WoW Hardcore Casual's (MoP 5.4) - Best Class Specializations For Leveling Guide

Published: 2014-05-14, by WoWHardCas-Team - Kel'Thuzad

So you've made up your mind, created your character, and jumped into the world, but before you hit level 10 there is one last thing you need to decide: which specialization do I choose for leveling my class?

Many people make the mistake of deciding their specialization based on what they want it to be at top level, when they should base their decision on what will get them to top level fastest (I am guilty of this as well). Here I am going to give each specialization a grade based on how easy they are to level.

Death Knight

  1. Blood 5/5 - A solid tanking spec, always choose the tanking specialization for leveling when given the option. Blood DKs have also been known to do quite well in rated PvP as well, so it will most likely be one of your two specs at top level anyhow.
  2. Frost 4/5 - The great thing about Death Knights, is they can be in blood pressence no matter what specialization they choose. If you keep your Death Knight geared you should even be able to tank instances as frost or unholy quite easily while sitting in blood pressence.
  3. Unholy 4/5 - Same with frost, they *can* still tank as unholy or simply dual spec blood and tank. Unholy is also generally the spec of choice for PvP, so getting some hands on experience while leveling isn't a bad idea.


  1. Gaurdian 5/5 - I'll say it once and I'll say it again, always choose the tanking specialization for a class if it's available. Amongst the various tanking classes in the game, I feel gaurdian druid has the best survivability and close to top aoe dps amongst tanks. They also have excellent mobility and CC options, which is why they are my favorite tank class overall. Their single target dps is also decent enough to make them quite annoying in pvp. The bear hug ability, when used properly, can help you land lots of killing blows in battlegrounds and help your team takedown key players like flag carrier and healers.
  2. Feral 4/5 - This is my second choice, because you can easily dual spec as gaurdian and get the best of both worlds without changing your gear. As a feral druid you will have much greater dps than a gaurdian with less survivability. If you really dislike playing a tank in PvP then I would recommend this as a dual spec. Feral will still have far worse aoe dps than a gaurdian druid however, making this spec less appealing for leveling / questing in my opinion.
  3. Balance 3/5 - Moonkin are fun to play and have great dps with the ability to support groups with healing in rough fights, but still as a moonkin you won't be able to dual spec gaurdian without a second set of gear, which is why i have to rate this only 3/5 for leveling. They have moderate dps but rely heavily on stacking lots of crit, which means they don't get really good until end game in high level gear.
  4. Restoration 2/5 - Leveling as a healer is like masturbating with sandpaper: why would you do it? I would recommend taking on restoration as an off spec if you plan on leveling as moonkin, so you can jump in instance groups easily. Restoration is also excellent for PvP, but honestly, all of the druid specs are a lot of fun in PvP.


  1. Survival 4/5 - Survival has slightly better aoe dps options then beast mastery and in the hands of a skilled player should be able to pull more overall damage than beast mastery or marksmanship, making them my favorite choice for leveling. This is especially true if you plan on running lots of dungeon instances, but also true for soloing. These major advantages for playing as survival don't occur until you get the ability: "Serpent Spread ( [Requires level 68] - Targets hit by your Multi-Shot are also afflicted by your Serpent Sting." For this reason, I recommend you level up as a beast mastery hunter at first, but then switch to survival the moment you hit level 68.
  2. Beast Mastery 4/5 - Beast mastery has access to great pets, plenty of aoe damage, and great abilities like beastial wrath and kill command which make them great for soloing or grouping. The only real downside to BM hunters at top tier, is that kill command doesn't scale well with gear, and they have no blanket silence like marksmanship, also survival does significantly more damage at top tier. The upside to beast mastery at high levels is they still have excellent single target dps, you can LoS players to put yourself at an advantage and still hit them with kill command. You also get an extra trinket with the beastial wrath ability, which is itself and incredibly powerful ability.
  3. Marksmanship 3/5 - I give marksmanship only 2/5 simply because there are two better options, at top level marksmanship is great because the damage scales better than beast mastery hunters, they have unpredictable bursts and they get a blanket silence, but for leveling I would say they are slightly less favorable than survival or beast mastery. The only reason to take marksmanship for leveling is if you plan on doing a lot of pvp, but even then I would say beast mastery and survival are better options, because marksmanship is really best for small scale pvp like 2v2 arena matches.


