First off, I’d like to say that I’ve been playing since just before the original Naxx patch came in. I’ve raided the easier stages for most tiers (eg: MC, Kara), and stepped into some harder stuff later on when Wrath opened up the doors for people like myself. I am a semi-casual player with a family and mostly enjoy logging on of an evening, doing my dailies and running a few dungeons. I like raiding but have struggled a bit to make the commitment some guilds require, so I’ve spent alot of time benched. I have played all 3 roles on different characters, my main is a Protection Paladin at the moment. I also play a Holy Priest, and have this character levelling mostly via gathering at the moment.

When I load into a random Heroic, there are a number of things that happen more often than not. I will say hello, and check out the classes available. Firstly I look at the healer, and his/her gear. This helps me decide if I can push the envelope, or do I need to CC every available thing and save cooldowns for bosses. I will then look at the available dps, and decide on CC assignments. Their gear is less important at the start, but I will note any bad points, like ungemmed leather items on a Shaman for example. I post CC assignments in chat. I then check we have all the buffs we should and proceed to set up the first pull.

Usually after the first pull, you can tell what the group is going to be like. Did the Hunter trap your mark before or after the pull? If after, did it miss entirely and trap skull, causing chaos? Did the Mage stand right at the back and leave sheep way too late, so that it is now sitting right in the middle of Consecrate? Did the Warrior Heroic Leap onto a mob that isnt your current focus, and instantly break all the CC’s and yank threat on everything? Did the healer stand slowly spinning on the spot while you blew all your cooldowns just to survive, as his single Renew ticks for less than a bandage? Was the raid geared Rogue spamming GOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGO before you had even marked a skull?

Any of these things can happen with or without being properly prepared for Heroics. However, with correct gearing and research strategies, alot of this can be avoided. Looking for Dungeon is an amazing tool, and hey, you can also meet some tools along the road as well. Some people are just the way they are, but you can avoid most of the hassles by being polite, and well prepared. If someone starts ragging on your gear, or picking on your rotation, but you know you have maxed out in every way you could, you dont need to worry about them. Be prepared to be kicked a few times if you make mistakes, or that Guild group wants to sub in their friend for the last boss. However, if you’ve ever zoned in and instantly clicked with 4 random people from all over the world, and run through Heroic Deadmines like its Ragefire Chasm, then you will know that it can be a very rewarding experience.

Being unprepared for the content before beginning is not only punishing yourself, as you will find players are not very forgiving of those who attempt to cheat the system and expect to be carried through, you are punishing those who HAVE made the effort. And face it, though it may seem like it takes forever to get geared and prepared, it really is down to how much time you have to spend, and how organised you are. Hopefully you will find some advice here that will help you a little!

So, on with the guide!

Levelling Up: 80-82.

When you first begin to level after 80, theres a few things you could decide on early. Where to start questing is a good first step. Your choices are Vash’jir and Mount Hyjal right? Well theres a few deciding factors that may help.

Mount Hyjal quests award rep with The Guardians of Hyjal. Once you finish the zone, you will be around Revered.

Vash’jir quests are not all reputation based, but the ones that are award reputation with The Earthen Ring.

*The links provided include the reputation rewards purchasable at varying levels. If you know your desired role at 85 already, you will get a good idea of what might be useful for you. Bear in mind you can no longer purchase items that are ahead of your current level- eg: at 82, you cant purchase the level 83 neck from a vendor and keep it in your bags till you ding.
Also, remember to buy your tabards as soon as you hit friendly. Though they dont work until you are in level 85 dungeons, they are still worth having so that you dont forget later on.


In order to queue for normal level dungeons in Cataclysm, you need to have discovered the entrances prior to signing up.

Mount Hyjal: Blackrock CavernsThe quest This Can Only Mean One Thing

-allows you to discover the entrance to Blackrock Caverns via a mole machine next to the quest giver in Mount Hyjal. Keep in mind that you are stuck there once you arrive, so keep your hearthstone off cooldown before clicking the cogwheel 🙂 Theres also a follow up quest inside.

Vash’jir: The entrance to Throne of the Tides is here. 

*Here is an excellent video that shows you how to discover all the Cataclysm dungeon entrances. 

I reccomend doing both these starter instances as soon as you are able, even if only once. Currently, you cannot queue for them at 85 using LFD, so if you want to check them out before stepping into a Heroic, your only option is to form your own group. I read upcoming patch notes that mentioned this may be rectified later on however.


