So we had a fun but disappointing weekend on our raid. I have noticed that there are still people with important holes in their gear. It is a bit annoying because of how long it has been and how hard I have worked on my own gear. But rather than let it bug me I thought, hmm maybe some people are just not approaching things systematically enough. So I thought I would give a short run down on how to get geared up. Really it is not THAT much work. If it feels like a futile struggle you might be doing something wrong… well not so much wrong as ‘inefficiently’.
First of all a recap on how things work. There are roughly 8 ways to get gear. In this expansion Bliz has done a great job of spreading the gear you need across all the methods of getting it. The list as I see it is this: badge gear, reputation rewards, pvp reputation rewards, quest rewards, crafted gear, normal dungeon drops, heroic dungeon drops, world drops (BOEs). You probably know about all of these but I will give the run down here as a reminder.
Badge gear comes in two flavors. The lower tier currently gives item level 346 gear. You can fill a great many of your slots with this gear. You get the lower tier – justice points – by running random regular dungeons once a day or by killing bosses in heroic dungeons.
The second tier – valor points – comes from doing a random heroic run once a day. There is a similar set of gear for this tier. Certain of the items are not super expensive so check them out.
For maximum efficiency at least some of your gear will come from the lower tier. You need to check and be aware of what you can get with badges.
For all the PVE rep factions you can get 3 tiers of gear. ‘Friendly’ gets you a tabard that you use to get more rep with them by wearing it in dungeons. ‘Honored’ gets you item level 333 gear. Revered gets you 346 gear and Exalted gets you 359 purple gear. At each tier there are 4 items you might want, depending on your spec and armor class. Every faction will have some stuff you can use. Some will have several items.
PVP Rep rewards:
the To Barad daily quests and reputation also can give you good gear. These quests are not all that hard, some of them are easy, and most of them are trivial with a friend or a party. They don’t actually require you to fight players. At all. These are just daily quests, not battle ground achievements or anything daunting.
The last quest in quest chains gives good blue gear. The quest chains in twilight highlands and the quests in several dungeons, give item level 333 gear.
There are great crafted items in all professions. They set things up so that some good stuff is crafted while people are skilling up. So these items are often undervalued on the auction house. There a couple slots of 333, 346 and even a couple 359 for every type of armor. Also there are 333 and 346 weapons. Some crafted items are expensive but if you have a friend who crafts or gathers the cost might not be so bad. If you are serious of about leveling up your gear you need to take these items into account. Also the pvp bracers for all armor types are almost certainly a good deal for you until you can get a heroic instance drop. Don’t forget crafted is not just armor. There are weapons, trinkets, relics, lots of stuff. You final gearing up plans might involve getting an alt leveled and using it to craft gear.
Normal dungeon drops:
The top tier of level 85 normal dungeons drops item level 333 off its bosses. Even if you have the gear to get into heroics you might consider running a place on normal to fix a weak spot in your gear.
Heroic dungeon drops:
Item level 346 blues. Nuff said. Some 359 randomly drops in heroics too but not very often.
There are a few 346 and 359 drops in the world or in instances that are BOE. You might get one randomly or you might find a deal on the AH. Don’t forget to check it.
And dont forget Archeology can provide a couple of 359 BoA purples – but it’s a random thing and you might make hundreds of Night Elf trash finds before finally getting that stupid trinket.
So that is the ‘where’ but how do you figure it all out? The way you do it is to…
Know what you are working for
First, get out a paper and pen. Then Google a gear guide for your class and spec. In fact Google more than one. Or you can make the list manually. Here is how…
Start from your head and work through your entire gear list. I do it like this… I write the slots. If what I have in the slot is 333 I write that down and make a box around it. If it is not 333 yet (it is lower) then I write down where I can get some 333 for that slot. Use WowHead or the Armory to look for upgrades and see where they drop.
Not just one, I might list the top couple sources for that slot. I don’t stick with just one source. Maybe a quest item is easier to get than a rep grind item. Getting tunnel vision on only one source of gear makes it a lot harder, more boring, and slower to get gear. Spreading your efforts around several channels of gear acquisition means you don’t get bored or burned out. Some of the gear getting might even mean you go and grind up an alt to craft something for you. There are a lot of ways to make the grinds less grindy.
After 333 I write down where I can get 346 for that slot. Again I try to list a couple likely sources. If one source is obvious (like I already have almost all the rep I need for something) then I might just write that one source down. Some slots will only have one decent, easy to get source, that is ok. Once you know where you are going to get the item for that slot you can avoid worrying about it. The key is to KNOW where you are going to get the item for that slot.
On my gear list I also put down the 359 item for the slot if there is one that is not too hard to get. This is mainly for crafted items and reputation rewards.
Let’s try it. My warrior alt needs gear…
Head. I see it is a 346 and it has tank stats. Since I am a prot warrior I will make a little star by this to note that it is a tank stat item. Since that slot is perfectly solid for tanking heroics, and that is all I am doing with my warrior right now, I will just leave it at 346 and move on.
My neck is also 346 with tank stats. Nice. I mark that down and move on. I like to mark the slots that I don’t need to bother with so my list shows me how close to ‘maxed’ I am on that alt. Clearly 346 is not max and I was planning to raid on my warrior I would be checking for 359 upgrades.
Shoulders… 333 with tanks stats. These are not my worst slot but clearly they could use an upgrade. I see there is an upgrade in heroic Grim Batol so I mark HGB on my list. There is another upgrade out there but my mobile armory app is not showing its source. So I move on.
