WoW Classic High Warlord and Grand Marshal - a guide to rank 14

wow classic high warlord grand marshal guide
Bartosh 03.10.2019 0

He, who never raced for rank 14 in Classic World of Warcraft, knows nothing of grind” 

- Anonymous. 


If you ever ask a Vanilla WoW player what was the hardest, the most painful, and unrewarding grind, you will have one answer - a run for High Warlord and Grand Marshal. If there was an in-game definition of grind, it would be definitely the struggle for the highest faction rank. Every player would rather go collect Splinters of Atiesh in Naxxramas than go for the rank 14.

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What is the High Warlord/Grand Marshal title?

Long story short, it is the title given to the best of the best players in both World of Warcraft factions in PvP. In practice, the number oscillated around 0,1 %.


Just after the original release of World of Warcraft, the PvP segment was not finished, thus it was not organized at all. The only reason to go and kill people was… to kill people. And yes, there were more than enough volunteers willing to clap another faction players (isn’t it the meaning of the whole war in Azeroth?).

Nothing can make reaching rank 14 easy, but there are a few ways of making it more manageable. Getting a large supply of WoW Classic Gold is a good start!


Later on, with patch 1.4 and the release of content Phase 2, the Honor System was introduced. How did it work?  

It was arguably the most broken, unfair, punishing, and hated World of Warcraft feature of all time. Throughout the given week a player could register Honorable Kills by slaying the opposing faction players. HK’s were then converted to Honor Contribution Points. Each week during the reset player’s CP’s were then recalculated into Ranking Points. 


In order to hit specific rank, you needed:

- rank 1 - 15 Honorable Kills,

- rank 2 - 2,000 RP,

- rank 3 - 5,000 RP,

- rank 4 - 10,000 RP,

- rank 5 - 15,000 RP,

- rank 6 - 20,000 RP,

- rank 7 - 25,000 RP,

- rank 8 - 30,000 RP,

- rank 9 - 35,000 RP,

- rank 10 - 40,000 RP,

- rank 11 - 45,000 RP,

- rank 12 - 50,000 RP,

- rank 13 - 55,000 RP,

- rank 14 - 60,000 RP.


Each week every player was losing 20% of RP’s accumulated. This means, that if you had 50,000 Ranking Points by the end of the week, you’d lose 10,000. However, by the time of weekly maintenance, top players, who farmed the most Honor in each bracket, were awarded with RP’s. The main condition was to play more, than others. It’s really hard to measure how much your rivals play, so you had to push it to the limit. And if you fumbled, you could have said: “Farewell” to the progress.


There wasn’t any simple or built-in ways that would provide players with the information about the placement in your current bracket, but this day there should be more than enough add-ons serving this purpose. You can see the Classic WoW honor settings tab down below:


wow high warlord tab


Each rank was gated. This means, that you couldn’t jump from rank 2 to rank 6 in one week. You had to go stage after stage to rank 3, 4, 5, and then eventually to rank 6. Similar thing happens in school, where you have to be promoted to each class consequently. However, school makes some exceptions for extraordinarily bright minds. This was not the case for the race to Grand Marshal and High Warlord. There was no way around.


To be completely fair, whoever wanted to achieve something, had to compete not only with an opposing faction, but also with comrades. Doesn’t matter, Horde or Alliance, your potential enemies could be everywhere. We will talk about this rivalry in further parts of this guide.


Next step was patch 1.5 and Dishonorable Kill mechanic. In theory, Blizzard’s intent was to encourage players to attack each other, compete, and fight for the glory, the title, and the gear. Ultimately, it ended up with exploiting the games’ mechanics. People started to hunt opposing faction civilian NPC’s - vendors and quest givers. NPC’s are usually lower lvl than a player, unable to reply, which makes them an easy target. 


You had also diminishing returns if you repeatedly killed the same character. You gained full honor value for the first kill, but for succeeding kills, the value was substantially lowered. It was to prevent players from farming their alts over and over. 


