This is a guest post by Aleph, who chronicled his early end game gearing process.
Upon levelling my priest to level 80 and looking at joining my guild’s raid team as a healer, I found that I hit a barrier where I simply had no means of gaining any new gear that would get me up to Naxx10 level and therefore enter the raiding circuit as it were.
Before I continue I should make a few things clear.
I play in seasons. I play from June/July to September, then break until December and play until early January, taking a break until Easter time where I play for most of April. This makes it take amazingly long for me to achieve almost anything in WoW.
So, brand new level 80! How to begin?
Develop a routine
Well, the first thing you’ll want to do is start developing a daily circuit. The length of your circuit (and therefore the amount of dailies involved) depends on your playtime per day. I had a very limited playtime and so I found it was easier to focus on one zone at a time. I started with Icecrown and the Knights of the Ebon Blade faction. I began at the Shadow Vault and gathered up the daily quests available there. I completed these and flew down to the quest hub at the Overlook which is on the cliff just east of the Scarlet Onslaught Harbor. I Completed all three of the dailies there, then flew to the Skybreaker and collected the daily quests there (I omitted the pvp quest because it took me too long to complete it). What people miss sometimes are the two quests on the ground. Upon completion of these quests you can either head over to the Argent Tournament or return to the Shadow Vault depending on the amount of play time you have left. You should repeat this until you have enough reputation to purchase some of the items from the Ebon Blade Quatermaster then move on to another faction.
Build up reputation
Make sure to go around and buy a tabard from the four factions you can get a rep tabard from, Kirin Tor, The Wyrmrest Accord, Knights of the Ebon Blade and The Argent Crusade. While doing your Daily rounds, go to the LFG interface and chose from the level 80 dungeons. These are: “Caverns of Time: Culling of Stratholme”; “Trial of the Champion” (this gives excellent loot); “The Nexus: Oculus”; “Ulduar: Halls of Lightning”; “Utgarde Keep: Utgarde Pinnacle”. Run at least one of these a day with your tabard for the faction you’re working on reputation for until you no longer need reputation with that faction. Then switch to another tabard and start the process again.
While doing this, ask around for the generally accepted stats for your class/role for heroics are for your realm. On my realm it was around 1.5k spell power for a holy priest. It is possible that disc priests (or other classes) may have an easier time healing the easier heroics thanks to the damage mitigation. Luckily I had the dual spec and had shadow as my secondary spec. Some of my guild mates offered to take me to Violet Hold Heroic mode as a DPS. I accepted and got a lot of reputation and even a few healing items. If you get a chance to join onto a heroic as your off-spec, go for it; don’t worry about being a fifth wheel.
Once you’ve done a few days worth of daily quests and have built up a decent buffer of gold, visit the auction house and look for any BoE Epics or Rares that you can buy. If you are unsure about what items to buy, ask your friends or guild mates. I bought two items, one epic and one rare item, these allowed me to begin running heroics.
Farm for badges
By now you should be almost ready to start doing heroics. This is where our tactic changes. You’ll want to set your hearthstone to one of the inns in Dalaran as this will be your new base of operations. If you haven’t been doing so already, you should start picking up the normal daily dungeon quest. Each day, log in at Dalaran and go to the Violet Hold where you will find two daily quest givers. On your left as you enter is where the normal dungeon daily quest can be found and on your right are the heroic versions. We’ll be turning right and collecting the normal daily quest for now. Once you have the daily quest put yourself in the LFG for the level 80 dungeons, making sure you’re queuing for the one the quest is located in! Then go out of Dalaran and continue with your daily quest circuit until you get into a group for a dungeon. Go to the dungeon then at the end, hearthstone (or take a mage portal) back to Dalaran and hand in the quest. It is important that you hand in the daily dungeon quest before the daily quests reset. The idea here is to gain as many badges of heroism and triumph as possible in the shortest time. As you may know, Badges of Heroism drop from bosses in heroic dungeons and Badges of Triumph are gained (at this point) from handing in the daily dungeon heroic. With this in mind, it is advisable to (If possible) try to set up a day where you and four other people clear all of the heroics at once. This will greatly increase the amount of badges you can get. Otherwise continue with your other dailies.
Once you have collected enough gear from these activities and think you will perform well enough in heroic mode dungeons, join the LFG queue for Utgarde Keep (Heroic mode).The heroic dungeons are in a separate list to the normal dungeons. Go on the Utgarde Keep run and see how well you perform. If you think it is necessary, ask the other group members how they think you performed. If you did well, start joining some more difficult heroics. Look up which are the easiest and do those first. Then, as you get more gear, advance up the heroics. By the time you can do heroics like Halls of Lightning, Halls of Stone and Oculus, you should be looking at entry level Naxxramas, depending on the gear you have accumulated. If you haven’t, don’t worry. By now, you should have collected quite a few Emblems of Conquest and perhaps some Emblems of triumph from the heroic daily quest. These can be spent in Dalaran in the Horde and Alliance sections of the city. Each badge type has its own vendor. Look at the vendors and look for items which would benefit you the most. Work out what you should buy first (always go for the item that will give the biggest increase) and buy it. After a couple of days, perhaps weeks, depending on how many heroics a day you run. If it is possible, try to set up a day where you and four other people clear all of the heroics at once. This will greatly increase the amount of badges you can get. Also, don’t forget to get the heroic and normal daily quests each day because you can complete the normal quests while in heroic mode as well.
