Tobold's Blog
Monday, June 28, 2010
How much gear do you need?

I did something strange this weekend, transforming 50 emblems of frost from my priest into lesser emblems, to buy heirloom gear with them. It is not as if I already had full emblem of frost gear on my priest, so why would I "waste" my frost emblems like that? Because frankly I have enough gear for what I want to do, including a bit of raiding in ICC, and the minor improvements I could buy after grinding hundreds of emblems of frost aren't really worth it for me. I'd rather concentrate on leveling up my druid before Cataclysm arrives, and as I had only bought "feral" leather heirlooms for him, and now switched to healing / boomkin dual spec, a set of caster leather heirlooms was the better investment.

This continues a trend where I already spent many of the emblems I collected on other characters to buy the heirlooms for the future characters I want to play in Cataclysm: A goblin hunter and a worgen warlock. My other characters suffer even more than the priest from not really needing any more gear, as I don't raid with them. I am a casual raider, one raid per week is enough for me, so as I have four level 80 characters, the other three don't really need raiding gear. I got them all up to the sort of gear which makes running heroics already trivial enough, so what would be the point of equipping them even better?

I like 5-man dungeons, so I'm not stopping to play these characters just because I don't need any gear for them any more. Between the level 80 priest and paladin, and the druid now at level 63 and leveling through dungeons, I have three different healers, and it is interesting to see the differences in healing styles between them. Besides heirlooms, I also spend my emblems on off-spec gear. For example my paladin has nearly the same gearscore in retribution as he has in holy, in spite of rarely ever queueing up as a dps. Having a great healing gear isn't exactly helpful when you want to solo something, except for the priest, whose shadow spec works well enough with healing gear.

But I wonder how many people simply stop playing when they have all the gear they want. I would say World of Warcraft is in a period of declining player activity right now, and not just because it is summer and people prefer the beach to a computer. How about you? Is there still any gear in World of Warcraft you are actively collecting emblems for?
You can say several interesting things about this topic:

1) By absurdly overemphasizing gear, Blizzard trains people to just have fun (or quit the game).

2) It works: I stopped caring about me endgame characters about a year ago. (For the first time in 4 years!)

3) I started leveling many toons since the - usuall stopping at lvl 62-65.

What I do not understand is that you buy the emblem gear, Tobold. It is one of the most unfun factors in the leveling game, in my opinion.

It trivilizes the content and it transforms every weapon/shoulder etc. you find into frustration.

If you refrain from the emblem gear you are stomped in battlegrounds (ok, you don't play them). It is especially at level 55-60 when the emblem gear scales with BC gear, but you run around with that great axt from scholomance. It sucks.

It seem that when Blizzard found out that not enough players play the low-level content, their only idea was to make it even easier and make old players re-play it.

Don't they understand that emblem gear repels new players?
By the way:

I had several great leveling experiences this weekend. My lvl 20-32 warlock can fight red enemies by using is voidwalker as tank. I beat a lvl 38 NPC pulling all tricks there are. Took about 5 minutes.

I visited the dalaran mages in Silverpine Forrest when they were some level above me. Since I do not use emblem gear, it was difficult, yet manageable. I couldn't kill em all, but had to sneak through/pull/kill only a few.

Did you know that there are patrols ? Yeah ! Enemies even flee sometimes! Unbelieveable!
They are not 3x times as big as I am. They look like, well, humans!

The only thing that's really going on my nervs is that against these high lvl NPS you sometimes miss 5-10 times in a row with a spell. That's not good gameplay.

To keep having fun in WoW, i had to change the game drastically:

1) I do not use emblem gear.

2) I only visit every dungeon once.

3) I do not try to level fast. In fact, I would sporadically disable leveling if it wouldn't keep me from playing (reasonable) BGs.

4) I do not use gold from other characters and I do not use the AH at all.

5) I only play BGs 5x times per level range. Otherwise they would make me level too fast. A pity. Love low level BGs - even though the are axtremely unbalanced nowdays.

Let's see if Blizzard can make WoW leveling fun again in Cataclysm. Most players, especially new players, don't change the game just to be able to have fun while playing. They just quit.
Alert, Alert !

