Warlords of Draenor Reaction: Itemization

Believe it or not, guys, I am going to try to leave my curmudgeonly “get off my lawn” self aside in this post. I may not entirely succeed, but I’m going to give it a shot. ;)

Removing All The Things!

One of the problems the developers have recognized is that getting a piece of gear kind of sucks, when instead it should be this great thing to get. Why? Because you get it, then you have to probably gem it, then likely enchant it, then you need to reforge it (and, let’s face it, most of the rest of your gear) and then you can upgrade it with valor.

That’s not REMOTELY intimidating, is it? Well, yes, yes it is. Intimidating to some, annoying to others and just a basic fact of life when it comes to high-end raiding. But still, it takes some of the joy away from getting the actual piece of loot.

So they’ve removed reforging entirely, which I think is a fantastic call. I didn’t like the reforging balance game and it still didn’t prevent people from wanting their supposed “best-in-slot” piece, despite the fact that you could change the stats on that item.

Not only that, but to prevent worries about caps and such, they have also removed hit and expertise.

I’m less sure about this move, but I think it’s more my old, curmudgeonly side that walked uphill, in the snow, both ways, that’s saying this. Maybe it’s because I clued in to the importance of hit rating when I was in Burning Crusade and, since then, have always taken care to be hit-capped on a DPS character. Or maybe it’s because I think it’s dumbing down the game. But having even a little bit of experience in having to juggle hit and expertise caps on my hunter, I can appreciate that this is quite a big quality of life change.

I wasn’t a fan of expertise being needed by a hunter in Mists of Pandaria, still seeing it as something “the melee” had to deal with and didn’t like that agility mail was really interchangeable between hunters and enhancement shaman, but again, that’s probably the grumpy side of me. So the removal of expertise doesn’t bug me. Hilariously enough, I still think of expertise as a “new” stat, although it’s been around since mid-Burning Crusade, if memory serves.

My question, and perhaps it’s been answered, is… are we always going to hit with our abilities? Our white attacks? I’ve seen people speculating that it means we’ll always hit with our specials and have a small chance to miss with our white attacks, which sounds reasonable to me. But how are they going to deal with level disparity? Hit has always been dependent on your level vs. your opponent’s level. Raid bosses are viewed as being 3 levels higher than you, which is why 15% hit (nowadays. It used to be 17% for casters.) was needed, while only 5% was needed for a player of equal level.

I think that they’ll need to somehow preserve the missing mechanic for level disparity, but I’m not sure how to do that. Like, if you’re 4 levels lower than a boss, is it going to be impossible to hit? What if you’re out in the world and you’re four levels higher than some toon you want to gank, is it going to be impossible for them to hit you? I’m hopeful that they’re already on top of this stuff, but a bit wary because, well, hit has always been in the game. (Really, as soon as they removed defense gear, removing hit had to be an option eventually because the entire combat roll table changes.)

And speaking of removing defense gear, now they’re removing dodge and parry.

I get it. These aren’t exciting stats for tanks. Aren’t prot pallies gearing for haste these days? To me, though, it sort of further consolidates loot. Will there be much, if any, gear that tanks will want that strength plate DPS or agi leather DPS won’t want? Will a ret pally need anything tankish in order to tank?

Well, judging by the other major change, possibly not.

Dynamically Changing Gear

The other major change is that gear is now going to change by specialization. That’s to say that if a pair of plate shoulders drop, with, I don’t know, 100 strength, if you’re a holy paladin, they will have 100 intellect instead of strength. But if you change your spec to say, retribution, they will turn into 100 strength. Without hit and expertise caps to worry about, armor changing based on spec seems like a really brilliant plan. No more “shoot, I left my tank gear in the bank”, because guess what? Your tank gear IS what you’re wearing (basically). All you have to do is change specs and voila, you have tank gear. (This is just for armor, of course, so rings, necks, cloaks, trinkets and weapons will be more specialized, but still.) Not only THAT, but if you have, say, 4pc tier as a holy paladin, your 4pc tier will become 4pc TANK tier when you swap specs.

Rohan says that this is a brilliant solution to the persistent Intellect plate problem, since there’s only one class/spec combination in the game (out of what, 34 specs?) that uses Intellect plate. (Having raided as that class/spec, I can’t say I was ever disappointed to see Intellect plate drop, but I understand other people not enjoying that.)

It also mostly solves a problem I know that we dealt with a lot in Apotheosis, back in BC and even in the newer incarnation: how to deal with offspec loot? Problem (mostly) solved now. You don’t have to “waste” DKP or EPGP priority or any of that for tier gear for offspec stuff because your main spec gear turns into your offspec gear (for the most part).

However, I have some concern over this. I’m really trying to leave my grumpy, cranky self out of this and I think I’m about to fail, but this touches on an issue I looked at a while back: the devaluation of gear. In that post, I talk about how the “magic” is gone from gear, that gear itself doesn’t really matter. That caused some confusion, so let me try to state it a different way:

The fact that gear can dynamically change based on location in the game (Challenge Modes, Proving Grounds) and now based on talent specialization just shows that gear is nothing more than a mechanic in the game.

I’m not sure that’s so much better than my other attempts to explain it, but let me try to expound on it a bit. Ghostcrawler said, at least twice, that gear/items are the best thing they can give to the players. They want you to care about it. But my question here is, how much meaning can be ascribed to a chestpiece that has intellect one minute and strength the next? That’s ilvl 500 one minute and ilvl 463 the next?

