One of the biggest questions I see on the forums is about what spec to be to level and than when to switch over to the spec they actually want to play at endgame. I know that there is a lot of opinions on this matter, and tons of math and theory crafting on dps and fastest leveling, etc… but I am not going to give you any of that I am merely going to give you my personal experience on this matter.
When I first started leveling my pally I read tons of post on how to spec to level as fast as I could. At that time it was about ¾ with people saying to level with retribution and about ¼ saying to level with AoE grinding using protection. So being the betting man that I am I went retribution since I figured there was no way ¾ of the people were wrong. Trust me they are not wrong when it comes to speed of killing, and completing quest, and getting to the next level. So there I was advancing right along and finally lo and behold I was level 70. Yay. Cheers. Now what do I do? Well I had been collecting some protection drops along the way, and I went to the AH to add some more protection items to my outfit, and than I went to respec to protection. I was ready to tank. (yea right)
Here lies the biggest problem with leveling as one spec and than switching over to another spec when you hit level 70. I knew all about how to kill and stay alive using ret talents but I knew nothing about protection and how to use it to be the best tank I could. This is turn led to me being apprehensive about trying to tank. I mean there is a lot of responsibility being the tank for a 5 man group, 4 other people are depending on you to get them thru the instance and help them get all the phat loot. Don’t get me wrong I know healers are stressed also, but the tank is usually the group leader, the target marker, the explainer of all boss fights, etc… I knew nothing about any of this at 70. I was essentially clueless and it took a while for me to get over that.
Finally by talking to other tanks I had become friends with and explaining to them the situation one of them told me the cold hard fact: you just have to go out there, get in a group, and start to tank. The only way to learn is by “doing” and not just talking and reading about it. So I immediately put myself in the LFG tool and found a decent shattered halls group to start learning with. I sucked. No doubt about that. But we made it to the end with no wipes. (thanks to a t5 geared healer)
Still if I could do it all over again I would of switched to protection at mid 60’s so I could start tanking in lower level instances and learning more as I progressed. Yeah it would have been slower than retribution but in the end it would have saved me a lot of time on the process of learning to tank.