If there's anything that surprised me the most out of Cataclysm, it's how fast you replace your gear. While Blizzard made it clear that you would be replacing your Wrath endgame purples with greens as early as the first few quests, I didn't quite expect to replace the Cataclysm blues I got with quest greens in the next zone. In the end, you'll only be wearing your new shinies for a few hours (depending on how fast you level) before replacing them, so looking for gear before level 85 will be somewhat pointless. You're supposed to dump your gear, so don't fall in love with it, even the blues. Especially the blues. The folks at Blizzard want you to graduate to purples. They've made it so easy that they made blues easy to replace.
So what do you have to look forward to in Cataclysm? Well, quite a bit. While this is supposed to be a gearing guide, anybody who's quested through the expansion knows that you pick up gear as you go along. On the other hand, it's going to be nice to know what to aim for once you hit the big eight-five. Hit the jump to start looking at purple shinies.
What you're looking for is gear with loads of intellect. It will come with loads of stamina naturally -- and for warlocks, that's a good thing, because both means more mana for you and your pet. You want to avoid gear with spirit. Spirit is absolute junk, so in dungeons you should pass on spirit gear unless nobody else wants it; then you can pick it up and reforge spirit to something else. You'll want to pick up gear with hit rating, as your hit will drop in the leveling process, so if you're gearing up for raids, start stacking on your hit before everything else. You'll need a whopping 1742 or 17 percent to get capped for raids, so hit gear is the most important. Depending on your spec, you'll want mastery, haste, or crit. Haste gives the most value for the most part, but you'll have to figure out little nuances like how much your haste is affecting your ability to refresh Immolate with Hand of Gul'dan if you're a demonologist.
What we'll go through here are some nice gear that you can pursue once you hit max level. For the purposes of this post, we'll skip on dungeon drops below max level as well as raid gear (there are great upgrades in the entry-level Blackwing Descent, but we'll skip it for now). I'll plug in the tier pieces, just so you have something to look forward to in getting those valor points. There's just a whole lot to take in, so we'll try to narrow it down.
- Haunt of Flies This is available for valor points from the quartermasters at your respective capital cities. You probably won't get this for a while, and I don't recommend spending your first points on a cloak, anyway, so just keep this in mind.
- Ritssyn's Ruminous Drape Depending on how deep your pockets are, this is a good and quick option for upgrading your cloak. This will probably sell for upwards of several thousand gold, depending on your server economy. I've seen it available (though not necessarily bought) for 30,000 or so. Prices for BoE rares and epics will be at a premium at the first few months of an expansion, so I'd recommend staying clear of them unless you're already at the new 1 million gold cap and have nothing to do with your money.
- Honorable mentions: Cloak of Ancient Wisdom, Periwinkle Cloak, and Shadow of Perfect Bliss These iLevel 346 items all sport identical 252 stamina and 168 intellect, but have different combinations of hit, haste, crit, and mastery. I highly recommend going for the Shadow of Perfect Bliss first if you're not yet hit-capped. The Cloak of Ancient Wisdom is notable because it's a reputation reward requiring revered with the Earthen Ring.
- Shadowflame Robes Blizzard wants you to be in tier gear, so don't disappoint. Available for valor points, any of the tier pieces are worthy investments, since you'll want to pick up a couple of pieces to get to the set bonus right away. Later on, you can upgrade it to the heroic version.
- Dizze's Whirling Robe An option for the rich. As with the cloak mentioned earlier, don't expect this to go cheap at your auction house.
- Honorable mentions: Inquisition Robes and Robes of Orsis Although there are a good selection of iLevel 346 blues that confer identical stats, these items are notable because they have hit. Inquisition Robes drop off Rom'ogg Bonecrusher in heroic Blackrock Caverns, and Robes of Orsis is a reputation reward requiring revered with the Ramkahen of Uldum. Personally, I'd recommend the Inquisition Robes because they confer loads of mastery and have yellow and red sockets.
- Desert Walker Sandals This is the reason you'll want to wear the Tabard of Ramkahen while grinding those level 85 dungeons. Although two other iLevel 359 purples compete for the privilege of covering up your stinky warlock feet, the Desert Walker Sandals win out because they have haste and loads of hit.
- Melodious Slippers Melodious Slippers are bought with valor points. They have hit, but I wouldn't recommend spending those valor points on non-tier items, especially in the beginning. They work in place of Desert Walker Sandals.
- Honorable mention: Slippers of the Twilight Prophet Drop off heroic High Priestess Azil, the final boss of the Stonecore. Have a fair amount of hit and are pretty much your only blue item option at level 85.
- Flamebloom Gloves After you pick up the Desert Walker Sandals, you might want to don the Tabard of the Earthen Ring to get to exalted for these gloves. I like reputation rewards because you can essentially rush them in a way that you can't with other items such as drops. Flamebloom Gloves have both haste and mastery, which should be delicious.
- Grips of the Failed Immortal The nice thing about BoE epics nowadays is that they actually match up well with their BoP counterparts. The same is true for Grips of the Failed Immortal which, if you can afford it, will confer loads of crit along with a little haste on the side.
- Shadowflame Handwraps Another option to get to those two pieces of your tier set, although personally I go for shoulder pieces first and look for other pieces elsewhere. You can luck out on this piece, too, since it drops from Argaloth in Baradin Hold, the instance located in Tol Barad (another reason not to spend those precious valor points on gloves just yet). I know, it's a raid instance, but since it's easy enough to get in a group for it, I thought I'd mention it.
- Honorable mentions: Gloves of the Painless Midnight and Mnemiopsis Gloves Hooray! Something you can actually buy for justice points! Gloves of the Painless Midnight grant haste and mastery plus a yellow socket, which isn't too shabby. On the other hand, the hard-to-spell Mnemiopsis Gloves can be plucked from Neptulon's Cache in the heroic version of Throne of the Tides. It has hit, which makes it slightly better for raid gearing.