Thursday, December 2, 2010

Cataclysm Leveling Specs

Got a nice little request from reader Zorch the other day to share my leveling plans for Cataclysm.  We are on the cusp of the expansion where we will once again be encourage to reach a new plateau.  This one is only five levels away, so might go by quicker than those of years past.  The levels are much higher, though, so we may be surprised at the length too.  Either way, it's been a while.  We also have new trees to contend with, so there's plenty to discuss.  I'm going to try to talk about both my 'lock and DK, and I've convinced Fuu to pass on some brief Paladin info too.  I'll mash it all up into this post for one stop shopping.  'Tis the season. 

Affliction Warlock Leveling Spec
My primary spec remains Affliction.  It's what I plan to raid with, even if it's not the top spec, so I'll want to get some practice in with it on the route to 85 as well.  With the pared down trees, I don't really need to spec differently for a leveling build.  I can just work toward what I plan to raid with at 85.

The Affliction spec will have good self healing that will make it useful for questing, but really I'm interesting in dungeon running with it.  Rumor has it we may be called on to CC a bit, and with elementals being the big baddies in Cataclysm, Banish may come in handy quite a bit.  Additionally, Soul Swap provides a powerful spell that serves to make us dreadfully efficient in the dungeon, target-at-time paradigm.

My starting spec will be what I'm raiding with now.  See this post for specifics.  First, I plan to fill up Bane and then move on to Improved Soul Fire.  ISF will entice me to utilize my instant-cast soul fires a lot more in order to give me a temporary haste boost.  I imagine it'll almost be sort of like how we used Life Tap with the old glyph.  We'll want to use it to start, and then a couple more times throughout the fight.  We probably will not be able to keep it up like we did with the LT buff, but it will be helpful like a trinket.

The last point will likely go into Demonic Embrace for the Stamina buff.  It'll add a bit more survivability to the spec and seems to be the best of the low hanging fruit.  The only choice I can see is that I might want to take a point or two in Improved Fear if it's usage as CC becomes vital.  That may be my only respec.  If you find yourself using Fear a lot, don't be afraid to shuffle a point or two that way.  I'd take it out of Demonic Embrace and likely just use one, but really it just depends on if the utility is worth it.  There is that glyph out there that helps too.

Demonology Warlock Leveling Spec
I've traditionally really enjoyed having a Demonology off-spec for soloing.  I expect this not to change come Cataclysm.  Demonology traditionally provides hardiness and better burst ability.  Depending on how fast stuff seems to be dying, I like to have this spec to pop into.  Also, the AoE capability of this spec far outstrips anything else, so it's great for farming and kill quests.  Really it just depends on you can survive the gathering or not.

Like Affliction, I'll start here, and then fill up Shadow and Flame and Improved Soul Fire.  In this case, that basically does it.  The time to use this spec would be for AoE and quick dying trash.  If I need to be precise or have CC, I'm going to roll with Affliction.  This is a great spec to have in my back pocket, as it were.  I like to use this if I PvP on my 'lock as well.  The Hand of Gul'dan spell and talent makes it pretty effective, though I normally PvP on my DK, since it's what I rolled her for.  So pretty simple here for my secondary spec.

Dual Wield Frost Death Knight Leveling Spec
I plan to PvP level this toon.  As such, my spec reflects PvP utility while still being pretty solid for group DPS.  I'll start here, and then fill out Improved Icy Talons, Epidemic, and Bladed Armor.  I love howling blast with the slowing effect for PvP, as well as utility of the Frost spec.  I think the DW makes it a great PvP spec.  DK's can be pretty solid against casters, who seem to have the upper edge right now.  I popped in a spell reflect meta-gem, and your anti-magic shield really comes in handy.  Plus you can grip and rip, which is fun, and Icy Chains provides a nice root.  A Killing Machine powered obliterate is great for a killing blow.  The added bonus to my 'lock self is that I still get to play with DoTs here.

Fuubaar's Paladin Leveling Plans
Yes, I'm cutting in because, damn it! I'm important! I'll be continuing to level Fuubaar as Protection like I have every expansion. Now, leveling as prot is a bit easier for me because I have my pocket DPS. If you've never leveled as prot, I will warn you, it is a bit slower but you will never die. The main idea was that you would round up some mobs in the area and AoE them down. Now, from what I've heard from people in the Cataclysm Beta is that these mobs hit harder and are not meant for a DPS class to be able to pull more than a few at a time without running into trouble. Now, I'm going to assume since we have more survivability and lack in the DPS department that we would still be able to pull more mobs than a DPS but it will just take even longer to burn them down if you're soloing. I would highly suggest when pulling questing mobs, to test them out first before going head first into 10 of them at once o.0

Anyways, Fuu's talent plan will look a little different than what she's using now for Raiding. Mainly, from what I've found is that as long as you have the "Core" Talents, pretty much everything else is a bonus.

