Monday, 10 March 2014

Gearing up in MoP: A Newbies Guide

This post was written and ready to be posted last week, well before before the preorders for Warlords went live. I have made several adjustments to the post to reflect the changes that we know about since the level 90 boost went live.

So, you've just got your character to 90. Congratulations, and welcome to the club. However if you are anything like me, you now have no idea what to do. You want to raid, you want to make gold, you want to solo old content, you want to smash challenge mode dungeons, or you want to just dance naked in Orgrimmar. Either way, you should probably replace those terrible greens that you got from that random grummel in Kun-Lai. You need to gear up.

When I first heard the term "gear up" I had no idea what it meant. Little did I know that it was something that dictates so much in WoW. Gearing up is simply the process of obtaining better gear to do whatever your endgame in WoW is. For most people, that means getting into LFR, or maybe the occasional Flex raid. For others, it might be doing PvP (although the process for gearing up in PvP is a little different). Or you might be looking to raid with the tip top heroic raid teams. My experience is very much centered around the casual player, running some LFR, old content, and jumping in a Flex every now and then. This guide will focus purely on the PvE side of gearing up.

The general process of gearing up is increasing the average level of items that your character is using. Every piece of gear has an Item Level, also known simply as "ilevel", listed in the information of the item. In your character information screen, you will also see an average of this number listed in your stats. So when people say "550 Hunter looking for group", they are saying they have an average ilevel of 550.

In Mists of Pandaria, Blizzard has added a number of options to gear up a character. Let's go through them now:

Timeless Isle:

Or as I like to call it, land of the lost loot. Timeless isle was added in 5.4 as a shortcut to get gear and the finish of the legendary cloak questline. Everyone who hits 90 should immediately head to TI and open the chests there. There are a bunch of chests that can be opened once per character, as well as two chests that can be done each week. If you want a nice easy way to get all the chests, I would recommend this guide at MMO-Champion. Simca and Tziva have done a fantastic job of making it easy to get all the chests with TomTom waypoints for each chest.

As well as the chests, pretty much every mob on the island has a chance to drop a token for armour, rings, cloaks, trinkets and necks. These tokens will provide you with a piece of 496 gear to suit the spec chosen when you convert it. To set your spec, you can either be in that spec or right click on your character portrait, then selecting the spec you want loot for under "Loot Specialization". So if you are playing a Hunter, you can select Default (the spec you are in at the time), Survival, Beast Mastery or Marksmanship. This is important, as depending on what role you want to play, you may need to change the spec to get the correct stats on the gear.

Timeless Isle also gives you at least one piece of 535 gear by upgrading a token with a Burden of Eternity. This must be done while the piece is still a token, and once a piece of armour is created, it cannot be returned to a token. There is one guaranteed Burden in the Blazing Chest (marked 7 in the guide linked above), and each rare on the island has a chance to drop one. You can also purchase them for Timeless Coins, a currency dropped by everything on the island, as well as being given as a quest reward. The Burdens cost 50,000 coins, and are purchased near the Celestial Court from Mistweaver Ai.

Additionally, Mistweaver Ai sells a 535 Trinket (50,000 coins), 489 weapons (20,000 for Two Hand, 10,000 for One Hand and Shields), and Cloth, Leather, Mail and Plate Armour Caches (7,500 coins for a random piece of armour). Most people disregard the weapons, and I tend to agree, unless you have the spare coins and are particularly unlucky with loot drops.

It's not unusual for many to be able to go to the Timeless Isle, and leave able to queue for LFR. That being said however, there is another avenue to gear up to get into LFR.

Heroic Dungeons and Scenarios:

If you don't like killing lots of mobs on the Timeless Isle, you can kill lots of mobs in heroic Dungeons and Scenarios. The dungeons are the more traditional way of gearing up. Each heroic dungeon boss drops loot of ilevel 463 and each piece can be upgraded with Justice Points to an ilevel of 471. It's certainly not the best loot in the game, but it can help to replace that last green that you couldn't replace on the Timless Isle. In my opinion however, the biggest advantage to running heroic dungeons is the Valor Points you get. These points are used to upgrade gear, but I will get more into that later. Needless to say, getting and using this Valor is one of the cornerstones of gearing up in WoW. Just as small side note, if you boosted your 90, you will already have green gear of ilevel 483, so dungeons will not provide any gear upgrades for you. However if you need a quick boost of Valor, dungeons are by far the fastest way to grind to Valor cap.

Heroic Scenarios are a little harder to organise. Where you can simply queue for heroic dungeons as soon as you hit 90, you need a pre-made group to get into a heroic scenario. Requiring 3 players to work together, the roles in scenarios are a little more lax, although I would recommend that at least one of you is a healer, just to make everything run that little bit smoother. The loot system in scenarios revolves around the Heroic Cache of Treasures. When you open it, you get a chance at a piece of epic gear at ilevel 516 to suit the Loot Specialization you currently have selected. If you don't get gear from it, you will get small amount of gold.

After you hit a certain average ilevel, you will be able to queue for LFR. Boosted characters can jump straight into LFR for the Throne of Thunder and older raids. The ilevel requirements for each wing of LFR can be found in the Raid Finder window, or this page of Wowpedia has a full list of the requirements for each raid.

LFR and Flex Raids:

So you jump into LFR, down your first boss and this appears on your screen:
Thanks to TenTonHammer for the pic
That is the Personal Loot system that all LFR and Flex raids use. Rather than everyone rolling on the same loot, everyone in the raid has a personal loot roll that only affects you. You will either get a piece of gear, or a cache that contains gold. Each time you do this you can also use a Bonus Roll, paid for by a special type of currency. The currencies are Elder Charm of Good Fortune for Mogu'Shan Vaults, Heart of Fear and Terrace of Endless Spring, Mogu Rune of Fate for Throne of Thunder, and Warforged Seal for Siege of Orgrimmar. Each of these currencies can also be used on certain world bosses around Pandaria.

If you've been doing the Timeless Isle, or you boosted your character, you will more than likely be able to get into Throne of Thunder, which means you will be rolling for 502 level gear. Hopefully after a couple of LFR runs you will be able to reach the 496 requirement for Siege of Orgrimmar, where you will be able to roll on 528 level gear, a huge jump from the ToT loot.

When you finally exhausted any LFR loot upgrades, Flex is the next step. Flex raids require you have a pre-made group of at least 10 people, but then allows you to have any number of people from 10 to 25, meaning that if someone needs to leave you can continue raiding. Flex also uses the same loot system as LFR, with Warforged Seals giving you another chance at gear from a boss you have just defeated. Flex gear is at a fantastic 540 ilevel.

The Next Step?

So you have a set of gear that consists of LFR, Flex and maybe some 535 Timeless pieces. What do you do now? The short answer: reforge, gem and enchant. Every class has certain stats that work best for them, and there are plenty of guides on what stats to focus on. My personal favorite place to look is Icy Veins, as they have detailed guides for each spec for each class on there, including stat priority, gems and enchants to use and even some rotations to help you play your class better. You can also use Valor points to upgrade your gear. This will raise the ilevel of the gear, and increase all the stats by a certain amount. Most pieces of gear can be upgraded twice, for a total of 500 Valor.

I hope this guide will help you to figure out a way to get the gear you need to do what you want. As with all of my guides, this not intended to be set in stone, and everything can be changed to suit your play style and how you want your end game to be.

As always folks,


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