I think you are doing a big mistake there. Buying cloth heirlooms would reduce your armor by 1/2 but you can wear it on 3(!!!) more classes: lock, mage and priest. The opportunity cost of farming 80 emblems if you decide (and you will, looking how bored are you atm) or spending them on a fat staff or 2 trinkets is just insane. For example: i used cloth chest and shoulders on my hunter (spirit was a waste, but not int); instead of buying dps leather/mail i got a fat bow and trinket which increased my dps by a HUGE margin.

About gear:
I didnt buy any single 264 item on my resto/boomkin druid. Totc/Ulduar gear was more then enough , even for Festergut 10 HM(didnt do any 25 HM).
I am currently farming Devout(priest Dung1) set for my cow...haha...beat it !
Unlike earlier commentators, I think emblem gear on my alt was awesome.

Retaking Gnomeragan has finally flipped the scales for me to return to alliance and make a gnome. Having tanked in the last year and really enjoying it, I decided to try out the warrior.

Warrior levelling is essentially - do damage - get more rage - do more damage.

And traditionally the cycle improves as you get a good weapon, then starts to suck once you out-levelled your weapon so... new upgrade => blow through 2 levels of content => grind through another 2 levels of content until new weapon drops => blow through 2 more levels... etc

Heirloom weapon made all the difference. Now whenever I make a level, the weapon upgrades with me, enabling me to do more damage every level.
Heirloom weapon made all the difference. Now whenever I make a level, the weapon upgrades with me, enabling me to do more damage every level.

I have a better idea.
Blizzard just makes you deal +200% damage AND exp. You would level even faster! The experience would be even better !
What about a heirloom potion that makes you gain a level ?

There is an optimal speed for leveling (depending on available content). There is an optimal speed for character progression. There are BGs in WoW that should also make sense for new players!

If Blizzard continues like that they will eventually introduce a whole set of heirlooms!
Thus, players would never ever gain item upgrades during leveling?

.. is this some weird test to see if this would work? Do they want to find out how many new players can be attracted if they are dominated by enchanted heirlooms in BGs and on PvP servers?

I don't get it..
To clarify: I am not against heirlooms in general. In fact, I think it is a good idea.

I am against these heirlooms being absurdly powerful. Player should be rewared for collecting good items in quests and dungeons and BGs. The leveling game should not just concentrate on the EXP bar. it makes people burn out. It makes leveling feel like a grind!

Heirlooms should be as powerful as an equivalent green item. Thus, blue items in dungeons would be better and even some green items might be better. Heirlooms already have the advantage that enchanting them makes sense..

If players complain that leveling speed is too high and the item replacement rate is too high, I agree. But my ansatz were to slow leveling down. Blizzard has more than enough content to do this!

The problem isn't really that BoA gear is too powerful in relation to stats: lvling mostly through dungeons i've gotten a lot of normal blue gear that was better or equal to my BoA gear, but i didn't use it.


The Exp bonus.
(And yes, i just want to get to lvl 80 fast, shoot me)

What i think blizz should do is, instead of having the exp bonus on the item, it should be some kind of reuseable enchant, or perhaps an item in your inventory.

This way you can get the best of both worlds: The exp bonus and the yoy of getting new, powerful gear.

Of course the traditional BoA gear can still exist for people not using the LFD/LFM tool.

On my main I'm at a spot where I already bought all the frost gear for my main spec (shadow priest) so now it's either getting gear for healing spec, which isn't much of an upgrade at least until I get to 4/4 t10 bonus (shadow priest gear is pretty good for disc priests so I currently just switch weapons and trinkets, and a couple slots with a lot of +hit)

That plus fact that my guild stopped at the LK and we can't get him down since most of our main spec healers are offline for a few weeks means I pretty much can't get any gear upgrades currently. So the only options is selling primordial saronites and hoarding the gold for when Cataclysm comes out, or downgrading to triumphs, since I don't run dailies anymore so I don't get them anymore outside of VoA and weekly raid quest.

I haven't decided which option I'm going to choose, currently sitting on 110+ frost badgers, but probably the saronite option is going to win - since Cata is still far away I should get all the emblems I need just from weeklies, VoA and our Ulduar and Naxx hard mode achievement runs.

