Hitting level cap can be a scary thing. There you are, plugging along and clearing quests, earning upgrades at a regular pace. Everything’s looking peachy. Then, suddenly, it’s over. You’re level 90 and the game has really begun. All those stats like hit rating or expertise that you’ve been ignoring very rapidly become the most important thing in the world. You find yourself wandering the streets of Stormwind, waving yet again to Lil Timmy as he runs by, begging passers-by for advice. What do I do now?
While Blizzard has gotten a lot better about letting players know what there is to do at level cap, it can still be a bewildering and confusing process. Having recently gone through “the change” myself, here are a series of tips to help new 90s with their transition into adulthood:
Flying High Over Pandaria
After the dust (and flood of new abilities and unlocks) settles, you’re going to want to locate your nearest flight point and head in the direction of the Shrine of Seven Stars (or Two Moons) in the Vale of Eternal Blossoms. Shortly after landing you’ll notice a fellow astride a fearsome green dragon. For the low price of 2,500 gold, he will instruct you on how to navigate the tricky wind currents of Pandaria, allowing you to take to the skies once more.
This Shrine will function as your faction’s capital city during your adventures in Pandaria, so get used to it. It has a bank, portals to all your other capital cities, and all the vendors and trainers you’d ever want, much like Dalaran except without those pesky other faction members.
Overcoming Your Fears
Now that you’ve gotten your first taste of freedom, it’s time to get down to the dirty business of gearing and item levels. The easiest way to get your feet wet is to jump aboard the Sha of Anger train, which you’ve probably seen rumble by while leveling in Kun-Lai Summit.
The Sha of Anger is a world boss on a rapid respawn that serves much the same purpose as the bosses of Baradin Hold or Vault of Archavon. He’s a entry-level fight intended to be fully pugged, dropping a mish-mash of PVP and tier gear. Odds are good that you’ll have the best chance of finding a group on Tuesday, when lockouts reset, as it’s not difficult to complete and raid groups of up to 40 people can tap it at once.
The loot isn’t why we’re here though. Sure, you might get lucky and grab some item level (ilvl) 496 gear, but what you can count on getting is a set of ilvl 476 boots. Sha drops a quest starting item (so make sure you loot him!) that you can turn in for your choice of epic boots, which are a great stepping stone towards both heroic dungeons and LFR.
Earning Your Stripes One Day At a Time
Perhaps the biggest change from Cataclysm to Mists is the initial path to gearing through both Justice Points and Valor Points. Previously, you would earn JP and VP through dungeons and raids, spending it at a single vendor in your capital city. Different factions gave you the ability to purchase items using gold once you achieved certain levels of reputation with them, which would be earned either through daily quests or “championing” them by wearing their tabard in a dungeon.
Mists has thrown all of this (and the limit of 25 daily quests a day) out the window. You still earn JP and VP, but now the various items you can purchase with them are spread around the initial factions of Pandaria, requiring either Honored or Revered reputation to buy them. Gone are the tabards as well, leaving daily quests as the sole method to gain favor with the various factions vying for control of Pandaria.
This can be incredibly overwhelming for the fresh 90, thrust out into the world blinking and confused. So many factions, so little time! Right underneath the flightpoint to your faction’s Shrine is a group of representives for each of the factions that will send you to their headquarters, even if you’ve never seen them before.
Regardless of what your goals in the game are, both the Golden Lotus and the Klaxxi are two good factions to start with. Getting to Revered with the Golden Lotus unlocks two other factions: The August Celestials and the Shado-Pan, while questing through the Dread Wastes should put you near or past Honored with the Klaxxi, making the journey toward Exalted that much easier to bear. Once you reach Exalted with a faction, you’re given a final story quest for them that ends in a epic ilvl 489 reward, so there’s a very good reason to keep going past Revered.
From there, you can do as many or as few dailies as you’d like. Each faction generally comes from with anywhere from 5-15, depending on how far along you are with them. Of special note is your 5.1 faction (Operation: Shieldwall for Alliance or Dominance Offensive for Horde) which has both dailies and a gradually evolving storyline. Keep doing the dailies for your respective military force and you’ll unlock a new step in the overall story every other day or so.
The other factions you can level through dailies are listed below:
The Anglers: Headed by Nat Pagle, these guys are all about fishing. Rewards include a raft, fancy fishing pole, and a hat that provides you with free lures.
The Tillers: Owning your own farm has its advantages, such as easy access to cooking and alchemy mats. Ranking up with The Tillers allows you to purchase and cultivate more valuable seeds.
Order of the Cloud Serpent: Similar to the revamped Venomhide Ravasaur Trainers, this faction tasks you with raising your very own Cloud Serpent by doing various chores every day. At Exalted you’re taught how to ride the majestic beasts, which means you can finally access the Mists raid and dungeon achievement reward mounts.
Finally Becoming a Hero
Azeroth wasn’t the only thing to get torn apart in Cataclysm. Players across the world, riding high on the false sense of power that came from steamrolling WotLK heroics, were NOT prepared for actually having to use CC and get out of environmental effects in fights. This, combined with a dungeon finder system that had not been tested during the growing pains of the beginning of an expansion, made for a rocky start for any fresh characters wandering in off the street hoping to get some gear and experience in heroic dungeons.
Thankfully Blizzard paid attention, tuning heroics in Mists down to a more reasonable level for dungeon finder formed groups. As a result of this, they’re a very feasible way to gear up once you get that magical 435 ilvl requirement.
If you find that questing alone hasn’t quite gotten you to the point of entering that fateful queue, hit the Auction House to augment yourself with entry level crafted PVP gear. It’s ilvl 450 and, with the recent changes to how PVP stats are allocated, not actually significantly worse for PVE content, as the new PVP stats don’t take away more useful stats from the item budget.
Once you start earning the ilvl 463 gear from heroic dungeons, you’ll quickly find yourself on the path to getting ready for the Looking For Raid feature at ilvl 470 for Mogu’shan Vaults. From there? The sky’s the limit!
Next time we’ll talk about how to maximize your performance as a new player, even if you’ve decided to go from playing DPS to tanking or vice-versa.