With Mists of Pandaria on the horizon and Cataclysm in its twilight, more and more players are making that final push to get their characters up to 85 and into Dragon Soul. And whether your goal is just LFR or getting into DS normal or hard modes, the path into Tier 13 raiding is an easy one these days. Having just taken my old main, a mage, from newly 85 and still in crappy leveling gear to unremarkable mid-meter LFR deeps, I realized how helpful it would be to offer up a guide to those aspiring Resto Shaman out there, who might be looking to make the same journey (albeit with more success than my foray into the world of deeps). So, today’s post is meant to be exactly that—a road map that will have you owning healing meters in no time.
I Just Hit 85, What Do I Do?
Once that final DING resonates in guild chat, it’s a good time to get your bearings and figure out how you’re going to make your way from leveling blues (maybe greens? ICK) into the 346 gear you need for Troll Heroics and from there, into your Dragon Soul pre-raid gear. Depending on how you leveled—dungeons, questing, or a combination of both—you might have some faction reputation to fall back on, to fill in where you might be lacking. This rep can translate to a couple easy pieces to supplement your improving gear set:
- Guardians of Hyjal (Mount Hyjal) – Wilderness Legguards (R)
- Earthern Ring (Vash’ir) – Earthmender’s Boots (E)
- Therazane (Deepholm) – Diamant’s Ring of Temperance (R)
- Ramkahen (Uldum) – Ammunae’s Blessing (H), Sash of Prophecy (R)
- Dragonmaw Clan / Wildhammer Clan (Twilight Highlands) – Helm of the Brown Lands / Helm of the Skyborne (H), Yellow Smoke Pendant / Lightning Flash Pendant (E)
Remember that if you didn’t quest through Deepholm, then you will need to complete most of the zone to unlock your shoulder enchant from the Therazane faction. Since gearing out a toon requires a good amount of heroic farming, the sooner you get your Therazane tabard, the closer you’ll be.
After you’ve picked up what spare blues and assorted items you can, it’s time to get started collecting some easy epics.
Unlocking Molten Front
Although the temptation might be to forgo this area in favor of the new heroics, remember that there is an ilvl requirement for entrance into the DS epic mills. So, unlocking a few upgrades in Molten Front might be worth your time. And even if you don’t want to invest the time in dailies there is a quick and easy ilvl365 neck you can pick up on *Day 1* of Molten Front questing.
The one thing to remember about the Molten Front is, however, that you need to complete the entire Regrowth questline in order to unlock the area. If you leveled your character in Mount Hyjal, then chances are you have the requisite quests completed, but if you’re like me and leveled more than a few alts strictly through LFD, then you have some questing to do. But, once you check the final Hyjal Guardian off the list, you can then head over to Sanctuary of the Malrone to power through the starting dailies and easily pick up Nightweaver’s Amulet.
Help Aggra Get Her Man
Another easy upgrade can be found in completing the Elemental Bonds questline, starting with The Call of the World-Shaman (Alliance) or The Call of the World-Shaman (Horde), which asks players to assist Thrall’s main squeeze, Agra, in rescuing her man from his tests on the Elemental Plans. Complete this easy 4-part line, and you’ll pick up Mantle of Desire.
If you have a main and/or alts that has/have been diligently accumulating Valor Points with not much to spend them on, then your first stop should be the Valor vendor for two ilvl 397 BoE’s. Unfortunately, both of these purchases will be items that you want to replace with normal DS drops, but if you have the valor to spend, then an investment in your baby healer is a good choice.
- Bracers of the Spectral Wolf (1250 Valor Points)
- Sabatons of the Graceful Spirit (1650 Valor points)
Unfortunately, your options on other BoE’s are fairly limited:
- Darkmoon Card: Tsunami– remains an excellent option well into DS, although its low ilvl will require you to boost your other pieces a bit more
- Chelley’s Sterilized Scalpel – price and availability will likely depend on your server, but the purchase will save you from the agony of farming Hour of Twilight instances for the healer MH drops.
- Belt of Ghostly Graces – a DS BoE with meh stats, I’d only recommend buying this if you have a plethora of money and nothing to spend it on. There are two belts for Resto Shaman that drop fairly frequently, so you’d likely wind up replacing this piece within a couple of DS runs.
- Deathscale Leggings – craftable and fairly expensive, this is another piece that I’d only recommend shelling out for if you’re close to gold cap and don’t mind replacing these legs with the LFR ones.
