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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Leveling a new warrior, Part 1

Matthew Rossi

Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Care and Feeding of Warriors, the column dedicated to arms, fury and protection warriors. Despite repeated blows to the head from dragons, demons, Old Gods and whatever that thing over there was, Matthew Rossi will be your host.

Congratulations! You've decided to level a warrior. I applaud your choice in leveling satisfaction. This article is designed for the use of a new warrior, whether it be an experienced WoW player who hasn't picked up the class yet or an entirely new player.

Warriors are a melee DPS/tanking hybrid class that use a variety of combat stances tailored towards their specific role in combat as well as the situation to hand. They're uniquely mobile due to several abilities and talents designed for quick movement on the battlefield, and can use every single kind of melee weapon, although weapons with strength should definitely be the priority over ones with agility, and no warrior should use a weapon with intellect, spellpower or spirit on it.

Things we're not going to assume you have include Refer-A-Friend bonuses, heirlooms, or lots of gold to burn on the auction house. You don't strictly speaking need any of that to level your starting warrior. With the redesign to leveling in Cataclysm, you'll find it fairly easy to level from 1 to 58 just doing the quests in the various zones, running dungeons, or even through running battlegrounds if that's how you prefer. The great thing about leveling a warrior is, you can tank to run dungeons quickly (it's fairly easy to queue as a tank and chain them) or you can use one of our two DPS specs. Warriors can tank with weapon and shield, dual-wield, or use a big two handed weapon and they are the only class in World of Warcraft that can actually dual wield two big two handed weapons if so desired.

The first thing you're going to want to do is pick between Horde and Alliance of course, and then pick a race. Here are the racial abilities and how they interact with warriors, just to give you some options to consider. Next up, put some thought into what you intend to do with your warrior - do you care about getting to max level as fast as possible, will you be twinking in PvP, are you interested in playing around and seeing if you like the class?

Some basics of warrior play to consider:

  • Warriors use rage as a resource. Rage is generated by specific attacks (Mortal Strike for arms warriors, Bloodthirst for fury warriors, and Shield Slam/Revenge for protection warriors), by autoattacking in Battle and Berserker Stance, and by Charge and Battle/Commanding Shout for all warriors in all stances. Rage is spent on attacks and survival abilities depending on your role and spec.
  • Warriors have three combat stances, Battle Stance, Defensive Stance, and Berserker Stance. These are abilities that are toggled on and left on, without any need for you to maintain them, until you choose to change to another stance. Battle Stance generates the most rage when you deal damage, Berserker Stance allows you to generate rage from damage dealt and damage to your character, and Defensive Stance increases threat, which is the game's method of determining which character in an encounter is attacked by the enemies being fought. You should use the proper stance depending on your role and spec - if you're in a dungeon as a damage dealer, don't use Defensive Stance.
  • The primary warrior stats are strength and stamina, with secondary stats like hit, expertise, crit and mastery becoming more important as you reach maximum level. Tanks also look at dodge and parry, and don't care much about crit.
  • Warriors begin the game able to wear up to mail armor. At level 40, warriors gain plate specialization and the ability to wear plate armor.
There was a time where, in order to level outside of dungeons, warriors had to pick one of the two DPS specs, but that's no longer the case. You can level in any spec, even if you don't intend to tank. Protection has a lot of survivability as you level in the spec, while arms and fury use damage output to kill things faster to minimize how much damage they take. Protection is the weapon and shield spec, arms is the big two handed weapon spec, and fury uses either two fast one handers or two big slow two handers, depending on your preference.

I mentioned before that you could level between questing (exploring the world to find places with quests and then doing as many of them as you can), running dungeons (you can go as either tank or DPS, but not healer) or PvP. Honestly, my advice is to mix it up until you find what you enjoy the most. The last time I leveled from 1 to 90 on a warrior (my third warrior to hit 90) I decided to mostly quest, and run dungeons once or twice to get the experience from any quests available in those dungeons as well as the experience granted for completing them. You might prefer another approach - perhaps you find quests boring, hate dungeons, and love running BG's. The easiest way to discover is to try them out. In my experience PvP is a little slower than the other two, but you can always run some battlegrounds in-between dungeons or questing.

Warriors are (in my opinion) pretty solid and fun to level. The Mists of Pandaria revamp to class talents and abilities meant that you get a solid spread of abilities while you level. Each class specialization has different abilities, gained as you level up. We've covered fury, arms and protection in Mists of Pandaria before, the basics still hold true. To be honest, I personally think it's never been easier to level a warrior. Just pick what sounds like fun and go.

Next week we'll cover talents for leveling.

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.

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