Hand-Me-Downs: A Poor Man’s Heirlooms

18 Nov

With Cataclysm less than a month away and more changes sure to hit the classes and leveling processes, it’s kind of hard right now to dedicate the time to writing leveling guides because we know things are going to change again and that they’re going to change soon. While I have dedicated this blog to leveling, not all of the posts have to be specifically about leveling classes, right? (The correct answer here is “yes” just in case you were wondering.)

I’ve mentioned hand-me-downs before in some of my leveling guides and in my heirloom guides as well, but I haven’t really discussed them in particular just yet so that’s what I’m going to do today. Rather than how to level your characters we’re going to look at what kinds of gear you can give them to help enhance their performance without resorting to heirlooms. To some extent this is related to PvE twinking, but at the same time it’s really not. Granted, you’re making your character more powerful than they normally would be for their level, but we’re not looking for best in slot so much as coolest, or most interesting, in slot.

You can look at this post as a replacement for heirlooms, or an addition to them, or you can look at it as a way to have heirloom-like items on a server that you don’t have access to heirlooms on. In some ways it relates to Cynwise’s post against heirlooms, and in others it doesn’t. Think of them as sort of complimentary and yet contrasting at the same time…bah, just read it and decide for yourself.

I’ll start off by talking about what they are and then how to make them, and by “make” I mean “enchant”. I’m also going to give you a guideline for when to replace those items, which means sending them to your bank alt for storage until you roll another toon that can use them. And to wrap it up I’ll give you a list of several different items that you can get for all of your low level toons to use for their HMD’s.

General Concept
The basic idea of what I call “hand-me-downs” (or HMD’s) is that you’re taking items that can be passed from one toon to the next (so Common, White-quality items) and enhancing them them to make them better. Enhancements that we’re going to talk about here come mostly from the Enchanting profession, though a few may also be found in Blacksmithing (counterweights, sheild spikes, etc), Leatherworking (armor kits), and Engineering (scopes).

The process of making these can be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be. Personally, I don’t mind putting forth extra expense to have extra fun on my low level toons because of the fact that I go through so many of them. But because there is a wide variety of options open to you I’m going to go ahead and list both cheap and expensive options.

Another thing to take into consideration on these types of items is Required Level. If you run a lot of instance you’re going to find drops that are better than your HMD’s eventually, so you don’t want to get ones with a high level requirement or you’re actually making yourself weaker than you otherwise could be. Typically I like to keep a maximum level requirement of 5 for my HMD’s, though in some cases (melee weapons) I’ll go up to level 12.

The whole point here is to get low level gear that you can pass around to any alts that you ever roll to make them more powerful starting out. As Cynwise and I have proved through experiment in both PvE and PvP at low levels, it isn’t heirlooms that make your character so overpowered, it’s actually the enchants. To be completely honest there, it’s actually the combination of both the gear and enchants that makes them overpowered, but white items with enchants come in only slightly lower on the power scales than enchanted heirlooms.

To give you an example of that, I took a level 14 Hunter on a realm that I have no heirlooms on into Warsong Gulch. There I managed to do over 38,000 damage wearing my HMD’s while the next highest player was another Hunter with 17,000 damage who was wearing full heirlooms and had a Cat pet which gives a bonus to Agility. I still can’t inspect people for some stupid reason, so I can’t verify whether or not he had enchanted his gear, but the fact that I was wearing white gear shows that my enchants were better than his heirlooms regardless of whether or not they were enchanted.

Melee & Ranged Weapons
We’re going to start off with weapons because they have more potential than armor for making your low level toons extra powerful. When you’re choosing a hand-me-down weapon, you need to consider which type you’re really looking for. For Melee weapons you’re interested in three things: damage, usefulness, and coolness.

Damage is an obvious one as it’s basically the whole point of the weapon in the first place. The weapons we’re really looking at in the damage category though are ones for non-casters, so melee and ranged weapons. The only time a weapon’s damage is a factor for a caster is when the weapon in question is a wand, and even then it’s only true for the first 20 levels or so at most. If you’re not a caster then you want to be sure your weapon does some decent damage or else you’re making yourself weaker rather than stronger.

Usefulness refers to how many classes and specs can use it, because not every class can use every weapon type, and a change in spec can mean a change in weapon type (a one-hand vs a two-hand for instance). What weapons do every melee class have in common? Not swords (shaman), not daggers (paladin), but maces and axes. The only non-caster that can’t use maces is the Hunter, and if he gives a flip about melee damage then he’s probably using the wrong class. So the best one-handed weapons to use for your HMD’s are maces and axes, but the same can’t be said for two-handed weapons because those same classes don’t all use the two-handed versions of the same weapons (rogues).

Coolness is both the most important and least important at the same time, as it’s all about how it looks or how your character uses it. A good example of use is the Draenei. Give a male spacegoat a crossbow and watch the animation – you’re either going to love it, or you’re going to hate it. Now, give a male spacegoat three different staff weapons and go auto-attack some things. You’ll see that he has 3-5 animations for every staff attack, and some of them he uses with some staff models while others he does not. But it’s not just about how your character uses them, it’s also about the look of the weapon itself. Do you prefer straight swords with nothing special about them, or do you like hooks and barbs in the blade’s design? Do you like your staff to look like a shepherd’s crook or do you prefer them to be intricately carved and colored in the Blood Elf style?

