Congratulations! You now have your first level 80 character. You have beaten Casual World of Warcraft, and are ready to move up in the world. Without every monster giving you experience, where do you go? How do you continue improving your character without the comfort of the level system? Well, allow Kvn to help you out. When I hit level 80, there are always a few things I look at on a character. First, I look at ways of improving and customizing that character. Second, I look at ways of improving all of my characters. Let’s look at the individual character first.
Dungeon Finder and the Gear Grind
If you read my article complaining about Gearscore, you probably know that each item in the game as its own item level which determines the kind of stats it is allowed to have. The more diverse an item, the more stats it gets overall. You’ve seen this while you levelled, but not in the great diversity you are about to. Gear at level 80 is often divided into tiers based on the item level of the gear that drops there. Over time, as new raids are introduced, older tiers are phased out a bit to make it easier for new players to get a handle on things. When WotLK was released, Tier 7 was the highest content. You had your Tier 7 set and items ranging from about item level 200 to 213. Then Ulduar was released, and it was a huge raid with a lot of content that released the Tier 8 sets and item levels of 219-226. That’s all in the past, but if you see those sets and gear around, now you know where they came from and why they were the “new awesome thing” a year ago. Let’s look at the here and now.
Emblems of Triumph
Perhaps it is easier to talk about Emblems before we go any further. Emblems of Triumph are the “easy” Emblems to get, and you can get them almost anywhere. When you do a heroic dungeon, each boss drops an Emblem of Triumph. If you do the Frozen Halls dungeons on normal (Forge of Souls, Pit of Saron, Halls of Reflection), each boss drops an Emblem of Triumph. When you do the weekly raid quest, you get 5 Emblems of Triumph. And finally, when you use Dungeon Finder to run a Wrath of the Lich King heroic, every time past the first (which gives you the next type, Frost) gives you two bonus Emblems of Triumph. Emblems of Triumph are going to be your bread and butter. While you will probably run the Frozen Halls dungeons and Trial of the Champion many times to try to get various items, you can use the Emblems of Triumph to fill out your gear. Here is an overview of what you can purchase with Triumph, along with suggestions.
- Reputation Commendations For the price of one Emblem of Triumph you can purchase 520 reputation with the various Northrend factions. I do not recommend doing this, as the factions you can choose from are all factions with easier options. The choices are Argent Crusade, Ebon Blade, Kirin Tor, Sons of Hodir, and Wyrmrest. Most of which have tabards that achieve the same purpose, except Hodir. Hodir has dailies that grant a lot of reputation along with a quest series that begins you at Revered.
- Ranged Weapons and relics. For 25 Emblems of Triumph, you can purchase a wand, throwing axes, ninja stars, idols (balance version & cat/bear version), librams (dps & healer), sigils (dps), and totems (caster & melee). If you are a shaman, druid, death knight, or paladin I suggest you spend your first 25 Emblems of Triumph on your relic slot. Relics will not drop in any of the 5 man dungeons or the Tier 9 and 10 raids, so this is your best use of triumph badges.
- Tier 9 Shoulders and Gloves for 30 Emblems of Triumph each. As a fairly easy and short raid that is commonly pugged called Vault of Archavon (covered later) can drop gloves and pants for tier sets, most people start out by spending 30 Emblems of Triumph on their Tier 9 shoulders. I’ll explain Tier sets later, but you may notice that these tier sets are 232 item level while the non-set items you can purchase for more are 245. The deciding factor when it comes to slots that offer both is how good the set bonus is.
- Tier 9 Helms, Chestpieces, and Pants for 50 Emblems of Triumph each. Slightly more expensive than the shoulders and gloves, many people enjoy the feeling of getting four pieces of Tier 9 for the set bonus. As mentioned before, the deciding factor is set bonus and lower item level versus the non-set pieces costing more and having 245 item level.
- Non-Set Shoulders cost 45 Emblems of Triumph but have better statistics than the set piece shoulders at 30. As the set is only 4 pieces, you have one slot left to buy a big piece of gear for, and shoulders could be one of those slots!
- Non-Set Helms cost an incredible 75 Emblems of Triumph each but have better stats than the set piece helms. As with the shoulders, even if you want the four piece set bonus that leaves you with an open slot, and the helm could be it.
- Trinkets of several flavors: Melee, Caster, Healer, and Tank for 50 Emblems of Triumph. Trinkets are one of the hardest slots to itemize, so these can be a good use of your badges if you can’t get your Frozen Halls Heroic or Trial of the Champion normal trinket to drop. The healer trinket here is often frowned upon due to the large amount of intellect, so make sure it is the right choice for you.
