Tobold's Blog
Friday, December 05, 2008
Replacing epics with quest greens

You know the old stereotype that a new expansion makes you replace the epics you worked so hard for with green quest rewards. Only I found that this isn't true at all in Wrath of the Lich King. I'm not wearing a single green quest item; in fact in spite of being a priest I now got into the habit of always choosing the quest reward that is either a weapon or plate armor, because I sell them anyway, and weapons and plate sell for more cash.

That isn't to say I'm still wearing my level 70 epics. There are only one or two left, the rest is replaced by blue gear from dungeons. I replaced my first epics with blue quest rewards I received from quests which required me to kill bosses in Utgarde Keep. The only quest rewards that are worth wearing are those you get for group / dungeon quests, usually at the end of a quest chain.

One other thing I noticed is that *if* you wouldn't do dungeons, but rely on quests for your gear, you'd be better off as a cloth wearer than as a plate wearer. There is usually one item of each on offer, but every cloth wearer can nowadays pretty much use every cloth item. They all give the same sort of spellpower, and while stats like haste rating, hit rating, crit rating, intelligenc, stamina, or spirit, are somewhat different in usefulness for the various cloth wearing classes, they are never completely useless. Not so for plate: As protection warrior a piece of plate armor with intelligence and spellpower bonus is completely useless. And I'd guess a retribution paladin or death knight wouldn't be too happy with a piece of plate armor that increases defense rating and shield block value.

So, what kind of gear are you wearing while leveling up through Wrath of the Lich King? Or are you already in full Naxxramas epic gear again? How about the various pieces of gear you can get from crafting, or buy with various tokens, PvE or PvP?
I dinged 80 2 days ago, having done the 5 lowest level zones (up to and including Zul'Drak) and I've done every instance in each zone except far I've not replaced a single piece of gear (my gear was from BT/MH, 4 tier 6 - Mage)
Other than replacing my epic gems with cheap green northrend ones, I'm running around wearing exactly the same

However, I've done a few level 80 (normal) instances now, and the drops from some of those bosses, and some of the quest rewards are starting to get interesting for me, so I'm expceting heroics to give me some upgrades
Still in T6/SW gear after dinging 80. It's not that the item budget of quest greens wouldn't allow upgrades.. it's just that the stat distribution is awful. My pet peeve is items with stamina, spirit and spellpower. Two out of three stats are useless. The new trinkets are nice, though. Granted, I've had little luck in getting an instance group. Despite LFGing for the whole leveling process, I've gotten three groups total. One guild group for Azjol'Nerub, one decent PuG for the Nexus, and one awful PuG for Azjol'Nerub and the Old Kingdom. The few dungeon quest items from the Nexus seemed nice for a pre-BT mage, though.
Regarding the mage gear, since I'm a mage myself.
Its difficult to change your 4T6 as a mage becauase the 5% increase in your main dps spell amounts to something like 100 spell dmg (maybe even more). Its difficult to get an extra 100spell dmg more from 2 items (replacing 2T6 pieces). You will be replacing trinkets, rings, offhand and mainhand items very fast though.
You can always swap to an elementalist spec (frostfire bolt spec) and not worry about your 4T6 bonus ofc.
I love this blog, it's like me writing. Same priest, same warrior... except I'm alliance haha.

Anyways, I hit 80 a couple of days ago and still had my ZA gear and of all things, my shattered sun neck. The 100 badge robe was replaced at 76 (with the Kalu'ak robe), the 150 badge mace at 78 (with the Kalu'ak mace). Most other replaced with instance drops or rewards between 72 and 78 (first to go were my T4 shoulders at 72 with the Nexus quest reward, was very sad at that). The 2nd was my badge offhand, with the offhand from.. um... I don't remember but it's blue and needs 73 so probably AzolNerub or Old Kingdom.