Enchanting Melee & Ranged Weapons
For enchanting your weapons you need to figure out who’s going to be using those weapons and for how long they might be using them. Melee weapons for a Rogue for instance are going to change much more frequently than melee weapons for a Hunter, and a Warrior wants +Strength enchants while a Rogue wants +Agility.

So the general guideline for enchants now are easiest to determine based off of the type of Armor that the character wears. If your character wears Mail armor that will increase to Plate after level 40 (Paladin, Warrior, Death Knight), then your best HMD enchants grant Strength. If your character wears Leather armor (Druid, Hunter, Rogue, Shaman), whether it increases to Mail at 40 or not, then your best HMD enchants grant Agility.

So the Mail toons want either Crusader (+100 Strength on proc) or +15 Strength, while your Leather toons want either +15 Agility (one-handed) or +25 Agility (two-handed). But that’s if you’re looking for straight stat bonuses. You may also choose to instead go with enchants that have a proc certain abilities or buffs like Fiery (+40 Fire damage on hit) or Lifestealing (steals health from target). You may also want to go with cheaper enchants that give small bonuses or that have different types of procs that may prove useful to you (Impact/Striking, Icy Chill, etc). Also, a frequently overlooked enchant is the Iron Counterweight which gives 20 Haste.

Primary Melee Enchants
Enchant Weapon – Crusader: Proc: +100 Strength for 15 sec., heals you for 75-125 (x2 crit)
Enchant 2H Weapon – Agility: +25 Agility
Enchant Weapon – Agility: +15 Agility
Enchant Weapon – Strength: +15 Strength
Iron Counterweight: +20 Haste to two-handed sword, mace, axe or polearm

My preference for Strength enchants is Crusader above all others because it’s not only 200 AP on a Strength class when it procs, but it also has the added heal for survivability. If you’re a Hunter or Feral Druid, then +25 Agility is where it’s at. Rogues and Shamans should decide whether they want 60 AP and the crit from dual wielding +15 Agi enchants, or if they want the potential for higher AP on proc and survivability from using Crusader instead.

I lean towards Crusader even for my Agi classes, except for the Hunters, but that’s just me.

Secondary Melee Enchants
Enchant Weapon – Fiery Weapon: Proc: +40 Fire damage (x2 crit)
Enchant Weapon – Lifestealing: Proc: Steals 30 health from the target (x2 crit)
Enchant Weapon – Unholy Weapon: Proc: Deals Shadow damage and reduces target’s melee damage
Enchant Weapon – Icy Chill: Proc: -20% Attack speed, -60% Movement speed

These are only listed as “secondary” because they are procs rather than base stats. You can always count on the stat enchants to be there, where procs are often but not constant present.

Of these Fiery is my favorite and what I tend to use for most of my HMD’s, often taking it over Crusader as well because it leads to a lot of one-shot kills in the first few levels. Lifestealing is also a really strong enchant that actually scales somewhat with your level so that it gets better as you get higher. From what I’ve read recently, it also received some kind of buff in 4.0.1, though I haven’t found the details on that.

“Cheap” Melee Enchants
Enchant 2H Weapon – Superior Impact: +9 Damage
Enchant Weapon – Superior Striking: +5 Damage
Enchant 2H Weapon – Greater Impact: +7 Damage
Enchant Weapon – Greater Striking: +4 Damage

I only use these if I don’t have the mats or the gold to afford either Fiery or Crusader. They aren’t that great, so I don’t use them, but if your resources are limited they’re definitely better than nothing.

Ranged Weapon Enchants
Crude Scope (Req. 5): +1 Damage to a bow or gun
Standard Scope (Req. 10): +2 Damage to a bow or gun

Your Ranged weapons are pretty lonely in the enchanting category as your only options really are a +1 Damage scope that requires level 5 to benefit from, and a +2 Damage scope that requires level 10. The best HMD enchants you can give a hunter are actually his melee weapons by using the +Agility enchants mentioned above with the +25 Agi on a two-hander prior to level 20 and then +15 Agi on dual one-handers after 20.

Caster Weapons
The variety of caster weapons is a bit smaller than melee, but that’s fine since we don’t have quite as many requirements when choosing a good one either. If you’re looking for a caster weapon then there are really only two factors to consider: usefulness and coolness.

Usefulness again has to deal with how many different classes and specs could make use of the weapon. Every healer in the game can use one-handed maces, so the healer HMD of choice is a one-handed mace. But not every caster can use maces (mage, warlock), so you would need something different for them. You can’t just go with something like a dagger or a staff for all casters either though because Paladins can’t use either of them. So for maximum usefulness you actually need two different caster heirlooms, one for healers (one-handed mace) and one for DPS (one-handed dagger or staff).

You also have to consider off-hand items when it comes to caster HMD’s, because an HMD along with an off-hand is typically better than a staff, especially at low levels where the most powerful enchants are not restricted by weapon types.

Coolness again refers to looks, though for casters it’s more often the look of the actual item than the animation since many casting animations do little with your weapon if anything at all.

