HoTs and DoTs: A Restoration Druid and Shadow Priest

Raiding Gear for Cataclysm Leveling

Cassandri and her 277 Wish List

Does gear have any meaning with Cataclysm on the horizon?

I think gear is only good for one thing: getting you to the next boss kill.

Which is a bit problematic right now. There isn’t really any new boss kills on the horizon at this moment in time. So far my mish mash set is serving me well and its gotten me nearly all the way through the heroic modes in Icecrown Citadel. In fact the 30% bonus from Strength of Wrynn is probably contributing a hell of a lot more to my damage output than any gear upgrade could.

Should I even bother trying to finish out my Best in Slot set? If I end up finishing my gear set at the end of Icecrown Citadel… has it all just been a waste of time?

After Icecrown Citadel we can look forward to the next World of Warcraft expansion: Cataclysm AKA five extra levels and a gear reset. Perhaps I need to look at my gear from another perspective: it’s going to form my 80 -> 85 leveling set. And maybe, if I’m lucky, it might help me step into the level 85 heroics… and raids?

If Cataclysm follows the Wrath of the Lich King model I will be raiding Tier 11 wearing my Tier 10 gear. That could really be sweet and give me a step up into the early raid zones in the new expansion.

But that’s a big “if”.

In the Burning Crusade Blizzard introduced a hard gear reset. Level 60 raiders walking into Hellfire Peninsula handed over their beloved, hard won epics for Outlands greens with better stats. How that must have hurt. Even now, most players race straight to Hellfire once they reach level 58 instead of waiting until level 60. The experience gains from quests is just better and the gear (from easy quests) is too good to pass up.

Furthermore, it’s almost a necessity. You need that clown set (you know what I’m talking about) to survive against the beasts in Hellfire Peninsula and Zangamarsh. Those hellboars are mean. And they’re everywhere.

Things at the start of Wrath of the Lich King were a little less devastating to level 70 raiders. You could expect to vendor you entry level Karazhan epics by about level 75: half way through the Wrath of the Lich King leveling process. And the very, very best level 70 epics could hold their own against the level 80 entry level epics, as long as you didn’t care too much about being low on Stamina.

I’m fairly confident that the server first level 80 Naxxramas kills were completed by raiders still wearing their Sunwell raiding gear. So there was definitely some gear overlap there. And it must have made life a bit easier for the most successful raiders of the Burning Crusade to get a step up into Wrath of the Lich King raiding content the moment they hit level 80.

Most importantly, it didn’t trivialize the rewards they had earned from killing the toughest bosses in Outlands and the Isle of Quel’Danas.

I expect that the early zones in Cataclysm will be designed to bring new players leveling straight through (imagine Storm Peaks at level 78 and then straight into a level 80-81 zone built for Cataclysm) up to speed. There’s a giant item level gap between level 78-80 quest rewards – around ilevel 187 – and the highest raid gear currently available – about ilevel 277.

I think that Blizzard will want level 85 entry raids to require more than ilevel 277 gear. They say that they intend for players to spend time working through the level 85 dungeons on normal mode. I presume this is for gear, otherwise, why would you bother? And then working through the same dungeons on heroic mode for yet more gear. And then, only then, walking into a raid.

In Wrath of the Lich King the most geared players from the previous expansion could ignore all the dungeon content and step right into raiding. I think Blizzard will try and push everyone, absolutely everyone, to spend time with the dungeon content first. Thus extending the life of both the dungeon and raid content before we see “this is too easy, this is boring” posts on the forums.

I’m not sure what the average level 80 player is wearing in terms of item level but I’d guess it’s about ilevel245-251. My Shaman, Xata, is on 4949 GearScore (deemed “FAIL” – how is this even possible while wearing the Tabard of the Scarlet Crusade?!) which, if I’m reading the site correctly, is 316 points below the average. That means that your average GearScore is 5265.  I’m not sure if that’s the average on my server, or on all US servers or for all level 80s or what.

Xata is wearing mostly ilevel 200-232 with the rare 264 Emblem item thrown in. I’ve raided with her now and then but most of her gear was acquired through the use of the Dungeon Finder. That’s the standard game experience these days right?

