The Gearing Process to ToC 10 for a Priest

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.

Do homework

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.

Buy gear

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.

  1. Go on to ToC10 and give it a try.
  2. 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!

Trophy vs Token

Trophy vs Token

manu-champions-cup2

When Burning Crusade touched down we received a token system. The system tied multiple classes to a single drop from a boss. This allowed for less loot being sharded or discarded and allowed for quicker gearing as a guild. The tokens could then be turned in for your tier set pieces. A lot of people were afraid of this method, but it worked out really really well. Guilds were able to gear out their raiders quickly and efficiently and very little loot was left to rot. We began to see the starting of this in Vanilla WoW in Naxxramas and the tier 3 raid sets and AQ40 with the 2.5 pieces. “Token” bosses dropped two tokens a piece and everyone was generally happy.

When Wrath of the Lich King came out, it was more of the same. Naxxramas and Ulduar continued the token system along, but added with it two levels. A 10 man level and a 25 man level that we affectionately refer to as tier x and tier x.5. The system continued to work well. Bosses that were token droppers continued to drop two of them and it was even made so that we could purchase tokens with badges for two of the slots. Gearing was a bit faster now thanks to the addition of two purchasable tokens and content flew by for a lot of people.

Then patch 3.2 hit, and brought with it Tier 9 content. Trial of the Crusader distributed loot in a very, very strange manner. First of all the Tier 9 gear was split into three item levels of quality. We’ve been referring to them as Tier 9, Tier 9.25 and Tier 9.5. Tier 9 can be bough fairly cheaply with Badges of Triumph, the next level up 9.25 requires an amount of badges and a Trophy of the Crusade which can only be obtained in the 25 man version. The tier costs can better be broken down by this:

Tier 9 = ilvl 232 Tier 9.25 = ilvl 245  Tier 9.5 = ilvl 258

Head: 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector(item level 258) or 75 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 50 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Hands: 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258) or 45 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 30 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Chest: 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258) or 75 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 50 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Legs: 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258) or 75 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 50 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Shoulders: 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258) or 45 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 30 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Confused yet? Most people are. The stat difference between ilvl 226 gear (25 man uld) and ilvl 232 gear is not that big of a jump. going from 226 up to 245 is a big jump for most people. Enough of a gap that most pieces are clear upgrades. So why is this a problem? Trophies only drop from 25 man ToC. You get 1 per boss and a variable amount per tribute chest based on how many wipes you have. There are only five bosses in the instance. (Beasts, Jaraxxus, Champs, Twins and Anub). We’ll go with the model of running 25 man raids. You have 25 people, who all want that trophy. Being only 5 in total that means only roughly 20% of your raid a week can get them and upgrade. Lets look at Ulduar Five bosses drop token pieces, and two tokens per boss which is a theoretical 40% upgrade rate for your raid. The trophy system slowed gearing up way down because most people, especially those progression minded will be focusing on upgrades that can be obtained with Regalia (and it’s like tokens) from Trial of the Grand Crusader or Trophies and badges from Trial of the Crusader.

You can argue that with the drop increases from the tribute chest that better raids are rewarded based on performance, and that is true, but it does not really have any room for guilds that are done with Ulduar but not quite at Trial of the Grand Crusader (example would be guilds that just got a series of new recruits that need to be geared up before ToGC). This however can be chalked up to time spent in a normal version to gear people up, and get them used to the fights before heading into ToGC.

My main problem is the level of competition this generates in a raid. Right now in Ulduar if Gloves the the Wayware Protector drops, you know it’s going to a Warrior,  a Hunter or a Shaman. When a Trophy of the Crusade drops, everyone in the raid is sending tells. Everyone wants them over just regular tier 9 badge gear. I’ve seen this cause resentment and bitterness already in a couple people, and it can lead to bigger problems down the line. How do you distribute loot fairly? What is considered fair?

It’s for this reason I’m not a fan of the trophy system. I’m ok with working on harder content for a bigger reward. That is fine and dandy, but when I see an entire raid of people sitting, waiting, wondering if they’ll get the item it becomes a problem. I never saw this problem with a token system. Players might be mad at the game for dropping Vanquisher over Protector but it was RNG and nothing could be done about it. It’s a different story when you’re eligible for the item and watch other people get it over you. It’s a lot easier to accept something out of immediate control like RNG.