Primary Caster Enchants
Enchant Weapon – Mighty Intellect: +22 Intellect
Enchant Weapon – Spell Power: +30 Spell Power
Enchant Weapon – Healing Power: +29 Spell Power

In 3.5 the +30 SP was the go-to enchant for casters, but with the change to spell power Mighty Intellect has taken the lead. It’s also the cheapest of the three options which makes it that much more appealing. You don’t get quite as much spell power out of the deal, but you’re trading 7-8 SP for 330 mana which is more than worth it for low level casters in my opinion.

Secondary Caster Enchants
Enchant 2H Weapon – Major Intellect: +9 Intellect
Enchant Weapon – Mighty Spirit: +20 Spirit
Enchant 2H Weapon – Major Spirit: +9 Spirit

If you can’t find/afford the above options, then these are your backups. Not many classes care about Spirit anymore, so you might want to check your class and spec before you consider them. They will help with your regen, so they’re not worthless, but of these three your best option is most likely the +9 Int.

Shields come in basically two varieties: tank and caster. The two varieties make no difference in which HMD shield you choose (since the only stat they’ll have is Armor), but the type of enchant you put on it may vary. If you want to tank, or otherwise deal most of your damage up close and personal, then you’ll probably go for a shield spike for “free” damage when you block, where a caster HMD will look for other enchanting benefits such as the Vitality enchant which restores health and mana.

There’s not a whole lot to say about HMD shields really. Personally I level my melee classes, including my tanks, without a shield until level 15 because the extra damage from a two-handed weapon is better for leveling through that level range. For my casters I usually go ahead and make use of the shields because I favor one-handed HMD’s over a staff so the shield is just another resource for me to enchant.

Primary Shield Enchants
Felsteel Shield Spike: Deals 26-38 damage when you block
Thorium Shield Spike: Deals 20-30 damage when you block
Mithril Shield Spike: Deals 16-20 damage when you block
Enchant Shield – Vitality: Restore 4 health and mana every 5 seconds +10 Stamina and +10 Spirit
Enchant Shield – Greater Stamina: +7 Stamina

If you do use the Felsteel Shield Spike you can pretty easily just tag a mob with an attack or debuff and then let them kill themselves on your shield, making leveling pretty ridiculous at the early stages. Casters will benefit most from the Vitality enchant for the health and mana restore, though it’s not all that much so skipping it for another option isn’t a bad idea either.

UPDATE: The 4.1 patch did away with all MP5/HP5 enchants and turned them into Spirit and Stamina bonuses instead. Enchant Shield – Vitality is an example of that, which used to provide both MP5 and HP5 and now gives +10 to both Stamina and Spirit instead.

Secondary Shield Enchants
Iron Shield Spike: Deals 8-12 damage when you block
Enchant Shield – Lesser Block: +10 Parry
Enchant Shield – Lesser Protection: +30 Armor

These are your other options. I don’t use them on my own, but that’s because I’m a professions freak and have the better options available to me or I’m willing to chase someone down that can provide them instead. These are all decent options though if you can’t get the others.

Armor isn’t nearly as important as your weapons because in the levels that you’ll use HMD’s you should not have very many issues with survivability, making the armor stat mush less impressive than it really is. The main benefit that you’ll get from your HMD’s then is actually the enchants that you place on them. The best-in-slot items for both chest and leg slots (that can be used at level 1) are interestingly cloth items; Haliscan Jacket and Haliscan Pantaloons.

And since the whole point of HMD’s is to enchant them in order to make them more powerful than regular gear, we’re not going to bother making HMD’s that cannot benefit from enchants, or which benefit only a very small amount. So we’re not going to look at Belts, jewelry or trinkets.

Melee & Range Chest Enchants
Enchant Chest – Exceptional Health: +150 Health [ilvl 35+]
Enchant Chest – Exceptional Stats: +6 All Stats [ilvl 35+]
Enchant Chest – Greater Stats: +4 All Stats
Enchant Chest – Stats: +3 All Stats
Enchant Chest – Major Health: +100 Health

The +150 Health enchant can only be placed on the Haliscan Jacket because it requires a minimum item level of 35 and the Haliscan is one of only two items you can wear at level 1 that meat that item level requirement. The other is an expensive gown purchased in Moonglade which is limited quantity and has a horribly long respawn time. To give you an example of how hard it is to find, I’ve been looking now for almost 5 weeks and I’ve never even seen it.

The best option for offense rather than survival is the +6 Stats which still gives you 60 Health, but also a fair amount of Attack and/or Spellpower. Like the +150 Health though, it toon can only be placed on the Haliscan Jacket.

UPDATE: Sadly 4.1 also brought a nerf to the types of enchants we used on the Haliscan Jacket. Instead of requiring item level 35 to enchant, Burning Crusade enchants were switched to require character level 25 instead. Unless your character lives in a hole from which they never quest and never run dungeons, it’s almost impossible to not have a better chest piece by level 25.

The +4 Stats enchant is pretty hard to find and you’re going to pay a pretty copper for it if you buy it on the AH, so you may want to settle for the much easier to obtain +3 Stats. The +100 Health isn’t going to help you perform any better in combat, it’s just survivability, so it’s listed last.

[Edit: Missed the +6 Stats enchant.]