- Rings of several flavors: Caster/Healer 1, Caster/Healer 2, Strength DPS, Agility DPS, and Tank at 35 Emblems of Triumph each. Most of the dungeons contain rings of some sort, but these are 245 item level and can go a long way if you are having bad luck. The crafted rings made by Jewelcrafters are only 200 item level (though not poorly itemized) and the Dalaran Signets are extremely expensive.
Phew, a lot of gear, right? Even if nothing drops for you, you can fill out every one of your slots; except your primary weapon, belt, wrists, pants, cloak, and necklace. You can find those in dungeons, though, although it can be hard to find a solid cloak for most classes. You can also “downgrade” your badges and purchase the Tier 8 and Tier 7 quality items for slots like cloaks and necklaces.
Emblems of Frost
Emblems of frost are the best emblems for Wrath of the Lich King. There is a limit for non-raiders as to how many you can get per week. The first time you use Dungeon Finder for the day to do a Wrath of the Lich King heroic, at the end of it you get two frost. That’s 14 per week. The weekly raid quest is usually puggable, and gives 5 Frost and 5 Triumph. That’s 19 per week. Vault of Archavon’s frost boss drops 2 Emblems of Frost on 10 and 25 man, so we’re up to 23 per week. With items being so expensive, it takes a long time to get gear from Frost Emblems. When you start raiding later, Icecrown Citadel and Ruby Sanctum’s bosses on 10 and 25 man both drop Emblems of Frost. Each one can also have a random special quest that offers another 5, but those run the gambit from trivial to extremely difficult. The first time you do the quest series for the Frozen Halls dungeons you will pick up a few Emblems of Frost from the quest. Now, what should you spend your Emblems of Frost on? Well, I have a few suggestions.
- Ranged and Relics for 30 Emblems of Frost each. With the low cost these can be very tempting, but most of the relics are not major upgrades from the Emblem of Triumph versions. A good example is the Sigil of the Hanged Man. It takes awhile to stack, and fully stacked it counts as 219 strength. The Emblem of Triumph version is the Sigil of Virulence, which grants 200 strength with no ramp up time or stacking. So on any fight where you move or cannot attack a boss, the Triumph version is a big dps increase over the expensive Frost version. This was the last thing I purchased with my Emblems of Frost.
- Cloaks for 50 Emblems of Frost of various flavors: Tank, Strength DPS, mp5 Healer/Caster, Spirit Healer/Caster, and Agility DPS. If your tier set is not worth acquiring, the difficulty of getting cloaks can make these very tempting.
- Tier 10 Gloves and Shoulders. Vault of Archavon’s latest boss can drop Tier 10 gloves or pants, so avoid purchasing these two items. The shoulders are a popular choice since they are cheap and you usually want to get your Tier 10 set bonuses sooner rather than later. Note that the tier 10 you can purchase is 251 item level and not 264. Unlike Tier 9, however, you require the 251 Tier 10 piece in order to upgrade it to the 264 version, so if you want your set you will need to purchase these items!
- 264 iLevel Belts and 264 Ilevel Gloes are available for 60 Emblems of Frost. While they can be pretty good, belts and gloves are usually not impossible to find from the Frozen Halls dungeons so you probably already have a solid one. Some belts may be better for some classes than others, however.
- 264 iLevel trinkets (Melee, Tank, Healer, and Caster) are available for 60 Emblems of Frost. Even at this point trinkets are a pain to get. In a perfect world you would be using the Ruby Sanctum and Icecrown Citadel Heroic’s trinkets, but you may end up needing one of these.
- Tier 10 Chestpiece, Tier 10 Helm, and Tier 10 Pants are available for an incredible 95 Emblems of Frost each. As with before, Vault of Archavon can drop the Tier 10 pants and gloves from the frost boss. I do suggest getting the helm or chest piece (whichever is the bigger upgrade).
- 264 iLevel Chestpieces are available for 95 Emblems of Frost. While the set bonuses go a long ways, if the set bonus is lackluster these chest pieces can be worth picking up. Also, you only need four pieces for highest set bonus, so you can use this for the last piece if needed.
A quick word on Tier sets. Tier 9′s 232 version is purchased with Emblems of Triumph that you get from most raids and heroics for 30-60 Emblems of Triumph each. Vault of Archavon (10)’s fire boss also drops the pants and gloves. The 245 version of Tier 9 is purchasable for 45-75 Emblems of Triumph and also one Trophy of the Crusade which drop from Trial of the Grand Crusader (10 and 25) and Trial of the Crusader (25). Vault of Archavon (25)’s fire boss can drop the gloves and pants. Finally, the 258 version of Tier 9 only shows up if you complete Trial of the Grand Crusader, at which point 2-4 Regalia of the Grand Conqueror / Protector / Vanquisher. You only need to turn the Regalia, no need for Emblems of Triumph. While the 232 Tier 9 can be purchased in Dalaran from the appropriate leather/mail/plate/cloth vendors, if you want the 245 or 258 versions you need to head to the Argent Tournament grounds in Icecrown.
