The good thing about slow leveling is that we can actually look at blue upgrades for our Warlocks. Taking the time to level means we can actually go out of my way to look for items that I can use all the way to 80 instead of getting to 80 in a head-spinning two days in my Level 70 gear. If you're one of those who still haven't hit 80 yet, here's a short guide to good blue upgrades while leveling up. You'll encounter a lot of blue cloth gear while leveling, so I've compiled gear according to key statistics, particularly Haste and Crit, which will be two of the more interesting features we'll look for in our gear. Today we'll take a look at Haste, one of the best raiding stats for us in the game.
There are a good selection of Haste items from quests -- most of them group quests -- throughout Northrend. It's easy enough to find spell power gear, but if we're looking to benefit from Haste, we'll need to stack it. Blizzard has made a lot of green or uncommon spell haste gear available through quests, and you'll come across those without even trying. Likewise, there are superior level (blue) items that should satisfy our hunger for haste. Some will be easier to get than others. Here's a sampling of what we can look forward to.
Alternately, there's Volkhan's Hood, from Volkhan, the second boss in The Halls of Lightning. There are no other haste items in that dungeon, though, but if you're already there, you might luck out with the hood, anyway. It looks exactly like the Cowl, and likewise requires Level 78 in order to equip it.
2. Mantle of the Intrepid Explorer - These shoulders are a reward from the quest Halls of Stone, which you can get at Level 76 from Brann Bronzebeard, another dwarf inside the instance. This should probably be your upgrade -- in case you were fortunate enough to get it -- from the Mantle of Echoing Bats, which drop from Herald Volazj in Ahn'Kanet, wearable at Level 73.
3. Incursion Vestments - At Level 80 you'll get the quest Corastraza from Librarian Serrah of the Kirin Tor, in the Coldarra quest hub. The quest will lead directly to a venture into the Nexus, where Aces High! will require you to fly a dragon in one of those newfangled Wrath vehicle quests. An even better alternative would be the Black Duskweave Robe, which is craftable by tailors. It's wearable at Level 78 and is of a higher item level. The materials are incredibly easy to obtain, and tailors learn the pattern from trainers.
Of course, one of the best options prior to raiding would be the Robes of Crackling Flames from the Kirin Tor, available for purchase at Exalted reputation. It's certainly worth grinding the rep for, as it's fairly easy to get to Friendly with the faction and champion their cause in Level 80 dungeons. Virtually all of the Professions daily quests in Dalaran earn Kirin Tor reputation, as well, so getting to Exalted should be pretty easy.
4. Sly Mojo Sash - This belt is one of the easier ones to obtain as the quest becomes available at Level 74, although it's part of a moderately long quest chain in Zul'drak. If you grind the zone while leveling up, you should pick up the quests from Har'koa. The belt is a reward from Gal'darah Must Pay, which requires you to go into Gundrak and kill the Troll boss Gal'darah.
At Level 78 you can also purchase a Shimmerthread Girdle from the Auction House, and there's a good chance you can get it cheap since blues and epics come rather easily in Wrath of the Lich King. It's a world drop BoE, so checking the major cities now and then might get you a good deal on a good haste belt.
The Knights of the Ebon Blade offer a very good epic haste belt, the Belt of Dark Mending, available at Exalted reputation. If you quested in Zul'drak and later on in Icecrown, it should be fairly easy to get to Revered with the faction and a simple matter of doing their six daily quests in Icecrown or championing their cause in dungeons.
5. Time-Twisted Wraps - Perhaps the earliest piece of blue haste gear will come from Coldarra, in the Borean Tundra, where these gloves are rewarded from doing Postponing the Inevitable. It's the end of a short series and grants Kirin Tor reputation, which should help on the way to the epic robes.
At Level 74, you can replace these with Grips of the Giant-Rider, a reward from The Storm King's Vengeance, the really fun end of a quest chain where you get to control a storm giant in Zul'drak. At Level 77, there's Gloves of the Servant, a reward from The Reckoning in Storm Peaks. It's unlocked by doing a long -- and necessary -- quest chain starting from They Took Our Men!. You'll need to grind Storm Peaks to open up the Sons of Hodir, anyway, so you might as well pick up very good haste gloves along the way.
6. Wrynn's Leggings of Wisdom (A) or Warchief's Leggings of Wisdom (H) - These pants are merely icing on the cake after completing what is arguably the best and most epic quest line in the game. The Battle for the Undercity is the end of a long, magnificent quest chain that starts in Dragonblight and unlocks an Achievement and an in-game cinematic. You'll probably get better pants along the way, but nothing will compare to the experience of getting this pair.
Erekem in the Violet Hold in Dalaran drops Trousers of the Arakkoa, one of the earliest socketed items you can get in Northrend. You'll get a quest to hit up the Violet Hold as soon as you turn 75 anyway, so you just might get lucky with the drop. At Level 77, you'll be eligible to do The Iron Colossus, a long quest chain in Storm Peaks which rewards Snowdrift Pantaloons. You'll probably be Level 78 by the time you're done with that, though, so you can get a tailor to craft Black Duskweave Leggings, which are superior and the mats are incredibly easy to obtain.
7. Kilix's Silk Slippers - You can get these boots early on in Dragonblight from the quest Death to the Traitor King, which requires you to go into Azjol-Nerub and kill the Crypt Lord Anub'arak. A little later in Zul'drak, the quest One of a Kind becomes available at Level 74, which rewards the Stamina-less -- and thus not recommended -- Fur-lined Moccasins.
At Level 78, you might venture into The Oculus and get The Conjurer's Slippers from Mage-Lord Urom. A much easier alternative -- although also Stamina-less -- is The Darkspeaker's Footpads from the Mind Flayer Forgotten One chained up in the Saronite mines in the heart of Ymirheim in Icecrown. Tailors can craft a Stamina-laden but Intellect-starved pair of Silky Iceshard Boots. They're very good because they have both haste and crit, but the materials are slightly more expensive compared to the other tailoring items we've mentioned.
If you happen to grind reputation with the Wyrmrest Accord, they offer an excellent reward aside from a sweet dragon mount. The Sandals of the Crimson Fury are available at Exalted reputation and have Stamina, haste, and a blue socket.
8. Chilly Slobberknocker - At Level 76 you'll need to get a group of friends to help you with the rite of passage that is the Amphitheater of Anguish series of quests. Shifty Vickers in the Underbelly will send you to Zul'drak on The Champion's Call. The last part of the chain will unlock the Achievement The Champion of Anguish and (if you did the Ring of Blood series in Nagrand) Of Blood and Anguish.
This would replace the Staff of the Purposeful Mendicant, which is a reward from completing a long series of quests in the Borean Tundra. You can get that early on, but you'll need to complete three different quest lines in the area. I'll skip on linking those, as it confused even myself, although it was a pleasant surprise to return to Warsong Hold and get a blue reward.
These are but a sampling of the many items available in Northrend for Haste. When finally geared for Heroics -- it's not that demanding now compared to The Burning Crusade -- it'll be easy enough to replace most of these pieces with Tier 7 or Heroic epics and items from Badges. Next week, we'll take a look at crit gear (Blizzard seems to have split up haste and crit for the most part) for those who like to make things go boom.