A WoW Warrior Guide, Updated for Shadowlands

The Warrior

Human WarriorFor as long as war has raged, heroes from every race have aimed to master the art of battle. Warriors combine strength, leadership, and a vast knowledge of arms and armor to wreak havoc in glorious combat. Some protect from the front lines with shields, locking down enemies while allies support the warrior from behind with spell and bow. Others forgo the shield and unleash their rage at the closest threat with a variety of deadly weapons. (source)

As a Warrior your job is to crush the enemy, as Arms or Fury, or protect your allies as Protection. No one does it better. 

This page is a brief overview of the Warrior class, with notes on specs, PvE, PvP, and leveling. See the “Other Guides,” just below, for much more detail. 

Warrior Contents:

 

Other Warrior Guides

The Warrior

Undead Warrior, level 45So, you’ve decided to join the ranks of the tough, battle-hardened, and bloodthirsty killing machines known as Warriors, or perhaps you’re simply checking in to see if this is the class for you.

Either way, I personally recommend the warrior class to all those who thrive off ripping apart opponents with a combination of personal skills and overpowering damage.

The Warrior class is for those who want to be the first target in every battle, PvE or PvP, and are willing to bear the brunt of punishment to reach and annihilate the opposition.

Buffage and Nerfage: With any new patch or expansion comes the inevitable period of time afterwards when characters are gods one day and doormats the next. This is true for any class and Warriors are no exception.

With the builds and notes on all of these pages we will not be looking at the “flavor of the minute” topics. The Flavor of the minute game will continue through every expansion until the Gods decide that they are done with Azeroth, so we’ll be a bit conservative here.

Warrior Races

Level Fast through the Shadowlands!, with Zygor!First things first, and before you’ve even entered the game world you’ll be forced to choose amongst the numerous races of world of warcraft, and choose wisely, many players find this decision almost as important as what class to play. 

Since the Cataclysm expansion, any race could become a Warrior. Even Goblins.

All the other new races since Cataclysm have also joined the Warrior class. You will, however, have to earn an achievement with any of those races then follow a short questline to be able to play them. 

But does that matter? Since the only real choices for Warrior are Humans and Orca, right? The rest are…just the rest. 😉

All of the Warrior races are detailed on our Warrior Leveling page. Also included are the “Allied Races” and which achievements you will need to earn them 

 

 

Warrior  Abilities and Talents

Rage is your resource, so build your Rage and Smash!

Which specialization (spec) do you want to be? You have…

Arms: Specializing in murder and mayhem with a two-handed weapon. Traditionally the PvP favorite, but just fine in dealing damage. Your signature attacks are: 

  • Slam: Your basic attack
  • Mortal Strike: A harder strike that reduces the healing received by the target. 
  • Execute: Your attempt to Finish Him!
  • Colossus Smash: A hard hit which damages your target’s armor and increases your damage to that target for a few seconds. 
  • Cleave: Hit two or more targets at once. Inflicts a bleed on all if you hit three or more. 

Fury: The crazed berserker, wielding two two-handed weapons. Great for damage dealing and fine in PvP, though generally a step down from Arms. Your signature attacks are: 

  • Execute: Finish Him when your opponent gets to 20% or lower health.
  • Bloodthirst: Whack the target and get a bit of health back. 
  • Rampage: Go crazy and quickly whack the opponent four times. 
  • Raging Blow: Smash the enemy with both weapons. 
  • Recklessness: Go berserk and greatly increase your Rage regeneration and your Critical Strike chance for a few seconds. 

Protection: The tank. First into battle with “The Boss,” not so hot in damage. Great when piling up a bunch of quest mobs and burning them down. A bit weak in PvP, but hard to take down. Your signature abilities are: 

  • Shield Slam: Whack the target with your shield. Generates Rage
  • Devastate: Your basic strike. 
  • Shield Block: Block all strikes for a few seconds. Increases your Shield Slam damage while active. 
  • Ignore Pain: Ignore half of incoming damage.
  • ShockWave: Brief area effect stun to enemies in front of you. 

You can change your spec any time you are out of combat. Change from Fury to Arms for that PvP you’re doing, then to Protection to tank that dungeon, then back to Fury to just grind some Mobs or let someone else tank the dungeon.

To see all of the abilities common to all Warriors, as well as all of the Specialization abilities, for Arms or Fury, go to the Warrior Leveling Page. You will also be able to see the talents recommended for leveling your Warrior. For Protection, see the link just below. 

