It’s a real pleasure writing this warrior leveling guide as it brings back some fond memories. My first ever WoW character, round 5 years ago, was an orc warrior and I remember how confused I was with the rage bar and its mechanics, but also how effing cool it felt to charge those Durotar scorpids around all day long :) I dropped that warrior around level 40 to start a shaman, then a priest, but I recently went back to my old love and started a new warrior (a Draenei this time...I know, I know) and got him to level 80. I did most of the leveling in solo mode and I’m going to write this warrior leveling guide from that perspective.
I’m pretty sure anyone starting up a warrior from scratch will agree with me when I say it’s not the best early game class out there. Where you can blast your way through mobs as a mage, pick them out sniper-style as a hunter or backstab them as a rogue early on, warriors have to go through a gauntlet of patience and frustration until they get the good stuff. When compared to other classes, the tier 1 talents of a warrior are really crappy and most of them are incredibly effective later on as gear increases, but right now they don’t do you that much good (Armored to the Teeth or Cruelty come to mind as incredible scaling talents that are worth sh!t at early levels).
Your talent spec will chisel the way you play through the game and from my experience you’ll be experimenting a lot with different specs. The thing is, unlike a hunter’s beast mastery, a priest’s shadow or a paladin’s retribution specs, there’s no definitive leveling spec for warriors as arms, fury and prot are all equally viable for leveling. The thing is, they’re all viable for leveling at a different point in the leveling process. For example, Fury scales best with better gear and it’s probably not a good idea to start off directly in the fury talent at level 10. Protection is an INCREDIBLE leveling spec, offering survivability, less downtime and great AOE/CC capabilities, but it’s really only viable at level 60 when you get Shockwave. Arms is a more balanced spec and I suggest you start off as Arms if you want to solo through the game. The main benefit Arms has at earlier levels over the other two spec trees is its ability to reduce rage starvation with the help of talents such as Improved Heroic Strike, Anger Management or Improved Charge.
Personally, I went for Arms until I reached level 60 in Vanilla, but you can easily go for Outland at level 58, the early zones of Outland should be a breeze.
As I said, breeze. And it’s about to get even breezier if you go for a full respec at level 60. Grab yourself a shield and go for full protection until Shockwave; something like this
, give or take a few points that you might want to redistribute. Afterwards, go for the last points in Toughness and combine it with Armored to the Teeth, which should now give you a decent boost for the mere 3 points you need to invest in it. With Unbridled Wrath and Improved Cleave you’ll be an unstoppable grinding machine that requires little downtime and can survive and kill groups of 8-10 equal level mobs with ease.
The main tactic is to run around pulling as many mobs as you think you can handle, Thunderclap their ass, then run backwards a bit so they gather up into a nice little bunch in front of you and Shockwave them for an AOE stun. After that you should have enough rage to easily finish them off with thunder claps and cleaves (Glyph of Cleave helps). By the time they’re done they barely touched you (unless they’re some pesky mobs that knock you back or stun you for a bit) and if you’re lucky or if you time your strikes well enough you’ll also be left with some rage to spend on another group if you move quickly. In any case, keep bandages at a ready and make sure your Shield Wall and Last Stand are somewhere reachable on your quickbars, just in case you end up with that extra mob on your back that you didn’t want to pull.
When you pop level 68, stop messing around in Outland, finish the last of your quests there and head right on to Borean Tundra or the Howling Fjord – the experience from quests and grinding that you get here by far outweighs the possibilities you have in late Outland, so there’s really no point to sticking around – you’re trading hard quests in outland that offer little xp for quick, basic Northrend quests that offer a bucket load of xp and better items, so the choice shouldn’t be that hard to make.
One thing worth mentioning is that Northrend has a lot of plate and 2-handed weapons that you’ll be drooling over. It’s understandable why: the outbreak of plate-wearing Death Knights in early WOTLK and the hard-hitting barbarian theme dominating the earlier zones should be reason enough to tempt you to go for a 2-hander Arms spec, or for a Titan’s Grip fury spec. If you really want to respec from prot, I suggest you try a Titan’s Grip spec and go for Ingvar’s Monolithic Cleaver
in Utgarde Keep (drops from Ingvar the Plunderer). This is the perfect axe for a TG fury warrior as it hits harder than anything you can get at that point, it’s not unique-equipped and the 140 hit rating you get from swinging two of these axes will fill in the DPS gap Titan’s Grip and dual-wielding create.
I was lucky enough to get them both on my first 5 or 6 runs, but I also know people who went for the same strategy and had to run UTK over 20 times to grab hold of them – unless you’re feeling lucky, you might want to head back to grinding and questing since you don’t want these axes to be a time sink that will considerably slow you down.
As far as the two starting areas go, I always choose Borean Tundra due to the clustered quests and smoother geography, unless my alt char I’m leveling benefits from the Bind on Account flight tome that would allow you to fly about in Howling Fjord – it’s really frustrating having to find your way through those mountains on foot and for me, it offered a smaller experience-per-minute ratio than Borean. But I guess it’s also a matter of personal choice.
To end things on a positive note, I’m confident you’ll have fun leveling your warrior, even though it doesn’t offer the same speed or grinding capabilities other classes have. It might get a bit frustrating if you’re trying to play in a spec that doesn’t suit your style, so I suggest you mess around with various leveling specs until you find one that is best suited for you. I know I was cursing at the Heavens around level 62, trying to make my way through Outland as Fury and, tempted by the various AOE capabilities, would always overpull and die a not-so-glorious death, chewed on by 8 low HP mobs. Then I discovered protection leveling and that did the trick for me, but in my discussions with other warriors they could swear by their dog’s grave that their arms/fury combination was the best. To each his own, just make sure you don’t get stuck in a spec because someone else deems it “the ultimate leveling spec”, when, in fact, it might not be suitable for you.