  1. Frost 4/5 - If you plan on PvPing a lot as you level or solo questing a lot, frost is definitely your top choice. To be honest frost is the only mage specialization I would consider for anything other than top tier raiding as a mage.
  2. Fire 3/5 - Fire is a great specialization for dps, but doesnt have the control that frost has, so sticky situations can be tough to handle. Again, frost is going to be the better option even if a small amount of dps could be gained by speccing fire.
  3. Arcane 3/5 - Same as fire, the lack of control is the major downside to arcane spec mages. Mages don't really have any way to self heal, so they rely on control and damage mitigation when fighting larger packs of mobs. Either this or ending the fight before anything touches you.


  1. Brewmaster 5/5 - Always level as a tank when given the option! I cannot repeat this often enough!
  2. Windwalker 4/5 - Not a terrible option since you can still dual spec as a brewmaster without changing gear, I personally would keep this as a side spec for jumping into battlegrounds or on the rare occassion you get called into a group as dps rather than a tank.
  3. Mistweaver 2/5 - While mistweaver is an excellent end game spec, I simply wouldn't want to level as one. Anything performed not in a group will be done at half the efficiency it could be done at, which just makes leveling a painful experience.


  1. Protection 5/5 - While I personally don't like tanking as a paladin compared to other tank specs, it is certainly a better option than retribution or holy. I'm not entirely sure why I dislike tanking as a paladin, but compared to protection warriors or gaurdian druids, a tank paladin simply feels subpar.
  2. Retribution 4/5 - Great single target dps and can off spec as a protection, a solid choice for leveling a paladin but protection will still be more efficient. Retribution is a lot of fun for PvP, but it's also quite difficult to play well in my opinion, and relies quite a bit on having competent teammates for full effectiveness. I would most certaintly choose this as an offspec as leveling with protection, but other than pvp protection will be a better choice for everything.
  3. Holy 2/5 - Again, leveling as a heal spec without having a dual spec option that uses the same gear is just plain inefficient. The one great thing about holy paladins is they are excellent in pvp. If you plan on pvping a lot as a paladin, it may be worth speccing holy, or having a dual spec holy / protection with an extra set of gear.


  1. Discipline - 5/5 - Discipline priest is probably the only specialization I will rate 5/5 that is not a tank. There is one ability that makes a discipline priest so incredibly appealing: "Attonement ( [Requires level 38] - When you deal damage with Smite, Holy Fire, and Penance, you instantly heal a nearby low health friendly target for 90% of the damage dealt." Up to level 38 discipline priest will feel much like any other priest spec, but attonement is the utlimate healing ability for leveling because it means you can basically dps rather than heal 95% of the time and your party will be fine. Not only this, you don't even need to target who needs heals, just shield the tank, assist him, mind sear, penance, smite, and repeat. To make this easier, I advise setting up macros for flash heal and holy word: power shield to always cast on your focus target. Then bind F1-F5 to set the focus target of your party members, something like: [/focus party1][/cast [@target=focus] Flash Heal]. This way you can easily keep your DPS target and heal target at the same time. Using penance to always funnel damage makes sense in most situations if it smart heals your party for 90% of the damage dealt.
  2. Holy - 2/5 - Leveling as a healer is a painful experience, go with discipline so you can simply dps to heal instead. I actually made the mistake of leveling a priest as holy and boy do I wish I would have been smart enough to choose discipline the first time around.
  3. Shadow - 1/5 - Shadow is quite honestly my least favorite spec in the game for leveling. The damage they pull will be close to what a holy priest pulls without all the added benefits of being able heal yourself and your teammates easily. At top tier shadow priests can be incredible, but they are not the greatest choice for leveling be any means. This is actually probably the most common mistake people make when leveling priests. They see shadow priests in action at high levels and believe they will get the same experience leveling up but just end up disappointed and confused as to why priests are so difficult to level. And the reason is because you should level as discipline.


