Not quite epic, but close...

Well, the cataclysm is upon us, and we all fell into the normal pattern:
  1. Level to max (in this case, 85)
  2. Run Regular instances to learn them
  3. Run Heroic instances to get good gear
  4. Begin Raiding
But something happened to our normal pattern... We got to number 3 and discovered something:

"Heroics are hard!"

Blizzard made a conscious decision in this expansion that we're coming to learn for ourselves. There's no one being 'carried' anymore.
Every person in the group is now expected to know the fights, and be able to perform their job to help contribute to the victory. If you have a Crowd Control ability, you will probably be asked to use it. If you're standing in something, you will be expected to move out of it quickly. If you have an aggro dumping ability, you will be expected to use it. If a Lightwell is placed, you will be expected to use it.

Basically, the Tank and the Healer used to be the critical components of a 5-person team. If you had a solid Tank and Healer, pretty much any three DPS could defeat any boss. No more. All 5 members of the team now share equal responsibility for the success of battles.

And quite frankly, I think that's a good thing.

You see, we all want to be good Raiders, and that's what Raiding has always expected... That you have a 10-person (or 25) team that understands the balance between Tanking, Healing and DPS.

These new 5-person heroic encounters are not only harder than their normal counterparts, they require that mindset shift that I mention above. That people know the fights, and their roles in those fights.

Most of the things listed above are going to take time for us to work on as a team. One thing above, however, is something you can do on your own to help prepare: Get better gear.

You need to work on gearing up your character the best you can, and it turns out you can get quite a bit of gear without ever stepping into a Heroic instance.

Blizzard has set the miminum barrier to going into a Heroic instance at an average item level of 329. That means if you take all the items on your character (minus the shirt and tabard) and add their individual item levels together, then divide by the number of slots (17 for most people, 16 for people with 2-handed weapons), then truncate off the remander, you'll get your average item level.

Enchants don't affect it. Gems don't affect it. It's the pure item level of the item.

Blizzard will also count the items you are carrying in your bags (so you don't get a penalty for fishing, or carrying two sets of gear). So if you're wearing a 325 helm, but have a 339 helm in your bags (that you've equipped at least once), then your head piece will be counted as 339.

So, your magic number (at the very minimum) is to get an average item level of 329.

I've been mining the wowhead database, and doing some website reading, and I'm going to try to summarize some of that information below.

Cataclysm has introduced us to fourteen (14) new levels of gear. They are:

  ilvl     PvE 5-person     PvE 10-person/25-person     PvP     Crafted  
292 world drop BoEs req.80      
300 world drop BoEs req.81      
308 world drop BoEs req.82
instances (BRC/TooT)
    crafted BoEs req.80
316 world drop BoEs req.83
instances (SC/VP)
    crafted BoEs req.81
325 world drop BoEs req.84     crafted BoEs req.82
333 world drop BoEs req.85
instances (GB/HoO/LCT)
Honored reputation rewards
    crafted BoEs req.83
339       crafted PVP blues
346 lv85 heroics
initial Justice rewards
Revered reputation rewards
    crafted rings/necks
Chaos Orb weapons/cloaks
352     S9 (Bloodthirsty) armor  
353
  S9 (Bloodthirsty) weapons  
359 Exalted reputation rewards
world drop BoEs
T11 gear
T11 Valor rewards
S9 (Vicious) T1 weapons Chaos Orb armor
Highest-level archeology artifacts
365     S9 (Vicious) armor  
372   T11 Heroic gear S9 (Vicious) T2 weapons  
379   Lady Sinestra    

Now, some things that aren't obvious about this table...
Therefore, our best target for easy gearing up is to target any Rare items we can get without stepping a foot into Heroics or Raiding.

Turns out, that's still a fairly large number... over 1,000 items fall into that category.

So, I decided to create links to wowhead for each class, showing all the Rare items available that do not require Heroics to get. I'm going to filter by slot, too, so if your toon has a low set of gloves, you can go direct to your link and see what's out there that's an upgrade.

These links will simply return the set of *possibilities* for your class. They aren't 'recommended' upgrades. Only *you* can evaluate whether a specific item fits your play style.

Besides, with Reforging, any item can be repurposed into a reasonably usable item.

I hope these links are useful to you, and if you have any suggestions for a better way to group these, let me know.

Slot/Class
Death Knight
Druid
Hunter
Mage
Paladin
Priest
Rogue
Shaman
Warlock
Warrior
Head
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Neck
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Shoulders
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Back
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Chest
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Wrist
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Hands
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Waist
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Legs
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Feet
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Shield
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Held in Off-Hand search search search search search search search search search
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Ring search search search search search search search search search
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Trinket
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Main-Hand
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Off-Hand
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One-Hand
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Two-Hand
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Ranged
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Thrown
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Relic
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