Major "must have" Talents in the protection tree are:
  • Divinity- Mana and healing are going to be extremely important for healers and easier you can be on them, the happier they will be. We love our healers & we wont them to love us back. <3 Also, I know that I ranted a bit about this talent before being so worthless in Wrath but our other options aren't really all that great either.
  • Judgements of the Just - Survivability
  • Toughness- Survivability
  • Sanctuary- Our Crit Immunity
  • Hammer of the Righteous- Our AoE tanking ability
  • Wrath of the Lightbringer- Huge DPS/Threat Boost Talent
  • Shield of the Righteous- High Single target Holy Power Dump Threat Move (also triggers Holy Shield)
  • Vindication- Attack Power Debuff on Mobs/ Bosses aka Survivability
  • Holy Shield - Now passive. Is triggered by SotR and now increases our Damage Blocked (10% increase) rather than increased block rate.
  • Sacred Duty- Passive Threat Bonus. "Set it and forget it!"
  • Shield of the Templar- Avenger's Shield Cooldown.
  • Ardent Defender- Our, now, new non-passive 1UP
With your left over talent points, you can pretty much put them where you feel is most useful for you. If you like to pvp as prot, then look for Hammer of Justice for faster stuns. If you want to focus more on AoE tanking, look at Hallowed Ground for cheaper Consecrations. Personally, I'll be looking more towards flexibility for chain pulling questing mobs so I'll want longer ranged Judgment pulls over in the Ret tree & cheaper WoG with Eternal Glory for soloing some of the tougher stuff.

If you would like to read further information regarding some highly theorycrafted Talent breakdowns, glyphs, gems, enchants, etc. I highly suggest you pay Theck over at Maintainadin a visit.

Ful's Meta Plans
I haven't worked at all on a tanking spec for my DK; I just don't feel like doing it since the death of DW Frost tanking.  That was sort of a fun little niche before, and I haven't really gotten excited about speccing into the Blood tree.  I've heard tales of disease-less tanking, but I just don't have the motive or opportunity to try it out yet, hence why I've not updated my guide.  I will likely remove the link.  I may get back to it in the future, but for now it's on hold.  Also, I'm going to hold off on updating the Enchanting List until I get more familiar with the expansion.  For now, those enchants are still pretty solid, though you'll want to watch out for things like taking spirit as a 'lock because it's worthless now.

Quite simply, these are my plans for leveling in Cataclysm.  My 'lock will be leveled through dungeons and quests.  My DK through PvP.  I also plan to roll a Druid Worgen from scratch for a healing capable toon.  I'm sure I'll write some about that along the way.  It seems to me that the pared down trees make things like a specific "leveling" spec a relic of the past.  The only wild card is really how much you, individually, will be required to use certain CC spells.  Thus, you may want to shift one or two points around, but the base is still there.  I can't say I'm altogether displeased with the simplicity of speccing, though it does make for less interesting writing.  Look for some reflections once I get rolling and I'll update my guides once I hit 85.  Definitely hit me up with any questions you might have along the way, and I'll at the very least try to research and make an educated response, even if I haven't experienced it yet.  Otherwise, pleasant leveling!


  1. Thank yu for putting up a post about your leveling intentions and strategy. From what I've read it should take about 20-24 hours of game time to reach lvl 85. Lot's of discussion going on regarding instances or waiting till 85 to do them. I think I'll just quest and do them at 85 to speed things up. That is unless there are hugh quests in the lower level ones with tons of XP.

    Also, I saw an interesting post that showed the average health of the mobs per level. They start out 30K for lvl 80 mobs and reach 85K for a regular lvl 85 mob. That's a lot of health.

    So I'm thinking that kiting or fear is going to be very important. Or the big blue fellow will make an appearance (if not demonology specced). And I heard there is a real chance of multiple mobs attacking. So I think that you will need a more true leveling spec and not a raid damage type spec. Enhanced death coil, immediate howl and fears (fear in place is looking better).

    Personally, I'll try leveling as demonology and take improved health funnel. If 3 or 4 mobs come after me I figure my oh crap strategy can be to call the inferno, have the felguard tank and pop metamorphosis for the survivability. I also plan to always have a cookie and use soul stone on myself.

