06 June, 2010

The Road To Icecrown - A Guide for new 80s

I know that even with the mass amount of high end raiders on the facebook page, and readers of this blog, but there is still many people out there that are recently 80 but not geared for ICC and several players leveling up as well. So I thought I’d write a guide at how to get geared for ICC as quickly as possible.

You may already know a lot of what’s in this guide, but spend a few minutes (while in queue for a heroic, perhaps?) and you might pick a thing or two up.

Corrections, comments, suggestions, and requests for more information warmly welcomed.

GearScore. What is it and how useful is it?

GearScore is an add-on that assigns a value to items. Theoretically, the better item gets the better score. When a player tells you they have 5000GS, they are referring to the total value of all their items.

Many criticize the add-on, including myself, for being overly simplistic. The ‘lower’ item is not always going to be the worst item (namely with trinkets): use it with caution. It is, however, useful as a general guide in comparing items and players, and useful as a basis on whether you are in the range of gear for a particular instance or not.

If you haven’t already realized it, you’re going to have to increase your GS to get into PUG raids. For this reason, a lot of this guide is focused on increasing your GearScore, which feels dirty as we should really be talking about stats, but GearScore is what the kids look for these days.

When forming a raid, no one cares about your stats anymore, they only want to know your GS. That is why I seem to talk a lot about improving your GS in this guide, even though I don’t like the add-on all that much. But remember: GS will get you into a raid, but you need the stats to perform well!

The other thing I want to point out for the newer 80s out there is Item Level. You want to make sure you have this turned on, as it is a great basis of telling what item is in a higher "tier" if you aren't as great at reading specific stats. Go into Interface settings, Display, and check the box that says "Show Item Levels". Now when you mouse over an item in your inventory (or someone else's) it will display the Item level on it as well, Example would be "Item Level 232" which is T9.

Item Level Guide
200- T7
213- T7.5
219- T8
226- T8.5
232- T9
245- T9.5
251- T10
264- T10.5
277- T10.5 Heroic

THERE ARE OTHER ITEM LEVELS IN THE GAME AS WELL, FOR CERTAIN HEROIC MODES AS WELL, BUT THAT CHART SHOULD GIVE YOU THE BASIS ON WHAT EACH ITEM LEVEL IS EQUIVILLENT TO. Also note that an item level 232 for example, is not necessarily part of the T9 SET.. it is just of an equivillent item level

I simply dont have the time or in-depth knowledge to list a perfect spec for every class and every role out there in the game today. But what I am going to do is link a site for each class below that has a lot of wonderful information on the speccing and glyphing of each corresponding class.

Clicking the links below will take you to my favorite page for each of the following classes.


Know Your Rotation
Prior to level 80, you can get away with simply casting whatever spell or ability seems good to you and that is all fine and great for leveling, But for raiding you need to establish a "Rotation" which is a sequence of spells or abilities that you use over and over again in order to maximize DPS output. This is mostly crucial for DPS classes, and tanks use them as well. Healers aren't so much into the rotation as they use whatever spell they need to get the proper amount of healing and mana use for the situation.

The sites about that I have provided you for guides on class specific builds have the rotation listed with the build as well. Make sure you are using the proper rotation for the spec you have chosen, failing to use a rotation will get you kicked from a pug faster than you can say "clicker", because your DPS output will suffer greatly. KNOW YOUR ROTATION, USE IT and enjoy your chart topping dps.

Hit your spell cast (or melee attack) button about 1/2 second before it is off global cooldown...this will increase DPS a bit as it compensates for latency

Bind your Keys
You may have gotten away with clicking your abilities prior to level 80, and many people still do at level 80. However, it requires a much greater deal of effort in most cases to use the mouse to conduct your rotation over and over.

The best way to combat this is to go into your "Key Bindings" settings panel in WoW, within there it will give you the option to chose which keyboard button uses which square on the action bar (and therefore the corresponding spell). This is going to make your life 10000% simpler during a raid. For example on my death knight all I have to do to put out chart-topping DPS is hit 1,2,3,3,4,5,4,3,3,3,3 and repeat. That would be a lot of mouse moving and clicking if I didn't have my keys bound. So it is my advice that you do this as soon as you start raiding to prevent tendinitis lol.

