I’m starting to think that Heirlooms cause more problems than they solve. Or, more correctly, the current implementation of them causes problems.
Above is my banker’s bank on Durotan. These are the heirlooms I have which aren’t currently in use on that server. That’s 27 heirlooms, just sitting around, because I’m not leveling a character of a certain type on my main server. My druid, death knight, and two warriors also have heirlooms on D’tan. If I hadn’t lost my caster leather set, there would be even more.
My secondary “red team” server, Medivh, has another set of heirlooms, sent over when my blood Priestess transfered over there to hang out with folks when my friends went looking for another server to roll Horde upon. But that was before guild heirlooms (helm and cloak) were available, so they’re not complete sets. And, I’m also rolling both Alliance and Horde on that server to hang with different folks, so the whole “red team” thing isn’t really working out.
I’m also rolling alts on other servers, just to check them out.
Yet that bank of unused heirlooms weighs on my mind.
Heirlooms serve two primary purposes, right?
- Accelerated leveling
- Competitive PvP through level 69
Like most folks, I wrestle with both of these purposes.
My priestess leveled primarily through healing dungeons without the XP boost heirlooms, but with the trinkets and staff, for a few reasons. The cloth heirlooms lack Spirit, and the blue gear I was getting in dungeons seemed to consistenly outperform the Tattered Dreadmist set for stats. I enjoyed the changing look, of finding outfits which were both interesting and potent.
The trinkets and DHC (with +22 Intellect), though, consistently outperformed everything I found. And they made me a more powerful healer, more effective, more able to put up with the rush of Troll Bears and Tauren Pallys who rushed through the LFD in the early days of 4.0.1.
In PvP, though, which pretty much every toon I roll partakes in at one time or another, the Stamina-laden cloth heirlooms shine. Yes, I had mana problems during serious fights, but I also was better able to handle attacks when I inevitably got focus fired.
The gap between heirlooms and regular gear diminshes 1) the higher you level, and 2) the more you run dungeons/quest smartly. I have to remember the jerk mage I saw in 65-69 AB only had the weapon and trinket heirlooms, nothing else, and he pwned the place. By the time you hit 70, I’m of the firm opinion that only the PvP shoulders should even be considered – everything else needs to have Resilience.
(But then again, I’m a PvP gear snob when it comes to gearing my own toons.)
So here’s the heirloom conundrum: they’re a benefit tied to your account, but also tied to a single server. They’re optional benefits, to be sure – and how necessary they are depends entirely upon your feelings towards them, your goals with your characters, and your playstyle.
Someone asked me once on a video how long it took me to grind out the BoAs I had on Cynderblock, and those calculations made me shudder. To think about how much time I invested in getting 45 or so for everyone? Yikes.
But that time is an investment, or you feel that it is, and so there’s a sense of, hey, I should be able to use these on my entire account, not just on a single server. The lack of cross-server mailing leaves you wondering about whether the time spent was worth it. I find myself going, don’t be an idiot, Cyn, level all your toons on Durotan where the heirlooms are. Why pay $25 dollars to move heirlooms from server to server?
Then the other part of me goes, because time is money, and if I’m really going to level a character, I don’t want to waste time. And Durotan-H is really quiet for me, and there are other guilds I enjoy poking in on, even if I’m just there for the green chat.
Then the cynical part of me says: there is no direct economic incentive for Blizzard to implement cross-server heirloom transfers, and the indirect incentive – general customer satisfaction – will likely not overcome the non-trivial revenue stream Blizzard gets from character transfers just to move digital items around.
If there are multiple reasons why the status quo should be maintained (difficult to implement technology that would erase a revenue stream that doesn’t require further investment, i.e. pure profit/recoup of development spend), and very nebulous reasons why it should be changed (“because it would be nice” is valid, but difficult to quantify), I don’t get my hopes up that things will change any time soon. That’s okay, I guess. I may not like it much, but at least I can get it.
I don’t want this to come off like I’m whining about the lack of cross-server mailing. Oh no, I have a lot of heirlooms and can’t send them to other servers to play with friends at a moment’s notice, boo hoo! I realize how it can sound.
But I really think it’s interesting to take a legitimate customer complaint – if these are bound to my account, why can’t I send them between servers? – and go, wait, what would happen if we had no heirlooms at all anymore?
What if the XP bonus was independent of gear – perhaps it was an XP option that you could unlock after a certain amount of reputation or VP/CP or something – so that after you’d gotten to the endgame once, or twice, or three times, you could visit an Experience Accelerator, pay 10g, and get the XP bonus without the uber gear? Maybe the more toons you got to level cap, the bigger your potential XP bonus you could unlock on all your toons?
Suddenly, you’d have three options – play with fast XP, normal XP, or XP off. You’d still have to go out and get the same gear everyone else has while leveing, but that allows you to experience the gear progression part of the game, which does get lost when playing with heirlooms. Battlegrounds even out early on, too, since the disparity of a character leveling with BoAs versus quest gear would vanish. Twinks would move to non-binding white gear – Psynister’s Hand Me Downs – but that would be far less prevalent than heirlooms are now.
But you can’t go back. You can’t take the BoA gear away and replace it with Experience Accelerators. You can’t yank gear that takes days of effort to acquire, has the promise of never needing to be replaced, holding expensive enchants, and being useful across multiple characters – and not replace it with something. The genie is out of the bottle.
So, like a lot of other players, I sit here and wonder, is it worth loading up a mule with another set of heirlooms and sending her over to another server? How many character transfers would it take, really, to get my heirlooms distributed the way I would want? $25 here and there adds up, is it really worth it?
Don’t get me wrong – I love heirlooms.
But I hate the heirloom conundrum.