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Posts with tag gear

Function, Form, or Psychological: What's the point of gear?

In my ponderings over gear and the state of WoW recently, I came to a central question that needs an answers: what is the point of the gear now, and what should the point of gear be?

In an editorial last week I opined that the biggest mistake WoW made was the constant and never ending gear grind, and I hinted at that I've got a longer idea for a solution in the works, removing all gear as we know it; but in writing that article I realized that I was fundamentally missing part of my logical argument: the point of gear isn't at all clear in WoW.

I don't believe that this obscurity is a fault of communication or use, but through the basic structure of the gear system itself. As such, much of the issues of WoW's gear grind can be traced back through the power structures from the forced paradigms gear inherently provides. Gear makes us stronger, and then we need to fight stronger enemies, from which we get better gear, and so on and so forth. The cycle continues, the gear grind never stops. As the Cylons would say, it has happened before and it will happen again.

Given that we have the gear grind, and putting aside the academic ethical right or wrong for a moment, let's think about what the gear is actually used for. As I see it, there are three primary purposes.

When gear provides a meaningful stat increase and causes your character to be able to do meaningful things that it wasn't before, it serves a function purpose. Note the word in italics -- the increase or ability has to be meaningful. It can't be just a +50 to stamina, it needs to actually account for a large difference.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Gearing Context: "... don't obsess unnecessarily over marginal iLevel improvements."

Ghostcrawler tweeted the following:

We don't make fights that are target dummies. Nerfing numbers means you can afford more mistakes on the mechanics. (source)

As I said, if improving gear is fun for you, that's great. Just don't obsess unnecessarily over marginal ilevel improvements. (source)

Truer words have never been spoken.

There's an attitude amongst WoW players, one that I've fallen into the trap of many many times during the past eight years, of having to get the absolute best gear. My brain is made in such a way that even if there is an item that's five iLevels higher than what I've got, I must have it, or else I'm a failure.

That's pretty messed up. No wait, that's really messed up.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Navigating the loot

While perusing Wowhead's blue tracker the other day I stumbled across this thread on the EU forums about the LFR loot system, its frustrations, and potential alternatives. Community manager Draztal is pretty active in the thread, which is nice to see -- there is plenty of back-and-forth and, despite player accusations of just parroting Blizzard policy, Draztal has a lot of good points to make about the nature of effort and reward.

The truth is that WoW has never consistently rewarded players for running dungeons or raids. I still get a little involuntary curl to my lip anytime I think about Burning Crusade-era heroics, particularly Magister's Terrace, and how often I ran them trying to get some piece of gear, and how often my groups wiped and nothing I needed dropped anyway (and all those useless PvP gems).

I agree it's frustrating to run LFR and only get gold, though I did have to sit down and think about why, in particular. After all, I killed Saurfang in Icecrown for probably upwards of three months before I finally got the Mag'hari Chieftain's Staff. During all that time it never occurred to me that my failure to receive loot was an indication that the entire system needed an overhaul. After a couple minutes ruminating, though, I think the answer is pretty obvious: loot is the only real reason to run LFR (with the exception of just experiencing content, for those who may not have the opportunity to raid otherwise).

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Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Raiding

The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Patch 5.2 and warrior gear part 3

The Care and Feeding of Warriors Patch 52 and warrior gear part 3
Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Care and Feeding of Warriors, the column dedicated to arms, fury and protection warriors. Despite repeated blows to the head from dragons, demons, Old Gods and whatever that thing over there was, Matthew Rossi will be your host.

This has been something of a wild month for me. I started it playing a tauren warrior, and I'm ending it as a worgen. I've spent the month raiding Throne of Thunder and thinking about warrior gear I need to pick up as we progress through the place. The weird thing about gear is, it's really just a means to an end. You get gear to get better to progress through harder content, that's pretty much all there is to the gearing cycle. Each new patch, each new raid opens up new angles for progression, but it's really always heading towards that brass ring of "Beat X boss, get Y gear to beat Z boss." Until the expansion ends, anyway.

As one of the largest raids we've seen in a while, Throne of Thunder has a lot of gear. We covered six bosses last time, taking us to the mid point of the raid. Now we get to look at the remaining bosses. The Halls of Flesh Shaping and Pinnacle of Storms await. As before, I'm just going to list the 522 gear that drops in normal 10/25 - thunderforged variants are 6 ilevels higher, and thus are usually the best option in normal raids.

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Filed under: Warrior, Raiding, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors, Mists of Pandaria

What's the purpose of a heroic dungeon?

