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!

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About Matticus

Matticus is the founder of World of Matticus and Plus Heal. Read more of his columns at WoW Insider. League of Legends player. Caffeine enthusiast.

Comments

  1. The Daily Dungeon (i.e. regular dungeon) quest should have started in the section where you build up reputation. Not only do you get Kirin’Tor rep for completing the quest, you also get an item that will raise reputation for one of the four main Northrend factions.

    Before being able to farm heroics, this is the second best source of rep. The best being the regular quests associated with each faction. So, for example, if you really want that Argent Crusade epic ring, then go do the argent crusade quests in the Ice Crown area. This will also help you accumulate gold for whatever BOE epics you want to buy.

    Then, once you start farming heroics, there’s no point doing regular dungeons anymore. The tabard will give you more rep in a heroic dungeon than in regular dungeons; add to that the badges you get, and you’ll realize doing regular dungeons at this gear-level is a complete waste of time. But you should still keep the regular daily in your quest log, because sometimes you’ll find both dailies to be in the same dungeon. Then you can get the regular daily done while you’re running in heroic mode, for some extra rep and gold.

    My advice to anyone brining up a new character has always been to shoot for Loremaster of Northrend, even after you’re 80. You will accumulate significant wealth (anyone not wasting money on meaningless things will be able to earn enough for at least epic flying skill by the time you get Loremaster of Northrend), gain significant rep for the higher-level factions (Argent Crusade, Ebon Knights, and most importantly Sons of Hodir for the shoulder enchant), and gain access to item level 171+ blue quest rewards that will hold their weight into heroics.

    By the time you have Loremaster of Northrend, you’d be able to buy most of the item level 200/213 BOE epics you want (no point pouring money into only one epic of really high item level, that’s not cost-effective), you’d have enough rep to buy at least all the Revered rewards (and if you’ve been running the regular daily dungeon, you’d have a few Exhalted epics, too), and you’d be more or less ready for heroics.
    .-= Maaya´s last blog ..Ditching TellMeWhen for SexyCooldown =-.

  2. A picky point – the badges in WotLK are called Emblems, and as of 3.2, it’s Emblems of Conquest that drop in Heroics, not Heroism (para 1 in ‘Farm for Badges’). In 3.3 that will change again to Triumph, with Emblems of Frost dropping from the random dungeon interface which replaces the daily heroic quest.

    One thing I would mention that I found very valuable on short play time was to try and multi-task. Have a primary goal – perhaps it’s to collect rep for Wyrmrest Accord, and so ensure you do the dailies for that every day, wear the tabard etc., but have a secondary and even third goal too – it can be as simple as gaining another rep (say Sons of Hodir for shoulder enchant), farming up a bit of cash by doing additional dailies in the area (you mentioned that already), or of course building up badges by doing the daily dungeon quest (I agree with a previous commenter that this should start from the beginning as a new level 80 as it’s a slow but easy source of badges and rep and gets you used to the dungeons you’ll be running as heroics soon enough). You may only get 25% of the way to your secondary goal by the time you complete your primary, but it’s a way ahead you wouldn’t have been otherwise.

    Don’t get hung up on traditional progression – Heroism and Valor gear is nice, but if you can buy Conquest gear with the same badge (effectively), buy that instead. Set bonuses for T7 and T8 don’t stick around for long once you get enough badges for T9, so don’t be too fixed on completing sets. Trial of the Champion, on both normal and heroic modes, is an excellent way of skipping Naxx if your guild is already on Ulduar or ToC. You can farm ToC normal over and over again for a ton of ilevel 200 epics. Also, don’t be afraid of gearing up your offspec at the same time – ask the group first, but a lot of heroic runs are pretty much just done for the badges, so many won’t mind you needing a bunch of gear for your offspec, if you’ve asked.

    Finally, at regular intervals after starting to run heroics I would try and PuG pretty much everything your guild isn’t running – OS, Ony, ToC, anything. If you’re truly behind the curve, the worst that can happen is you learn a little, but get kicked, but you may be surprised at your performance with raid buffs, particularly if you have read up on tactics and have your rotation sorted. This is obviously slightly less true for tanks and healers, where gear may truly exclude you performing well at a certain level, but for dps, someone who stays out of the fire and does 2.5k dps for the whole fight is far better than someone who does 3.5k but dies to the fire every time and does 0 dps for most of the fight.

    Hat.

  3. Thanks, Matticus! This is a great guide, but I feel the need to point out one thing.

    It IS possible to get geared for ToC10 without ever stepping foot into Naxx and Ulduar. I ended up doing just that. I ran heroics every day, saved up badges, and bought most of my gear. I thought that’s all I would ever be able to do, because my social guild doesn’t raid. But when the heroics got TOO EASY, I got bored and started looking for something else. Low and behold, I was geared up for ToC10. I’ve started running ToC10 and ToC25, and I’ve never fully cleared Naxx or Ulduar.
    .-= Jennifer´s last blog ..Getting my feet wet =-.

