I have been playing this game a long time, but I have been playing it at a high level for a relatively short time.  When the WotLK expansion hit, it was a gear-continuation expansion.  Players who had the highest tier items from BC could and did raid right away in Naxx with those.  BC and Cataclysm are gear reset expansions.  Highest tier level items in WotLK won’t carry you to max level, never mind raiding.

What WotLK did was give many more people in the game a taste of the elite life.  Anyone who wanted to could have an entire suite of purples and you could pick up the game in the last few months of the expansion and still kill Arthas.  Coming into Cataclysm, people want to still have that but things are tougher now.  In this post I want to explain my gearing strategy for the expansion.

I have three levels of gear I’m looking at right now.  First is a BiS-ByZone profile, next is a BiS-PreHeroics, and finally we have a BiS-PreRaid profile.  The idea being this:  I want to get an idea of what is going to be an incremental upgrade for me as I go along, as well as what is going to be the best in slot for normals, and best in slot for heroics.

We start by going to our favorite theorycrafters Elitist Jerks.  They have a great column in there for current Simulationcraft numbers.  I’ll have a post dedicated to how to use Simulationcraft later on.  It’s a valuable tool, and when you know how to use it, the better you will be on understanding parses from it.

In that forum post, the OP updates with the latest results.  All results are run assuming BiS gear for the current tier.  What you’re looking for is the section on stat weights.  Assuming you are using the build in the simulation, these stat numbers are good enough to start from when it comes to weighing the different stats.  The parse also gives links to lootrank and wowhead to filter out gear and give it a numerical dps value to you.  I prefer loot rank so let’s head over there.

Initially loot rank shows you the top 15 items for each slot based on your stat weights from all the gear currently available.  There is a box to type in your character name and realm name.  Do that and it will add your currently equipped gear piece and the calculation of that piece so you can see how much of an upgrade it is for you.  There’s also check boxes up top to filter out what gear is shown based on how it is obtained.

Here’s where the fun, manual part of the process takes place.  I have a spreadsheet on Google Docs, with a tab for Quest items, normal 5-man items, crafted items, and reputation items.  I uncheck all the items on the Loot Rank page except quest items and re-submit.  Now I have a list of all the crafted gear available and it’s relative DPS value in comparison to my currently equipped stuff.  I write all of them down and sort them by zone so as I quest in a zone I know if a piece is an upgrade or not.  I immediately disenchant all the things that aren’t upgrades.

I do this same thing for reputation items, normal 5-man items, and crafted items.  It’s important to realize two things.  First, uncheck the box that says “include reforged value”.  What ends up happening is nearly every item is reforged to hit giving it a much higher actual value, when realistically you might just end up over cap if you reforged everything.  Reforging should be done latter to fill in any wholes your gear and enchants don’t take care of.  Second thing to remember is that crafted items have two filters, crafted BoE gear and a separate filter for crafted BoP gear, so make sure the check out the gear your profession can make that’s BoP.

Now that I have this huge list I can move through and level and know at any moment if that item I’m getting is an upgrade for me or not.  I know before I ever start questing a zone, or enter a new dungeon, what items in here are relevant to me, and which are not.

Hopefully this helped some people clarify things for themselves on how to approach gearing.  This concept applies to new tiers of content as well, but it’s a little different for me then, and I’ll write up a post later on about coming up with your own BiS list for a raiding tier.