A good measure for when you are Naxx ready is when you have over half of the superior achievement completed. That means getting at least eight i187 items or better before setting foot in Naxx. Some PUG Naxxramas groups might require you to have the entire superior (and even sometimes the epic version as well) but for guild runs, get a guildy to /inspect you to check out your gear. They will generally say whether you are undergeared or not in comparison with the rest of the guild. Just make sure you let the raid leader know that you are now available for raiding and they should factor you into the next run or two. At this stage, you will probably be under a trial period, in which make sure to put 110% effort into the raids so that the raid management see you as a player who benefits the entire raid and not someone who is a liability.
Get your feet wet
This part is one where it is almost required to be in a guild. If you want to get up to ToC 10 level, you will want to be making regular forays into Naxxramas 10. So, once you’re in your guild run, clearing the quarters, gathering up loot left and right, how do you improve and get to the next level of content (Ulduar10)? Well, the best way to get to the next level is for your guild to get to the next level of content. At this point it is inadvisable to join any PUG raids as you will want to be fully focused on guild progression. If you think your guild is not moving fast enough, offer to take more responsibility in raids, work on tactics that work specifically for your guild, offer to set up the healing assignments or, even offer to set up another night of raiding for the guild (make sure you have the green light from above before doing this). This post is not about progression however. Once your guild has cleared the four quarters and has made decent attempts on the last two bosses, you should be able to begin Ulduar 10 raids, depending on your raid team’s gear/ability. Also look for any Obsidian Sanctum 10 or Eye of Eternity 10 raids as the two instances offer some nice items which can help a lot in Ulduar10.
I would recommend that, once your guild is in Ulduar 10 and has cleared a few bosses that you join a Naxxramas 25 pickup group in order to gain a few items that will help you to advance in Ulduar. Guilds seem to advance fairly steadily through Ulduar, provided that their gear is adequate for the level of content and also that they have the drive to progress. Progression will be faster with a group of dedicated, intelligent people who generally know what they’re doing. If you are hoping to find guides to the bosses here, you can find Ulduar healing ones and Trial of the Crusader ones.
If your guild has really got stuck into Ulduar10 and have arrived at Yogg-Saron, I would recommend attempting to take him down before moving on to the next raid. You don’t have to, but it’s a great fight in the way that all of the players must be on top form and concentrating 100% for the entire fight. So! Once you have successfully cleared Ulduar, chances are you have already attempted the newly refurbished Onyxia’s lair. You will get some nice gear upgrades from here, mainly the helm, but once this has been done, you are pretty much out of content before ToC10. This is where you have two options.
- Go on to ToC10 and give it a try.
- Return to Ulduar and gear up some more.
I would recommend you give ToC a try unless you’re woefully unconfident with your gear level. This is where we utilize one of the great tools of the internet.
What’s the next step?
You don’t have to follow this next step if you disagree or disapprove of this practice. I am talking about LootRank. There are a few sites out there that offer this service but I use Guildox for it. Mainly because if you are not familiar with the parameters you want, you can pick one of their sample templates which fills out the information based on the class/spec combo you use. You can also link your characters gear to it which helps by highlighting any items you already have. Once you press view loot ranking, a list will appear which has a section for each slot (and enchantments) which are ranked from 1 -7 in the order they appear. A good idea is going over to WoW Head and using the item comparison page to double check if the items are for you. This way you can make sure you’ll get what you need. You can check where the gear drops so for example I see that the top staff for me would be the Icecore Staff. I can see that it drops from Hodir in Ulduar10 H. It is important that you see the H as the staff only drops if you defeat Hodir before he shatters his rare cache. It is advisable to use this tool as you look to enter ToC10.
After several raids at this content level, you should be more than ready to have a valid attempt at ToC10. However, perhaps your guild has not been gearing up as zealously as you have and do not want to go into ToC 10. While they will most likely leap at it, if they do not, you may want to look around your server to see if any other guilds are running it and see if they have a space for you on their next raid. If that fails, you could always attempt to PUG it, although this may not be very successful. The best plan, I think is to help your guildies to gear up quickly by giving any hints or tips you might have learned on your journey to ToC10. Patience is a key requirement for this stage. Please keep in mind that most guilds will charge into ToC10 before even defeating Yogg-Saron and so the last paragraphs or two are completely useless.
Now you should be ready for ToC 10 man! Good luck and happy raiding!