Tag Archives: Green Tinted Goggles

They Love Me Behind That Wall

Cynderbock is Exalted with Gilneas before Cataclysm.

Wait, what?

That’s crazy to think about, considering it took, at most about … 10 runs of Deadmines, max, to achieve? The new Gilneas Tabard (one of the new City Tabards, available at vendors near the home city Flight Points) allows you to gain reputation gains in dungeons, and if you do them at-level, they reward pretty substantial rep.

How substantial? 15 rep for each mob, 300 for each boss.  If you’re Human, that’s 16-17 each mob, 330 each boss.

So making a level 19 Ambassador just got a whole lot easier.  Lock your XP, get tabards, run LFD for profit and a title. Easy. You could do LFD at level 15, even, if you like RFC – or if you have friends who will run you, you can enter the dungeons at level 8-10.

This is a great change for the game, making it easier to use LFD as a leveling tool without missing out on all the benefits of questing.

Does it trivialize the Ambassador title on Cynderblock? Not really. Yes, it’s vastly easier to get now, and I expect I’ll see even more of them than I did before. That’s fine. No, really, it is!

See, the changes now can’t take away the fun I had in getting that title. Or, for that matter, getting Exalted with a faction that isn’t even really in the game yet. I mean, it’s not like I get anything from the deal, since ‘block still can’t use a mount. (Not that Gilneas has a mount to get, anyways.)

No, it’s time to move on and look forward to all the new things Cataclysm will bring us.  And no matter what else – they love me behind that wall.

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How Cynderblock Got Her Groove Back

Van Cleef: Drop. Your. Sword.

So a funny thing happened to me on the way to the Deadmines.

I was pretty down on level 19 Warrior twinks in my review of the 4.0.1 changes. The loss of so many abilities was pretty daunting, and struggling in areas where I previously excelled was downright depressing. Going from a tank with unshakable aggro to one where everyone pulled off me was a humbling experience, even if I was running with twinked DPS.  PvP was painful, with casters and rogues running roughshod over me, feral cats jumping on me from the shadows, and paladins refusing to die, no matter how much damage I did.

I took a few days off to regroup.  I stopped trying to farm the AGM, since several guilds were gearing up twinks and competition for the trinkets was getting too fierce.  I rolled a bunch of alts.

Then one day I said, “let’s solo Deadmines, ‘block.”

And we did.

And it was hugely fun.  Why?

  • Damage is up across the board on all abilities in PvE.  As Prot, Shield Slam hits like an absolute truck.
  • I made sure to take Shield Specialization, and with multi-mob pulls I never had Rage issues.
  • Not only did I not have Rage issues, but I never had to worry about aggro.
  • The additional health, armor, and block chance means you’re taking very little damage from pull to pull.
  • The self-healing of Victory Rush changes the entire style of play, allowing you to maintain your health by killing things.  And since you’re not in a group, you can be sure it procs every single time.
  • Execute is a huge finisher.
  • Having Victory Rush and Sunder Armor available in both Battle and Defensive Stances meant that I didn’t have to sit in Defensive Stance or stance dance; I ended up staying in Battle Stance since I wasn’t worried about aggro, and wanted Charge and Execute.

I’d soloed RFC and most of Wailing Caverns before this patch dropped, so I knew it was possible to solo these instances at level.  But while RFC was a bit of a multi-mob faceroll in 3.3.5, WC required a lot of caution and care with each pull.  It was slow, careful going, and after a while I got pretty darn bored of the whole thing.

Deadmines, on the other hand, was a riot, with miners running all over, elites and normal mobs mixing with impunity.  It was a blast.  I started off cautiously, but by the time I saw how much damage I was throwing around, how I could use Victory Rush to keep myself healed up, and how little damage I was taking anyways, it was soon a romp over the Defias.

My second run (I was already hooked), the Cruel Barb finally dropped for me. With the nerfs to Shadowfang, Cruel Barb is now the highest DPS 1-hander available at level 19. You sacrifice stats for raw Attack Power, but if you have the Stamina from other places it’s awesome.  +12 AP is equivalent to +6 Str for Warriors, and the next highest stat weapon is Butcher’s Slicer, with +4 Str/+3 Stam.  The Barb already has higher raw DPS than the Slicer (15.8 vs. 15.2), and with the additional AP it is the clear choice for raw DPS.

So I’m sitting there, looking at my new toy, and it strikes me: I should go Fury, and wield two of these monsters.

I prefer Crusader, because when you get simultaneous procs, really great things happen.

I’ve never really played Fury before, though I do have a Combat rogue in her mid-40s. I grabbed a bunch of weapons out of my bank to try out offhands, eventually settling on the trusty Venerable Mass of McGowan for my OH weapon. The Mass and the Sacred Charge both received some slight changes in the latest patch, with the Charge now brought up to being a very good alternative to the Mass.  Basically, they both give you Agility and Stamina (for tanking); the DSC gives you a lot of Crit, while the Mass gives you Crit and Haste. I grabbed the Slicer as well to try it out, though I think the Mass helped me out more in the earlier runs.

It took me a few times to get used to soloing Deadmines as a Fury warrior. Fury plays a lot like I remember playing a Blood DK; as long as you can keep your self healing going, you’re unstoppable, but you take a lot of damage in the process.  If I pulled too big, especially with elites, then I’d wipe.

Victory Rush is really the key to Fury soloing right now.  You’re putting out so much damage that your goal is to burn though a mob, any mob, and kill it to offset the damage you’re taking with another Victory Rush.  As long as you can repeat that process, you’re fine – but if the damage overwhelms your kill rate, then you’re going down.  I found that I’d start off a big pull losing a lot of health, but once the mobs started dropping I’d go right back up to full.

Bloodthirst is the other tool in your Fury aresenal to help out with this kind of fighting. It gives you a small heal back while attacking, and doesn’t suck up much of your Rage while doing it.  It does respectable damage, but can be hit more often than Shield Slam.  I found in high-Rage situations I’d alternate between Bloodthirst and Heroic Strike while waiting for Victory Rush (and Execute) to proc.

Blood Craze helps out with the self-healing, giving back more than Bloodthirst but less than Victory Rush.

And, while I’d been farming the Arena Grand Master trinket, I’m glad I didn’t rely on it while soloing.  Dual Swift Hands of Justice provided increased DPS on top of healing on Killing Blows, giving a lot of small heals to offset the incoming damage.

The Cruel Barb refused to drop for me for a long time, so I spent a lot of time practicing how to solo Van Cleef as a Fury warrior.  I made a video on one of the early attempts that shows how the spec plays as a solo artist.

Yes, it is totally as much fun as it looks.

(I did speed up the video, because even a run with no wipes is about 30 minutes long.  It’s not RFC. You can play Yakity Sax in the background for full comedic effect.)

I kept running it, and what kept impressing me was how out-of-whack damage seemed.  I was able to 1-shot normal mobs with regularity, and elites were lucky if they lasted 5 seconds. I know that I’m twinked for maximum damage, but there were times that I’d pull off a 1513 Execute crit and know that levels were out of whack.  (The 700-800 Victory Rush crits were even better, to be honest – most of Execute’s damage comes as overkill.)  I fully agree with Zarhym’s assessment that combat times in the lower levels are too short, and that it’s not PvP we’re talking about here.  PvE is totally unbalanced at the lower levels right now.

