Gear grind… Yeah right.

The biggest complaint most “casuals” have about WoW is the fact that the end-game is about the “gear grind” : the perception that you have to endlessly do instances/grind rep/level a crafting profession in order to get well equipped enough to raid instance X and down Boss B.

With perfect timing,Tobold, who is a pretty good writer and has lots of interesting ideas (but who is pretty much the epitome of a lolcasual player) claims that lack of epics is the key factor preventing people from raiding, and that this is a vicious cycle because they can’t get into raids due to not having great gear, and they can’t get great gear because they can’t get into raids.

However, I believe most of these casuals (or to be fair, their raid leaders) don’t really have a good idea about game mechanics and probably believe “blue… baaaaaad…. purple… gooooood”. Quite frankly, unless someone is a fresh 70 and wearing all green “of the noob” gear, you don’t NEED epics to be able to successfully raid entry level content. Does it help? Of course… it certainly doesn’t hurt.

Having been the warlock class officer for our guild’s 25 man raiding career from Gruul to Illidan, I can pretty safely say that we have never ever wiped on a boss because “our gear wasn’t good enough”. Sure, everyone remembers those fights where the boss enrages and runs around 1-shotting the raid and some pally bubbles and throws Moohamma of Wrath and kills off the boss. YAY! WINZ! “I mean, if he didn’t have 10 stam and 10 healing from those new epic bracers we would have wiped”. Seriously. I don’t get any satisfaction from boss fights like that. It basically says “we played like noobs and screwed up and someone still got lucky”.

This is always perfectly illustrated in the 2nd kill of the boss. You mean just because he died last week and dropped 3 epics, now the raid is geared enough to kill him before enrage? No, people just stopped making dumb mistakes or finally “got the fight”. Gear is always purely secondary to player skill, unless you’re talking about extreme cases such as lvl 65 green gear vs t5. And quite frankly, with the ease of getting gear in TBC I’d question any player who doesn’t even have mostly blue gear in every slot by the time they reach 70. Those quests give so much stuff that my wife has to perpetually force me to clear out my bags of different types of gear. “But this neck has 10 crit instead of 4 spell damage!” “NO, vendor that crap.”

Just to give a small example of the exact kind of difference gear makes to a boss fight:

Let’s consider a 21/40 destro warlock, which was the standard high-end raiding build. I’m using this as an example because a) I raided with a warlock b) 21/40 just spams shadowbolts till the cows come home. or the boss melts, whichever comes first.

Shadow bolt’s spell coefficient = 3/3.5 = 86%. Add 10% from sacrificing succubus (then), 20% from improved shadow bolt, 10% from curse of shadows (now included in curse of elements) and you got a total spell damage coefficient of 126%, making shadow bolt one of the best scaling nukes in the game and a big reason why destro warlocks were top dps.

Now lets say Bob has 20 more spell damage than Muthu. 20 spell damage is a huge amount of difference on a single piece of gear. FromT4 legs to T5 legs there is only an improvement of 6 spell damage (discounting other stats like hit or crit because those effects are even smaller and more complex). In a typical 10 min boss fight, assuming both warlocks have perfect cast times and never miss a single shadowbolt, they would cast 10*60/2.5 = 240 shadow bolts. With his gear advantage and assuming both have 25% crit, Bob would do 240*20*1.26+ 0.25*240*20 = 7248 damage more.

Which is basically 2 shadow bolts. Which is 5 seconds of casting out of 10 minutes. Or 1 extra crit if Muthu gets lucky. This is not going to make Bob top dps or make new bosses fall down in terror.

If someone has slow reactions, no amount of gear is going to save them from “standing in bad thing number #5”. If healers are running out of mana, are they chain quaffing potions every 2 minutes? Are they overhealing like crazy because they keep healing the same targets?

I’d rather bring someone in all blues who knows what he’s doing anyday than some dimwit in epics who doesn’t understand what “SPOUT INCOMING DIVE NOW” means.

To Tobold’s credit, he does understand that gear covers for screwups. Sure, if you have crazy dps why bother using crowd control. The part I don’t like is how many casual players automatically think “I’m underperforming because of my gear, there’s nothing I can do to improve” instead of looking hard at themselves and realising it’s simply because they are not paying attention or lack knowledge which can easily be obtained just by asking others.

It’s always easier to blame the gear rather than admit you love standing in green fire. Gear helps. Do you NEED it? Nope.

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