It is why Blizzard implemented Dishonorable Kills as a reply to these vile activities. For such kills you would receive a negative progress in your High Warlord or Grand Marshal run. Important thing was that the negative progress had an impact directly on Ranking Points, not Contribution points. In lower ranks it didn’t really matter, but in higher level stage a couple of Dishonorable Kills could ruin the whole run. 


Classic WoW honor ranks













Team insignia trinket




Superior-quality cloak and 10% discount from faction vendors


Senior Sergeant

Master Sergeant

Superior-quality necklace


First Sergeant

Sergeant Major

Superior-quality bracers


Stone Guard


Potions, officer’s tabard,

access to faction clubhouse


Blood Guard


Superior-quality boots and gloves




Superior-quality chest and legs




Battle Standard (placed on the battlefield gives allies HP buff in 45 yards radius)



Lieutenant Commander

Superior-quality shoulder and helm


Lieutenant General


Epic mount




Epic chest, boots, and legs



Field Marshal

Epic shoulder, helm, and gloves, completing the set


High Warlord

Grand Marshal

Epic weapons and shield


Wow classic rank 14 rewards

wow classic rank 14 rewards

For some time there was a 15th rank for the one and only player who accumulated the most points - City Protector. It gave an ability to teleport to the capital city. However, it was removed shortly after.


As you can see, some of these rewards were pretty neat, to say the least, and definitely worth fighting for. Also, there is always the title of the most successful PvP player in the whole realm.


However, as many players complained, the title didn’t really meant the best PvP player on the server, rather the one who played the most.


Later on, there were whole guilds and teams cooperating for collective good, but we’ll get to that further down.

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How to reach the High Warlord and Grand Marshal?

The answer is one - grind.


We will not tell you: “Do this”, “Go there”, “Talk to this NPC”, because it will not do. There is no guide that will show you steps to follow to reach the top. You just have to work hard and never stop.


It kind of resembles the race to 60 just after the Vanilla WoW launch. Choosing right class and performing certain action is one thing, but consistency and persistence are a different kettle of fish. If you fail, if you stop for a moment, you may get bypassed and hand over the lead to your rival, and your opponent may not give you a window of opportunity to comeback. So first of all, if you aren’t capable of sacrificing not only PvE content, but your whole life for the purpose of achieving the highest faction rank - don’t bother.


Honor Rankings Breakpoints


classic wow high warlord breaking points


Top bracket contained 0.1 - 0.2 % depending on a patch. Usually it was top 4-6 players from the whole server, based on the number of total players. Top players from each bracket were receiving a Ranking Points rewards, which usually covered the previous week decay, giving a slight progress. In top bracket it was 13,000 RP’s. So let’s say, that before the reset you had 50,000 points. You lost 20% of it due to the decay, but you gained 13,000. This gives you a 3,000 RP progress. Considering, that only top 4 - 6 players were eligible for the 13,000 reward, you had to be there to make progress.


“Push month”

Remember, how we wrote about ranks being gated, and a minimum week requirement for progress? Well, that wasn’t the case for higher ranks. Let’s do some maths.


Say that you made it to rank 13. You had 55,000 RP previous week. The decay is equal to 20% of this value, which is 11,000 RP. Say that you are in the first bracket, and you will be awarded with 13,000 RP.


55,000 - 11,000 + 13,000 = 57,000 RP total by the end of this week.


For 57,000 the decay would be 11,400. Counting in the 13,000 RP reward, your pure progress is 1,600. 


57,000 - 11,400 + 13,000 = 58,600.


Next week, just the same like previous ones, but this time the decay is 11,720. It gives you a total of 1,280 RP worth of progress.


58,600 - 11,720 + 13,000 = 59,880.


120 Ranking Points short.


It brings us to conclusion, that in the top rank you need at least four weeks of grind, provided that you are repeatedly in the top RP reward bracket.


It is why the system was so punishing and unrewarding. Not only you had to accumulate enormous amounts of Honor Contribution Points, but you also had to gather more, than anyone, repeatedly, for several weeks straight.


