The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Itemization in Wrath part one

Matthew Rossi
M. Rossi|09.26.08

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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Itemization in Wrath part one
When I said I'd talk about itemization for warriors in Wrath, I did so fully knowing that it is at present incomplete. New gear comes in with every beta patch, so even if you take every single item currently present into account it doesn't necessarily provide you with an accurate picture of the way it will all shake out once you actually set foot in Northrend.

So keeping in mind that not only can this all change tomorrow but that we're talking about gearing the most gear dependent class in the entire game, let's start looking at what gear we're going to require at 80. The defense cap at level 80, for instance, is going to be 540 defense requiring 689 defense rating. For a fury TG build, you're looking to overcome 15% hit penalty on specials, meaning that you'll be stacking roughly 500 hit rating at level 80 (based on this forum post which seems like a pretty good test bed to me) not to mention all the crit and AP you'll need to be effective. Frankly, I think the defense gear will be easier to assemble than the hit gear. For arms, of course, you won't need nearly as much hit, making an Arms DPS build substantially easier to gear for. (To be fair, a fury DPS build designed around Impale, Rampage and Incite would also be easier to gear for.)

Of course, the real issue isn't "Does the gear exist" but rather "How easy is it for me to assemble a reasonably effective set for what I want to do?" Does a newly 80 prot warrior have a chance to tank the instances and heroics? What about a DPS warrior, will he be effective? So far, it seems that the gear exists, but can be somewhat difficult to assemble: the introduction of faction vendors in the most recent beta builds actually goes to help in these situations. This week we're going to look at the faction rewards and see what warriors would be interested in. There's also instance drops, crafted items and PvP rewards to consider before all's said and done, but we have to start somewhere.
To look at faction vendor rewards:

Argent Crusade
  • Special Issue Legplates - solidly itemized tanking legs. The defense on them is a touch low considering that you're aiming for 10 times that rating to hit the defense cap, but certainly for a level 78 tank (especially if you're leveling from scratch and don't have access to really awesome gear from before the expansion) the strength, stamina, hit rating and defense on one item combined with two sockets makes these worth picking up.
  • Argent Skeleton Crusher - A solid enough arms weapon to tide you over while you're looking for something better in an instance or through PvP/crafting.
  • Fang-Deflecting Faceguard - A solid enough starter DPS helm for you as you enter the level 80 instances, it's really suited for an Arms build as well. It could be worn on a tank as a threat piece if you already have all the defense you need, but starting at 80 that's fairly unlikely.
  • Zombie Sweeper Shotgun - This is the clear winner for warriors, with hit, AP and crit. If you're looking to DPS at 80 you're going to want as much hit as you can get your hands on.
  • Arcanum of the Stalwart Protector - Necessary for any tank looking to hit that defense cap to begin running 10 and 25 man raiding. It's got nice stamina too.
The Sons of Hodir

  • There are two shoulder enchants of interest to warriors, with two tiers between them. The Greater and Lesser Inscriptions of the Pinnacle and the Greater and Lesser Inscriptions of the Axe. Clearly, tanking warriors are going to want Sons of Hodir reputation as fast as they can get it, while the lack of hit on the Axe inscriptions means that they are less less important for DPSing warriors (again, Arms and the Impale/Rampage/Incite build will be less invested in hit rating). You'll still get them, of course, as there is currently no alternative shoulder enchant available, although this could clearly change.
  • Stalactite Chopper is an interesting option for a tank or DPS warrior. The speed and stats would certainly make it a good DPS option, but stam and a good amount of damage on Devastates (especially now that Devastate has been reverted to 50% of weapon damage) means that you might want to carry this around and switch in and out to lay five of them on with it before you get better.
  • Spaulders of the Giant Lord are also interesting. Sadly lacking in hit, they have good strength and crit but continue the trend of high stam on DPS plate that attempts to push warriors in a direction that doesn't really seem to make a lot of sense. If for some reason you were defense capped, or just wanted good threat pieces, they'd be okay for a tanking warrior but they're sub-par for anyone, really, be it arms, fury or a hybrid build. Still, when you hit 80 you probably don't have much better.

