As this post contains gearing information specific to Patch 8.2.5 of the Battle for Azeroth expansion for World of Warcraft, it is best considered outdated, though you might still get some valuable nuggets of advice from it.Author’s Note
About this series: so I kept finding myself giving the same old tips over and over to new members incoming to my raid or Mythic+ teams in World of Warcraft, all to do with getting the best gear or which class specialization (spec) to choose for endgame content. I finally figured I might as well just compile all that advice here on my blog, if only to reduce my workload down to just throwing them a link instead of giving a dissertation every single time someone asks me in Discord!
So behold: Yotingo’s quick and dirty guide for getting into the PvE (Player vs. Environment) scene in World of Warcraft. This installment covers the quickest and most efficient ways to get geared up in preparation for endgame content. Note that this focuses primarily on where to go and what game activities to do, depending on your iLevel bracket, and I’ll be getting into some more specifics of how to gear a character in a later guide.
Play What You Like
First, a note on min-maxing, or what is otherwise known as stressing out over the littlest differences in your character’s gear or spec. And that is…IT DOESN’T MATTER. Unless you are pushing Mythic keys above a +10 difficulty, or hitting up Mythic level raids or the last bosses on Heroic difficulty, it’s not really going to matter what spec or class you play, what trinkets or Azerite you use (so long as they’re the right role), or whether your talent build and rotation is spot-on. What is more necessary is that you enjoy what you’re playing: that you have a toolkit that feels good to you, challenging but not too challenging, and that it (if you’re into the roleplay immersion aspect) matches your fantasy of who your character is. So, my first piece of advice is: ignore the trolls and the elitists and the theory-crafters, and just play what you like.
That said, if you care about being the best, or you are just flopping all over your face and feeling frustrated, I will be giving tips throughout this series on resources you can use to improve your gameplay. I believe in figuring stuff out on one’s own instead of adhering to the latest guides and metas, so these tips will be more along the lines of offering you resources and outlining some common issues people have when they under-perform for you to check out, rather than telling you exactly what to do. That’s because I believe in play-what-you-like and that any spec is viable, though some may need a lot more elbow grease than others to be optimal.
Gearing Up, Gearing Fast
The first barrier most new PvE players run into is the lack of the right gear score, also known as iLevel, or that little number on each piece of gear between 300 and 450 that gives you a ballpark estimate of your power. Several of the automatic queue and loot systems are locked behind an iLevel requirement, and it’s also one of the best metrics to tell where you’re at on the progression climb when prospective raid or M+ leaders are checking out your character!
The gear system in Battle for Azeroth is a little wonky however, in that some content gives you access to better gear much more quickly than other methods, and that some methods are best for high-end versus low-end gearing. Let’s break it down, shall we?
When your overall gear iLevel is under 385 (that is, under 385 in Patch 8.2.5: expect this number to go up in later patches), your main goal is to be getting a higher iLevel through whatever means possible. This is because most current group content requires a minimum of iLevel 385 to really be effective.
With the release of the Nazjatar daily zone, the fastest way to make this basic iLevel is with the Benthic gear you can get through Manapearls. This is the Patch 8.2.5 “catch-up” mechanic, and it’s a good assumption that later patches will introduce similar systems that you can use after this guide becomes outdated. There are other guides about Nazjatar and Benthic gear around, so I’m not going to go into the where and who and what and how, but there’s still a few points to be aware of:
- Benthic gear only covers your armor slots, AKA not trinkets, not rings, and not your weapon.
- Benthic gear can be upgraded up to iLevel 420, but due to the Manapearl cost increasing exponentially each upgrade, it’s most efficient to get your basic 385 set, and then push it to 400 or 405 if you so desire.
World Quests are then your best (solo) method of filling in the spots missed by the Benthic set. Both individual World Quests and the daily metas (also known as Emissaries) sometimes give gear rewards. Simply open up your map and mouse-over the World Quests in question to see which ones are rewarding what that day. (Emissaries will be in the bottom left corner of the map, and require 3-4 quests completed of a certain type, and then you can turn them in at the appropriate NPC on your map for the reward.) All World Quests (including Emissaries) drop gear based on your current iLevel. I believe it updates every 24 hours, but I could be wrong. It’s not automatic or same-day, bottom line, so it’s best if you equip all your new shiny Benthic armor and then wait a day to give the World Quests enough time to update to better rewards.
Every time a World Quest or Emissary gives you gear, there’s also a slight chance of it dropping a piece with a higher iLevel than what was shown, also known as Titanforging. Unfortunately, I’ve found this chance so small that it’s usually not worth doing World Quests that drop something of a lower iLevel than your current gear, unless you’re just that desperate for it.
Asking friends to craft the missing slots can also be a good bet: Jewelcrafters do the rings, and Inscriptionists (can I just call them Scribes and everyone will know what I’m talking about?) do the trinkets. (I will add that currently, the healer trinket is best in slot for many classes, so this is a good idea anyway if you’re playing a healer.) Weapons are spread out a bit haphazardly among the professions, with Blacksmith, Jewelcrafter, and Leatherworker all being able to craft a weapon or two. Do note however: this is only a good method if you happen to have a good friend or alt with the right profession at the right skill level. Unfortunately, professions are really bad in Battle for Azeroth as far as gearing goes, and you will probably get more luck doing World Quests.