But now I am 80, I am full blue from instances. My ZA headpiece went when I got the quest reward from the Utgarde Pinnicle quest. I should point out though that because of wanting to complete achievements, I only did the whole of BT, HF and Dragonblight - so I was almost always questing way below my level.

As a comparison, at 70 I had 11500 mana, 9800 health, 202 mp5 and +900SP. No, as a new 80 I have 15000 mana, 13900 health, 222 mp5 and +1300SP (all unbuffed).

On the flipside, my prot tank who is only 72 and was 70 for exactly 3 days before WOTLK is in full WOTLK green and instance drops.
Being a casual my "main" (a mage) only had 2 epic pieces which i bought with honor points; the rest was blue and i even got a green item... I only leveled this character to 71 and replaced one or two pieces, i think it were rings or trinkets. Most started items were -even for my extremely mediocre or badly geared mage- less or equal at the most. My current "main" is a DK who has a very nice starter kit, but i replaced most of the items in Outlands. And in Northrend i started replacing items very quickly too..(level 71 right now). Only original items i still have are the sigil (for which there is no low level alternative as i understand it) and the trinkets. These gave a nice parry bonus, the skill which i initially built my DK around (to get the runestrike as often as possible).
Actually, it's a little narcissistic (!) but I really wanted a record of how I looked different at 70 and 80 so I took grabs, so I'd be able to compare:


I kinda like 80, it looks very well put together unlike the mix n match of 70.
The contrast between TBC and WotLK was startling, at least for me. I didn't start replacing my gear until I hit 80, while in TBC I replaced my first epic with a green at lvl 65. Not so in WotLK, it went down from epic -> blue in every item slot. I guess it's not only because the itemisation gap was smaller this time around, but also because my gear was relatively better (t1 vs. t5/6).

I'm also quite surprised at how easily epics are rolling in for me this time around. The new way of gaining rep based on what tabard you're wearing not only makes more sense, it also makes rep farming a breeze, so I easily got exalted with the new factions for some purple goodness. The Emblems of Heroism (the new badges of justice) that I got as a bonus also helped, I'm 2/5 t7 (10man version) without having even stepped foot in Naxx yet because you can buy 10man t7 tokens with emblems (only chest and gloves though).

I do consider myself a casual player, and I totally see how the "hardcore" guilds cleared Naxx so quickly. Endgame until now has been cakewalk, even heroics (except for certain bosses, but that just means "don't do those bosses", which is advice I've taken to heart). Has the game become too easy? I don't think so, bosses are better tuned (except for some, but again, "don't do those bosses") to not require 110% focus all the time, which is a good thing in my opinion. Most have some kind of "retard check", so you can't do instances/heroics in your sleep either. That's probably what I like most about the lvl 80 endgame, the fact you don't need to burn yourself out watching the screen for potential dangers anymore.

I can still imagine all the "arrogant elitist" proclaiming the game's death due to gear being "too easy to obtain", but what I've seen only proves one thing: this game is all about time, not skill. I've probably been playing the game more than what's healthy the last few weeks, something my gear shows.
I have not replaced any of mine, mainly because of the +skill stats. I like defense (and block rating) and none of the quest rewards have helped in that area.
My main hasn't replaced any gear at all (BT/ZA/Badge gear), whereas my alt has replaced everything (BC dungeon blues), and they are both questing in Dragonblight at the moment.

Instance blues from Utgarde and Nexus are a lot better than most of the quest greens I have come across so far. Generally quest reward choice has been good, although one of the Nexus quest lines offered 7 different items as a reward, and none of them was appropriate for my Holy Paladin, QQ.

