While the one of the best ways to gear up is by jumping into heroics and, especially, raids to grab item drops, each raid has an item level requirement -- and you definitely won't meet it after initially hitting 90. But that's not to say it's out of reach -- just that you'll need to put a bit of effort in before you're ready to head into heroics (which require an ilvl of 435) or raids (which start with the ilvl 460 Mogu'shan Vaults).
For new monks who aren't sure where to start -- or old hat players who just aren't confident of their windwalking skills -- we'll help you through the stats that are important for your gear and point you in the right direction to get ready for raiding.
Windwalker stat priority
Instead of telling you to grab this piece of gear or that piece of gear, we're going to take a look at the stats that are important to windwalkers, so you can make gear decisions as you advance through the ilvls. Though you probably understand the basic stats by the time you've hit 90 -- and some of this will be old news for anyone who's played another melee class at 90 -- what you're looking for at this stage in the game is a bit different than grabbing item upgrades while you were leveling.
For windwalkers, you'll typically value stats thusly, from most to least important:
- Agility: You can never have too much agility, which gives you attack power, increases your critical strike chance, and improves the damage your abilities do. More agility is always better.
- Hit: This decreases the chance your attacks will miss their target. You might have ignored hit while leveling up, but when you're trying to punch (or kick) raid bosses it's crucial to have enough hit rating to be able to, you know, hit them. You want a total of 2,550 hit rating (or 7.5%) to be sure your attacks never miss their target. (Draenei, however, only need 2,210 due to Heroic Presence.) You want exactly 2,550 hit rating and no more -- extra hit rating won't make you any more likely to hit your target, so after 2,550, be on the look out for other stats.
- Expertise: This decreases the chance your attacks will be dodged by your target. Like hit rating, you want to reach 2,550 expertise (or 7.5%) to be sure your attacks can't be dodged. (Though races with weapon specializations will only need 2,210 expertise rating so long as they're using the right weapon type.) And also like hit rating, you want 2,550 but no more -- expertise above 2,550 does you no good.
- Haste: This increases the speed at which you attack as well as the rate at which you regenerate energy. You want to pile on the haste until you have enough... though what "enough" is can vary. You'll want enough haste to keep your energy regenerating fast enough to fuel a new attack every global cooldown -- but once you've reached that point, more haste won't improve your damage output. Aim for 6000 to 9000 haste -- on the lower end if you have the Ascension talent.
- Critical strike: Another key stat, this increases your chance to score a double-damage critical strike. Though it's a solid addition to your gear, until you've gotten the right amounts of hit, expertise, and haste, it's less important.
- Mastery: More mastery gives you a chance to generate extra charges of Tigereye Brew. Keeping Tigereye Brew up can be a big DPS boost, which makes mastery important -- but typically not as important as the upgrades from other stats.
Keep these stats in mind when you're picking up new gear as well as enchanting, gemming, and reforging your existing gear.
Some upgrades are hard to come by, but these are easy to grab, and a good place to start:
- Complete Your Training: The Final Test: For weapons, monks have it relatively easy with an ilvl 450 staff reward for their level 90 quest. You should grab it immediately on hitting 90.
- Finish Dread Wastes quests: You probably haven't finished all of the Pandaria questing available by the time you've hit level 90, but taking the time to get to the end of zones -- especially the high-level Dread Wastes -- can give you some decent gear, including a few ilvl 450 items. Unless you just can't stand questing, it's worth your while to finish up these quests.
- Arena of Annihilation: Though this is less important for monks because they already have a good weapon from their class quest, the Arena of Annihilation will reward you with an ilvl 450 weapon. However, you'll eventually want to make the switch from your staff to a pair of one-handed weapons -- which will provide a noticeable damage boost unless the the staff is ten or more ilvls higher. A one-hander from the Arena will give you a good start.
- Pick up Flanker's Battletags: Even at neutral reputation with the Shado-Pan Assault, you can pick up this ilvl 522 neck for 825 valor. When you have the valor, this should be your first purchase.
- Visit Lorewalker Cho above Mogu'shan Palace: Cho will ask you to do a couple of scenarios and then send you off to Kun-Lai Summit where you'll be rewarded with a pair of ilvl 502 boots for your efforts.
- Craft (or buy) some gear: Leatherworkers can make PvP-focused gear ranging from ilvl 450 to ilvl 463, and though the stats won't be perfect for raiding, for a few hundred gold a piece these can be a good way to get your foot in the door. If you have even more cash on hand, you can find epic quality BoE leatherworking gear over ilvl 500 -- like the ilvl 553 Snow Lily Belt and Snow Lily Britches -- but expect to pay top dollar for this gear.
Once you've geared up a bit, the Timeless Isle is hands-down the best place to get raiding ready. Though the monsters on the island will be a challenge for new 90s -- you may want to find a friend or group to join -- head out and start hunting for chests. As old-hat players will know, the chests scattered around the island will contain ilvl 496 gear suited to your current class and spec -- and if you have another level 90 that's better geared than your monk, you can use that character to hunt down Timeless gear, since it's bind on account. Timeless Coins, which you collect from kills, can also be turned in for more gear.
While a tour around Timeless Isle should get you where you need to be, ilvl-wise, if you have any remaining low-level gear, running heroic dungeons can be a decent bet. Not only will these dungeons offer gear drops, but they'll also reward you with valor that you can use to buy gear or upgrade existing gear.
Hopefully you're well on your way towards raiding now. Good luck!