Hello and welcome to the series “Game’s too Easy?” Within, Metro will sarcastically discuss any number of assorted topics in an attempt to dispel myths and hearsay surrounding such. The focus of today’s discussion will be the Gearing progression system that is currently implemented through Mists of Pandaria. The Discussion will NOT delve into the changes with WoD, but will focus on dispelling myths that gearing is somehow significantly easier than it was in previous expansions. Another main focus of the article will be refuting the statement “Epics used to mean something, now they are free.”
Once again, to understand this subject we need to delve deep in the past. I have already explained the vast differences in raiding and how Blizzard’s focus has changed, but now let’s discuss how gear worked and was distributed.
Another common misconception about this process is that is has deviated in some significant way, but when you examine it in the meta-formation, you understand this is clearly not the case. You see, the game launched with little knowledge of the process’s progression, but established early on that 5 man content would be a stepping stone for Raiding content (at the time 40 man.)
In order to progress to “raid ready” status, five man content was very important, and there were multiple levels of content to be progressed through. You would start by doing BRD multiple times until you had a decent set of blues for your role, then move on to Scholomance and Stratholme to build an even better set and begin your D1 if it was applicable. Eventually, Diremaul was introduced, and this was incorporated into the mix. Meanwhile, the Blackrock Spire instance was where your final goals should lie. Not only did it contain the attunement for MC, but it was the source of the best pre-raid gear for nearly everyone.
The five man progression is the now much more diluted, and unfortunately my least favorite in any expansion, but it still has the same principle – in the beginning you did five man content as the only option to get ready for Raiding.
Next up, let’s discuss and parallel gear in raids and address the misconceptions here. When the game launched, MC was the ONLY way to get gear that had its text colored purple, and because of this, the color took on a meaning that wasn’t intentional. In my eyes, Epic loot is meant to be from the end-game, but unfortunately, with the introduction of item levels scaling affixed to each piece, now Epic is simply something of a certain item level and weight. So to parallel, Epics from MC = Epics of 510 ilvl from the first tier. This is indicative of the best gear in the game, and that is how it should be approached without any questions.
Of course, there are now multiple levels of gear progression in Raiding. We see LFR at 476/483 ilvl, and normal at 489/496. These epics are quality pieces, yet people will look at an LFR equivalent and make statements like “welfare epic.” Because of this, we now get the misconception that progressive gearing is easy, and many people are foolish to make a sweeping generalization encompassing the best gear in the game, to say that it also is much easier to obtain than it was in the beginning of the game. But this is so far from the truth it’s unbelievable!
We are about to sum this whole thing up, but before we do, there is one other circumstance you need to recognize – The implementation of 20 man raiding in Classic! This was not in at launch, and was a decision made first with the introduction of Zul’gurub. The raid not only allowed for 20 players to complete it, but had a 3 day reset lock, allowing it to be done many more times a month than your normal raids. This option came out after BWL, and was meant entirely for players to be able to catch up and see BWL content if they weren’t already well progressed through MC. It dropped loot that was miles above anything you could get in five mans, and even debatably had pieces better than epics from MC, but this was the fault of the design and inexperience in gear creation, not by intention.
Either way, with MC and BWL effectively one tier, we see the same process duplicated across the AQ expanse. AQ20 followed the same principles as ZG, and was slightly harder, but had bosses with very little mechanics and gave loot far better than anything available from non-raid content. However, all of this loot was Rare quality (blue text,) something that has changed and is likely the reason for the growing misconception here.
So let’s examine the whole system in parallels:
463 MoP Blues = BRD, DM, Scholo/Strat Blues.
476+ LFR Epics = UBRS, some Stratholme Blues.
489/496 Normal Epics = ZG Blues.
510~ Heroic Epics = MC/BWL Epics.
So with this, we see that to compare the loots, you need to have perspective. Of course, as LFR and timeless isle epics are available, they are PURELY meant for catch-up, like in ZG and AQ20. The only difference at all, is the fact that they are actually epic, likely a result of the huge difference in item level. After all, it would be strange to replace a 489 epic from MSV with a 496 blue from the timeless isle! To understand this is to refute the original statement, but let’s delve one more layer deep to fully comprehend exactly what is and is not true about this conversation.
People constantly make claims about how easy it is to gear up, but what I am about to tell you should help you realize that it is actually as difficult if not MORE difficult than it was before, and here’s why!
In Classic and even TBC and Wrath to some extent, gear and item levels barely differed. As mentioned already, it was entirely possible to have a full set of good blues from five mans, and still complete everything in the game. It was even more common for players to keep certain trinkets and pieces for entire expansions, because of how different the gearing strategy was for Blizzard. This carried on well into Wrath, where the Meteorite from Algalon was BIS for Holy Paladins until Cataclysm launched.
Now, item levels are much steeper when talking progression through tiers, and their number is much more symbolic of quality. In the past, this was present but it was hard to differentiate. Back then, there were pieces and trinkets that were absolute BIS, there were also epics that were so useless even a person wearing greens would think otherwise. Remember this, because a lot of players raiding MC were wearing epics that were arguably worse than a blue from Scholomance. (A great example is the Healing Chest from Baron Rivendare, a teal dress. It was far better than nearly everything in the game until well into BWL. I only replaced it because I was sick of using it, and not until the t2 paladin chest. T1 paladin chest didn’t even have healing stats on it!)
In present day, this is almost never the case, and any item level upgrade should be seen as an upgrade from any piece. This furthers the challenge, making ToT normal 522 gear near irrelevant for Heroic SoO, yet ZG and MC gear were some of the best things you could get for AQ progression. It is also pertinent to realize that there is much more gear available, so now the challenge isn’t finding one good piece, it’s finding the BIS set that will last you for the entire tier.
Going back to our lineation, we can wrap this up by saying Blues from Dungeons in classic we certainly good enough for MC and BWL progression, yet walking into Heroic Terrace with 476 gear from LFR was never going to lead to a kill under any circumstances minus the best players in the world.
With this, I hope everyone now understands that it’s important to keep perspective when discussing loot and its quality. The best epics back then were a sight to see no question, but they should NEVER be compared to LFR or timeless isle loot. That loot is exclusively comparable to Heroic raiding pieces, which as we have just learned, are far more prestigious and important to progression than they were in the past.
The next time you hear some clown saying “the game is so easy, I can get a full set of epics in a day!” remind them of what you read today. Remind them that those 496 Timeless pieces may be easy to obtain, but they are simply a catch up method, and if they wish to do any serious end-game raiding, they will be beyond useless. Remind them that when they can get some 580 pieces in 1 day, then they can say “the games too ez!”
Thanks for reading! As always, we encourage comments and discussion here at Stratics, so if you have any thing you would like to add, it would be my pleasure to continue the conversation!