To see the various talents appropriate to various situation, click through to any of these pages:

 

 

 

Stats and Gear

Stats that are more specific to each spec can be found on the individual guide pages. See the links at the top of the page. 

Female Pandaren Warrior

Female Pandaren Warrior

Gearing is fairly simple, thankfully, our core statistics being those of strength and stamina, as everyone can use a little more health, tanks most of all.  I’ll cover the fundamental increases and priorities, but the more specific build guides flesh this out further.

Strength is easy. More strength means more attack power, and by connection more damage, and also adds to block value and parry for the defensively minded. 

More damage is faster killing, less damage taken, and overall increased leveling speed with less downtime. Naturally, the value of Strength will vary with the expansion, your level, and your gear, but it’a always good.

Critical Strike plays best when combined with large amounts of strength, preferably picking up gear that has both stats in high amounts if possible.

Stamina is obvious, more health is always better, especially in PvP or when tanking. You’ll find that large amounts of stamina saves you a lot of corpse runs and thus time. For leveling, at low levels, we recommend stacking as much Stam as is possible.

Mastery is a pretty good stat for any Warrior these days

Versatility is a direct add to damage, and healing that you do and it also adds to your damage reduction (at half value.)

Haste has traditionally been the least valuable stat for all Warriors, though it’s gotten some bumps.

More stats: Count yourself lucky if you get a piece of gear with one and don’t count on ever being able to stack any, much less gem or enchant for them. The stats are: Avoidance, Leech, Indestructible (the item won’t take damage,) and Speed. Gem sockets are also random.

Intellect, Spirit, and Agility  have no business being on any piece of your gear, ever.

 

Tradeskills

Professions are for the gear and/or the gold. Most have something that can be used as starting raid/pvp gear or sold. Leveling a profession can be done quickly and relatively easily.

Blacksmithing and Engineering might be the most useful professions for Warriors. Herbalism and Mining for the XP gain (and some gold) while leveling. 

Professions
Blacksmithing Plate armor and weapons. Keys for locks. 
Engineering will let you create a number of useful items, such as rockets, shields, a stealth device, etc. These cannot be used in rated PvP, but that can be used elsewhere, such as World PvP or in Highmaul Coliseum.
Jewelcrafting Useful rings and neck items, pretty gems, gemmed mounts, some fun toys.
Inscription Glyphs, some trinkets, staves and caster weapons, fortune & Darkmoon cards, trinkets, and more.
Alchemy Chemistry is fun, unfortunately you can’t make acids or bombs. You can make flasks and potions to boost stats and cause other interesting effects. 
Enchanting Enchant all your items for added strength and/or other stats. 
Tailoring Cloth armor, flying carpet, murlock chew toy, and allows you to make nets (Embersilk Net) and battle standards (such as: Fearsome Battle Standard)
Leatherworking will let you make entry level armor for raids. You can also make Drums of Fury for a Heroism type buff (25% Haste for 40 sec.) 
Skinning For gold gathering and for leatherworking
Herbalism For XP, Inscription, Alchemy, and gold gathering.
Mining XP, making gold, and powering Blacksmithing and some engineering.

Other Warrior Abilities

Night Elf Warrior

Night Elf Warrior

Taunt Mechanics

Taunt is definitely a core ability, but is complicated enough as to deserve its own section. 

Taunt is one of the tank’s greatest aids when dealing with either higher level party members pulling aggro or a few trigger happy hunters or mages.

What this ability does is not pull aggro for a set duration before releasing the mob, rather it brings your threat levels to an exact equal to whoever is currently holding the mobs attention, meaning that by following up taunt with an attack you solidify your hold on its aggro so long as you continue to output more threat than the other player.

Taunt will work just fine for pulling a mob to you, but you need to follow up to make sure it sticks to you. This can be used to your advantage by waiting to taunt until the offending mage, warlock, or hunter in your group has unloaded with all cooldowns and major damage abilities, building up major threat within the space of a few seconds. 

By taunting immediately afterwards, you effectively gain all of the threat they just built up plus your own after the taunt. 

And, of course, it’s occasionally useful while leveling. 

Charge & Intercept

These two serve a dual-purpose for both grinding and tanking, with charge being a staple rage-builder when mowing down mob after mob as well as reducing travel time slightly. 

Charge also aids tanks in building the rage required to hold aggro on multiple mobs early into the fight.

Intercept is for Protection only, so when a mob starts chasing your healer, this ability can be easily used to catch up and either taunt or blast a shield slam onto the offending mob before they can catch their own target.  

