How to acquire Wrath (level 80) heirloom items in WoW

heirloom sword

Heirloom PvP sword - note the bound on account and gold coloured text

Heirloom Items have been one of the great innovations of the current Warcraft expansion. There are three reasons for this:

  1. They are account bound. You can pass them freely between any character on your server which is on the same account, even between horde and alliance.
  2. These items are designed for alts. Whereas a normal WoW item has fixed stats, an heirloom grows in power in proportion to the character wielding it. It will always be roughly equivalent to a good blue item of similar level, and will scale smoothly from level 1-80. Plate heirlooms even scale down to chain if the wearer is below level 40 (so that low level warriors and paladins can use them), similarly chain items scale down to leather at low level.
  3. As well as scaling with level, some of the heirloom items also give the wearer a permanent xp boost. Other games may let you buy a temporary +10% xp potion, but some heirlooms offer that bonus permanently.

Currently available heirlooms include a wide choice of weapons, chest pieces, shoulders, trinkets, and a ring. And characters can equip any heirloom of an appropriate armour type or lower (so for example, your resto shaman could use cloth heirloom shoulders).

If you can equip a new alt with heirlooms, you are not only giving it a boost but also making the levelling process much easier on yourself. No need to keep looking for a new weapon every few levels, just use an heirloom and don’t worry about it.

OK, so you are playing WoW at the moment and would like to earn some heirlooms for your alts and to help prepare for Cataclysm, how can you do that? There are three different methods for buying heirlooms – all of them will require a high level character as the buyer (at least level 70 although it will be difficult to get enough emblems, seals, shards etc before the buyer is level 80.)

A fourth method is that an heirloom ring (+5% xp) can be acquired if you win the weekly Ka’luak fishing derby. The ring cannot be gotten in any other way.

Buying Heirlooms with Emblems of Triumph (Group PvE Route)

Emblems of Triumph are the rewards given for running Wrath instances, heroics, and lower tier raids (Naxxramas, Malygos, Ulduar, and Trial of the Crusader).

  • In general, you will receive 2 emblems of triumph for completing a random (normal) instance via the dungeon finder (first instance of the day only, any random instances after that give cash and xp instead.)
  • Heroic instances give more emblems. There will be one for each boss in addition to the two awarded at instance completion (the first instance of the day will give two emblems of frost instead.)
  • Lower tier raids award one emblem per boss.
  • The weekly raid quest awards 5 emblems of triumph and 5 emblems of frost.

You can run normal Wrath instances in levelling gear. If you wish to run heroics, it would be a good idea to gear up a bit and get some practice first. This means that there is a trade-off between spending your emblems on gear that will make it easier for you to run heroics (and hence get emblems more quickly), or saving up for the heirlooms first.

To put this into perspective, you would have to run  random normal instances for 20 days to acquire enough emblems to buy an heirloom chest. You could acquire the same number of emblems from 6-8 heroics which you could run back to back in a single day, if you really wanted to (warning: I don’t actually recommend doing this).

Heirloom costs with emblems of triumph

  • Chest (+10% xp) – 40 emblems
  • Shoulders (+10% xp) – 40 emblems
  • 1 handed weapon – 40 emblems
  • 2 handed weapon – 65 emblems
  • Trinket – 50 emblems

How to buy your heirlooms with emblems of triumph

allyvendor

The heirloom vendors are located with the other emblem vendors inside the Horde or Alliance specific areas in Dalaran.  Enchanter Isian is the Alliance vendor, and Enchanter Erodin does the honours for the Horde.

allyemblem You will notice that the vendors want to be paid in emblems of heroism. But you only have emblems of triumph!

Fear not, it is possible to convert your emblems into lower tier ones (which is what emblems of heroism are), although it is mildly annoying to have to do so.

conversion

1. First go to the emblem of triumph vendor. On the very last page of items which they sell, you will see Emblem of Conquest. You can exchange emblems of triumph for emblems of conquest on a 1:1 basis. So if you want to buy an heirloom chest, first buy 40 emblems of conquest.

2. Then go to the emblem of conquest vendor. Just as above, on the very last page of items, you will see Emblem of Valor for sale which you can buy for emblems of conquest. Buy 40 (or however many) emblems of valor with your emblems of conquest.

3. Then go to the emblem of valor vendor. Again, on the last page of items that they sell emblems of heroism and each one will cost one emblem of valor. Swap your emblems of valor for emblems of heroism.

4. Now finally you can go and buy your heirlooms!!

If you also have spare emblems of frost which you’d like to use for this, you can convert them into emblems of triumph at the frost vendor in the same way. So do that first and then go to step 1, above.

