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What Should You Do At Max Level In Cataclysm?

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What Should You Do At Max Level In Cataclysm?

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You're right, folks, and welcome back. Cataclysm is ever approaching, and as such, there will be some of you out there.
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You’re right, folks, and welcome back. Cataclysm is ever approaching, and as such, there will be some of you out there, like a certain special chat with whom I am most unfortunately guilded. Hi Mappa, who have no idea where to start when it comes to this expansion once you’re at max level. So I thought I would share with you the to-do list that I’ve been putting together over the last little while for once Cataclysm hits.

Introduction to Cataclysm

Let’s dive in. Reputations are very important, and much like Wrath and TBC before it, reps are just required content for this expansion. But like its predecessors, it’s something you will be working towards whilst you level, and it’s where you will get your enchants for your head and shoulder slots.

And depending on your class and role, it might even influence what zone you start the expansion in and which ones you opt to leave as soon as you can to move on to one that is perhaps more beneficial for you once you hit max level. So I’ll touch on what enchants you can get and where quickly here.

Reputation and Enchants

Here and like Wrath, all of the head enchants will require revered and will probably be awarded from the very beginning, so you do them once and you’re done. No need to rearm them on each and every alt you make. The shoulder enchants operate as they do in Wrath, with a powered-down version honored with the big beef count wide one coming at exalted.

Arcanum of Hydro

First up is the Arcanum of Hydro. This is the Caster healer enchant available from the Guardians of Hydel. There should be no issue getting hold of this one as I have no doubt Hydel will be the more popular of the two starting zones. 60 in 35 crit, standard stuff, and pretty much what the rest are like as well.

Arcanum of the Other Ring

Then there’s the Arcanum of the Other Ring. This is the tank enchant, 90 Stam 25 Dodge, and as the text suggests, it’s acquired from the Earth and Ring faction. This is arguably the easiest faction to get rep with, in my opinion, because unlike almost every other one in Cataclysm, this one is not tied to a single zone, and you will earn rep from doing quests in Vasher, Deepal, and the Twilight Highlands.

Arcanum of Ramen

The Arcanum of Ramen is the agility enchant, 65 agility, and 35 haste. Now, prior to Cataclysm, the physical DPS enchant was a single item, but with attack power being removed as its own stat this expansion and instead being a side effect of primary stats like agility and strength, there are now two versions. And this is the one for your Rogues and Hunters and what have you. You earn your rep with these chaps by questing in Azeroth. They also have some neat camels.

Arcanum of the Wildhammer and Dragonmaw

So, if they take your fancy, go grab them as well. And then last up, we got the Arcanum of the Wildhammer and Dragonmaw. Different colors of paint depending on your faction, but it’s the same thing. These are the respective reputations available in the Twilight Highlands: 60 strength and 35 mastery. This is the second physical DPS Arcanum of the expansion for Death Knights, Warriors, and so on.

Inscriptions for Shoulder Slots

Then we have the inscriptions, both lesser and greater, for your shoulder slot. You get these from the Thoan faction within Deepholm. This is the only zone that I would consider mandatory for everyone. Why is this? Well, to unlock the Thoan faction, you need to complete a fair amount of the zone itself before you can actually do anything with it. Thean and her cohorts are initially hostile to players.

This is the Sons of Hodir replacement for this expansion, and much like them in Wrath, you’ve got to prove yourself to the Earth Mother before she deems you worthy of her attention. So, I would honestly recommend getting to Deepholm as soon as you can to crack on with this because they are going to be your best in-slot enchants for the entire expansion. The sooner you get this done, the better, unless you’re an inscriber, that is.

And like I said earlier, much like the Sons of Hodir, the lesser blue quality enchants will be character bound, but the greater epic enchants will be an account-wide thing you can send to alts, so it is very much one and done in most cases.

Associated Gear and Tabards

These factions also have a slew of 346 blues and 359 epics associated with them, and these will prove to be incredibly strong early on and be where you get a lot of your pre-raid BiS items. Now, there are too many to go over here, but you start getting access to 333 blues from honored, with more impactful gear at revered, and the epics at exalted.