You may already have decided which Professions you want to level, and I suggest that you work on them as you quest. Gathering professions now grant experience when you use a node, and this will help you to level quicker. Crafting professions have great items that take some work to reach, and alot of them may feature in your gear set for starting level 85 normal dungeons. Read up at the trainer, and earmark any items that appear obtainable.


You are looking at needing average gear level of 333 to be able to begin in heroics. There are many items available from quests in the higher level zones, from dungeons and from professions. You dont have to spend alot of gold, and should make your first stop Wowhead. Keep in mind that to do NORMAL instances, you need to make a bit of an effort as well. Dont vendor those 316 blues from quests and lower end instances, they will help you out once you step into the next tier of normals like Vortex Pinnacle.

*Using the Wowhead Search function.

On the home page, choose Database. On the dropdown menu, choose Items. Choose either Weapon or Armor depending on what you are looking for. Choose the type eg: Plate. Choose the slot if you like. Click your selection.

Now there are a range of filters available. You can choose slot here, on the top right side of the page – eg: Chest. You can then choose the quality of the item – we’re looking for Rare and above. Choose your level, (in this case 85) faction (Horde) if you like, add in required level (being character level) and then hit apply filters. NOW, hit the top of the column that says level. It should now be sorted from highest ilevel down. You can then see all the available rare plate chest pieces, and where they come from. 

You should now be able to begin putting together a list of items that will get you ready for heroics. Remember we are looking for items around ilevel 325 and up, and ones that are obtainable via quest, reputation, drop from a normal dungeon, or are crafted.

Some examples of items I may have chosen as a Protection Paladin:

Crafted: Redsteel Breastplate
Drop: Beauty’s Plate
Quest: Breastplate of the Witness
Reputation: n/a

So now I have a few options for that slot, and I can weigh up whats going to work best for me. In this case, I’d probably go for the quest item, as its going to give me gold and xp, plus I’ll get a dungeon run out of it and maybe some other items I want might drop too.

Levelling Up 82-85:

Once again there is a choice of areas. Keep in mind you will level before you finish all of them, so look at the reputation guides first and see which suits you best. Also, if you made that list of quest items, use that to determine your journey as well.


Quests here award reputation with 2 factions. The primary one is Therazane, note that you must progress a good way into the zone to begin gaining rep though. This is the Cataclysm faction that provides our shoulder enchants. At this point the enchants are not BOA, so you may need to do this grind with multiple characters. There are also some nice rings at revered, which are ilevel 346.
There is a tabard for Therazane, and you will also unlock 6-7 dailies, so this grind is actually pretty fast. Dailies award nice xp as well as gold and rep, so are worth doing if you have the time.

You also gain some more Earthen Ring rep from quests in Deepholm.

Twilight Highlands:

These quests award reputation with the Dragonmaw Clan (Horde) or Wildhammer Clan (Alliance). Once you hit a certain point, fairly early on for Horde anyway, you will gain 5 dailies as well.


*Twilight Highlands also contains the Cataclysm version of Ring of Blood, The Crucible of Carnage. There are some VERY nice rewards, so get a group together and do it asap if you are able to.

Start quest: 
*NOTE you need to be level 84 according to Wowhead. I was level 85 so cannot confirm or deny this.


These quests award reputation with Ramkahen. Its a really fun zone as well, and flows pretty well. Ramkahen is the slowest reputation, at least from what I found, and you wont even be revered when you finish the zone. There are two dailies available however, so you can get 500 extra rep a day if you are using your tabard for another faction in dungeons.

Tol Borad: 

A PvP zone, similar to Wintersgrasp. Upon zoning in via portals from Orgrimmar or Stormwind, you have access to 6 dailies that are obtainable in your factions homebase. If your faction owns the PvP zone, you can get another 6 dailies in Baradin Hold, and there is a VoA style raid in there as well. There are epic trinkets available for purchase, you must gain exalted and save up your commendations from dailies to buy these. 

Its a fun zone, with a bit of PvP on the Peninsula as factions compete for quest mobs, and you can avoid signing up for the actual PvP battle if you dont wish to participate. The grind will just be a bit slower is all.

Horde- Hellscreams Reach:
Alliance- Baradin’s Wardens:


Deepholm: Stonecore Entrance is here.

Twilight Highlands: Grim Batol entrance is here.

Uldum: Vortex Pinnacle, Halls of Origination and Lost City of the Tol’vir entrances are here.

*Note: You dont need to discover the entrances to Shadowfang Keep or Deadmines as far as I can tell. Check out the video to discovering all the entrances if you missed it earlier in the guide.