Caster Chest Enchants
Enchant Chest – Exceptional Stats: +6 All Stats [ilvl 35+]
Enchant Chest – Greater Stats: +4 All Stats
Enchant Chest – Stats: +3 All Stats
Enchant Chest – Restore Mana Prime: Restore 7 Mana every 5 seconds [ilvl 35+]
Enchant Chest – Major Mana: +100 Mana

Restore Mana Prime is just like the +150 Health enchant, being available only on the Haliscan Jacket if you want it from level 1. Mana regeneration isn’t a big deal in the first 15 levels (usually), but some classes and leveling styles can make good use of it. A good example of one you might want to use it on is a Shadow Priest using Shadow Word: Pain spam on multiple targets to level with. It’s a high mana cost spell, so having more mana or mana regen helps that leveling style quite a bit.

The best choice here is +6 Stats which gives you 90 Mana and 6 Spell Power, though it too can only be placed on the Haliscan Jacket.

UPDATE: Sadly 4.1 also brought a nerf to the types of enchants we used on the Haliscan Jacket. Instead of requiring item level 35 to enchant, Burning Crusade enchants were switched to require character level 25 instead. Unless your character lives in a hole from which they never quest and never run dungeons, it’s almost impossible to not have a better chest piece by level 25.

We have the same situation with the Stats enchants here as we do above with the Melee enchants and for the same reasons. Again, I list the +100 Mana last here, but only because I consider it less valuable than the others. For casters, mana = damage so having more mana does essentially make you more powerful; just not directly. Despite it being last on my list, I tend to use it above all of the others for my personal HMD’s, because I like to have a ton of mana to work with and don’t mind sacrificing a few points of spell power for 100 extra mana.

[Edit: Missed the +6 Stats enchant.]

Melee & Ranged Bracer Enchants
Enchant Bracer – Superior Strength: +9 Strength
Enchant Bracer – Superior Stamina: +9 Stamina
Enchant Bracer – Minor Agility: +1 Agility

I don’t know why in the world they gave us +9 to both Strength and Stamina, but not Agility. We don’t even have a +7, +5, or even +3 Agility; they just left us with +1. So for almost every case I suggest you go with the +9 Strength. The one exception would be, maybe, the +1 Agility for a Hunter since Strength is essentially useless. But again, Stamina is strictly a survivability enchant, so I would personally go for Strength over all (save Hunter) and Stamina only if you’re feeling especially squishy for some reason.

Caster Bracer Enchants
Enchant Bracer – Healing Power: +15 Spell Power
Enchant Bracer – Greater Intellect: +7 Intellect
Enchant Bracer – Mana Regeneration: Restore 5 Mana every 5 seconds +9 Spirit

I personally choose +15 SP for my bracer enchants, but the +7 Intellect enchant is a lot better now that Int=SP. You can either have 15 Sp or you can have 7 SP and 105 Mana to go with it. It’s up to you really, I just like to have that extra level of power from the 15 SP for my personal taste.

I feel that the mp5 enchant is the weakest here, but it’s still a decent fit for a caster. Mana Regeneration’s +9 Spirit might be useful for low level casters, but it’s kind of weak in my opinion. You may consider it if you’re a healer, but I wouldn’t even look at it if you’re going for DPS unless you can’t find or can’t afford one of the others.

Professions Glove Enchants
Enchant Gloves – Advanced Mining: +5 Mining
Enchant Gloves – Advanced Herbalism: +5 Herbalism
Enchant Gloves – Skinning: +5 Skinning
Enchant Gloves – Angler: +5 Fishing
Enchant Gloves – Riding Skill: +2% Mounted speed

I want to draw special attention to these enchants because they really can be a life saver while you’re leveling, especially if you do so quickly or have a habit of using Recruit-a-Friend so that you tend to out-level your farming zones. I suggest you keep a pair of cloth gloves around with Mining, herbalism, and Skinning for all of your alts and maybe even a couple of copies if you gather with a lot of your alts.

I hate fishing, so I’ve never used the Angler enchant, but it’s there if you want it. I also don’t use the Riding Skill one either because I just don’t care about a whopping 2% speed increase. If you do want a speed increase then you may consider some Mithril Spurs on a pair or two of white boots.

Melee & Ranged Glove Enchants
Enchant Gloves – Superior Agility: +15 Agility
Enchant Gloves – Greater Strength: +7 Strength
Enchant Gloves – Minor Haste: +10 Haste
Enchant Gloves – Greater Agility: +7 Agility
Enchant Gloves – Threat: +2% Threat on all attacks

The best enchant available to you in this category is +15 Agility, probably even for your Strength-based classes. Haste is a fairly good option as well, basically reducing your auto-attacks by 0.10 seconds up to level 20, and also speeding up your bleed effects a bit. I’m not an expert on haste for melee classes though so don’t quote me on that one.

I went ahead and listed the Threat enchant for those of you who want to give tanking a shot with the new expansion. DPS classes hit hard and they hit pretty fast, so if you’re considering tanking you might want to keep a pair of these in your bags just in case you find yourself slacking on the threat meters. The 2% bonus isn’t a huge deal, but if you need help in that area then there’s where you find it.