I haven't got round to crafting any gear yet that was worth swapping into.
I think I wore one quest reward green at around level 75, until level 80, which was then replaced by a blue quest reward. Other than that, I'm still wearing a few BC epics on both my tanking and DPS set (I play a druid), but for the most part its new quest/dungeon blues.
One possible outcome from what I see as 85% of quest rewards being vendor trash is perhaps in the next level cap raise they will move towards quest rewards that are some sort of token, or more gold. Or have more faction based vendor like in the ghostlands , that are not so much based on end game faction grinding but you gain large jumps of faction doing the quests in the zone and when you finish the quests in the area you have access to a group of decent items.
I didn't really start replacing my T4 until 76-77 with dungeon loot. The quest rewards for the group/dungeon quests seems to not be itemized for a feral (lots of Int/spell power stuff). Thing is if not for gems and enchants I probably would have started replacing T4 sooner but with those taken in to consideration they were too good to get rid of.

Now I've got some Northrend epics from Heroics and last night my guild cleared the first two wings of Naxx on our first attempt(10 man), got a nice neck piece and a new breastplate.
My main is a shadow priest who at 70 had mostly S2 pvp epics with a couple of blues. I hit 70 in April or May. I haven't replaced any pvp epics yet at level 77, but I have upgraded a couple of the blues, one with a quest item ring (for a boe blue ring) and the other the Kaluak rep chest armor (for the epic chest armor I got during the Scourge invasion). Except for faction rewards, I don't foresee replacing much else anytime soon. I haven't hit any dungeons yet due to my schedule. How much does this change at 80, and where are you getting the gear?
My paladin went protection spec at 3.0. This ment I only had about a month to aquire protection gear. I ended up having a misc set of Karazhan protection epics and some pvp ret gear. The ret gear was replaced right away as it lacked defence. The Karazhan gear lasted until late 70's. No green items though, only 75+ blue gear was really able to replace Kara epics. I could imagine with better epics I would still be wearing them at 80. In most cases I replaced the gear because I needed to hit the 540 defence cap, I'd of actually prefered the other kara epics due to stamina and gem slots if I didn't have to hit the defence cap to run heroics.
I'm mostly epic again, but most of those are from heroics, Naxx contributed only a belt until now.
While leveling I sold off all the green rewards and the lower level blues. Those became useful at about level 76.
That said, in my opinion Blizzard messed the item reset up a little. The longer an expansion drags on, the more worthless epics get. Wrath could have been a chance to "reset the colors". Purple could have been *epic* again. All it would have taken is handing out greens that are seriously better than BT-equip. On level 80 everyone would wear greens and be happy to get blues and work slowly towards epics.
Instead most people never replaced their epics in the leveling process. They gained some blues in the level 80 dungeons, wore them some days and were like "Give me back ma EPIX!!". And they went into Naxx and got them back. Whats the point in having so many different colors if only three of them matter at all? And when do we reach the point where the masses demand legendaries because epics are simply not special anymore?
Of course if you are a DK it's different, because presumably most DKs won't spend much, if any, time running BC endgame instances, and will be coming into Northrend mostly in quest greens and blues, so there *will* be upgrades for them from quest rewards. In my opinion, the system is working as it should: that is, if you had top gear in the pre-LK endgame, that should last you through much of the expansion to the endgame at 80, whereas if you are leveling through normally (that is, not doing the BC endgame instances), the gear from quests and so forth will provide upgrades as you level through Northrend. This is a balanced system that makes sense. The only issue is tuning of content, because the content under this system will be relatively trivial for people who had very good BC endgame gear. If you do it the other way, though, and tune the content to be challenging for people with top BC endgame gear, you basically have to reset the gear, because otherwise everyone who did not have BC endgame gear won't be able to do the content.
I Dinged 80 the Sat after the launch and was 4th on the server. Only did one dungeon run the entire leveling trip which was Nexus. So i relied purely on quest greens and blues to level in. I had no problems at all. As a feral druid i was trying to stack as much crit as possible and at point had about 45% crit chance. so the mobs were dropping like flys.
Now i'm wearing Mostly badge gear with a few Naxx epics 1 Sartharion epic and a couple of heroic epics and blues.