Hopefully by now you have visited all the areas and begun your reputation grinds. You should have all the tabards from just doing a few beginning quests, and have an idea of what you might want to purchase first. Hopefully you have made a list of the drops and run a few normal instances as they become available via LFD, and have decided if you want to purchase any crafted items. Finally, you should be working your way towards the quests that offer items that save you gold or grinding dungeons. Remember most of your 333 stuff will be gone after a few Heroics, so dont get too excited and buy up big at the AH. Just make sure things are appropriate for your spec and that you have made the effort to gem, enhant and enhance items where possible.

Gems and Enchants: 

You dont NEED to use the highest level of these if you dont want to, or cant afford to!! People who dont bother at all really annoy me though. If you look at the AH, there will likely be multiple gems listed very cheaply while people level their professions. Theres no excuse not to at least buy green versions of whatever gem suits your class/spec best. If you are REALLY cheap, then use up those old Wrath epic gems. 

Ditto enchants. For example, you dont have to buy the 65 crit to bracers that costs 400 gold. If you research, you will find that there is a very cheap 50 crit version. 

Dont forget your helm enchants, check the rep guides, and if you cant get the epic Therazane shoulder enchants yet, use the rare ones.. and do your dailies!

Some extra thoughts:

Once you ding 85 (grats!) and are on your way to getting your gear together, theres not much for it but to start doing dungeons and wearing your tabard while in there. Do your dailies and level your professions of course though! Theres a few extra hints I would like to share before finishing up.


Seems to be a really hard thing for some people these days, but starting out in a friendly fashion usually helps a group to last longer in my experience. Say hello!! Apologise for mistakes, ask for clarification if you’re not sure, make a few jokes to lighten the mood whilst running back in corpse form. DONT point fingers, dont talk trash, and dont start hammering the vote to kick button right away. Just regroup and try again if you dont get it right away.

Justice Points: 

Again, its up to the individual to research whats best for you. If you do the daily normal dungeon for a while whilst gearing up, you get 70 JP a day. Doesnt sound much? By the time I had finished grinding my quests/drops from normals, I had nearly 1000 JP (not including the few leftovers I had after Wrath) enough to buy my BiS tanking shield. Some people were prepared early and maxed out their JP before Cata’s release, if you were one of them then start spending them! You gain them back very quickly once you begin heroics.


Theres really no reason to not be using all available buffs. Level 80 feasts, flasks and elixirs still work if you cant afford the 85 stuff. It all helps when you step in at the beginning tier of Heroics believe me. 

Random Dungeon VS Specific Dungeon: 

IMO specific. My first ever random was… Deadmines. I had to repair from fully broken twice, we went through about 4 healers and 5 dps by the time we hit the last boss. I was cussed out until my hair curled and didnt have much fun at all. In hindsight, it might have been gentler to do something I at least had a basic understanding of, instead of alt-tabbing out to read strategies every 2 minutes, only to come back and be missing 2 group members because they got bored.

Hopefully you took my earlier advice and ran all the normals at least a few times each. Really, I cant offer better advice than that.

Spec advice: 

Theres many resources, but the best I have found so far are these forums, searching via class of course, and Elitist Jerks. Spend some time with Google and just read up if you arent sure. Talent points that help you out levelling, are often wasted points when it comes to beginning to do dungeons. Find out what your most valuable assests are eg: Mastery? Intellect? and spec, gear, gem etc accordingly. Practice on target dummies if you have a complicated rotation. Read up on CC and practice that out in the world as well. At this early stage at least, you will be very likely to be asked to use your classes abilities, and use them well. Noone is going to hold your hand and tell you when to hex, if its marked, you will be expected to time it correctly. 
Search by your class.

Research fights: 

Use Wowhead! Search the dungeon, then use the list on the right top side to read up before each boss. Read the comments as well. 

You can also go to Tankspot, Youtube, Wowikki. Theres plenty of guides out there, find which one suits you. Dont stand there and keep quiet if someone remembers to ask, 
“Has anyone not done this before?”
Fake it if you dont want to look like a newb. Just ask, “Hey what strat are we using? I’ve only done this on normal, mind explaining any changes?”
You might save a wipe or three.

Wowhead example: Stonecore – 
*Note on the right topside, you can view each boss and some basic comments about abilities and strategies.

Tankspot: Movie guides. Also includes written transcripts if you would rather read.

Youtube: Search results may or may not be helpful.



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