I also don’t expect Blizzard to play favourites with the minority of players wearing 277+ gear. So I think it’s fair to say that someone in 277 gear isn’t going to be able to side step the Cataclysm heroics entirely. Dungeons, perhaps, but not the heroics.

This is what I’m guessing we’ll see for Cataclysm:

  • Zone 81 greens: ilvl227
  • Zone 81 blues: ilvl232
  • Zone 85 blues: ilvl277
  • Dungeon 85 blues: ilvl277
  • Heroic Dungeon 85 blues: ilvl285
  • Heroic Dungeon 85 epics: ilvl300
  • Level 85 crafted epics and epic reputation rewards: ilvl300

This will mean that most players will drop their raid gear at some point before they reach level 85 – not unlike what happened in Wrath of the Lich King.

I believe that the items available from Cataclysm level 85 heroics will be better than anything available in Wrath of the Lich King. Er, that’s assuming Blizzard don’t get their gear itemisation totally wrong.

Whether or not this forces even the most hardcore, realm-first chasers to complete heroics for loot before stepping foot in a Cataclysm raid will most likely come down to the difficulty of the first raid. If it’s easy, why waste a week grinding heroics? Take in your mediocre gear from Icecrown Citadel and fight for those speed kills!

Lathere tells me that they’ve already announced that entry level epics will be item level 350. That’s what I get for avoiding all the Cataclysm spoiler news! I still enjoyed speculating :)

26 Responses to “Raiding Gear for Cataclysm Leveling”

  1. KurnNo Gravatar says

    As someone who is mostly in 264/277 gear, who is doing heroic ICC 25 raids, I’ve only replaced a couple of pieces at level 83 thus far — a cloak and a pair of boots. The boots aren’t quite as good as what I have, but I elected to go for my armor specialization once it was introduced, and that means I have to wear all plate to get the bonus. (I also put on a pair of 264 plate gloves from the vendor, as my boots and gloves were both mail.) I strongly suspect we’ll be trading in MOST of our raid gear for new pieces, if only for the insane stamina.

    Also, the new zones are not designed for level 78s. As I understand it, you’ll want to be level 80 before touching them — quests and instances will be for level 80s or higher only, as I understand it. :)
    Kurn’s last post: New Light of Dawn Animation Build 12803

    • CassandriNo Gravatar says

      Hellfire is very very difficult at level 58 yet people still try and do it. Borean Tundra is very very difficult at level 68 too… yet people still try and do it. I can only assume the same will be true of Cataclysm. Good luck to those level 78ers who wish to give it a go.

      I’m hoping to spend most of my time on the way to level 85 in the Dungeon Finder so I doubt I’ll be judging item upgrades in terms of stamina – if only out of habit (kind of the same way I always seem to choose Greed on uncommon items on alts even when they’re upgrades).

      • ArgonNo Gravatar says

        Blizzard can prevent people from hitting Cataclysm zones at 78 by making the minimum level 80. Sure, people at 78 can go there, but they can’t do anything besides grind mobs. I think it is good they are making the minimum level 80. If they made it 78, barely anybody quest in Storm Peaks or Icecrown ever again, just like Shadowmoon Valley and Netherstorm in BC, and just like most of the high level zones in vanilla, which would be a real shame. There’s a lot of good content there.

  2. JenNo Gravatar says

    I ran Blackrock thingie on the beta, and some drops were almost as good as my (regular, I think) T10. My live gear is better than my beta gear now, but I’ll probably replace most of it by level 83… (I hate that.)

    I pretty much stopped worrying about gear on my main. I wasn’t even that angry when my 2 weeks old alt got Althor’s Abacus (heroic!!) and my druid never saw it back when I was in a 25-man guild. On my main the expansion is almost “done” – 2 achievements to go and we have frost wyrms; I doubt the guild will want to wipe on LK heroic, and I don’t want it either. Out next goal is to get Kingslayer on alts, so my new shammy’s getting all the attention.
    Jen’s last post: We are filthy

    • CassandriNo Gravatar says

      Perhaps having access to the Beta makes it easier to let go of your live gear set (and wish list). I think I’m going to be pretty upset to replace it. So hopefully I’ll get a few levels out of it based on what Kurn has experienced (above).