Back: My back is 333 and does not have the sort of stats I want. Ouch… but I see there is a crafted 346 for that slot. I have a leatherworker that I am already grinding up so I just mark down that info and move on. I can craft that slot there is no reason to waste time scouring heroic runs for a similar drop. This might not be true for all classes. For example Earthen Ring has an agility back piece at revered. If I was doing this for my hunter I would have to decide if I planned to craft the 346 or grind rep for it. Since I know my hunter wants to get exalted with the Earthen Ring, for the 359 ring, then it makes sense to NOT craft that item. I will get the rep back piece as I grind up and I can use those mats to make something else. This sort of things is EXACTLY why we strategize our gear plan. If I wasted mats on that item I might not have the mats to craft something else. That would waste time and money.
Chest: Moving on to my warrior’s chest slot I see a 346 item without tank stats. Ouch. Hmm. Again with the strategizing. My warrior is a Blacksmith so I know I can make the tanking 359 chest piece. I have to decide if I want to wait until I can make that or grind for something better for the interim. So far my other slots are not too bad so I can probably survive this weak slot until I can make the good one. This is strategy paying off again. I will focus my short term efforts on something else and while I run heroics to get other slots filled I will gather orbs to fill this slot with something really nice. This way my efforts do double the work.
Bracers: This is always a thin slot. I have the 339 pvp crafted ones. I know there is a good drop in SFK for tank bracers so I put that down. Now I also see that Ramkahen rep at exalted gets me some 359 tank bracers. Nice! I jot that down too. Now I check my reputations. Ramkahen: friendly. Ouch. Exalted is a long way off. So I make a mental note to run SFK again as soon as possible.
Hands: 346 and not tanky. Again with an ‘ok’ slot but not a great one. I definitely need to identify the upgrade plan here too. Let me see… Numbing Handguards, but the mobile app does not give a source. There is a drop in SFK. Ah interesting. Now I know that I can get two good upgrades from there and I know I can tank that whole place with my current gear. I don’t see an easy to get 359 so I move on to another slot.
Belt: Mine is 346 heroic with tank stats. Also I can make a crafted 359. Nice. Nothing to worry about with this slot. I make a mental note to save an orb for this belt. Since the slot is already not bad I will gather orbs for the chest piece first.
Pants: 333 piece with tank stats. They are the rep reward from Earthen Ring. Not bad but upgradeable so I look for upgrades… There is one in Throne of the Tides heroic mode so I write that down.
Feet: 333 with tank stats again (if I did not already have these getting Ramkahen rep up a handful of points would net me a pair like it). Need an upgrade… well what is this? SFK again? Nice! There are also the Darksky Treads, a BoE drop somewhere. I check but there are none on the AH.
The list so far…
My rings are not great and my trinkets and weapons could use work but I think this run down gets the idea across. This process can be used to build a plan for any class or spec. So far I have identified that I need to queue specifically for SFK as much as I can to get those three drops. With any luck I will also have the orbs for a new chest piece by the time I get the drops. While I am doing it I might want to find some other slot and put on a tabard that earns me the right rep to upgrade it. Those Ramkahen bracers are a long way off and I am going to SFK to get an upgrade on that slot… so it makes the most sense to find some other slot and grind rep to fill that.
So I make another list… I check all the rep vendors and mark down what they have at each tier that would be an upgrade for me. For this I hit Wowpedia.org and look at their lists or I simply go to each location and see what the quarter master has.
The key is to look stuff up, write down what items are the easiest for you to get with your play style, and then go after those items. If you do find a good gear guide for your class and spec you should still make your own list and filter things based on what you can get the easiest with your play style. Take their list and make iy your own with notations and plans.
Use your plan to make the most of your time.
With any luck I can be grinding a heroic run for some drops, while wearing a tabard for a different slot and hopefully wining the orb for yet another slot. My time works three times as harder than if I had not made a plan. Not only THAT, but I can identify what I am saving my badges up for. This way I can queue for one place and be working on 4 or more slots at the same time. Since SFK has 3 drops for me I can be working on SIX SLOTS AT ONCE! I am working on Wrists from a drop, Gloves from a drop. Feet from a drop, a 359 Chest with the orbs, some 346 pants with the points and a 359 head by wearing the Wildhammer tabard and doing their dailies between queues. If every night I log on, queue, and go run dailies, I might have 6 big upgrades in less than a week. That would be if I did not have the instant queues of a tank. Hence anyone can do it.
Also I can identify what I am going to grind rep for with dailies or questing. There is no reason to queue for a heroic, hoping for a drop, if the item I need is a few days of rep grinding away. Instead I can queue for some other place and go after an upgrade for some other slot.
Have alternate paths as needed
If my plan had shown I had upgrades scattered across several instances then I might queue up ‘random’ instead of picking one. If my plan showed I had drops in just a couple instances then I might try finding some other way to fill some of the slots.
Or let us assume I can’t stand SFK and refuse to run that again. Well I do have two upgrades in Throne of the Tides. If I queue for that, grind rep with Ramkahen, and save my points for gloves I could still be working on 5 different upgrades with one run. Or I could queue checking the box for either of those runs and work on several options at once.
The key is to KNOW where your upgrades are and how you plan to get them. And for the harder slots you can have more than one backup plan. The other key is to not overlook any of the sources of gear. Don’t kill yourself grinding for one source when there is an easier way you have not checked. Check them all out and make lists so you don’t forget your plan.