Anyhow, after a dozen runs or so, the second Barb finally dropped. By then I was ready for something different, so I took Cynderblock back out into the wide world and picked up questing in those areas that are going to be changed in a few weeks.  Most notably: Darkshore and Ashenvale.

"So, they sell insurance in this tower? I don't think they get a lot of foot traffic out here..."

Aside from wanting to complete as many quests as possible with Cynderblock, there was one quest chain in particular I wanted to finish – The Tower of Althalaxx, which I remember being a total PITA trying to do at level 30.  I admit, I’m juvenile, and I’ve refused to call that tower by its proper name ever since I got there – this is the Tower of Aflac, and I quack “AFLAC!” at it every time I have to deal with it.

Well, the Tower of AFLAC has a pretty nice quest reward, Seraph’s Strike, a sword with good DPS and Spirit, useful for health regeneration.  I figured I’d pick it up before it vanished in the Cataclysm, and bang out the Darkshore/Ashenvale quests while I’m at it.  (You have gotten your Furbolg wand, right?)

Only… wait a minute.

Lower level items have had their stats rearranged, and… woah.

Did all that Spirit get converted into Hit?  Like, are you kidding me?  +10 Hit on a 2-hander?

Having that much Hit (4.72% at level 19) is huge for DPS.  Huge.  It knocks off nearly the entire Miss column for at-level targets, and makes hitting higher-level mobs much, much easier.  Good for twinks, good for levelers… this is a good sword.  A really good sword.

How good is it?

Well, I pulled out my DPS spreadsheet (not ready for primetime, that’s another post) and plugged in the new numbers.  Wow.

Pre-Crit, Seraph’s Strike has a white DPS of 22.54, greater than Glacial Stone (22.25) and Smite’s Mighty Hammer (21.29).  The Hammer might make more sense for boosting attack power, and the Stone puts out solid DPS numbers, but the Strike now gives a great blend of both.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m enjoying the heck out of Fury, but I may have to go Arms and try out a 2-Handed build just to see how this sword performs before the damage nerfs come in.

Anyhow. Warriors are still doing fine.  PvP is broken as a whole right now, don’t worry about it.  Aggro is hard because damage is too high.  We’ve lost some tools, but gained new ones.

And Cynderblock has her groove back.

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Level 19 Warrior Changes in 4.0.1

Cynderblock readies her shield for an incoming attack in Darkshore.

The original title of this post was “What Is This I Don’t Even,” because the changes to Warriors are that extensive.

To say that Warriors have changed at level 19 is an understatement.  Everyone has changed in 4.0.1, don’t get me wrong, but Cynderblock is completely different now than she was in Wrath.

I mentioned this on the Gaming Worlds Collide blogcast, but the biggest difference is the influence of choosing your specialization at level 10. Before, one of the defining features of early play was that you weren’t specialized – Fire vs. Frost was the wrong question.  Twinks looked across the talent board, not down it.  You’d pick the best abilities suited for a particular job.

No longer.  Now you are a Frost Mage, a Destruction Warlock, a Subtlety Rogue, all starting at level 10.  And for Warriors, that opens up options we didn’t have before (Fury Dual Wielding!) but takes away some of the flexibility we enjoyed with hybrid talent builds.  Protection Warriors get Shield Slam, which is a great primary attack and buff dispeller all in one, but at level 19 it lacks the synergies it gets later on with Sword and Board.

But all of this comes at a cost.  Across all classes, abilities have been moved around, giving a better distribution as you level, but also removing a lot of the complexities I enjoyed with the Warrior class.  To sum up the changes to level 19 Warriors:

  • Battle Shout now requires level 20.  Not only do we lose the attack power buff, but shouts are the new way Warriors gain rage.
  • Shield Bash, our primary caster interrupt, also requires level 20.
  • Overpower now requires level 22.
  • Hamstring, one of our key PvP abilities, has been moved up to level 26, removing it from our repertoire.
  • Revenge has been moved way up to level 40, removing a key DPS ability from Defensive Stance.
  • Demoralizing Shout requires level 52, so there’s one of our three melee debuffs gone, and the other way to gain rage quickly gone.
  • Bloodrage, the primary way lowbie warriors used to generate rage, is gone from the game completely.
  • Mocking Blow is also gone.
  • Heroic Strike is no longer a On-Next-Swing ability, but instead is a normally activated attack.  It’s still a Rage hog, though.
  • Execute, a finishing move for when the target is below 20% health, has been added at level 16.  Will use a lot of Rage if you have it, though.
  • Sunder Armor only stacks 3 times, not 5, but each stack has a greater effect, so it’s all cool.
  • All Glyphs are gone, since they require level 25.

The specializations give some interesting abilities, don’t get me wrong.  But let’s just look at the above changes to see how the playstyle has been altered at level 19.

RAGE

The biggest single issue is Rage.  Warriors are supposed to generate Rage before a fight through their shouts (which no longer cost Rage), but those are not available at this level.  So what generates Rage?

  • Charge, which gives you 15 Rage, but can only be used out of combat.
  • Hitting things for white damage.
  • Getting hit.  Ouch.
  • Anger Management, the Arms special ability, gives you a steady stream of Rage in combat, and slows the loss of Rage out of combat.
  • The Blitz talent (Arms again) increases the Rage your Charge generates.
  • 1/3 Shield Specialization (Protection talent) generates 5 Rage when you block an attack.

Now, you do seem to gain more rage by just hitting things in combat than before. That’s the good news.  But unless you can get off a Charge, you’re not going to have enough Rage to unload burst damage in PvP.  You will gain Rage in combat at a decent rate, but forget the days of unloading Heroic Strikes, Thunder Claps and Revenge on targets.  You are going to have to manage your Rage very carefully.

The previous advice of binding Heroic Strike to everything?  Ditch it. Heroic Strike only to dump Rage.  That’s it.

Rage starvation is the single biggest issue you’re going to have to deal with on your lowbie warrior until you hit 20.  Get used to Charging and using your abilities sparingly.

THE LOST ABILITIES

Losing Hamstring hurts in PvP.  A tried and true Warrior tactic in WSG was to spam Hamstring on targets to proc your weapon’s enchant as well as slow people down. Hamstringing the FC was what you did.

Now, the Shamans and Druids have better speedy forms, and Warriors have no way to slow them down.  Forget taking out the FC now.

As a Protection Warrior, I loved having Revenge as my primary damage dealer.  It lit up all the time while tanking and PvPing, and I’d hit that button every chance I could. Like Overpower, it’s gone, and there’s no equivalent replacement.

Losing the Shouts means that we’ve lost both a buff and a debuff.  Demo Shout was very useful both for AoE tanking situations when TC was on cooldown, but also against melee classes in WSG.  You used to get Demo Shout up to slow down Rogues and the like against you, just like you’d put up Thunder Clap’s debuff.  No more.  The fact that Rage generation is now tied into these abilities is just icing on the cake.

I’m lost without Shield Bash.  I think this was what confused me the most when I tried to PvP on ‘block recently – I had no more interrupts.  I couldn’t stop level 10 Holy Paladins from casting, so they were invulnerable.  Interrupts are important!  Now those stupid Druids of the Fang will be able to run roughshod over the rest of my party with Sleep spells, and I have no way to stop  that.  Wailing Caverns runs are going to be hard without those interrupts.

THE NEW STUFF

Okay, so Warriors have lost a lot of their toolbox in 4.0.1.  What have they gained?