Buying PvP Heirlooms with Stone Keeper’s Shards

Another way to buy heirloom items is using Stone Keeper’s Shards. These are awarded every time you kill an instance boss while your faction holds Lake Wintergrasp. They are also awarded for completing daily PvP quests in Wintergrasp.

You’ll tend to acquire these in large amounts if your faction does regularly hold Wintergrasp and you run instances, and the cost of the heirlooms reflects this. If you don’t want heirlooms, you can also buy gems and enchants with the shards.

The PvP heirloom vendor is inside the keep in Lake Wintergrasp so you can also only buy the items when your faction holds the zone.

Costs are as follows:

  • Shoulders (+10% xp) – 200 shards
  • 1 handed weapon – 200 shards
  • 2 handed weapon – 325 shards
  • trinket – 250 shards

Note: Heirloom chests are not available as PvP rewards.

Buying PvE Heirlooms with Champion’s Seals (solo PvE)

The last way of buying heirlooms involves the Argent Tournament. Before you can even access the vendor, you must have completed the Crusader achievement and also be exalted with the Silver Covenant/ Sunreaver faction. (Note: This may be very grindy and does involve lots of jousting and daily quests.)crusaderemb

Champion’s Seals are awarded by the Argent Tournament for any quests that you complete for them. This includes all the Argent Tournament dailies that you access once you are a champion for at least one faction. You can also earn Champion’s Seals by completing the Trial of the Champion instance on heroic mode. (1 seal per boss.)

The heirloom vendor is located inside the big Argent Crusade tent at the tournament, the heirlooms are identical to the PvE ones which you can buy with emblems of triumph, and costs are as follows:

  • Chest (+10% xp) – 60 seals
  • Shoulders (+10% xp) – 60 seals
  • 1 handed weapon (melee) – 60 seals
  • 1 handed weapon (caster) – 75 seals
  • 2 handed weapon – 90 seals
  • trinket –- 75 seals

The easiest way to buy heirlooms is by instancing, and then using emblems of triumph for PvE heirlooms and shards to buy PvP heirlooms (either of which will be fine if your main goal is to ease levelling).

It is very difficult to buy heirlooms before the buyer is level 80 (this has been a big criticism of the heirloom system). The only way to do so would be via daily random normal instances (2 emblems of triumph per run) — although you can also access the Argent Tournament at level 77, by the time you have done enough quests to get the Crusader title, chances are that you’ll have hit level 80 anyway.

ps. I would not be surprised to see these turning up for sale in the cash shop at some point, but Blizzard have not yet mentioned any plans to do so.

Twinks, Heirlooms, and Morality

Yup, it’s a morality tale for Friday.

Gordon opines that twinking is a form of cheating in his We Fly Spitfires blog. His reasoning is that supplying other characters with cash or equipment is not in the spirit of MMOs. Nope, they are like the American Frontier – you go in with nothing but the sweat on your brow and the shirt on your back and see who has the guts, luck and moxie to live off the land (ie. the low level mob drops). Also it drives up the prices of low level gear and gives experienced players an extra advantage over newbies.

Andrew rebutts this at Of Teeth and Claws, and asserts every player’s right to twink out their alts. He comments that aside from the fact that anyone can twink an alt, it’s also a metagame that a lot of people enjoy.

It’s hard to really argue that supplying alts with gear and cash is against the spirit of the game, when the game lets you do it. People like treating their new alts like spoiled children with lavish gifts and treats. Not only that but sending along some good items and gold adds  interesting replay value to alts – you can power through all the quests that were really annoying when you did it the first time, see how the class plays at low level when it’s well geared, for example. And we love to do it.

I’ve also played games where you couldn’t easily send money and gear between alts and we all found ways around it. Get a trusted friend to hold the items while you swap alts and then trade them back to you. Get a second account. Drop items on the floor and quickly relog so that the alt can grab them before they disappear.

Is it cheating? Nope. Although it does have the effect that newbies have a much rougher game experience than alts. We can call this the school of hard knocks. At least everyone had to do it once.

Twinking for PvP is an altogether more interesting metagame. MMOs aren’t usually designed to be balanced below the level cap, you’re intended to make your way through the levels and then do whatever it is that the devs have planned for max level characters. (Or roll another alt if it’s CoH.) So if players choose to make a project out of finding out how powerful a low level alt can become for use in level capped battlegrounds, it’s an interesting challenge. It could involve farming for drops, buying expensive items and enchants, getting boosts through instances and finding clever ways around game mechanics that weren’t really designed to be given out at those levels. And the rewards? Becoming a virtual god amongst men when fighting non-twinks.