For Tier 10, all three types can be purchased in Dalaran or just inside Icecrown Citadel from the appropriate cloth/leather/mail/plate vendors. The cost for the 251 version is 60-95, and you need the 251 version to purchase the 264 version. Vault of Archavon (10)’s frost boss can drop the gloves and pants. The 264 version has an interesting cost, requiring the 251 piece and also a Vanquisher’s Mark. The Vanquisher’s Mark drop off the final wing bosses in Icecrown Citadel on heroic 10, normal 25, and heroic 25 mode. You can also get the 264 version of the pants and gloves from Vault of Archavon (25)’s frost boss. The final 277 version requires the 264 version and a Heroic Vanquisher’s Mark that drop off the last boss of each wing of Icecrown Citadel 25 heroic.
Phew, okay, so now you know where your gear upgrades come from. Next, let’s talk about reputations and why they matter.
Northrend has several reputations you have probably run into as you quested. Some of them are pretty forgettable, but a few of them matter. Remember that for the Horde/Alliance Northrend factions you can gain reputation by not wearing a tabard in Northrend dungeons. It will give the basic reputation gains first, then at max exalted it switches to Valiance Expedition, Explorer’s League, Frostborn, and then Silver Covenant (as an Alliance example). For the other factions, when you hit friendly from quests you can purchase a tabard that converts Northrend dungeon reputation into that faction’s reputation. The factions without tabards are Sons of Hodir, the Kalu’ak, the Ashen Verdict, the Oracles, and the Frenzyheart Tribe. While the Ashen Verdict reputation is given by running Icecrown Citadel, for the others you will need to do dailies. Oracles and Frenzyheart are mutually exclusive, as being friendly with one puts you hated at the other. You can switch at any time, resetting your reputation with both. The non-daily quests for the Kalu’ak and Sons of Hodir factions will put you at Revered, so the rep grind does not take too much time. The benefit of the Kalu’ak is a penguin small pet and an epic fishing pole. The real benefit of the other reputations, however, is for the enchants.
Helm enchants are found at each faction and are Bind on Account. Once one of your characters can purchase them, you can send them to your other characters. They do not require the reputation to use on alts, but they do require level 80. Depending on your needs, here is what each faction offers for helm heirloom enchants. The Argent Crusade offers the Arcanum of the Stalwart Protector for tanks. The Kirin Tor offer the Arcanum of Burning Mysteries for casters. The Knights of the Ebon Blade offer the Arcanum of Torment for physical dps. Finally, the Wyrmrest Accord offers the Arcanum of Blissful Mending for healers.
For shoulder enchants, you should seek out the Sons of Hodir. Back in The Burning Crusade, you could gain reputation with the Aldor or Scryers for shoulder enchants. At Revered, the Sons of Hodir offer you a level 80 version of those Burning Crusade enchants, but they are Bind on Pickup. At Exalted, the Sons of Hodir offer the best shoulder enchants (outside of Inscription-only) and they are bind on account, as seen here: Greater Inscription of the Axe / Crag / Pinnacle / Storm. The quest series to unlock them begins with “They Took our Men!” in the K3 Inn in Storm Peaks, and a full write-up on it can be found in the article I Speak Newblett Hodir Edition and part two.
Other Fun Things
While gear and enchants and getting ready for raiding can take up a lot of time, there are a lot of other things I like to do with characters at 80. The Argent Tournament offers a squire who can serve as a bank, along with dailies that grant a lot of cash. You can also pick up titles related to the crusade (“Crusader K’vn”) or to the various cities (K’vn of Orgrimmar, K’vn of the Exodar) and tabards/mounts related to each city. If you want fun stuff, this is the place to go. Speaking of mounts, there are many achievements with mounts as rewards. Collect 100 mounts for a Dragonhawk, or complete the dungeon or raid quests for a proto-drake. I usually try to get a land mount and air mount related to my character, along with a real title. In fact, if you have friends, there are many multipassenger mounts you can pick up at 80. Sons of Hodir sell a cheap 3-person mount. The Kirin Tor sell an expensive 3-person mount with vendors on it. Engineers can craft you a motorcycle that holds a passenger.
Okay, I just wanted to give a brief overview of how to get started at 80 improving your gear and customizing your character. I know we have some newly 80 Fuzzlets and I hope this helps a little bit!