Gearing up for Looking for Raid is critical to the progression of every character because it’s the step right before traditional raiding. You’ll need an average item level of 460 in order to queue for the first tier of raids, Mogu’shan Vaults and the Vaults of Mysteries, which is one raid split into two. For the more difficult raids later you will need an average item level of at least 470.
You will need at least an item level of 460 to start and 470 for the next round of raids.
The item level will have to come from equipped gear only, meaning that you can’t use temporary bind-on-equip items to inflate your score. You’ll need actual gear bound to you and equipped, which makes the process a lot more difficult for some, but also a lot more fair.
Item level is a lot different than GearScore. Item level takes into account the item level of all of your equipped gear and then divides it by 15 or 16 (depending on if you’re dual wielding or have an off-hand equipped). GearScore calculates the item’s weight against your specialization and counts enchants and gems into the equation, giving a better overall view of your gear. Blizzard uses average ilvl as a gate for LFR content, while not perfect, serves to make sure that players have at least some gear for the content
Since it’s a simple average, replacing your lowest ilvl pieces first will give you the biggest advantage. You’ll get a bigger boost going from 410 to 458 then you will going from 450 to 458. The same is also true of item budget, because you’ll gain a lot more stats focusing on your weaker pieces first, which should be the primary focus when you’re gearing up for the raid finder. There isn’t a lot of good to be had if you join, but can’t contribute.
After you hit level 90, you probably are not even going to have enough ilvl to run scenarios. The good news is that Mists of Pandaria no longer includes PvP Resilience or PvP Power into the items budget, meaning that you’ll get the full PvE stats in addition to the PvP stats. This makes PvP gear viable for PvE and the first way to easily fit in some gear.
PvP gear comes in two flavors, crafted (ilvl 450) and honor (ilvl 458). The crafted gear can generally be found on the auction house rather inexpensively. Other easy to obtain gear is drops off of rares (usually ilvl 440), and rares from dungeons. Justice gear can also be considered, but it’s very pricey and you’re often better off transferring your justice points into honor points. Once you can queue for each scenario, running Arena of Annihilation will get you an ilvl 450 weapon off of the quest.
A special note, holidays in MoP drop ilvl 470 epics (generally trinkets/rings/necklaces/etc.). You can get these off of the dungeon bosses. While not always available, they can help substantially.
Once you can queue for scenarios or heroics, you should be set on being able to reach the ilvl 460 goal. Scenarios and heroics both drop ilvl 463 gear. If you replace the majority of your gear with ilvl 463s, then you’ll have an average of around 460.
Gearing Strategy for LFR
Since few players will want to run heroics over and over until almost every single piece of gear you own has been upgraded you should look to get at least a few of these items which will really help boost your average ilvl.
The first is, to me, one of the easiest. The Sha of Anger drops a quest which gives you an ilvl 476 boots and a chance at ilvl 483 (pvp)/496 (pve) tier gear. Groups run the Sha of Anger regularly and you can run it once a week for a chance at a piece of gear or the Cache of Sha-Touched Gold. It uses the Looking for Raid loot roll system, so you don’t have to worry about ninjas. The boots brought one of my characters up from 446 to 451, a total of five points.
Crafting can grant some really good items that will stay with you for a while.
Professions are another way to get some great gear. All of the crafting professions have ilvl 476 gloves and chest pieces available to you once you max your profession and then earn honored with a specific faction. Neither of those things are hard to do, and two ilvl 476 items can take boost your average ilvl significantly (almost 4 points if they were both 450 previously, and almost 9 points if they were ilvl 410 leveling blues).
Inscriptionists can create some really good items as well for use or sale. There are the new MoP Darkmoon Faire decks that create ilvl 476 trinkets which could give anyone a boost in average ilvl. Inscriptionists also create great off-hand items called Fans that are ilvl 476 that could help out casters. Lastly they can create their own ilvl 476 staff for either casters or melee, so Inscription is definitely worth levelling right away so you have it when you reach level 90.
Valor gear is another really good option as it is ilvl 489, which will really increase your average. The problem with valor items however are twofold: the time it takes to earn the points, and the reputation you also need to have to spend them. Since you are capped at earning 1000 valor points a week, and earning that through dailies, heroics, or scenarios takes a significant amount of time, it is unlikely you will be able to afford more than a piece or two before you are actually into the LFR groups anyway. Also, you generally need to have reached revered with a faction to be able to purchase them, and that takes a lot of time as well.
This all means that you should look at the biggest upgrades for the fewest points when you are first starting out. Therefore when looking at valor point items initially you should focus on:
As you can see, the valor rings are pretty amazing for 1250 points!
- Necklaces Â 1250 valor points and few alternatives out there before raiding
- Trinket Â 1750 valor points and trinkets are notoriously hard to find, having one really good one will help a lot.
- Belts Â 1750 valor points and they have a socket and will be a piece worth putting a buckle on and gem in that will not be replaced too soon.
- Rings Â 1250 valor points, they are great rings but there are other options too, so keep these in mind as a lower priority
The auction house is also a great place to look. If you have gold but no time to get your professions up, or if your professions are not focused on crafting what you need, you can always buy some items. There are of course the profession items for sale, as well as some BOE’s from world drops that are ilvl 476. While rather pricey, it’s the easiest way to go about it.
Ultimately, the biggest point is to make sure you’re gearing yourself up for the LFR. A lot of the gear you’ll get will stack on what you farm beforehand in order to move on to traditional raids, but reading that LFR milestone will get you setup on the path to victory.