Caster Glove Enchants
Enchant Gloves – Healing Power: +16 Spell Power
Enchant Gloves – Fire Power: +20 Fire Spell Power
Enchant Gloves – Frost Power: +20 Frost Spell Power
Enchant Gloves – Shadow Power: +20 Shadow Spell Power
Enchant Gloves – Minor Haste: +10 Haste

Casters have a lot of really good options here. The generic enchant of choice is Healing Power for +16 SP to all of your spells, but if you know your’e going to spec for a specific damage type then you can go ahead and grab it instead. Fire Mages and Destro Locks can both use Fire Power, Frost Mages for Frost Power, and Shadow Priests and Warlocks can both use Shadow Power.

I personally put the Healing Power on my HMD’s and save the specific damage types for when I get a solid glove upgrade in my 20’s that binds to the character. In case you didn’t already know, I have no problem throwing away imaginary gold to make my in game experiences more enjoyable, so enchant things that get replaced all the time.

Leg Enchants
Light Armor Kit: +8 Armor to Chest, Legs, Hands or Feet
Medium Armor Kit: [Lvl: 5] +16 Armor to Chest, Legs, Hands or Feet

I’m going to go ahead and list these here just for the sake of completion. I don’t use HMD pants because of the fact that these are the only enchants you can put on them. A little extra armor never hurt anybody, but it never really helps for your low level toons either. Not when we’re talking about 8-16 points of it, at least. If you want to use them, then here they are.

Melee & Ranged Boot Enchants
Enchant Boots – Greater Agility: +7 Agility
Enchant Boots – Minor Speed: +7% Run Speed
Enchant Boots – Lesser Accuracy: +5 Hit
Enchant Boots – Greater Stamina: +7 Stamina
Mithril Spurs: +4% Mounted run speed

While my personal choice for HMD boots is almost always Minor Speed, the +7 Agility is the best one for actually improving your performance. You can also get a lot of use out of the +5 Hit, especially if you’re a dual wielding class/spec, so keep that one in mind. I only use the +7 Stamina enchant on my twinks, and even then I usually go for the run speed instead, but it’s there if you want it.

I also included the Mithril Spurs for the sake of completion, though they’re useless prior to level 20 when you actually a get a mount that you can use them on. I don’t use these on actually HMD’s, instead I generally purchase a pair of PvP boots once I get access to Arathi Basin which award a ground speed increase of their own, and then add the spurs so that I have a speed increase at all times.

Caster Boot Enchants
Enchant Boots – Minor Speed: +7% Run Speed
Enchant Boots – Lesser Accuracy: +5 Hit
Mithril Spurs: +4% Mounted run speed

Casters get the shaft on boot enchants, with nothing really standing out. I lean towards the speed increase for my personal use, but you might prefer the +5 Hit. Run Speed will help you quest and level faster, while Accuracy will help you kill faster, so the choice is yours.

I also included the Mithril Spurs for the sake of completion, though they’re useless prior to level 20 when you actually a get a mount that you can use them on. I don’t use these on actually HMD’s, instead I generally purchase a pair of PvP boots once I get access to Arathi Basin which award a ground speed increase of their own, and then add the spurs so that I have a speed increase at all times.

Melee, Ranged and Caster Cloak Enchants
Enchant Cloak – Stealth: +8 Agility, +8% Dodge
Enchant Cloak – Superior Defense: +70 Armor
Enchant Cloak – Lesser Agility: +3 Agility
Enchant Cloak – Subtlety: -2% Threat

There aren’t a whole lot of cloak enchants to choose from, and there’s not really a good distinction between roles and specs either, so I’ve just lumped them all into one here.

Stealth has recently been changed from a literal buff to the Stealth skill to +8 Agility and +8 Dodge which completely blows the competition out of the water. We went from fairly weak cloak enchants to a near overpowered one. I only regret there’s not an equally amazing cloak enchant for casters.

If you’re an Agility class, then +3 Agi is probably your next best bet here, while a melee or Strength class might prefer +70 Armor. If you’re playing DPS, especially a caster, then you might want to consider Subtlety if you’re going to be using the dungeon finder a lot.

I’ve also included the Stealth enchant for those of you rolling Rogues and Feral Druids in the expansion. Seeing through stealth is a calculation (mostly) of your level versus your target’s level, and this enchant basically mimic’s the Night Elf’s racial ability by treating you as though you’re a level higher than you actually are. And it does stack with the Night Elf racial making you effectively 2 levels higher, or 3 if you happen to pick up the talents in the Subtlety tree.

Obtaining White Items
The simplest form of HMD white items are those that you can simply purchase from a vendor. The best level 1 HMD’s are almost always vendor purchases, though there are a few exceptions if you’re strictly looking for best-in-slot for a level 1. I’ll try to keep the twink-focused part of my brain in a jar while I go over some of these as for twinking I’m willing to spend hours farming a specific drop where with HMD’s I only do that if an item ranks super high on my coolness list.

The first thing we want to do is determine usefulness, what I talked about before by being usable by as many classes and specs as possible. Spec doesn’t have a huge impact, but it does a little bit in cases like the Shaman who wants a two-hand +Agi weapon prior to level 10 as Enhancement, but one-hand +Int/+SP and a shield Vitality/+Stam/Spike as Elemental or Restoration.

