Thursday, July 12, 2012

Gear Gating In Mists of Pandaria

I'm worried about the gear progression path in Pandaria.

In Tier 11 and Tier 7, and presumably in Tier 4, the gear progression for PvE went something like this:

Quest Greens > Rep, Dungeon, Crafted Blues > Heroic and Badge > Raid

But in Tier 14, we have a new step in the ladder in the LFR and a change in the order, so that the gear progression, I think, turn out to look like this:

Quest Greens > Dungeon Blues > Rep, Valor, Crafting > LFR > Raid

I poked around in WoWHead to make a quick spreadsheet, so just take a look at the iLevel of gear and where it comes from:

iLevel Source
463 Heroic Dungeons
470 Headless Horseman
483 Raid Finder
489 Reputation (and, presumably, Crafted) Gear
496 Normal Raid
509 Heroic Raid

The iLevel difference between Heroic Dungeon loot and Normal Raid loot is a whopping 30 points.That means that not only will it be useless for raiding, we absolutely have to gear up with Reputation gear. There isn't much crafted gear that I saw, so that might be an option as well, but the point being that there is reputation gear for almost every slot. Here, for example, is a table showing you the gear I would want purely from reputation alone, before stepping into a raid (click to zoom).

Almost every slot is covered except for the chest piece (I suspect these will be crafted).

Blizzard has said they want us to buy gear from Reputation vendors using Valor points instead of Gold as we have done so far. That means, despite all the juggling and changing how we get gear and stuff, we're essentially going to be buying Valor gear from a different vendor that also requires a Reputation.

Not only will we need to grind rep with these guys, we'll also need to farm the Valor which will have a hard weekly cap.

This is essentially a double gear-gate. Ugh.
One note of comfort is that all the gear only requires (at least right now) a Revered level of reputation instead of Exalted as I was expecting which softens the reputation grind, but that does nothing about the Valor cap.

Unless we run LFR. And that's where my problem lies.

In the absence of any useable gear from Heroic dungeons, it will take me weeks to buy even a few items of gear from the reputation vendor. I might even be okay with that, as a means of slowing down content consumption. But.

Someone might get lucky in LFR and be ready to go in half the time. I'm not bemoaning the luck factor here, RNG is RNG, but it's pretty obvious that gearing through LFR is going to be significantly faster than gearing up through the natural gear progression path alone.

With no viable gear from Heroics, we're left only with LFR as a source of dropped gear pre-raid.
Let' s leave aside the fact that hard-core progression guilds will run LFR for their tier. There's no question there, that's absolutely going to happen, as it did in Tier 13. For these guys, the kills are about speed, but for me the experience is important, not the speed.
When LFR launched with Tier 13, it didn't bother me much. I had a mix of normal and heroic Firelands gear and the iLevel 384 gear didn't appeal to me all that much. Besides, I wanted to see and down the bosses on normal mode before I took up the neutered version of the bosses, and that's exactly what I did. We got Madness down I think in the third or fourth week and that was the first time I went in to do LFR, mostly to get the 4-piece Tier bonus. That worked because we were coming into Dragon Soul after having accumulated the gear from Firelands and as a raiding guild, were geared enough to go straight into normal Dragon Soul without a problem.

In the current tier, as seen above, we won't have that, and if we go into the raids without grinding out the valor/reputation gear for weeks or without running LFR, the first few weeks without LFR tier are going to be brutally difficult.

Considering the fact that Reputation gear is only half a tier behind the Normal gear loot, I would imagine that normal modes are tuned to LFR gear.

That leaves me in a hard spot because I want to see the bosses for the first time in their full glory, not their neutered versions. Of course, the answer is to wait and get gear the way I want, through Valor and Reputation but it feels like a round-about and boring way to gear up compared to what we had before.

I will be disenchanting every single item that drops off of Heroic bosses, killing them solely in the pursuit of Valor points and reputation. That sucks.

Gear from Heroics was always good in the beginning of the first tier. Getting gear from bosses felt natural and organic. I remember in Wrath running Heroic Utgarde Pinnacle praying for the epic tanking sword to drop the night before we were to start raiding and how elated I was when it did.

Now, I'll have a spreadsheet that tells me exactly when I'll get what based on the rate of Valor coming into my pockets.

I know what I enjoyed more. Bah-humbug.


  1. Augh! That is horrible! I do NOT run LFR anymore. It is far too full of annoying epeen waving assholes who intentionally try to wipe the raid. Oddly enough, I also actually enjoy running raids with my real raid team.

    I didn't mind seeing the bosses on LFR before normal. In fact, for me, it really helped to see the general mechanics so that I could plan my raid's normal mode strategy. However, I have a limited amount of sanity. Running LFR is not how I want to spend that sanity. Honestly, I'm not sure if I have enough sanity to run LFR more than once or twice. The thought of having to run it to gear up is really, horribly vile.

    Thanks for posting that gear list. I am glad to see that the rep gear is better than LFR. That gives me some hope that Blizzard understands that running LFR is an excruciating chore.

  2. Yeah, the prospect of facing down the racism, sexism and homophobia let alone the jerks of LFR makes me want to cross my eyes.

    The Rep gear isn't bad at all. I just hope I don't wind up sitting on my hands for weeks watching LFR geared people getting bosses down. :-/

  3. Hopefully bosses will be tuned so that a mix of rep and heroic dungeon gear will ok. LFR gear, even if necessary, can't be rolled on more than once a week.

    Ugrh, LFR is exactly why I usually never admit any sort of distinguishing features on the internet.