Also, there are some factors, like the fact, that playing at this level, you don’t compete against newbies. Most of the time you will face at least good players. This way you had to not only play for more than ten hours a day - you had to play well. Keeping your concentration for so many hours day after day can be devastating. 


The best ways to gain Honor



Beginning with patch 1.5 there were two battlegrounds added to WoW Classic - Alterac Valley and Warsong Gulch. The two were drastically different, but quick glance at both of them could tell you, that for Honor farming purpose the latter is better. AV was taking hours, if not days, to finish, resulting in diminishing returns in Honor gains from killing the same players over and over. You could not avoid it in Alterac Valley, which may have lasted even twenty or more hours.


The common rule was that you are not queueing for Alterac Valley to farm honor. As epic as it was, it lasted way too long, and was destined for players who really wanted to play it. 


On the contrary, Warsong Gulch lasted much shorter. It was the way for Honor hunter to go, even though the queues were ridiculous.


Bonus honor values for these battlegrounds are listed down below:


Alterac Valley



Honor gain

Killing Lieutenant, Commander, or Captain


Destroying tower/bunker


Friendly Wing Commander rescued


Summoning the Elemental Lord


Friendly bunker/tower controlled by the end of the game


Keeping friendly Captain alive until the end


Killing enemy General


Warsong Gulch



Level Bracket







Flag captured














Total win







Arathi Basin


It was the Arathi Basin battleground added in patch 1.7, where almost every Honor hunter  made GM and HWL. Arathi Basin was the battleground with the best honor per hour ratio. The objective was to accumulate 2,000 resources via controlling Resource Nodes. First side to amass such an amount wins. The battlegrounds objectives gave tremendous Honor bonuses, and scoring multiple honorable kills wasn’t that big of a deal. 


In this battleground the top PvP guilds were constantly running for 5-cap (capturing all five nodes). This is because controlling all of them was giving 30 resources per second. With 2,000 resources required for win, it takes 66 seconds to finish the match, when in control of all five nodes. If you managed to 5-cap in 3 minutes, you’d end it in a little more than 4 minutes. 


In top guilds, you had to perform at least well, cause if your party failed to 5-cap because of you, you could have been subbed in by other player.


The bonuses are as follows:



Level bracket






Every 330 resources






Winning the match






Total win bonus






Every 200 resources (holiday)






Winning the match (holiday)






Total win bonus (holiday)






Bonus honor is awarded the moment the objective is completed. It means, that joining the battleground in the middle of the match will award you honor for every objective you will complete from this moment onwards. You won’t be given any honor for objectives completed before your arrival, and after you quit the BG. 


Battlegrounds Holiday

What’s more, in patch 1.7 Battlegrounds Holidays were added to the game. It meant, that during the certain period a players could achieve more honor for completing battlegrounds, than usually. The differences weren’t any huge, but every slight edge that you could have had in the Grand Marshal/High Warlord run was at a premium.


You have a list of bonuses down below.


Alterac Valley - +4 kills for completing the map.


Warsong Gulch - +2 kills for win, +2 kills for complete map. 


Arathi Basin - +1 kill per 200 resources collected (instead of 1 kill per 330 resources). 


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Killing faction leader

There are six of them, three for each faction:


- Magni Bronzebeard - king of the dwarves residing in Ironforge,

- Arch Druid Fandral Staghelm - leader of Night Elves in Darnassus,

- Highlord Bolvar Fordragon - regent of the human kingdom in Stormwind.



- Thrall - warchief of the Horde living in Orgrimmar,

- Cairne Bloodhoof - chieftain of the Tauren race with his domain being Thunder Bluff,

- Sylvanas Windrunner - leader of the Forsaken in Undercity.


Delivering a kill on each of them granted vast amounts of Honor compared to the time needed to down them. However, a war expedition to enemy faction capital city was not a cake walk. Thus, if you’re planning to become a faction leader hunter, you have to be well prepared.

