Sunday, 30 August 2009

On The Gear Myth

I've been reading a lot of the Greedy Goblin recently. It's a fantastic World of Warcraft blog run by a certain popular writer. From what I can decipher, the site started out as a money-making guide but has developed into a place to highlight the social faux pas most WoW players carry out on a daily basis.

A recent reoccurring topic is that of gear. Our new friend Mr Goblin believes that gear is overrated. For months I've told you that gear is important but attitude should always take priority. Gevlon's successful 10-man run on Ulduar with nothing but blues and buffs furthers my own argument. Gear (or lack thereof) has become the root of a psychological mindfuck since Wrath was released. It's possible to take on Naxxramas in level 80 greens but no raid leader in their right mind would let you try it. Why not?

Well if you ask any of these raiders, they'll claim being under-equipped will drag the entire team down. This isn't necessarily true. The first time I ran Naxx' successfully I was barely able to complete heroics. This isn't Burning Crusade and the top loot is simply no longer required to participate in raids. Instead, good gear represents something. It says you're willing to commit time and effort into attaining the very best for your character. To some it's a big, glowing sign which points at your head and reads 'I AM NOT A SLACKER!'. The same goes for achievements and how they symbolise experience. However, both of these aspects have workarounds for the cunning, from linking weapons you see from /inspecting in Dalaran to utilising crafty addons. Many people should have realised these methods of evaluation are downright outdated. It's laziness on the part of a group or guild recruiter to simply demand links to stuff and not think beyond that. This ridiculous trend continues and unfortunately will do so into the next expansion.

Gear is a paradox. Person A may be undergeared for the instance but they'll try twice as hard to compensate for that. Person B may be overgeared and believes the dungeon or raid is below their skill level. They don't try as hard as Person A and therefore risk undermining the entire run. How many people do you know who believe themselves to be competently geared and yet can't even clear Old Kingdom on heroic mode? Compare this with Gevlon's successful Ulduar group where everyone was undergeared by 50% but put in 150% effort.

I'm not saying one highly-publicised example of overcoming the odds reflects the playerbase at large. Only a fool would suggest we all rush out and take on instances wearing absurdly bad armour. At the end of the day gear matters because it allows you and I to make more mistakes. When I tank I like to give the healers a safety net by having a large pool of HP. If they miss an opportunity to top-up my health there's less chance I'm going to be one-shotted. This is simple logic and remains the key reason why all of us should still appreciate gear. It's just important to bare in mind that owning epics isn't the be-all and end-all of raiding. As guild leaders it's our imperative to remember that skill is always going to be more important than seeking out idiots with achievements.

In summary:
  • Don't underestimate the skill of your players.

  • Better to bring along the guy with skill and passion than the bloke with apathy and gear.

  • A combination of a great attitude and good gear is what you should aim for.

[Image props go to both the Greedy Goblin and Ixobelle!]

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