On Gear Value Deflation and Making Gear Matter

Ashwalker_-_how_do_you_have_all_purple_gear_-_hmgt

Last night I dove back into a topic I’d been blissfully putting off for the past few days – the upcoming PvP Season 10-11 transition. It’s not that I mind writing a guide to it – I think it’s valuable to sit down and plan out what you *really* need to do to be prepared for a new season – but rather that it brings up the Season 9-10 transition.

And that transition broke the endgame for me. 

I can say that now, in hindsight, though I didn’t realize how fundamental a break it was. My warlock, my main in name but not in practice, sits in her dusty Season 9 gear, not raiding, not PvPing, not really doing very much. She occasionally makes some Dreamcloth or quests around the Cata zones. Actually, she’s done with the Cata zones, so that’s finished. 

No dailies. No dungeons. No BGs.

Lots of alts. Lots of twinks. Lots of projects.

It’s hard to watch a character go from (near) the top of a gear chain to the bottom. In a few weeks, Cynwise will be wearing worse gear than a new level 85 starting PvP with crafted gear. This happens, it’s part of the game, but… but it’s disheartening.

It brings up all the anger I felt when I’d walked away from the game and came back, tentatively, only to find out that the grind I thought I’d already done wasn’t done at all

It turns out, I’m still pretty angry about it. I am starting to feel an itch to play my Warlock again, but I look at picking her up now, and it’s like… why bother gearing? It’s going to be replaced in a few weeks. Like, literally, 6-8 weeks. 

The picture at the top of this post was from an amusing run through H-MgT when someone finally bothered to inspect Ashwalker and discovered I was in full epics. Not even real tanking epics, but PvP epics – but epics, nonetheless. “OMG HOW ARE YOU IN PURPLES?” amused me at the time, but it also reminds me of an important fact – as long as I choose to keep her there, she’s geared as well as she needs to be. I could tank BC raids in her gear if I wanted. I can play around with Fury or Arms in PvP, I can just go tank Drek if that’s all I want to do. I can log in and do the Dalaran JC daily, if I’m really bored, but I have all the epic PVP gem patterns now, so I’m set.

Sounds pretty good, right?

Well.

Warriors are really weak in the 70s bracket – possibly the weakest PvP class. It shows. I flip from Prot to Arms/Fury and die immediately without the mobility of Prot. There are BGs where I can do well – WSG and AV! – but I really struggle on EotS, and AB and SotA are kinda tough. I’m geared enough that I can actually read the bracket issues as class balance issues, not as gear issues, or even player issues. Mages own the 70s, and Mages own Warriors. 

Ashwalker_and_icedragon_-_kara_nap

Tanking is still pretty fun, but the only place I can get gear upgrades is Sunwell, so aside from the Kara runs for pretty shinies, there’s not a lot of motivation there to just randomly tank heroics.

I have a priest and a druid in the 70 bracket, too. They’re not completely geared/gemmed, but they’re getting close. I thought I’d quest around more on the priest, see the Horde side of things, but I basically have her around to PvP and heal for @druidis4fite’s baby tank. (Got a great Sunwell healing mace on her, though.) I’m slowly learning how to heal on the Druid, she’s doing better now. But the 70 bracket is unbalanced, just like most of the low level brackets. It gets tiring getting facerolled by mages. It’s good practice but is starting to feel stale.

Gear only matters for so long, even for twinks. Once you have best of everything, then it comes down to – are the other activities enjoyable in and of themselves? Do you feel like you’re still accomplishing something, or is it just another night in gorram Warsong Gulch?

(At least if you level to 75, you can get a maxed profession mule for your troubles.)

Once upon a time I thought that the problems I have staying with playing Cynderblock, who really is my best-geared toon, was just because she’s a weak class in a tough bracket. Warriors were nerfed to the ground in level 19 play with the Sundering, and it took me a while to reconcile with switching entirely to being the FC, nothing but the FC, and that is fun enough. 