  • Increased health.  In most gear sets I’m over 2000 health now.
  • Execute.
  • Talent specializations.  Shield Slam is pretty cool while tanking, though in AoE situations it’s tough to choose between that and the Rend/Thunderclap combo when your Rage is low.
  • Resilience has been buffed.
  • Armor has been reduced.  Oh wait, that’s not a good thing.

I think the abilities you gain from choosing your spec are great for their respective roles; but when taken in the context of all the missing abilities, Warriors are hurting right now.

TANKING

I used to pride myself on my ability to tank low-level instances with Cynderblock.  She could roll through them like a freight train, a rock of aggro that made Deadmines look like Heroic UK to folks in HM ICC25 gear.

No more.  I’m superbly geared and struggling to hold aggro, which means low level LFD is going to suck for a while for normal tanks.  If equivalently-geared DPS starts up too soon, I can’t get aggro back.  If someone AoEs mobs before I’ve TC/Rended them, I will not have enough Rage to do anything to save you.  You’re going to see me slamming Taunt and Shield Slam in a frantic effort to save you, but it’s likely DPS is going to die.

This is a very different experience than I’m used to.  Perhaps it will get better with time; changes, dramatic changes, are coming to the low-level instances.

But right now, tanking has gone from an exercise in confidence to the same, frustrating experience I have tanking Heroics at level 80.  That’s not a good thing.

PVP

The 19 twink bracket of Warsong Gulch is a hot mess right now.  Rogues are doing huge, HUGE amounts of burst damage out of stealth.  Casters are also doing massive burst damage (see: Destro Locks and Fire Mages).  Hunters are still potent, with those freakin’ bats EVERYWHERE.

But it’s the level 10 Holy Paladins who are beating everyone in sight.

Level 10 twinking is not a new thing, but with recent buffs to Resilience and how abilities scale at level 10 and under, level 10 twinks are practically unkillable now. Damage mitigation is through the roof, which negates their smaller health totals, and the out of combat regeneration is amazing.  It’s like a free reset if they get OOC.

Making them is pretty straightforward:

And I don’t think this is going away anytime soon.  Level 10 characters are more resistant and scale better than level 19s, though level 19s have more abilities and health.  Both Psynister and I are trying out this brave new world, because nothing is worse than a level 10 Holy Pally in WSG right now.  Nothing.

CHANGE HAPPENS

Things don’t look very optimistic for Warriors right now in the level 19 PvP bracket or lowbie tanking.  Warriors have gone from being a very good class for both to average, or below average.  That’s okay.  There’s a lot of things changing in Azeroth in the next few weeks, and the low-level experience is definitely one of them.

Leveling is one of the not-so-subtle motivators used within Warcraft.  The game rewards it; more abilities, more power, more cool talents, more range.  Expecting to balance around crazy people like me who park at a given level is unreasonable.

But the way classes play at low levels is fundamentally different now.  My experience with Cynderblock (and talking to endgame warriors about her) shows just how different things can be.  I know that whatever leveling advice I could give you on Warlocks (my main’s class) is now invalid.  Things are very, very different.

It will just take some getting used to at level 19.

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Twink Titles

There are at least five titles you can get on a level 19 character: Ambassador, The Diplomat, The Noble, The Explorer, and Of the Horde/Alliance. There are possibly others, but I’ve seen Armory examples of these five.

  • Ambassador I’ve covered on some detail, though I’ve since discovered there are three ways to the title: faction change, Chen’s Empty Keg, and the AQ War buildup quests. This last one required a lot of materials, but also required incredible foresight (since the title didn’t exist back in vanilla) or server transfers to new servers where the Gates of AQ were still closed during early Wrath. As all new servers start with them open now, that method doesn’t work anymore.
  • The Diplomat is an extension of the method twinks have used to get the Furbolg Medicine Pouch for years. Group up with a high level friend and let them kill the rep-granting mobs while you follow them around. Traditionally, twinks followed as a corpse, to avoid gaining XP, but that only works up to Revered for the Timbermaw.  After then you’re going to have to turn in Firbolg necklaces.
  • The Noble is the only holiday title without a level requirement – no dungeons or BGs – so it’s a good candidate for level 19 twinks. The hardest part is getting to Un’goro, which is really just a warlock summons away.
  • The Explorer is a lot easier now with the advent of the RAF two-person flying mount. You used to need a Warlock to summon you to the inaccessible regions of Outland and Northrend; now, you just need a friend with time and a sweet ride.
  • Of the Horde/Of the Alliance is rewarded for getting 100,000 honorable kills. There’s no level requirement, so all you have to do is grind out a lot of HKs.

Cataclysm should bring some more titles level 19 characters can get; I remain hopeful that Master of Warsong Gulch will grant a title. But we’ll have to see what makes it onto live.

So those are all the ones I know about.  Did I miss any? Any that you’re looking forward to in Cataclysm?

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The Level 19 Ambassador Project

Cynderblock takes a moment to appreciate Eversong Woods.

A funny thing happened to me during my time playing Cynderblock as a Horde; I rediscovered the joy of questing.

Not leveling, mind you, but questing – seeing the World of Warcraft through the stories told through the quests you’re asked to do by various people. Leveling is different; the slow accumulation of skills, gear, and abilities through gaining experience is entirely different from just wandering around stepping into people’s narratives.

While questing is almost always the most efficient way to level, it’s not the only way. But they’d gotten conflated in my mind, and it was good to be reminded that the two activities are very different.

Silverpine, where Tauren go to take a break from the Barrens.

It turns out that I don’t like leveling. Or, more accurately, I don’t like leveling without a purpose. If I set a goal – get my banker to this level so I can get my tradeskills up to this other level, or level up to 19 to start building a new twink – I can usually do okay. But my server friends will tell you that I’ve rolled dozens of alts, gotten them to their teens, and then deleted them, all because I don’t feel there’s a purpose behind them. I get bored.

With Cynderblock, that was not a problem. She’s XP-locked, never to leave level 19. Her skills are all maxed (except Fishing, but it’s good enough to get her a Hat.) Her gear is literally the best it can be, for nearly every situation she can be in. And since I’d never quested or leveled completely through any of the Horde zones, I was really enjoying doing every quest I could find, experiencing the other side through her eyes.

So... where ARE the ropes? And shouldn't there be a counterweight?

Then I looked at my reputation tab, and saw that hey, I’m actually racking up quite a bit of reputation here. Maybe I could go for Ambassador!

Wait, what?

THE REPUTATION PROBLEM AT LEVEL 19

Strange Tauren in a Strange Land.

The Ambassador title is rewarded for bringing all five of your faction’s city reputations to Exalted. The strategy for it is actually pretty simple:

  1. Do all the starting area quests for each specific race.
  2. Do all the quests in the second and third-tier zones (levels 10-30), including dungeon quests.
  3. Fill in any reputations that are lacking after all that with cloth turnins: Wool, Silk, Mageweave, and the repeatable Runecloth.

Once you have an epic mount and are level 50 or so, this is pretty simple and just takes time to do the quests. The key is the repeatable Runecloth quest - with it, all you have to do is farm stacks of Runecloth and turn them in for small rep gains. For some of the less-represented factions – Gnomes and Trolls – this makes it so you don’t have to worry about finding every last quest. This quest becomes available at level 50, while the other ones open up at various earlier levels.