What is the purpose of a heroic dungeon
One of the more volatile announcements that we've heard so far from Blizzard regarding Mists of Pandaria is the fact that Mists will not include any more 5-man dungeons. In an expansion where new content seems to be rolling out on a much faster, tighter basis than any expansion prior this seems a little bizarre to players, particularly those that enjoy dungeon-based content. Yet one of the things Mists has been doing consistently throughout the expansion is delivering a wider array of things to do. In fact, there's such a variety in endgame content that players sometimes feel legitimately overwhelmed by the sheer amount of it.

But just because we aren't getting any new dungeons doesn't mean we aren't getting alternate ways to obtain all that sweet, sweet gear we know and love. Patch 5.3 will see the introduction of heroic scenarios, slightly tougher versions of the scenarios we've already seen this expansion. In addition to valor, the heroic scenarios will offer raid-finder level rewards for players that choose to participate in them -- better than any gear you'll find in a heroic dungeon at this point.

While this may seem pretty cool for some people, it does make one wonder -- what's the purpose of heroic dungeons?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard

The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Patch 5.2 and warrior gear part 2

The Care and Feeding of Warriors Patch 52 and warrior gear part 2
Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Care and Feeding of Warriors, the column dedicated to arms, fury and protection warriors. Despite repeated blows to the head from dragons, demons, Old Gods and whatever that thing over there was, Matthew Rossi will be your host.

The Throne of Thunder has twelve bosses (thirteen on heroic) and that's a fair bit. For comparison, Ulduar had 13 with a special 14th heroic boss, Naxxramas had 15 and ICC had 12, so Throne of Thunder is tied for third place as largest raid instance in WoW history, and wins the third slot if you count Ra-Den. Throne of Thunder is the largest raid instance we've had in years, and as a result, there's a lot of gear in here for us to comb through.

That's kind of why I chickened out and covered faction items and Oondasta last time. Covering the loot drops off of twelve bosses is pretty daunting. I guess there's no way to get through it except to get started. All of these items will be examined from a warrior mindset, so a belt with haste and mastery will not be a first choice for a prot warrior since haste is useless for protection.

Also, keep in mind that many thunderforged items drop, many of which have the same name and basic stat spread, but a six item level increase. I won't be talking about them specifically, but if one drops, it's better than the regular version. I'm also not covering LFR itemization, but just remember that LFR drops are iLevel 502, making them as good as heroic MSV drops. If you've been running normal modes, LFR Throne of Thunder items are clear upgrades in most cases.

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Filed under: Warrior, Raiding, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors, Mists of Pandaria

What if all raids were end game raids?

What if all raids were end game raids
Sometimes the forums come up with some interesting discussions. Poster Locomonkey over on the EU forums posted this doozy of an idea, which Taepsilum then responded to in detail. They both have me thinking about the idea as well -- what if every raid, from the original 60 raids to the Cataclysm level 85 raids, was updated to level 90? What if, when the next expansion came out, all the Mists of Pandaria raids as well as all those previous raids were in some fashion made current with level 95, or 100, or whatever current endgame happens to be? What are the pros and cons of this idea?

I'm not going to dredge over every point already made, you can go read Locomonkey's original post, and Taepsilum's well reasoned list of what the pitfalls to avoid in such a system would be. Instead, I'm going to speculate on how you could address those pitfalls. How do you make a system with so many potential raids tuned and balanced, deal with all the updated loot from those instances, and keep from drowning raid groups in choices? My suggestions are as follows:

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items, Mists of Pandaria

Gear up in 5.2 with these awesome guides

The release of a new raid tier means new challenges to face, new bosses to crush, and of course, new loot to covet. If you weren't already familiar with it, Wowhead user Hhalle567 has a brilliant guide to the PvE gear of Mists of Pandaria, including tier 15 iLevel 522 drops. You can sort by slot, boss, class, and spec so that you know exactly what you're looking for -- and where to use a Mogu Rune of Fate.

Note that the guide doesn't yet seem to include all the loot from world bosses Oondasta and Nalak. Oondasta, at least, is known to drop items that are unobtainable in the Throne of Thunder itself. Until those bosses get added in, you can check out other Wowhead guides for the missing pieces. Hats off to Hhalle567 and Perculia for these great references!

Filed under: Raiding, Mists of Pandaria

The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Patch 5.2 and warrior gear part 1

The Care and Feeding of Warriors Patch 52 and warrior gear part 1
Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Care and Feeding of Warriors, the column dedicated to arms, fury and protection warriors. Despite repeated blows to the head from dragons, demons, Old Gods and whatever that thing over there was, Matthew Rossi will be your host.