Warrior Spec Overview

Note: For more a more in-depth look at leveling a warrior, check out our Warrior Leveling Guide

Leveling a warrior has become more easily accomplished with almost every patch, leading to the current status of warrior leveling nigh matching that of all other quickly leveling classes, most likely due to the increased emphasis on questing as opposed to long-term grinding.

As far as speed and style, this will largely depend on which talent tree you choose to emphasize, Fury being first amongst leveling speeds, arms second, and protection a distant third (unless you’re tanking instances.)

If you’re just looking to blast to the the level cap ASAP, then get yourself Zygor’s guide.

Fury Warriors

Fury leveling is focused on killing quickly and effectively through extremely fast attack speeds combined with a high critical rate, if possible.  These generates a blender-speed whirlwind of (insert two weapons of choice) when mowing down mobs.

Bloodthirst becomes your basic attack at level 10 and it adds a small heal, which reduces some downtime. Downtime is probably least with this build as well, lending itself to taking down opposition with minimal time spent and thus lessening the time the enemy spends beating on you, always helpful. 

When combined with bandaging, this reduces downtime to almost nil. Although the traditional build of fury is indeed dual-wield, there is also the variant of two-handed fury that boasts a leveling speed somewhere between that of dual-wield and an arms build, yet for many this difference in play style is more interesting/more fun for leveling regardless. 

With the Dual Wielding ability there is little point to using two handed weapons, before Titan’s Grip, other than just for style.

Arms Warriors

The Arms build is the second fastest leveling style, barring “flavor of the minute” changes, however it also presents itself as the greatest PvP build for both leveling and battlegrounds/arena’s, making it one of the more viable choices for those playing with War Mode on.

All in all this is a good change of style/pace for those tired of dual-wield or being slaughtered by other players frequently. Still, for those seeking to maximize leveling speeds, go Fury. If you’re PvP leveling then stick with Arms. You’ll do fine in the quests and you’ll do better on the battlefields.

Protection Warriors

Protection is the slowest solo-leveling specialization for any warrior, no matter the gear nor personal playing ability, protection is simply too low on the damage output to be a quick solo-alternative to either fury or arms.

When teaming frequently (for instances and raids) this becomes an entirely different matter. Any warrior with some good friends, seeking to spend more time in instances than outside, will find protection suddenly that much more viable.

With the introduction of the Dungeon Finder tool, some time back, the Protection Warrior can level quickly as tanks. Tanks also have very short wait times for the dungeon queues, this means that if you like to tank and you’re fine with dungeons then that short queue time will make the Protection Warrior the fastest leveling warrior of them all. 

Additionally, when questing, a tank can always come in handy for tougher/elite group quests, making protection ideal for someone with at least one or two buddies at all times.

I won’t recommend it for leveling solo, but it’s definitely the party-players build of choice should they desire to soak up damage. Then again, a damage build makes killing speeds that much faster, it’s all up to you.

 

Warrior PvP

This section covers some basics, check out our Warrior PvP Guide for more.

PvP as a warrior is probably one of the most enjoyable experiences in the game as far as I’m concerned. There is nothing better than baring down on an offending cloth wearing caster, busting out trinkets to break whatever roots and snares they possess, and dropping them in 2-3 hits with massive damage.

Warrior PvP Made Easy

Warrior PvP Made Easy, Click the image Now

However, this obviously isn’t the way all or even most battles go, otherwise we’d be seeing the nerfbat quite soon. Rather, most fights head the opposite way quite quickly, especially when caught by surprise by anything from a mage to even rogues.

Perhaps the most key element to general warrior combat, which takes some work, is always being prepared for every single class and talent build. Preparation ahead of time gives us the ability to use our numerous counter-attacks and adjust ourselves to the opponent’s style of combat quickly enough to prevent being slaughtered by the opposition.

This is also true for any other class you play.

A great resource if you’re at all serious about PvP is Skill Capped. They’re not free, but they’re pretty cheap. They have forums, videos, and covers all aspects of PvP for all classes and almost all specs. Give them a look.

Muscle Memory

Of all the classes I’ve played in PvP, meaning every class in world of warcraft, warriors required the most instinctive play as opposed to actual well-thought out strategies, how much I played seemed to drastically improve my abilities as opposed to training myself for specific fights. I sometimes use a Nostromo gaming pad, sometimes not, I’ve also experimented with special macro set-ups for specific classes, but either way I found that whether I could mash the required key before my opponent could react decided most fights before they even began.

