It’s still all about the gear

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving holiday. I know I did. Of course, it’s like all good things — eventually enough is enough, and it feels good to get back to your normal routine. Honestly by Saturday I was ready for it to be over. Which meant I did play some amount of WoW, just to escape the hungry hordes in my living room. (“Sorry, guys, gotta do some web site maintenance and bookkeeping. You know how it is with a small struggling business.”)

Which brings me to the already-had-enough-of-a-good-thing subject of valor.

Most of my time in the game over the weekend was spent chasing valor on my two hunters. This meant running all of LFR HFC, plus the weekly bonus event, plus a couple of randoms. After that, I think the valor return gets a bit thin for the effort expended, not to mention I am not really in that much of a hurry to upgrade their gear. As I have pretty much stopped raiding for the remainder of this expansion, the only reason to raise gear levels is to prep for the next round of leveling in Legion.

The return of valor has certainly worked to get players re-engaged in LFR and dungeons, I think, but I still wonder how long it will last. I know for me, once I upgrade the few pieces of decent gear I have on my hunters, I will be done. I am not going to upgrade their crappy Baleful gear with terrible secondary stats, nor am I going to upgrade those lousy pseudo-tier pieces from LFR. And since Blizz has made it almost impossibly difficult for me to get decent upgradable gear for my lesser alts, I will not be chasing valor on any of them because what’s the point. So I will be done with valor in another week or so, and I suspect I am not alone in this.

This, of course, is where Blizz’s horrible decisions on gear for this entire expansion are catching up with them. Making it completely dependent on random rolls — whether that be for secondary stats or for the actual gear itself — means that eventually people just give up on it. The time — and pain, if you are not in a raiding guild — required to get the gear is simply not worth the reward. Oh, you might stick with it for your main, but very few people will do it for their alts. And make no mistake about it, Blizz has designed the end game such that gear is THE motivator for participation. Almost the only motivator.

I don’t want to get into the whole welfare-gear  debate, my point is not about that. My point is that, when you design a game whose main goal centers on gear, you have to make that gear — or the means to get it — reasonably attainable for the majority of players who make it to the end game. I do not mean give it to them, but I do mean give them multiple paths to it. I contend that Blizz has failed on this.

Right now even normal level gear appropriate to their spec is beyond my reach for alts, and even to some extent for my main (thinking hunter tier gear here). This is because:

  • Garrison missions now only award gear at the level the character has already raided at (not one level higher, as was the case at the beginning of WoD), so if you have not done some normal runs you will not get any gear at that level.
  • If you are not already fairly well geared, farming baleful gear in Tanaan is extremely time consuming — to the point of absurdity — for some classes and specs.
  • Even if you get baleful gear, the chances of getting the best secondary specs for your class are dismally small. This is, astonishingly, true even if you spend a pile of Apexis crystals to actually buy it.
  • If you are willing to grind for the mats to craft gear for your character, you cannot equip more than three pieces.
  • You simply cannot get accepted into a pug — even for normal level raids — unless you pretty much already outgear it. Thus, anyone who is not in a raiding guild is severely penalized in terms of getting gear. And Blizz’s policies for the last two expansions have been to gradually remove most incentives for guild membership, thereby decreasing the number of active guilds (no numbers to back this up, just anecdotal observation), thereby also decreasing the number of raiding guilds.
  • Even if you do get into a pug after hours of rejections, chances of getting gear are not great, given RNG along with the typical “tier gear res 4 guild, some [whatever class/spec you play] pcs on res” restrictions.

So unless Blizz makes some changes to gear acquisition in the next mini-patch — if there is one — I am pretty much done with my newly-discovered re-engagement with Draenor. Off the top of my head, here is what I would like to see:

  • Make some normal to heroic level gear pieces available for purchase with valor.
  • Establish a mechanism to reconfigure secondary stats on gear to actually fit your spec.
  • Lift the 3-piece restriction on crafted gear.
  • Make all Baleful gear BoA, not just the pieces from shipyard missions.
  • Make the random Baleful drops completely generic (no armor type) until they are used. (The Timeless Isle model.)
  • Change it so that if you buy Baleful gear with Apexis crystals, you can specify what secondary stats you get on the gear.
  • Expand valor so that it is awarded — even if in small quantities — for every activity in Tanaan. In other words, go back to the Mists valor model.

Changes like these would send me to Tanaan and to LFR/randoms regularly, probably for at least a couple of months.  It would allow me to gear up my alts decently, but not excessively. And it would restore my faith that Blizz is not trying to make gear — even moderate gear — more and more of an exclusive club for their favored 5%.




About Fiannor
I have a day job but escape by playing WoW. I love playing a hunter, and my Lake Wobegonian goal is to become "above average" at it.

