Gear. Again. Still.

After a decent clear of Tomb of Sargeras (N) last night, I ended up with a new 910 ring and was able to complete my T20 4-piece. We had a lot of fun, and while we did not one-shot every boss, we did not have any real trouble with them either. Everyone is looking forward to Thursday night heroic progression. By all measures, it was a great raid night.

So why do I feel so incredibly frustrated? One word: Gear.

I know I have written about this before, so feel free to skip this post if you do not want to hear it again, but I have a sincere, heartfelt message for Blizz:


For example, the 910 ring I got was by rolling on it when the player it dropped for did not need it. I rolled on it only because it was 10 ilevels higher than one of my equipped rings. When I won the roll, I suddenly realized I had no idea if it really was an upgrade for me or not. It had the right stats, but my equipped 900 level had a gem slot. My Pawn addon indicated the new one was an 8% upgrade, but a) I had not run a new sim in a couple of weeks, and b) Pawn indicates that about 80% of the gear I have in my bags would be upgrades, too, then when I change it out, the changed out gear somehow turns out to be upgrades, too. I ended up taking the ring and equipping it, but does it make much difference in my damage ability? I don’t have a clue.

However, rolling on the ring — angst-laden as it was — was the easy part. Once raid was over, I began the process of deciding which mix of legendaries, T19, T20, and other gear would be optimal. The factors to consider:

  • Several respected theory crafters out there advise that, for BM hunters, a mix of T19 2-piece and T20 4-piece should be the goal.
  • Certain BM legendaries still are preferred over others, but only under certain circumstances, such as what trinket do you have equipped, what talent build do you have, how many adds are expected in a given fight, and of course would equipping a legendary destroy the recommended tier set combo.
  • I had three 970 legendaries and enough Withered Essence to upgrade one more. Two of my 970 legendaries were for what are now designated tier slots.
  • No matter what, I was going to have to run multiple new sims with varying equipment mixes and talent builds.

Remember when Blizz said the reason they removed so many gear gem slots was because they wanted you to be able to equip new gear in a raid as soon as you got it?

HAHAHAHAHA! Good times…….

(If you have a few minutes, take a look at this Ten Ton Hammer recap of dev gear comments from Blizzcon 2014 — almost the complete opposite of where we are now.)

I ended up running something like 8 sims before I verified for myself that the main difference was in the gear-talent relationships. For BM hunters, and I suspect for nearly every other class/spec out there, certain legendaries play better than others with your tier set bonuses and with your talent build. Or to put it another way, a legendary that looks like it gives you a cool bonus may not in fact do so if you do not have complementary talents and other gear.

After over an hour of weighing, simming, switching talents, studying options, etc., I came to the sad conclusion that — despite my having the four top rated (whatever the heck that means) BM legendaries, only one was viable and the other equipped one would have to be the generic (and in most lists bottom of the heap for BM hunters) Kil’jaeden’s Burning Wish. Any other legendary combos I could configure would destroy one or both of my tier sets. So I reluctantly equipped it along with my legendary belt, and in fact used my upgrade on it. But it did not make me happy.

The other thing that really hit home for me while I was going through this process is that even all the gear helpers out there — addons and web sites — seem to consider only ilevel and to a limited extent generic secondary stats when recommending gear for you. Gem slots seem not to come into play, nor do tier set bonuses in most cases, much less the whole package of talent build and gear interactions. It’s too complicated for computers to evaluate in any kind of timely fashion. But apparently Blizz expects players to be able to do this on their own.

Realistically, most of the gear combos you try will make only maybe a less than 5% difference in your damage/healing/tanking. But they can make a huge difference in play styles (remember the pre-7.2.5 BM hunter shoulders?) and in a few instances they can make a significant numbers difference. The thing is, you usually won’t know unless you go through the complicated evaluation drill I went through last night — simming various combos of talents and gear.

This ratcheting up of complexity is in fact one of the things I was afraid would happen when Blizz fist announced the idea of artifact weapons and their interconnection with spec talents and abilities. The mathematical permutations rapidly spin out of control. Add in the exponential factors of tier sets and legendary bonuses, along with the normal complications of secondary stats and enhancements like gem slots, and you end up where we are today — it is virtually impossible for the ordinary player to know with any degree of certainty whether a piece of gear is an upgrade for them or not.

Blizz, if anyone out there is reading this, for the love of all you hold holy, I implore you, in the next expansion:


5 thoughts on “Gear. Again. Still.

  1. I am sure it can become even more complex when you factor in Relics that may adjust Artifact Weapon bonuses. I’m just happy to get something better with raw stats, that doesn’t cost me over 1000 in haste by giving me versatility

    1. Absolutely — relics do complicate matters, thanks for bringing them up. Example: BM hunters really only have two traits that are worth enhancing with relics — all other relics, no matter how much higher in ilevel they are, are a downgrade. The traits they enhance affect your play style, and the talents you select can either amplify the value of these traits and relics, or they can make them irrelevant. Add in the gear bonus factors and all the things I wrote about, and it all rapidly spins beyond the control or understanding of 99% of players.

      But wait — yesterday Blizz announced that Patch 7.3 will feature “a new way to customize your relics”. Something tells me this will not be a move towards gear simplification.

      1. I see them adding a way for us to increase the iLvL of the relics. That is the only thing holding my weapon down. Mostly because I can’t farm Mythic raids for a possible drop.

        I see them adding in a new Writhing Essence type currency, probably coupled with Obliterum, and Marks to raise it in 5 iLvL increments.

  2. I agree. For all the talk about making gearing simpler, it’s awfully complex. At least when I’ve done stat weights for my hunter, all of the stats (apart from vers – wtb reforging to reduce vers stats on my gear) are fairly close. So for the most part, something with a higher item level is an upgrade.

    The most challenging gear part for me is gear with special effects that might outweigh an item with a higher ilevel. 1) Trinkets. I’ve got an 890 convergence of fates that ask mr robot is telling me is one of the best trinkets around. I’ve seen higher ilevel item trinkets drop that sim under it. 2) Mythic plus gear. I had the ring from Court of Stars that boosts autoattack damage by 10% at an 885 ilevel. 3) Legendaries. They also add an odd element into the mix. I like having legendaries in the game. It’s cool to be able to switch up to the Bracers have more Aspect of the Turtles to soak more of Kil’Jaden’s big meteors. But they (with the limit of 2) does add another level of complexity to what (at least at one time) was thought to be something that should be a simpler process.

    1. The three elements you cite are the most perplexing for me, too. I think the idea of being able to switch out legendaries to suit the situation is attractive in concept, but I am finding the reality is just too hard to deal with, especially now juggling 6 slots of tier gear along with the neck/trinket bonuses.

      One result of all this is I find I need to keep 2-3 pieces of gear for every gear slot, so as to be able to fill in gaps if I switch out a legendary, which might not play well with my equipped trinkets, or which might break a tier set. I have unfortunately had to resort to an addon to configure and auto-switch gear sets, which seems a sad state of affairs for a pure dps class.

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