I started gearing an Arcane Mage, making her my 8th 85 level toon. Since this is my 8th toon, I decided to write up a post for casual players that want to gear up their toons. In particular, I want to discuss how you can plan out your gearing process, partly with valor points and partly through the whole grind.
Let’s say you just hit level 85 and want to avoid the older Heroics. Since you probably missed a lot of the progression raids from earlier patches, you more than likely want to dive right into the Hour of Twilight Heroics. If you’re a solo casual player with limited resources to help you, you might ask yourself, how can you get into the HoT Heroics?
First, buy any epic gear that you can. If you have other level 85s, use your spare justice points and valor points for your new toon. Usually, I’ll buy the 378 bracers and 359 boots to start. Also, do the two Molten Front introduction quest lines as you can get a 365 cloak and either a ring, boots or necklace depending on your spec. There’s still a good 12 slots to fill, but your goal is to hit item level 353 at the bare minimum.
If you have the gold, buy an ilvl 365 (or 353) weapon, the Darkmoon Faire trinket card (ilvl 359) and check the Auction House to see if there are any additional epics for your class. Plate wearers, for instance, can typically find a belt and chest piece at ilvl 359 while cloth wearers have boots, pants and a belt from crafting. If you’re missing pieces, try to fill in the remaining slots with the 377 PVP blue gear. Additionally, if you’re an alchemist and/or engineer, you’ll be able to create a trinket and/or helmet at ilvl 359 respectively. If you’re soloing and don’t have any alts, you might consider taking this path possibly to get some epic upgrades. Usually, I find that by using this method, I can get between ilvl 353-360+.
One thing though is that I don’t advise overspending. You’ll end up replacing your gear quite fast so be prepared to make the appropriate investment. You might also attempt to grind out some reputation gear. Usually, by the time you reach this point, the gear you can buy from venders, the AH or Molten Front quests typically are better than the older Cataclysm pieces. There are a few exceptions, for instance the 346 rings that the Therazene sell. Also, don’t both putting gems into these as again, you’ll be replacing these fairly quickly.
Once you feel ready, start queuing up for the Hour of Twilight instances. I believe initially you’ll have to do these in the proper order. But I’ve found that you’ll probably end up receiving at minimal one upgrade per instance, even if you get unlucky due to poor drops for your toon. But it’s the quests that will probably some good 378 gear. Your goal for the first week is to do a minimal of seven runs to max out your Valor Points. Not all classes/specs will be able to get every piece of gear for each slot in ilvl 378. So this is where the additional Justice Points will help you out.
What I tend to do is focus on hitting around ilvl 372 within the first week. Part of what I’ll do is use my Justice Points to upgrade things like my necklace, which will not drop in Heroics. Also, you probably will need to find another 378 ring and potentially a 359 trinket. So JP will aid you in these cases.
Once you max out your VP for the week, you might consider spending some of it. With the exception of the hunter, all classes can get one VP upgrade for 700 points during the first week. Usually, it’ll be a relic, a throwing knife, etc. I think this is one of the better upgrades as it’ll be the Best-in-Slot item for your toon. Gem this one if you have the opportunity.
At this point, you should be in a good position to start running Dragon Soul LFR. Always do the first part first because it’s easy, provides some decent gold and you’ll have a shot at getting an item. Most people at this point won’t care about your DPS so you easily hide in the group. You won’t be able to get any VP (unless you hit the 372 mark earlier and decided to go straight into Dragon Soul) so your goal is to get the achievement and any items that drop your way.
LFR part 2 starts to get trickier because people tend to become more sensitive whenever you have lower DPS. I really think this aspect is related to when you run LFR. I’ve found that early on in this week, especially Monday nights, you’ll encounter more immature assholes compared with Friday night or Saturday. But if you get lucky, the group will manage to pull in some good DPS and players. Overall, as long as you do your job, most people won’t complain too much.
Either way, hopefully, you’ll be able to complete both sides and get a few drops along the way. I’ve found that it takes about a week before I start winning things. So just keep persisting and do at minimum the first half every week.
Once you hit that 372 mark, your next goal really is to fill in as many of your slots with HoT Heroic gear as possible each week (unless you get lucky with LFR) while waiting for your tier pieces, weapons and BiS to show up. This is where careful planning of Valor Points can make a huge difference.
Here’s what I do with regards to Valor Points: I try to avoid picking up any items that possibly can be replaced through an LFR run. So that’s mostly your tier pieces. Instead, I focus on smaller items like rings, necklaces, cloaks as I know those will become my wall. Typically, after obtaining the ranged/relic 700 point item, I’ll move onto the cloak since that is a guaranteed BiS item. But there’s a few more important points to note about getting a cloak. One, you can enchant it and two you can gem it. So this makes it a good #2 (or #1 if you’re a hunter) VP piece to obtain.
Afterwards, I tend to obtain items in this order from the VP venders: ring, necklace, belt, trinket, boots, bracers. I think the boots and bracers aren’t as high priority because there’s always the possibility that you can buy them. Also, for some class/specs, you might be able to pick up these items in LFR (e.g. the druid boots and bracers). If you have multiple pathways to obtaining a type of item, then try to find something else to substitute as your bet is for a similar item to drop in LFR.
Another important aspect to me that I alluded to early is the notion of when to gem/enchant items. Because the cost of mats and gems vary, you should carefully consider when to obtain gems and enchants. I think gems aren’t so bad but getting the enchants seem to be tougher due to harder to obtain materials. So items like leg enchantments, you might considering holding off for a bit in case you manage to win the item in LFR. However, as with me since I have several miners and a maxed out Jewelrycrafter, I handle my own gem making. As a result, I never have to worry about wasting mats once I get 378+ items. Ultimately, it’ll be your judgment call, but I think it’s silly to enchant something that you know you will replace soon.
In my case, I’m fortunate in having worked hard to max out my professions. That gives me a great deal of flexibility in crafting epics and other items for myself in preparation for Hour of Twilight instances. However, you might not be in the same boat so you might have to wing a lot of this. But this is just an idea for people who want to see some end game content.
At the same time, you’ll be receiving Justice Points.