  4. I felt it was about time someone wrote a guide on how to gear up a new 80 priest in 3.2, since I can imagine alts or new players would want to get ready for 3.3.
    The account of your gearing history and how you build up piece by piece was nice and I enjoyed it a lot. It is a very welcome story.

    Sadly… I was hoping for more (but then again.. my expectations are always high). I feel more details around your gear strategy could have added value to this article:
    – A list of easy to get quest gear. This could offer a list of quests you’d want to prioritize when leveling/questing. Matt’s “how to gear up your fresh lvl 80 priest” could serve as a starting point but it could use an update.
    – A list of easy to get normal dungeon gear. If you’re going to do dungens, prioritize these and show what to aim for. ToC (5m) normal will give you a boatload of decent gear for example.
    – A list of easy to get heroic dungeon gear. If you’re going to farm badges in heroics, priotize these.
    – A list of awesome badge gear (conquest – T8!) to aim for and a list of T9 badge gear to aim for.

    If I put myself in the position of a new priest alt and I ask ‘how can I quickly gear up and get ready?’ then basically this article gives me a progression path and a few loot sites. That’s good info, but most players with a lvl 80 priest alt already have this information available. Giving them a more concrete list of items to shoot for will spare readers a lot of work and make this article a reference for future priests.

    Perhaps you could share which gear you were aiming at or wasn’t there a detailed quick gearup strategy?

  5. Firstly, obviously there will be other methods of doing this but this is how I would do it so take it with a pinch of salt.
    Sorry about the heroism/conquest mix up, I wrote this before 3.2 and forgot to update it -..-
    Also,
    I find that if I am not given a list of “optimal gear” I will end up working out which items are best for my play style. Sometimes when there is a list, players will blindly strive for those items regardless if their methods don’t rely on some of the stats of the item. While I looked to gain the tiered pieces from the vendors, I found that I might as well go into Naxx (and later Ulduar) for two reasons:
    1. The expirience, you can always learn new tactics, depending on group set up, guild tactics and so on. Also, you can have all the gear in the world and still have no idea of what to do in a raiding situation.
    2. Gear upgrades without having to spend emblems on are good! If you get an upgrade from Naxx or Ulduar, that’s one less item you have to pay for. Also, the better geared you are the easier it is to farm heroics!
    Due to my short playtime I found I only looked at gear upgrades at the beginning of a ‘season’, for example, aiming to get the ‘insert name here’ helm by the end of the week. But I didn’t go and look up items, I just looked around at the things I should be doing to move onwards. I would run heroics without striving for an item until I would have around 60 emblems then go to the vendor and see what I could get. Of course, with the emblem changes in 3.3, this process of gearing up becomes even faster.

  6. I would say normal ToC is going to be your best effort vs reward if you can get a couple of guildies to run it with you a few times. The wife and I just got a paladin (holy) and druid (feral DPS) to 80 and a friend with his prot warrior alt (all epics not sure from where) to do it and it was pretty easy even with the paladin in leveling blues/greens.

  7. @ Aleph

    I think that’s a testament to Blizzard’s design that there are multilple ways to gear up, and if you have a guild that you can run Naxx and Ulduar with, I have no doubt that that method can take less time and be less repetitive.

    One other idea that I would toss out there, for anyone else, is how I went about tracking my gear wish-list.

    I started by making an excel sheet with the gear slots and what I’m wearing, followed by columns for the major stats that I’m looking for (and what bonuses my current gear gives me). Then I went through all of the lists of good beginning healing gear (there are several on different sights), and I filled them in under the right gear slots with their bonuses. I also gave comments and color coded them by how I could get them (heroics, emblems, faction rep, etc.)

    Next, I started working towards gear. When I got a new upgrade, I would put it in my top space for that gear slot and bold it, then cross out anything that had just become a downgrade. This allowed me to not only see what upgrades I still needed to get, but also to compare the different upgrades of the same slot and decide if I’d rather have one over another based on the bonuses (or if I wanted to pass up running a certain heroic dungeon every day in the hopes that one piece woudl drop because I could get a better piece with emblems of triumph).

    Finally, I would periodically go back and fill in new upgrades as I got better gear. When I had all of the beginning gear, I was able to go to guildox and search for upgrades from there, etc.

    Hope this helps someone!
    .-= Jennifer´s last blog .. =-.

  8. Those are definitely valid arguments Aleph. It’s just that.. well.. I still feel a list of easy to get items would have been a nice addition. If you’re farming heroics, you might as well start with those that give you interesting loot. Whether or not you get the item, at least there’s a chance you’ll get something interesting.
    Still, such data is rather easily retrieved from wowhead for most experienced players 😉

  9. You do have a valid point, and it probably works for some/most people, but, as you say, you can go to WoWhead and use weight scales and item comparison tools to find the items under your own judgement.