Because the game isn’t balanced at low level, twinks can be monstrously powerful in comparison to new players at the same level. I’ve fought twinked out hunters in Warsong Gulch at level 19 whose pets had more health than my alts. It may not be cheating, but it doesn’t entirely feel fair either. At that point you hope that your team has as many twinks on it as the other side so they can keep each other occupied.

What I do like about twinking is that it feels anarchic, as though you’re somehow fighting The Man by insisting on playing the game by your own rules. It’s also controversial and guaranteed to stir people up – no one enjoys a PvP fight where they literally don’t have a chance.

But is it really the twinks who are to blame for that, or the game design that lets gear give such a huge advantage?

How Heirlooms are changing the twinking game

Heirloom items are the new big thing for alts in WoW with this expansion. They are bound to the account not the character, their stats scale with you as you level from 1-80, and they are roughly equivalent to good blue items of their level at all times. You can buy them either with daily quest rewards from the Argent Tournament, with badges that  you get from running heroic instances, or with the tokens that you get from PvP in Lake Wintergrasp (for the PvP heirlooms).

That has both encouraged twinks and taken the wind out of the market at the same time. No one pays high prices for the old favourite twink weapons any more, they just use heirlooms. There is some grinding involved to get the tokens together but once you have, you can just keep passing the gear from twink to twink. All your alts who use the heirlooms are effectively twinked.

So at this point, it’s really hard to argue that passing nice stuff to your alts isn’t an accepted part of the game, at least in WoW. And PvP twinks can face off against other PvP twinks in battlegrounds by turning their xp off. Again, hard to argue that it isn’t now an accepted part of the game.

I do wonder if some of the charm and challenge of twinking has gone from the game with the introduction of the heirlooms – specifically designed for twinking alts and relatively easily available to max level characters. Don’t get me wrong, I like the heirlooms and I think they’re an interesting experiment in removing gear dependence completely in the levelling game while leaving it in endgame. They also nudge endgame players towards alting as an alternative to raiding or PvP.

More than ever, the new player is disadvantaged in PvP. And not only the actual newbie, but anyone who rerolls on a different server where they have no high level sugar daddy to feed them gold and heirlooms.

But guess what, for an immodest RL fee to swap servers (and possibly factions too), an alt from the same server as your high level character can wing its way to the new guy, bearing gifts of heirlooms from afar. There’s going to be a lot of money in this for Blizzard if they don’t do the decent thing and implement cross-server mail.

A lot of people will pay for the fun and convenience of battleground twinkage and faster, smoother levelling. And the old twink playstyle of working out how best to pimp a lot level alt may be gone forever – because the answer will always be ‘use heirlooms’.

3.2 – The Filler Patch

So we’re getting more information now about the next content patch for WoW , which has been named Call of the Crusade.

This would be a great name if we actually were off on a crusade, but it sounds more as though we’ll be sitting around a warcamp boozing and fighting tame bosses while our characters wait for the next actual phase of the story to occur.

I can’t really get excited about this one. But I’ll be happy to be proved wrong.

So how about that story then?

I’m increasingly frustrated at Blizzard’s ability to set up cool storylines at the beginning of the expansion and then totally fail to deliver on them. We had some great stuff going. What happened after Wrathgate? What exactly is the Lich King up to – we dealt him some kind of a blow, is he not retaliating even when we are IN HIS BACKYARD? We hunted down Mal’ganis (more than once) but where is he now? Oh, and how about Malygos? Was that it?

I had hoped that they’d drop a bit of storyline into every patch but no, it seems as though we’re off on unrelated random goose chases until they feel like dropping patch 3.3 (which is apparently going to be the Icecrown one).

I’m not mollified by pets, mounts, scads of daily quests, and making alting easier. They aren’t bad things per se but they don’t replace the game I actually enjoyed in the expansion.

Having said all this, we have been promised two new quest hubs. Question is, will they be just another ton of daily quests or may we get some cool phasing plotlines as well?

So what’s in 3.2?

From the horse’s mouth (2 new quest hubs):

A new Cult of the Damned camp now sits overlooking the Tournament grounds and spying on the activity below.

Located on an island north of Icecrown, the former tuskarr village known as Hrothgar’s Landing is a mist-shrouded staging point for Sea Vrykul raids upon the ships of the Silver Covenant and the Sunreavers in the waters between the island and Icecrown.

