I have received several e-mails lately regarding leveling a paladin to 80 as retribution, mostly asking the questions "what gear should I get?" and "what stats should I aim for?"
The answer is very, very simple. Strength. If it don't got strength (or an equivalent amount of attack power), it ain't worth yo' time.
Recall my 3.0 FAQ - I listed a hierarchy of stats to acquire with strength atop the list. That doesn't change whether we're talking about level 80 raid preparation or level 55 gearing to quest through the Plaguelands - strength is king.
What changes is the position of hit. Hit goes from near the top to middle of the pack. Because most PvE encounters while leveling are very short and against mobs that are at-level or +1 to you, the base 5% miss chance in a short window of time is not something that necessarily needs to be geared for, especially since most leveling encounters are not life-threatening. Hit capping vs same-level mobs in PvP is important as a missed Hammer of Justice can turn the tide of an arena match. A missed Crusader Strike against a mob that hits for 2% of your HP total per strike is not something to gear for.
That's not to say hit is useless. A missed swing is still a missed swing and therefore is lost damage. Here's my rules for gear while leveling:
- If it has strength (or AP) and at least one other DPS stat (crit, agility, hit, expertise, haste, armor penetration), it is worth considering as a piece of ret gear.
- If you are quibbling over whether this piece with haste is more valuable than that piece with armor penetration, just throw it in your bag and do another quest. You're wasting valuable time that could be used getting to that next quest reward that trumps both of those pieces.
- Wear the higher item level one, and if they're the same item level, wear the one with the more valuable stat based on the FAQ stat hierarchy, aiming for 5% hit before discounting it as a stat.