In an earlier post I made, stating what to do after hitting level 85, well this is the continuation. The next 5 things are essentially the next steps in your Cataclysm playing career. Sure the moment you dinged 85, running normals and heroics were great. Leveling up your professions were good, and working on guild leveling and achievements helped you and your teammates. Well by now most folks have the gear they need from dungeons, guilds are starting to reach the level cap, and many guilds have gotten achievements that have earned them nice rewards
Many folks I talk to after hitting 85 ask, the simple question “Now what?”. So my first post answered some of that, but I got the feedback from that article was “Where do I go from here?” Well there is still a lot to do in Cataclysm, lets explore the possibilities…
Currently in Cataclysm there are officially 3 raid instances as of the current patch (4.0.6), they are Bastion of Twilight, Blackwing Descent, and Throne of the 4 Winds. In Cataclysm you can run these raids as a 10 or 25 man groups. PUGing these raids is still not being done in mass on most servers, however you will see on occasion people recruiting for a “BoT trash run”, this will help net you “potentially” some nice BoE (bind on equip) epics if you are lucky.
However for what it is worth, I recommend skipping the trash runs and just doing the raids themselves, most of the early bosses you should be able to get down in 1-3 nights with everyone in at least 346 gear and half a brain on how to not stand in the bad.
For some strats check out Jaded Alt’s raid guides.
2. Tol Barad
In Cataclysm, Tol Barad is an outdoor PVP zone, similar to what you got in WotLK’s Wintergrasp. The zone is comprised of two islands, the first is outside of the actual contested area that you fight over when the event starts. There are ports from the major cities (Orgrimmar and Stormwind). Once you reach the islands you will find a daily quest hub on Tol Barad Peninsula. You can complete these daily quests no matter if you control Tol Barad itself or not. Completing the daily quests here will net you Tol Barad tokens which can be used at the Tol Barad faction specific vendors (Baradin’s Wardens and Hellscream’s Reach). From these vendors you can purchase some gear upgrades, and at exalted some mounts as well, like the Drake of the West Wind. You will find some nice epic trinkets from these factions that is worth checking out like Stump of Time. Fear not there are trinkets for everyone, though some may be more useful for some classes than others.
Tol Barad proper is the actual PVP zone, winning this outdoor encounter means you gain access to Baradin Hold and unlock additional daily quests. Currently in patch 4.0.6 it is home to one raid boss, in future patches you can expect more to be added, per tier of raiding. Expect the next Baradin Hold boss to appear alongside Firelands, so in 4.2.
The battle for Tol Barad lasts 15 minutes, time can be extended by 5 minutes for every tower destroyed, if all towers are destroyed the total battle time can last up to 30 minutes. After completion of the battle, the zone enters a 2 hour 30 minutes cooldown period, until another battle can take place. To win Tol Barad the attacking faction must capture all three of the buildings along the perimeter of the island, and hold them all at the same time. Whichever faction has more players near the flag will gain control of the building. The defending faction needs to prevent this, and is done by not allowing the attackers to gain control of all three buildings and letting time expire.
Archaeology is a new secondary profession introduced in Cataclysm. The profession involves piecing together artifacts that players find at phased dig sites that only that particular player can find, so no node stealing like in mining or herbalism. Piecing together the different artifacts will produce items, which include some fun trinkets and even bind on account epic items. Also runes you find while digging up artifact pieces can be used in current dungeons to provide certain buffs. A full list of Archaeology projects can be found on wowhead.
It is important to note that the chance to solve a level 85 related bind on account epic armor or weapon item like Zin’rokh, Destroyer of Worlds is very low currently, and there is no current method to increasing that chance, though many of the top items do require you to have an Archaeology skill level of 525. Most of the rare and epic items that are found are more like fun items, that do not affect one’s DPS, Healing or Tanking and instead are like mounts (i.e. Fossilized Raptor), non-combat pets (i.e. Clockwork Gnome) and other items, some that help improve your knowledge of lore (i.e. Chalice of the Mountain Kings).
Here is a guide to leveling Archaeology.
4. PVP & Rated Battlegrounds
Cataclysm introduced two new battlegrounds to the game the first being Twin Peaks. This is very similar to Warsong Gulch, and is a 10 vs. 10 battleground, the team to capture 3 flags first wins. The other battleground is Battle for Gilneas, this is very similar to Arathi Basin, it is a 10 vs. 10 battleground where you need to control key points on the map, and the first team to collect 2000 resources wins. To get the top gear for PVP you need conquest points, you can earn conquest points by performing a random battleground, very much like you earn valor points for running a random heroic.
Rated Battlegrounds are also a new PVP feature in Cataclysm. They are very much like Arena matches but are 10 vs 10 matches in current battlegrounds. Similar to 10 man raid groups, they are 10 man organized PVP matches, rated battlegrounds also award conquest points.
Per Blizzard, on how Rated Battlegrounds work:
Players start at zero rated battleground rating and progress upward from there. Rating is only reduced after a lost battle when the player is above their internal matchmaking rating. For the most part, a rating only goes up.
Winning a rated battleground with a team composed of 80% guild members will result in the additional benefit of guild experience gain for your guild. The UI will display a guild banner near the minimap that lets you know if you are eligible for guild achievements and experience.
So not only is there a new way to PVP in Cataclysm, but this way can also directly help your guild through leveling it, and providing additional guild achievements. For example earning the guild page is done by completing the guild achievement Alliance Slayer / Horde Slayer. In patch 4.1 we will see the introduction of Guild Challenges, which will allow completing rated battlegrounds to level the guild past the experience cap (See my previous post regarding an editorial on guild challenges)
5. As of Patch 4.1 – New Zul’Gurub and Zul’Aman 5 Man Heroics
Coming in patch 4.1, Blizzard will be retooling 2 previous raid dungeons, Zul’Aman and Zul’Gurub. As many know Zul’Gurub was removed with Cataclysm, however Blizzard is adding it back in as a 5 man heroic, along with Zul’Aman. The instances will require players to have an average item level of 346, however the bosses will be dropping item level 353 epic items. Also it appears that we will see a return of the Amani War Bear, though reskinned, and renamed as Amani Battle Bear. We will also be seeing a ton of new mounts, though they may seem familiar from doing mount runs in Zul’Gurub all the way up until Cataclysm hit. A list of upcoming loot from these instances can be found on mmo-champion.
So prepare now by running heroic dungeons, raiding to get that item level up, and get ready to tackle these re-tooled raids as heroic dungeons.
Blizzard had a write-up on these new 5 man heroics for Zul’Gurub and Zul’Aman.
So after the first 5 things when hitting level 85, these next 5 will help round out your Cataclysm experience. Many of these things are very accessible, and Blizzard has gone the distance in an attempt to make your Cataclysm gaming experience very robust. So dive in and give these other 5 things a shot!