Gear constantly changes. Every major patch, there's new gear to drool over and want. For the next few weeks, I'm going to look at the gear we're getting in patch 5.2 from the Throne of Thunder, Oondasta (holder of the greatest loot table in the universe), and Nalak. We'll also take a look at Shado-Pan Assault, Kirin Tor Offensive, and Sunreaver Onslaught gear. This means we'll be looking at gear with a wide variety of item levels, from the 522 of the world bosses and normal mode Throne of Thunder to the 476 of some of the faction gear.

Also, although I won't be covering the items here, transmog minded warriors should take a look at the return of these Burning Crusade blacksmithing models. These weapons won't be an upgrade for you in almost all cases, but they're a welcome addition to our cosmetic arsenal. Now, to discuss gear.

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Filed under: Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors, Mists of Pandaria

The Light and How to Swing It: Ret gear in the Throne of Thunder

The Light and How to Swing It Ret gear in the Throne of Thunder
Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Light and How to Swing It for holy, protection and retribution paladins. Seasoned ret paladin Dan Desmond is here to answer your questions and provide you with your biweekly dose of retribution medicine. Contact him at with any questions, concerns, or suggestions!

As Notorious B.I.G. would say, "mo patches, mo gear." Well, I imagine he would have said that if he could have played World of Warcraft.

There's just something about pouring through datamined loot and finding out where it all drops that excites me. In fact, I don't get into the whole "new patch hype" until I look at the gear, and then I'm suddenly hit with the realization that we're getting new bosses, new content, and new items.

Despite how much fun I had in putting this article together, gear lists have proven to be very dry. They have their uses, particularly as bookmark fodder for a quick reference of what drops where, so instead of trying to fluff this post up, I'm going to just lay it all out at once. Before I do that, however, I need to mention a few things.

There are some discrepancies between Wowhead's data and that from the PTR itself. You might notice weird or incorrect tooltips or entries that don't correspond to data on the site or on the test realm. In all cases, I defaulted to the test realm as the final authority on the matter.

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Filed under: Paladin, (Paladin) The Light and How to Swing It, Mists of Pandaria

Loot is the carrot, not getting loot is the stick

Loot is the carrot, not getting loot is the stick
We've all complained about loot drops. It is as close to a universal truth as World of Warcraft can encompass. I remember running LBRS with my wife, run after run after run, trying to get the hunter dungeon set piece off of Wyrmthalak. I remember killing Rend Blackhand day in, day out, and never getting the Doomsaw until finally, one bright sunny day, it dropped and the paladin healer took it. Luckily, the Beast provided me with a touch of revenge, as he dropped Lightforge, which I then needed and won. Such was the cynical, sadistic, uncooperative nature of Blackrock Spire pick up groups, a lawless zone in a lawless time.

Loot remains one of the prime motivations for running dungeons. We run dungeons to gear up and run raids, which then gear us up for the next tier of raiding. Better loot lets us perform our roles more easily, makes daily questing and grinding easier, and serves as a status symbol of sorts, as well as clogging up my bank with more transmog fodder. (This is not a post about needing another void storage tab, but man, I really do.) And as a result, for as long as there has been loot in World of Warcraft, people have complained about how it dropped, about how it didn't drop, about never getting the drop they wanted and getting the same drop over and over again. I understand this frustration. The current loot system used by LFR and world bosses like Sha of Anger and Galleon often maddens people with its quirks.

But I tell you now, there will never be a perfectly rational loot system that gives you what you want or need and doesn't give you what you already have.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, Mists of Pandaria

Patch 5.1: Upgrading your gear with valor

Patch 51 Upgrading your gear with valor
What do you do with thousands of Valor points when you already have all the gear that you can buy from the Valor vendors? Coming in with patch 5.1, one of the cool things is the ability to upgrade your own gear. In previous expansions, we'd reach a point where we'd have tons of Valor or Justice points and nothing to buy. Head on over to visit the local ethereals in the major capital cities and look for the item upgrade NPC.

The process for upgrading items is simple. Drag the item you wish to upgrade over to the item slot, then hit the upgrade button. Only items that are 458 ilvl or higher can be upgraded. Blue quality items can be upgraded once for an 8 item level increase for 1500 Justice or Honor points. Epic quality items can be upgraded twice with a 4 item level increase per upgrade for 750 Valor or Conquest points.

Once an item is upgraded, there's no way to get them refunded. Choose them wisely! If you're not sure what to upgrade first, I would suggest focusing on your weapons and trinkets. For most classes, you should notice a slight increase in your character's performance.

