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I'm currently leveling a retribution paladin. I haven't done this before, and in the past whenever I have leveled characters I do so through dungeons and pvp, but this time I am doing it with quests.

At level 38 I'm doing quests in the western plague lands, I've noticed that most of the quests rewards are good for protection or holy but not retribution, so my question is, which zones should I level in to get good gear for a retribution paladin? Or is there no such rule for this?

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It's been a while, but didn't they change the quest rewards to offer gear for your active spec? Or did they go back on that decision because they realized how awful that was? –  Coronus Jul 31 '13 at 20:38
    
I think that was just for newer content, I might be wrong though. –  Ravekner Aug 7 '13 at 20:03
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As a plate wearing class, you actually wear mail at lower levels; you are allowed to begin wearing plate at level 40, and won't begin receiving plate quest rewards or dungeon drops until you get into level 40+ content.

From past experience I can say it will probably take you almost until level 50 to upgrade all of your old mail gear to plate from rewards/drops.

As a retribution paladin, you will want plate (mail below level 40) gear which has Strength. You'll occasionally see gear with Dodge or Parry secondary stats; these are designed for Protection paladins (and other tanks), and while you can use them if they're otherwise a significant upgrade from what you have now, they won't benefit you as much as gear with Hit, Expertise or even Haste.

That said, don't worry about the secondary stats too much, at least until you get to level cap. Having a less-than-ideal secondary stat on one or two pieces isn't going to affect your game noticeably, though if you have less than ideal stats on most or all of your gear, you will definitely have difficulty with level-appropriate content.

Finally, check your map and quest log to make sure you're in a level appropriate zone; if the zone's quests are green or gray, it's time to move on (unless you really want to see how the zone's story ends); hit the Warchief's Command Board (Alliance: Hero's Call Board) in any major city to find a new quest zone to go to.

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Since the post-Cataclysm revamp, you should have no trouble finding gear from the 1-60 content, regardless of spec. As a retribution Paladin, you should be looking for plate gear with +Strength, same as DPS Warriors.

So a couple questions - what do you consider "Protection" gear? What are you looking for in "Retribution" gear? Perhaps most importantly, how many quests are you doing? If you're only doing 1 or 2 quests per zone, you're much less likely to find appropriate gear than if you do every single quest you come across.

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I think protection gear would have strength, stamina and any kind of avoidance or damage mitigation stats, like block, dodge and parry. i think that retribution gear would be strength, hit, critical strike, maybe haste... I use an addon to tell me what gear is best curse.com/addons/wow/pawn. Have you ever leveled a retribution paladin, or any other plate wearing damage dealer? did you do many quests with those characters, if so do you recall any zones in particular that give have quests that reward gear with stats that would be advantageous to a plate wearing damage dealer? –  Alex Jul 31 '13 at 22:21
    
With regards to how many quests I do per zone... at first I was doing every quest, all of ghostlands, it took till the very end to get a decent two hander, and by that time I'd picked up something better in a random dungeon. after that I went to undercity, a few quests in that starter zone, then went to orgrimmar, a few quests in durotar, went back to eastern kingdoms, did all the quests in silverpine, did a tiny bit of pvp in random battlegrounds, a few instances, went to the hinterlands, left that at level 35 and started western plaguelands, at level 39 now, haven't done all the quests... –  Alex Jul 31 '13 at 22:31
    
... I'm quite happy to stay in western plaguelands and finish everything, but each quest so far isn't giving better gear than i already have, so i went to eastern plaguelands for a bit, did a few quests there, still no upgrades, I'm wondering if i should try a different zone to get some retribution gear –  Alex Jul 31 '13 at 22:32
    
@axrwkr So I think part of your problem is that western plaguelands doesn't have any plate quest rewards - it still rewards mail items - which you may have been disregarding. So I threw together a WoWHead search for plate quest reward items in the Eastern plaguelands. Hopefully that'll help you pinpoint which quests to do for upgrades. –  Raven Dreamer Jul 31 '13 at 22:39
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Most of the solid upgrades for plate wearers that I can remember getting while playing my warrior came from dungeons. I know you asked about quest rewards in different zones, but up until burning crusade I can't recall any good areas to get plate gear while leveling in old world.(at least none that will last you a significant amount of time) –  Ravekner Aug 1 '13 at 2:41
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