Getting the Achievement
The other frustration new 80s encounter when trying to get into raids is that they don’t have the achievement. Here are some ways around that…

1. Guild. If – and only if – you have exhausted all means of gearing yourself up WITHOUT OTHERS CARRYING YOU, and the only way to progress with gear is to get that damn achievement, ask the guild. They might organize a run, or we might join PUGs with you (a raid is going to be more likely to take a lower geared player if they get a higher geared player to make up for it).

2. Be Brave and Ask. YouTube has many video guides, with which you can learn how to fight a particular raid. If you can tell a raid leader that you know the fights, they might be nice and include you.

3. The Ol’ Switcheroo. This is a bit naughty, but it’s what I did ^^. Fact: 90% of people are idiots. So many raid leaders don’t even check achievements when they ask you to link them. So just link the blank achievement and wait for your invite. I figure, if the raid leader is enough of an idiot not to check achievements, he’s fair game. Note: it will be awkward when you earn the achievement in the raid. This method may, however, get you onto a few ignore lists.

4. Also a bit devious (but people deserve it for requiring GS and achievements rather than skill IMO). Overachiever, or Allene's Fake Achievement are both add-ons that I have used. What you do is you link a blank achievement with a command behind it (For AFA it would be /AFA [The Fall Of Naxxrammas] 2009-01-19, or whatever date you want in there). There is other add-ons out there as well and most of them can be found at curse.com

Gearing Up

Hit Rating – The most valuable stat for ALL dps classes

Completely uninformed players ignore hit when, in fact, hit rating is THE MOST IMPORTANT STAT FOR ALL DPS CLASSES. Don’t even try to argue with me on this point, because you’re wrong.

Hit rating reduces your chance to miss. At level 80, 32.79 hit reduces your chance to miss by 1%. Several classes have abilities and talents which also reduce their chance to miss.

You NEED to reach hit cap, which is when you have sufficient hit rating that your attacks will never miss.

By the time you’re raiding ICC, you’re going to want most or all your hit rating coming from gear as gear is the most efficient source of hit. While you’re gearing up, though, you can use gems and enchants to improve your hit rating.

Of course, once you’ve reached hit cap, additional hit does absolutely nothing for you.

The following is the hit rating required to never miss against a level 83 (i.e. a raid level boss):

(163.95 with 3/3 precision)

(131.16 with 2/2 enlightened judgment)

(163.95 with 3/3 focused aim)

(98.37 with 5/5 precision)

(367.25 with 3/3 shadow focus)
(367.25 with misery)
(288.55 with 3/3 shadow focus and misery)

Death Knight
(163.95 with 3/3 nerves of cold steal when dual wielding)

Death Coil, Icy Touch, Howling Blast
(Dont try to get capped in this, but for Dual Wield frost Knights you want to have a bit more hit than with a 2 handed weapon)

Spells: 445.94
(367.25 with 3/3 elemental precision)

Melee: 262.32
(65.58 with dual wield specialization when dual wielding)

(367.25 with 3/3 precision)
(267.25 for arcane only with 3/3 arcane focus)
(288.55 for arcane only with arcane focus and precision)

(367.25 with 3/3 suppression)

Spell: 445.94
(341.02 with 2/2 balance of power)
(367.25 with improved faerie fire)
(262.32 with 2/2 balance of power and improved faerie fire)

Melee: 262.32

On the subject of Hit rating, a player will still miss against raid bosses (melee, and I think hunters) but a caster will not. It is probably worth mentioning that those hit caps are the "yellow" hit caps, and only ensure that your abilities can't miss. It is probably also worth mentioning that missing and being dodged/parried are different.

Another point on hit, might be to include what you need to reach with/without the Draeni hit buff and/or Misery or the Improved Faerie Fire.

For rogues, they also care about spell hit, as their poisons do not use melee hit values, but spell, so for a Mut rogue they actually want 315 hit (assuming 5/5 precision) so that their poisons (which they spec into) never miss. For a combat rogue, spell hit is slightly less valuable, but is still better than any other stat until you are approacing the ArP hard cap which requires at least full 264, and thus is not relevant for this guide. That said, combat rogues too should be trying for the spell cap, but they (as well as DK's) get full bonuses for their "spells" from the other hit buffs:

Extra buffs or debuffs Specials Poisons White
None 99 315 722
Imp FF or Misery 99 237 722
Imp FF or Misery & Heroic Presence (draenei) 66 210 689
(all assuming 5/5 precision).

The white hit cap is clearly not worth reaching, and all the modeling supports this, but at least for rogues the poison hit cap is super important, and deserves mention."