There have been pieces of gear I have chased after. It took me 28 runs of Scholomance to get my T0 helm. It took me sixty runs of UBRS to get my T0 chest and I only got it during Wrath of the Lich King. I worked hard for my Rhok’delar. I’ve helped others to get Atiesh, Dragonwrath, Shadowmourne, Val’anyr. I have resented bosses who haven’t dropped my preferred piece of loot (stupid Halion, stupid Saurfang, stupid any boss for the spirit/haste ring in Dragon Soul…). So I have chased loot, I’ve wanted loot in the past so badly that I could almost taste it. (And I’ve also just accepted that loot is a tool to help me and my raid group progress.)

But once Blizzard started messing with their tech and actually changing the gear itself, that’s where I got hung up on things. If a piece of loot is supposed to be a tangible reward (as tangible as anything gets in the game, anyhow), then how can the devs keep messing with it and expect us to still feel amazing about getting it? Does that make sense?

I wanted the Beaststalker Helm because it was a good helm for me and it was also part of my tier 0 set. I wanted my epic bow because it was the reward after a long, challenging quest. So let’s look at another piece of loot that I wanted, that had nothing to do with tier or being a reward for a quest.

Zod’s Repeating Longbow. In Wrath of the Lich King, I was doing the occasional PUG or GDKP raid on Kurn and I desperately needed a bow. The bow I was using was from heroic dungeons. It was tragic and sad. Zod’s, even the normal version, was basically the best bow I could hope of getting as I raided casually on my hunter while raiding much more seriously on my paladin.

Getting that bow was a huge boost to my damage, to my stats and to my viability as a player in a PUG or GDKP run, not to mention in my daily dungeon grind.

It was that bow in particular that I wanted, that I felt would really aid me in what I did as a player in the game. The stats were unchanging. It would always grant me 108 agility, always increase my DPS 561.4 (on average). This was a bow I absolutely coveted back in Wrath of the Lich King.

Would I feel that way about a bow today? Or in Warlords of Draenor? While an upgrade is an upgrade, the bow itself is not a static item upon which I can always rely. It’s that dynamic shifting that makes the loot feel, to me, less tangible. Less real. (Of course, “real” is a relative term, considering we’re talking about pixels on the screen.)

So when they talk about solving the Intellect plate “problem” and making primary stats change on gear, based on spec… I have to ask myself why should we even bother with gear? Why not just give everyone a base set of gear that upgrades by 1% or something every time that person kills a raid boss? There’s no need for gear to help us progress. They can automagically change our stats and, thus, our character’s strengths whenever they feel like it.

What about enchants, gems, reforging and upgrading? I would say that those actions (upgrading least of all) are enhancements because the player actually applies those items (or not) to the item in question. That makes it feel as though the player is enhancing the still-tangible item, rather than having things be changed for you.

I’m probably still not explaining it right, but this whole dynamic gear thing doesn’t sit right with me. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’ll solve more problems than it creates, I’m still a fan of removing reforging, all that stuff, but if things keep changing in various circumstances, why bother with them, you know?

(I know. Loot is something that a lot of people view as an end-goal. You have to have loot. This game is BUILT on loot. So while I may be going a bit far in suggesting that perhaps we have a base set of gear that upgrades itself over time, I still think it’s the same principle as what we’ve seen with scaling gear levels and what we’ll be seeing with dynamic gear stats.)

Tertiary Stats

Interesting. I don’t wholly know what to make of these, but I do enjoy the idea of movement speed as a tertiary stat on items. I like the idea of Cleave as a stat, though I’m unsure how that works (or would work) for a hunter. At any rate, it’s interesting and I’ll be looking forward to more information about them, for sure. I do worry that people will try to assemble whole gear sets with specific tertiary stats and that those will become “the norm”, but if they really do keep them rare, or on specific slots of gear (ie: movement speed on boots while cleave is on gloves, for instance), I think it could work out well.

All right. I’m done talking for now. Talk back! Tell me what you think about itemization stuff!

(And stay tuned, either on Twitter or Facebook: big stuff happening at Kurn’s Guides this week!)

3 comments

  1. Talarian says:

    Funny, I had the precise opposite reaction: huzzah for no more hit/expertise, boo for no more reforging. I like being able to futz with how much mastery, haste, crit, and spirit I’m rocking, regardless of spec, but juggling around hit/expertise caps which necessitated reforging in the first place is annoying. But now if I want to try a mastery build, or a haste build, I need all new equipment rather than just modifying the stuff I already have.

    The dynamic gear as far as primary stats go is a nice quality of life change, but at the same time no more Holy Paladin only loot for me :( *clutches his intellect plate desperately*

  2. RohanV says:

    My understanding (which may be faulty, and is based on random tweets) is that the armor doesn’t change stats. It just has both Strength and Intellect on it. But one stat is not used by each spec. Or who knows, maybe they’ll even add some “hybrid” mechanics for us.

    It reminds me of my beloved Judgement armor, so it’s all good as far as I’m concerned.

  3. Kurn says:

    Talarian – I agree with you on that point for reforging: that was nice. I ran a haste build for holy pally healing in mid-Cataclysm on one toon and a mastery build for holy pally healing on another toon and the toons basically had almost the same gear. It was neat to experiment with.

    Intellect plate: We loved you, even if we were the only ones to ever use you. /salute

    Rohan – I thought that they said the primary stats *would* change. Here we go, from Wowhead’s news:

    “Primary stats… your gear changes when you change spec. If you have leggings on for your holy set, they will switch to strength when you go to ret.”

    I miss the days when I healed with some Lawbringer… which had strength on it. Not to mention spirit, which was pretty useless at the time! But ooh, the mp5 and the +damage/healing! :)

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