Whether you’re Arms, Fury, or Protection, if you can master your keys and hit them in proper succession with your eyes closed, you’ve probably reached the level where you need to worry more about gear than experience.

Arms Warrior PvP

Arms and thus, Mortal Strike, is the PvP build of choice for 90% of the warriors you’ll see, likely 99% in the higher arena brackets, and this comes with good reason as well.  Mortal strike, combined with big critical strikes, is the absolute greatest utility a warrior can bring to any PvP scenario, whether you’re playing solo, in the chaos of battlegrounds, or fighting alongside well-trained allies in Arena.

Warriors will always lead the assist-train death charge, Mortal strike exposes even the strongest and well-healed players to possible slaughter within those few seconds. Given that the attack gives you a healthy (although not for your opponent) burst of damage as well, it’s nigh-unthinkable not to open a fight with a Hamstring-Mortal Strike combo.

Arms warriors are essentially kill-captains, they point and everyone else jumps on the player with reduced healing, and slowed down by hamstring, to take them out before they react to their sudden lack of health.

Fury Warrior PvP

PvP as a fury warrior is considerably more difficult than that of Arms, mostly the fact that you no-longer bring a healing debuff and high instant damage to the table, instead replacing it with a consistently high DPS more apt for slaying mobs than players, especially those with healers.

To make up at least partially for your lack of utility, you’ll have to be geared to the teeth and possess amazing reflexes to bring the pain to opponents constantly moving, strafing, and generally making it a pain to keep up constant DPS throughout the fight. 

There are high ranking PvPers who go with Fury, but they are few and it does take more work than Arms.

Protection Warrior PvP

Protection warrior PvP is, for the most part, a largely laughable enterprise, consisting of being kited by hunters and other such ranged classes as they constantly ignore your pitiful hits (of about 1/10 the damage of other warriors.)

On the flipside, you’ll be more than capable of deflecting high-damage spells such as pyroblast and other opener combo’s with more than a little luck combined with good reflexes. 

Rogues will find you utterly infuriating to take down as you disarm them and slowly beat them into the ground. Finally, you definitely have the element of surprise, 90% of warriors being Arms, 10% Fury, and that nonexistent 0% protection like yourself – Use this advantage well.

Warrior Leveling, the Fast Way

Dwarf Warrior looking for Orcs to kill

Just click the Dwarf and
he’ll take you to Zygor’s Guide.

Now that you’ve chosen to be a Warrior look into a serious Warrior leveling guide for your blast to the highest levels. Instead of grinding or grabbing all available quests, and wondering where to go when they run out, look into Zygor’s Guide.

Zygor practically automates the whole leveling path, from start to finish, for your Warrior.

You will never wonder where to go or what to do next. Pick your starting point and the guide automatically updates and advances as you complete quests, sets a waypoint arrow automatically, and includes the important quest info.

If you grab a few levels in a dungeon, or in PvP, and then return to questing, Zygor’s will recalculate where you are and continue to show you the right path, where to go and what to do, without missing a beat.

Not only that, it will also clean up your old/obsolete quests. Fully and quickly updated for all patches and expansions Zygor is never obsolete, has your back, and will get you to Max level ASAP.

Grab your copy of Zygor’s Guide here.

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Related Warrior Pages and Posts

9 thoughts on “A WoW Warrior Guide, Updated for Shadowlands”

  1. Fantastic write up on all 3 specs and this generalization. I have just picked WoW up to play for half a year to save my pennies! I quit not long after the last expansion (Cata). Not played since.

    Anyway, playing a warrior with a mate! We are locked in leveling and questing together. I hit 40 last night and in such, have taken up dual specs as we do a lot of dungeons whilst questing. Normally, I have been a Arms DPS in dungeons. But now, I have taken to dualing 2h weapons fury for DPS and Protection build as my 2 talents.

    My questions are:

    1) Why is pro doing more DPS than my Fury? And why am I maxing my rage so much, I’m finding it hard to spend

    2) is 2 handed weapons in each hand a good idea? The faster of the 2 (4.00 and 3.60 speed) in the offhand a good choice?

    3) Any good mods to help me keep an eye on mobs that might stray and easily identify them when I’m tanking

    4) finally, I only ever played PVP, this is my first character that I have ever done dungeons on, and as such, I have no idea where I am going most of the time! Any mods to help me with this?

    Many thanks, Chris.

