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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Behold the orc (1-20)

Matthew Rossi

The Care and Feeding of Warriors is about warriors, those lovable, squeezable, strokeable bundles of pure joy who seethe with a burning inner fire, a rage that can only be quenched in blood. Matthew Rossi tries quenching it in delicious caffeinated beverages. You'd be surprised how often that works.

Sometimes I lose sight of the fact that not all warriors are level 80. Quite a few of them are alts currently grinding their way through Dun Morogh or The Barrens or Silverpine or Bloodmyst Isle. So while I do plan on going forward with my fresh 80 guides for arms, fury and prot, I'm going to alternate them with an experiment I started this week, which was to level an orc warrior from scratch and see how far I get with her. (I have almost no female toons, so I figured I'd give a she-orc a try.)

Yes, that's right, I rolled another warrior. In my defense, this week I've been really sick and exhausted, so what better use of my feverish time than to quest through The Barrens again? Look, the intervention didn't work, what makes you think your looking at the screen like that will stop me? Anyway, onward to discuss levels 1-20 as a warrior.

I started her Monday night after an excruciating night of magery. As of this writing (Thursday morning the 20th, for those of you playing at home), she's level 21, thanks in great part to a set of heirlooms I had left over from pushing my orc shaman to 80. Along the way, I've discovered several things that I'll share with you now.
  1. Leveling a warrior is a lot more fun now than it was the last time I had to do it, just after Burning Crusade came out, and that was a significant improvement over vanilla. The abilities have been reordered, and Victory Rush at low level is a very nice tool for questing/grinding. Starting with a 2H weapon makes everything go much faster. I'm leveling the orc as arms, but I did give protection a whirl at levels 16-18 and it's pretty viable, keeping in mind that at these levels spec is less rigidly defined.
  2. If you can, get a set of heirlooms. That 20% (or 25% if you can get the ring) bonus experience per quest and per kill really, really adds up fast. To give you an idea, I managed to complete most of the quests in the Barrens without wanting to shiv myself with a rusty spork. You can also get heirloom weapons and a trinket, but since those don't grant the XP bonus, get the pieces that do first.
  3. While you're at it, those BoA commendations from Wintergrasp? Get a few. Go to the Warsong Gulch vendor of your faction. Buy yourself some gear for honor. Profit. My orc is currently sporting a ring, neck and trinket from the Warsong and uses their 1H sword when forced to tank.
  4. It does not matter if you sign up as DPS and wait in the queue as DPS like a good little DPS'er. The tank will drop group or just have no idea what he or she is doing, and you will be forced to tank. Get a shield. You can tank an instance at these levels with Sunder Armor and the occasional taunt; just suck it up. The Satchel of Helpful Goods is actually worth the trouble. (Not always, admittedly.)
  5. Look for quest hubs and mine those suckers for XP and rewards that you can use. The sword in the screenshots is from a fairly easy-to-complete quest line in the blood elf starting area. I went and knocked the whole thing out in one night and went back to The Barrens. While the Alliance does not have a comparable quest line, there are still quest lines with solid XP and items for slots that are hard to fill at these levels.
  6. Seriously, despite the groups with warlocks who run ahead and pull another group while you're still killing the last one, rogues who can't figure out what target you're hitting so they run around the Deadmines hitting every single mob they can see, healers who are too busy running up into melee to actually heal you, and mages who think Flamestrike is good on every pull (to be honest here, I am that mage myself when I play mine; I'm an awful person), the XP and rewards are definitely worth it. It's never been easier to run a dungeon and start getting experience in group play. Even if it often makes you wish you could flag and attack your own party.
  7. Wailing Caverns is too big and too poorly laid out. Deadmines? That's cool. SFK? You can figure out where to go pretty easily. Running Wailing Caverns is like taking a field trip to a huge subterranean cavern with several hyperactive 6-year-olds, fresh from their third bowl of Chocolate Frosted Sugar Cubes (now with the occasional puff of rice cereal), and then someone mixed in huge, venomous serpents and guys who think they're Jim Morrison. Frankly, the whole experience was just too much like the time I decided it would be fun to take the bus from Washington, D.C. to California.
We went over the useful warrior abilities you pick up in these levels the last time we covered 1 - 20 leveling, back in the Burning Crusade days. The only real changes are the addition of Victory Rush (giving warriors another instant attack to use besides Rend and Thunder Clap) at level 6, helping break up the monotony of constantly heroic striking everything to death. The various warrior quest chains at these levels remain unchanged as well, and while the gear is often outdated and replaceable nowadays (especially if you have heirlooms), I still recommend doing them. Good XP, good lore -- and besides, the Path of Defense ones are pretty key to unlocking D Stance, which as I said above, you are absolutely going to need to use, like it or not.

In fact, I'll go one better: at these levels, it doesn't really matter what your spec is. With 11 points spent, you're not a "prot warrior" or "arms warrior" yet, especially not if you nicked over for Deflection, anyway. This is possibly the best time to give tanking a shot. Sure, no one will let you get aggro, but it's the lowest the stakes can possibly be: everyone's an alt or a new player, there's no pressure and you as a warrior have all the tools you'll need to hold aggro in this beginning instances. They're designed to be tanked by people just learning how. I've even tanked all of them with a 2H weapon because until I ran WC and Kresh dropped a shield, I didn't have one. I don't recommend that, but if you're a level 14 warrior in Ragefire Chasm, there's no reason not to at least give tanking a try.

Okay, before we adjourn, I'll go over some basic level 20 specs that you can crib from or totally ignore, as it suits you. Each is aimed at pursuing a role while also leveling. With 11 points to spend by the end of this bracket, it feels odd to make any talent spec suggestions and expect them to be taken seriously, but I know some people like guidelines, even if it's just to disregard them.

This is an arms/prot spec aimed at being able to solo and tank when needed. It relies fairly heavily on Rend. It's aimed at being capable of peeling down either path, but more strongly favors going from 20 to 30 as protection than arms. This spec, on the other hand, is pure protection, aimed at leveling through hitting the dungeon finder as much and often as possible. Meanwhile, this spec works for a warrior looking to maximize offense at this level -- I find Rend is a very important ability at these levels, since you only have two stances, it works in both of them and it's the only instant attack you can guarantee using if you have the rage. If I end up pulling more than one mob, I'll often tab and Rend, especially with the Glyph of Rending as my first major glyph.

OK, next week we'll start our "New to 80" series, and then in two weeks we'll hopefully be back here for levels 21-40.

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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