At level 80, getting Ambassador is even easier due to the Argent Tournament. Champion’s Writs can be turned in for 250 reputation, so you can just do dailies to get your reputation up to Exalted. It’s really an easy way to get your home faction reps up if you’re already at 80 without Ambassador.

But Cynderblock is not level 50, or level 80. She’s level 19. And the problem at level 19 is that there just aren’t enough quests to generate the reputation she needs. Consider the steps above:

  1. She can do the starting areas for all the races. Check!
  2. She can do all the quests in the second tier zones (10-20). Check!
  3. She can do a few of the early quests in the third-tier zones (20-30), mostly chains that start early on. Problem!
  4. She can turn in Wool cloth, but not Silk, Mageweave, or repeatable Runecloth. Problem!
  5. She cannot participate in the Argent Tournament. Problem!
  6. She does not have a mount, let alone an epic mount. Inconvenient, but not really a problem.

I may not have Plainsrunning, but at least I have speed enchants.

Wowhead has some great filters that let you determine how much reputation you can get with a given faction. Here they are, broken apart by continent, filtered for level 19s:

I’ve included the World Events because you might get lucky with your timing. One thing about doing this right now, pre-Cataclysm, is that the troll quests reward reputation, while the gnome ones do not. This makes me scratch my head a bit, just because of the nature of those quests. (Taking a package to a random gnome should not reward more rep than liberating their home city.)

If you take a look at all of these quests, you’ll find that you can get to Revered with most all of your factions, but not Exalted. It can’t be done with 5 factions; the numbers just aren’t there.

So the only logical solutions are to add more quests, or add more factions. Since the only way to add more quests is to wait for Cataclysm (a viable option, by the way), changing factions was the way to go.

FACTION CHANGING MAKES YOU POPULAR

Barrens Chat was surprisingly quiet.

When I faction changed Cynderblock to get BiS gear, I didn’t consider reputation. I looked at base stats (to maximize twinking) and a general sense of who ‘block was, and came up with two options: Orc or Tauren.

(I admit, it’s a little strange seeing the Alliance Knight’s Colors appear on Horde races.)

I went with Tauren, which turned out to be an extremely lucky choice later on. However, one thing to keep in mind is that Blood Elves are the only race with a completely restricted starting (1-5) area. There are no quests there for other Horde members, so your Silvermoon City reputation will always lag behind if you’re not a Blood Elf. ‘block is a Warrior, though, and Blood Elf won’t be an option until Cataclysm comes.

Here’s the key about faction swapping: your reputation comes with you, but your quest log does not. The home city rep that you’ve gained from questing is changed into an appropriate home city rep of the other faction, but all of the new quests are still available for you to complete. By faction changing, you effectively double the number of quests available for each home city reputation grind.

In other words: instead of ~400 quests, you now have ~800 to generate reputation.

And that’s more than enough.

As a Tauren, I managed to do almost every single quest available to me, 393 in total. There *is* a repeatable quest for rep, Chen’s Empty Keg, the only repeatable quest available to level 19s that rewards reputation, but I skipped that to see if it was really necessary.

Cynderblock says goodbye to the Horde where she first loved it, in Eversong Woods.

SWITCHING BACK

Switching back to Alliance, there was one clear standout for which race I should choose:

The Human racial ability Diplomacy makes reputation grinds much, much easier. Once I’d established that the goal was Exalted or Bust, this choice was no choice at all. No matter what other stats apply, a +10% bonus to reputation gains cannot be turned down.

The last thing to consider in faction changing is how rep transfers between cities with an eye towards the weakest ones: Gnomeregan and Darkspear Trolls. Blizzard has a handy page which shows how each race’s reputations transfer to the opposite faction. I took ‘block Dwarf -> Tauren, which moved my substantial Gnome rep (I’d leveled in Dun Morogh) over to Troll, which was good. When I took ‘block from Tauren -> Human, however, my Troll rep transfered to Ironforge and my Orgrimmar went to Gnome.

Oh, the sights I've seen!

So I came out of the Horde with low Ironforge rep and really, really good Gnomer rep. (My Exodar rep was also very low because of that Blood Elf issue.)

For an ex-Dwarf, it was a bitter pill to swallow.

SPILLOVER REPUTATION

I don't have to check the signs to know where this boat is going.

I was nervous but excited when I returned to the Alliance, my 5 Revered reputations in hand. My Ironforge reputation really had me worried, so I checked Loch Modan first and discovered that I had never quested there before.

But even after exhausting the quests there, I hadn’t hit Exalted with Ironforge – not even close, really. I’d erased the Troll deficit but had a ways to go. So I went after the new lowest rep, Exodar, and went after the Draenei starting zones.

Azshara totally looks like Xtina. You know I'm right.

The key on the last stretch was spillover reputation. See, every quest you do for your five home factions gives a certain amount of rep for the city in question. You go fetch water in Mulgore? +500 Thunder Bluff reputation shows up in your log. What doesn’t show, however, is that you get 25% of that reputation to the other 4 cities, too. That 500 rep for Thunder Bluff was also 125 reputation for Org, Darkspear, SMC, and Undercity.

And if you’re Human, every single one of those spillover gains gets an additional 10% bonus.

So doing all those easy quests in every starting area pays off for you, and the more questing you can do the better off you are. Going with the starting zones introduced in Burning Crusade means you can do more questing in less time, and still be gaining rep with your other cities.

That’s what happened to me. I got Exalted with the Gnomes, Exodar, Darnassus, and Stormwind while questing in Azuremyst and Bloodmyst Isles.

AMBASSADOR CYNDERBLOCK

Level 19 Ambassador of the Alliance, Cynderblock

In the end, it was a fedex quest to Stormwind that got me the achievement. It awarded 250 Ironforge rep, with +25 for Diplomacy, when I was 262 away from Exalted. So I knew this quest would do it, and lined up the shot appropriately:

And there you have it.

It seems simple in retrospect, but to be honest I didn’t know if it could be done while doing it. I never broke things down into a spreadsheet, because I didn’t want to destroy my questing motivation while playing Horde. I had a lot of questions about how the quests would transfer, about how many quests I’d done on the Alliance side, and if it would work.

But it did. It’s possible. It can be done.

All that worry, for naught.

EPILOGUE

Gathering herbs in the Wetlands is best done with friends. Especially friends with choppers.

I know I’ve said this a lot, but I don’t think it can be said enough: I’ve had a lot of help in making Cynderblock the character she is. Fynralyl spent many hours helping on both the Alliance and Horde sides, running me through quests that I had no business attempting, and driving me around to pick herbs in zones where no sane level 19 considers entering. And Psynister got me into this whole twinking business; his advice and help have been invaluable.

Thank you both.

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Faction Changing For Fun And Profit

Sylvanas looks a little bored with the photo op.

Gearing up a twink at any level requires a lot of flexibility; you will need to quest, run dungeons, PvP, buy gear off the AH (or farm drops), level professions, and get heirlooms in order to get the absolute best gear for your character. It’s actually a very well-rounded way of gearing up, one I’d love to see more in the endgame. You can’t just farm badges or points for twink gear; you’re going to have to go to great lengths for some of it.

And even then, there will be gear that is out of reach. Or was out of reach, until recently. I’m talking about faction-specific gear, rewards from quests that have no equivalent on the other side.

With the introduction of the faction change service, a complete set of BiS gear is now possible. You can sport both a Seal of Sylvanas and a Seal of Wrynn on the same character – the only trouble is you may forget which base you’re supposed to carry the flag into!

