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Having played a Disco Priest as well as an Elemental Shaman over the last few days, I can attest to the fact that learning the new ‘streamlined’ version of class talents has become considerably easier than it was. There was some suggestion that by paring down the abilities of each class there would be a loss of enjoyment, but I’m finding the opposite to be true. In fact, for someone like me who has the option to play multiple flavours of the game, this change is more than welcome. However, there is one part of the experience that hasn’t gotten easier. In fact, if I’m honest, it just gets more complex with every Expansion launch.

Gearing characters is about to become a great deal more problematic than it has probably ever been.

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For me, not living in the rarefied air of Mythic Raiding, gear choices normally revolve around what I can pick up from the decomposing corpses of mobs. This time around, if I read this right, there are four types of tier on offer, all recolours of themselves, and then Class Order Hall sets on top of the normal quest rewards. Forget for a moment the aesthetic trauma of trying to make sure I pick up and learn every damn item I find from the word go. I’m not stressing about Wardrobe malfunctions here. There’s a shittonne of items I might need, and when you throw the Legendary items into the mix, plus crafted gear? MY HEAD ALREADY HURTS. We may have had the trauma of spell choice lessened, but the need for third party websites to tell us what to wear and do the maths for us has become even more of a crutch than it ever was before.

Maybe the problem was never just rotation complexity to begin with.

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Removing Multistrike and Bonus Armour might lessen the effort required to calculate what matters for your class, but to do the numbers properly, like it or not, you’ll need help. Then there’s the very real understanding that however much you might believe a set bonus will beat all, someone will inevitably disprove the base theorycrafting and discover a better combination that Activision Blizzard somehow missed. It’s why the concept of ‘no best spec’ might look great in theory but when you’re trying to eke the 1% needed to kill a Boss? There will always be a best way to not only play but gear to do so. No, it might not be right, and it should be discouraged, but if a strategy works because you had your talents and rotation set a certain way? Yes, of COURSE you’d be foolish not to use it, especially if you’re playing with other people who do the same. That’s the biggest problem when you die to mechanics: is it the game, or is it you that’s the problem. If switching spec can give you 10% more dps when everybody else is flat out? Will you refuse to do so because it negates your ‘class fantasy’?

Once upon a time, as a Hunter, I could have three specs to switch between whilst levelling to ensure I could give the most dps in any given situation, and not gimp or disable my fellow players. With the introduction of the Artefact weapon? That choice has gone, because now I’ll need to max out THREE different main hand items before I can do the same thing. That means that overnight the gear I choose becomes very significant indeed, because it is the only way I will be able to maximise my abilities and dps. It doesn’t matter if I never look at a talent guide again, I’ll be forced to use third party websites to calculate the best choices regardless. Without the flexibility of spec switching at a constant level? Gear is the all-encompassing and limiting factor in every decision I now make going forward. I’m not sure I’m really that happy about being tied to restrictive practice in this fashion.

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I’d been used to using third party support for years, and then I chose to walk alone, and the difference, one could argue, is minimal. Both get you from A to B eventually, the former just takes less time, the latter causes far fewer arguments. However, for those people coming to this game fresh, the spectre of complexity may yet be frightening enough to make them leave before they’ve learnt how to play. It isn’t just about making life easier via the medium of button pushing, after all. Activision Blizzard have stated they intend to intentionally ‘break’ certain key addons that trivialise complex boss fights. There’s a desire to keep the level of encounter complexity consistently high. Is the assumption therefore that if you’re prepared to live with that you’re clearly capable of dealing with the maths needed to work out your best combination of gear?

Why isn’t gear being simplified in the same manner that class abilities have been?

5 thoughts on “Fly Like an Eagle

  1. I never stressed out about minmaxing the gear and I will not. Yes, I might be the one who refuses based on class fantasy. More probably, I will refuse, based on the fact that I don’t have the time to grind an item that is same ilvl but supposedly “better in slot”. The thing is, it’s hardly 10%, it’s much smaller number + the calculations are done assuming you execute rotation perfectly and not taking into account random factors. It’s all theoretical and frankly debatable to a degree.

    Granted, the stat system in WoW is much simpler than some of the other RPGs I’ve played over the years. It’s only the ridiculous standards of MMO community that make it complex (and forced Blizz to simplify it over the years). You’re not allowed to do this or that because it might not be 100% efficient. Before I discovered MMOs, stats were there to experiment and fool around with, to PLAY with, to have FUN with, and in order for that to be possible, they had to be relatively complex.

    And I will still approach the whole thing the old fashioned way. All I need is common sense, so that I don’t stack crit when none of my abilities proc out of crit for example. But at the same time if the only item I have on this ilvl has crit, then I won’t cry or deem it “useless”. This is the item I do have, and the other item I could have after X amount of hours doesn’t matter to me.

    Because being 100% efficient works to the detriment of fun, if you’re not all about winning that is, not all about “what”, but “how”.

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  2. the big problem for me is that I eventually will find a way that feels comfortable to play at max level, but will look at the gear I manage to get that will most likely not work well with how I choose to play. And my answer to the problem will be that I don’t give a flying…. I will not farm content endlessly just to maximize output, when they are going to be rolling out new content every 4-5 months. It is a gold ring you can never hope to have, and if you do get lucky enough to grab it, will find it tarnishes very quickly, because there is a newer one to chase.

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  3. I’m under the impression that ilevel will trump secondary stats in Legion. No longer will we eschew a higher piece for the “correct” stats, so it may be a little cleaner now. Still, it can be stressful if you let it get to you, but only in the last raid tier of an expansion.

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      • After using “more Versatility is always better because I play solo in the open world” as my sole gearing criterion during Warlords, a few weeks ago I went and looked at the Wowhead class guides for Legion and made myself a chart of the secondary stat priorities for each class so that I can do exactly what you describe here: if I have two items that are identical or very close ilvl, which one should I use?
        And that’s all the attention that I’m going to spare for STATS on gear. How gear LOOKS however, is another matter ;)

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