Limping Towards the Apocalypse – Preparing for Cataclysm

Spoiler Alert – This post is going to be discussing various aspects Cataclysm using information gleaned from the beta and PTR. If you’re okay reading about what’s coming down the pipe soon, continue.

Credit goes to the fantastic blog Righteous Orbs for the first portion of my blog title.

Despite the announcement this week from MMO-Champion that the release date for Cataclysm is now going to be in mid-December, it continues to lumber towards us, tantalizing many of us with the promise that someday soon, we’ll all get a chance soon to experience an apocalypse from the comfort of our chairs. (Incidentally, I’m pretty sure there will probably be some fire and awesome explosions involved.)

We’ve already discussed how this is hurting raiding guilds, and one needs only to lurk your local Realm forums to notice how many guilds have begun shifting gears away from recruiting for Heroic Icecrown Citadel progression, and instead are peddling a siren song of “Join us while we wait for Cataclysm!“. While finding a home for yourself if you are currently without a guild is certainly important, this is something that is probably better done after reaching 85 – after all, many guilds will have inactive members returning, or will have members swapping characters and roles, leaving you somewhat in the lurch. Let guilds settle into place while you level – they’ll still be there at 85, and they’ll still be recruiting.

Instead, you should spend your time preparing for Cataclysm, or at least the upcoming Patch 4.0.1. Here’s my list of things to consider:

  • Much of Azeroth is changing to varying degrees. If you have any well-loved quest chains, you may want to level a character up to the appropriate level to experience them one more time. Similarly, many zones have been dramatically revamped – Strangelthorn Vale now encompasses Zul’Gurub as a subzone, making it impossible after the Cataclysm to get Exalted with the Zandalar Tribe, which is why that achievement has been moved to a Feat of Strength. Presumably, however, that reputation can still be counted towards personal achievements such as Somebody Likes Me and the following chain of achievements, as well as the guild achievements such as United Nations. Just to be safe, it’s worth knocking out.
  • Considering that we’ll be able to fly in Azeroth for the relatively cheap cost of 250 gold with the purchase of a Flight Master’s License, it would make sense to want to fly as fast as possible. When Cataclysm goes live, a new rank of Riding skill, Master Riding will be available for a significantly more expensive 5000 gold. While that’s much less proportionally than it was in Burning Crusade, it’s still a hard pill to swallow. However, for those of you who have 310% speed mounts when Cataclysm launches (and possibly after, there hasn’t been any clarification on this), you’ll be given the Master Riding skill free of charge. Free > 5000 gold, so go snag a 310% speed mount! The easiest and fastest to get would be the Reins of the Rusted Proto-Drake, which can be knocked out in a single night with a dedicated group, and provides the ability to get up to 10 people mounted and ready to go.
  • In Cataclysm, glyphs will be learned once, and will then be known forever. Switching glyphs will be done with a new Inscription-created reagent called Vanishing Powder. Many of the glyphs in game currently will be converted into new glyphs when Cataclysm goes live, so trying to buy some now while they’re cheaper may be a good call, especially since the materials to produce most glyphs are tripling in Cataclysm, from one ink to three. Expect to see glyphs costing 15-20g each across the board after Cataclysm is live.
  • Professions aren’t even close to being done in Cataclysm. I think this has been done deliberately to prevent players from stockpiling leveling materials, but eventually, professions will receive a final pass. When they do, you’re probably going to want to look at various recipes which are close to the 450 level that may have materials you can gather now cheaply while the market is over saturated with people liquidating herbs and stockpiles of ore.
  • As a tank, I intend to level in Cataclysm at least partially using the dungeon finder, and some of what I’ve heard from various sources indicate that heroic dungeons are rocking people’s faces off. The normal dungeons seem to require more coordination as well. Now, this could be entirely attributed to the fact that a numbers pass still hasn’t taken place, leaving classes in various states of “working”, “broken”, and “hilariously broken to the point of making Recount explode due to big numbers”. Either way, I think being prepared for leveling dungeons is a good call, which is why I’ve stockpiled a few stacks of each type of flask. They’re cheaper now (averaging 15g per flask on the Magtheridon Auction House) than they have been in a while, and provide a little extra oopmh.
  • If you’re one of the people that’s looking forward to surprises in Cataclysm, why are you reading this far down in my post? Assuming you’re not, you should read as much as you possibly can – about class changes (both your own and others), about dungeons, various zones, mechanic changes, the works! Not wanting to have things spoiled for you is certainly understandable, but if you’re not one of those people, not knowing as much as you can about the changes upcoming is simply lazy.
  • One of the best things you can do for yourself is to simply store up some gold. Gold is easier to acquire in Wrath of the Lich King than it ever has before. Even with Icecrown Citadel having been out for more than 9 months, people are still purchasing Primordial Saronite. Liquidating some Emblem of Frost for cash is easy – heck, even epic gems are selling pretty well considering the doldrums.

You may read this last suggestion, and ask “What about the conversion? Surely acquiring some Justice Points is a good goal – after all, that’s level 85 gear!”. That sounds great, until you realize that Justice Points are the equivalent of the current Emblem of Triumph, and that the level 85 gear you can purchase with it are blues.

Yup, blues. I’m curious why Blizzard took this approach – perhaps they’re looking to make purples more epic again? Whatever the reason, even these blue pieces of gear are costing 1600-2200 Justice Points, and with the cap of 4000, that’s not exactly a lot of blue gear you’re going to be able to purchase.

Don’t get me wrong – these will be important upgrades at 85, because there will only be so many Valor Points (the ones that buy you epic-quality gear) to go around. Instead, take the time at 85 to farm the Justice Points then. They will be much more acquirable at 85 than trying to slide in with this conversion, and with the quantity of changes in Cataclysm, it’ll give you a good chance to really learn the dungeons and get used to the new paradigm of “CC and control” rather than “AOE IT DOWN, LEGOLAS!”

How are you preparing for Cataclysm?