I’d hit the point on Cynderblock where there were only two more things to do for gear: farm the Arena Grand Master, or change to Horde to get the remaining BiS gear.

So a faction change is what I did.

I recently faction changed my warrior from Alliance to Horde for three items: the Seal of Sylvanas, the Deadskull Shield, and the Steel-Clasped Bracers. There are a few other quest rewards I wanted to get too, like the awesome-looking Sin’dorei Warblade.

Changing your character’s faction costs $30, so this may not be for everyone. You might look at the gear upgrades and go, is it actually worth spending real money to get an additional +10 Stamina or so?

The answer to that question I leave up to you. People faction change for a lot of different reasons, so getting optimal gear doesn’t seem all that outlandish when you consider the spectrum of motivation.

If you decide to do it, here are some tips from my experience.

  1. Roll on the opposite side you want to end up on first. If you want to play Horde, roll your twink as Alliance first. This way you only have to change once.
  2. Get every faction-specific quest reward you think you’ll ever need from one side before switching. That means doing the ring quest for both sides, the Westfall quests for Alliance, the Hillsbrad quests for Horde.  Take your time and do your research.
  3. If you are Horde, don’t forget to pick up the Throat Piercers in the Ghostlands. These twink weapons are much more expensive Alliance-side than on the Horde, and are well-sought after by rogue twinks.
  4. You can take up to 300 gold with you when you transfer. Consider loading up your bank with valuable goods to sell on the other side. Faction-specific goods (like pets or clothes) offer a good return on very little investment. Don’t forget the White Kittens and the Black Cats!  You have 7 bank slots; use them all!

I actually made a lot of mistakes when I faction changed.  I started on the side I wanted to end up on (Alliance, where my main resides) so I ended up shelling out for two faction changes instead of one.  I took over a lot of Stylish Black Shirts, an Alliance-only vendor item, only to discover that pets outsell clothing 10:1 on the other side.  I didn’t research the gold cap at all and was waaaaay over it, scuttling several plans I had to get money from one side to the other.  And the list goes on.

But ultimately, I found it very rewarding, and Cynderblock very much appreciates her shiny new ring and shield, as well as some gorgeous weapons from the blood elf starting area.

What?  Like I’m going to tell her no, she can’t take them with her?  :-)

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A Little Help From Your Friends

Just like the highest levels of endgame performance, you can’t twink a character without help from your friends.  You can’t get great PvP gear without Arena partners, you can’t get great PvE gear without a raid team, and you can’t get the great gear for your twink without help.

The picture above is of a group of me and my friends on Durotan dancing over the corpse of Baron Vardus, the level 40 mob you need to kill to get the Inferno Robe, the best DPS caster robe for the 19 bracket.  Setting aside why I would be getting this robe for my warrior twink (that’s another post) and why I’m not a dwarf anymore (that’s another post, too), there is no way I could have done this quest without the help of Fynralyl and Psynister.  Fynralyl has been selflessly helping me on both Alliance and Horde sides of the fence, but for Vardus we needed to bring in the big guns with an Alliance 80, and Psynister graciously came by to slaughter the camp (after Fyn tagged the Baron, of course.)

There are a lot of things you can do on your own with your twink: level First Aid and Mining to 225, Engineering to 150, fish in STV for a hat, run instances through LFG for gear.  But there are plenty of things I’ve needed a bit of help with:

  • Both the Arctic Buckler and Gravestone Scepter drop in Blackfathom Deeps, which can be very difficult to get into with a Dungeon Finder group at level 19, and many of the mobs will be hard to hit, even for a twink.  Even just having a friendly group of mid-20s helps greatly here.
  • The Lifeblood benefit from Herbalism is an awesome HoT for any level 19 twink, but getting to 225 is brutal.  Unlike Mining, which you can level via Smelting in the safety of any forge, there’s no way to level Herbalism except gathering herbs in increasingly dangerous zones.  I was able to get to about 205 through some very careful gathering in the Wetlands, but the level 30+ mobs in Arathi Highlands made quick work of me.  Fynralyl came by with her level 80 Shaman and Mekgineer’s Chopper, which made getting to 225 fast and easy.  Having a 2-person epic mount made all the difference in the world here.
  • You know the awesome Deadskull Shield, a quest reward from killing upper-20s mobs in Hillsbrad?  I was lucky Fyn had a level 33 Paladin on the Hordeside of our server, because that farm is *tough* to solo at level 19.
  • I had a guildmate (who is not on the internet, but thanks Cein!) come by and help me complete the hard part of the quest for the Seal of Wrynn.  Fyn’s Paladin made short work of Arugal for the Seal of Sylvanas.
  • I’ve gotten my entire guild involved in fights in the STV Arena fighting for the Arena Grand Master.  I will get it, someday!

It’s easy to sometimes look at a Warcraft character and attribute their success only to the player.  I’m proud of my characters, and the effort I’ve put into making them great.  But this is a social game, and to be really successful at it you need a little help from your friends.   Be it twinking, raiding, arenas, or rated battlegrounds — you don’t do the hard stuff alone.  You succeed, and fail, together.

So to those friends:  a heartfelt thank you.

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The Twink Graveyard

Leaving Teldrassil after a long day of herbing.

Cynwyn, the mage pictured above, was my very first twink.  I had an absolute blast leveling her up through Elwynn and Westfall, and given how much fun I’d had with that, I decided to try my hand at twinking on a mage.  I froze her XP and worked on gearing her up.

We had some fun, she and I.  Not a lot of fun – mages are actually pretty frustrating to play at level 19 – but some fun.  Not as much fun as I had while leveling her up.  Leveling was cool.  Slowing FCs and trying to polymorph everything in sight while not getting killed?  Less fun.

And dungeon runs with her were painful.  I’ve mage tanked SFK (though not with the style and finesse of Psynister) because the quality of tanks is so variable in low level LFD.

I lost a lot of fights in Warsong Gulch with her – I think I went 6/20?  She was really well geared, though not quite as well geared as Cynderblock (who could run dungeons to her heart’s content.)

So, not very much fun, after all.

What do you do when a twink stops being fun?  You’ve put a lot of time and effort into making them great.  This isn’t just about twinks, by the way, but for any character — twinks just have more effort and gold poured into them at a specific level than others.  (All those bandages ain’t cheap!)

I suppose if I’d been having more fun with Cynwyn, leveling her would have been an option.  I took my banker — who was a level 19 rogue twink — and leveled her when I decided I wanted her to have better professions.  I’m having fun leveling a rogue.

But I wasn’t having fun, so I deleted Cynwyn.

Deleting characters is really liberating.  Every character has something unfinished about them.  At the endgame it’s a perpetual grind, but at least you know what you’re getting into when you hit the level cap.  Leveling characters have a lot of things to finish up — quests, getting decent gear (not even BiS, just decent), and the process of leveling itself.  All of these can be enjoyable if you have fun playing the toon.

But if you don’t have fun anymore?  Rid yourself of the obligation.

I hadn’t finished gearing up Cynwyn, nor Cynwagon, my hunter twink.  They both got deleted.  Cynwine, the warlock?  Gone.  My level 64 druid, Cynli?  Also gone.  I have one left, Cynderblock, the warrior, and she does both PvE and PvP.

It’s good to roll lots of alts.  It’s good to experience other classes, to see how they work, to see if they are a good fit.