Once you know what type of item you’re looking for, you’ll want to do a search in the database similar to this one: Wowhead Search. That search will help you find white items that do not bind. Simply click around in the different item options and it will keep the filtering in place. You can then find whether the item can be purchased from a vendor or if it’s a drop from certain mobs. Some white items are quest rewards also, that for some reason do not bind like all the others. most items will also have a screen shot of them that you can then use to determine coolness factor, so you may give up an item that’s technically “better” for one that looks cooler.

I’m going to leave the Death Knight in the chart below for completion’s sake, though you’ll never want HMD’s on a DK for anything other than roleplaying purposes, and in most cases not even then.

Classes that can use the item will have an ‘X’ in their box to note that they can use it, or a ‘-‘ to note that they cannot. If there is a number in the box instead, then it indicates the level at which the ability to use that item opens up to the class (like Plate Armor at level 40).

DK Dru Hun Mag Pal Pri Rog Sha Wlk War
Cloth X X X X X X X X X X
Leather X X X X X X X
Mail X 40 X 40 40 X
Plate X 40 X 40 40 X
Shield X X X
Axe X X X X X X
Dagger X X X X X X X X
Fist Weapon X X X X X
Mace X X X X X X X
Polearm X X X X X
Staff X X X X X X X
Sword X X X X X X X
Two-Handed X X X X X X
Dual Wield X 20 X 10* X
Bow X X X
Crossbow X X X
Gun X X X
Thrown X X X
Wand X X X

*Shaman can dual wield at level 10, but only if they take the Enhancement spec.

Melee Weapons (1H)
Fine Scimitar: [Lvl: -] 3-7 Damage (2.5 DPS), 1.90 Speed
Arcane Forged Axe: [Lvl: -] 2-5 Damage (1.7 DPS), 2.00 Speed
Small Green Dagger: [Lvl: 5] 4-9 Damage (4.4 DPS), 1.50 Speed
Suggested Enchants: +15 Agility, Fiery Weapon, Lifestealing

Here are a few sample one-handed weapons for you to consider. First up we have a sword and Axe that both have no level requirement and are good for giving HMD’s to your level 1 toons. Both do a decent a mount of damage for a level 1 toon and can be much more useful when enchanted.

The third option there requires level 5 to use it, but it’s a decent example DPS increases from level 1-5. You may consider making multiple HMD’s for your low level toons, or you may decided that you’d rather not bother until level 5. Some of you will obviously not want to bother with HMD’s to begin with, but if you are interested then these are some examples of the best available to you.

Of the three, I think the Arcane Forged Axe comes is the best one when it comes to Coolness, but it also has the lowest damage. You’ll also find that while the Fine Scimitar is the highest one-hand damage you can find on a level 1 white item, it’s also a low drop rate where the Small Green Dagger comes form a rare spawn and the Arcane Forged Axe can be purchased from a Horde vendor.

Melee Weapons (2H)
Bastard Sword: [Lvl: -] 5-8 Damage (2.1 DPS), 3.00 Speed
Broad Axe: [Lvl: -] 5-8 Damage (2.1 DPS), 3.10 Speed
Vile Fine Battle Axe: [Lvl: 4] 12-19 Damage (5.1 DPS), 3.10 Speed
Frostbit Staff: [Lvl: 5] 12-19 Damage (5.8 DPS), 2.70 Speed
Suggested Enchants: Crusader, +15 Strength, Fiery Weapon, Iron Counterweight, +25 Agility (Hunter, Shaman, Druid)

The two-handed weapons are listed similarly to the one-handed. We have a couple of options for level 1 toons, an example of a level 4 weapon so you can see the potential benefit of waiting a few levels before using a HMD, and a level 5 option for those who wish both to wait and to have one that fits in the coolness factor.

A note about the enchants, even classes that get a 2:1 return on Agility->Attack Power receive a 1:1 return on Strength. So if you don’t want to enchant multiple two-handed weapons then having one with Crusader will work for a Shaman or Druid as well, though they would get more consistent benefit from a staff w/ +25 Agility which could also be used by the Hunter.

Ranged Weapons
Cadet’s Bow: [Lvl: -] 4-9 Damage (3.2 DPS), 2.00 Speed
Hornwood Recurve Bow: [Lvl: 3] 6-13 Damage (4.4 DPS), 2.10 Speed
Ornate Blunderbuss: [Lvl: 4] 7-15 Damage (5.1 DPS), 2.20 Speed
Suggested Enchants: Crude Scope, Standard Scope

The highest damage you can find on a bow at level 1 is sadly the Cadet’s Bow which has a low drop rate and from only a few mobs. If you want to hunt the bow down, then feel free to do so, but it’s pretty easily replaced by better ranged weapons that are available at levels 3 or 4.

The only class that really needs to worry about having a high-DPS ranged weapon is the Hunter, and with their power at low level they can make it to level 4 in the blink of an eye and bypass the need for the Cadet or Hornwood bows. If you’re going to roll a Hunter I suggest you skip the Cadet’s Bow and aim for either the Hornwood Bow or Ornate Blunderbuss when they become available, and then upgrade to better weapons once you get close to level 10. From there you should be able to find a decent bow made my Engineers that will easily last you until you can get the dungeon drops from either the BFD or WC instances.