It’s not a bad idea in theory. It allows you to select the item you’re upgrading, it allows you to make sure anyone and everyone can use the items instead of seeing them rot due to RNG but I personally feel the token system is the way to go. While loot distribution is always an issue for any guild, I think the trophy system has too much potential to cause harm and additional stress that is unneeded in a raid / guild environment. I asked a question on Twitter about what people thought about the Trophy system. I got a surprising number of replies with people who just won’t run the content or have all together stopped raiding as  a result. I’ve also heard reports of guilds having to re work their entire loot system and policy because of this tier content, and that’s not good.

What do you think? Do you like the trophy / badge / three levels to the tier set? Do you hate it? Have you had any interesting stories revolving around loot distribution in tier 9 content?

Well, that’s my two cents on the subject until next time Happy Healing

Sig

Head 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector(item level 258) or

75 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 50 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Hands 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258)

45 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 30 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Chest 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258)

75 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 50 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Legs 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258)

75 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 50 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Shoulders 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258)

45 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 30 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Healing Crusader’s Coliseum: Val’kyr Twins

valkyr-twins

Val’kyr Twins is one of the more interesting fights in the Coliseum especially for healers. The encounter consists of two Val’kyr who share a relatively large health pool (28 million+). This encounter requires relatively decent buff management along with snap DPS switching in order to get through it.

Setting up

Divide your raid equally in two groups. Split the tanks, DPS, and healers down the line. One group will be on the left, and the other group will be on the right. For the sake of healers, use groups 1 and 2 on the right, groups 3 and 4 on the left. Doesn’t matter which groups. Just have it set in such a way that group positions match group numbers.

twins-essence

How the essences are positioned

Right clicking on the color provides the appropriate essence buff. Your DPS will wish to pick up the buff that is opposite the twin they are engaging. Healers may wish to collect the same colored buff as the twin their DPS is attacking.

Example: The half of the raid that is attacking Fjola Lighbane will be picking up a dark buff. The healers on that side will wish to pick up the light buff.

Main abilities

Vortex

Each twin has a vortex that will do ~6000 damage per second every 5 seconds. It’s an 8 second cast. The best way to mitigate it is to gain the same colored buff that matches the twin who is casting the vortex.

Example: Eydis Darkbane is about to case Vortex. The players who are attacking Darkbane should immediately pick up the dark buff to mitigate incoming damage until her channel is finished.

When I did this encounter as DPS, I would stand next to the buff that was opposite the one that I currently had. This way, I could switch easily and DPS the opposite twin.

Twin’s Pact

One twin will cast a shield on themselves. It absorbs ~700000 damage. While their shield is up, they will cast Twin’s Pact. It takes 15 seconds for them to cast that and when it goes off, 20% of their health is restored. The idea  here is to have the entire raid switch to the twin who is casting Twin’s Pact and break their shield. A Rogue or a Shaman can then interrupt Twin’s Pact.

Example: Fjola Lightbane just cast Shield of Light and is channeling Twin’s Pact. The DPS attacking Edyis Darkbane will run behind her, pick up the darkness buff, and start opening up on Fjola. MacktheKnife, a Rogue, manages to kick and interrupt Lightbane from healing.

Surges

Surge of Darkness and Surge of Light are raid wide “auras” that inflict damage to everyone who is of the opposite buff. Light buffed players take damage from Surge of Darkness and viceversa. Nothing can be done about it.

Incoming balls!

Periodically throughout the fight, there are going to be balls that come in from all sides. You’re going to have a dark ball and a light ball. If a ball hits a player who has the same buff as the color of the ball, they will gain a buff. If the ball hits an opposite coloured player, they take damage. The balls will naturally be drawn toward the twins.

If you want some practice for hard mode, have your healers run interference with their colored balls so that the DPS won’t get hit by them.

Example: Matt’s healing the side that’s DPSing Darkbane. Matt’s buff is the dark essence. Balls start appearing. Matt starts shield everyone and begins chasing dark balls and running interference so that the light balls can get through and hit the DPS.

Healing tips

Raid groups starting out will want to try their luck with 6 healers before dropping down to 5. Split them down the line. If you have an odd healer, coin toss it or random roll the side for them to go on.

Do not get tunnel vision here. Remember, just because you’re on one side with one buff doesn’t mean you cannot heal the other group if you need to. You can cross heal if one side happens to be struggling for some reason.

How do Discipline Priests heal through the raid-wide tick?

Drop some gold on the Prayer of Healing glyph. That will help soften the blow. Shield spamming 10 different targets helps too if you can keep working the global cooldown.

Paladins?

This is going to require a bit of cooperation from the raid. Try to have your members stand near each other when they’re not trying to intercept balls. Holy Light splashing helps. If not, stick to beaconing the tank and going on auto heal on everyone in the area.