But it’s also good to have focus.  To work on one thing at a time.  Trying to manage 4-5 twinks was too distracting, too much competition for attention.  I can look at Cynderblock and go: okay, you need a hat (done), a ring upgrade, faction change for another ring upgrade and a shield, and then the AGM trinket.  That’s all that’s left.

I have no regrets about deleting Cynwyn, or any of the others.  I thought I would at first, but the regrets never came.  Instead, I have a nice, clean login screen with space and only a few projects to work on.  Work on my main, my twink, or my bankers?  That’s all I have left.   And that makes me happy.

So, thank you, Cynwyn, for getting me into twinking.  I’m grateful, and hope you enjoy your well-earned rest.

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Lucky Fishing Hat

Ready to fish!

The Lucky Fishing Hat is the best helm you can get for your level 19 twink, no matter what class you play.  With a whopping +15 Stamina, it’s almost double the health bonus of the Green Tinted Goggles, and casters should use it over Shadow Goggles.  150 Health vs +5 Int/+6 Spirit?  No contest for PvP.

The Lucky Fishing Hat can only be obtained by fishing in the Stranglethorn Fishing Extravaganza and catching a rare fish, Keefer’s Angelfish, from one of the pools of Tastyfish that spawn all over the zone for the duration of the contest.  You turn in the fish to the Fishbot 5000 in Booty Bay and it gives you the hat.  You aren’t in the competition to win, just to catch a rare fish.  Sounds easy, right?

Well, it is, if you prepare for it.

  • You will need to be able to fish in STV, so train your Fishing to 125 -150.  While you should be able to fish from pools with Fishing 1, you’re better off fishing efficiently and not wasting casts on junk.
  • The safest way to level up your fishing is at the Dalaran fountain.  You can get to 100+ pretty quickly there.  Check with Marcia Chase periodically and grab a Strong Fishing Pole if she has one in stock, it gives you a bonus to your Fishing skill.
  • While the pools spawn all over STV, the mobs there will eat you alive if you don’t have protection.  There’s only one place you can fish without being molested: Yojamba island off the northwest coast (at 15,16), home of the Zandalar tribe of trolls.  These trolls are neutral and will not attack you.
  • Get your twink into position the night before the contest.  The easiest way for Alliance to get to Yojamba island is to go to Westfall and swim south from Longshore.  Horde can take the boat from Ratchet to Booty Bay, or the zeppelin from Orgrimmar to Grom’gol, and then swim north.
  • Setting your hearthstone in Booty Bay makes it easier to turn the fish in when you catch it, but is hardly necessary.  The contest runs from 2-4 pm Sunday afternoon (server time), but you can turn your catches in to the Fishbot 5000 until 5pm.  So you can swim south to Booty Bay in plenty of time.

Practice makes perfect.

I’ll admit, I was nervous about my first STV fishing tournament.  In hindsight, it was really pretty easy.

  • I logged in around 2:30, right around the time that the winner was announced.  The zone emptied out at that point, and I had no competition on the island.  I have no doubts that the island could be crowded with other twinks, and on a PvP server that could get exciting.  But I had the island to myself each time I fished there.
  • The pools spawn around the island and up the coast towards ZG.  There are crocodiles up and down the coast that can be troublesome for some of the pools, but I found that parking my DK nearby allowed me to switch to him, clear out the mobs, and then go back to my warrior to fish.
  • You’re fishing from a limited set of pools around the island.  Sometimes I’d be running laps waiting for one to respawn.  A better strategy was to hop over to my main and fish out some other pools I couldn’t get to with my twink, then come back for the respawns.
  • It took me about 3 hours fishing total to get my hat, over two separate days.  The drop rate is low, so you may have to fish a lot more than that to get it.  Or you might get it right away!  Random chance is random.

Finally, a fashionable hat for the jungle!

I’m glad I went ahead and upgraded my Green Tinted Goggles.  It’s a little strange looking at Cynderblock’s eyes again, but for both tanking and PvP the hat really is awesome.  My only complaint is that it gives her hat hair in the back – her long spinny braid has been tucked up neatly into the hat.

One side effect I hadn’t considered is that getting the Lucky Fishing Hat obsoletes your Engineering.  Twinks get Engineering because it’s the easiest way to get a good helm; the bombs are an extra bonus!  But with the LFH, you no longer need it as a profession and you have to evaluate your options all over again.  Should you go with Herbalism’s powerful HoT, Mining’s stamina boost, or the crit bonus from Skinning?  Or should you keep it around for the bombs?

Given how big a fan I am of Engineering in game, I’m really loath to drop it for something else.  But the benefits of other professions do outweigh the benefits of bombs, no matter how much fun they are to throw.

But for now, I’ll enjoy my additional 70 health and natty fishing hat.

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The Twink Tank

The Dungeon Finder tool is really great for twinking. Instances with their great loot are readily available, the Satchel of Helpful Goods contains great loot for a 19 twink, and you don’t have to walk to get there.

The problem, usually, is finding a group that can run the dungeon without falling apart. Cynwyn, my Mage twink, has yet to run Wailing Caverns all the way through.

Cynderblock, my twink Warrior tank, however, has no such problems.

I didn’t expect to turn Cynderblock into a full-time tank. My original goal was to make a PvP warrior for WSG. But after running several dungeons with Psynister, the value of having an at-level Protection Warrior optimized for tanking became clear.

And man, is she awesome fun to play.

The early instances – RFC, VC, WC, SFK – are fairly forgiving on new tanks. There are some difficult pulls in each, especially WC’s caster mobs, but a decent tank can manage.

A twink tank, though? A twink tank can chain pull like you see in heroics.

Warriors have the best time of it at level 19 because of their AoE threat generation through Thunderclap and deep tanking toolkit. Paladin tanks suffer without Consecrate, and Druids don’t have much beyond Swipe and taunt, though at least they have Swipe and Taunt!

Let’s look at how Cynderblock is set up.

TALENTS

I’m still experimenting a lot with Cynderblock’s talents. Right now she’s got 10 points in the Protection tree:

  • 5/5 Shield Specialization
  • 3/3 Improved Thunder Clap
  • 1/3 Incite
  • 1/3 Anticipation

I’m considering moving the point of Incite over to Anticipation to get more Dodge, and from more Dodge more Revenge. I’m also considering putting two points in Armored to the Teeth, just because she’s so loaded with armor… but for now I’ll stay 0/0/10.

PLAYSTYLE

If you look at Cynderblock’s glyphs, you’ll see I set her up with the Glyph of Resonating Power and Glyph of Thunder Clap. That should give you a clue what her primary weapon is when tanking — Thunder Claps, and lots of them.

Low-level warrior tanking is somewhat straightforward.

  1. Trigger Bloodrage to build up some Rage.
  2. Run (don’t Charge, you’ll lose your Rage) over to the mobs.
  3. Thunder Clap ‘em, and their friends too!
  4. Yell a bit with your Demoralizing Shout if you’re dealing with melee.
  5. Tab-target Sunder Armor on everyone in range.
  6. Thunder Clap on every CD.
  7. Hit Revenge every time it’s up.

To do #7 I use the relatively straightforward expedient of binding Revenge to my Thunder Clap and Sunder Armor keys, like so:

#showtooltip

/startattack

/cast Thunder Clap

/cast [stance:1] Overpower; [stance:2] Revenge

This lets me use the same macro in both Battle and Defensive stances and trigger the appropriate ability.