But I have a level 24 hunter now, and that’s about as OP a twink as you can get – OP class in an OP bracket – and she’s pretty boring to play. Once you get the basics down, lowbie Hunter PvP isn’t that hard, playing WSG well is hard. The quality of the play in the 20-24 xp-off bracket aren’t up to the 15-19 xp-off bracket – you do see a lot of WTF things going on in the 20s that just don’t happen in the 19s. But being OP doesn’t hold my attention either. 

(I should remember that as I struggle to retain interest in leveling a Mage via PvP.)

There’s an interesting dichotomy here; I don’t know how to resolve it. I enjoy gearing up toons. It’s obvious and apparent with my twinking obsession that I actually like making them more than I like playing them for long periods of time. I like going and doing crazy things on them, but once the crazy things are done, I don’t feel the need to obsessively play them. They’ll just sit there, waiting, for when I want to play them again.

But the problem with twinks is that, once they’re geared, they’re done. They’re not as interesting to me once they’re geared up; sure, I could spend hours and hours trying to farm Sunwell gear on them now, but … why? Their gear is good enough for their primary activity, I don’t really have the time to raid (no matter what the level), meh, done.

If I’m going to spend time getting gear, I want the gear to matter. I want my effort getting it to mean something, for it to be an accomplishment that retains value. That’s my major problem with the Cata PvP transition – it shortens the useful life of the gear I get even further than it was previously. 

The dichotomy between an endgame character, where you are always gearing up a toon, and a twink, where you gear them up once and are done, is pretty big. What I’m wrestling with again, what I am probably always going to wrestle with, is that I enjoy gearing up toons, but that I want that gear to matter.

I’m starting to think my problem isn’t with the endgame grind, per se, but rather with the perception of the value of gear relative to effort spent acquiring it. If it takes me an entire PvP season to gear up to Conquest gear, and that gear has little value in the next season, then I feel it’s not worth it at all.

If my effort had more lasting value, if the endgame gear had some more longevity, I think it could draw me back in. 

Right now I’m looking at it going… I have an itch to play my Warlock, but having to go back and redo everything has very little appeal when I know it will all be replaced soon. Real soon. 

I could literally go farm cloth, Volatiles, and Honor/JP and get more bang for my buck than kitting out Cynwise right now.

That just doesn’t feel right.

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10 Comments

Filed under Cynwise's Field Notes

10 responses to “On Gear Value Deflation and Making Gear Matter

  1. Psynister

    And yet, if that gear did have lasting value, then you would soon tire of playing the character just like you do your fully geared twinks, because there’s no longer anything to strive for, it’s just doing the same activity night after night with no real motive. That’s where things really went downhill for me. When all of the realizations hit at once. I like making characters, I like to level them up and get them some good gear for their levels, but once I reach the destination is a few laps around the place to enjoy the sites and then it’s time to move on to something new. Everything ends with either a gear grind (which will be replaced by another gear grind) or a honor/rep/badge/achievement grind which similarly results in yet another grind.

  2. Cynwise of Stormwind

    @psyn: Yeah. A lot of it is having the right amount of lasting value. Having Conquest gear be equivalent to Honor gear would extend that gear’s value considerably without unbalancing the next season. The way it stands now, if you’re a slow grinder or late starter (like we were), you finish just in time to have the season end. The RBG/Arena changes affect this too.All the realizations hitting at once is a dangerous thing. I find myself itching to play ‘wise again, and then wondering if it’s worth it. Then I start questioning the whole damn thing. Then I look at my gnome warrior and am all AWWWW I WANT TO LEVEL YOU LITTLE GNOME.*sigh*I miss having you and Fyn in game. We had a lot of good times together.

  3. Psynister

    Well, I guess you’ll just have to come join us in SWTOR, then. ;)Or Diablo 3, perhaps?Not that I have especially high hopes that they’ll have anything different to offer in the long run, MMO’s being what they are, but I tried several times to pick WoW back up and every time I just couldn’t bring myself to do anything once I got logged in. I don’t think you’ll ever see me back in WoW. It’s not impossible, it’s just highly unlikely at this point.

