So you want to be a prot warrior: Basic gearing
After the last two posts in this series have unloaded a waterfall of information on you, you might be a little dazed, like you just took a Shield Bash upside the head, complete with the little stars circling and everything. That’s OK. Warriors get a lot of toys to play with as they level, like other classes, and figuring out which toys are ultra-cool like Transformers and which are worthless like My Little Ponies takes time. (Don’t go hatin’ just because I dissed My Little Ponies, yo. I’m a guy.)
Before we move on past level 20, let’s start talking about your gear. Make no mistake about it–warriors are the most gear-bound class in the entire game. We scale better with good gear than anybody, and bad gear hurts us worse than anybody. It’s not much of an exaggeration to say “we are what we wear.” I’ve leveled one warrior, two hunters (one marks, one BM), one feral druid, one enhancement shaman, and one death knight to 67 or higher. Only the enhancement shaman seems to have anywhere near the gear-scaling issues that Linedan did. The hunters, the druid, and especially the DK could run around in any old mish-mash of greens and still get the job done. Yeah, they kick more ass with blues and purples, but I didn’t have to constantly obsess with upping their inventory every few levels. I could just snag upgrades as I got drops or quest rewards, with only the occasional trip to the AH to fill in a gap. Not so for Linedan.
I can’t emphasize this enough, because take it from me and my hard personal experience, leveling an undergeared warrior, Protection or otherwise, sucks. Dying a lot isn’t much fun, and warriors have very few ways to get out of a fight anyhow. If you want to have fun leveling your Prot warrior into an impregnable fortress of spiky doom, it’ll be to your advantage to use every option at your disposal to make your gear as good as possible at each level.
Now this doesn’t mean you have to be like the bracket-campers in PvP, the level 19s that run around with every slot a blue and hundreds of gold worth of enchants. It just means that you’ll probably replace your stuff more often as a warrior than you do as other classes.
Let’s talk about what you need to look for in gear upgrades as a Prot warrior during your first 30 or 40 levels. In the early levels, your priorities for gear are very simple: strength and stamina. That’s it. Strength directly increases your chance to Parry, but more importantly it also increases your attack power and shield block value. For a warrior, 1 strength = 2 attack power and 2 strength = 1 shield block value. Attack power did not used to be hugely important for Prot warriors, but 3.0 turned that completely on its head. We do so much more damage now than we did before, and generate so much of our threat from that damage, that the ability to pump out pain is now vitally important even when tanking. Stamina, of course, increases health. You’re the guy taking hits, so you need all the health you can get.
At this point in your career, other stat boosts are pretty much secondary. Agility boosts your crit percentage and contributes a tiny bit toward Dodge, but don’t sacrifice strength or stamina for it. If you do find some mail gear or a weapon that boosts your defense rating, expertise, crit rating, or hit rating, feel free to grab it. But again, think strength and stamina first. Later on, these “non-stat” ratings will become vitally important, but for now, not quite so much. Don’t worry too much about the armor of an item, that’ll go up as you get better gear. I would definitely stick with mail only up to level 40, though, because nobody is going to take a Prot warrior in leather seriously. You’re not a druid. Don’t dress like one.
The principle is simply this: Get the best gear you can afford. When you have to go back to a capital city to train every two levels, swing by the Auction House and do some window shopping. See what’s available. If you can find some “of the Bear” greens (+str/+sta), snap those up. You can also look for “of the Tiger” (+agi/+str) or “of the Monkey” (+agi/+sta) greens if you can’t find any “of the Bear.” Obviously blues are better, but they’re also much pricier. Fill all your slots! Get a helm and shoulders as soon as you can, typically around level 14-16. Grab different weapon types so you can keep those skills leveled up; for weapons, look at the damage per second on the tooltip and grab the hardest hitter you can find. And never neglect your shield!
Talk to friends that are crafters, or maybe you have another character that’s a crafter. At low levels, blacksmiths handle all the mail armor duties, so see what armor and weapons your friendly neighborhood metal-banger can make for your baby warrior. In general you’ll be able to get better drops from instances than what smiths can craft for you, but crafted items can be useful for plugging holes in your gearset. With the advent of jewelcrafting, you can now get some very handy rings and neckpieces even at low levels, so take advantage. Again, use all those slots on your character screen, empty slots are just wasted space. As for enchants…I never really bothered using them on gear that I would just dump in a few levels, but if you’re rich or have an alt or friend that can enchant and don’t mind doing it, by all means, go for it. You guessed it…strength and stamina uber alles.
And instance, instance, instance! You need the tanking practice anyway! These are where the best drops for you are going to be found, not to mention some of the instance-related quest rewards are very good for their level. A prime Hordeside example is the Wingblade, which comes from the Horde Wailing Caverns quest Leaders of the Fang. That sword will hold you for several levels through your low to mid 20s. After all, the main reason to level a Prot warrior in the first place is to tank, so you should take as many opportunities to do it as you can. Plus, the experience from instancing now is much better than it used to be, so it’ll help you level faster.
(One more thing–if you’ve got a level 80 character who raids, there’s always Emblems of Heroism and bind-to-account gear. Polished Spaulders of Valor or a Venerable Dal’Rend’s Sacred Charge will relieve you of having to worry about what goes in that slot, and give a +10% xp boost to boot.)
Finally, glyphs. At level 15 you can equip one major and one minor glyph, and you should go make friends with an inscriber or snag some off the AH pronto. There’s no one hard-and-fast best choice at this level, my recommendations (in no particular order) are:
- Glyph of Resonating Power (Major): Reduces the rage cost of your Thunder Clap by 5. Great for tanking instances, because TC is a vital move for holding packs of mobs on you.
- Glyph of Revenge (Major): Makes your next Heroic Strike within 10 seconds of using Revenge cost zero rage. If you are planning to grind and quest/farm in Defensive Stance or do a lot of instancing, this is a very good choice.
- Glyph of Sunder Armor (Major): Your Sunder Armor ability affects a second target, like a Cleave. This is another one that can be very useful for tanking instances, less so for normal day-to-day questing.
- Glyph of Battle (Minor): Increases the duration of your Battle Shout by 1 minute. If nothing else, it’s useful for reducing the pain-in-the-ass factor of remembering to reapply Battle Shout.
- Glyph of Thunder Clap (Minor): Increases the range of your Thunder Clap by two yards. This makes positioning a little easier on multi-mob pulls. Pair it with Resonating Power and you’re a Thunder Clapping mosheen, baby, awwww yeeeeah.
Notice I didn’t give you many specifics on items? That’s because I shouldn’t have to! Gearing a warrior for the first 40 levels or so isn’t really rocket science. Strength and stamina are your most important stats, then agility and all the other various defensive and offensive ratings. Spirit and intellect, obviously, don’t matter. If your character was smart, she wouldn’t be getting conked on the head for a living, would she? Just get the best stuff that you can afford, and continually upgrade as you go. Don’t think of it as an expense, think of it as an investment.
Next time, we’ll talk about Tanking 101. It’s never too early to start learning how!