Caster Weapons
Arcane Forged Mace: 2-5 Damage (1.7 DPS), 1.90 Speed
Arcane Forged Dirk: 1-4 Damage (1.7 DPS), 1.60 Speed
Arcane Forged Shortsword: 3-6 Damage (1.7 DPS), 2.6 Speed
Mana Gathering Staff: 5-9 Damage (2.1 DPS), 3.20 Speed
Apprentice’s Staff: 3-5 Damage (1.3 DPS), 2.90 Speed
Suggested Enchants: +22 Intellect, +30 Spell Power, +29 Spell Power

You have a few different options open to you here. Every healer in the game can use a Mace, so you have a solid option there. All of the casters, except for Paladins, can use a Dagger so I’ve also listed the dirk there in case you want a fairly universal caster option that leaves out only a single class. The Arcane Forged Shortsword isn’t a great option since none of your healers can use it (other than the Priest), but it’s a cool looking weapon you can give to your DPS casters to make them stand out a bit more. Finally I have two different staff options for what I consider to be the two coolest designs available to new characters. They’re both Blood Elf styled weapons, but they both look good to me so there they are.

Patch 4.0.1 changed Intellect so that it now gives 1 Spell Power per point, so the +22 Intellect enchant has more or less become best in slot because it gives Spell Power, Mana (330), and Spell Crit rather than just straight Spell Power. If you’re seriously looking to stack as much SP as possible, then the +30 and +29 SP enchants are still the strongest you can get in those categories.

Large Round Shield: [Lvl: -] 171 Armor
Light Guard Shield: [Lvl: -] 116 Armor
Warrior’s Shield: [Lvl: 4] 278 Armor
Dull Heater Shield: [Lvl: 5] 307 Armor
Standard Issue Shield: [Lvl: 5] 307 Armor
Suggested Enchants: Felsteel Shield Spike, 7 mp5, Thorium Shield Spike, +7 Stamina

Shields aren’t all that important prior to level 10 or 15, so you might want to consider doing another search that looks at higher level shields if you’re not going to use one right away. If you want one starting out though, the Large Round Shield is as good as it gets. While I do have a level 1 shield that I can pass around on my alts that use them, I wouldn’t really recommend that you bother with one below level 5 when the Standard Issue and Heater Shields become available. They give almost twice the armor value and it takes all of 15 minutes to reach level 5 without heirlooms so it’s not a big deal to wait. And the Standard Issue Shield is probably the coolest looking low level shield in the game, give or take a couple of the other options I have listed there.

For your enchants you want to get something that’s going to work for your class. If you’re a Shaman then you probably don’t want to bother with a shield spike and will be better served going with either the Vitality (mp5) or Stamina enchants. For a Warrior or Paladin I would go with shield spikes for sure, even for a Holy Paladin. I could go into detail on the best shields to pick up throughout the whole leveling process, but…that’s a whole other post all on its own.

Armor Sets
I have each of the three armor sets available to characters prior to level 40 listed below. For details on the enchants you may want to refer to the armor section up above to find links and specific names for enchants that I have listed here.

I’ve gone ahead and listed full sets here just in case you want the full setup, but in case you missed it in that great wall of text up above, I don’t actually use Belts or Pants for my own HMD’s. I will occasionally wear the Haliscan Pantaloons with a +16 Armor kit on them just so they match my Haliscan Jacket, but it’s just for looks for the most part. If you want to skip the belt and legs like I do, feel free.

Cloth Armor Set
Chest: Haliscan Jacket: 90 Armor, Festival Dress: 13 Armor
Legs: Haliscan Pantaloons: 77 Armor, Black Tuxedo Pants: 54 Armor
Waist: Light Cloth Belt: 12 Armor
Bracer: Light Cloth Bracers: 9 Armor
Gloves: Battle Worn Handguards: 18 Armor, Light Cloth Gloves: 13 Armor
Feet: Dress Shoes: 9 Armor
Back: Linen Cloak: 12 Armor

For your caster HMD’s you have quite a few options really, so I’ve just gone and listed the highest Armor set that you can purchase from a vendor and use at level 1. I think the Blood Elves beat everyone else out when it comes to cool looking gear for low level toons, so theirs are the ones I have listed. You’ll notice that I have a couple of different options for some of those slots, and I do it mostly for the coolness factor.

The Haliscan Jacket is the best chest armor in the game for a level 1, regardless of your class. But personally, I really don’t like having my casters in shirts, I much prefer them to have robes. So I also listed what I consider to be the coolest looking robe, the Festival Dress. Both of these are made by tailors, and pretty easy to find though they might be expensive (especially on a RP server).

A similar situation comes up with the legs, Haliscan Pantaloons are the best pants you can get for any toon. The next best are the Black Tuxedo Pants, and again the top two pants options are both tailoring recipes. The cloak is also a Tailor-made piece, though it’s not outstanding in any respect other than being tied with a few others for highest Armor value without a level requirement.

UPDATE: The recent change (nerf) to enchants that could be placed on the Haliscan Jacket mean it’s no longer anywhere close to being the front runner. Instead, just grab a good looking chest piece with a decent amount of armor on it, and go with it. While it did have a good armor value, its major draw was being able to use higher level enchants that no longer benefit characters under level 25.