Other Pre-385 Methods
It’s a good idea to talk to your friendly Tortollan questgiver to see what the quest-of-the-week is, as these often give a random piece of gear once completed. These appear in Zuldazar and Boralus Harbor and can involve things like doing Mythic dungeons, Battlegrounds, and Arenas. Mythic dungeons unfortunately may be hard to complete at this gear bracket, as the dungeon does have to be on Mythic difficulty to count, so unless you’ve got a friendly guildie to carry you, you won’t be getting in on these before you hit 385. It should also be noted that there’s a few other weekly quests in the schedule that won’t drop gear: the Battle Pet one is the one I’m aware of.
Other methods of getting pre-385 gear include queuing in the Looking for Group (LFG) and Looking for Raid (LFR) systems. LFR lets you in higher tier raids based on your current iLevel, and gives gear up to 400 in the Eternal Palace raid wings. You can do LFR once a week for loot. Note here it’s good etiquette to put up any gear you get and don’t need for the rest of the raid to roll for, for anyone else trying to gear up. In the same way, don’t be shy asking people who get something you need whether they’d be willing to give it to you. Always be polite of course, and if someone says no, don’t push it!
LFG only goes up to the Heroic dungeon difficulty via the automatic queue, but contrasted to LFR, you can queue for these however much you like and still get a chance at something dropping. Their possible gear rewards are also lower than LFR (385), so it’s worth doing your weekly LFR first and then starting in on LFG dungeons second. If you’re ever confused on what difficulty level drops what iLevels, or which bosses have what gear available, this information can be found in your Dungeon Journal.
Similar to LFR and the Tortollan quests, War Fronts also drop gear, and are available about once a week (what days specifically will depend on your faction and server progression). Stromgarde only gives gear in the 370 range and is best for a chance at a spot-filler piece, while Darkshore can give up to 400. Each War Front has a quest you can complete once per cycle for a chance of armor at this high iLevel. Each War Front also then has a chance of dropping gear somewhere in the 340 range; for the most part you’ll way out-gear this by the time you get the minimum iLevel required to queue for War Fronts, so it’s most efficient just to do your one quest a week and be done with them.
Finally, there is also the Player vs. Player (PvP) gear system. In general, this isn’t a very good way of gearing up unless you just love PvP, over and beyond dungeons, raids, or World Quests. This is because, while each match has a small chance of dropping gear, it’s usually of a laughably low iLevel. Meanwhile, the gear given out by filling up (“capping”) Conquest points, while comparable to gear you’ll get in raids, can take several days just for one piece. What piece you get changes each time you cap Conquest, in a preset schedule you can find elsewhere on the internet. Unless you’re lucky and the piece that is shown just happens to be the one you need, you’ll probably have to go through several Conquest caps to get the right item, and by then, you might as well save yourself some time and use one of the other methods. Still, if you insist, the fastest way to get Conquest is to get a win in each of the brackets, that is: Random Battleground, Random Epic, Arena Skirmish, and the Brawl (if it’s open). Each win after that still gives you Conquest, but at a lower rate.
I am told it is quite a bit faster to cap Conquest through use of what are called “YOLO” Rated Battlegrounds, or through Rated 2v2 and 3v3 Arenas, but that’s assuming you can make it into a group for them. With Rated PvP, you have to create your own group, or ask to join one listed in the PvP LFG tool, and because it is a competitive activity, even the casual groups will probably not want you while you’re below 385.
385 – 415
Once you get up to iLevel 385, Mythic dungeons (both keystones and the non-keystone difficulty aka M0) become viable for you. Beyond continuing to do World Quests up to 410 and 415, these are the fastest way to get good gear currently available in Patch 8.2.5. (I’m told in Patch 8.3, this gear progression will be slowed to be comparable with raids, unfortunately.) The keystones scale as to what iLevel gear they drop, and I’ll once again have to refer you to other internet guides to find out which key level drops exactly what iLevel. Still, as a general ballpark, keys +2 through +4 will be good places for you up to 400, while keys +5 to +7 or so will be good for you in between 400 and 415. Another way of calculating what iLevel you’ll need is to look at what iLevel drops, then obtain an average iLevel score 10-15 levels below that, at the bare minimum. Remember this is just an estimate, and often groups created by strangers will want people who over-gear their key level. It’s just one of the unfair ways in which the LFG system works, and you may have to apply to several groups before you get accepted, especially as a DPS. (You’re just a dime a dozen; I’m sorry, guys!) This is where it can be really helpful to be a part of a guild or community who offers key runs to new people, without the severe judging and elitism that can be found in some LFG groups. Alternatively, form your own group. It may be a little nerve-wracking, but I guarantee you you’ll get a group that way, hehe.
