As the number of presented plate armours that will be ours to wear come Warlords of Draenor slowly increases, I decided it was the time to take a look at them and judge them for ourselves. Ok, judge them for myself. I will focus on four armour sets. Paladin Tier 17, Crafted plate armours, and LFR plate armour set. Honourable mention goes to Draenei Guard Plate Armour for which many speculate it will be something only the guards will wear. That does not mean we will just ignore it though.
First, let us start with the most familliar of all the armour sets, Paladin Tier 17. It does not require a genius to see the similarity between Tier 4, Justicar Armour and that only makes sense. What surprised me though, was the presence the new Tier 17 has. T4 in comparison to T17 looks like domesticated puppy standing beside a direwolf just waiting to tear some demon's throat.
T17 is the armour set made for Retribution Paladins. Just give them a nice greatsword in hands and send them on their way. What refuses to flee when sees a Paladin clad in T17 for the first time, will just die. It is the set that has no remorse, no breaks. It is savage like Draenor, merciless like wrath of avengers, and still emanates the classical feel of the grand theme behind the Paladin concept, the holy warrior. Only that this holy warrior threw the alignment system through window and decided to think for himself what he can and what he should not do. The armour set is badass.
Without a second thought I can say T17 has a strong presence, actual presence. Something no Paladin armour had until now. Not even T2 Judgement, or T6 Lightbringer. And it is not just the size of pauldrons either. The helmet looks great, and I usually despise helmets. The pauldrons look menacing and sleek. The greatest addition without a doubt is the belt, which tries to replace the tabards, coupled with the Ulduar style of sabatons it really makes the armour set stand on its own.
Next on our plate we have the crafted sets. Currently there are two. They are identical, the only difference the colour scheme. One is Black with red and bronze, the other the colour of steel with gold and blue. If I had to guess, my first try would be that the two colour schemes represent the two factions. Black armour for the Horde, the steel armour for the Alliance. It fits after all. But, more likely the two armours are two tiers of crafting. With that said, I will have to hurry with leveling my Warrior that is meant to take over the Blacksmithing business come Warlords. Good thing there is that one free boost to 90, now only to level him to 60 first...
To be honest, both colour schemes remind me of past armour sets. The Horde armour set reminds me of the Warlord's Aegis and Dark Iron Plate, while the Alliance armour reminds me of Battlegear of Valour or Heroism, I cannot really decide. In any case the Horde version will be a nice addition to my current Blood Knight transmog that is starting to show its age. While the helmet is ugly as hell, reminding me of a Deathwing wearing a bucket on his head, the rest of the set is elegant yet powerful. And in any case, I rarely wear helmet. I might as well continue to wear Faceguard of Determination.
The swirling pattern of the pauldron hints back to Siege of Orgrimmar, where Hunters wore something similar. Once again the new belt is present. Elegant, and trying to replace the tabard with the elongated piece of cloth stretching close to the knees. It makes me happy to see that as it slowly but surely show the Blizzard intent to improve on the design of plate armour. And while there remains strong vibe of the Blizzard, it is still nice to see that they are moving in the right direction, trying to make plate armour as realistic as possible, while still making it their own. I can appreciate this. And yes, I am aware of the contradiction of refusing to wear a helmet, and in the same breath wanting more realistic armour.
Now to the more barbaric sets. We will start with the new LFR raid sets. Until now, LFR had the complete Tier sets available. Only difference was the colour scheme, that at times was better, at times worse than the Normal or Heroic difficulty. In warlords of Draenor, tier sets are reserved for Flex, Mythic, and whatever is the middle difficulty that I forgot to mention. That means, No T17 for you, if you do not raid for real. While I can see the appeal of this approach, I was always of the opinion, when I raided, and when I did not, that the only carrot raiders need is the sweet taste of victory and the promise of next boss being at least equally challenging.
But then, what do I know. I do not raid anymore, so I might as well just be complaining over how much more effort and more importantly time I will have to invest in order to get my hands on the T17. Until then, I should just be happy with having this savage looking armour. Well, I think not. It is quite obvious what style of armours I prefer. I like my armours looking professional, whatever that might mean. I hate this handcrafted approach that promises the same amount of protection as the army issued version of crafted plate set.
In simple terms, I hate spikes, scales, horns, bones, or anything looking primal on my armours. I like steel, and I like efficient, pragmatic design. The LFR armour is everything but that. Again with the WWC belt, horns that make even Tauren wonder how are you supposed to not get stuck at every corner and every turn. This kind of armour looks good only on Orcs, and I am sick of it. if you are Horde, statistics show that majority does not play Orcs. But still we have architecture from wood, bone, and spit. The Orc architecture in our garrisons. And now even our armours.
Now, I understand this is one of the main themes of Warlords, but still. I really really dislike this kind of armour, always have, and always will. It is everything I never ever want to have on my characters. Ok, I tolerate it if it is Orcs, Tauren, or Trolls. But all the others, they just scream in agony because of the horror they are forced to wear. Well, good thing we have transmogrification. And good thing for the new crafted plate sets.
Last but not least, we have the Draenei Guard set. Honestly, in my opinion it looks much better than the LFR plate set. It still has horns, but it looks less barbaric. And that is a plus. The armour has massive, juggernaut feel, and it suits it fine. I honestly wish this was the LFR version, and the LFR version was meant for the guards. I know there would be some complaining how is it that guards have larger spikes on their pauldrons than us, but it would be something I could live with.
Honourable mention goes to Questing Plate set that appears not to be completely finished as of yet, and Warlord of Draenor Gladiator Gear. The Questing Plate looks nice. It has that savage feel, but it is toned down, it is still bearable. The Gladiator Plate, what seems to be a Paladin set, currently looks exactly like the Trial of Champion dungeon set, which makes me wonder if it is not simply a placeholder. While I like the look of the set, it certainly appears a cheap way out, which I am certain Blizzard is not yet ready to really embark on. You can check both of the armour sets here.