Again, if you’ve been playing Wrath, this is all standard fare, and you’ll be very familiar with this process. And as in Wrath, each of these factions has a tabard associated with them that you can pick up from friendly. Wearing these tabards in level 85 dungeon content, that being Halls of Origination, Lost City of the Tol’vir, and Grim Batol, on either normal or heroic, and every other Cataclysm dungeon on heroic only, will grant you reputation.

This will be the primary way you get your reps past honored and revered, and early on in the expansion, you will be doing a lot of dungeons.

Dungeon Content in Cataclysm

Speaking of dungeons, then, you’re going to be doing a metric crapload of them, especially early on for that oh-so-precious pre-raid BiS slot. Now, Cataclysm has some of the finest five-man content ever put into the game, and the optimist within me hopes beyond hope that Blizzard stands tall and proud for once and gives us the original, more challenging incarnations of heroics because I really like my five-mans to be something.

Challenges and Rewards of Cataclysm Dungeons

I can sink my teeth into that. That being said, the realist within me is also violently smothering my inner optimist, and I reckon we’ll get the nerfed versions, especially if we get a Cataclysm version of the Titan Rune system as seen in Wrath.

But, before tier 11 becomes available, this will be the primary source of gear for everyone. So, do get used to five-mans having the potential to actually kill you again because there are bosses that can and will flatten you without hesitation, particularly on heroic. And even post-nerf, there were just trash packs that required coordination and CC to tackle it all. The Vortex Pinnacle stands out in particular. But this will also be a primary source of Justice and Valor points early on and, frankly, throughout the entire expansion.

The Dungeon Finder System

The primary way you’ll interact with this content is most likely going to be via the Dungeon Finder, implemented in phase four of Wrath. But, for normal modes and leveling, this means you can quite easily hop in and out at will.

In order to access heroics via this system, you need to hit a minimum iLvl of about 330, which is pretty achievable via some early crafted items, rep gear, and normal mode drops. However, should you enter a dungeon the old-fashioned way, you can bypass that requirement entirely.

So, I would recommend early on getting a guild or friend group together and just cracking them out. It may even be more entertaining if you’re a little bit on the weak side. The only real drawback to this is that you’ll only be able to do the dungeons once, whereas with the LFD tool, you can just spam them out to your heart’s content.

Dungeon Prioritization

There’s not really much more to say. Dungeons are fairly self-explanatory: you do them for gear and points in order to be raid-ready. What dungeons you prioritize will depend on what you’ve already had drop and what’s best for your class and spec, and so on.

Tol Barad: The Wintergrasp of Cataclysm

Let’s move on to Tol Barad then. This is the Wintergrasp of Cataclysm, the same thing at its core, a PvP event with the winning faction gaining control of the region and having access to a raid within, which you can kill bosses that drop both Tier gear and PvP gear. In this case, it’s Baradin Hold, and I imagine the PvP event itself will end up much in the same state as Wintergrasp did in Wrath.

For example, on my server, we’ve had unilateral control of the zone since launch, and the battle itself is a 10-minute inconvenience, but that’s what you get for being on a very imbalanced server. However, unlike its Wrath counterpart, Tol Barad comes with its own reputation for each faction, a currency, and a spate of dailies.

Tol Barad: A Dual-Purpose Zone

In fact, the zone itself is sectioned off into two parts: the battleground and the questing area. Now, you’ll be able to access this questing area regardless of whether or not your faction controls the hold itself, and you can work away on this faction each day as there are some rewards behind it, even for PvE, including some epic trinkets which may prove to be pretty good early on for a lot of classes, as well as some cosmetics like mounts, the Drake of the West Wind, and the Spectral Steed or Spectral Wolf, depending on your faction.

The Dynamics of Daily Quests in Tol Barad

Now, here’s the thing with Tol Barad and its dailies: you’ll get five to six in the quest area, the peninsula. But if your faction controls the hold in one of the three prisons in the region, there will be three more dailies that crop up. Should your faction maintain control of Tol Barad after every battle, there is a solid chance that the quests in the other prison will spawn, as it’s random which one is active. In theory, should your faction dominate the region on your server, you could, in fact, end up doing 12 dailies, which is a lot of rep and will do wonders for your commendation acquisition.

