I got a comment from Mike on one of my old posts on undergeared players . He disagreed and gave examples about how he has much better runs with well-geared players compared to people running heroics with “poor gear” and how it shows that gear matters very much.
After thinking about this a bit, I realised that gear sort of does matter, but probably not in the same way that most people think. In the anonymity of an online game and especially in pugs, a character’s gear is often one of the few ways you can glean some information about how good that player is. In that sense, gear has a signalling effect in that good players tend to have good gear. Poor players tend to have… “strange” gear. Note that this is not a cause and effect type of relationship but more of a correlation; i.e. people with good gear aren’t necessarily good players and people with bad gear aren’t necessarily bad players.
But since there’s no way you can tell before actually playing with them, you would assume that the player with better gear has at least some experience (he should at least know where heroic nexus is if he has gear from the last boss). Even if they both suck equally, the dumbass with 1200 spell damage should at least do a bit more dps hitting buttons randomly than the dumbass with 1000 spell damage hitting buttons randomly.
You could also probably assume that the person who has better gear has actually put in the effort to research his own class and his options to gear up. In other words, he actually knows how to use an Internet browser. Or can actually read. This probably already puts them miles ahead of the people who somehow can’t understand the meaning of “kill the adds when you get the debuff”.
However, the point still remains that the gear itself has very little real impact on the most important thing: can you kill the boss? For obvious reasons, you shouldn’t need to be in full epics before you do heroics. As long as you didn’t grind up to 80 by killing gorlocs in Borean Tundra, you should be geared out at a level that allows you to kill bosses perfectly fine. It may not be brain-dead easy, but it’s perfectly doable. Hence, you don’t NEED gear. If you’re talking about people trying to do heroics in level 70 greens then yes, you have bigger problems since only an idiot would still be wearing such gear. “I chooz plate and vendor them for the guldz!”
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, from Attumen to Illidan our guild never encountered a boss that could not be downed due to gear. A Chinese guild killed Illidan wearing some pieces of level 60 T3 (yes, those items with a godly 30 stamina on chest!!!). On every single boss, you can see a massive difference between first kills and second kills. Learning to play is a huge huge difference compared to a paltry 50 spell damage. Your rogues are not below the tank on damage because they have shitty gear, they are there because they are shitty players. That mage isn’t doing only 800 dps because of his gear, because mages at level 70 with level 70 gear were already doing 1000 dps.
To end, I’ll relate another choice memory from running pug heroics. We went into heroic Gundrak with another feral druid, a rogue and a hunter. The snake boss Sladran has a aoe poison nova which does huge damage, but has a relatively short range and thus can simply be avoided by running out. Ranged classes shouldn’t need to move at all. So when he announces poison nova, all melee runs out, he casts, run back in, rinse repeat and he’s dead.
As expected, first poison nova and everyone gets hit except me and Yannie. Even the hunter got hit. Of course we wiped. After saying “lolz my cloak of shadows was on cooldown” the rogue then suggested we just stay in and zerg dps him down and heal through the poison nova. “That’s how I do it on my priest”. After a second of stunned silence, I told him congrats, enjoy your CoH nerf, but it’s really not hard to just pay attention and run out. We then killed him on the next try (of course the rogue still got hit by poison nova again).
I can imagine it now…
Rogue: LFG Heroic Gundrak, must have holy CoH priest with 2000 spellpower and well-geared dps to kill snake boss in 30 secs! Pst me for invite!