One of the things that I have always been a pretty firm believer in has been the thought that gear does not make the player. During my time in WoW, I’ve seen some of the best players that I’ve ever played with school people in their blue gear; and conversely, I’ve seen some of the worst players that I’ve ever played with decked out in full BiS gear from the most recent tier. I’ve always felt it’s worth the risk to take a chance on an undergeared player with “potential”, because gear is easy enough to obtain, while skill is either natural or trained through hard work, desire and practice.
As such, one of my biggest pet peeves as a player is when someone writes off a lackluster performance because “I don’t have the gear” – and then stops any further evaluation of their play. While it is true, that gear can, and will, have some impact on your ability to perform, I feel that too often it’s a crutch that people lean on to explain away why they can’t become a better player. Too often I’ll look through logs where I will find areas to improve that are completely unrelated to gear. DoT uptimes that are too low, HoT uptimes that are too low, poor use of mana regen mechanics, a significantly lower number of cast/attack x, cooldowns that go unused. And yet, rather than understanding what a player can do to perform better, so many times they will lean on the crutch of “my gear”.
If I’m being perfectly honest, it infuriates me. I think the reason that I feel so passionately about it is because gear is a valid reason for lower performance, but it is rarely the only, or even the main reason. And yet so many people are satisfied with the excuse that their gear isn’t good enough to do better that they don’t take the time to look past it and evaluate what else they could be doing to improve as a player. And because of that I think that they are doing themselves a disservice.
Gear isn’t a crutch, it’s a reason to try harder and become a better player.
For me, I look at having lower gear as a challenge. It’s the true “hard mode”. When you don’t have the same resources as someone else, it forces you to think outside of the box and be more creative. But more importantly, it requires you to be more focused on playing well, on being perfect, because one small mistake, one mis-timed cooldown, has the potential to have severe consequences on how well you perform. I refuse to use gear as an exucse for why I can’t play well. Rather, I’m going to use it to prove that I’m a good player regardless of the circumstances.
Sure, maybe I have to use a mana pot on encounters that most people laugh off. Maybe I have to lean on my innervate as much as possible when others aren’t bothered enough with mana to use it even once. Maybe I need to flask to help make up the difference on content that you normally wouldn’t bother. But you can damn well bet that I’m doing everything that I can to make up for the fact that my gear places me at a disadvantage – because I don’t want people to know that I have a disadvantage. I want them to inspect me and go “holy shit, how did she do that with her gear?!”.
Practice what you Preach
(edit: because there seems to be some confusion regarding my intent with this section, let me clarify. This section is about me. It’s not intended to bash LFR folks or LFR – hence why their names have been blurred – the intent is to show my belief and philosophy that even with lesser gear, you can still be a performer, which is what is illustrated. I went beyond that to show that it wasn’t just my experience with the encounters that allowed me to do well.)
Let me share a story with you that I feel illustrates some of what I’ve said above. I know that I mentioned that I was leveling an alliance druid so that I had an opportunity to see some of the alliance quests, but also a character that was able to participate in shenanigans with my alliance friends. Well, on Sunday she reached level 85. On Monday, after I finished an assortment of guild chores, I ran a handful of the new instances with Tikari, Jasyla and Kurn. Not only was it a lot of fun (Tikari totally killed Kurn and I – don’t let him tell you any bunk about how we were “seen”!), but between the BoE gear that I tossed at myself and the gear I picked up in those four or five instances, I logged out for the night looking a bit like this:
Regardless of the fact that my equipped iLevel was 346, and that I was still sporting some 316 green shoulders, my heirloom helm, a 333 blue neck, it wasn’t physically possible for me to reach my haste cap and I hadn’t gotten all of my enchants completed, I was at an acquired iLevel high enough for me to queue into LFR. And so the next night when I got back from my PT and finished my household chores, I decided that I would indeed queue into LFR. I sent Derwent a tell linking my green shoulders and joking about how horrible my gear was, and how I was about to unleash myself onto the LFR community heirloom helm and all!
And at the end of the night, the logs for the four boss kills we saw looked like this:
Not only had I topped the meters for the entire run, I topped them for each individual boss as well – and sometimes by a very healthy margin. In my green shoulders. Not haste capped. And wearing my heirloom helm. I realized during Zon’ozz that I didn’t have any concentration potions (remedied right after that LFR), and sobbed as my mana bar gasped, but somehow managed to pull through (tip! use less rejuv at lower gear levels to get more out of your mana!).
But Beru! You have SO Much experience healing these fights as a druid – that’s not fair! And to you, I say “you’re wrong”. When we finished, I took the time to armory each of the other healers (most of whom had completed at least the first half of LFR multiple times, and one of whom looks to have done it almost weekly since it became available). And here is what I found:
- The Priest had a 380 iLevel but was missing gems (including a meta), enchants and a glyph. He was Discipline, but I’m not knowledgeable enough to speak about his spec.
- The second Druid was at a 387 iLevel but was using the wrong spec, was not haste capped and hadn’t reforged a single item.
- The first Shaman was at a 377 iLevel but was not gemmed or enchanted. I am not knowledgable enough to speak to his spec.
- The second Shaman was at a 380 iLevel but was not gemmed or enchanted. I am not knowledgable enough to speak to his spec.
- The third Druid was at a 382 iLevel, and was only present for the first two bosses in the zone. However, they were partially gemmed, not enchanted, utilizing the wrong spec and not haste capped.
- The fourth Druid was at a 388 iLevel, and was only present for the last two bosses in the zone. However, they were not enchanted, not gemmed properly and not haste capped.
After I looked at all of that, I went ahead and looked at each druid’s healing, because that is where I feel the most comfortable offering feedback. And here is what I pretty consistently found:
- Low LB uptimes across the board (one of them had 28% uptime on one of the bosses!).
- Low harmony uptimes across the board (one of them was at 35% uptime on one of the bosses!).
- Little, or no, innervate usage.
- Little, or no, ToL use.
- Little, or no, Tranquilty use.
- Some questionable spell priorities (one of them had regrowth as their second healing spell!).
My healing wasn’t on top because I had so much familiarity with the encounters, I mean sure, it didn’t hurt, but I was on top because I understood my class. Because I went in with the mindset that my gear wasn’t a barrier to performing well. And because I gave my best effort, even if it was just “lawls LFR”.
The next time that someone tells you that they can’t perform better because their gear limits them, ask them what else they could have done better. And if they can’t provide you with an answer (because, come on, everyone can always improve on something), then chances are good that they are limiting themselves as a player because of their gear, and their gear isn’t what is limiting their growth.