WoW Rookie: Emblem gear for the fresh level 80

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WoW Rookie: Emblem gear for the fresh level 80
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Emblems of this, emblems of that ... What are all these emblems that everyone swears you simply must have once you hit level 80? WoW Rookie's got your back with the basics. An advanced, comprehensive path to the best gear for your class and spec to raid in? No, not really. A down-and-dirty orientation to which of these currencies matters most to you as a new level 80? Absolutely.

First, understand this: There's more to gearing at level 80 than emblem gear. Questing, instance drops, reputation gear, BoEs from the auction house and crafted pieces all play a role in your evolving gear set. Get your feet wet with our fresh 80's guide to getting started in 5-mans. If you especially enjoy digging your way through and savoring all the content, if you're a completist or if you're making your way toward raiding at something less than today's typically breakneck pace, you'll want to explore all of these options as you build your character.

If you're headed straight for end-game raiding, you'll want to focus on emblem gear. Emblems are probably the single most important tool for vaulting yourself to raid readiness. That's not to say that the other options are without merit; you'll definitely want to shore up your kit with non-emblem items. But emblem gear offers a clear, reliable, seamless path from level 80 right into raiding. Let's see how it all comes together.

Emblems are a currency system introduced in Wrath of the Lich King, awarded for defeating bosses in heroic instances and raids. (Click over to the link in the previous sentence for a look at emblems past and present, including where they come from, which are still in use and which can be converted or downgraded into other forms.) By contrast, badges are outdated currency from The Burning Crusade content or reputation tokens from Dalaran daily quests and Argent Tournament vendors. Older players tend to use the terms "emblems" and "badges" interchangeably; rest assured that it's emblems you want.

Emblems of Triumph

Emblem of Triumph are the bread-and-butter emblem that earns your tier 9 gear. You'll earn lots of them quickly, as soon as you can start running level 80 heroic 5-mans. Turn them in to purchase gear at vendors in Dalaran, the Argent Tournament grounds and the Crusader's Coliseum. Here's a complete list of available gear, and here's where the emblems themselves drop:

  • each boss defeated in any level 80 5-man heroic instance
  • each boss defeated in any normal Icecrown Citadel 5-man instance
  • each boss defeated in all level 80 raids (except Icecrown Citadel raids, which award Emblems of Frost)
  • your first random regular Lich King dungeon of the day (two emblems)
  • your second (and subsequent) random heroic Lich King dungeon instances (the first awards Emblems of Frost) (two emblems)
  • the random weekly raid quest (five emblems)

If your character won't be raiding, Emblems of Triumph gear makes a great capstone to gear dropped in the heroic 5-mans. Collect, spend, wear the results with pride. Anything beyond this is gravy. If you are gearing up to raid, Emblems of Triumph are merely a stepping stone along the way; your destiny lies with Emblems of Frost, which we'll cover in a moment.

One caution: Future raiders shouldn't spend Emblems of Triumph on gear with an item level lower than 232. The Icecrown Citadel 5-mans offer equal or stronger choices, so don't waste your hard-earned emblems on slots you're likely to fill with loot drops.

Emblems of Frost

Collecting Emblems of Frost to buy tier 10 gear is a slow process for a new, non-raiding level 80 player. If you don't plan to raid, these emblems are gravy; you don't need gear of this power to succeed in non-raid content, so you can be a little more relaxed about your choices. Future raiders will want to spend their precious frosties strategically to provide the most bang for the buck and catapult them to raid-readiness.

Most Emblems of Frost come from raiding. However, you can accumulate 14 per week by consistently completing the daily random heroic 5-man, where you'll earn two each day. If you're up for pugging a Toravon raid in Wintergrasp, you can snag another two each week from 10-man plus two more from 25-man. This page has all the details on where these emblems drops, where to cash them in and what you can buy with them.

Which tier should you be aiming for?

If you're not planning to raid, choosing tier 9 versus tier 10 isn't a big deal. You'll end up outmuscling non-raid content in any of this gear, so relax. If you're a slower emblem collector, it's probably smart to take advantage of the immediate upgrades. That way, you're not putting your gear on long-term hold during a long, slow buildup. If you are already running raids, though, you may need to plug key holes in your gear quickly with T9 and equivalent, or you may want to save up for the big bang of a two-piece T10 set bonus.

If you decide to go with T9, getting the two-piece set bonus is likely to be a strategic early choice. (Check our class columns to find out how worthwhile the bonus is for your particular spec.) If you buy the gloves and shoulders first (30 emblems each), you'll get a two-piece bonus for the lowest possible number of emblems. Otherwise, it's generally smart to shore up your weakest slot first.

There is good reason for raiding characters to head straight for T10. While T9 represents transitional gear to a raider, T10 is fully upgradeable. You'll win tokens in raids that allow you to upgrade your existing T10 pieces. If your two-piece T10 bonus is strong for your spec, head for that first; if not, start by replacing whatever is your weakest piece of gear. As you develop your long-term scheme, plan ahead for future set bonuses and the upgrades you'll be able to make from tokens as you progress deeper into raiding content.

Class-specific emblem gear advice has a number of class-specific guides detailing the very best emblem gear choices for your class and spec. If you don't see your class or spec here yet, keep your eyes open for more articles in this ongoing series.
Recent articles of interest to fresh level 80s

Visit the WoW Rookie Guide for links to all our tips, tricks and how-to's. WoW Rookie walks you through all sort of new-player concerns, from game lingo for the beginner to joining your first guild as a mid-level player and on to what to do when you finally hit level 80.

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