My girlfriend didn't like raiding, but she enjoys 5-mans and levelling alts, so she pretty much converts all her frosts to triumphs.
(And yes, i just want to get to lvl 80 fast, shoot me)

This attitude is certainly legitimate. Blizzard actively supports it by their actions.

But I don't get the philosophy behind a forced leveling. If players don't want to level don't make them to. If players want to level, make the leveling experience fun!

Right now the leveling is a compromise.

- Those who just want some char at 80 look at it like a grind (which it certainly is with DF and BoA).

- Those who actually want to level a char, need to make their own rules to have fun.

At the whole compromise collapsed back upon itself when it comes to any form of PvP.
Very sad for somebody like me who loved and still loves the combination of PvE and PvP without resilence.
And to derail the ongoing discussion completely and return to the question at hand... Yes I still collect badges actively for gear "on my main".

My current gear/badges have been invested into my tanking set and while the DPS gear comes along from discarded drops sort of nicely - I'll still pick up 4-piece t10 fury gear.

I always follow the "but you can level perfectly well in protection gear and spec" discussions with some amusement. Sure, it's viable - but there is a more effective way.

And *cough* I might have to admit that I bought pretty much all of the heirlooms with the original badges (err... honour?) in the olden days. Newer badges only very rarely need to be downgraded for something (say when I noticed that the trinkets were not actually unique).
Once again this thread has turned into Nils' MMORPG Blog.

"1) I do not use emblem gear...

5) I only play BGs 5x times per level range..."

You realize this makes you a total niche player, right? You're completely disconnected from the vast majority of players.

Why do you spend so much time arguing against heirlooms? If you don't like them, don't use them, but please quit spouting off about them making leveling too easy. Dude, I killed 10 foozles on three characters already, it doesn't get more interesting the 4th time around, quite the opposite in fact. I prefer to powerlevel to 80, and judging by the popularity of heirlooms, so do many other people.

If you want a hardcore leveling experience you need to get into another game. Once you've made the 1-80 trek a couple times, WoW becomes all about the endgame for most people in my experience.
Ironically, I've actually started spending emblems that I had earmarked for heirlooms on gear I don't really need for my main. The heirlooms have a bad habit of making it trivial to level my alts. This would be fine if I was rolling alts to have more max level options, but I actually roll up alts to play the content again.
Once again this thread has turned into Nils' MMORPG Blog.

Yeah - sorry ;)

I was quite silent for some time. Thought I could discuss this related topic here :)

My summary, also when looking at forums, is that players love heirlooms.

It riddles me. Especially when considering new players who get equip-owned in BG by the estabilished player base.

So even in this blog everybody thinks current WoW-heirlooms are a good idea.
The future will tell.
Tobold - why the emphasis on getting characters "ready for Cataclysm"? You seem to enjoy levelling and gearing new characters above everything else in the game, so won't levelling these new characters post-Cataclysm be more fun and rewarding for you?

If you have 8 or 9 level 80s when Cataclysm ships what will you do in 4.0? Just grind the 80-85 content over and over?

I would be interested in finding out what "ready for Cataclysm" means to you, and why you think it's important.

I personally am cutting back before Cataclysm - I have stopped levelling alts other than my DK (and the 60+ content is not being changed afaik), I am liquidating my holdings in Northrend items, and concentrating on beating the raiding content before it is trivialised by level. My Desktop Tower Defence scores are going through the roof!
I haven't stopped playing, but I have stopped running the 10-mans of ICC and focus only on 25's (which are only 2 nights a week in my guild). We've had many people leave our guild and have had to recruit new players which is a step back.

As one of the best geared people in my guild, what am I doing with my emblems? I'm buying primordial saronite and posting it on the auction house. When Cataclysm comes out, it will be almost worthless on the auction house I would assume.
I have to say that I am also a member of the niche that Nils and Green Armadillo occupy.

While I initially loved the idea of heirlooms and getting my toons to the end-game faster, in retrospect the best times I have had in the game were the slow leveling experiences I had with my toons prior to the level reductions and heirlooms. That includes taking some of my toons to 19, 29, 39 and spending a few weeks grinding/researching the blue pvp gear and BIS PVE drops for fun.