The constant AoE threat generated by Thunder Clap helps keeps mobs focused on you. (You’ll also do a huge amount of damage, because not many classes have AoE skills at 19.) Keep the Sunders flowing out, and hit Revenge when you need. Keep Taunt and Mocking Blow ready if someone gets uppity, and Heroic Strike in those rare cases Revenge is not available.

One note about Revenge — it is only available after you Dodge, Parry, or Block an attack, making it the perfect counterattack since you’ll be avoiding a lot of attacks. It holds a mob’s attention as well as Sunder Armor, if not a little better, and it dishes out the pain.

There are things I miss about playing a DPS warrior — Charge, Heroic Strike, Victory Rush, Overpower. But the Prot style is a lot of fun, and the more mobs you pull, the more buttons you get to push.

GEAR

Gearing a twink tank is pretty straightforward. You want Stamina for a big health pool, Armor and Agility for damage mitigation/avoidance, and Strength for threat production. You can get Defense from the Satchel with …of the Champion gear, and while you’ll never be Defense-capped, it helps out a lot.

Keep in mind that Dodge and Parry are important not only to lessen damage taken, but also to proc Revenge. Revenge is very important as your Rage dump. Use it instead of Heroic Strike. Seriously.

Here’s a quick rundown of the gear I think you should get.

HEAD

Lucky Fishing Hat (+15 Stam) is still the best you can get. 150 health from your hat is awesome, but you will need to fish in STV to get this. Otherwise, the Green Tinted Goggles (+8 Stam, +7 Spirit) should be considered standard equipment.

NECK

The Agility on the WSG Sentinel’s/Scout’s Medallion (+2 Stam, +6 Agi) edges it over the Thick Bronze Necklace (+3 Stam), even though you lose 10 health in the trade. The additional Dodge makes up for it while tanking, though I’d keep the crafted necklace around for when you want to Stamina stack and impress your friends.

SHOULDERS

I prefer the BoA Strengthened Stockade Pauldrons (+5 Str, +7 Stam, +5 Resilience) from Wintergrasp for tanking. The PvE BoA Polished Spaulders of Valor (+6 Str, +6 Stam, +6 Crit) give you Crit instead of reducing your chance to be critted, and are slightly weaker for tanking.

If you don’t have access to BoA equipment, I’d go with Serpent’s Shoulders (+9 Agi), Rough Bronze Shoulders (+3 Str, +4 Stam), or Double-Stitched Woolen Shoulders (+5 Stam). Have something there, at least!

BACK

The new Tumultuous Cloaks dropping from the Satchel of Helpful Things are great. You may need to run a lot of dungeons to get the ones you want, but hey, you’re the tank, right?

For tanks, I’d go with … of the Champion (+4 Str, +4 Stam, +4 Defense) if at all possible. The Defense contributes to your Parry and Dodge chances and offsets the lower Stamina and Strength contributions of this cloak.

Other great satchel cloaks include … of Stamina (+8 Stam), … of the Monkey (+5 Stam, +5 Agi) or …of the Bear ( +5 Str, +5 Stam).

The previous BiS cloak, the Sentry Cloak (+5 Agi, +4 Stam) isn’t really worth the money you’ll have to spend to get it, given that the Monkey cloak is superior. The Subterranean Cape (+4 Str, +4 Agi) and Glowing Lizardscale Cloak (+6 Agi, +2 Stam) are good drops, but not your end goal as a warrior tank.

Enchant it with +70 Armor or +3 Agi. I prefer Armor, personally.

CHEST

I’m torn here. I think the Blackened Defias Armor (+4 Str, +3 Agi, +11 Stam) is probably the best tanking chestpiece, even though it’s leather and lower armor than some of the other options.

But it looks so UGLY on my dwarf!

Armor of the Fang (+8 Str, +8 Stam) and the BoA Polished Breastplate of Valor (+7 Str, +7 Stam, +6 Crit) are both good options for PvP and for looks. The BoA brings the most Armor of any piece listed here, 197. That’s more than 100 more Armor than the BDA and AotF.

I’ve seen the Tunic of Westfall (+8 Agi, +3 Stam) listed on some Warrior gear lists, but you should never get it. It’s a quest reward from the same Alliance quest as the one that gives you the Chausses of Westfall, which you should definitely take instead. More on that later.

The only other piece to consider is Toughened Leather Armor (+13 Stam), but those extra 20 health will cost you 4 Strength and 3 Agility. These are better for druid tanks or if you’re trying to win a health pool contest. Otherwise, skip ‘em.

For tanking you’ll want the +100 health enchant. The +4 All Stats one is a decent secondary option – possibly better for PvP, but probably not for tanking.

WRISTS

While the Cavedweller Bracers (+3 Str, +4 Stam, 71 Armor) are good all-purpose bracers that drop in RFC and will serve you well in both tanking and PvP, two quest rewards – the Beetle Clasps (+5 Stam, +2 Agi, 83 Armor, Alliance) and Steel-clasped Bracers (+6 Stam, +1 Spirit, 85 Armor, Horde) – surpass them as tanking bracers. I think the Beetle Clasps edge out the Steel-Clasped Bracers by a very narrow margin.

The +9 Stamina enchant is the tanking enchant to use here; the +9 Strength is very good for PvP, but it’s hard to justify the loss of 90 health.

HANDS

Thorbia’s Gauntlets (+8 Str, +3 Stam) are the clear winner here. These are great gauntlets that are a random world drop and often sold on the AH. There are some quest rewards (Hulking Gauntlets, Sandspire Gloves, Corin’s Handguards) that are adequate replacements while leveling but don’t come close to Thorbia’s attack power.

I think the +15 Agility enchantment is okay if you’re low on Dodge; otherwise, I prefer the +7 Strength enchant due to the attack power and Block bonuses.

WAIST

The belts out of the Satchel of Helpful Things again are excellent items for this slot. Warrior tanks should get Earthbound Girdle of the Champion (+5 Str, +5 Stam, +5 Defense), … of the Bear (+6 Str, +6 Stam), or … of Stamina (+10 Stamina).

The previous best in slot item, the Deviate Scale Belt (+5 Agi, +6 Stam) is still excellent (and can be crafted for you), but as a leather item it lacks the armor of the Earthbound Girdles. Cobrahn’s Grasp (+8 Str, +3 Agi) is a great mail belt but the lack of Stamina makes it less attractive than many of the other options for either PvP or tanking.

LEGS

The Chausses of Westfall (+5 Stam, +11 Str, 173 Armor, Alliance) are the best you can get, but they’re a quest reward on the Alliance side. They are superior to the leather Leggings of the Fang (+5 Str, +9 Agi, +4 Stam, 79 Armor) in due to the Strength and Armor bonuses offsetting the Agility of the Leggings.

This is the first slot where I’d say it’s worth faction changing your tank to get gear. They’re that good.

A less attractive, but still good option, are the Mighty Chain Pants (+5 Str, +5 Stam) or any of the green mail leggings … of the Bear (+5 Str, +5 Stam). All of these are BoEs and can handle a better armor enchant (Heavy Armor Kit, +24 Armor) than the BoPs (Medium Armor Kit, +16 Armor).

FEET

The Savage Trodders (+9 Stam, 134 Armor) have the edge on two key stats over the Silver-linked Footguards (+7 Stam, +3 Str, 129 Armor), but I’m not convinced that they’re better tanking boots. I don’t know, maybe I just like how they look?

