As more and more players reach 85 and get into dungeons and heroics, the question on everyone’s mind seems to be, “What gear do I need to start into dungeons, heroics, and raiding?” The good news is that a starter gear set is well within your reach, provided that you quested your way through the various Cataclysm zones. In fact, I was able to step into heroics immediately after hitting 85, with just a minor amount of work, no BOEs, and a couple very solid quest items.
Here’s what I picked up:
|Boots||Fireball Treads||Quest – Uldum|
|Chest||Mindsliced Chestguard||Quest – Org|
|Cloak||Cloak of the Dryads||Hyjal (H)|
|Gloves||Gauntlets of Dragonwrath||Quest – TH|
|Helm||Helm of the Brown Lands||Dragonmaw (H)|
|Legs||Wilderness Legguards||Hyjal (R)|
|MH||Gurgthock’s Garish Gorebat||Quest – TH|
|Neck||Pendant of Elemental Balance||Earthen (H)|
|Relic||Spearwarden’s Unlucky Charm||Quest – TH|
|Ring||Eye of the Stars||Quest – Uldum|
|Ring||Red Dragonheart Ring||Quest – TH|
|Shield||Shield of the Mists||Justice|
|Trinket||Talisman of Sinister Order||Quest – Uldum|
|Trinket||Stonemother’s Kiss||Quest – Deep|
|Waist||Girdle of the Ancient One||Quest – Uldum|
|Wrist||Bracers of the Lost City||Tolvir (Quest)|
In addition, just by completing the quests in Mount Hyjal and in Deepholm, you should be able to pick up the BOA helm enchant (from the former) and the rare shoulder enchant (from the latter zone). This put me at ~75k mana and around 6k healing spellpower getting into heroics, which made mana tight but not nonexistent.
What sort of gear should I aim for after I get my starter set?
Anything that you can get! Your goal for doing dungeons and heroics should be to get as many direct stat upgrades as possible. The more 346 pieces you have, the better your healing will start feeling. Ideally, you should shoot for over 1k haste (to push your hot ticks into one more cycle) and as much Int and Spirit as you can possibly get. Although I wouldn’t go so far as to completely avoid Mastery gear, huge chunks of it can provide ample opportunity to pick up more haste, crit or spirit. Beyond that, I put together this spreadsheet to guide me in seeing what upgrades I can get and from where.
What heroics are the easiest?
To be quite honest, your first couple of heroics will be difficult no matter what one you get. As the reports out of beta suggested, dps and solid tanks will be key to a successful group, but your mana and longevity will be the real limiting factors. So, understanding boss mechanics and damage patterns will enable you to dole out your heals appropriately (and note when someone could be saving you some mana through their own healing/CD mechanics). Don’t be afraid to ask for boomkin innervates, priest hymns, and for tanks to use their CDs at every possible opportunity. In the end, rest assured, if you find yourself finishing fights with near 0 mana, you’re not alone.
Now, once you find yourself with a good group, there are a couple heroics which I’ve found to be a bit easier. Blackrock Caverns, the Lost City of Tol’vir and the Stonecore are some of my favorites and contain pretty simple boss mechanics. On the other hand, Deadmines, Shadowfang Keep, and Halls of Origination all contain some higher-than-average dps checks, which can stress good groups to the limits. Regardless, expect to enjoy the feeling of being challenged and the thrill of seeing what a diligent group can accomplish.
What sort of healing rotation is the most successful?
In most heroics, I find myself sticking to 4 basic spells–Healing Wave, Greater Healing Wave, Riptide, and Unleash Elements. Using the latter two on CD really helps boost my capacity to keep tanks alive through the heavy damage they take on multi-mob pulls. An RT + UE + GHW lineup can hit for around 27-30k, with crits up to 50k (accounting for mastery). For AOE situations, I’ll CH through the tank to take advantage of Nature’s Blessing and reapply an RT hot on him at the next opportunity, but then revert to keeping players stable with HW. The one spell that I haven’t been using all that much in heroics is, naturally, Healing Rain. (Though, it’s worth noting that it is simply amazing on the first boss of SFK). As with most Cataclysm encounters, the key to having “just enough” healing becomes knowing which players are likely to die and which can sit at 50% hp. Believe you me, even when you pick up fully heroic gear and sprinkle in epics, sloppy pulls and wasteful heals (looking at you here, Healing Surge) will almost always spell disaster.
The Icing on the Cake
And a special, special thanks to Rissamagus, the GM who enabled me regain the name I’ve been using since I started playing. Cataclysm will herald the triumphant return of Vixsin, the troll resto shaman on BDF! (Now, I can stop confusing everyone by being Vixsin on LiG5 and Vixsyn on BDF!) <3 to Rissamagus, whomever you are.