Monday, January 11, 2010

The Reality of Aff'lock Gearing

There are a couple bandwagons I've wanted to jump on recently. You see, normally I don't pay all that much attention to writing about the Big Topic.  Usually I feel that everyone else does a more than adequate job of covering the big stuff, and I can be more entertaining by turning my talents elsewhere.  I mean, after about the 25th failed PuG description, they all just lose my interest.  We get the point: there are bad people out there. Horses are Bad People.

Then there comes a point where the topic has traversed from annoying, over-analyzed Popic to Elephant In The Room.  EITR is where I start to believe each blogger need take a stance.  If you get to a blog, and they haven't written about EITR, then they're just not paying attention.  The whole Ferraro escapade was one such topic, in my opinion.  At first, it was a small deluge of writing, then a torrent, then annoying, but then I felt that I had to at least acknowledge it in all it's Annoyed Glory because everyone had said at least something about it and wtf am I doing that I'm not opining.  I'm not sure what this phenomenon is called, other than I, personally, feel the urge to write on the bandwagon at some point, so to speak, after reading so much about the Popic.

My feelings traverse the spectrum from General Interest > Mild Disdain > Intense Hatred > Revived Curiosity > Thought Provoking In-Depth Analysis.  Or something like that.  Sometimes things stop and park it firmly in the Intense Hatred area, and in that case... you probably won't see the NSFW rant on here.

Okay, enough baysplanation already.  The topic I wanted to acknowledge today is the "Gear score is Bollocks" party.  Several bloggers that I read have already done this Popic.  Spinks here.  Shock and Paw here.  Gnomeaggedon here, to name a few.

I'm not going to redo a well-done topic, but suffice it to say that I, too, think gear score is bollocks.  There are a plethora or reasons, but let's look at the one nearest and dearest to our sharded hearts as Affliction Warlocks.

The reality of Affliction Warlock gearing is that gear score will not accurately represent a good affliction warlock.

Why is this?  Well, let's start with the tier gear.  T9 is the new "norm" for gearing since Triumph badges are falling like Purple Rain.  T9 for Affliction Warlocks sucks!  There, I said it.  It's complete crap.  T8 and T7 are better.  Period.  Affliction warlocks like SP and Haste on top of getting the hit cap.  It's even better for us to talent to hit cap, since we need those points in the tree anyways (and where else can they go?  Pushback reduction?  Puh-lease.  I'd much rather have stats on gear and talent for hit!).  The point here is that I'm still sporting some ilvl 219 pants (T7.5, i think the ilvl is 219) and they're GOOD.  I'm finally starting to break up my set bonuses, but they served me well for a long time.

The new T10 pants are really only a MINOR upgrade over the T7.5 pants if you're already hit capped.  The T9 pants are right out.  Srsly?  Srsly.  I'm jumping two fracking tier levels and only geting a MINOR upgrade.  Eventually, maybe, I'll be able to balance out the hit and thus make more use of those points on the pants, but why are they moving hit around on different pieces?

And that's only one example.  Blizz has apparently seen fit to hurl Crit down our throats since, "hey dots can now crit."  Well, I don't give a Sewer Rat's ass... give me haste or give me death!  Haste is almost equal to SP in terms of DPS gains and it is almost always a trade off with Crit.  Since we're getting Crit shoved down our throats, it really over-values the few haste pieces for 'locks that there are out there, a lot of which are found in lower tier levels.

Now the set bonus for T10 is worth it, but I'm going to have to get there first.  There are also some great Frost Emblem pieces.  On the whole, however, the Triumph level was a complete bust for aff'locks: there just wasn't a lot there that was good!  Thus, it's not a bad thing as an aff'lock to be sporting some "old" gear.  Much of the lesser ilvl stuff is actually better than the Triumph "equivalent".

So while everyone else is blazing by your gearscore, you should feel secure in the fact that you know your stats, you've done your research, and T9 is just not for you.  For affliction 'locks, right now, it should all be about Frost Emblems.  Screw Triumph and the entire Argent Crusade.  Give me that new faction rep with the cool, upgradeable rings.  

The bigger picture here is just that I know, intimately, of at least one spec where an ilvl based gear score is complete crap.  And if there's one, there have got to be others.  (Oddly enough, my DK is not one of those.  T9 is some good juju for the DK, despite the less-than-ideal bonus for Frost).  So anyone who judges an aff'lock by a gear score is a dolt, say I.  Judge them by inspection and performance, as we should judge anyone, if we're going to do it.  Judging by gear score is just lazy.  If you're intelligent enough to be leading a group (which can be debatable at times), then you should be intelligent enough to make an informed decision without resorting to some arbitrarily assigned number.

So is gear score useful?  Maybe.  Should it be The Bar to be set?  Absolutely not.


