At around this time, a good bunch of us should have hit 80 by now. A fortunate few will already be raiding, while others will slowly be gearing up for them. I've put together a quick guide to the gear that Paladins of all specs should be looking forward to. With blue, or rare, gear easily attainable through several sources, it should be extremely easy to gear up in preparation for ten- or even twenty-five man raids.

Of course, before we get all our gear, we have to have a clear idea of what we want from them considering Blizzard has seen fit to load some Plate with Haste and others with Crit. Protection Paladins have no problem because as soon as you see a Defense value, we'll know it's meant for us. Holy and Retribution don't have it as easy, and must often choose between Crit and Haste. Don't worry about Tier 7 and other raid epics -- they're loaded with both. There are benefits to both, so we'll examine those are after the break.

Haste is a very attractive stat for Holy Paladins thanks to the unfortunate fact that two of our bread and butter healing spells have a cast time. We have talents designed to speed this up, such as the soon-to-be-buffed Judgements of the Pure, as well as Infusion of Light. Our atomic bomb of heals are Rank 13 Holy Lights, which can go off for jaw-dropping amounts, so getting those out faster is a good, good thing. Haste also reduces the global cooldown of spells, so casting instants such as Cleanse or an Infusion of Light-powered Flash of Light won't hurt our heal thoroughput.

Critical Strike rating is important, too, owing to Holy's primary mana conservation mechanic, although we also have talents to raise that. The choice, then, of what stat to stack becomes primarily a matter of taste and play style. It's not a big issue once we start getting the epics, it's simply how we choose to get there. Faster heals work towards mobility and better spamming, so if that appeals to you, then go for Haste. I've compiled a list of decent plate Haste and Spell Power gear from a variety of sources, so you can start flashing up those heals.

1. Head
There's only one piece of Haste-imbued blue Plate, so this one should be easy. Brigg Smallshanks inside Utgarde Pinnacle will give the quest to kill King Ymiron with Vengeance Be Mine!. You can get this quest at Level 78, and can be completed in normal or heroic modes, so pick up the Platehelm of Irate Revenge. It looks exactly like the melee DPS plate, so be careful when choosing your reward.

2. Shoulders
Unfortunately, there aren't any Plate shoulders with Haste, so you might as well pick one with Crit. The best would have be the Ferocious Pauldrons of the Rhino -- yellow-socketed for more Haste Rating -- which drop from Gortok Palehoof in Heroic Utgarde Pinnacle. You're going that way for the helmet, anyway, so you can hope to get lucky. If you don't get the drop, you can have a Blacksmith craft Ornate Saronite Pauldrons or Brilliant Saronite Pauldrons, both of which are fairly cheap to make. The Ornate ones are a visual match for the helm, but the Brilliant shoulders are better for PvE since stat points are wasted on Resilience.

Lastly, there's the option of getting the Pauldrons of Morbidus, a reward from the quest The Flesh Giant Champion, the end of a quest chain in Icecrown. It takes a bit of opening up to do as the quest is phased and has a bunch of prerequisites, but if you do all the quests in the zone, you'll eventually end up there. As an added bonus, it shares the same graphic as the Ferocious and Ornate Pauldrons, so you won't look like a clown heading into your first raid.

3. Chest
There's only one piece of blue Northrend Plate that has Haste, and that's the Patina-Coated Breastplate, which is a BoE zone drop from Heroic Halls of Stone. You can try to farm the instance, but it might be better to farm the Auction House where it's likely to sell for no more than 200 Gold. Because blue and epic items come easily in Wrath, many blue BoEs sell for cheap. If you can't get this, don't worry, there are some good alternatives.

4. Waist
Similar to the chest, there's only one piece of Plate that has Haste for the waist, and it's a BoE world drop called the Belt of Crystalline Tears. It's a Level 77 blue, so it shouldn't cost too much and a few times of checking the Auction House should yield some results. On the other hand, there's a perfectly good alternative which has no Haste but Crit and a yellow socket which you can plug with a Haste gem, instead. The Girdle of the Warrior Magi can be bought from the Kirin-Tor at Revered status. This should be a servicable belt until you can get better in Naxxramas or Heroics.

