Over the weekend I hit 637 gear level on my poor neglected mistweaver panda. I did this almost without stepping foot inside a raid or instance — grand total of one normal Skyreach and one LFR Walled City. I did the LFR for healing practice before queuing for Skyreach, which of course I was doing for the initial Legendary ring. The rest of my gear came from missions, crafting, and one judicious buy on the AH (I think someone mis-listed a set of 670 gloves, and I happened to be in the right place at the right time to snap them up for around 5k.)
My gear is not all epics, of course. I am still wearing some blues and even my now-largely-useless legendary cape from Mists. But it is adequate gear for an alt. It will get me into a few more LFRs should I wish to pursue that, and it should allow me to not stink if I want to crank out the Heroic instances for the next stage of the Legendary. It would likely get me into some Group Finder pugs, given how desperate some groups are for healers. And, sadly, it would probably even qualify me for a pinch-hit raid spot on my less-than-stellar glacial progression team.
I am not sure how far I could go by still only doing minimal number of pugs, but 650 does not seem out of the question. None of my crafted items has been upgraded, they are still all hanging at 640, so I can scrabble together the Savage Bloods to upgrade those. I refuse to spend tens of thousands of gold to buy gear for an alt, but I can keep watching the AH for some bargain-basement BoEs. I can run the world bosses. And I can keep cranking out the follower missions for salvage.
I know 650 is not very high as gear levels go now, but really why would I need to go much higher? My guild “progression” team will almost certainly never get to the point of being able to do alt runs, so it’s not like I need to gear up for that possibility. I am not a big fan of gear for vanity’s sake — I derive no pleasure from parading around faction cities in some piece of super-sought-after set of Mythic gear.
But going much beyond the low hanging fruit is a commitment I am just not willing to make for an alt in this expansion. I chase gear on my main because I don’t want to let my team down in my raiding guild, and maybe if I had some alts in that guild, I might feel that gearing them up would benefit the team. But for the guild the alts are in, there is almost no chance I will ever be allowed to voluntarily run on an alt, much less be asked to give up my hunter DPS (even though it is no longer my main) to fill in as a healer or even caster.
It just does not seem worth much effort. I will upgrade if I can do so easily, otherwise I am in the “good enough” mode with them. One reason, in addition to the raid team situation, is that garrisons eat up play time that in past expansions I would have spent gearing alts. Also, even when I was grinding out dailies and the like on my alts in past expansions, at least I was actually playing them, improving my class skills. But the insidious thing about garrisons is that they do not give you any practice at actually playing alts. This means it is easy to lose your skills with them. I know this does not bother some people, but it bothers me a lot. It’s a downward spiral: Feeling incompetent on an alt means I am hesitant to join a pug, even LFR, which means I can’t get gear beyond a certain level, which makes me feel more inadequate on that alt, which means I won’t apply for pugs, etc.
As I have said before, this expansion is extremely alt-hostile. You can gear them up to a certain point, but beyond that, at least for me, the time and effort are not worth the reward. I’ll probably just level them, get some easy gear, and wait for the next expansion. Which, by the way, cannot come soon enough.