isle are a touch more isolated, requiring two boat trips to get to. But at low level, a few corpse runs are no major impediment compared to the experience you'll gather in those zones.

There are things you can always do to make a new warrior's life easier if you have a higher level main: they're obvious, and I won't cover them here because either you have such a higher level character and can figure it out pretty easily, or you don't and therefore don't have recourse to them. Similarly, higher level friends can help you, but if you don't have them you don't have them. This post assumes you just bought the game.

Levels 1 to 10 of the warrior are, like most classes, incredibly basic. You start off with Heroic Strike and Battle Shout at level 1, gain Charge and Rend at level 4, Thunder Clap at 6, Hamstring at level 8. Clearly, since these are all the abilities you are going to have, and you won't have gained any talents yet, these are the abilities you will be choosing from. You may not even have a ranged weapon yet: get one as soon as you can. While charge is fun and awesome and a rage generator, there will be times you're going to want to pull a mob over to where you can more easily control the fight. Remember, adds are not your friend at this level, as you have no real way to deal with them.

At level 10, you gain several abilities including Bloodrage, Sunder Armor and Taunt. To unlock the last two, you must complete your Defensive Stance quest. The horde can get this quest in the Barrens or Tirisfal Glades, so if you're leveling in the Blood Elf lands you'll be making a trip to Brill, but luckily that's not terribly difficult. If you're leveling in the Draenei zones, they have their own version of the quest so you won't have to leave the zone at all. Either way, the quest can be challenging but is not impossible or even particularly difficult to solo, and is the first of several warrior specific quests you'll get as you level up. The Defensive Stance quest usually leads into another quest for a decent green quality weapon at about that level, which you should complete even if you've been lucky enough to get a equivalent or better weapon, as it's more experience and a chance at some money.

While there's not much call to tank anything while soloing, if you can get groups for quests at this point you can start to practice. If soloing you'll probably not switch out of battle stance, and it is possible to get to level 20 without tanking anything at all. I don't recommend this. Try and get in some tanking as you level and gain new tanking abilities - Shield Bash at 12, Revenge at level 14, Shield Block at 16. Disarm is useful whether or not you're tanking, as it reduces the damage the mob can do to you, as does Demoralizing Shout. Another advantage of trying to get in some tanking practice between 10 and 20 is that it can help you develop your stance switching. 10 -20 is also when you first gain your talent points. By level 20 you will have spent 11 of them, so now is the time to consider what style of warrior you want to level up as.

Many warriors choose to level as arms. I personally always spend my first five talent points in Cruelty. This may or may not work with your desired playstyle, I merely offer that a 5% boost to your critical hit rate at these levels is nothing to sneer at. Either way, while leveling try and make sure that you control the fights you pick as much as you can. Clear around quest objectives, killing everything as safely and quickly as you can, and pull harder mobs away from where there will be respawns if you can arrange it. At this level, warriors simply aren't well-equipped to deal with adds and unless you're very fortunate on your gear, you can often be overwhelmed by a mob that you'd expect to kill easily based solely on its level. A poorly equipped warrior is a very weak warrior.

While leveling up, there are a few instances you can consider running. For Horde, you can start running Ragefire Chasm at level 13, and there are several quests available for it in Orgrimmar. You may have to do some grinding in Durotar to get all the quests available, but that's never a bad thing. Most alliance and a few horde may start running Deadmines at around level 15, which is to my mind one of the best designed and most fun instances in the game and which will see gear upgrades in the next patch. If you run it and get a green drop from a boss, hold onto it for a while, if the patch comes while you're still in possession of it you may get a nice upgrade. Just as both factions can run Deadmines but only the alliance get quests to, both factions can run Wailing Caverns at about level 16 or so, but only horde get quests that take them there. Since it is in the barrens, it's easier for Horde to run it, but the boat at Ratchet makes it possible for either group to get their fairly easily and there are some nice drops here for a warrior, many of which will be getting better in 2.3. Finally there's Shadowfang Keep, very accessible to the horde via the Sepulchre and somewhat less accessible to alliance via Southshore. Many of the drops in this instance, once improved by 2.3, will be worth keeping for a while.

General advice for leveling warriors would include taking a gathering profession. Skinning or mining are often good choices. Mining can help you take a crafting profession and level it for later in the game as well as selling your ores on the AH for gearing money (you probably won't be able to craft anything you'd actually use at this level, it's more aimed at later in the game) and skinning is good because at this level you often kill things that are skinnable, allowing you to auction or even vendor the skins for quick cash. Note that auctioning is almost always more profitable, but vendoring can be much faster if you're trying to level more quickly.

At level 20, you gain the first of your 30 minute cooldown abilities, Retaliation. Once an absolute powerhouse of an ability worthy of having so long a cooldown, it's been nerfed since until it is merely a good ability, but at 20 you won't have any other panic button so it's still welcome. You'll also gain Cleave and Dual Wield if you so choose. I personally find DWing to be frustrating until I can talent and gear to reduce the miss chance and increase the offhand damage, so at level 20 I rarely do unless I'm trying to up a weapon skill by grinding relatively lower level mobs. Finally, at level 20 you gain a quest, either Yorus Barleybrew for alliance or Speak with Ruga for horde, that ultimately leads to the creation of an excellent mail chestplate for a warrior. Both the Fire Hardened Hauberk (seen on the Draenei next to today's post) and the Brutal Hauberk are well-worth getting for the XP as well as the items themselves.

This should leave you in a good position to begin running to 60 once the patch comes out, if that's your intention.

Next week, we may tackle level's 21 - 40 or we may hit Outland for a 58-70 gear guide, or we may do something else. I know, I'm mercurial.

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