Friday, June 19, 2009

Of Gear and Guilds

Klinderas over at Slow Wolf mused on this not too long ago: As epics become more easily attainable, how are we to best judge other players?

This, right there, is the heart of the 3.2 Badge Changes for me. Gear has been, and no doubt always will be, used as some indicator of player ability, even if the degree to which this is true will change over time. A player's gear reflecting their choices of gameplay and knowledge of their class will always be a standard reference, but what about skill and experience?

When a potential raider applies to my guild, an Armory link is required (no link, no consideration). There we pick apart his spec, stats, gear,... and achievements? Ehhh... With gear loosing its value, we end up turning more and more to their achievement page as an indicator of skill and experience. But there is a problem with this: No every one cares about achievements, nor are they always accurate. Any noob can grind out the achievement points, and a lucky PuG can grant some kills. Critics have to look hard and close to make sure they have a geniune player that killed Sarth+3D before 3.1, and not someone that joined a decent PuG last week. (And before you say this never happens, it does - a failed applicant, who was booted for being a ninja, got his kill in a PuG last weekend.)

Gear is a much better indicator of player quality - everyone wants it to improve themselves. Achievements give nothing, so there is no incentive to go for the frivolous achievements besides "because I can" and epeen, even for the most skilled players. But with epics no longer rare (are they still epics?), facevalue indicators of player quality are difficult to find. If Blizzard thought that devaluing gear, people would turn to achievement system instead to prove their worth, they were wrong.

All of this may sounds harsh, but I'm afraid it is the critical eye that guilds employ now. If you want to prove yourself worthy, show us with meters and reports. Don't assume that your gear means anything anymore - now we all have to show that we are more than our epics.


Nomasun said...

this is MUDflation at work :(

Thunderhorns said...

Gear will still be the measure of a raider. Sure you can be in purples, but do you have gear dropped by bosses that actually take some work to beat?

Sure, Conquest badges will get you some nice purples, but not full T8 or above or any of the hardmode drops. It won't get you a great weapon either.

Conquest badge gear will close the gap only so much. And then it will come down to how you spec and how you enchant and gem. Even if you manage to get all that right and get your foot in the door, you still have to produce. So there are still enough checks to screen for bad raiders.

I kind of like gear parity. Then you get a true chance to measure yourself against someone else. If you have much better gear and you out DPS or heal someone, it could be attributed to the gear difference. If you're both in relatively equal gear and you out DPS or heal that other person, then you know you're better than them. More on top of your rotation and better able to handle the complexities of a fight.

I just hope they don't start handing out Ulduar weapons and Ulduar hardmode gear like it is candy. Now that would be really lame. I think I'd have to find a new game.

Paradoxx said...

Gear is one thing... what they do with it is an easy way to judge a player. Do they have everything enchanted? Properly gemmed? Are their professions maxed?

As a DPS, just having the Sons of Hodir shoulder enchant shows you're willing to do a little work.

Negathle said...

My main frustration is the fact that this plethora of gear doing out to everyone means more work for the guilds to sort out the viable applicants. Yes, the gems, enchants, reps, etc. define the quality players, but it still requires more information regarding the specifics of their play style to confirm they know what they are doing.

In sort, I'm annoyed that I can't just look at an app's pants, say "Oh, he's done X fight, he knows what he's going if he completed that encounter."

Anonymous said...

You can look at their app and see that, just check their statistics page on the wowarmory, or even easier, use this website.

the bigger #'s the better.

The only thing it doesn't show is hardmodes and you can just check a their ulduar raider achievement to see if they have any of the achievements that matter in terms of hardmode progression raiding.

Negathle said...

I feel that my message is being lost...

Kheldul said...

Pugs are a great place to meet people without a f*Ng clue. It's rather easy to see who knows anything and can play their class when you have them in the raid.

In the *current* awful pugger world, we've been visited by people with people with "ful epix!" from 5 man heroics. They even have armory stats that say they've full-cleared Naxx-25 twice. But they can't ... say... dps out of a paper bag, or heal more than 1/4 of the best healer, or understand a well-known boss (say Thaddius) in the least.

Conversely, I've seen at least three people in mostly blue gear out heal or equal dps people in much better gear.

The best way to know someone's raid skill is to raid with them. Yes, there is a fair short-cut now by looking at gear selection, knowing the idiosyncrasies of not just using a straight tier set, knowing how hard it was to get a particular drop, etc. Yes, it will start to disappear and be harder to know at the sight of someone's gear.

On the plus side, there might be some reason for guildies to run 5 man heroics now.

Stupid Mage said...

Yeah, after the emblem change, the best way to measure quality would be to do runs with them. More time but it's the best way to tell.

Anonymous said...


Your most poignant statement came from a comment you made:

In short, I'm annoyed that I can't just look at an app's pants, say "Oh, he's done X fight, he knows what he's going if he completed that encounter."

and I feel for ya.

Successful gearing can mean that someone is playing with a plan. They know their class. They know the gear they need to optimize their class. They've worked to obtain all of it - which can mean they're successfully able to work in a team environment and thus bring themselves full circle to your guild with some very cut and dried "measures" of their potential success as a new raider.

It's not the whole picture for certain - but it is a *part* of that picture.

Gear is like a college degree - it used to be the be all - end all. If you had one - you could get the job. Now - reality is that there are millions of completely useless skinbags with advanced degrees that are no more employable than a high school drop out with a crack addiction.

Blizzard's changes only blur this line allowing for several additional indicators of your potential useful ness. Achievements were very likely intended to be a metric to allow guilds to quality check potential candidates by validating some of their "credentials". And it probably would have worked.

If they'd implemented achievements in vanilla WOW.

Or maybe made all the previous vanilla and BC level RAID content into "feats of strength" to show that they had been obtained prior to WotLK.

Honestly - I don't think anything has really changed. I've raided with too many folks that have little more to offer a raid than the fact that they were carried through multiple levels of raid content by friends in a good guild to think that gear is the only thing I should look at.

On the same hand - I know not to take some blood elf priests claims of being an "old school raider" to heart just because her BC era toon has a full plate of pre BC raid achievements.

I think guilds that want to be serious about acquiring good candidates are going to have to have multiple means of screening applicants. Just like hiring someone at a new job - their resume (gear) alone won't tell the whole story.

Ultimately - it's trial and error. My guild still suffers 2-3 pugs per 10-man run. The quality of these players is a real mess. You never know what you're going to get.

Every now and then though - you'll find a gem...But you're going to have to sort through a lot of rocks to get to them.

Cost of doing business I'm afraid.