  10. I think the traditional route of Naxx to Uld to ToC-10/25 is gone. If not now, then certainly in a few weeks when ICC gets here. And, I think that’s an intentional effort by Blizz.

    The route in my mind, particularly for a healer, is to get a uber-geared tank, three dps and an disenchanter and farm ToC-5 man normal mode 5-7 times. That will get you 200 lvl epics that often have better stats than Naxx-10/25. Then ToC-5 heroic every day and some other heroics to fill things out badges. Burn some dough and get some or all of the the tailoring pieces – chest, wrists, belt, and boots. Honestly, with the crafted cloth, ilvl213 badge BoE wrists, and farm runs of ToC-5 regular, you’re ready for ToC-10 in 2 days.

    Moreover, the new 5-mans in ICC will drop ToC-10/Uld-25 equiv gear. So, farming the ICC-5 regular will skip those as well.

    Personally I did exactly this. I switched mains about 5 weeks ago, going from a hunter to a holy priest. The guild is running ToC-10/25 and ToGC-10/25 plus finishing up Ulduar hardmodes. I hit 80 in dungeon blues, and within a week was running pug ToC-10s without grinding heroic 5-mans. To this day, I have not set foot in Naxx on taht cahracter. I was in ToC-25 and ToGC-10/25 before I got to Uld-10 or 25.

    I will admit to having a couple gaps. I don’t have a good off-hand to go with a 239 hardmode mace for my Disc second spec, but I have the heroic Cold Convergence anyway. My wand is marginal, and my trinkets are not optimal. But those are a matter of RNG in To(G)C-10/25.

  11. Bruski’s easy gearing process in 3.2:
    1. Ding 80
    2. Buy all the BoEs you can reasonably afford
    3. Farm regular ToC5 for epics (I don’t understand why people would do heroics anymore for loot, this drops three epics in 20 minutes or less with a good group)
    4. Do Heroic ToC5 once a day until you’re mostly at 219 gear (two weeks in my estimation). Grab any Ony or Voa raids that will let you in. Sarth probably isn’t worth your time.
    5. Go to ToC10.

    This has worked well for me and people in my guild who’ve asked how I gear up my alts and alt specs so quickly with limited playtime.
    If you’re trying to do it quickly and fast, it’s all about optimizing time and efficiency, and not worrying about whether you overgear the content.
    If you study your class well, you will be contributing enough to the group you are in, not being carried. A great player with decent gear generally does better than a mediocre player with awesome gear.
    First off, quest greens and blues and whatever BoEs you can afford should be good enough in Reg ToC, and it drops approximately 9 epics per hour, as opposed to regular heroics, which drop maybe 1.5 epics per hour. 2 if you’re counting emblems. In 4-5 hours of farming it you’ll have almost full epics and be ready for Heroic ToC. Now, you can only do this once a day, so I made it a point on my alts to make sure I did it once a day, every day, like clockwork. This takes a lot less time than doing 3-4 heroics or anything, and gives gear better than naxx 10, better than naxx 25, even better itemized than alot of uld 10 loot!

    Note: When my next alt dings 80 in 2-3 weeks, I’ll be using this strategy slightly amended, as I’ll then be able to farm ICC 5 mans regular for 219 items, and then heroic for 232 items. And it’ll be *even easier* since rather than three 219 epics per day, I’ll be able to have a shot at eight 232 epics per day.
    Btw, rep grinds are unnecessary in my opinion unless you’re in a very serious raiding guild. My alts do just fine with pvp enchants from Wintergrasp, with whatever stonekeeper’s shards they have lying around. And in 3.3, all these items are becoming bind on account, so alts won’t have *any* reason to do rep grinds.

    “Sorry about the heroism/conquest mix up, I wrote this before 3.2 and forgot to update it”
    With ToC5 and ToC5H, gearing up is noticeably different in 3.2, and people following your guide will gear up much slower then they could have if they focused their time and energy on the new content which enables bypassing the lower level raids.
    Re: “Learning new strategies”, this is a gearing guide, not a raiding guide.

  12. If you have the gold, you can be just about ToC ready from buying crafted gear and BOE drop gear. I was healing 25 man ToC just 7 days after turning 80. I wasn’t the top healer but I wasn’t last either. I did run a ton of heroics in those 7 days to supplement what I bought. I was at a WoW-Heroes score of 2236. The cost of all the gear, including enchants and epic gems, was about 30k gold. Obviously I have other 80s that were able to accumulate that much gold.

    And what Nick said. Run H ToC 5 man every day as your first heroic of the day. If you have time to run 2, then do the daily. Then hit the heroics that drop more emblems like Gundrak and Nexus.

  13. I like Matt’s gearing-up process because it’s independent and does not rely on being carried. It expects you to gear yourself up accordingly before going to 10 ToC instead of going in wearing greens/ quest blues.

    I hope a lot of new 80s read it and learn.

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