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Is it possible for casual user to reach GM/HWL in Classic WoW?

We are very sorry to say that, but probably not. Even if you have no serious responsibilities like college or full-time job, kids and consort, if you can play 10 hours a day, you will have a hard time reaching the top. The reason being is that all over the world there will be many groups of people tryharding the hell out of them just to grab the epic gear. They will be taking turns on a character so that it runs 24/7 like a bot


If your having a school or studies - let the title go. Jumping into the Azeroth realm to kill some mobs, do quests, or just socialize with in-game friends is fine, but devoting to reach the rank 14 will kill your education. There is no way for you to study and race for the title efficiently at the same time. You’d have to find a dead Classic WoW server.


Same thing for a full-time job. It is just impossible for one person to go to work for eight hours a day, and then grind for another twelve hours. 


The favorable scenarios would be:

- you don’t need money - savings, passive income, rich parents,

- you don’t need to sleep - there are people out there with serious sleep disorder, that allows them to stay awake all the time,

- the game is your job - “the dream” scenario; if you could afford to play twelve hours a day for a whole week and you manage to gather considerable number of viewers on stream, it’s doable. Also, if you are a famous Classic WoW player, who gets paid by sponsors, it’s possible to do it. But be aware, that you are exposing yourself for troll attacks and sabotage,

- you’re a psychopath - seriously. Not feeling any emotions would help greatly here, as High Warlord/Grand Marshal rank is heavily mentally demanding, and often leaves people severely damaged. 


The downsides of rank 14

Is there anything wrong in trying to get to the top?

Of course there is something wrong.


Mental health

The rank itself has nothing terrible about it. It is surely a huge achievement, and whoever made it this far deserves a fair share of respect. Ability to grasp the title not only means a skilled World of Warcraft, but also physically and mentally strong individual. Being able to force yourself to play for around 12 hours a day just to reach the number 1 spot on the video game server is a thing. Especially that there are people, who can’t force themselves to work for eight hours a day to make for a living. 


There are literal cases, where dedicated World of Warcraft players quit game they love after finishing with rank 14. Many players also quit after failure. Imagine yourself working hard for something for ten to twelve hours a day, and failing to grasp it. The experience can be devastating.


Let’s be honest, playing consistently at high level for dozen or so hours a day whole week can be exhausting. Just after the Classic WoW release on August 27th, 2019 the race to lvl 60 began. User named JokerD won playing a gnome mage, AoE-ing mobs like a pro. It took him three days with a little sleeping time.


Three days.


Imagine such a grind for twelve weeks. 84 days, on and on, twelve hours a day playing online. Unbearable.


In order to progress in ranks, you had to farm more honor than other players in your bracket. In lower ranks, this was not that meaningful, but higher ranks, where players grinded consistently a day or two of vacation could ruin the whole run. Just like that. We could not imagine ourselves doing the same thing for almost half a year for more than ten hours a day just to get a pixel armor. Unimaginable.


But there are people who did it. We can’t measure the level of truth in forum posts, but at least some of them must be legit. We don’t believe when we read the post that someone was able to hit the rank 14 on 9 different characters at the same time (and there was a man claiming to have accomplished it). But one title… We can take it. After all among many fairytale gathering forums, some may be trustworthy.


However, being in constant stress for such a long time 100% took a toll on them. So before stepping into the race, ask yourself - is it worth it?

wow classic high warlord grind

Time efficiency

Let’s do some math now. Achieving rank 14 was taking at least couple of months of grinding for more than ten hours a day. Some people did sixteen hours a day, some just six with account sharing, let’s take an average of twelve hours.


Twelve weeks of playing twelve hours a day makes 1008 hours of playing time. Minimum hour wage in US in 2018 was $7,25.


1008 x $7,25 = $7,308.


It gives you an average of $2,436 a month, and $29,232 a year. For comparison, the average year salary in United States is around $32,000. Minimum salary, if we take into account a normal, non-slave work week, ranges from $14,000 to $16,000. You’d make half of minimum year salary in three months.