Tier Sets – Get Tier 9 (or 10!) as a priority before ICC

Tier sets are amazing as they give set bonuses. These set bonuses are very valuable. For example, when ICC came out, a lot of people didn’t even replace their teir9 items with tier10 until they had enough for at least the 2-item bonus.

5 items make up a set, but you only need 4 of them to get the bonuses. My recommendation is to have at least 4 of them equipped always, even if you have another item with better stats, as the bonuses are so sexy.

Get your tier 9 as a priority before entering ICC.

The Pre-Raid Grind – Part One of Gearing Up

The first part of gearing up is farming heroics. It sucks horribly. But once it’s done, it’s done.

Every day you should do the following heroics, as the gear that drops in them is quite good: TOC, FoS, PoS, and HoR. Then just do random heroics for the triumphs.

Triumphs can be converted down to lesser emblems, if necessary, to buy additional items: 1 Triumph = 1 Conquest = 1 Valor = 1 Heroism. With these emblems, you can buy the following equipment to ‘fill in the blanks’ of your pre-raid gear:

Head – Triumph (tier vendor)
Neck - Conquest
Shoulder – Triumphs (tier vendor)
Back - Valor
Chest – Triumph (tier vendor)
Wrist - Valor
Hands – Triumph (tier vendor)
Waist - Conquest
Legs – Triumph (tier vendor)
Feet - Valor
Ring1 - Triumph
Ring2 - Valor
Trinket 1 - Triumph
Trinket2 - Triumph
Main Hand – Sorry, nothing available from emblems. Find the best you can in a heroic (hint: ICC drops the battered hilt which starts a pro quest, but it’s very rare)!
Off Hand - Heroism
Ranged - Triumph

Between the heroics I’ve listed above and the gear that can be bought with emblems, you should be able to hit about 4.5k GearScore. Look at what drops in the heroics I listed, and also what is available to your class for which emblems, decide what the best pre-raid item you can get is… and go get it!

WowWiki has information on what drops in the heroics I listed, and you can go look at what the vendors offer in Dalaran. Spend a few minutes, have a think, make a shopping list.

Phase two: Starter Raids – ToC, Onyxia, and the others

So, you’ve gotten absolutely every last item you can from farming triumphs and running the better heroics. You now have around 4.7k GS and are sufficiently geared to raid TOC and Onyxia, which is where the real upgrades are. Keep doing these, week in and week out, until you reach about 5k GS.

Get into other raids, if you can, as well. Naxx, Ulduar, OS, and EoE will most likely all contain upgrades (even though they may only be minor upgrades). WowWiki is an easy to use source of information about what loot drops where. Unfortunately, people tend to neglect these ‘other’ raids nowadays. If an item increases your GS by 20, that’s still going to make it easier to get into a PUG.

YouTube has many guides on the bosses you will encounter in all raids, and I recommend highly watching these videos before attempting a boss for the first time.

Importantly, you are now sufficiently gear to not have a hard time getting invited to the Weekly Raid Quests, which will grant you additional Frost emblems, putting you on the road to tier 10 items.

Phase three: ICC!

So you’ve reach 5k GS! Grats! There are probably still upgrades in ToC and Onyxia for you, and keep trying to get them, but start trying to join ICC raids now as well to accelerate your gear up.

One of the best ways to get a good experience in endgame content is to join a raiding guild. There is many of these out there ranging from more casual players all the way up to committed heroic mode core guilds. It is in your best interest to try and get into a raid guild if you have the time and you plan to make raiding a more serious endeavor. Here are some hints on how to get yourself into a raiding guild and move up to a core spot as quickly as possible.

- Many of these guilds require you to apply on their website in order to join. When applying for a guild on the site it is important to use proper grammar and act somewhat "professional" as this gives them the confirmation that you will act in a mature and collected way in their vent server as well as guild chat.

- A good place to start out in your quest to find a raiding guild is to go to the official World of Warcraft Realm forums.. located HERE. Many guilds advertise here and also should have a link to their guild page on it as well.

-Make sure that when you have an application pending you have your character gemmed and enchanted properly, and that you are logging out every night with your main spec (the one you plan to raid with) activated and your main spec gear on your character. The reason for this is that whatever gear you log out wearing is the gear that the recruiter will see when you looks into the armory link you have provided.