Although there is always the temptation to outfit your newly-85 in a bunch of PVP pieces to bust through the ilvl requirement for heroics, I would strongly discourage any new Resto Shaman from doing so. Not only will you be depriving yourself of valuable stat gains, you’ll likely have less regen as well, and by virtue of jumping into content that you’re not geared for, will oftentimes find yourself in stressful healing situations that you simply don’t have the spellpower or experience to handle. The one exception that I’d make to the “no PVP gear” rule would be in the case of a main-hand, because the spellpower gain can be in the neighborhood of 1,000 when upgrading from a blue. So, if you have the extra honor or justice points, do swing by the Honor Quartermaster and pick up Ruthless Gladiator’s Gavel for 2,450 Honor Points.
If, after you’ve gone through these first couple of steps and you don’t have the gear for or don’t feel comfortable stepping straight into Trollics, don’t fret! Cataclysm heroics are a great place to get into your healing groove, pick up a few upgrades and earn copious amounts of valor points. The one thing I will note about the Cataclysm Heroics is that you can largely expect the players in group with you to have similar gear and/or PVP pieces to supplement their items, so tanks will be a little squishy and the highest dpser in the group might only pull 15k on boss fights. While collecting your Justice points, I would encourage you to pick up whatever mail caster items drop, regardless of stats. The reason for this is: a) Justice point items will likely replace most of your blues, and b) you want to get your ilvl as high as possible, as fast as possible.
Yes, it is unavoidable, but in order to make your way into the final stand against Deathwing, you will need to get your toon into a couple the infamous Trollics, ZA and ZG. If you can argue, bribe, cajole, or browbeat a friend or two into joining you, I’d strongly recommend it, because as I found, with a similarly-geared companion in tow, things can go a lot smoother. Also, don’t underestimate the benefit of using crappy Wrath flasks and food while your gear is still a little behind (I had 20 or so Flasks of the Frost Wyrm that gave my baby healers a nice boost through their gearing adventures). In terms of gear, look to pick up some of the following:
- ZA Quest: (no items)
- ZA Drops: Amani Scepter of Rites, Hawkscale Waistguard, Mask of Restless Spirits, Shadowmender Wristguards, Mojo-Mender’s Gloves, Soul Drain Signet
- ZG Quests: (no items)
- ZG drops: Lost Bag of Whammies, Signet of Venoxis, Zulian Ward, Breastplate of Serenity, Kilt of Forgotten Rites, Spiritbinder Spaulders
Because of the Justice points that you’ll be accumulating during these runs , I would anticipate that it would only take 4-8 complete clears before you have sufficient gear to jump into the Hour of Twilight heroics (which are really not all that healing intensive when done properly).
Justice Point Items
In between Trollics, if you are random queuing, you can likely expect to get a fair number of the starting Cataclysm heroic dungeons in the rotation. Although these heroics might only provide you with slight upgrades, they are generally fast and easy ways to get Justice Points, which you will need an ample amount of (making SFK and Deadmines a goldmine of Justice point fun). When upgrading your items, I recommend grabbing the biggest upgrades first (instead of in smaller increments), which means that I’d pick up the following items, in order:
- Erupting Volcanic Tunic (2200 Justice)
- Erupting Volcanic Legwraps (2200 Justice)
- Erupting Volcanic Handwraps (1650 Justice)
- Soothing Brimstone Circle (1250 Justice)
- Singed Plume of Aviana (700 Justice)
- Core of Ripeness (1650 Justice – 359 ilvl)
- Firemind Pendant (1250 Justice)
- Band of Secret Names (1250 Justice – 359ilvl)
Again, the biggest upgrade that you can possibly get from Justice points is the 2pc T12 bonus (which returns mana based on your RT hots), so the sooner you get yourself the tier pieces, the easier things will be. After that, you can pursue the biggest ilvl upgrades at your leisure.
The 378 Shuffle – Hour of Twilight Heroics
The last stop in your journey to Dragon Soul, the Hour of Twilight Heroics (Well of Eternity, Hour of Twilight, and End Time) are the final chance to augment your gear before pushing into LFR. Thankfully, with a somewhat decently geared group and some knowledge of the encounters (eg: you have dispel on your bars or bound), these instances should fly by with relative ease.
