Thursday, August 19, 2010

Skill or gear?

by Copra

Over the last few weeks I played quite a bit of WoW. While I was more concentrating on getting my main - protection warrior - up to the GS standards for IC PUGs, I also spent some serious quality time with my shadowpriest and for a while I had her in better gear than my warrior. Which was easy really: as ranged DPS you are more welcome to come and blunder in an impromptu PUG raid than with an almost-decently geared tank. So I got in more PUG raids with my spriest than with  my main, which of course increased the probability of loot gear.

I still cannot fathom the LFD tool, though. Even though my warrior overgeared my spriest, the latter gets PoS or HoR as random heroic all the time, while the warrior has to succumb to VH. Why? As it happens, my spriest has done the quest line in IC5 mans, where as my warrior hasn't.

As if this wasn't enough, I have been playing my unguilded deathknight quite a bit. Coming from lv74 to 78 has been quite a journey and is in fact the point of the title. You see, every time I launched to quest with my deathknight I launched the LFD. Most of the time it took three or four tries to finish the random instance. And I mean three or four total new starts, not just replacing some people in there. The experience was awful, really, as most of the time the players were obviously levelling their umpteenth alt with the mindframe of a capped and geared toon: blast in, aoe everything, move on.

At lv78 it just doesn't work that way, except when the toons are properly geared and the players really know how to play. Of course there were the entertaining runs of Ahn'Kahet, in which we just chain pulled everything in steady flow, but most of the time the group just disappeared mid-instance after a wipe.

The worst case was the druid, who came to Violet Hold as a tank, but it became very soon very obvious that he didn't know a thing about tanking. First of all, his gear was not for tanking. Second, when he was asked to kite Xevozz, he didn't even know what kiting was. And as the final straw, I was asked to tank in my unholy dps gear... I should have declined.

Later on it turned out he was levelling his third alt, and he was in fact a boomkin. And he was so full of himself that he kept saying everyone else a noob, while he was himself one, really.

On the other hand, at level cap, the better the gear you are wearing, the easier the heroics turn to be. The meager improvement of 200 in GS (up to 5.2k now) meant that my warrior gets the silent, strong type heroic runs everytime. We grouped once with Förgelös to run a couple of heroics together and his two comments were quite revealing. First one after we got into a group right after I had chosen my role was: "Well, that was fast. I normally have to wait for 5-8 minutes." (SIDENOTE: With my spriest I have the average waiting time of 13 minutes...) And the second one just after the instance was finished: "That was fast and professional. I usually spend much longer time even in the easier ones."

So all in all, at least in the capped heroics it's not about skill but gear. Gear to take the beating and gear to deliver enough damage to kill them all promptly. However, in the levelling stage the skill is more important than the gear, as I was able to beat the damage meters with few levels lower skills, talents and gear in an instance repeatedly with my dk, even against a mage and warlock.

The more I look at it, at level cap the skill doesn't rate too high. The few raids I got into were more like jumping platform games than MMO experience at its best.

My judgement is that gear >> skill. At least for now.

EDIT. Just occured to me that I didn't define what I mean by skill. In WoW in my opinion skill is the ability to play the toon to the fullest and be able to utilize all skills appropriately, depending on the encounter. Running around a boss room is not skill per that definition, neither is doing a dance or platform jumper acrobatics while in an encounter. Like Tobold has said time and again, there should be more encounters which require strategic thinking rather than twitch.