  4. Cynwise of Stormwind

    Yeah, I didn’t mean to make it sound like a plea to come back – I’m frankly surprised your account is still active. I know Fyn’s isn’t. Just noting that we had some good times gearing up those twinks. :)SWTOR looks interesting, but I don’t think I want to reconfigure all my systems to run it. (No native Mac client.) I’m wondering if AF’s core will switch permanently, or just for a few months, or what – I am waiting on tenterhooks to find out if this means the death of of the guild on WoW and rebirth on SWTOR, or if it’s just a passing fancy. I dunno. Maybe I’ll get over the windows thing and play it anwyways.

  5. Psynister

    I didn’t read it as a plea, just took a second to think about it and shared the results of that thought. I don’t know what it will mean in the long run for the guild. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are some who leave WoW behind for good. Enough that the WoW guild goes under? I think that depends on how good of a game it really ends up being. The lack of a Mac client is a big mind boggling in today’s industry. I have to assume that they’ll have the Mac version at some point in the future, but I don’t understand why they didn’t get started on this a long time ago. Mac might not have near the user base that Windows does, but that’s still a large portion of potential customers they’re ignoring just because a program exists that lets you mimic the OS. It’s like letting all Warlocks cast Circle, but you can only use Teleport if you’re Demon spec.

  6. Ralod

    Like I said in game the other night cyn, I don’t know yet. Notch told me he would be leaving WoW for ToR, but at this point he is the only one I know of that is for sure. There are some questions we need answered before I will know for sure what is going to happen. Like what will Blizzcon and 4.3 bring? I need to play the game to see if it’s my cup of tea, a few MMO’s have sounded great, but when playing them were less then that. There is also the logistics of it all, who wants to go? Who wants to stay? Will we have enough on either to continue doing what we want to do?On a personal level, ToR is the first MMO that has really drawn my interest since WoW did. I have played others, but never did I consider playing them for more then just a passing moment. I have been playing WoW for 7 years now, EQ for 6 before that.. But I will consider the guilds wants over my own, and not going to lie a good expansion announcement could re-energize me pretty fast.For me it is not the grind, I understand that all MMO’s are the grind in the long run, that is what it will come down to. There will always be a new sword or lazer to push for, a new mount or ship to strive after.What brings me back to MMO’s is not the grind, or end game or any of that. What brings me back to MMO’s is the social aspect. I have never found anything as much fun as a virtual world, filled with friends to go on adventures with. Fantasy skin, sci-fi skin does not matter as much as the people you are doing it with to me:)As cyn said, not a plea to try to get you to come back or anything like that, but I too miss spending time in game with you and fyn(you too cyn you are like never around:). I had a lot of fun raiding with you guys, but I had just as much fun running the newbies through the 5 mans:)So no matter what you end up doing, I hope it is something we can try to do together. I would love to play with you again:)

  7. Cynwise of Stormwind

    This is why you’re a great GM, Dolar. Thanks. :)

  8. Ralod

    I think the no mac support for ToR has something to do with the amount of effort and cost of the game at this point. Last I read, when all is said and done It will be the most costly game ever developed. I have a feeling if it does well, and gets a large established userbase a Mac client will come later. But that is just a layman’s guess:)

  9. dakotarick

    If you are thinking about writing a guide for the 10-11 change it must not be too far off. I did a little looking yesterday and was surprised to see the differences in season lengths. Two were listed as 17 weeks and the longest was season 8 at 38 weeks. If season 11 is not far off season 10 will be a short one, I think we are 13 weeks in at this point.Looking forward to the guide should you choose to write it.

  10. MMOMeltingPot

    Eeeenteresting. It seems like there’s a larger problem going on at the moment with WoW – I’ve just seen a similar, if more angry, rant from Killing ‘em Slowly on the subject of PvE gear and the content grind. Of course, this is the kind of stuff I live for – yay, popular blogosphere topic! – so I’ve featured both of you on the Melting Pot as a kind of point-counterpoint. But whilst it’s fun for me, this is clearly a pretty serious problem for Blizzard. If players are starting to look at the gear grind and say “you know what? Actually I won’t bother.”, that’s a pretty serious longievity problem for their game.