- Quest Items: Chain of the Demon Hunter (WoE), Demonic Skull (WoE), Signet of the Twilight Prophet (HoT)
- Well of Eternity: Demonsbane Chestguard, Foul Gift of the Demon Lord, Horned Band, Scepter of Azshara
- Hour of Twilight: Cloak of Subtle Light, Pauldrons of Midnight Whispers, Stalk of Corruption, Surestride Boots
- End Time: Distortion Greaves, Echoing Headguard, Crescent Moon, Ward of Incantations
Because it bears repeating—MAKE SURE YOU CAN SEE AND HAVE THE ABILITY TO DISPEL DEBUFFS; I really can’t underscore this enough. So many of the encounters incorporate mechanics which penalize healers for not dispelling (Echo of Baine, Echo of Tyrande, Benedictus, Echo of Sylvannas), that it is the single-best piece of advice I could give on how to succeed with less-than-stellar gear. Secondarily, bind and use Wind Shear liberally. Trah mobs, and even the bosses have mechanics that can (and should) be interrupted; remember: the less effects you have to heal through, the better.
Valor Point Items
Lastly, in the midst of all of this Heroic Dungeon farming (and as a part of your later Dragon Soul adventures) you’ll be accumulating a small amount of Valor points. At a maximum of 1000 Valor a week, most players won’t find themselves with an excess of Valor until they’re significantly progressed through the instance, so these will remain a treasured commodity for a while. As with Justice Points, I’d recommend going for your biggest upgrades first, but also keeping in mind that some purchases will be mainstays of your set while other might be only fill-ins on the path to better gear.
- Woundlicker Cover – this is BiS for the tier, so spend your Valor on this item worry-free
- Lightning Spirit in a Bottle – this is BiS for the tier, so spend your Valor on this item worry-free
- Band of Reconstruction – a solid option until you have access to HM rings
- Girdle of Shamanic Fury – an okay option, but bear in mind that there are two other belts in DS—Girdle of Shattered Stone off of Morchok and Belt of Shattered Elementium. The latter drops from Spine NM, and would be a better option than this Valor item.
- Ghostworld Chestguard – an item that I’d expect to replace with Tier (yes, even LFR tier), so only spend Valor on this item if it constitutes a significant upgrade.
- Wolfdream Circlet – another item that I’d expect to be replaced with Tier, only spend Valor points on this item if it constitutes a significant upgrade.
- Gloves of Ghostly Dreams- another item that I’d expect to be replaced with Tier, only spend Valor points on this item if it constitutes a significant upgrade.
- Sabatons of the Graceful Spirit – a BOE and something that you might replace with Mindstrainer Treads off of Yor’sahj, I’d recommend trying to purchase these using your spare Valor points on another toon or from a seller. These boots typically go for 1-2k on Mal’Ganis.
- Bracers of the Spectral Wolf – another BOE that you might replace, this time with a drop (Grotesquely Writhing Bracers) from Zon’ozz, I’d recommend only picking these up if you can get them for cheap (~1k, I’d say) or with another character’s valor points.
Priority LFR Items
As a final note, when you are the requisite 372 ilvl and able to queue for LFR, you want to be on the lookout for a couple key pieces. Obviously, tier pieces are an absolutely priority (since the t13 2pc and 4pc bonuses are quite valuable), but if you have a couple friends of the same class/role to queue with, then you’ll want to keep your eyes peeled for the following upgrades:
- Maw of the Dragonlord (Madness of Deathwing)
- Windward Heart (Morchok, Zon’ozz, Yor’sahj, Hagara, Blackhorn)
- Heart of Unliving (Spine of Deathwing)
The reason that I’m calling out these specific items is because 1) they each have alternate upgrades that drop during NM, and 2) their LFR versions are actually *better* choices than the NM alternates. So, if you have Maw of the Dragonlord and Vagaries of Time drops, keep the LFR Maw equipped. Likewise if you are able to pick up Windward Heart or Heart of Unliving in LFR, and Seal of the Seven Signs drops in NM, hang onto your LFR items because the HPS gain is going to be greater with the piece(s) you already have.
Now That You Have All That Loot …
My final reminder is that, as a healer, you play the role who’s performance is least affected by gear. Granted, it’s slightly disheartening to mention in a post dedicated in how and where to get gear, but I think it’s important to remember that as a Resto Shaman (or Druid, Paladin or Priest), it isn’t about what you have, but rather how you use it. Good habits and good healing practices, can bring a hard-working and undergeared healer in line with someone much more geared and less dedicated. So, as you make your way into DS, keep that in mind and don’t let yourself fall victim to the trap of thinking that because you lack a certain trinket or piece, that you can’t be a healing beast. Use every opportunity as a chance to improve and soon, you too, can power-heal a group to victory!