    1. Hey Chris, thanks for the nice words. As to your questions:

      1) You will find that will change at higher levels. Currently the game seems balanced for 85+ characters, so there will be odd stuff appearing at lower levels. It’s not at all unusual for a tank to top the DPS charts at lower levels, especially if you’re good. At other points you will be locked in last place. At high levels you will be way outpaced by the DPS classes.

      Your Vengeance ability and spreading damage effectively to many targets also boosts overall DPS, though your single target DPS might not be so hot.

      2) At level 40 don’t worry too much about exact weapon choice. The choices are close enough that it doesn’t matter at this level. Just go with what feels good to you. At the top level you can go with whichever is more efficient. For now, just grab the best weapons you can find.

      3) I don’t know of any such mods, though you can browse Curse and see what they have. Keep your Taunt and Heroic Throw ready for mobs that might stray. If you’re spreading your damage around effectively it shouldn’t be much of a concern. Sometimes you do get a joker who does massive DPS and pulls aggro. I like to consider it a game and don’t mind at all if people can pull it from me. It’s more of a challenge and I work to it back and keep it.

      There are other jokers who attack some enemy “over there.” I’ll taunt it if I can, but sometimes you can’t. Sometimes they bite off more than they can chew.

      Just learn to keep a wide angle view on things, play as if all the mobs belong to you and only you, and you’ll be fine.

      4) For dungeon maps you can try Atlas. I’ve found it helps to say, at the start of the dungeon, something like, “I haven’t been here before. Who wants to lead us around?” Most groups will be cool with this. It also helps to put a raid marker (star, square, etc.) on that person so as not to lose them.

      Hope this helps. 🙂

    2. 3) Your best mod is the “v” key. It lights up the health over all the targets and makes that stray that ran off after your hunter/mage/healer that much more visible, and easily tauntable. Also, seeing what is about to die and killing it also gives you a 30% boost in health on the next target you hit with “Victory Rush”.
      Set your focus as well. Usually on the healer in a 5man, or your best friend in a 40man, so that you can select what they are picking on and brings it’s attention back to you.
      But a straight answer is, Tauntmaster. You can find it on Curse or Wowmatrix.

  2. I have a lvl 79 human warrior and she is fun to play. But in truth i really don’t know what the heck i am doing with her. I don’t like doing dungeons because i don’t want to suck as a tank and get everyone killed. I have literally done like 4 dungeons with her and lvld her by questing. I don’t know if the gear i have for her is right…or in what succession my moves should go. I just click buttons LOL. I seem to do alright, but i know i am not playing her to her full potential. HELP!!! I want to be able to go into dungeons and tank and not let the group down, and embarrass myself. The information above has been helpful somewhat but i am not a “gamer” so a lot of what you say is slightly confusing to me. what are “macros” and what are their purpose?

    1. First off, you can always ask questions. I might not reply immediately, but I will get to it.

      Macros are just a way to string together a series of commands. One keypress or click will execute the set. You can see our post here on creating and using macros.

      You can see our Warrior Tanking Page for help with what you need to do. At level 79 you will be able to use most of the info there.

      Gear: at 79-80 you will want to be using all “Cataclysm” gear. Look at the “item level,” not the “required level.” Cata gear starts at Item Level 277 and is far superior to gear with a lower iLevel. This will make your tanking job easier.

      At 80 and beyond you will see Mist of Pandaria blues (blue titled gear) appearing on the Auction House. This stuff starts at Item Level415 and is better than any Catgaclysm gear you’ll be able to find.

      The gear will cost you, but will make your tanking job easier.

  3. i love WoW and ive gotten the hang of dps for warriors, but i wanna be the best tank possible, what are some important tips before i start trying?

    1. First (or second) see our Warrior Tank page.

      One big thing as a tank, beyond just knowing your abilities well, is to be aware of everything that’s going on. You will have to be more clued in than your DPS. Threat is your job and if a DPS (or healer) does a massive burst and gabs some of it then you have to be alert enough to grab it back. You have to know where all the opposition is and what it’s doing and either controlling it (keeping threat) or knowing/trusting that your DPS is clued in enough to handle it (such as dealing with certain adds.) Do that and you’ll be Ok.

      Developing a good idea of how and when to use your survival abilities is also pretty important. 🙂

    1. Yes, you can pre-order it now from various places, including Amazon.com and the Blizzard store. It’s about $40 and you will be able to actually get the game on Sept. 25. Will it ever be cheap? Probably when the next expansion is released in a year or two.

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