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