Class type Healer, DPS (magical)
Gear A Priest can wear cloth armor and wield one-Handed maces, daggers, staves and wands.
What's special about Priests? Holy and Discipline Priests have the largest healing toolboxes of any healing class. Shadowpriests, who assume an inky Shadowform that increases their damage, are known for excellent DPS as well as highly desirable healing, mana Replenishment and +hit buffs for groups and raids.
What are the drawbacks of Priests? Although Priests remain the most versatile healers in the game, you'll find yourself outperformed by so-called hybrid classes in each specific area (Paladins in tank healing, Druids in healing over time, and Shamans in group/raid healing). Despite a respectable presence in PvP based on quick heals and utility spells such as dispels and mana draining, you may be frustrated by your fragility and the frequency of being the first targeted to kill. The limited utility of Priests dampens their desirability in raids, where other healers who bring stackable utility to the table may be more popular choices.
Is a Priest a good choice for a newbie? Shadowpriests don't gain their spec-defining Shadowform until level 40, and low DPS makes Priests among the clunkiest classes to level. You'll be highly desired for grouping and instances, though – a real bonus if you don't care for solo play or questing.
Class type DPS (melee), CC
Gear Rogues can wear cloth or leather armor and can wield daggers, swords, maces, fist weapons, thrown, guns, bows, and crossbows.
What's special about Rogues? Damage, pure and simple. Their ability to stealth in and get close to their targets present them with plenty of opportunity to get their hands dirty. However, similar to Mages, Rogues tend to be light in the defensive department, and they rely on a bag full of tricks to escape when they manage to get into a situation when their "kill it before it kills me" combat strategy isn't working. Poisons lend a sinister added dimension to your considerable damage abilities, Lockpicking allows you to get into chests and boxes that other players can't open. Rogues are known for their crowd-controlling Saps and stuns.
What are the drawbacks of Rogues? Key Rogue abilities, Backstab and Ambush, require you to keep a dagger equipped. Some specs alternately eschew these abilities in favor of other (often higher-damage) weapon types. The relative fragility of Rogues in a damage-intensive raid environment has been greatly ameliorated in recent updates to the class.
Is a Rogue a good choice for a newbie? Rogues do excellent damage, and if you can master using your cooldowns, you'll have solid survivability as well. The ability to stealth lets you conveniently bypass time-consuming pulls and get places you wouldn't ordinarily be able to access -- both useful and fun!
Class type Hybrid, DPS (melee), DPS (magical), healer, CC
Gear Shamans can wear cloth, leather and mail (at level 40) armor. They can wield shields and use one-handed maces, two-handed maces, staves, fist weapons, one-handed axes, two-handed axes and daggers. They cannot use ranged weapons.
What's special about Shamans? Like Druids and Paladins, Shamans can fill many different roles; likewise, Shamans must also specialize with both talents and gear to be effective in their chosen niche. Totems, which are unique to the Shaman class, add an immense range of buffing and debuffing capabilities. Knowing what totems to use in what situations is part of the strategy of playing a Shaman. No matter what spec or role you choose, you'll bring unparallelled group and raid utility with your totems and other abilities. At high levels, you even gain crowd control abilities.
What are the drawbacks of Shamans? Despite changes to some totems in Wrath of the Lich King, totem management remains somewhat cumbersome and repetitive.
Is a Shaman a good choice for a newbie? Shamans boast solid power and good survivability based on their heavy armor and healing abilities. Despite the complexities of totem management, it's a great combination for a starter class.
Class type DPS (magical), CC
Gear A Warlock can wear cloth armor and wield daggers, wands, staves and swords.
What's special about Warlocks? Warlocks specialize in powerful curses and Damage Over Time (DOT) spells, along with a selection of pets that supplement their damage, improve their survivability and even cc--all with an evil twist, regardless of your faction. If you like the idea of playing a Mage but find that you die too often, a Warlock (with its Healthstones, Drain Life, Death Coil and multiple fears) may offer the survivability you're looking for. You can cast a Soulstone that allows you or another player to come back from death, and you can summon players (with assistance) to you from a remote location. You have access to quests that provide you with a class-specific mount.
What are the drawbacks of Warlocks? Formerly the undisputed champions of, well, just about everything, Warlocks have been toned down considerably in Wrath of the Lich King. While they're still enjoyable to level, they no longer notoriously rule the roost like they once did.
Is a Warlock a good choice for a newbie? The Warlock can be a complicated class to learn, layering Damage Over Time spells, curses and pet management on top of direct damage spellcasting.
Class type Tank, DPS (melee)
Gear Warriors can wear all types of armor (at level 40), wield shields, and use every type of weapon in the game except wands.
What's special about Warriors? The Wrath of the Lich King expansion has once again solidified Protection Warriors' position as the default tanks in the World of Warcraft. With proper spec and gear, other specs can dish out some serious DPS, too.
What are the drawbacks of Warriors? DPS-specced Warriors are not especially desirable in groups and raids because of a lack of utility other than DPS. Frequent class balance tweaks keeps the relative value of Arms and Fury Warriors in raids, groups and PvP somewhat of a moving target.
Is a Warrior a good choice for a newbie? Warriors boast respectable damage and solid survivability, making them a sturdy choice for beginners. They remain one of the most sought-after classes for groups; if you learn how to tank well, you'll never be lacking for company.