  1. I think Gearscore is a decent and useful tool, but it shouldn't be the only one you're using. You wouldn't fix a sink with just a flat head screwdriver, would you?

    Another thing I love is when people of other classes start to critique your gear, especially when they have no understanding of that class. I didn't know that Aff locks liked haste. (You sure you aren't an Arcane mage? ;) )
    Point being, I'm sure as hell not going to tell you how to gear up. I'd be a little hesitant if you wanted to do HHoR and you're still in quest greens... but really, people need to chill the hell out.

    Life won't end if it takes you 20 minutes to do your heroic run instead of 15 minutes.

  2. I think I pay the most attention to gear score when I play a healer. I zone into random dungeon - eyeball the tank. Hmmmm...smells squishy. Mouse over for gear score. Okay - he's (high 3k - now 4k) - more than adequate for the instance.

    You'd think that what comes next wouldn't be a surprise. It always is though.

    The 3.5 gearscore pally looks squishy and scary you're wondering if there's enough mp5 in the whole world to keep your mana from bottoming out as you heal him.

    Then surprise, surprise - he's a damn good tank and a joy to heal in the process.

    Then you get the Deathknight with a 4.6k gearscore. This should be cake - I'll heal him with my floating rocks and call it a night.

    Then joy of joys - he chain pulls the instance. No two healers in any game can keep him alive. I'm using my AMGTANKADYING instant uber heal macro every time it's off cooldown.

    His gear looks solid - his gear score looks solid. So what's the problem?

    What's the problem? He's tanking in his dps spec. Totally forgot to change - so sorry.

    Gearscore is a free means of measuring a players potential. *Potential* In that I think it's just fine. If you expect that score to represent the reality you will experience in game with another player - well - you get what you deserve ;)

  3. Yep, it can tell part of the story, but never the full thing. The bottom line is that you still need a brain, unlike Scarecrow.

  4. Thanks for this -- I play an Affliction 'lock. My own raid was cracked on gear score and when 3.3 came out, everyone ran for full T9 (or just about). I did the same, but just the other day I was talking with our main heals (read: whining) about how I seriously don't think T9 is all that good for me. Gave me a real scare, to be honest, when I 'took it out for a spin' after gemming/enchanting the lot of it and found either little to no change in some areas, or appreciable badness in others (DPS-wise and from an overall useability standpoint). It was terrifying, actually, given the advent of that new mod where folks can check out your gear score instantly and give you massive attitude if you're not 'up to par'. I combed my spec, reconsidered the logic of my usual rotations, and then realized that perhaps the gear is the problem... I guess I was just too dismayed to really believe it. :\

  5. Ok, gonna show my Lock newbness, I just turned lvl 80 and been grinding some pugs (about to get T9 pants). So my question is, where do I go to get the T8 or T7 gear (if I still can)?

  6. @ Anonymous

    If you just have your Triump emblems, you can exchange those for lower emblems either in your repective (horde or Alliance) emblem dealers on the last page. Or, in the sewers near the Bank where people normally fish.

    If emblem exchange was not your question but where you actually can purchase the gear, then you can go the Threads of Fate in Dalaran to specifically look for cloth gear of all lvls.

    Good luck :D

    Going from Triumph to Heroism Emblems is a real PITA btw.

  7. Yes, and if you're just starting out, the T9 is certainly not terrible. It's got a lot of Crit on it and is going to be a huge step up from former "starter" epics. Still, it is worth looking into the T8 and T7 items that are available via vendor. Go to the Threads of Fate in Dalaran to view the pieces and compare the stats. If you're using an addon like Pawn, you should be able to tell which ones are better. If not, there are a lot of online tools like RAWR which I'm unfamiliar with (I just stick with Pawn). Either way, once you have the name of the item you can look it up and do comparisons.

    If you don't want to put that much work into and you're just trying to get started... by all means pick up the whole T9 set and then slowly replace it with T10 as you go. Additionally there is a great set of helm and shoulders that are not tier gear but available for Triumph emblems.

    For someone like me who has been 80 for a while and geared up slowly via actual raid drops and the like... it's more of the disappointment that the pieces I already have are roughly equal to T9 stuff. I mean, who wants to get to a new tier and find nothing of worth for them, right?

  8. I think that's my biggest beef with T9. Going from some of the other gear that's available, it's more of a side-grade as opposed to an upgrade. Especialy from the t8.5 stuff you could buy from vendors. And it's not just 'locks, but I've seen this on my mage and druid.

    But don't fret, Afflocks! Once you get geared up enough,there is some nice +haste cloth in HPoS (belt and chest from Ick) and some haste booties in one of the new Heroics, too. (not sure which one. :P) It might be worth breaking the set bonus for it. It was for my mage!

  9. Yeah, there is a really nice chest with emblems of Frost too. It may taunt me into having that be the one piece I don't get of T10 gear... though the robe is what you see!