The most expensive World of Warcraft account to be officially sold by user reached €7,000, which by the time was around $9,500. It means that you could afford to buy such an account after roughly half a year of working, and you’d have enough left for a vacation. No one in the community would ever know, if you worked for the title in person, or not. No one would ever ask. No one would ever care.


You can call us penny-pinchers and pikers, but after some years spent on this vale of tears, people start to understand some things. Nine out of ten players from WoW Classic community say that they would never grind for twelve hours a day for a couple of in-game pixels, that mean next to nothing. They would not sacrifice $7,000 worth of lifespan for meaningless title. But who knows? Maybe you don’t need money? Maybe the only thing you can do is playing WoW? Maybe WoW is your life? We’re not here to judge. We’re just calculating.  



Did we already mentioned, that you competed for Grand Marshal and High Warlord with your faction too? Only the 0.1% of top players could receive the title. Originally it meant painful grind with gritted teeth, hoping that no one will grind more than you. But over the course of time the community came to realize, that you can go the other way.


You don’t have to overcome your rivals and put yourself in the lead. Putting them behind you will do the trick as well.


Of course, it’s a disgraceful, dishonorable, and contemptible way of achieving your goals, but there are people in the community, to whom their dignity means dirt. And also there are people, who want to see the world burn, finding their rival losing more satisfying than winning themselves.


To do that, you had to be in a group with someone running for the title. Honor gains and losses back then were shared among the group, so if you took a dishonorable kill, the title contender also had negative progress.


GM/HWL rig

Some players call it “structure”, “support” or “organization”. Some call it “rigging”. There were instances in the past, where whole PvP guilds would coordinate their time and effort around achieving the ultimate goal. They have had the tools to dominate battlegrounds and open world PvP, gaining amounts of Honor beyond the grasp of casual player. They would maintain the status quo claiming all rewards and titles, electing next contender, and taking good care of his progress. Whole guilds working for the one, common goal. When you had such support, you couldn’t fail.


And even if someone in the community wanted to go rogue (not the class), break out or fight it, the guilds would take care of the missing link. After being “taken care of” named player would never even come close to rank 14. You could submit a million of support tickets. That's all she wrote.


Is it worth it? We have no answer to this question, but in our opinion it kills fun, and the real purpose of the title. To put it into perspective, let’s take specific point of view. Imagine yourself playing basketball in your neighbourhood, when suddenly Steph Curry and James Harden step in, and take over the whole game. Imagine playing any other game in the world made for fun, where pro players dominate every aspect of it, denying casual players much desired entertainment. Aren’t games for fun after all?



It would be all for our Grand Marshal and High Warlord guide. We hope that we’ve enlightened the topic enough for you to decide, whether you want to go for the title, or not. And if you will want to pursue the legendary rank 14, you will find this guide useful on your way. If you decide, that the terms are manageable... You can say, that this guide is more like a deterrent, rather than an advertise, but we're just honest here. We want you to have the awareness, what you are aiming for, going for the High Warlord. Should you sign up for the race? That is the question, you have to answer yourself.

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What is Grand Marshal/High Warlord in Classic WoW?

It is a title given to the player in PvP, who accumulates the highest amount of Ranking Points. Grand Marshal is the title for Alliance players, while High Warlord is for Horde.


How to get the High Warlord and Grand Marshal title?

You have to amass 60,000 Ranking Points and be at the very top of the server. The Honor System rewards for playing more than others, which means hardcore grinding most of the times.


What is the best way to farm honor in WoW Classic?

Play battlegrounds, especially Arathi Basin. The more premades you have, the better. Hunt other faction players, while waiting in a queue. Joining a PvP guild might be a good choice.


What are the rewards for Rank 14 in Vanilla WoW?

The rewards for lower ranks aren’t that good, but in higher ranks it is usually a piece of strong, purple gear and an epic mount.


And of course the title.


How long does it take to reach rank 14?

In theory, you could get it after thirteen weeks of playing. Usually it is much longer.

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