- Most guilds are more than happy to assist the "right" player in obtaining better base gear to fulfill their raiding needs. That being said however it is important to have the correct gems and enchantments on any piece of gear you are wearing on the armory (even if it's a crappy piece). This shows that you know your class role and how to gear it properly, but just haven't had the opportunity to obtain the proper piece of gear yet, and they will be much more likely to help you do this.

-When you join a raiding guild you are almost certainly going to be put into a "trial" or "standby" rank. Guilds do this for a couple of reasons. First reason being that they may not have a spot in their core group for you just yet, second reason being that they want to monitor you for a week or two to make sure you are the man for the job. During this trial period it is absolutely crucial that you show up to any raids that you sign up for, and also make sure that you spend some time running heroics and raids with them whenever you are online and you see a guildie looking for someone to join their group for a pug or whatever. This will give you a good standing with the members and they will be more likely to give you a good word if an officer asks them how you are performing.

-Always show up to any raid with the proper flasks and consumables (buff food, potions, elixirs, etc). This shows that you are willing to go that extra mile and get the maximum output from your character whenever possible.

-Know your role and know the fights. A raid leader is going to be more likely to keep you on the team if you aren't constantly asking questions about the fight that could easily be answered by using your resources. That isn't to say it's not ok to ask questions, but beforehand you should have done a substantial amount of research on your own. Tankspot.com, wow.zuggaming.com, and youtube.com are excellent places to go to learn about each boss fight. Watch a video of each fight more than once, and read about it as well- this will give you the upper edge when raiding and make you look like a pro.

Learning More

This guide is obviously very general and is only intended to take you up to the gates of ICC.

Advanced information can be found in the class forums of ElitistJerks.com. In these forums, you will find guides detailing advanced mechanics of your class. A thorough understanding of your class is necessary to maximize performance. Intuition and experience is valuable, but some math-craft and theory-craft give you an edge over other players.

Further, you can learn a lot about boss encounters in raids to prepare for ICC (and other raids) on YouTube or on the Tankspot forums.



Deadly Boss Mods gives you warnings when bosses use special abilities or when something funky is going on
lets you know how much threat you are generating, so that the boss doesn’t attack you
GearScore:I am not the biggest fan of this add-on, but the fact is that everyone’s using it, so you should be able to tell someone your GearScore if asked. This add-on will tell you what it is.
AtlasLoot enhanced: A great add-on for knowing what gear drops in what instance, a must have for finding upgrades in my opinion.

Pally Power: Awesome add-on for paladins to get buffs sorted out
Bartender: This is a helpful add-on for most classes if you have problems with, or don't care for the stock UI. This add-on allows you to move any of your action bars to anyplace you want anywhere on the screen, it also makes them a bit more compact and adds some other very helpful options. It takes a while to set up properly but can be well worth it in the end for many players.
Grid: A great add-on for healers that includes status indicators for health, mana, incoming heals, aggro/threat, buffs and debuffs, range, and ready checks- as well as many different indicators, including: center text, center icon, frame border, frame opacity, and colored squares in each of the four corners.

Carbonite- Provides a number of very helpful things in game. Detailed maps of every zone and instance in the game, information on completing quests, a small map that appears on your screen that you can move around (I usually remove this during raids though) and many other things as well.
Outfitter- Provides simple, 1-click wardrobe changes. This can come in very handy for people that have 2 different specs that they raid with (IE a druid who has a healing set and a tanking set). You can also program it to automatically change your outfit whenever you change specs, or go into a different stance or presence.
Allene's Fake Achievement- I am listing this add-on ONLY for its proper use in my opinion, which is to help you get into pug raids when you have sufficient gear and you know the fights inside and out. Some PUG raid leaders out there are absolutely ridiculous when it comes to requiring an overly high GearScore and an achievement for anyone and any raid. This can also be handy if you have done something on a main character but simply haven't done it yet on your alt. NEVER USE THIS ON GUIDIES- its bad policy

There are many many more add-ons out there, but those are the basics and its best to run those when starting out, but also don't get carried away and run too many add-ons either as they can become confusing as well as cause lag in the long run- and that isn't what you should be focusing on during your first raids!

If you have any more suggestions for additional Add-Ons that should be listed here please let me know. I am not that pro on the add-on department as I only use a couple of them myself (the ones listed primarily)

I really hope you have all enjoyed my guide, I know many of you are much more advances than this and much of this could be considered common sense, but you would be surprised how many players out there don't understand much of this information.

Good Luck And Happy Gaming!

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