Battle for Azeroth is World of Warcraft's latest expansion, and while many features and systems are new, end-game player progression still relies on gear. There are many sources of items to up your power level, so which do you focus first?
Before we go into specifics, it's a good idea to give you a general overview of gear in WoW. There are three main power levels: Uncommon (green), Rare (blue) and Epic (purple), as well as the much rarer Legendary (orange) category.
The power of items depends on their item level, which you can see on the item's tooltip; the higher the level, the better an item will be. However, the Warforging and Titanforging system - introduced in the Warlords of Draenor expansion - means that almost any item of Uncommon, Rare or Epic quality has a chance to ‘forge' to higher than its base item level: Warforging is up to +15, Titanforging is up to +45.
Until the first raid, Uldir, is released on the 4th September, Titanforging is limited to level 355; after that, items can forge up to level 400.
The WF/TF system complicates gearing a bit, as you could get an Uncommon quest reward that forges to Epic quality (not a myth - it happened to me on the first night of release). This means that the old ‘Best in Slot' system is, to all intents and purposes, useless, and you should generally opt for whatever item you have that is the highest level - especially as tier gear no longer exists.
In addition to regular gear slots, BfA introduces a new item called the Heart of Azeroth, which gains levels through Artifact Power rewards from end-game tasks like World Quests. More levels in the Heart of Azeroth will unlock traits on Azerite items: another new item type in BfA.
Most helms, shoulders and chest-pieces from BfA content are Azerite items. Instead of secondary stats (like critical strike and haste), these have several tiers of passive abilities that you can choose between; which is best for you will depend on your spec, but again, item level will usually win out.
Azerite pieces, crafted gear and items from vendors cannot War- or Titanforge.
Where do I go?
‘The game begins at level-cap' is a common phrase in any MMO, and WoW is no different. Once you've hit level 120, you'll want to farm up gear so that you can move on to more challenging content - whether that is M+ dungeons, raids or organised PvP (though that's a topic for a different article).
However, there are so many places to go and things to do that it can get confusing. Should I finish off the remaining quests in my current zone, or go straight to World Quests for rep farming? When do I start running dungeons? Am I geared for M+10 (hint: no)?
Your first source of gear will be questing. At level 120, normal quest rewards start at item level 280, although can be higher (up to about 300) for quests at the end of a long chain.
The next easily-accessible gear comes from world quests. These will begin to appear on your map after you hit level 120 and become Friendly with all of the BfA zone factions: the Proudmoore Admiralty, Order of Embers and Storm's Wake for the Alliance; and Zandalari Empire, Talanji's Expedition and Voldunai for the Horde.
World quest gear starts at item level 295, and will scale based on your average item level up to 330, or 340 for world quests that take you to dungeons.
To get gear that powerful you will need to raise your item level further, but doing this just through world quests is a slow process.
As well as unlocking world quests, reputation factions also have gear. All of them offer a level 320 cloak to buy at Honoured, with 335 gear at Revered and 355 at Exalted. It will take some time - at least four weeks - to reach this level of rep, though.
You will hit Friendly through questing in each faction's respective zone, but anything above that will require work. World quests are the best way to grind rep for a particular faction, and the one you should focus on will depend on your class and spec.
The first faction you should put time into - completing all available world quests and maybe even investing in an item called a Contract - should be the Champions of Azeroth. This neutral faction will grant you +15 item levels to the Heart of Azeroth at each level of reputation.
Aside from reputation, solo players can also work towards gear through crafting professions. Although this gear starts at just level 225, it is possible to make items as powerful as level 385 - although these require materials from end-game group content.
You can also make item level 300 gear using a reagent called Expulsom, which comes from the Scrapper. You should Scrap most Uncommon and Rare items you find that you won't use - and even as an Enchanter, you should Scrap any and all trinkets, as these guarantee an Expulsom drop.
Crafted gear, as mentioned above, cannot War- or Titanforge.
Playing with friends
The best possible WoW gear comes from group content, which in this case means five-player dungeons, and raids.
At 120, dungeon loot begins at 310 for Normal mode. Heroic mode drops level 325 and Mythic drops 340.
Once you can reliably clear a Mythic dungeon - which you should be able to do with a competent group starting at around item level 310 - then you can venture into Mythic+ content.
A Mythic+ dungeon is a much more difficult version of the original, and loot doesn't drop directly from bosses; instead, a chest will spawn at the end containing a number of items that will increase depending on how quickly you cleared the zone. The level of this loot will increase based on the difficulty level (Keystone) of the dungeon you completed, starting at 345 and scaling to 370 for a M+10 or higher.
Once a week, you will be able to open a chest rewarding between one and three items. Unlike the end-of-dungeon chest, these pieces can be Azerite items. Gear from this chest starts at 355 and can increase to 380, or 340/385 for Azerite pieces. The power level will scale based on the difficulty of the highest M+ dungeon you finished the week before.
Finally is raiding. Thanks to the LFR (‘Looking For Raid') system, solo players can take part in a very easy form of this content, which has a chance to reward level 340 gear. After this comes a need for more organisation, and players will need dedicated groups to clear Normal, Heroic and Mythic raids.
In Uldir, the first raid to be released in BfA, Normal gear will drop at item level 350; Heroic mode will drop level 370; and Mythic will start at 385.
The TL;DR version
Start with questing for gear; move into world quests; jump into dungeons as soon as you can, and gear up for Heroic then Mythic versions (Raid Finder is an alternative, but less reliable, gearing avenue at this point). At around item level 320 you should be able to start pushing Normal raids and Mythic+ dungeons in a coordinated group.
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