Leather Armor Set
Chest: Haliscan Jacket: 90 Armor (Cloth), Sun Cured Vest: 33 Armor
Legs: Haliscan Pantaloons: 77 Armor, Black Tuxedo Pants: 54 Armor, Sun Cured Pants: 29 Armor
Waist: Squeeler’s Belt: 22 Armor, Sun Cured Belt: 18 Armor
Bracer: Sun Cured Bracers: 14 Armor
Gloves: Sun Cured Gloves: 20 Armor
Feet: Sun Cured Boots: 23 Armor
Back: Linen Cloak: 12 Armor

Similar to the cloth set up above, I’ve taken the vendor bought Leather set from the Blood Elf starting area. For level 1 characters these do end up being the strongest items available to you, so I haven’t bothered listing items for other levels. Most of your cloth wearers aren’t going to have a serious need to upgrade from their HMD items before you find options from dungeons or quests that can replace them. The one exception there would be a Feral Druid tank who may consider swapping out some of these pieces for higher armor when it’s time to start running random dungeons.

The Haliscan Jacket and Pantaloons and the Tuxedo Pants easily beat out the best leather options at level 1, so they’re listed here as well even though they’re cloth.

UPDATE: The recent change (nerf) to enchants that could be placed on the Haliscan Jacket mean it’s no longer anywhere close to being the front runner. Instead, just grab a good looking chest piece with a decent amount of armor on it, and go with it. While it did have a good armor value, its major draw was being able to use higher level enchants that no longer benefit characters under level 25.

Mail Armor Set
Chest: Haliscan Jacket: 90 Armor (Cloth), Unadorned Chain Vest: 53 Armor
Legs: Haliscan Pantaloons: 77 Armor, Black Tuxedo Pants: 54 Armor, Unadorned Chain Leggings: 47 Armor
Waist: Unadorned Chain Belt: 30 Armor
Bracer: Unadorned Chain Bracers: 23 Armor
Gloves: Unadorned Chain Gloves: 33 Armor
Feet: Unadorned Chain Boots: 37 Armor
Back: Linen Cloak: 12 Armor

No surprises here, again we have the Blood Elf starting zone’s vendor items. Warriors get better Rage if their armor is a somewhat slacking (at least they used to), and Paladins have plenty of self healing at their disposal, so I wouldn’t bother replacing HMD’s on either of them until you start to find superior dungeon drops or significant quest rewards.

I still get a little chuckle at the Haliscan Jacket/Pantaloons and Tuxedo Pants beat out even the best Mail options at level 1, so they’re listed here as well even though they’re cloth.

UPDATE: The recent change (nerf) to enchants that could be placed on the Haliscan Jacket mean it’s no longer anywhere close to being the front runner. Instead, just grab a good looking chest piece with a decent amount of armor on it, and go with it. While it did have a good armor value, its major draw was being able to use higher level enchants that no longer benefit characters under level 25.


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26 responses to “Hand-Me-Downs: A Poor Man’s Heirlooms

  1. Moravec

    November 18, 2010 at 1:07 PM

    Very nice compliment to Cynwise’s Case Against Heirlooms post, good stuff – you’ve convinced me I should roll a twink and roflstomp those low level BGs – and this is the perfect guide to making the most of it. Good work Psynister

    • Psynister

      November 18, 2010 at 1:54 PM

      Well thank you.

      I could give you a lot better information regarding specifics of twinking if you let me know which class you’re rolling and which spec. Twinking in whites was more fun than I thought it would be. The big thing you miss out on from having whites over greens though is the extra stamina which you do feel now that Rogues one-shot everything. A Holy Paladin in HMD’s could totally last in twinking BG’s though.

  2. Cynwise

    November 18, 2010 at 1:10 PM

    Nicely, nicely done, Psyn! Going to take me a while to digest all of it.

    One item of note – there’s a Simple Black Dress ( that tailors can make which is ilvl 47 – that can take the BC enchants.

    • Psynister

      November 18, 2010 at 1:51 PM

      Yeah, it’s one massive wall of text; I do not deny. I probably should have broken this down and done a more detailed view of each individual slot (or two slots) in its own post… Ah well, hind sight and all that.

      Hmm, I wonder why the black dress wasn’t coming up in the scans. It doesn’t bind, doesn’t have a level requirement….no ide- never mind I found out why.

      When I did a search for the armor items I did have another requirement on there that it have an Armor value greater than 0, so since it has no armor value it didn’t come up.

      • Cynwise

        November 18, 2010 at 2:06 PM

        Oh! That would explain it. Haliscan Jacket and Pants are still the way to go, but if you want the dress instead, it’s a nice, cheap option.

        Bummer that the +15 Resilience isn’t an option on our server. :-(

        I assume you have the +9 Strength bracer enchant? I could use a set with that! :-)

        • Psynister

          November 18, 2010 at 2:17 PM

          I do have the +9 Strength (I believe). I can’t find anyone w/ that resilience enchant though. I checked on Korialstrasz for a few days and I’ve looked a couple times just in passing on SC and haven’t found anyone on those either.

  3. Vikt

    November 18, 2010 at 4:49 PM

    Between you and Cyn you’re going to make me reroll another character – and I’m going to hate myself for doing it :(

    • Psynister

      November 18, 2010 at 4:54 PM

      You don’t have to hate yourself. You can blame it all on me; I can take it.

  4. Moarheelz

    November 18, 2010 at 11:47 PM

    Awesome post! Thanks a lot for writing this. Duly bookmarked.


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