After only a few short weeks, I’m back into end-game content, running through Heroics and dabbling a little in Highmaul. The road to get there is more challenging than it has ever been in the past, from what I can remember. Getting there was a good refresher on playing as a hunter, and it helped me in getting back on my feet after my long hiatus from WoW. Raiding has always been my favorite aspect of the game, and I really am glad to be getting back into that aspect so quickly.
Now, if you are running with a premade group, a lot of this will not apply, but from a LFG perspective it will provide what you can expect to have to do before being able to run into heroics, and ultimately into the end-game raids that are currently available.
First off, your primary objective should be getting to level 100 so you have your final abilities, level 100 talent, and everything available to you class-wise. It’s worthwhile to run dungeons and instances while leveling up, but know that the gear you get will quickly be replaced by quest gear or crafted gear.
There is something to be said about knowing the boss fights before you hit 100 and start doing heroics, so you might consider searching for some instance guides or checking out some YouTube videos so that you can familiarize yourself with the fight mechanics.
If you take a look at the LFG panel, you can see what the Gear Score requirement is for Heroics. With a modest 610 requirement, it feels like it’s in the right place, though 615 or 620 might have been better for pacing in the long run, and would have given folks more reason to run the non-heroic dungeons first. Keep in mind that your gear score is based on what you are wearing AND what you have in your inventory. While I don’t feel this makes a lot of sense, it allows you to do things to get around the requirement without actually being geared appropriately.
As it stands, I was able to reach 608 personally by crafting my engineering Gun and Helm, and including what I had acquired via quests.
Finally, with the completion of the first part of the Legendary quest to get my iLVL 640 ring, I was able to push it over 610 and unlock the heroics. That being said, I did run normal Skyreach before hopping into heroics in order to finish the quest.
So having finally reached the gear requirement, I went to hop into a heroic and get the fun started, only I still wasn’t able to queue for them. So I rechecked everything, and went back to the LFG panel and noticed that there were still locks on the Heroic dungeons. Much to my chagrin, there was yet another requirement to get into Heroics. I had to complete one of the silver proving grounds tests.
In an interesting twist from Blizzard, they actually expect you to go through something that might make you a better player at your class! 😉
Now if you’ve been playing for a long time, you know that pick up groups (i.e., PUGs) were always one of the real downfalls to the LFG system, and end game dungeon groups. Hopefully with the addition of Proving Grounds, folks might actually come into PUGs with some semblance of knowing what they are doing or what to expect, and not wipe the group all night. I like that the proving grounds gets you moving around, and forces you to use your abilities to their maximum potential (including abilities that might not be in some folks’ Hotbars, like Tranquilizing Shot.
So I completed the bronze and silver proving grounds fairly easily (albeit silver took me two tries, since I did not interrupt the heal in Wave 6 or 7 in time). Finally I was able to get into Heroics, and have since helped the guild complete several guild achievements for running Heroics.
Of course, this is not where the progression fun ends for the solo Hunter who wants to experience the end-game content in WoW… There is a feature which now allows you to queue for the raids like Highmaul and Molten Core, and with only a meager gear score of 615. So much has changed since I’d left, that now you can not only do heroics without a premade group, you can do raids as well.
The difficulty for LFR raids is lower than normal, with the gear being slightly lower in iLVL as well, but this is great news for when no one else in the guild is on. What’s even better is that the LFR lockout is separate from the normal lockout, which means you can run Highmaul more than once per week. From what I hear, the LFR version is very easy and you should have no problem jumping right in once you meet the GS requirement.
The LFR has several tiers, with the last requiring a GS of 635, but it’s fantastic that you can operate outside of a guild, especially if your schedule is not conducive to raiding with them. Additionally, for those that don’t like to be part of a guild, they are not stuck at level 100 with nothing to do (I don’t PVP much, so if I couldn’t group or raid, I wouldn’t have much to do outside of daily quests).
I did do a bit of a respec on my talents and the Lone Wolf talent is going to be fun to be able to contribute whatever buff the party is missing. I dropped Steady Focus to pick up Thrill of the Hunt and I think it maximizes my DPS a bit more, but I haven’t tested the numbers just yet.
Lastly, don’t forget that just because you are able to get into groups for heroics and raids doesn’t mean you can forgo your responsibility to actually contribute to the fight. Get your gear enchanted and socketed, get your flasks made, and be at your maximum potential for the fights.
Even a cheap enchant is better than no enchant at all.