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Should you play a warrior in WoW?

Jumping into World of Warcraft for the first time -- or rejoining the game after a long absence -- can be daunting. And the first tough choice is deciding which class you want to play. If you've already decided on a race you want to play, that can help narrow your choices -- except, that is, in the case of warriors, which are one of just two classes playable by every race.

Warriors are a core class in any RPG, and the archetype is certainly recognizable in WoW's class, which is a master of arms and armor. Fighting furiously on the front lines of battle, warriors can dish out damage with heavy weapons in melee combat or take a more defensive role, absorbing damage with a shield and protecting their less-armored allies. Wearing heavy plate armor and wielding a wide variety of weapons, warriors are dangerous fighters that are tough to take down.

While warrior is a basic class type, their gameplay is anything but simple -- there's plenty of depth to their game if that's what you're looking for. So is warrior the class for you? If fighting on the front lines of any battle is your idea of fun, you should read on -- we'll give you a run-down of just what the class can do so you can decide for yourself.

Just what is a warrior?
According to Blizzard, "Warriors combine strength, leadership, and a vast knowledge of arms and armor to wreak havoc in glorious combat." From those words alone, you should already know whether the class is of interest to you. But if you're still on the fence, there's more to warriors than just glorious combat -- though whatever your playstyle, there's plenty of combat to go around. Warriors have two basic game roles: to soak up damage as a tank or to dish out damage as melee DPS. They do this through the choice of three specializations:

  • Arms: These warriors specialize in brutal attacks with heavy, two-handed weapons. Key to the playstyle are skills like Mortal Strike, Slam, and Overpower -- as you can see, all skills that boost the warrior's effectiveness with weaponry.
  • Fury: These warriors also focus on dealing damage, but instead of wielding a single two-handed weapon, they focus on dual-wielding, making them rather similar to rogues... though fury warriors wear heavier armor and have more weapon options. At level 38, fury warriors get Titan's Grip, which allows them to dual-wield two-handed weapons. We're pretty sure you can't get any fiercer than that.
  • Protection: The tree of the tank, protection warriors focus on mitigating damage and protecting their allies by keeping enemy targets fully focused on them. These are the only warriors you'll see using shields -- so it's no surprise their core abilities are things like Shield Slam and Shield Block.
As you might imagine, a class that's this focused on the use of weapons and armor requires decent gear to shine -- and while all classes certainly do better with better gear, a warrior's need to have the best armor to absorb damage to tank and the best weapons to dish out damage to DPS makes them a bit more dependent than most. This might not mean anything special as you're leveling up and grabbing new gear constantly as you quest, but at higher levels, you may find it challenging to collect gear that's good enough to stand up to top-tier content -- especially if you're interested in tanking.

As we've said, warriors can be played by all races, so you have the choice of draenai, dwarf, gnome, human, night elf, worsen, blood elf, goblin, orc, tauren, troll, undead, or pandaren. And their mastery of arms is unrivaled by other classes, with the ability to wield bows, crossbows, daggers, fist weapons, guns, one-handed axes, one-handed, maces, one-handed swords, polearms, staves, two-handed axes, two-handed maces, and two-handed swords. Of course, just be cause you can wield these things doesn't mean you should: ranged weapons aren't the warrior's speciality and we don't think we've ever seen a warrior fearsomely brandishing a staff... but it does give you plenty of options to make use of whatever gear you come across. For armor, warriors can equip shields as well as wear mail armor and plate armor at level 50.
Tap into your inner rage
Warriors have a unique resource system known as rage -- and, no, it's not the same as the frustration that makes you want to keysmash after you've died in the game. Instead of a mana, energy, or focus bar -- which start off full and drain as you use spells or abilities -- a warrior's rage starts at zero and is gained by dealing or taking damage (as well as using certain skills). And whenever you drop out of combat? Your rage gradually fades away again. This can make resource management a particular challenge. For players soloing, you'll find rage easiest to deal with if you rush from battle to battle before your rage has a chance to fade completely -- and, fortunately, skills like Charge can help a warrior rush from battle to battle without letting their rage fade.

To help with rage generation, warriors fight in specific stances -- and the stance they use changes how they generate rage. At level 1, warriors start with only Battle Stance, in which you generate rage by dealing damage. At level 9, you add Defensive Stance to your arsenal, which reduces damage taken, increases threat generation, and generates rage automatically while you're in combat -- which makes it the perfect stance for tanking warriors who need to absorb a lot of damage. And at level 34, warriors get Berserker Stance, in which they gain rage in part from damage dealt, but mostly from damage taken.

Who should (and shouldn't) play a warrior?
Warriors aren't for everyone, but they may be for you. Here's who we think will get the most out of the warrior class:
  • If you typically play warriors in RPGs, this is WoW's warrior. Enjoy the many glorious battles to come!
  • If you want to dive into the thick of battle... and come out on the other side, a warrior's heavy weaponry will suit you well whether you want to tank or do damage.
  • If you want high survivability, warrior is one of only three classes that can wear heavy plate armor -- so whatever the spec, warriors can take a hit (or several).
And you might not care for the class if:
  • You're not interested in being dependent on gear -- you might look to caster classes, instead, which are far less reliant on arms and armor.
  • You're interested in using magic, warriors just aren't the class for you.
  • You're not interested in being on the front lines, warriors do nothing else -- you might look to hunters or mages for DPS instead.
Should you play a warrior in WoW
Want to know more about warriors?
If the warrior class has caught your eye, there are plenty of resources to take you beyond this introduction. Check out:If you've decided warrior just isn't the class for you, there are plenty of other options! Be sure to check out our guide to druids, hunters, mages, monks, paladins, priests, rogues, shamans, and warlocks -- and look for death knights to join the class roundup soon.
Just because you're a newbie doesn't mean you can't bring your A-game to World of Warcraft! Visit the WoW Rookie Guide for links to everything you need to get started as a new player, from the seven things every newbie ought to know to how to get started as a healer or as a tank.

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