6 Responses to It’s still all about the gear

  1. Jarnow says:

    Even just providing an item that you could buy for a modest sum of Apexis, that would let you re-roll the stats, like the reroll tokens for crafted gear, would help a whole hell of a lot.

  2. Wonderfully done.
    I’d like to add to your list …. rep rewards. If I could buy a trinket for an alt from the Prophet or Steamweedle, I would love it. The designers did a terrific job on the trinkets this expansion, even though many say that they are too powerful.
    I loved rep reward pieces in MoP because I could “get ahead” just a little by simply playing day-to-day. I know very many people would disagree but I think different avenues to attain gear would help a lot.

    • Fiannor says:

      I ranted about the rep-gated gear in Mists, but I agree it was a great alternate path to getting some decent pieces. And those kinds of non-raiding end game alternatives are one of the things missing in WoD. As you say, in Mists you could log on and play for a bit every day and still feel you were progressing, something Blizz completely left out of WoD.

  3. Grumsta says:

    Yes it is all about the gear in this game.

    I’ve had an insane run of luck over the past two weeks with gear. I competed my four piece tier set, and then dropped the new heirloom trinket in a mythic dungeon. Great against demons, of which HFC has a fair few bosses. Nice.

    Then myself and the other officers got invited to join another guild’s Heroic run against Mannoroth and Archie. Sadly the group (mainly pugs) fell apart after just three goes against Archie (got him to 2% on the second pull……), but I did manage to get myself the Prophecy of Fear trinket from Mannie. With gem slot.

    And it’s insane how much more damage I’m now doing. I haven’t improved as a player, my rotation has changed a little (it’s actually easier), and my damage has gone up by 50%.

    With the help of bored players from other raiding guilds, our guild finally got Archie down in Normal last night, so once I get my class trinket that’s all my raid targets for this xpac ticked off.

    I’m at the other end of the raid/luck scale to you, and I’m not happy with it either. So much of my damage is coming from gear I was simply lucky to roll on after I was lucky it dropped. I’d rather it came because I’ve mastered my character and rotation.

    That said, the extra dps definitely came in handy when we tackled HFA through Gorefiend on Heroic last night, so you simply have to accept that the gear is there to help you down the next wave of adds and bosses. You need the numbers to win, and the numbers come from the gear.

    Our guild now has 400 members (hit that last night). We still struggle to get 10 players together for a normal raid, and need to pull players from other guilds who are bored having completed Heroic but cannot get a team for Mythic, or are like us and can’t get a full raid team for Normal or Heroic.

    There’s something badly wrong with raiding this xpac, I don’t know if it’s because of flex or despite it, but when it takes three guilds to get enough players together to do a raid it doesn’t reflect well on the health of the grass-roots raiding scene.

    I’ve tried pugging and it is absolutely horrible. Perhaps you can find a guild like ours who needs raiders like yourself? Most of our players are still able to use gear from lower HFC normal, you’d fit right in. Maybe look on Openraid or similar? The raids are great fun, I find them a proper challenge, it’s a shame a strong, keen player like yourself is missing out.

    I hope that some of the great ideas suggested here make it into the game. Getting gear from Valor would maintain the incentive for players to keep playing. I love doing Mythic dungeons with my guildies, and after each one I get to upgrade a piece of gear. When it’s all done and I’ve hit Valor cap I will miss doing them that’s for sure.

    Oh yes, and I finally got the Vial of the Sands recipe. It really has been quite a fortnight 🙂

    • Fiannor says:

      “You need the numbers to win, and the numbers come from the gear.” While personal competence still counts for a lot, you are absolutely right about the gear. Unfortunately, gear has become a huge determiner of success for a raid. It seems to me that it counts for far more in terms of numbers than in any other expansion. Just look at the 4-pc tier for MM hunters as an example. When you make gear so important, then gate it behind not only a single activity — raiding with a regular team — but also behind blind luck (RNG of final wing bosses), you create a situation where the pool of raiders continually diminishes. This makes it harder to find a regular team, making it harder to get the gear and raid experience, driving more people out of raiding, and so forth in a downward spiral.

      I find it hard to believe no one at Blizz anticipated this result from their design decisions, it just seems incredible that a world class gaming company could be so incompetent. But if design incompetence is not the reason, then we are left with the uncomfortable explanation that this was intended, that Blizz wishes raiding — and thus end game content — to be accessible only to a very few.

      I am not the world’s greatest raider, and there is plenty of room for improvement in my hunter techniques, but I am far from the worst. And I love it! I am saddened to think there is a possibility that Blizz has written me, and many others like me, off for this activity because it somehow lessens the elitist aura of their money-producing professional raiders and wannabes.

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