The Kalu'ak

  • Ivory-Reinforced Chestguard is another solid, if unremarkable, piece which will allow you to add some defense rating and threat stats to a slot. I'd prefer the defense rating be higher, but it's clearly intended for tanking while leveling to 80 and should work well for that role.
  • The Whalebone Carapace is yet more DPS plate with no hit and more stamina than I'd like.

The Wyrmrest Accord

  • The Wrymrest Accord are very nice to tanks. They offer the Cloak of Peaceful Resolutions, with a nice chunk of stats a tank might want to start with.
  • They follow this up with the Fang of Truth. Also probably a solid rogue weapon, it has a nice speed if you're still looking to spam Heroic Strike while tanking, Agility to add to armor, Stamina and hit rating. While there are definitely better tanking weapons this is a no brainer when you hit honored.
  • At revered you'll be picking up the Breastplate of the Solemn Council. A very solid tanking threat BP with a better chunk of defense for that cap of 690 you're shooting for. While you're there, why not pick up the Sabatons of Draconic Vigor? There is no reason why not, just get the shoes.
  • At exalted you can get the Legplates of Bloody Reprisal. I really wish these had crit or hit on them.

The Kirin Tor

  • Amazingly, the mages of the Kirin Tor do not offer a lot of warrior plate. Who would have thought? However, all tanking warrors should be looking at the Fireproven Gauntlets. Dodge, Defense, Stam and Str... not bad at all. I'd like the defense a little higher with that big cap in mind, but it's not bad for a hand slot item.

Knights of the Ebon Blade

  • I find some of the rewards the Knights of the Ebon Blade offer to be puzzling. Death Knights can't use fist weapons, and yet here's Unholy Persuader, a reasonable offhand fist weapon.
  • Similarly, they can't use shields, and so here's Toxin-Tempered Boots, tanking options with Block Value. As a warrior I like boots with Block Value, but... what's the deal? Are the DK's just handing out the crap they can't use from their former lives as faction rewards?
  • Well, at least the DPS boots have a chance to give you some hit if you socket them properly, I guess. The Death-Inured Sabatons continue the trend of disappointing me with their itemization.
  • Reaper of Dark Souls is a solid DPS option which could also work as a tanking item if you're looking for hefty Devastates. I'd suggest picking up a fast and slow tanking weapon in order to adjust your threat to the situation.
  • Finally, for arms warriors there's the Runeblade of Demonstratable Power. It's not perfectly itemized but it has crit, haste and a solid dose of AP. Yet again it lacks hit. Sigh. I have to admit I like the name. "My power is demonstratable!" It's nice to see so tangible a goal.

Frenzyheart Tribe and The Oracles

  • Not a lot of rewards between the two so I combine them: the Wolverine dudes offer you the Giant-Sized Gauntlets (which, while clearly intended for tanking, lack defense so you may end up using them as DPS gear just to get some hit rating somewhere... oh, who am I kidding? You'll wear leather), the Stolen Vrykul Harpoon and the Frenzyheart Insignia. If you like haste, these are your boys.
  • The Oracles, on the other hand, offer you Gold Star Spaulders which, of course, have no hit and a lot of stamina for DPS, and the Oracle Talisman of Ablution. Hard to say no to that much crit, even if I don't know what the 'beneficial resources' are. Hopefully rage is in there.
There's also the Alliance Vanguard and Warsong Offensive, but they're not really fully itemized as of the most recent patch. Vanguard weapons (which I assume will get Horde equivalents) that are of interest include the Sawed-Off Hand Cannon (precious, precious hit rating), the Shield of the Lion-Hearted and the Hammer of the Alliance Vanguard.

If you add up all the defense rating on the highest available option from these vendors, you'll be sitting at 389 defense rating. While this is slightly more than half of what you'll need to be uncrittable at 80, it doesn't take into account rings, trinkets, a helm, belt, bracers or shoulders, much less a weapon with defense on it. We'll cover where to find those items in the next post.

For DPS, clearly a TG build is at a huge disadvantage looking at these rewards. For a DPS warrior, Arms or the Impale/Rampage/Incite build are far more viable at the newly 80 level of itemization. We'll discuss instance drops for those various specs as well next week, keeping an eye on what's changed between patches.
Check out more strategies, tips and leveling guides for Warriors in Matthew Rossi's weekly class column: The Care and Feeding of Warriors.
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