Also, something I always tell new folks, especially if they’ve never done a key: don’t be scared off by the timer! Really, don’t. You’ll still get a chance of a reward if you don’t time it, and a +3 is barely harder than an M0. Most of the affixes you have to pay special attention to won’t come in until the +4 and +7 keys, and hopefully by this time, you’ll be plenty comfortable with the dungeons themselves to be able to incorporate the extra mechanics given by the affixes with hardly an extra thought. (That said, you WILL have to pay attention to these affixes and know them, as they are tuned to cause party wipes if you don’t.)
While you’re doing your Mythic Keystones–and I probably should have mentioned this earlier– don’t forget your weekly chest! When you complete a key in the previous week (it doesn’t matter if you timed it or not), a chest becomes available in your faction headquarters that has an additional chance of giving you gear. This becomes available after maintenance every Tuesday, but then goes away the next Tuesday if you haven’t completed another key that week, so grab it while you can! (Before I forget to mention this one as well: Conquest capping also gives you a weekly chest, though it is located in a different area in Zuldazar/Boralus Harbor. It, too, appears and disappears on Tuesdays.)
Other 385-415 Methods
Mythic Keystones (aka M+) and World Quests are still the fastest ways of gearing in this bracket, but some of the pre-385 methods may still apply to you too, so it’s a good habit to keep up on your Conquest capping, LFRs, War Fronts and weekly Tortollan quests while you still have individual gear pieces that need an upgrade. These won’t be very fast though, as the chance is high you won’t get something you need, so you’ll just have to play it by ear and by your own motivation level on whether or not it is worth it to do these each week.
Being in this iLevel bracket also opens you up to the wonderful world of non-LFR raiding. As a general rule in Battle for Azeroth, raiding gears slowly, but there are some pieces that come from raids that are best-in-slot. Assuming you don’t have your own group, Normal difficulty raids are the easiest to get in on through LFG. Healers and tanks are especially valued, so if you are comfortable with these roles, apply as them! You can always set your loot preferences to drop gear from another spec if you’re hunting specific gear that isn’t from the role you apply as.
Heroic difficulty raids are where things start to get serious, and unfortunately most LFG groups will want you to have completed them before. This is what that “AOTC” abbreviation that you might see in LFG listings is referring to: when you kill the last boss of a raid on Heroic difficulty, you earn an achievement called Ahead of the Curve. A lot of Heroic LFG groups want this achievement linked before they invite you. It’s again one of those unfairnesses of the LFG system, where you are better off shopping around for a regular raid team, but for those who have thick skin, or just a lot of patience, this is also a good way of gearing past the 410 mark or so.
415 and Beyond
Once you pass an overall iLevel of 415 (and really, even starting with just iLevel 400), you have officially made it into the big leagues. This is where just iLevel is no longer your primary metric on determining if a piece of gear is better for you than another, and it’s not uncommon for people to be using gear that is 10, 15, or even 20 iLevels lower than what they’re receiving as rewards. I just wanted to point that out before I go into the methods of gearing at this bracket; I’ll get into the specifics of determining what that “best” gear for you is in a later guide, as it’s a whole other aspect of the endgame-gearing world.
As you pass iLevel 420, and still assuming you’re not part of a regular raid or Rated PvP team, your methods of getting good gear is narrowing in to just M+ dungeons and the weekly chests that come from them. Crafting, as stated before, is terrible, and Conquest capping is an ungainly roulette for getting gear you actually need (though the iLevel will increase as you continue capping Conquest, going up to more or less be competitive with mid-tier keys and raids). World Quests also cap out at 410 and 415, so you are now stuck on doing group content to get any higher than 415.
Once you get to about 430, at which time you can do +10 keys comfortably, you’ll want to try to get a +10 key in every week. This is where gear iLevel caps out for M+ (in 8.3 I’m told it will cap out at +15 instead), and also where you’ll start getting Titan Residium in great numbers, in both each M+ dungeon reward and in your weekly chest. Titan Residium can be turned in for Azerite gear up to 445. Mind you, even if your current gear is of a higher iLevel than what +10’s drop, the chance of Titanforging, or of getting a piece with a gem socket in it, or one of those afore-mentioned pieces of gear that is better for you despite it being a much lower iLevel, makes it always worth it to do at least one +10 each week.
Raiding will also remain a good way of getting gear into this bracket, though of course the iLevel caps out at different levels for Normal, Heroic, and Mythic difficulties, so if your raid team is only doing Normal, you’ll run into a wall much sooner. Mythic raid gear is some of the best you will get in the game, comparable or even better than +10 keys, while Heroic raid gear will be a little less worth it than +10, unless it’s again that specific item that’s best in slot for you. That said, Mythic raids are above and beyond what many players will be able to do skill-wise, while +10 keys are do-able for most semi-serious characters, so at this bracket, I recommend mostly doing M+ to continue progressing your character and seeing what the best you can be truly is.
…that is, the best you can be until you start looking into talents and rotations and specs and the specifics of gearing, oh my. More…on that later!