The Care and Feeding of Warriors: This is the end

Matthew Rossi
M. Rossi|03.02.14

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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: This is the end
Yeah, goodbyes are hard.

I started this column on June 15th, 2007. It has run continuously, one column a week, since that time. No one else has ever written a single The Care and Feeding of Warriors but me, and I have never missed a week. That's because, when I started this job, I had one goal - to tell you all how much I love playing a warrior in World of Warcraft. How awesome warriors are.

It's 2014. A lot has changed in my life and in the game but one thing has not - I still love playing a warrior in World of Warcraft. I've loved the class through my days of PvP and through every raid in the game. I've loved them through being the least popular tank, through being underpowered and overpowered, through every mechanical change and system. I was here when Titan's Grip was announced. I was here when we got, and lost, and got Heroic Leap. I have played this class since 2004, and I have written about it since 2007.

I'm going to keep playing a warrior, of course - I have like five max level warriors at this point, I'm not likely to stop now. And I'll keep writing about warrior news as it comes up. But this column you're reading now will be the last weekly The Care and Feeding of Warriors, the last time I sit down and write what has been a part of my weekly routine for more than six years now. There were many ways I could have chosen to end it - we could have done a retrospective column, going over my favorites from the past several years. I could do a big "This is what I hope for the class in Warlords" post. (I expect I'll be doing that in a different format anyway.) But this is the end.

So I'm going to end it the way I started it - I'm going to tell you a story.

I started playing World of Warcraft around the time it came out, because my then 'it's complicated' (today, she's my wife, and she's even more gloriously complicated than before) had played it in the beta and insisted I'd love it. I wasn't interested. I didn't like RTS games and so, I hadn't played much in the way of Warcraft games before. I didn't know who any of the characters were, I had no attachment to the setting. But it was a good way for us to keep in touch when she was far, far away from me (in the frozen wilds of Canada) and so I ended up playing. I didn't like it.

I'd started playing on a paladin, which was hard to get into for me, but I gamely kept trying. Around level 17 or so, I got into a Deadmines run and I discovered something - I had spells intended to heal people, and I was expected to use them. This took me aback - D&D paladins (the ones I was familiar with) had very, very limited healing capacity, and MMO-style healing itself was new to me. The very idea that my paladin, who had been exclusively played via the giant two handed hammer approach to all problems was now expected to not hit people with said hammer but instead to stand in the back and heal them was anathema to me. I wanted no part of this madness. This left me with a problem. I was level 17 - did I want to level to far-off 60 being constantly told to heal things? No. No I did not. But what to do?

So I rolled a rogue. That lasted 20 minutes.

My wife suggested I try a hunter. She really liked hunters, you see (still does) and so, I got as far as picking a race before noticing one of the icons was a sword. It was kind of a plain icon, not particularly flashy or dramatic - a sword, unadorned. What was up with that? So I clicked it.

I ended up making an orc warrior. I didn't expect I'd like it - the class description made them sound kind of plain. Everyone else had something cool - a pet, magic shapeshifting, magical powers, holy light. But I figured I'd give it a shot and if I hated it, I'd go play that hunter. I liked rangers in D&D, it seemed similar. I leveled through the orc starting zone, was pretty bored, figured I was going to delete the character. At level 10, however, something happened that literally changed my life. This is not an overstatement - I would not be here now, writing this, if it had not.

I got Charge.

There are two kinds of people in the world. Those that love Charge, and those that are wrong. There are many awesome and iconic warrior abilities - Mortal Strike, Bloodthirst, Shield Slam, Thunder Clap, Whirlwind, Heroic Strike, Bladestorm - but Charge is the first one, and the one that sums up the warrior experience. Other classes shoot enemies - we are the bullet we shoot, the weapon we wield is first and foremost ourselves. We don't cast spells. We don't change into anything. We don't summon forth the dead. We don't pray, or entreat the elements, or seek a balance, or skulk. We throw ourselves at the enemy. We hurtle into combat, relentless, seeking only to give as good as we get. We don't hide, we don't seek to evade damage, we don't shield ourselves behind impenetrable bubbles or cower behind duplicates.

We die, bloody and thrashing... and we take them with us.

Over the years I've always said that warriors didn't need anyone to tell them they were awesome - we didn't need cheerleaders. And it's true. We don't need that. But frankly, that's always been what I am for the class.

Of course I think warriors are the best class. I have one of every race. I have five max level and another three in striking distance of it. I have played, and loved, this class since that little orc warrior got Charge and realized this. This is what I should be doing. If I didn't love warriors, I wouldn't have stuck with them through the horrendously bad rage normalization of Burning Crusade, the horrible limitations of warrior tanking caused in part by it, the changes of Wrath of the Lich King that made warrior tanking so much better, the ups and downs and up and downs of warrior DPS over the years, doing ladder PvP in vanilla and arenas in BC, my on and off affair with battlegrounds, progression tanking in Wrath and Cataclysm, and the past year plus of DPS warrioring. Warriors don't need a cheerleader, but I'm one anyway. It doesn't matter what faction you play, or what race you prefer - if you play a warrior, I'm cheering for you. Tauren, orc, blood elf, forsaken, troll, goblin, worgen, night elf, human, dwarf, gnome, draenei, or pandaren, if you play a warrior, you're one of us. You made the right call.

If I convinced anyone to try the class, if I gave even one player who was having trouble with his warrior any information that helped them play, if I made anyone laugh, if anyone decided to stick with their warrior or nodded alongside and agreed with anything I said, I'm glad. This hasn't been my column. It's been our column, every warrior who has ever come by here. It's always been about us. I've been at turns critical, enthusiastic, snarky, surly, demanding, optimistic, but no matter what was happening with the class I've always loved it.

There are better theorycrafters out there. I know that. There are people who are better at specific aspects of the class, better at PvP, better tanks, better DPS warriors. I tried to master as many aspects as I could, but there was (and will be) always more to learn, always more to do. What I wanted to be... what I tried to be... was your biggest fan. Because I love this class, and I love being one of the people who plays it, and I love talking to you all about it.

This is the end. Thank you for letting me do this for over six years. I'm grateful. I started this column wanting so very much to tell you all how much I loved playing a warrior. And I'm ending it, telling you, I love playing a warrior. I won't stop trying to make sure every warrior gets to have that, too.

This has been The Care and Feeding of Warriors. Thank you.

Edited to add - because I managed to give a lot of people the idea that I'm leaving the site - no, I'm not. I'll still be here, and while I won't be writing a weekly column about warriors, they (and you) will never be far from my thoughts. I promise I'll cover all warrior related news with the same passion for the class you've more than rewarded me for with the comments to this post. Thank you all again.

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