Mists of Pandaria is almost upon us. Just a couple more days until we are able to run through Pandaria and start preparations to fight the Mogu, Mantid, and Sha in the first tier of raiding. Trying to get into raiding as soon as possible requires a bit of preparation though, so I’m going to share my thoughts on how I plan to get to max level and what I will be doing immediately after hitting cap.
My Set Up
I want to start off by giving a quick explanation of what I’m running with as far as my spec goes. I was planning on leveling as Protection, but the change to Vengeance has made killing mobs as protection much harder. Because of that I will be leveling as Retribution instead. I will be using THESE talents and glyphs as I level. The talents are all based around moving around quickly and passives that will be up the majority of the time. The glyphs I put down in that spec are the only two that I think will be constantly good for leveling and one aimed more at giving a general survival cooldown. The third glyph likely doesn’t make too much of a difference, I just personally wouldn’t use Mass Exorcism because it limits the range.
Level 15: I chose to go with Long Arm of the Law because I think that moving from mob to mob quickly will likely be the best option. In between mobs you will likely be mounted, so the passive run speed from Pursuit of Justice wont do as much good in my opinion. A sprint is also very good, but it wont be up as often.
Level 30: I went with Fist of Justice here because I don’t think that you’ll be taking the time to CC stuff very often. The stun also works to give you some breathing room with multiple mobs and as an interrupt if used properly.
Level 45: The best option here seems to be Sacred Shield. Keeping it up throughout the leveling process should help with downtime as you’ll have to stop to heal less often. I also just don’t think that you want to spend Holy Power on a HoT. Selfless Healer may be pretty good here as well, but for now I’m going to favor Sacred Shield as Supplication already makes casting a quick Flash of Light very strong.
Level 60: I think that although cooldowns may not get used that often, Unbreakable Spirit will be the best option here. Hand of Purity is just too specific to be used in general while leveling. As for Clemency, the only Hand that might actually get use while leveling is Hand of Freedom. As Ret you also have access to Emancipate which makes having two Hand of Freedoms kind of useless.
Level 75: While it isn’t the best for overall damage output, I will be using Divine Purpose here. For leveling I would much rather have a passive bonus that can be up for every single mob.
The Leveling Grind
I plan on leveling through questing primarily. I may do a few dungeons along the way, but I don’t want to just run dungeons non-stop until cap (I’m sure I’ll be spending enough time in dungeons trying to gear up anyway.)I know a lot of people may be planning to run dungeon groups to level instead of questing, but my first bit of advice here is that you actually quest. The new zones are honestly amazing and quite a bit different than any leveling process that has come before.
So as illustrated by the map, there is a somewhat set path that you should be taking while leveling. Whether you are Alliance or Horde, you will be starting in the Jade Forest and staying there until you hit level 86. Don’t fret over trying to finish all the quests (unless you want to) though, there are (at least there were when I leveled on Beta) more than enough quests to level. Once you hit 86 you should move on to Krasarang Wilds. Based on my experience in the Beta, you should be able to finish Krasarang Wilds and most of the Valley of the Four Winds while you level up to 88. The two zones kind of play off of each other, so there are quite a few transition quests that you can take to get from the Wilds to the Valley. Once you hit 88, there is a quest in the North Eastern end of the Valley where you are taken up to Kun Lai Summit.
I think think that the Summit is where leveling gets either very fun or very grueling based on how you enjoy questing. In my experience, the Summit quests are where Lore really started to get interesting and there were some very interesting quests. Whether mechanically or through story, the quests there get very different than anything I’ve experienced so far. In fact, the ending quests in the zone that lead you into Townlong Steppes have a lot of both mechanically interesting mechanics and a huge amount of story to have you leave the zone with a bang (literally). I don’t remember how the progression went for this zone, but I would advise finishing off the Northern and Eastern quests first as the South-West are the quests that eventually progress into Townlong.
Moving into the Steppes gets into that final grind of leveling. I ended up finishing off all of Townlong and a large part of the Dread Wastes while getting from 89 to 90. The quests helped to make it feel very interesting, but for me it was still just rough finishing off that final level. I was (and probably will be again) at the point where I just wanted to be done when I went through them, so I think I may be a little biased against these zones. They are definitely important from a raiding perspective though. These zones (if I’m not mistaken) give you your first reputation gains with the Shado Pan and the Klaxxi which will be important once you start gathering gear in preparation of raiding.
Starting to Gear
Once you hit 90, your priority should be to start gaining honor with all the reputations and running Heroics. Each group offers three rewards for Holy Paladins once you hit revered with them, so make sure to level all of them. I will personally be prioritizing the Klaxxi and the Shado-Pan because as a Blacksmith I want the Klaxxi’s plans to make gear and the Shado-Pan offer trinkets as one of their gear rewards. Once you work through dailies, I advise that you just run Heroics as much as you can before raids open. You’re not guaranteed to get the pieces you need, but if you’re looking to maximize the gear that you start raiding with you’re going to need to try to get every single piece that you can.