  1. Assassination 4/5 - This is the typical leveling spec for a rogue as it relies less on playing stealthily, making it easy to chain kills. It can be also be a good spec for PvP, most players choose to play as subtlety for PvP however.
  2. Subtlety 4/5 - This is the typical specialization for PvP, I personally played as assassination and dual specced as subtlety to level up a rogue, but in all honesty subtlety or assassination are both fairly good for leveling. The one benefit to playing as subtlety for leveling up is you won't be tempted to stay assassination for PvP at top level. Which is a hard habit for many players to break from what I've seen. Also, in the upcoming Warlord's of Draenor expansion, many of the positional requirements for abilities like backstab are being loosened, so subtlety is likely to get much better in the near future.
  3. Combat 3/5 - The general consensus regarding combat rogues is that their mobility is better than assassination but not as good as subtlety and damage is lagging behind both, so there is little reason to use this spec for anything. They are supposedly the PvE spec for rogues, but if there are any benefits to being a combat rogue while leveling it's hardly noticable in my opinion. The only exception for choosing a combat rogue is once you hit level 80 and can aquire the killing spree ability, which is extremely fun, but unfortunately you can only use this for the last 10 levels, so I have to rate this spec much lower than the other two.


  1. Elemental 4/5 - Elemental is an awesome spec, you will do tons of damage, support your teammates with heals and blow stuff up. The dps chain is very easy to master and you can dual spec as restoration when needed. Currently elemental shaman are also excellent in PvP.
  2. Enhancement 3/5 - While I personally love playing as enhancement, I think elemental is simply a better choice for leveling and gameplay in general. This combined with the fact that enhancement can't dual spec without a seperate set of gear makes it a rather unappealing option for leveling. DPS wise I don't think you'll find much difference between elemental and enhancement however.
  3. Restoration 2/5 - Never ever level as a heal spec, unless you are playing a discipline priest. This should be taken as an offspec for leveling as elemental in my opinion, to help you get in groups for dungeons more easily.


  1. Destruction 4/5 - Destruction is like affliction but with a much easier dps chain and no need to put up 50 dots before you can start pumping out good dps. Many people like to level as destruction but I personally think demonology is probably a slightly better option.
  2. Demonology 3/5 - An awesome demon pet that tanks for you? Check. Ability to turn into a massive demon tank mage? Check. At top tier it is tough to play demolocks well, and I think both destruction and affliction are better options for PvP, but for leveling it is a great option! I decided to place this below destruction because the learning curve is more difficult, and this spec shines brightest at higher levels.
  3. Affliction 2/5 - While at top level I believe affliction is the one of the best specs in the game, the dps chain isn't as easy to master as other specs, it is very reliant on gear, and it takes time to get your dots up so by the time you are pumping out good numbers, everything is already dead which can be annoying at times and slightly inefficient.


  1. Protection 5/5 - Prot warrior is probably one of the most overpowered specs in the game for leveling, with second wind you will practically never die, with shield slam you can one shot other players in PvP. It's often considered one of the most broken classes in the game especially at lower levels, so you definitely want to choose this as your first specialization. Amongst the various tank classes, protection warrior has the best single target dps in my opinion as well. Shield slam is just an incredibly powerful ability, there is literally no reason at all to play any other warrior spec until max level. I often see arms or fury warriors in instances while leveling up but 9 times out of 10 they are getting out dpsed by the prot warriors. Actually, on my prot warrior it wasn't until level 80 that I started getting consistently out dpsed by my teammates, and even then it wasn't by much. This wasn't because I was an exceptionally geared or awesome player either, prot warriors are just broken when it comes to leveling.
  2. Arms 4/5 - Arms both has great dps and is considered the top choice for PvP. Protection is also good in organized PvP as they have an amazing ability to lockdown casters and are very very hard to kill, but arms is generally the spec of choice for PvP.
  3. Fury 3/5 - Fury was my personal favorite for a long time, but recently in MoP 5.4 it doesn't feel as amazing as it used to. The burst damage can be fantastic but in all honesty, there is little reason to choose fury over arms or protection for leveling.

Well, there you have, my top choices for leveling specialization for every single class. Please check out my guide to getting started if you are still unsure which class, race, faction and server might be best for you!

Author: WoWHardCas-Team - Kel'Thuzad
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