I often wonder which classes are best for people new to World of Warcraft. I’m more interested in classes that are fun to level, not classes that are fun at end-game. At end-game, all classes have their appeal and it really comes down to play style. But for new players, it might be interesting to consider whether one or two classes have an edge in fun at the beginning of the game.
To be honest, I hesitate to discuss this topic at all. These days all classes are completely viable for leveling. There was a time when this was not the case. I remember a time, back before Burning Crusade, when warriors and paladins were challenging to level. At least they were for me. Warriors seemed particularly squishy. It might seem odd to call a warrior squishy, but at the early levels at least, Warriors weren’t particularly well equipped to take on more than one or maybe two mobs. And they didn’t really have what I like to call a “get out of jail free card” up their sleeve. A get out of jail free card is a trick that a class provides that allows a player to get out of trouble fast, when things have really gone south in a battle. Rogues, for example, have Vanish, which is arguably one of the best get out of jail free cards in the game. Hunters have Feign Death. You get the idea. Warriors didn’t really have a trick like Vanish or Feign Death, so when they got into trouble, they just had to fight their way out or die. In my case, dying was frequently the result. I’m guessing that warriors got better as they got to higher levels, but I could never get a warrior to a high enough level to find out.
Paladins had a different problem. I tried leveling a Paladin right before Burning Crusade came out. I even managed to get her to a fairly high level before giving up. The problem back then wasn’t dying, it was the pace of combat. I leveled as protection, and things died slowly. On the plus side, I could take on many mobs at once without dying. In fact, it was a strategy. Take on as many mobs at once and just keep rolling with combat. The idea was to keep adding mobs as other mobs died. Some people took this to an extreme and basically leveled by grinding mobs. AoE grinding, I believe it is called. There was a certain appeal to that kind of play, but I could never keep it up for any length of time. I like to quest, and killing mobs, for me, is always just a means to an end.
Another character that has been challenging to level in the past was rogue. My first character in WoW was a rogue, actually. I don’t remember having a great deal of trouble leveling as a rogue back then, but in BC and Wrath, rogues stopped being fun for me once they got into their 60s. I have a level 60-something Blood Elf rogue that’s still hanging out in Nagrand because I couldn’t stand leveling her anymore. The problem was that although I could kill things fast enough, I’d be at half health or worse at the end of each battle. I like moving from one mob to the next quickly. I definitely don’t want to have to stop to drink or bandage after every battle. It’s likely that if I’d played around with specs and such I might have found a combination that worked better, but I never had the patience to experiment. Especially when I had other characters waiting to be played.
Fast forward to the present and things have changed considerably. Paladins were basically fixed in Wrath and became a blast to level. Retribution was totally fixed. Mobs fell with ease. I really enjoyed Paladins back in Wrath and they remain fun to play even today.
The award for most improved classes (for leveling, at least) in Cataclysm definitely goes to warrior and rogue. Warriors are now a joy to level, and that goes for both fury and arms. My only complaint with the warrior class is that I sometimes feel like I spend all my time staring at my action bar, waiting for abilities to either proc or come off cooldown. But it’s a minor complaint. If you are thinking of rolling a warrior, you probably won’t be disappointed. They are a blast to play.
And that brings us to the rogue class, which is currently my favorite class in the game. The big problem with rogues, that they would end up severely down on health after each battle, has been completely fixed by Recuperate, a self heal that is also, in my opinion, the single best thing to happen to the rogue class Cataclysm. As long as Recuperate is up, there should be absolutely no problem with health. You’ll always be topped off. The other thing I love about rogues is that they have so many ways to get out of trouble. There’s Vanish, of course, but there’s also Blind and Gouge. And Kidney Shot as well. All abilities that can buy you time to get away if you have to. I’m also a big fan of rogue combat. It’s fast and things die very quickly.
Stealth, of course, is the defining rogue ability, and I absolutely love it. Stealth allows me to avoid encounters when I’ve got better things to do. I think it’s an ADD thing, but frequently, when I’m trying to go from point A to point B, I just want to get to B without having to fight all the mobs in my way. Stealth lets me do that. I don’t always choose to stealth, of course. Rogue combat is too much fun for that. But it’s there if I want it.
What rogue spec do I like? Surprisingly enough, I’m finding subtlety to be the most fun. Keep in mind that I’m talking about leveling here. If I were running instances, or raiding, or hanging out in battlegrounds all the time, I might like a different spec. But for killing quest mobs, subtlety is really quite fun. What makes subtlety so great? In a word, Shadowstep. Shadowstep feels a little like a warrior’s Charge, which is another ability I’m quite fond of. Shadowstep gets you positioned perfectly behind your enemy, ready to deal a lethal blow. Used together with Premeditation and the result is usually devastating. A typical attack begins with Premeditation, followed by Shadowstep, and then Ambush. At which point I’ve got at least 4 combo points on the target and I can finish with Eviscerate. Most mobs are dead at that point.
To sum up: rogue. You get Vanish as an excellent get out of jail free card, and stealth, which lets you avoid mobs you don’t feel like fighting (or generally sneaking around anywhere you aren’t supposed to be). You also get Recuperate, an excellent self heal. Mobs die quickly, and the general pace of combat is quick and fun. For specs, I suggest giving subtlety a try. It’s surprisingly fun. If, however, f you don’t think rogue is the class for you, then don’t be afraid to give warrior a try.