5. Legs
The pants shown above are the Shardling Legguards from Heroic Halls of Stone, from the giant Krystallus. You can get a perfectly good alternative from the Argent Crusade at Honored reputation, the Standard Issue Legguards. The socket is blue instead of red, and the Haste is only about half of the Shardling Legguards, but it's a Level 78 item and it's fairly easy to get to Honored with the Argent Crusade if you level through Zul'drak and open up Crusader's Pinnacle in Icecrown.

6. Feet
There are no blue Haste plate boots in Northrend, but the red socketed Mojo Frenzy Greaves from Moorabi in Heroic Gundrak should do nicely. Since you're doing Gundrak, or if you can't do the heroic version yet, make sure you're on the quest One of a Kind, where you need to get that item that's spherical, but quite pointy at parts. You can get the Slippers of the Mojo Dojo, which has no socket but it'll do. Blacksmiths can easily craft Ornate Saronite Walkers and Brilliant Saronite Boots, both of which use up twelve Saronite Bars, with the former using an extra Eternal Shadow. The Ornate one will complete your look, but the Brilliant treads will be better for dungeons.

7. Wrist
There are two excellent options for the wrist slot for Haste, both relatively easy to obtain. The first are the Bands of Fading Light, another pair of BoE cuffs that should be relatively affordable in the new economy. The Bands are a zone drop from Heroic Utgarde Pinnacle, which should give you more reason to go in addition to the head and shoulder pieces. If these don't drop for you or you don't manage to find it for sale, you can grind to Honored with the Wyrmrest Accord for the Bracers of Accorded Courtesy, which have a yellow slot instead of a blue one, with more Haste as a socket bonus. It's wearable at Level 78, and you should reach Honored with the Accord by questing in Dragonblight and Coldarra.

8. Hands
I know I've been advising a lot of trips to the Auction House, and this pair of gloves is no exception. It's the only pair of rare Haste Plate in Northrend, but since the Web Winder Gloves drop all throughout the continent, it should make its way into the market quite often. If you don't manage to snag a pair of these, there are decent alternatives with Critical Strike Rating instead, some of which can be crafted by Blacksmiths.

9. Shield
There's only one rare shield with Haste, and that's the Bulwark of Redemption from the Banshee's Revenge, the penultimate quest in a quest chain in Icecrown. It's a group quest, so you'll need friends for this one. There are alternatives, but this one is free and completing the chain opens up the Battle at Valhallas, which leads to Icecrown's version of the Ring of Blood and Ampitheater of Anguish.

10. Main Hand
While you're grinding reputation with the Wyrmrest Accord, you might as well lift it up to Revered for the Gavel of the Brewing Storm. This hammer has both Crit and Haste, which should give you a taste of what's to come when you start raiding. Alternately, there's the Totemic Purification Rod from the Kalu'ak, which you should easily get Revered with before Level 80 thanks to the abundance of Kalu'ak quests in the starting areas. Barring that, you can have a Blacksmith (they come in real handy, don't they?) craft you a Cudgel of Saronite Justice. It has no stats, but good enough Haste and MP5. Not too shabby for 15 Saronite Bars and 2 Crystallized Water.

Filler gear
Fortunately, a lot of caster gear is stacked with Haste, making the choice for a cloak merely one of accessibility. If you're Honored with the Kirin-Tor, the Shroud of Dedicated Research isn't a bad deal at all. Tailors can craft a Cloak of Frozen Spirits extremely easily with 8 Bolts of Frostweave and a Northsea Pearl. There's a bunch to choose from, including quest rewards from Sholazar Basin and the Nexus. The same can be said for rings and amulets, a bunch of which come from quests, dungeon drops, and even crafted by Jewelcrafters.

You'll have to exercise some creativity with trinket slots, as these are where some interesting choices such as the Thorny Rose Brooch, a reward from the quest to open up the Shadow Vault in Icecrown, can come into play. It has no Spell Power, but the Use can help in a pinch where we'll need to spam Holy Lights in succession. Overall the choices for Haste for Paladins are pretty good, and half-a-second Holy Lights can be addictive. I'll compile a list of good Critical Strike Spell Power gear next, so watch this space.

Zach is back after battling the plague to talk about those everyone's favorite Paladin class, who now has to compete with those pesky Death Knights for plate. The Light and How to Swing It will also take you through starter Paladin gear, just in case you've only hit Northrend...

This article was originally published on WoW Insider.

The Queue: Trial and error