Mists of Pandaria is here! The level cap has been raised to 90, many players have returned to Azeroth, and pet battles are taking the world by storm. Keep an eye out for all of the latest news, and check out our comprehensive guide to Mists of Pandaria for everything you'll ever need to know.

Filed under: News items

Mists of Pandaria Beta: Item upgrade strings surface

Two interesting new client strings were unearthed early this morning on MMO-Champion related to the elusive item upgrade system that Blizzard has yet to completely flesh out for players. Valor points are changing their focus in Mists of Pandaria, to be used as a way to upgrade existing gear rather than being used to buy all-new pieces. This new system has yet be comprehensively explained, and these new client strings are our first hint at the system's actual implementation.

The basic understanding of the item upgrade system is that justice points will be used to purchase the first pieces of gear from vendors, and valor points will be used to turn that gear into better gear. What this hopefully means is that rather than having two vendors selling the same items with different stats, we can have a justice vendor who sells you items and then upgrades them via some interface dealie with valor points. Hopefully, the number of vendors decreases, because right now it's sort of a pain.
  • ITEM_UPGRADE - Item Upgrade
  • ITEM_UPGRADE_DESCRIPTION - Use your valor points to upgrade a weapon or piece of armor that is level 375 or higher.
Honestly, I've been under the impression that Blizzard itself still had the system in flux, so anything being said about just wasn't set in stone. Now, with new client strings and references to upgrading your raid items, it looks like the system is closer to completion.

It's open warfare between Alliance and Horde in Mists of Pandaria, World of Warcraft's next expansion. Jump into five new levels with new talents and class mechanics, try the new monk class, and create a pandaren character to ally with either Horde or Alliance. Look for expansion basics in our Mists FAQ, or dig into our spring press event coverage for more details!

Filed under: Raiding, Mists of Pandaria

Ghostcrawler explains spec-specific quest rewards in MoP

If you've been following the Mists of Pandaria beta at all, you may have heard that questing players discovered that they were only getting one choice for quest reward items. Many recent MMOs such as SW:TOR use this model; it's generally agreed that the system of multiple possible quest rewards is yet another "bad player trap," like Ghostcrawler described lots of talents pre-Cataclysm. Players can miss out on quest rewards accidentally, and since there's no in-game way of switching your quest rewards, well, that can be a headache (especially since reports say that GMs are no longer switching quest items for you).

When asked about the issue on the beta forums, Ghostcrawler offered a pretty reasoned explanation for the change. He says that most quests with green rewards will only give you one choice (that matches your current spec). However, there'll also be vendors in every zone from whom you can buy sets of gear that aren't quite up to the item level of quest rewards in that zone, so you can fill in itemization holes or help bolster an off spec a little more. Quests that offer blue rewards will usually offer rewards for any spec your class can be, giving you some flexibility when it comes to rare rewards. Also, Mists of Pandaria questing is more non-linear than Cataclysm's, so you'll be able to hit up a different zone in the event that you need gear for a specific level range.

Ghostcrawler's full response (and an image of one of the vendors) is after the break.

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Filed under: Mists of Pandaria

The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Warrior mistakes to avoid

Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Care and Feeding of Warriors, the column dedicated to arms, fury and protection warriors. Despite repeated blows to the head from dragons, demons, Old Gods and whatever that thing over there was, Matthew Rossi will be your host.

One of the interesting things about my current astonishing obsession with transmogrification and all things related to it has been seeing older itemization. You know, strength and agility plate. Warrior tier 6 is lousy with agility. That's a legacy of the past, of course, and as the design of the game moves ever onward, artifacts like that are left in its wake. After all, most level 70 warriors nowadays move straight to Northrend dungeons and are not likely to look at Black Temple until much later, when farming for transmog gear. The stats aren't important enough to go back and redesign the set.

What I really find interesting about this is seeing where the class has been, not just visually but also in terms of design. It's kind of like archaeology (the actual field of inquiry, not the in-game profession) or paleontology, reconstructing the class and its roots from the remainders of what it wore. Granted, I was there, so to a degree it's like excavating Pompeii with an immortal who survived the volcanic eruption of Vesuvius and keeps grumping about how people in his day didn't complain when they were buried in pyroclastic material. Which is a complete lie, by the way, we did nothing but complain about it. But I digress.

The warrior class has come a long way in seven years, and the artifacts of past design lie strewn about. New players and even old veterans can be forgiven for making a few mistakes based on the rubble. Let's go over a few.

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Filed under: Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors, Cataclysm

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