And here we are, level 85, heroics here we come! Sadly not… my ilvl is only marginally higher than my IQ (that's not very high at all in case you're wondering) so I've got some grinding to do. At this point I've done only two Normal dungeons, and am kitted out primarily in quest reward items so I've got some serious grinding to do. A quick trawl through WoWhead's database and I've knocked together a hit list of dungeon bosses that I need to hit an ilvl of 329. I remembered a wow insider article on gearing for heroics so I trawl through the archives and find http://wow.joystiq.com/2010/12/15/spiritual-guidance-gearing-a-shadow-priest-for-cataclysm-heroic/ whilst I'm reading through a guildie pops on to our Vent server and suggests I do just what the article suggests and have a look at my reputation with the various factions.
Having quested all the way through to 85 rather than doing instances I'm midway through the Twighlight Highlands but have done most of the quests in every other zone which leaves me at honoured with all of the factions but the Dragonmaw Clan. A quick round the world trip later, and a few more Twighlight Highlands quests and I have most of the kit I need. I can't recommend highly enough ensuring you get to honoured with each faction before moving on to the next quest zone, if you're looking to get into heroics as quickly as possible, I'd recommend questing in each zone until you hit honoured and then move on whether there's quests left or not.
Now I'd like to state for the record, that I'm broadly in support of all of the changes Blizzard have brought in for Cata, the ilvl requirement for heroics is a good idea in principle, especially given the dungeon finder system, to stop people getting lumbered with someone who's way under-geared, but also allows players to get into heroics without having to go through mindless hours of rep grinding as I remember in TBC. However, the one failure to this is Blizzard forgot to make any wands again… there is only one ilvl 333 wand available in the game and that from Forgemaster Throngus in Grim Batol. Now I got lucky, the wand dropped on my first visit, but I can see it providing a source of frustration for someone not quite so fortunate. With the next level a measly 318 it could easily take you down below the 329 required average. My next problem is my weapon and one trinket; I noticed the crucible of chaos quest chain gives a ilvl 333 weapon so a few minutes of begging in the guild channel and a have 4 colleagues to help me smash through it, a thoroughly enjoyable quest chain finishing with me just sneaking across the 329 finishing line without needing to approach the trinket issue.
I decide before I burden anyone with my presence it's time to reforge, gem up, get some enchantments and make a few helping potions. As a jewelcrafter and an alchemist (I use alts to collect the herbs and ore). As I'm expecting to change gear up pretty frequently I've plumbed for the less expensive jewels and enchants at this point, primarily going for Int and Haste wherever I can and reforging Spirit and Mastery into Hit, Haste and Crit.
I also decided it was time to rejig my shadow tree a touch, I'd gone for Improved Psychic Scream and Psychic Horror for levelling but don't see much point in having them for instances so I've gone for a pretty standard 31-10 shadow/disc spec http://www.wowhead.com/talent#bfroZZGbGdMzrd0fo I also spent a bit of gold in the AH updating my collection of Glyphs; as prime I have Mind Flay, SWD and SWP glyphed. For me they are the only mandatory ones as they actively increase your DPS, the major and minor glyphs are down to individual choice, spirit tap being the most useful of these in my opinion as it stops you from having to drink regularly if you get the hang of SWD, can also be used on boss adds to increase your mana pool if used correctly.
So that's it for me, experiences and thoughts of the first few heroics next time.