Importance of Tol Barad in Commendation Acquisition

This is going to be the first big daily hub of the expansion. Other factions do have some dailies, like Hellscream’s Reach or Baradin Wardens, but they are generally factions you’ve been working towards via questing, and they have a dungeon tabard to make rep gains easier. So, you’re probably going to hit the honored/revered mark before things even start to get grindy. There’s no such luck with the Baradin Wardens or Hellscream’s Reach because you will just start from neutral and have to daily your way up to exalted. By that point, you should have more than enough badges to purchase the items you need.

Strategic Approach to Alts Early in the Expansion

And should you want to continue doing them for gold or whatnot, you’ll easily rack up enough to get your hands on the cosmetic item offer as well. Because remember, everything on these vendors can only be purchased for the zone currency; your gold is completely useless here.

One thing I’d like to make clear before I move on is that the raid will not be available from launch, just as Vault of Aravon wasn’t. But I see no reason as to why the daily zone would be time-gated, but Blizzard might still, for some unfathomable reason, deem it that we aren’t allowed to go and do dailies for a couple of weeks.

Alts are also something that I would recommend doing at the very start of this expansion. You may wonder why I want to focus on my main. Well, you can still do that, but for the first couple of weeks, there won’t be a raid, so the gap between alt and main will be much smaller, especially if, like me, you’re planning on raiding on multiple characters. It means you haven’t got to wade through several patches worth of content and gear in order to be viable.

Efficient Leveling in Cataclysm

In the current context, Cataclysm only offers five new levels instead of the previously standard ten. leveling as a whole is just generally a bit swifter in Cataclysm for a number of reasons, so it really shouldn’t take you too long to get from 80 to 85, even on multiple characters.

And if you’re someone who is not sold on what class they want to play, it is going to be a fairly friendly period in which to test things out. Of course, if you spend the entire grace period before the raid launches just leveling and not actually sorting out your reps and whatnot, well, you’ll end up in a well-known creek without a paddle.

But if you’ve got three characters and you’re undecided on which one will be your baby for Cataclysm, you’ll have plenty of time to get them up and still get the bells and whistles you need for that class before tier 11 drops.

Maximizing Post-Leveling Opportunities

I’d also recommend going back and completing the zones and polishing up quests you’d missed during leveling once you hit 85. Why? Well, rep is one that really can’t be understated, but also gold, money, Moola. You get more gold for completing quests at max level, so go and do them. It’s the start of an expansion; things are generally a touch more expensive during this period, so it’s easy money. You can fly around and hoover up the life savings of every poor peasant farmer in the land.

Importance of Professions

Last thing I’d say, go and do your damn professions. Gathering skills early on are hugely profitable, and if you’re clever, you’ll make a mountain of gold. But even if making a mint is not really your thing, having your professions up to snuff for the raid release is just good sense.

There’s no point being the guild enchanter for pat drops you’re nowhere near being able to actually use it. Or go and get your cooking up so you can make feasts and feeds your friends, or hell, even if it’s just so you can scratch the OCD to have all the numbers at max level.

Just get it done, because at the end of the day, there will be a reset or two where we haven’t got the raid yet, so outside of engineering or rep farming, you’ll need something to do, and professions are always a worthwhile time sink.

Engaging in Secondary Professions

And even if it isn’t your big ones like blacksmithing or engineering, go do archaeology or something. I’ve always really enjoyed that particular secondary profession. I know it’s not the most in-depth, but just spending a couple of hours flying around, digging the world up, and trying to get a fossil raptor or Kaj’mount is a pretty chill way to spend a Sunday afternoon, in my opinion. Anyway, that’s me for now and the things I will be doing once Cataclysm hits. Let me know your own thoughts and process down below. If you’d be so kind as to like up, share your Ps and so on, that’ll be grand. Have a good one, folks. Bye for now.

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