What could this mean for plots? Well, the Cult of the Damned are associated with the Old Gods. However, raiders have just put down Yog-Saron so it isn’t really sounding like a good time for cultists. There isn’t really much else for them to do in the game apart from worship tentacled horrors – which they have done every other time they’ve ever cropped up — so I’m not seeing where this one will lead. Maybe they’re going to try to resurrect him?

edited to add: Thanks everyone for the comments! I’m totally wrong with this and I stand corrected. The Cult of the Damned are the human branch of the Scourge so they’re good to go :)

I’m not so sure about the Sea Vrykul either. Or why they’d be making sea raids when Arthas could just send frost drakes.  I don’t entirely see why the Dalaran factions need ships anyway, they have an entire city of mages who can teleport stuff. Hoping we’ll get some semi-reasonable explanation.

Just when you thought you had seen and done it all, the Argent Tournament throws out the gauntlet once more and adds a new line of quests and rewards for players who have become exalted with either the Silver Covenant or the Sunreavers. Earn seals by participating in three additional random dailies and earn brand-new rewards.

New dailies. New tabards, mounts, pets. Yawn. I guess some people will get excited about the mounts, tabards, and pets. Not me though.

It is interesting what they’re doing with the Silver Covenant/Sunreaver reputation though. Up to now, it has been something you gained through other activities. The Argent Tournament gives reputation with those factions, for absolutely no good reason (surely the Argent Tournament should give Argent Crusade rep since they’re running it). And there’s nothing to buy with those reputations anyway.

But no, all it does is give you access to still more daily quests.

A new line of dailies and rewards for players who have earned the title of Crusader will be available with two random seal-awarding dailies.

Some rewards for people who actually enjoy grinding out faction and daily quests. It’s not for me, but I approve of the idea. Reward people by giving them more of the content which they evidently like enough to get the initial requirement.

Crusader as a title requires lots of exalted factions and suchlike. I won’t be getting that on Spinks, as an old character it’s too much hassle for me to work on those city factions. If the quests or rewards turn out to be awesome, I expect one of my newer alts has better reps.

One thing’s for sure, it’ll be a lot of rep grinding for new Death Knights.

Just when you thought you had seen the last of the Black Knight, he makes his astonishing return to the Tournament. Wait, didn’t you kill him?

This was the somewhat weak storyline that we got with the Argent Tournament. Wait, didn’t we kill him? Yes and wait, aren’t we fighting against the most powerful necromancer in the universe who happens to have his base IN THIS ZONE? This would bother me less if the very first quest I’d been given in Northrend had not sent me out to burn the bodies of casualties of war so that they couldn’t be revived as undead. How quickly we forget.

Raids and Instances

From Bornak:

    • New epic 10- and 25-player raid dungeon with five encounters, with each encounter being unlocked one week at a time
    • A more intuitive structure for harder encounters. This raid dungeon will have four different versions: 10-player, 25-player, 10-player Heroic, and 25-player Heroic, with each one using a separate lockout.
    • New 5-player dungeon with three encounters that will include Champion’s Seals as each one is defeated
    • New tier of armor and weapons that are modeled with Alliance- or Horde-specific themes

OK, minor change in how hard modes are going to work. Instead of there being something you do in the encounter to set the hard mode, you’ll actually zone into a hard mode instance. And if you really really really like this Coliseum, you could run it 4 times a week! (I’ll be in the corner, slitting my wrists.) There are also extra rewards for not wiping which may please the hardcore.

The 5 man in particular isn’t sounding very thrilling. In an astounding change of direction, instead of us running into a room and killing a boss, the boss will now run into the room where we’re standing. I’m curious as to how they’ll pitch the difficulty of this one. Will it be fairly easy so that new 80s can use it to gear up, or will they aim it at raiders who already have Ulduar gear and tons of experience?

In any case, the new tier of armour and weapons means that it’s likely going to be better than Ulduar gear. I cannot get excited about this raid instance, but maybe they’ll do something cool and blow me away.

And why is the Argent Tournament building raid instances instead of fighting the Lich King? This is just going to bug me.

Levelling Perks

Mounts become cheaper and more accessible. More heirloom gear (bind on account stuff that you can send to an alt, and that has stats which adjust to the character’s  level) will give even bigger xp bonuses.

These are all reasonable changes. People don’t have to use the heirloom gear if they don’t want to and there’s no point making newbies go through the mount cash grind that was partly designed to keep old characters busy at the level cap.

Class Tweaks

Ghostcrawler has started a series of in depth discussions on class issues recently. I think this is brilliant. As a player, I very much want to know what devs plan to do with my class. If only because it gives me the chance to swap characters if it’s going in a direction I don’t like.

We know that druids are getting some new forms, and we also now know more about upcoming shaman changes. They look to be more ‘quality of life’ issues than huge redesigns. But I’m glad to see them, and looking forwards to seeing what warriors have in store. (Whatever it is, expect a huge outcry.) I wonder if they’ll look at block in this patch or if it’ll get left for the next expansion.