  3. RedbeardNo Gravatar says

    I suspect that some of the advantages of certain gear (Spell Power, etc.) will evaporate once Cat drops. The reworking of stats will also factor into your existing gear.

    I just hope they drop that with enough time in advance for us to prepare for it. (Or for the wailing from the theorycrafters to subside.)
    Redbeard’s last post: Did Aragorn have these problems at Helms Deep

  4. PindleskinNo Gravatar says

    Utterly liking the idea of more dungeon-running to prep for raids. I was a big fan of the Strat/Scholo gear runs for D0, etc we needed to be half-competent in MC and such. It also gives motivation for better/more dedicated players to rise to the top earlier on. I’m sure they’ll eventually drop the model for some easier version again but as a beginning I’m all for this.
    Pindleskin’s last post: A Look Back pt 1

  5. JaediaNo Gravatar says

    I’ve been picking up these little snippets of information from the other half. A part of me is glad I’ll replace my gear, but a part of me would like the 4 set to be worth something, the way Tier 6 was.
    Jaedia’s last post: Shared Items &amp Feedback

  6. GeeniNo Gravatar says

    Of late I’ve really enjoyed picking and choosing the best pieces of 10H gear to go with my 25N pieces, to have a fully optimized ilvl 264 set. But I don’t see how Cata’s stat weight changes can be anything BUT a hard reset, so I’m prepared to see my gear go out the window pretty quickly.

    1) As a healer, the Spirit change is going to hit me over the head. (Thank goodness I recently had to acquire a Holy set, my Disc set only has 200 spirit on it!)

    2) Ilevel’s great, but we’ll have NO Mastery rating unless we start picking up quest or dungeon pieces. (Wow am I not looking forward to the math for evaluating old purples against new stuff with Mastery.)

  7. ManbearcatNo Gravatar says

    The average cataclysm start area item levels are around the 272 mark. Once you get towards deepholm level (82+) you’re starting to look at ilvl 305 pieces from quests. It was around that point that I started really replacing icc epics on my shaman. Also, reforging might keep a bit of life in your gear. Upping your mastery rating using Reforging could potentially extend the life of your epics a little more. I highly doubt you’ll get anywhere near 85 without replacing any of your gear though.

  8. CalsongNo Gravatar says

    I’m not about to vendor all my 277 gear, but I am ready for a gear reset. Gear is about progressing your character as much as it is about killing the next boss, and I want to take my toon too the next zone with thematically appropriate gear.

    Oh, and by all reports my CTS and DFO will still be worth more than their itemization suggests. Trinkets are weird.
    Calsong’s last post: Patch Day Ponderings

  9. warcoNo Gravatar says

    hey. i think that you should be consentrating more about right now then future… its way to boreing to know that you replacing your 271-277 gearset for greenies in cata like i prob will be doing, but WTH life sux


  10. ButtonNo Gravatar says

    Wowhead’s Cataclysm site has plenty of datamined gear with a minimum of (lore and story) spoilers.

    I’ve been thinking about this same topic recently, and recently wrote an entry speculating on what we’re going to lose and what we’re going to keep. For tanking gear at least, Blizz seems to be actively trying to make sure we replace our Northrend epics ASAP. They’ve made some changes to the itemization of WotLK gear for Cata that make my jaw drop, such as completely removing the passive armor on the Unidentified Orgon and Glyph of Indomitability – and not replacing it with anything, rendering these formerly desirable trinkets woefully under budget and absolutely worthless. They’re removing most of the bonus armor on a craftable and tier gear as well, and I’m pretty sure it’s with a view to intentionally decreasing their lifespans.

    So it’s not just the ever-increasing item level of gear that will cause us to replace our current sets – they’re actively nerfing our Wrath gear too!
    Button’s last post: Button Answers A WoW player survey!

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