Unlike in Wrath of the Lich King, World of Warcraft: Cataclysm now requires your character to obtain a minimum item level in order to queue up for the new Cataclysm dungeons. Upon release, the minimum item level was 272, but it was later dropped to 226. Any fresh level 80 will need to spend a little bit of time upgrading their gear before using Dungeon Finder for Cataclysm dungeons. Here’s a breakdown of all the different ways you can raise your item level up to 226 after you ding 80.
Nothing Beats the Auction House for Convenience
Buying gear from the auction house is a popular way to gear up for Cataclysm dungeons since it allows you to upgrade your gear instantly. While shopping for gear is usually the quickest way to raise your item level, make sure you’ve got plenty of gold before doing this as it can often be expensive! You can easily spend 1000-2000 gold on Cataclysm AH greens upgrading your toon. If gold is not a problem, the AH is a one-stop shop for rings, necklaces, cloaks, and all kinds of armor. Upgrade as many pieces as you need to raise your item level to 226, and you’re good to go!
Crafting Your Entry-Level Cataclysm Gear
If you’re not in a hurry, or don’t have as much gold to spend frivolously, you can save a bundle on buying Cataclysm gear by crafting it, or finding someone to craft it for you (don’t forget to share some of your savings in the form of a tip!) Jewelcrafters can provide you with green or blue rings & necklaces; Blacksmiths with plate & weapons; and of course Tailors & Leatherworkers with cloth and leather armor respectively. While the materials needed to craft these items will often be cheaper than the items themselves, it never hurts to check first. Often times crafters will flood the AH with many items created while leveling their profession, and try to unload them cheaply. Doing the math on whether to buy the materials or the crafted item on the AH is a good habit. Always make sure you’re getting the best deal.
Mount Hyjal & Vashj’ir Quest Rewards
At level 80, you can begin questing in both Mount Hyjal and Vashj’ir. The quest lines in both of these areas will provide you with item level 272 greens, and some item level 288 blues, too. You’ll also accumulate quite a bit of XP while doing these quests! If you enjoy questing, it’s the simplest way to upgrade your gear to Cataclysm levels. It doesn’t cost any gold, and you don’t have to do any math! The trade-off to questing is that you’re spending more time to upgrade your character’s gear instead of spending gold. However, a couple hours of questing should be more than sufficient to upgrade your gear to 226 average item level. It all comes down to preference. Do you abhor questing? Then 1000 gold might be worth the instant gear upgrade via AH. Do you enjoy questing? Then save your gold and enjoy the storyline!
Legacy Justice Trinkets
Trinket upgrades are often a bit tricky. You either have to complete a long quest line, or fork out a ton of dough on the AH (and most level 80 trinkets on the AH are item level 200 anyway.) The solution? Purchase an item level 245 trinket from the Legacy Justice Point vendor in Dalaran! If you need more justice points, you can either run WotLK random heroics or do PvP and trade your honor for justice points in Stormwind/Orgrimmar.