Ultimately, I think Blizzard misjudged end-game content release in Lich King. In both cases, the guilds I was in were not done Naxx before Ulduar was released, and not done Ulduar when ToC was released. ICC was my least favourite instance this expansion, and being left with it for up to 11 months when the others were only available for 4 months or so each seems a little bit stupid.

I think Blizzard has done a good job of getting people to the end-game. However, that tends to make the rest of the game less viable as content that can be shared in a meaningful (ie. challenge) way.

As such, when I got tired of the end-game, I let my subscription lapse for the first time in 4+ years. I wasn't happy about it.
I've not cared much about loot for a while, but I still cling to my frost badges out of a sense that I'm supposed to.
I've traded frost emblems for heirlooms (and I got the cloth stuff so I can use it on any character to speed leveling).

I don't think it makes the game trivial. To up the challenge I can simply fight mobs that are higher level than me.

My problem is that the ultimate destination of any new character is somewhere I don't want to be -- at 80, grinding for gear.

So I'm mostly done with WoW until Cataclysm, at which point I'll enjoy leveling 2-3 characters from 80 to 85 and trying a worgen and goblin from level 1.

When that's done, I'll probably be tired of WoW again after I've done all the 5-man heroics 3-4 times each.

Blizzard really needs to expand the endgame so that there's something to do to motivate players beyond chasing gear, maxing crafting, etc.

I can't find too much fault with Blizzard, though. I've gotten thousands of hours of enjoyment from WoW.
"How much gear do you need?"

Just enough to make level-appropriate content vaguely challenging but not annoyingly difficult. It's just a tool to make exploration possible in my book.

I think the overemphasis on gear is a detriment to the game world, but a boon to the addictiveness of the game. Since I much prefer the former to the latter, gear isn't something I bother to look for. I just equip the best I happen to have and go play.
Just enough to make level-appropriate content vaguely challenging but not annoyingly difficult. It's just a tool to make exploration possible in my book.

My lvl 35 "Affliction" Warlock, with 1100 life, who has been raised with those rules listed above, who is oneshotted by heirloom hunters and most heirloom melees can easily kill almost indefinite amounts of same-lvl enemies, but dotting them (one dots heals me) and waiting. I'm currently doing this with those ogres in Alterac mountains. Two dots per ogre are enough. Also works with most orange NPCs.

The real challenge is finding enough ogres. I need to find deep orange/reds to have to do anything else than place two instant dots on every enemy. And the only chellenge comes from :
resist, resist, resist, resist, resist, resist, resist, resist, resist, ...

If something goes wrong, I have my stone, my void walker shield and perhaps a healing potion. I still have sipphon life, fear, can use my demon to tank or kite indefinite enemies with curse of exhaustion. And if really everything goes wrong I have a soulstone.

I know you weren't talking about WoW.

Tobold is absolutely correct to trade in for emblem gear at this stage.

Heirlooms are a re-useable resource. Across faction (and across server if need be), whereas your top tier emblem gear is going to be thrown in the trashbin in about 6 months.

I did something similar on my DK tank. After getting decent enough gear to tank heroics (GS 4300), I stopped using emblems for gear, and instead focused on getting heirlooms for alts.

When buying heirlooms, go for sets that have the most versatility across many classes, even if it means a bit of spec pigeon-holing. You don't want something specialized like Spellpower Mail that will only work on one class using a single spec (Ele shamans). Whereas melee DPS mail works for any type of Hunter as well as Enhance Shamans!

Cloth: Spellpower, can be used for 3 classes. (can also be used by the casters in "better armor" for healing)
Leather: Melee DPS - rogues and druids... you're levelling. you should be DPS'ing!
Mail: Melee DPS - same as above

Haven't done plate yet, but I'd probably go the melee DPS route again (Warrior/DK's). Paladins are pretty specialized, and are about the only class that doesn't fit here... but I'm a Hordie from 2004... Paladins are an abomination.

As to the question of "speeding up levelling" and heirlooms. If this is your complaint, you're not thinking the right way about this. Right now, levelling is faster than the gear you gain without heirlooms. In fact, recently levelling WITHOUT heirlooms, I found myself at lvl 70 with a smattering of ancient gear as low as min level 14. What heirlooms does is make it less recognizable that you're outlevelling that gear - in effect, "averaging out" against the slots which aren't getting upgraded, and making your power level more normal vis a vis where you would have been pre-BC. (naturally, this breaks down if you cheat and buy your gear off the AH).

