So in preparation for Cata I decided to start early on my leveling decision. Normally I would wait until the expansion date was set before I'd consider this. However with Cata there will be so many changes I'll have my planning plate full by that time. I've been considerably busy with a multitude of projects (both for business and pleasure) so I've had limited amount of time to full delve into the changes but I've heard enough. Due to the total revamp of the talent trees I think it wise to nail down my character selection early, that way I can enter into the unknown with at least something figured out.
The truth is I love playing all my classes. I have a very diverse spread of playable toons (aka hybrids) and I've played them all at an end game level, especially ICC. The joke around the guild was I've had 3 of my 4 toons as my main character this expansion only, and ironically not by my choice. I began expansion and Naxx (Tier 7) with my trusty hunter and pet. At the time he was my only toon, but I had raiding experience from BC to carry me into Naxx. After this time I "borrowed" my wife's shaman and completed her stretch to 80. Then I went resto and began healing heroics. The guild was in need of healers toward the end of Naxx and into Ulduar (Tier 8) so I swapped mains. After raiding Ulduar and setting foot into TOC (Tier 9) I took a small hiatus. When I returned ICC (Tier 10) was in full swing and the guild had recruited some young dedicated healers to full the gaps. I briefly went back to my hunter, until they discovered my DK and all his awesomeness. Which if you follow my blog, brings us up to now.
Going back to my hunter is definitely an attractive proposal. There was some exciting changes going in to Wrath (AotDH, pet talent trees) but this expansion promises to be the most reinovative time for hunters. For those of you who are unaware, hunters are moving away from mana as a resource and moving to focus, similar to what their companions currently use. Steady Shot will now be a filler shot and has some focus regeneration aspects to it as well. This is going to make the hunter resource VERY dynamic, comparable to a rogue or enhancement shaman. Another fun addition is Trap Launcher, which I don't think will play a huge role in PVE but is still fairly cool. The ability is as the name suggests, it basically hurls a trap at an aimed spot; similar to freezing arrow. I've also heard talk to revamping camouflage and bringing it back as some kind of stealth with damage increase capabilities. I don't know if that will make it into live but it all sounds like a very exciting time.
The downside to playing my hunter are fairly straight forward. Playing a ranged class is boring to me, and that is a pretty big issue to have. After spending some time tanking and playing melee classes, the thought of chilling in the nose bleeds raping face is somewhat disheartening to me. The "thrill" of pet management is a totally farce as far as I'm concerned and there is no real pet management. If they keep the theme of current raiding any CC will be negligible as well, thus reducing our utility further. Also playing my hunter will lock me into playing a ranged DPS class. There is NO hybrid capabilities and the thought of that is less than pleasing to me. My hunter is probably the 3 easiest to level, given the right spec and pet. AOE tanking and trapping makes this less than difficult, however there is downtime and mail is not as protective as say plate.
Sticking with my DK is not something I thought I'd even half consider but now I find myself leaning this direction, given the current situation. My DK was my first attempt at a melee class and boy was it a journey. I was so used to playing a ranged classes (healing and dps) that running up there to the boss was totally foreign to me. While I did spend some time tanking beforehand, as a tank you decided the positioning. As a dps class I had to find targets to dps, make sure I was in range, make sure I was behind the target - all while surrounded by other melee, the tank, and the boss. I struggled with this information overload at first and I didn't really find success until I learned to prioritize the information and tune out the rest. Then something clicked.....This happened about the time I started really getting some solid gear upgrades. I had begun to fine tune my actual dps method and learned the basics of melee dps. I soon found myself consistently in the top 5. I had gone from being dead last to one of the top dps. The rush of playing a melee classes was discovered and I don't know if I can go back.
The downside of staying on Titleist is legitimate and disappointing. The changes coming to DK's in Cata are just downright lackluster and they seem to be more focused on PVP rather than PVE. There is an incoming ability that will apply both diseases at once (for free) on a short cooldown which is probably the most exciting change. It's not paradigm changing to say the least however it's better than nothing. Another downside is staying as dps. While I enjoy that the most, it's also the role that is most expendable. I highly doubt my guild would do that, however there is something satisfying about playing a higher needed class such as a healer or tank. You may be thinking "You can tank on your DK" but I will NEVER, repeat NEVER tank on my DK. He is an instrument of destruction only. My DK is probably my 2nd easier toon to level, with the self healing of blood and the natural protection of plate.
My original plan was to make my druid my main for Cata. I did this for a couple of reasons, first being my absolute love of the class. They are a pure hybrid class and can deal ranged or melee damage, heal, OR tank. They don't seem to have the hybrid penalty either, they basically perform stunningly well in any role. I like having the flexibility of leveling one toon and being able to take up any role I need to come level 85 endgame. My druid is my achievement hunter as well, having well over 6000 points. I would like to make him my main to be able to continue getting those achievements and the new ones being added in Cata. The issue is that there are a ton of points to be had in heroics and raids, and by making him my main he'll have greater access to those. He is also my cook, so having access to the newest recipes will be beneficial as well for the beginning to end game. The last reason is simple, the feral druid as a whole is probably the easiest class to level. Given the opportunity to deal massive damage, pop into tank form and use cooldowns, then pop out and heal before moving along makes the feral druid a leveling machine.
The downsides are that I don't really like playing cat dps. My numbers are usually ok but I just never feel like I'm having fun with it. The cat rotation is very dynamic and complicated, so much so in fact that it looses ground with me. I'm not one for a simple rotation but managing buffs and debuffs should come with a limit. I could play cat dps at, let's say 80% efficiency, but for me that would not be fun. I could swap to tanking, however we are not currently in need of tanks (which could change) and would find myself benched often. I could go back to healing but after healing TOC and Ulduar I feel healing burned me out, and I could play boomkin but it's still ranged (boring), regardless of the dynamic nature of the class.
My shaman is fun either way you play her. She had always been resto with an elemental offspec. Recently, given my love of melee dps, I've swapped her to enhancement and been loving it ever since. I kept her resto spec as my offspec, just so I had one toon to heal on. Again the benefits of leveling my shaman are basic, I like the idea of having a hybrid to choose my experience come Cata end game. Of course the shaman lacks the tanking ability but it's a close second to my druid. I like the totem system in play currently, I would change a few things (like the range on buff totems) but for the most part it's in a good place and I like the dynamic feel to enhancement. Resto does have a significant amount of changes coming in Cata and they all look amazing, thus furthering my interest in leveling her.
The downside is, well I've played her a lot already. I can get bored with classes from time to time and I want to avoid that stale effect. Also of the 4 choice, I feel that the shaman is the hardest to level. For the most part those reasons are large thorns for me, but I'm not ruling her out completely.
Leveling Preference To Date
In the end it's a tough call. I've not made up my mind yet but I figured it a wise idea to begin the process. Maybe I'm over thinking this as one of my raiding peers always claims I do. Of course once Cata drops I may just level a worgen because they look so damn awesome or a goblin so I can cruise around the starting zone in the cool goblinvertable. There is one thing I know for sure, WoW just seems to get bigger and better and while I know it will eventually decline it seems there is no end in sight. I'm enjoying the fun I'm having now