I am a certified altoholic. Over the last 4-6 weeks, I’ve more-or-less parked my main 2 characters and have been leveling and gearing up new characters for fun: mostly off-meta specs like Demo warlock and Arcane Mage.
I hear a lot of discussion about how Shadowlands is alt-unfriendly, and I wanted to share my own tips for rapidly gearing up new characters to a suitable ilvl for endgame content.
Note*: I don’t do PvP and am not super familiar with how effective of catchup that is. I imagine it is if you’re competent, but since I don’t have experience with it I won’t be talking about it.*
Tip #1: Level with Threads of Fate
Threads of Fate is an efficient and rewarding route to 60, and to reap the most rewards you want to complete each of the “progress bar” quests for the four zones since they reward a renown each. DO NOT TURN THESE IN IMMEDIATELY. You want to stockpile them to complete once you’re level 60 and at a much higher renown.
Side quests reward a very large amount of experience while in Threads of Fate, so seek those out first. Prioritize any world quests that reward anima or bonus experience. The bonus objectives may initially seem like they’re super slow and inefficient, but you actually get a surprising amount of experience from killing enemies. If you complete bonus objectives by mostly killing enemies to fill up progress bars, each will net you about 1/3 of a level up.
It took me about 5-7 hours to reach 60 on my alts, but your experience may vary. If you want, you can also level up using the standard questline then switch to Threads of Fate right before hitting 60 (or whenever) to access the 4 renown quests.
Tip #2: Utilize renown catchup, stockpile renown quests
This is where things are a bit unintuitive, but to gain renown most efficiently, you actually want to delay turning in quests that reward renown. The lower your renown, the more generous the catchup is, so you want to maximize that early on when you hit level 60.
This means no completing covenant campaign quests, threads of fate quests, and weekly anima / maw souls (Callings are fair game, however). Between all of these, you can have up to 13 guaranteed renown which can muscle you through the most grindy stretch of renown leveling.
My recommendation is to wait until renown level 17 to turn in any of these quests. The token drops are plentiful up to this point, and the 13 renown from quests will take you all the way to 30, which grants you max ilvl world quest gear and at least one fully filled out soulbind tree. Feel free to pick a different breakpoint based on your own needs.
Tip #3: Stockpiling Anima
The most efficient catchup gear in the game comes from your covenant, a full set of gear you can upgrade to 197 with anima. However, as stated above, you shouldn’t progress your covenant campaign until you’ve gotten to at least 17 renown. So your goal once reaching level 60 is to gather enough renown and anima that you can instantly upgrade your covenant gear once you reach that breakpoint.
The most lucrative sources of anima are one-time dungeon quests (Theatre of pain, Sanguine Depths, De other side, etc.), LFR Nathria, the one-time quest from defeating Sire, and world quests. Luckily, this is all content you’ll be doing anyways, so all you need to do is make sure not to spend any of it before you upgrade your gear.
The Step-by-Step Guide
Now I’m going to walk you through everything.
Start by picking up all callings, the Oribos dungeon quests, and weekly renown quests. The first gear benchmark you want to reach is 170, which is enough to get you into LFR: a very large source of anima, renown, and catchup gear.
Buy BoE Gear (Optional). Spend between 10-30k gold to purchase a full set of BoE gear from the auction house.
Kill the World Boss. This is a nearly guaranteed renown, a chance a 207 piece, and 250 anima.
Complete your callings. Prioritize world quests that reward anima or gear upgrades. Trinkets and weapons are huge early on.
Run Mythic 0s. Start with Sanguine Depths and Theatre of Pain, and make sure to pick up both dungeons’ quests  for 750 anima a-piece. If you haven’t reached ilvl 170 yet, do whichever dungeons the Oribos brokers have quests for. These are typically easy to make groups for.
Run Torghast and craft your 1st legendary. Depending on your class, you may need to run with friends or form a group in LFG (super easy) to complete both wings at level 8 comfortably. You can do this after LFR if the legendary power of your choice drops there, or if you don’t need a 190 to boost your ilvl.
Run LFR Castle Nathria. This will grant you 10 chances at 187/194 loot, legendary powers, 184 conduits, 1190 anima, and a quest from Remornia that rewards an additional 1250 anima.
Depending on your luck, your renown should be anywhere between 15 to 20 and you should have 4500+ anima stockpiled plus whatever you got from world quests. If you need or simply want more renown, just wait a couple more days to complete callings, run more mythics, or even pug normal Castle Nathria if you have the patience for it.
Once you’re finally ready to cash in your stockpiled renown turn in “Replenishing the Reservoir”, “Return Maw Souls”, and the four “Return to Oribos” quests from Threads of Fate. Then, complete the entire covenant campaign, and be mindful to hold on to all the equipment rewarded by the quests.
You should be able to fully upgrade most, if not all, of your covenant gear to 197, and your overall ilvl should be at least 190, suitable for running keys up to at least +10 and normal nathria.
These are just my tips for getting an alt battle-ready for endgame content with about ~10 hours of play. I hope the above guide helps people seeking to gear up new characters.
Personally I find this process enjoyable and decently fast, and think the catchup mechanics except for soul ash are pretty generous.
Let me know if there is anything I missed or I’m mistaken on!