Anyways, this is already TLDR. If you DR, TY!
Still need/want 2 more tier 10 pieces for my main. Was delighted to see that during the Midsummer Holiday I can get 4 frost emblems daily by running the Lord Ahune boss and the random. Takes a lot of exciting randoms to get the 90emblem pieces...

I leveled a priest w/ heirloom gear before the dungeon finder came out. Solo leveling was good & fast and I really enjoyed it. I just picked a few quest lines in each zone that were most interesting to me.

Now I'm leveling a mage with the same gear, using the dungeon finder liberally. Frankly, it's embarrassing.

The vast majority of players have a gear score of about 300. Mine is 1200. I can't sneeze without pulling aggro.

With the Holiday buffs, I'm trying out "grinding" mobs with AoE, which I've never really done before. It's mildly amusing, kind of rhythmic. And pretty damn fast in the right places. Ogres.

And it's sure more fun that clicking on fires all over the continents. Who came up with that?

Doing the Holiday Achievements is my only real chance for a drake. But doing that crap really makes it hard to ignore that this game is wasting a LOT of my freaking time.
I raid pretty actively with only one character that I devote a lot of attention to. Emblems have long since been irrelevant to me and I have a growing stockpile of ~250/~800 frost/triumph emblems with little to spend them on.

As to what I "need" gear wise, well not much to be honest. With the current level of the ICC buff I can walk into heroic 25 LK with my mostly ilvl 264 gear and perform well. Even as the least geared active raider in my guild, I manage to pull top 5 dps but some more heroic mode gear certainly wouldn't hurt. I don't raid for gear, but it's a nice and probably necessary embellishment to the experience.
Was their that much of a rush that you needed to use frost emblems. Using WG shards/tokens for pvp heirloom gear or farm random heroics for a week and use triumph perhaps. Not saying you should not have but perhaps their where better options then 1200g worth of frosties.

But as for your premise, you are correct. Its probably most blatantly obvious in voa. Their is never any shortage of druids or Paladins(3 sets), Pure dps? Rare on the ground.

I collect gear on all my alts, just some are not very active. One icc a month at most. I emblem farm ie randoms/weekly on my most recent tank and my main. Mainly because i have access to ofspec teir tokens.
Nills>> What about a heirloom potion that makes you gain a level ?

No. I level alts because I have fun leveling them, I have way more 80's then I need. But using my baby warrior as a example. Over languished for over 4 years. trundling from 10-23 in that time. Mostly from holiday events and alt deadmines/bdf. Take him out of ironforge and start questing. Either rage starved or getting beaten into a pulp. Boa? not even a full set and he just turned into a ball of fun.
Either rage starved or getting beaten into a pulp.

A few weeks ago I leveled a warrior to 64 and I did so without heirlooms.

I have a hard time understanding what you are talking about here ...

Of course, everything is subjective. But nobody wants to make characters so easy to level that no matter what you do, you are successful.

.. On the other hand .. nowadays that might be nothing else than wishful thinking on my part.
Well, now that my warrior has more than enough gear to run heroics I wonder why I should still play.

When the carrot is gone the motivation is gone...
Yeah you only need so much gear. Next is the title Kingslayer, then 310% mount from heroic Ulduar, finish a few rep grinds. Full PvP set. Try a new spec. Then I move to alts and do the same thing.

I'm pretty busy, and I'm having fun.

The 1.0,2.0 leveling warrior in greens, pre-rage normalisation, pre dungeon gift bags, pre a lot of things.

Single mob
Charge a mob, this gives enough rage for to do one thing. White hit white hit,white hit, Now I have enough to rage to press a button again.

2 mobs. A good amount of rage, sit and eat,bandage, by which time I have lost the rage I had.

3 mobs I am in trouble, maybe a health pot.

4 mobs use 30 minute long cool-downs, probably die.

That same warrior, add 2 years since I had last left ironforge slight adjustment to talents, 3 boa's including a weapon that doubled his dps. Added a thunderclap glyph.

Charge 2-3 mobs, kill, repeat, kill, repeat, Then eat some food, Then repeat all over again. Just a totally different experience.
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