Fine. I’ll go switch to the Savage Trodders. /brb.

For tanking the +7 Stamina enchant is superior to the speed enchant I’d normally recommend for PvP. Speed boosts aren’t needed in low-level instances.

FINGERS

The best tanking ring you can equip is the Seal of Sylvanas (+8 Stam, +3 Str, Horde), followed by the Seal of Wrynn (+3 Str, +3 Agility, +4 Stam, +4 Int, +3 Spi, Alliance).

Unfortunately, to get them both, you have to faction change. The Seal of Sylvanas is so good you should seriously consider it. The Seal of Wrynn is less attractive, but if you faction change for the Chausses of Westfall, you should pick this up too while you’re over there.

The next best rings you can get are the WSG PvP awards, Protector’s Band / Legionnaire’s Band (+4 Str, +4 Agi, +2 Stam). They’re identical and a good second ring if you don’t want to faction change.

The Blood Ring (+5 Stam) is an acceptable ring to use while gearing up.

TRINKETS

It’s a bit of a grind, but the Arena Grand Master (+12 Stam, on-use absorption bubble) is the best trinket at the level, bar none. But it’s admittedly not the easiest trinket to get, so here are some other options.

The BoA Inherited Insignia of the Alliance/Horde and regular Insignia of the Alliance/Horde is great for breaking out of stuns, which don’t happen very often but can be disastrous to the group if you lose aggro. The Inherited version has 6 Resilience at level 19, which is about 1% crit reduction.

The other BoA trinket option, the Swift Hand of Justice (+6 Haste, heal on killing blow) is very attractive for tanking, especially if you run with two of them. They provide a slight boost to your DPS and a small stream of healing while fighting packs of trash. They’re not nearly as impressive on a warrior as they are on a caster, but they’re still good options.

Finally, the Minor Recombobulator is an acceptable option for swapping out with your PvP trinket if you need to help out your healer or other party member. There aren’t any polymorphing mobs in these dungeons (though the Druids of the Fang and their sleep spells can bite me), so that use effect is wasted, but the health/mana restoration can be helpful. Think of it as a minor Innervate!

RANGED

You’re not going to be using your ranged weapon very often as a twink tank — occasional pulls at best — so stats should determine your choice here. The Hand of Argus Crossfire (+1 Agi, +1 Stam, Alliance) is the best to get for a tank, beating out the Thick Bronze Darts (+2 Str) and Throat Piercers (+2 Agi). Those two have definite value in PvP, but the defensive value of the Crossfire trumps them here. If you’re Horde and not willing to faction change, it’s a tossup between the other two. The Thick Bronze Darts will help your AP and Block value, while the Throat Piercers will help your Dodge. I’d give the edge slightly to the Darts.

The BoA ranged weapons don’t help us much here. The Charmed Ancient Bone Bow (+1 Hit, +1 Crit, +5 AP) and Upgraded Dwarven Hand Cannon (+1 Resil, +2 Crit, +3 AP) just don’t give us the tanking stats we need.

You should still put a +2 damage scope on your ranged weapon, if it can take it.

MAIN HAND


Choosing your main hand weapon can be tricky because some races will have Expertise bonuses for specific weapon types.

My dwarf uses the BoA Venerable Mass of McGowan (+4 Stam, +3 Agi, +4 AP, +2 Crit) in her main hand, increasing her Dodge while letting her benefit from her racial bonus.

Before the Mass she used Butcher’s Slicer (+4 Str, +3 Stam), which I think was little bit better than the Night Watch Shortsword (+4 Stam) because of the added strength. The Night Watch Shortsword looks so good though, that were I playing a human I’d probably prefer it over the Slicer for tanking. These two swords are better than the WSG rewards, the Protector’s/Legionnaire’s Sword (+4 Str, +2 Stam).

Another BoA worth mentioning is the Sharpened Scarlet Kris (+4 Stam, +6 AP, +3 Resil). I know, warriors tanking with daggers? If we’re going to go down that road, we might should also look at the Horde-only Dawnblade (+5 Stamina), normally used as a caster MH.  I can’t recommend this (though I’ve seen it in the wild) because of the effects of Normalization on your DPS.

Good tanking axes are hard to find at this level. I’d go with Smite’s Reaver (+2 Str, +3 Stam, +2 Hit) or the crafted Bronze Axe (+3 Stam) if I was set on using an axe to capture the Orc racial bonus. But that bonus won’t overcome the lack of stats on these weapons.

The debate about the best twink enchant for your weapon rages on, but the contenders for tanking are: Crusader, Lifestealing, Fiery Weapon, and +15 Agility. Each has their strengths and weaknesses. I prefer Crusader on my weapons because of the massive damage bonus it gives to all of my abilities when it procs. Lifestealing can lessen the load on your healer. Fiery Weapon generates a lot of threat, and +15 Agility can push your Dodge rating nice and high.

I’ll leave it at: I recommend Crusader, but can see the point of all the other enchants, too.

SHIELD

The PvP shield of choice is the Redbeard Crest (+6 Str, +3 Stam, 547 Armor, 11 Block). It’s the only shield under consideration with Strength on it, which makes it appealing for the boost to Block in addition to attack power. Because Warriors convert 2 points of Strength to 1 point of Block Value, the Redbeard Crest has an effective Block of 14.

However, the Armor on the Crest is low compared to the Arctic Buckler (+3 Stam, +8 Spirit, +5 Frost Resistance, 642 Armor, 13 Block). And that Armor is critical. From a tank’s perspective, you’re looking at exchanging 95 Armor for 1 Block and 12 AP. For Cynderblock, 95 Armor about 2.15% damage reduction from armor or — assuming she gets hit by mobs doing 50 damage with each swing — about 1.4 Block.

So the Arctic Buckler is a better shield for damage mitigation, though not for threat generation — the 12 AP is not trivial at this level. But if your threat gen is okay, it’s definitely the better shield.

The final contender is the Horde-only Deadskull Shield (+1 Str, +7 Stam, 611 Armor, 12 Block). This is the Stamina-stacker’s shield, with good armor and block and a boatload of Stamina. The Arctic Buckler gives about 1% more damage reduction for the cost of 40 health.

I think the Buckler edges out the Deadskull Shield just barely here, but just barely, and only because Armor is so damn good. If you’re Horde, you should get both — just to be safe.

DON’T FORGET THE DRINKS
Just like in PvP, the one buff you should make sure you always have active is the food buff from Rumsey Rum Black Label. Tanking while mildly intoxicated gives you a +15 Stamina bonus.

The fact that Cynderblock is a Dwarf has nothing to do with this. Honest.

*whistles innocently*

IT’S OKAY TO OVERGEAR THE INSTANCE

You know, I really expected the gear section to be a lot shorter than it turned out to be. I don’t know why; gear decisions at any level are difficult, and there are very few cues at level 19 as to what constitutes a tanking item versus a DPS item.

But once you build up your tank set, you’ll find that the lowbie instances become a heck of a lot of fun to run. (Yes, even Wailing Caverns.) You can be as aggressive with your pulls as your healer can handle. You’ve done your job properly in gearing for damage avoidance and mitigation. You’ve given yourself an insane health pool for the level — Cynderblock is at 1600, with buffs she’s usually around 1750-1850. Even a bad healer can keep her up and running with relative ease.

And best of all, you know that you will never have a fail tank in your group.

That’s really the best feeling of all.

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