I’ve only geared up to start raiding once before, but I wasn’t in a raiding guild leading into tier 7. Once rolling in raids, keeping up is not supremely difficult after you’ve made that time commitment. Getting on the train, however, is tough for me. I find myself lacking motivation when it comes to daily quests and PuG’d Heroics. I’m even more discouraged when a good sized portion of those dungeon groups meet failure (such as with adds on Corborus or a lagging tank on Ozruk). As long as I might play on any given evening, I just don’t have as much fun or feel as motivated if I’m not there with a large group of people. All of which is a long way of saying “I feel like I’m behind where I should be.”
I’m not going to freak out because I can never make my self play more or take more enjoyment out of the game. It’s probably why it took me nearly two years to reach 60. It feels odd, but honest, to say I enjoy a night’s worth of progression wipes much more than doing my dailies or healing Halls of Origination with four perfectly competent strangers. Raiding just engages me on a completely different level and motivates me in many ways which happen not to including leveling or reputation and emblem grinding. They must be done, however, if I’ve any hope of contributing effectively to any raid at the levels I know I can reach.
With all that in mind, what are all these horrible ‘chores’ I must complete? First, I’ll lay out the general arrangement of what must be accomplished.
- Valor Points: For now, this means a daily Random Heroic. Once raiding on a regular basis you’ll want to note the weekly cap is 1,250.
- Justice Points: Gain these from 5-man normal and heroic dungeons. The overall cap is 4,000. You will probably want to purchase 3 to 4 pieces of gear for a pre-tier 11 set. You will also probably want to cap these points prior to the release of tier 12 content.
- Reputations: Figure out which reputations are important and focus on completing all available daily quests for those factions as often as possible. Make sure to wear the appropriate tabard in your dungeon runs. If possible, try to run multiple dungeons per day to reach your goals even quicker.
- Professions: Farm, purchase, or trade the materials necessary to reach the maximum levels of your professions in order to gain the most advantage from them. Complete all available daily quests as often as possible.
- Crafted Gear: Figure out which pieces will serve you best now and in the long run. Do whatever you can to obtain the best pieces and figure out if anything else is a worthwhile option in the short term.
- Drops: Random drops are random, but you can load the dice a bit by choosing your dungeons when appropriate.
Putting all of this into practice, in my case, for a Holy Paladin looks something like this:
- Weekly Raid. The primary reason I play, the raid doesn’t earn me too many Valor Points as my group is early in its progression.
- Daily Random Heroic. I take what I get and stick with it to the end. The amount of time and effort involved means I’ll not often enter another dungeon until the next day. This earns me a small amount of Valor Points and a decent number of Justice Points.
- Chosen Heroic. Depending on which pieces of gear I am trying to upgrade I will flag a few specific dudgeons. Lately this is Throne of the Tides for shoulders and Deadmines or Grim Batol for bracers.
- Having already worked up rep for the best available items from Hyjal and Earthen Ring, I’ve moved on to Ramkahen for their awesome belt. Next will be Therazane, then Tol Barad and Twilight Highlands.
- Farming while leveling allowed me to level my professions without spending too much gold. I managed to build my goggles less than 24 hours after winning my first Chaos Orb.
- I spent a couple days being picky to get a decent deal on Truegold for someone to create my Elementium Stormshield.
- At the risk of feeling like a complete hack, I joined a friend for my first ever Arena matches. A handful of games later put me at the weekly Conquest cap and bought me a new pair of bracers. This filled the most glaring (green) gap in my gear with an item that, while made for PvP, is at least as good as available ilvl 346 dungeon drops.
- Enchant and gem as I go.
For a specific list of gear to set your eyes on, see Kurn’s post which provides very complete coverage of the available options.
You can do the same thing. Look at your gear now, figure out where you want to be, then create a plan of action from these steps to get there. It might be raiding or just 5-mans with your friends, but keeping all of this in mind will keep you on track and moving toward your goal.