How to gear up for Castle Nathria LFR
Shadowland‘s first LFR, Castle Nathria, drops Tuesday, December 15th for North America servers. To queue for it, player characters will need to have an ilevel of 170. If, like me, your character is not yet high enough, you need to work on obtaining more gear to push that gear score up. What sources are available to you to reach that goal?
This assumes that you are not raiding Normal or Heroic levels of Castle Nathria that were released the previous week, nor are you gearing up for Mythic Castle Nathria. Also, you aren’t going for your best in slot gear. This is just the easiest, highest item level gear out there regardless of class or spec for the casual player who wants to play LFR.
Yes, some of us want to play LFR.
Dungeon gear pushes right up to the next level
Item level between tiers of content is tight. Normal Dungeons drop ilevel 158 gear, and ilevel 155 is needed to queue for Heroic Dungeons. Heroic Dungeons drop ilevel 171 gear, and ilevel 170 is needed for LFR. That means a character needs to be almost fully decked out in Normal gear to start queuing for Heroics, and then almost completing in Heroic Dungeon gear to get into LFR.
For a Tank or Healer, wait times hardly exist. For DPS, queue up while working on other tasks. My Hunter usually sees wait times of 15 to 20 minutes, and does not see groups requeue — nothing personal, I’m sure. Now that we’re a few weeks in, there are many who out-gear the dungeons. The best method is to find friends, guildmates, or strangers that are just running the dungeons for fun. Preferably if they are the same gear type — cloth, leather, mail, or plate. Gear tends to drop about one piece per person per dungeon. However, if someone who doesn’t need the gear is running, and they are wearing the same armor type, they can pass you gear. This method will speed everything up.
Even in an LFG dungeon when someone receives gear, don’t be afraid to ask if they will trade. There is an addon, Personal Loot Helper, that will state when someone can trade gear, and who it can be traded to, for an upgrade.
Covenants, Renown, and World Quests
World Quest rewards are terrible. Occasionally something will be a slight upgrade, but nothing that is going to push you to LFR-level — yet! World Quest rewards don’t just scale with your item level, they also scale with your Renown. At Renown 10, they go up in quality. How high? That information will be known once players can reach this rank, which will be possible on Tuesday. Hopefully, Blizzard is doing this to help reach the ilevel for LFR, and will make the gear at least 171 to be competitive with Heroic Dungeons, and to help fill in gaps for the gear that wouldn’t drop.
Beyond the gear that drops, the Covenant Campaign rewards gear — two or three pieces that are ilevel 155 and 164. Again, not high enough, but it can help push into Heroic Dungeons, and offset lower level pieces. Also, the Campaign must be done for the Renown levels.
More than the World Quest and Campaign rewards, the point of doing both of them is reputation — now the real gear comes into play. Each of the four Covenants has gear for sale based on reputation. All four quartermasters can be found in Oribos. They are in the southern point of the Ring of Fate, just to the left of the dividing line in the middle. If you have Coordinates, they’re located at 47, 77. The gear will vary based on class, but for the ilevel available — 164 at Honored, 181 at Revered, and 200 at Exalted. Different gear is available at each Covenant quartermaster, regardless of which Covenant you’ve chosen — though you will probably have higher rep with your own Covenant.
There are some higher level one-off options
The Runecrafted Legendary item you choose is important. Each character can only have one equipped, but there are options. Find out which one is best for your character — or at least, which one you can have easy access to. There are many where the Legendary ability is an award from completing one of the wings of Torghast at Layer 3 or higher, and is easy enough to obtain by now. Even if it isn’t the best, that legendary item is ilevel 190. When I made this on my Hunter, it bumped my total ilevel up by three points, and was the difference between queuing for Normal and Heroic dungeons. If that character has been running Torghast regularly, by Tuesday they would be able to reach the necessary 2,000 Soul Ash to upgrade the Legendary to Rank 2, and it will be ilevel 210.
In the Maw, there is Wrath of the Jailer. It begins with a pair of crossed swords on the map, which means players need to kill mobs, until the bar in that area fills up to 100%. This takes several minutes, depending on how many players are around, and gives time for players to rush over. This spawns a boss, who is killed quickly, if you haven’t started over there before the boss spawns, you won’t make it. The boss can drop a piece of gear that is ilevel 183. A character can only receive one piece of this gear a week, but can keep looting these bosses until gear is received.
Beginning the week before LFR, there is now a weekly World Boss. Again, only one chance per week, per character. This gear is ilevel 207, so it will be continue to be good for a while.
Mythic Dungeons are a great source of higher ilevel gear
I said I was going to keep it easy, and Mythic is a scary word, but hear me out! I’m not talking about Mythic+. Players were running Mythic Dungeons before they had the gear to queue for Heroics, and were able to complete them.
Mythics don’t have a time limit, and now that we are several weeks into Shadowlands, the hardcore Mythic+ players have moved on from Mythic 0. The players in LFG looking for a base level Mythic Group are just like you — they want to run, they don’t have a guild group they can go with, and they need gear. At this point, it’s just like running a Heroic, but with a little more coordination. And because the groups are formed with a little more effort than just pressing the button to queue, the players there are — usually — more willing to coordinate in the fights.
The gear that drops is ilevel 184, and will help make up for other slots that are below 170.
Other sources for gear
There are some other sources for gear that are not so friendly on the PVE casual player, the first one being PVP. PVP Honor Gear goes up to ilevel 171 or higher, depending how much into the season you go.
Then there is the Auction House. Crafted gear, for those who reach Cordial reputation with Ven’ari in the Maw, can be ilevel 168. Help encourage professions, and offset gear that just will not drop decent upgrades.
Lastly, there are BoEs, the highest coming from the current raid. This could set you back a lot of gold, depending how high you want to go and your server’s economy. But if you’re truly desperate to eke out those last few ilevels, the option is there.
What is the best path?
I want to say, “play what you like,” but that probably won’t get you the gear you need. Ensuring you have the maximum amount of Renown per week, grabbing your Soul Ash from Torghast for that rank 2 Legendary, and killing the World Boss each week will help to maximize gear in certain slots. If you have friends and guildmates to run through dungeons with you — especially those who wear the same type of armor so you can double dip — keep spamming dungeons. If not, just run dungeons on your own, and try to fill every piece of gear with drops in that level of dungeon until you can move onto the next level. Keep an eye on World Quests as soon as you reach Renown 10. And don’t be afraid to run Mythic Dungeons. It’s the timed Keys that are scary, not the Mythic 0’s.
Remember that, even if you don’t meet that magic mark by Tuesday, you’ll have all week to try your hand at it until the first reset — and day 1 LFR tends to be dicey. Even if you have the ilevels, you may want to wait a couple days.
As for advice on LFR, I don’t know — turn off chat, I guess.
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