    While I have no direct experience I've talked to beta testers and even in T11 gear these mobs could kill them. The lvl 80 stuff they said was fast and easy but lvl 83 mobs were where things got much harder.

  2. Remember a large consideration for me (and my intentions) revolves around the fact that I generally level in tandem with a Paladin. Generally, I think duo leveling is the way to go, even if one of you isn't a tank. However, demo is great when you're doing solo, as I've mentioned and you pointed out for meta as an "oh shit" and strength of pet (a psuedo duo).

    I'm unclear as to how improved Fear thing affect Death Coil and Howl of Terror. If the mobs are hard, the last thing we want to do is send them all willy-nilly. Thus why I would focus on just using simple Fear first. Additionally, I suspect we'll face a lot of elementals and Banish is always going to be the better choice there. Check out my focus macro if you need one, and that can come in quite handy (without talents!).

    I definitely plan to mix in dungeons with quests if it's acceptable. Our once a week raid group plans to split into five mans so we don't get out of the habit of meeting on Monday nights, plus it'll provide a nice change of pace.

    The key thing here is that I think the difference between a leveling spec and raid spec are really only a small handful of points, unlike in the past when it's been a major deal. I think this, along with glyph swapping, will make it reasonable to make small tweaks as you find stuff either hard or useful. Whatever the case may be. Additionally, I think Blizz will use dungeon content to prepare us for raiding... thus, whatever you get used to in dungeons, you'll want to carry over to raiding, so raid specs may mimic leveling specs more than we expect (again, a lot depends on how true and prevalent the CC rumors are).

    Thanks for the prompt and feedback! :-)

  3. My plan is to take my main, a resto druid with a tanking off spec, to 85 first. I'll heal instances and use the tank spec for questing. If I can get decent exp out of instances then I'll heal my way to 85.
    Next up is the pally tank who currently has no off spec. It'll be the same sort of combination of questing and instancing. If I can get decent exp then I'll tank this toon to 85. If not, then maybe a ret spec for questing.
    Third is shadow/disco priest. I'm thinking I'll level that toon in the BGs and/or heal instances.
    After that there is a small army of alts that I haven't given much thought to.

    If it really is only 20-24 hours of played time to 85 then I'll have an 85 by the weekend.

  4. Well then, when I start failing on my resto-druid Worgen... I expect commentary corrections :-).

  5. Fulguralis, I agree a fear in place is the first option for a non-elemental mob. My comment about howl and death coil were for the 3+ mob fights that I heard will happen. Of course you have the luxury of leveling with a partner but I don't unless I find someone in the same zone that wants to party up.

    I guess where I was comming from was that since I'm dual specced I'll have one spec setup as raid and the other for leveling/gathering etc. That spec (demonology) needs to be able to solo stuff and survive. And like you I kind of enjoy the demonology spec as I find it fun to play.

    Can't wait to go back to WOTLK stuff and solo it like I was doing to TBC content.

  6. Sounds like a good plan. Definitely let me know if you come across any problems that might be unique to soloing that I may miss.

  7. If you want resto-druid info then swing by or

    And before anyone asks... Vuhdo

  8. I do already read both of those :-). I'm all about pre-research (plus I try to make a habit of knowing who the hell other bloggers are talking about, and both of those writers have certainly made names for themselves).

    For the record, I'll probably off spec Boomkin just because I'm a caster at heart. I'm going to try melee kitty first though...

  9. If you want to level quickly with about 99.999999% up time then kitty dps is the way to go. Chain pull till your health is around 50%, pop off a heal, rinse and repeat. If you pick up too many mobs then switch to bear form to survive it. It is really that simple.

    Now kitty dps on the raid level...

    btw... what do you think of the new 5 level pvp brackets and the lower level entry requirements for battlegrounds? Personally, I'm lovin it. My rogue went to AV at about half way through level 48. Two AVs later and I'm mid 49.
    And AV is the current weekend BG. I'll take the rogue and not have to worry about squaring off against peeps 9 levels higher than me when I hit 50.

  10. Unfortunately, I haven't gotten to experience it yet since my only PvP toon is and has been 80 for some time. It'll actually be my first PvP leveling experience in Cataclysm.

  11. tkc, kitty dps on the raid level??? I play a feral kitty (Goodmongo) and am usually top 3 in 25 man raids and 1-2 in 10 man. Kitty DPS is way up there but since it is a much more involved priority system there are few who do it right.

  12. When it comes to kitty dps on the raid level I'm one of the many that do it wrong. =/

  13. I've had the fortunate to know a few stellar kitty DPS players, but they all agree that it can be brutal.

    On the other hand, I still think warlockery is hardest :-D.