I personally prefered the gear reset in tbc to wrath. I enjoy the slow gearing up process, it makes so that when you do get an epic it feels so much more rewarding. They're just handed out like candy these days. people are clearing out malygos 25 man without even having to gear up. I think its great wrath has enabled the more casual players to see raids. But they've now failed to cater for the hardcore. Herioc raids SHOULD be much much harder. I don't think sartharion or maly on herioc should have been doable in lvl 70 or herioc epics.
I walked into Wrath as a Prot Paladin with a mix of Badge gear and ZA/SSC/TK gear. I replaced most of my gear with crafted Blacksmithing gear by 75/76, though my neck I replaced at 72 with the Utgarde Keep quest reward. Looking at gear lists its a matter of just chain running heroics hoping that the epics I could use will drop or I get enough Emblems for the good stuff. Only one epic from Naxx so far, clothies and rogues love me, because no plate drops when I run things. QQ.
Well, it's good to know I'm in the same boat as most of you. I'm level 79 and most of my gear was S4 or the Badge loot from Sunwell. I have yet to see a significant upgrade to anything other than my weapons.

I have mixed feeling on this because on the one hand, one of my complaints about the WoW model is that new content invalidates old content. While still true for instances / raid dungeons, that's not as-true with equipment. Ironically, I actually find myself more irritated by the lack of upgrades than anything else.

The reason is pretty simple: Your gear actually gets WORSE as you level because every "rating" stat converts to less of whatever it provided at 70. My critical strike rating is maybe half of what it was at 70. So basically you have this ludicrous situation where your effectiveness against mobs of the same level is reduced as you gain levels.
My T4/badge geared priest hasn't replaced anything for healing at level 74. But all of the +haste gear is very helpful for soloing with a holy damage spec. I do wish they'd socket the blue gear so we can pick the stats that fit our spec. I've DE'd a number of pieces with a lot of +crit because that doesn't have much value to the DPS of a disc/holy priest. Green quality gems are cheap and I wouldn't mind using them on leveling gear that I'm going to keep for 5 levels or even until 80.
The gear change was not as bad as Vanilla wow -> TBC. Your high tiered epics actually lasted till 10man naxx as predicted by the beta testers.

I've already replaced all my tank gear tbc(t6/bt) and now using 10man naxx loots or epic tanking items from heroics. DPS gear, I'm still using t6 bracers(sunwell pieces are hella good) but thats about it ... rest are from 10/25man Naxx.

@kiseran. Not all purples are created equal =). I don't think people are primarily interested in the color of the item but rather the stats. Who cares if both are purple but the item A is craptastic compared to the item B.
I leveled to 80 wearing a mix of S3/S4 for the 4-piece movement speed bonus as a feral druid. In fact I still revert to that set for doing daily quests. I started replacing other pieces in the high 70's (starting from a mix of T4/T5/Badge/Arena/BG gear).

I hit 80 on Thanksgiving (15 days after release) playing about 4-6 hours/day. Since then, real life has taken more time, so I haven't had much time to run instances or grind rep. I did use a lot of my 250k cash stockpile to level professions on my main and alts and craft a number of epics.
For me, what was shocking about vanilla WoW -> TBC was that I was replacing gear that I felt I had done something epic for (raiding in MC, BWL, ZG), with something pretty trivial (kill 20 fozzles). I think I prefer upgrading my gear via instances or long quest chains, like WoTLK offers.
@Herc: I think the reason behind coloring gear differently is that it provides an easy method of identifying how good gear is and how hard it is to get it. If you have to know every epic ingame so you can sort out if the player you're inspecting did something hard or just bought all his epics from the auction house, the color pretty much loses its reason to exist.
So why don't we simply change the colorscheme to: grey = trash it, blue = wear it while leveling, and purple wear after hitting 80?
Actually I am fairly sure that all quest rewards from the same quest vendor for the same amount. Does not seem to mater if its cloth v plate anymore.
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